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So comes snow after fire.

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#41
Atham'aali'kema

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You are not being morbid…” He whispered, intent on the closeness of the situation. As far as he could tell, they were effectively cuddling while sitting up. And as her hand pressed against his, wrapping cerulean in green, he made no effort to move or shift. Instead, his thumb pressed against the tattoo and moved in circular motions. “You don’t need to apologize. I can understand how you feel…” He tilted his head as a thumb shifted to fingers, moving the back of his nails down her cheek.

 

This isn’t entirely my body, not in terms of proportions. Some of the original parts remain but other pieces…” He lifted his free hand to his temple, indicating toward the eyes. “Have been replaced with other living creatures. Living and breathing, attached and forced upon me. But I get the impression that the gradual nature of my shift made the transition…easier. Though…

 

He smiled. “Have you considered getting markings of your own? It would be difficult to replicate the scar you received but tattoos are an entirely different matter. Perhaps that wouldn’t feel earned, but they would be you.” He lifted the cup to his mouth, taking a sip, as her communication device began to chirp steadily.

 

Somewhere out in the storm, a beacon had been recharged and initiated. And despite the interruption of the storm, it was clear that someone was out there in the haze. Molten orbs transitioned down to her hand, the one placed on his leg, as the device continued to chime. Setting the tea back down, his free hand moved to scratch across the top of her hand. “If you can feel that, then you are no stranger in this body. It is yours, for as long as you desire it to be.

 

Taheera Sollo


"Where did we go wrong..."

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#42
Taheera Sollo

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She liked the feeling of his hands along her skin. His touch told a story of a long life lived in a short amount of time marked by endurance. She wouldn't trade that touch for anything. It was becoming more familiar with its own level of comfort. Just like the sound of his voice and that look in his magma orbs, the way warmth spread along his gaze when they were alone.

"No I," beep. Beep-beep-beep. Distracted gaze broke from his and she released her grip on his leg to bring the chrono up between them, checking the readout. "Would like that. If I ever figured out what to get," she murmured.

And he was right. That feel of his fingers along her hand a moment ago. She felt it all. She was who she was and now her skin was green. Maybe one day she'd beat herself up less over the whole thing.

"Getting a signal," reluctantly, she withdrew from the nearness of Maalik and stood. "They could be close."

Scooping up her gloves, hat, and goggles, she began putting them back on. The storm was still raging. But she sensed there might be a lull soon. It was hard to tell.

"Do you think the tauntauns can survive that? Or should you stay here with them while I have a look?"

And eventually she'd ask him more about that amphistaff of his and how that worked. Would she need to be careful during their...um sit-up cuddles? Focus on the mission Taheera.

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#43
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He smiled at her response, finding room for her to change her mind. It was something that wasn't common in his less recent past, between either the Chiss or the Yuuzhan Vong. But just like that, a perspective can change. And with that change, a loss in warmth as she stepped away from him.

 

He stood up, leaving the cup on the ground, as burning orbs looked out towards the cold of Hoth. Eyes narrowed in the blanket of the storm, whiting out vision beyond the mouth of the cave. The hues were almost blinding, enough to remind him that he had goggles for a reason.

 

"Could be close?" Was that a sarcastic comment? Maybe something trending dangerously close to it. "Any chance it is far away?" Sight drifted to the Tauntauns as he approached, rubbing across the mane and back. "I think they will be fine in the cold, especially with your shield and if you sense a change in the weather...all the better."

 

He turned to look back towards her. "Last I checked, we still have not made it to Sulon. So you are still under my protection." Maybe a joke, maybe a not. Either way, she wasn't leaving that cave without him close by. Unless...

 

She asked him to stay. That might do it.

 

Taheera Sollo


"Where did we go wrong..."

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#44
Taheera Sollo

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If she could find any excuse not to get on a tauntaun again, she would. Maalik encircling her with his arms DID make it bearable, though. Just barely. Legs were still sore. And she was pretty sure their fur was somehow irritating her skin beneath all the winter clothes.

