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#1
Elyria Vance

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The ground was thrumming. That was how you knew ​MX-371, or Em-Ex ​to its crew and cargo of interplanetary waifs and strays, was in motion; the all pervasive vibration that carried through the ancient, pitted decks and into your very bones. It was an odd sensation, but one you could grow used to. In truth, many of the Em-Ex'​s inhabitants claimed they missed it when it wasn't present during the refugee ship's few stops.

 

Watching her hydrospanner rattle its way off the countertop and onto the floor for the third time that morning, Elyria couldn't help but consider that an exaggeration. There was nothing, least of all bone jarring vibrations, that anyone could miss about the Em-Ex,​ the ship that had been both her salvation and her enslaver all those years ago, on a half forgotten world half-way across the galaxy. Sure, she was grateful for her bunk there - such as it was - but that didn't mean she wouldn't have been more grateful for a bunk somewhere - anywhere - ​else. Coruscant. Corellia. Mandalore. All the places she had read about over the years. Any of them had to be better than this starbound refugee camp. At least, that was what she told herself time and time again, because that allowed her to keep dreaming of a future on one of them. And dreaming... dreaming was what gave you hope when the ​Em-Ex was your life.

 

But while dreams gave you hope, it was work that gave you food, and Elyria had work to do so, with a ill-disguised irritation, she snatched up her hydrospanner and set back to work on the panel she was maintaining. It was grim, mundane work, and her hands were already coasted in the thick, greasy dirt that had coated the panel, but that was about all the crew were willing to trust her with when she couldn't even hear their instructions. Stupid, really; didn't they realise that written instructions were more sensible anyhow? ​Especially when you considered that some of the other workers had roughly half the intelligence and technically capacity of a Mynock. ​Perhaps fortunately, Elyria wasn't afforded much time to dwell on the subject, for at that moment a shadow fell across her and she started, barely avoiding dropping the hydrospanner once again. 

 

Whirling about, she glare daggers at the familiar man who stood over her. Tall, but hunched and grubby, Deryl Hath would win no beauty awards, but he was one of the kinder souls aboard the Em-Ex​, though of course that wasn't saying much nowadays. The soft hearts had burnt out long ago. A thief and a scoundrel, he had taught Elyria some of his tricks a few years back, yet had never pushed for the sort of reward so many aboard the battered transport seemed to expect. Instead, he had tried to cultivate a friendship of sorts, and now the two of them were often together, splitting rations or items of luxury one or other hand managed to purloin. Once or twice, they'd even shared a bag of spice, and it was one such bag that Deryl now produced and flashed before Elyria's startled eyes. Breath caught in her throat, she could merely stare in confusion and Deryl, perhaps sensing the bafflement behind her gaze, shrugged and gestured down a corridor that led toward the docking bays, before swooping his hand through the air like a spacecraft.

 

​A ship. A ship is here. Now.

 

​This wasn't unheard of, but it was rare enough that thoughts of going to see were now warring with Elyria's desire to sample the spice, and she bit her lip thoughtfully as she glanced from bag to accessway. It was difficult, made all the more so by the insidious effects of her previous samples of spice, but eventually she shook her head, as though silencing the demons, and stabbed one finger toward Deryl and another toward the deck. You, wait.​ 

 

And with that she stepped past him and headed toward the accessway, her steps quicker by the second. She wasn't going to miss this. Not today, not ever.

 

Because you never knew when it could be your chance to escape the purgatory that was MX-371.



#2
Milo Ren

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​"Yes, that piece of junk there is a refugee ship. Dock now."

 

​Milo stood aboard the bridge of his vessel, looking at his adoptive daughter Freya handle herself quite competently behind the cockpit. The former Ren was impressed, but he didn't outwardly express it. Better not to spoil the young woman.

 

​"All right, let's drop those freemen off."

 

​In a visit back to Tatooine to pick up the remainder of his and her stuff, Milo had decided to do a bit of slave freeing. Now there were about 50 slaves cramped in his ship, with no one place to drop them all off. A refugee ship would be a little more decent than a random planet, and with a persuasive word to whoever ran the scrap pile, he would make sure that the freemen would be treated well.

 

The docking tube hissed and the doorway opened, leading into an access ramp aboard the Em-Ex. The freed slaves clamored forward, eager to stretch their legs, while Milo stuck to the back, waiting for someone in charge to approach him. He was hooded in gray robes, and his lightsaber was hidden, firmly attached to his belt.