Scratch. Scratch.

"Well, I can't tell if the storm is messing with the signal. Storm, mountains, and technology doesn't always work," she responded to his sarcasm seriously.

"Oh and YOUR protection," lips twitched slightly. "Don't blame me if you become a popsicle then."

A giant blueberry popsicle.

Hands reached up and settled the goggles over her face. Creme scarf was tugged up over her purple lips. "We'll give ourselves thirty minutes to check things out then return here if time runs out and we don't find anything."

Less time on tauntauns the better. Plus, if she was wrong about the storm, that'd be her max for a bubble without completely wearing herself down. Portable shields were seeming like a better idea. Walking over, gloved hands cut off the stove and moved some items away from the fire. She took a last sip of the warm tea and offered Maalik his own cup, one gloved hand running down the tauntaun's neck.

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#45
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The inflection of her tone was lost on him, regarding the protection comment. He simply took it as her agreeing that she was still under his protection. Cause it was true. Sulon was a far way away.

 

Stepping forward, he readjusted the goggles and looked around. "A Popsicle..." Taking a warm cup of tea from her, he took a large sip before setting it down. He shuddered and pulled the hood over his head, enclosing all but his thin smile and blue nose with material for protection. "I don't have nearly enough water content for that."

 

Approaching the Tauntaun, he tied the reins to the harness and hopped up. Patting the back of the Tauntaun, he looked towards Harla as he steered the creature out. "You planning to ride by yourself or will we adopt the same technique as before?"

 

He adjusted his goggles as he waited for her response. Checking on the capabilities of the goggles, he looked out into the waning storm. It was slowing down. A bit. "30 minutes should be enough. We can take another tea break after that. Seems an appropriate work-rest regime." Something that was entirely foreign to the Legion, but he recalled the practice in the Chiss for extreme weather.

 

Taheera Sollo


"Where did we go wrong..."

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#46
Taheera Sollo

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Eyes turned thoughtful beneath the goggles. "Like before," the healer nodded leaning on practicality. "I'll be able to concentrate on the shield more if I'm with you and not worrying about steering and falling off a tauntaun." The second one was bridled to the first, like before.

Cup was set down on a natural rock shelf in the cave. Making. Sure all the protective clothing was zipped up and in its proper place, she reached out to Maalik and let him assist in pulling her up and into position in front. Eyeing the chrono one more time, muffled voice affirmed her readiness and the heading.

"Straight out with turn to one'oclock." One gloved hand raised slightly as the protective bubble shimmered into place. She grimaced slightly. She could already feel the soreness from the saddle riding on her rear. This was not going to be pleasant, even with Malik's broad chest at her back. But they had to hurry.

A bad feeling in the force was growing.

"Yell if you see something," with a push of energy, she expanded the protection bubble for a wider area, helping them to see several yards behind the angry swirling snow.

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#47
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Same as before, then. With assistance for her offered, she mounted the Tauntaun as she had upon their first arrival on planet. The attempt that had her back against his chest, not her bottom in the snow. Wrapping his hands around her waist with arms resting against her thighs, he flicked the reigns and tongue at the beast to proceed.

 

Molten orbs drifted skyward, into the blurry fog of snow and drift, as the flakes smacked against the extended shield. He shifted against her, feeling the rigidness of her muscles. Silently, he wondered if that was because of the force usage or because of having to ride the Tauntaun.

 

Following her instructions, he steered the beasts out with the proper bearing. He occasionally looked over her shoulder, at the chrono, as he caught the proper bearing. 

 

"I don't mean to distract, Harla..." He stated in a whisper, still unsure of the exertion. "But do we have any mappings for former installations with the GPS readings? Might be useful. Otherwise..." He looked back out into the blizzard. "We are just following chirps in the wind."

 

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#48
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Eyes opened to slits beneath the goggles.  His arms around her were becoming a familiar thing.  Lips curled slightly upward beneath the creme colored scarf at the thought.  Wait, he'd asked a question.

 

"You mean the First Order installations or our temporary lines?"

 

Chestnut-brows knit together as she let her empathic ability stretch forward, searching.  The healer was good at feeling any emotions or pain.  Maalike, of course, was the exception.  If they were close enough and the Alliance survivor was alive.  She just might be able to...

 

A spike of fear drifted through the force, like a note striking the chord of a guitar further up the neck.

 

"We might not need it though.  I sense something up ahead."  Eyes opened fully now as she pushed the shield even further out.  There.  A shape was...running?  Something bigger was lumbering quickly behind.  That didn't look good.


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#49
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He probably meant both. Anything really, given that if he were in their position, he would likely look for any spot to hide from the storm. Cave, installation, institutes or subterranean bases. It all seemed like appropriate uses of resource but then again, he didn't have the same history as these people did, with the First Order. To him, they were simply xenophobic and hateful, hell bent on conquest and opting to bend such into propaganda narratives. But to others, there was vested interest and an inclination to prevent mixing. 

 

Maybe it would have been pride for some. But pride helped no one.

 

He looked forward towards her indication, grey shadows running through the snow. Flicking the reins hard, he pushed his heels into the quads of the Tauntaun, sending them into a full gallop. His left hand moved from her front to her back. Giving her the impression that he might be adjusting his belt, he instead pulled the amphistaff from his waist and flung it out into a full spear. While she could sense this thing, he could see it as clear as day with the adjustment of his eyes.

 

"Something is right..." He stated as he flicked the reins again. "Hold on to saddle. If I hop off, just clamp your thighs and grip the horn. Yank the reins back to stop the Tauntaun. I'll hold off..." He looked forward as they neared. "Whatever that thing is. Can't be much worse than the Harvesters.

 

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#50
Taheera Sollo

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She shivered at the term.  Harvesters.  Greens squinted through the mask.  Whatever it was, wasn't human.

 

"I think it's a wampa," there was other movement behind the bulk of the beast that was becoming more clear. But just as quickly those shapes were gone.  Did wampas travel in herds or packs?  She'd never heard of it before....

 

No, no.

 

Maybe her eyes were just playing tricks on her.

 

A human voice cried out and she hunched forward, catching the amphistaff from the corner of her eyes.  It created its own sense of fear within her.  And she found herself shying away from that side where Maalik held it ready.  There was no logic for her actions, it was some, deep rooted instinct that she'd have to work on turning off.

 

"I'll go for our guy.  Just...be careful."  Tension edged her tone as the Wampa's roar ripped through the air.  Legs tightened around the tauntaun and her gloved-hands gripped the saddle as she prepared for Maalik to jump off.  Her fears and discomfort of riding tauntauns evaporated as she focused on the task at hand.

 

And there was no way he was fighting that thing alone.  She had every intention of circling back once she checked out the survivor.


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#51
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"Careful?" He smirked as he rolled off the Tauntaun, watching it disappear as the snow faded behind the moving dome of the shield she extended outward. Coming to a stop in a slide, he picked up his pace as the snow crunched beneath his feet. The Wampa was big and burly, loose white shag hair fluttering about in the storm. But despite it's large steps and the way it flailed as it ran, it was obviously slow and cumbersome. But so was Maalik, given his garb and the sinking feeling beneath his feet.

 

Surprisingly keeping pace with the Tauntaun, he pulled the grey scarf over his lips to keep from pulling in the cold. The amphistaff softened in his grip half way down the spine and began to twirl like a whip. It sung a soft note, slowly growing with every gain in speed, and the noise was caught by the Wampa. The beast came to a slow stop, turning it's sunken eyes of black towards Maalik as he stopped in turn. 

 

The sound of the snow crunching beneath his feet became apparent as he strafed to his left, rotating the Wampa away from Harla and the man who was running. The great behemoth of a beast let loose a blood curdling scream as it lunged forward, swiping low towards Maaliks legs. Like a Jedi Master, trained in Ataru, he leaped over as the amphistaff lunged out and nipped at the leather of it's paw. Landing sure footed, he lifted his hands to his covered mouth as he continued to strafe, having removed the gloves for tactile need. Puffs of heat brought warmth back to his fingers as the amphistaff coiled about him, the Wampa recoiling from the kiss of the venom.