 

Elyria Vance


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#3
Elyria Vance

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It took but a handful of minutes for Elyria to reach the docking bay, yet by the time her foot crossed the tarnished threshold dozens of others had gathered. Huddled in small groups, they stared nervously at the unfamiliar ship that had come to rest on the ancient decking. Each of them was wary of strangers and the threat they represented, yet none could contain their curiosity or, that greatest of treasures, hope. None had stepped forward, though – indeed, when the boarding ramp lowered with a hiss of hydraulics many moved backward, putting additional distance between themselves and the craft.

 

Elyria wasn’t among them, but she watched warily as figures began to emerge. Figures clad in tattered desert robes. More refugees. Others must have reached the same conclusion even as she did, for many began to turn to leave, ready to spread the news of the new arrivals. After all, it was a fairly safe conclusion that a ship bringing fresh meet to the vagabond fleet wouldn’t be taking anyone away to a life of prosperity. However, Elyria lingered a while longer, her pale blue eyes drinking in the scene hungrily, flitting from one new arrival to another before, eventually, they fell upon the figure at the rear of the crowd and widened just a fraction.

 

Who was this? The pilot? Certainly, he wasn’t dressed like the rest, and his appearance was more than a touch unusual, but there was something else -something about the way he carried himself – that set him apart. But what?

 

Elyria couldn’t put her finger on it.

 

As the woman pondered, another figure entered the docking bay; a man, short and brutish, his face a mess of poorly healed flashburns. He didn’t pause, but stomped straight toward the ship, a snarl touching upon his ruined features as he shoved through the newcomers. Spotting him, Elyria sighed wordlessly; everyone aboard knew that face, and even a fool could guess he was there to object to even more waifs and strays being jettisoned aboard ‘his’ ship. And, sure enough, his lips were moving, forming a chain of shapes that spelt out more than a few unkind words as he advanced toward the mysterious stranger.

 

 

Milo Ren


Edited by Elyria Vance, 25 January 2018 - 05:06 AM.


#4
Milo Ren

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​"I don't think all those horrible things you said about my mother are true, sir."

 

​Wow. Whoever this guy was, he really​ didn't want these freed slaves brought here. A little bit of frustration grew in Milo, but he pushed it down. It would be better to resolve this not with violence, but with the Force.

 

​"You want to let these freed slaves stay aboard your vessel."

 

​"I...want to let these freed slaves stay aboard my vessel."

 

The former Ren smiled and waved his hand again.

 

​"You will treat them properly."

 

​"I will treat them properly."

 

​"In fact, you'll treat everyone aboard here well."

 

​"In fact, I'll treat everyone aboard here well."

 

With a wicked smirk, Milo added one more thing.

 

​"You'd like to apologize for the horrible things you said about my mother."

 

​"I'd like to apologize for the horrible things you said about my mother."

 

​"Well, good sir, you've certainly convinced me that this is the best place to leave these freed slaves. I'm sure they'll be safe and not mistreated in any way."

 

​The short and brutish man shook his head, wondering exactly what happened as he walked into the crowd of refugees, careful not to push into anyone.

 

Milo chuckled to himself silently for a few seconds. Well, it seemed his work was done. He was about to board his corvette when he noticed a pale, beautiful woman staring directly at him. She must've been looking the entire time he and the crewman were talking. The former Ren lowered his hood, revealing natural white, long hair, green eyes, and a handsome face. He smiled, briefly, then turned back to the mass of refugees crowding back into the entirety of the Em-Ex.​ Somewhere in his heart, Milo wished he could help them all. After all, he knew what it was like to be a refugee. And a slave.

 

Elyria Vance


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#5
Elyria Vance

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Elyria's browed creased in consternation as the scene unfolded before her; the crewman going from rampaging lummox to docile hound with just a handful of words and, unless her eyes deceived her, a simple wave of the hand. It was absurd, laughable even, yet Elyria was never one to doubt the evidence of her own eyes, and even as she continued to watch from the sidelines the brute set about carefully shepherding the newcomers into the bowels of the ship, albeit with a most perplexed expression upon his grotesque features. 

 

What could have caused that? ​She found herself wondering, yet the only answer that presented itself seemed ridiculous; Magic. But that was absurd; the closest thing to magic in this damnable galaxy was the Force, and those lucky enough to be blessed with a connection to that mystical energy were more likely to be saving planets or conquering entire species than slumming on a refugee ship.