 

Molten orbs looked out from goggles as his hands extended out, fighting claws piercing through the cuffs of his jacket with the bare of teeth. Just as the wampa moved to backswipe Maalik with another slap, he stepped to the side and caught the back of the hand with brutal force. But it didn't send him flying. Instead, he adhered to the long white arm with sharp talons digging in deep, as he started to scurry up towards the beasts shoulder. 

 

Taheera Sollo


"Where did we go wrong..."

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#52
Taheera Sollo

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Ugh.

 

She knew his tone when he asked that question.  Maalik, Maalik, Maalik.  He was going to stress the healer out.  Her back immediately missed the warmth as the chiss-hybrid rolled free.  Teeth clenched as she tucked forward, gripping harder so she wouldn't do something embarrassing, like fall off the side of the tauntaun.  Wary-gaze watched the wampa as it lumbered away from her and toward....she knew, Maalik.

 

"Stars keep him safe," she muttered, knowing she wouldn't be able to heal him.

 

"Hey, I'm with the Alliance.  It's okay."  The fleeing Alliance soldier slumped to the ground as she slowed the tauntaun's pace and stopped next to his form.  Slipping from the saddle, booted feet sunk up to her shins in the snow.  Even with the special bottoms of the boots.  Holding the reigns of the tauntaun in one hand, she quickly knelt by the man and gingerly began to turn him over.

 

The last thing she was expecting was a gloved-punch to the face.

 

Head snapped back, goggles cracking as she swayed in her seated position.  The force bubble went down.  The tauntaun bucked in her grasp and the world seemed to spin white for a second.  What the stars....

 

"We knew you scum would come."  Just as quickly there was a weight over her but she pushed back and kicked, scrambling in the snow.  The only thought going through her head was that she was being delayed from helping Maalik and what kind of trap had they stumbled into?  And the others?


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#53
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Opposite claw reached up to snag him free from the shoulder. But he was quicker in this circumstance, shuffling along the length of the arm, stabbing at each juncture and kicking crampons towards the flesh. Twirling around on the shoulder, he mounted himself on the back of the beast. Standing up right, he plunged talons deep into each of the descending arcs of the shoulder. The Wampa fell to it's knees, screaming, and Maalik looked forward. Distracted, his eyes caught site of Harla being knocked to the snow. Suddenly, claws were sunken deep into his close and he was flung across the snow.

 

Wack!

 

He hit the snow and bounced, sinking on the second volley. Rolling over, he bared sharp teeth as he pressed hands across the center of his shirt. The threads were stripped bare and blood seeped from his armored flesh. It had been so long since he had been injured, he had forgotten the sensation. Trying to stand, he fell to a knee and the amphistaff extended out to assist him standing back up. But the Wampa, bleeding profusely from arms and shoulder across the snow, wasn't done with him.

 

Running his hands across his mouth scarf, the amphistaff hardened beneath his hands. Lurching forward, he throw the spear with deadly accuracy. Whistling through the grey sky, it hit mouth and plunged out of the back of the Wampa's head. With big grizzly arms flailing to the last sounds it would ever make, it took two more steps before falling in a puff of snow that drifted skyward. Maalik limped forward, free hand across his abdomen, as he stepped on the neck of the deceased Wampa. Twisting the spear free, through sounds of wet gripping, he turned it over to help walk. His eyes adjusted, turning over to infrared, as he looked into the distance.

 

With an adjustment to the scarf and hands once more covered in the gloves, he moved forward with a jostled jog. Something had gone wrong.

 

He wondered if Harla had offended the alliance soldier with talk of pastries. He couldn't immediately think of any other reason for the confrontation. He cursed the lack of communication between the two, his lack of force sensitivity. It was the first time he ever felt at a disadvantage, knowing that force sensitives could speak to one another without uttering a single a word.