 

​Weren't they?

 

But Elyria was afforded little time to dwell on that particular thought, for even as the thought surfaced the stranger glanced toward her, his vivid green eyes locking with hers momentarily. A hand that betrayed the signs of hardship tugged down the hood he'd been wearing the whole time, allowing a shock of pure white hair to tumble into sight, and a smile twitched almost cockily at the corners of his mouth before he glanced away, leaving Elyria frozen in place, stunned.

 

​There was something different about that man. Something... off, although perhaps not in a bad way. She'd suspected from the moment she saw him interact with the crewman, but now, having felt that intense gaze upon her, she was certain. And before she knew what she was doing, she was stepping forward, slipping lithely through the throng of refugees toward the stranger's ship.

 

​One way or another, she was going to find out what the hell was going on.



#6
Milo Ren

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Milo continued to watch the throng of refugees walk into the depths of the vessel with a grim satisfaction. He wasn't exactly setting them up for success, but he knew that they'd be treated decently. As he was about to turn around, someone caught his eye. It was the woman that was staring at him, running through the crowd to meet him. For some strange reason, he felt a connection between the two. No, it wasn't a strange reason. It was the Force. For what purpose, he didn't know. But he'd find out.

The former Ren would wait until the beautiful woman reached him and would ask her a question, not knowing she was deaf and mute.

"How can I help you?"

Elyria Vance

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#7
Elyria Vance

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Interest in the stranger's craft had largely faded away after the appearance of the sentient cargo, so Elyria faced little difficulty in darting through the crowd; where once the press of people might have blocked a slight figure from pushing through, now the crowd was starting to disperse, their attention fading and focuses turning back to whatever they had been doing prior to their discovery of the visitors. Thus it was but a few moments before she stood before the craft, her eyes once more meeting those of the white haired man.

 

She saw him speak - a question, she thought, though in her haste to approach she missed enough of it that she couldn't be entirely sure. Regardless,Elyria could see no malice in his eyes, so she hesitated not a whit in stepping closer, raising her had in greeting as she drew closer.

 

'​Who the hell are you?' ​She found herself wondering as she studied the man who stood before her, eyes flickering across his striking visage as though seeking out the answers to her unspoken question. ​'Robes,' ​she reflected, '​He's wearing robes. Could he really be a Jedi?'​ It seemed absurd but honestly, what were the alternatives? Who else rode around the galaxy, wearing robes and rescuing refugees?

 

Milo Ren



#8
Milo Ren

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Milo chuckled slightly as the woman said nothing, but practically stared at him. It was slightly awkward for the man, so he decided to crack a joke, not knowing that she was both deaf and mute still.

"I didn't know I was that good-looking," he quipped with a mischevious grin. "Speechless, I know."

Unsure of what to say next, the former Ren reached for a pouch hidden inside his robes, unintentionally exposing his lightsaber for a moment before pulling out a bar of chocolate. He then handed it over to the woman as a gift of sorts.

Elyria Vance

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#9
Elyria Vance

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Chocolate was a rare treat on the vagrant fleet, and in any normal circumstances Elyria might have been tempted to tear the wrapper and take a bite then and there. However, these weren't normal circumstances; in retrieving the chocolate, the stranger had, perhaps deliberately, afforded the mute woman a glimpse of the silver cylinder hanging at his waist. A lightsaber. So he was​ a Jedi, then. Or he'd killed one, but Elyria quashed that thought violently; nobody who'd killed a Jedi would be rescuing refugees, would they? She had to hope not.

 

The man was speaking again, and Elyria read an all too familiar joke upon his lips. Still, the man probably didn't know the truth of what he was saying, so she stifled a sigh as she stashed the chocolate bar in a pocket, her hand brushing against her datapad as she did. 

 

​Oh!

 

An idea occurring, she drew the pad from her pocket and, with a cursory gesture, wiped the maintenance manifest from the screen. Then, with one dirty finger, she jabbed in her name before flipping the device around and offering it to the stranger with the very slightest of shrugs.

 

Milo Ren


Edited by Elyria Vance, 28 January 2018 - 05:25 AM.


#10
Milo Ren

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Squinting for a moment to see what was on the datapad turned to him, Milo thought for a second on what the two words meant. Then it clicked.

"Elyria Vance. Oh, I see. You're mute, aren't you? That's why you haven't said anything."

With a sympathetic glance, Milo switched over to telepathic communication, speaking directly into her head.

'My name is Milo. Please, tell me how you ended up here. Tell me how I can help you.'

Elyria Vance

Edited by Milo Ren, 28 January 2018 - 08:29 PM.

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#11
Elyria Vance

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Milo Ren

 

Elyria winced as a decade of silence was sundered by the uninvited voice that tore through her mind, so unexpected and unfamiliar as to be almost painful. And, somehow, the sympathetic look upon the man's face made it all the worse, bringing an unfamiliar sting of tears to her eyes as she reached up to pinch the bridge of her nose in a vain attempt at quashing the sensation of telepathic communication.

 

And how to reply? Did she just think it? Could he read her mind? Or was there some other method he just expected her to know? Answers to that didn't seem forthcoming, so after but a moment she blinked back the pained tears and began to focus upon her thoughts, composing her story. 'War orphan,'​ she thought, concentrating intently upon each word, ​'Lost everything. Been stuck here most my life.' ​Grimacing slightly, Elyria couldn't help but note how pathetic her story was. She hoped it wouldn't elicit another sympathetic glance from the stranger - ​Milo - ​for sympathy and pity were the very last things she wanted.

 

And the thing she wanted most? 

 

A chance.



#12
Milo Ren

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Milo not only saw Elyria wince in pain from the intrusion, but felt it as well, drawing a slight scowl. She was deaf as well, it seemed. His voice was the first thing she had heard in years. He didn't know it then, but he knew it now, and would be careful in future intrusions to be more gentle. Broadcasting another message into her head, softly now, careful not to overwhelm the woman, Milo spoke again.

'I'm sorry for the discomfort. Is this better? Relax. There's no need to force the words out. I can read your thoughts clearly.'

A chance.

That's what Elyria wanted. Just a chance. A chance at what, he was unsure. But it resonated in her mind. The former Ren bowed his head and a tear slid out of his eye as the emotion from her unconscious request flooded his head. He knew what it was like to want a chance, too.

He'd help her.

Elyria Vance

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#13
Elyria Vance

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Sympathy and pity played across the stranger's features, eliciting a flash of anger from Elyria . She didn't want sympathy, didn't need pity. But even as a rebuke came racing to the forefront of her thoughts, she quashed them, burying them deep. This man, this... Milo, couldn't know how much it crushed the human soul to be seen as an object of pity for so long and by so many. He couldn't know how Elyria had had to fight to be seen as something other than a burden to be borne by the fleet, how hard she'd had to work to prove her worth. And he couldn't know how much his sympathy threatened to undo that.

 

So Elyria paused a moment, calming the whirling maelstrom of her thoughts, seeking the calm in the centre of her being. 'Thank you,' she thought, letting the words run fluidly through her mind, 'It was... startling for the Silence to be broken.' An understatement and then some, but there was no need to go into the details of that. Milo had already noticed the consequences of his actions and adapted, after all. 

 

Besides, it was nice to hear another human's voice after so long, even in so abstract a way.

 

Slipping her datapad back into one of the many pockets on her grimy flightsuit, she stepped forward, offering one grubby hand to the man. 'My mother used to tell me stories of your kind.'

 

Milo Ren


Edited by Elyria Vance, 30 January 2018 - 03:27 AM.


#14
Milo Ren

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Milo extended a scarred hand and took Elyria's, shaking it gently. He could tell she had relaxed. Good. He didn't want to cause her any discomfort. Her next statement drew a raised eyebrow, though. His kind? Did she assume he was a Jedi? Was it the telepathy, or did she somehow get a glance of the lightsaber hidden at his side?

'My kind? Do you mean the Jedi? I'm not a Jedi, Elyria.'

In fact, the former Ren held a distaste for Jedi. Their inability to take action, the hypocrisy of the Order all had caused the downfall of the galaxy multiple times over the years. Milo was curious, though. What made her think he was a Jedi?

Elyria Vance

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#15
Elyria Vance

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Milo Ren

 

Milo's words elicited a fleeting moment of panic from Elyria. ​Not a Jedi? But that means... a Sith? ​The thought was startling, and Elyria found herself taking an involuntary step backward as she stared, wide-eyed at the man before her. Could it possibly be? Was this man, this saviour of slaves and refugees, really a Sith? Or had her mother's stories been wrong? Was the mythical Force not merely divided between the black and white of the Sith and Jedi?