 

Taheera Sollo


"Where did we go wrong..."

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#54
Taheera Sollo

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Atham'aali'kema

 

Boots pummeled into the chest of her attacker.  He was launched backward and fell into the snow.  Head tipped back as she saw Maalik slung through the air by the roar of the wampa.  Even from here, she could see the blood staining its white fur.

 

"No!"  Strangled cry left her throat but she was distracted as she felt a sharp tug on her ankle.  Head whipped forward as the creme scarf fell from her face.  Hands launched forward and released an invisible force push.  The man caught it right in his chest and sailed back, hitting the snow hard.  Speed and strength wove through her muscles as she launched forward and threw herself on top of the dazed soldier.

 

Gloved hands scrambled to disarm him.  But he had a tight grip on his blaster.  She grappled with him.

 

"What did you do," she screamed.  "Did you kill them?!"

 

He smirked through his grimace.  "They were already dead like you will be....," he raised the blaster.  She tipped her weight into him and suddenly, she felt his index finger release the trigger.  Body coiled inward, fully expecting to feel a bolt rip through her stomach.  But there was a gurgle of surprise beneath her.  The First Order solider's wide-eyes drifted down.  She'd moved the muzzle of the blaster just in time.  He'd done himself in.

 

Maalik.

 

Pushing off the Alliance impostor, the healer spun around, myrtle-ellipses spotting Maalik's staggering form.  His gait was strange.  Her heart wrenched in her chest as she ran toward him.


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#55
Atham'aali'kema

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He caught sight of her in the distance, the flash of green skin beneath scarf and goggles. And then he felt a jolt, sudden fear crept in at the sound of blaster fire even against the wails of the storm. Whoever said this storm was weakening, they may have been off on their forecast.

 

He propped himself up on the amphistaff, wading through the softening snow while finding strength in it's leverage. Baring his teeth, he pulled down the scarf, uncomfortable in the stifling air that ran through the fabric. Grunting, his jog slowed to a limp. Despite the blood being warm, it cooled quickly in the frost and with exposed flesh, he felt the cool creeping sensation of impending loss.

 

He stopped walking, the futile effort would quickly be overcome by her speeding back. She seemed to have fared better than he, in this particular circumstance.

 

Clutching his hands in the mitts, he cracked his knuckles as he sat down in a mound of fresh drift snow.

 

"Don't..." He started as he smiled, his voice trailing off for the lack of projection. "Don't forget the Tauntauns."

 

Taheera Sollo


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#56
Taheera Sollo

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The wind whipped across any exposed skin.  It was mostly on her face.  For a moment, she felt as though she were running to Maalik in a nightmare, not gaining any distance.  But that thought was founded in panic and dread.

 

Healer's gaze caught the gashes in his chest, slashes across that blue skin with thick, blue liquid oozing out and running across his jacket.  The warmth of the blood actually created a slight shimmer in the cold, harsh air.  Palm reached out, almost instinctively to heal.  She quickly pulled up short as she felt nothing.  Sucking in deep breath-fulls of air, she came to a skidding stop at his side.

 

Scarf was whipped from her face and she went to ease it around Maalik, tying it tight around the gashes.  Gloved hand found his and she pressed it against his chest.  "Stop talking and focus on keeping pressure here.  Okay?"  Falling into doctor-mode was fairly easy for the Mirialan, even if tension still edged her mouth and jaw.

 

"Didn't I tell you to be careful?"

 

A smile that didn't reach her eyes flickered across her mouth.  Without leaving his side, she turned back from where she'd run and stretched her hand out, wrapping the force around the reigns of the wandering tauntauns and tugged gently but firmly.  The beasts began to meander toward their position.

 

"It was a set-up.  Must've de-coded our Alliance SOS signals and took them off the dead bodies.  Not sure why they'd go to all that work though and it seems like they forgot about wampas."  The talking was more to calm herself as she continued to press down on Maalik's wounds.  Her creme-scarf was already turning blue.


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#57
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"Yeah, you said be careful...but I don't think I listened." He spoke with a smile, placing pressure on the spot she indicated. He was sure the wounds weren't deep or fatal, but paired with the cold, he was having trouble distinguishing between loss of blood and hypothermia. He hadn't recalled her wearing a blue scarf but there it was, as dark as his own skin tone.

 

He looked towards the Tauntauns as they ran towards them, orbs of orange watching with intent curiosity. "You could call them like that the whole time?" He laughed as he stood up, with her assistance, as the amphistaff coiled around his waist and collected beneath the garments. He thought back over the fight with the Wampa, the way he had mounted the shoulders and was set for the kill strike. He was certain that he had everything lined up, but the tremor in her presence, the disruption in the snow - that wasn't her fault. Maybe it was his?

 

Blinking steadily, he started to trudge towards the Tauntaun.

 

"They took advantage of good will..." He grabbed the reins and stepped up slowly. "I'm glad they didn't succeed. I'm glad you are alright." Mounting the Tauntaun, he scooted forward on the saddle and knelt down, taking a deep breath. "If you don't mind, I think I'll take the front this time."

 

Taheera Sollo


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#58
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Of course, she had no idea he'd been distracted watching out for her. If she'd known, she would've felt guilt. Even though, those circumstances had been outside of her control.

She frowned. His laugh sounded strained. Weak even. "If you stick around I'll show you even more things I can do." She forced a smile and quickly pulled herself up behind the chiss hybrid. "Hang on. Try to stay awake."

Face set, grim and determined. Gloved-hands took the reins, arms looping around his sides. He was trembling. Expending energy, the green-tinted protection bubble rose to life around them. Tighter this time to try and trap in heat and keep out that swirling snow and winds. Heels nudged into the tauntaun's sides and they were off. She couldn't go too fast for fear of Maalik falling off.

Talking. She had to keep him talking and lucid. "So tell me about past relationships. Any ex-lovers or girlfriends I should know about? Maybe before the change?"

That should keep his attention.

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#59
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"Ex-lovers..." He stated with a grunt, smile shielded by the mane of the Tauntaun. He felt a cool sensation run across his limbs but it couldn't have been blood loss, the gashes weren't that deep. Puffs of steam shot out from his nose as he thought on the question.

 

"Well, there was one..." He looked over his shoulder. "She was elegant, fair in all the ways a young Chiss male could want. Skin just the slightest tinge of grey, mixed with blue." He looked back out towards the snow, pausing for dramatic effect. "I think that was the special paint they used though. That Clawcraft was the first and last thing my father gave me." He raised his eyebrows, recalling something during the One Sith time. "I did know this spider once but she was a friend more than anything else...

 

Shaking hand moved to hers, looping around his side, as he winced. "There's no one you need to worry about. Especially the clawcraft...We broke up on Selvaris." In truth, he hated that vessel. Not because it failed him in anyway, but because the Legion told him to. It was one of the first things that they engraved, a hatred for Chiss culture and technology. And his personal ship was the fulcrum for which those thoughts found purchase.

 

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#60
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A worried-smile flickered across her lips.  Hand squeezed his blue one.  He was cold.  Not a good sign in the stagnant air of the force protective-bubble she was projecting.  "A spider," myrtle ellipses narrowed in on the cave entrance up ahead.

 

Almost there.

 

"Was this spider on your shoe or something?"  Must be the blood loss talking.  "Still.  Good thing you broke up with that clawcraft.  Couldn't compete with that."  The smile probably transferred to her tone.  "Stay with me Maalik."  Knees dug in sharply to the tauntaun, giving it one last burst of speed right into the mouth of their cave.  Bubble disappeared and she slipped off the beast first, one hand on the reins and one sliding along Maalik's back and down to his leg.

 

"Can you slide down?  Almost there."  She looked up, ready to brace his larger form with her own.


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