 

An even if he was one of the darkside's servants, did that change what he had done? Did it really make him less trustworthy? Perhaps, but Elyria still found herself drawn to him.

 

​'Sorry,'​ she thought, hoping Milo was still reading her thoughts, ​'I didn't mean to offend you, I just assumed... I grew up hearing that Jedi were heroes, and after all you've done...' She shrugged, a surprisingly expressive gesture that spoke more than her rambling words ever could, before finishing lamely by reiterating, ​'Sorry.'



#16
Milo Ren

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Elyria took a large step back, eyes wide in fear. Milo read her thoughts, answering mentally with a kind expression on his face.

'I'm not a Sith either. You'll see that it's much more complicated than black and white in the galaxy. One doesn't have to be Jedi to be good, and one likewise doesn't have to be Sith to commit evil. That being said, I'm not exactly a paragon, but I try.'

The former Ren smiled warmly, attempting to put any unrest that the woman had at ease. He didn't want to scare her away. He just wanted to help her.

Elyria Vance

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#17
Elyria Vance

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​More complicated than black and white...

 

Well, that​ made Elyria feel foolish and brought a tinge of crimson to her cheeks; of course ​the Force was more complicated than the tales her mother had told her so many years ago - everything else was, after all. In fact, when she put her mind to it, Elyria couldn't think of a single thing that was as simple as black or white, good or bad.

 

And Milo's comment about not exactly being a paragon? Well, that kind of washed over her because, from what she'd seen of life, there were no such thing as paragons; the closest she'd been able to imagine were those Jedi of old, but the man standing before her had effectively shattered those illusions. Besides, even if he'd done some bad things, did it matter in the here and now? Elyria didn't think so, because now, when it mattered, he was standing there with a sincere warmth to his features, having just saved dozens from some unknown fate.

 

​​'I'd say you've done a pretty good job of trying today,' ​she thought, knowing Milo would pluck the words from her mind, 'I'm kind of envious.'

 

Milo Ren



#18
Milo Ren

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Milo chuckled slightly as a tinge of crimson touched Elyria's cheeks. It was the first real color that he had seen on the woman; besides her eyes, of course.

'Heh. Don't be embarrassed. You didn't know,' the former Ren would project to Elyria.

Envious of him? It sounded like Elyria was either a good-natured woman or extremely naive. No one would envy Milo anymore since the days after his slavery, not even for his handsome features, which sat underneath years of scars from various masters, both literal and symbolic. So why did she? Was she truly envious of him? Perhaps he needed an outsider's point of view again. Freya didn't talk too much. Ra was more business than anything. It felt kind of good to have someone tell him such nice things.

Milo smiled a sad, though sincere, smile, reaching a hand across slowly to brush aside a few stray hairs that were hiding Elyria's face from full view.

'That means a lot to me. It's been a while since anyone's envied my life.'

A warmth grew across his face and cheeks as he watched Elyria stare at him with nothing less than sheer awe. It was strange to see how others in the galaxy saw Force users.

'I'm sorry.'

Elyria Vance

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#19
Elyria Vance

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​I'm sorry.

 

​Elyria blinked as Milo's thoughts echoed in her head, replacing the customary silence with contrite words. Words she wouldn't expect to 'hear' from anyone aboard the Em-Ex, ​or the vagabond fleet in general, and certainly not from one with so very little to apologise for. 'What for?'​ she wondered, knowing Milo would pluck the question from her mind,.​'You've done nothing wrong. As for not many people envying your life....,' ​she paused midthought, smiling wryly as she swept an arm around to indicate the hanger bay, ​'Let's just say I have a pretty low bar.'

 

That wasn't to say that Elyria wasn't glad of the sanctuary the fleet had offered back when she was desperate and alone, but anyone could see that it was hardly the life of luxury. Or of excitement, unless a malfunctioning manifold convertor was your idea of excitement. No, she longed to be elsewhere, chasing excitement and making a difference in the galaxy.

 

Like Milo clearly was.

 

Milo Ren



#20
Milo Ren

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'I'm sorry I didn't show up earlier.'

Milo couldn't help but to think of what life must be like aboard the refugee ship. He was comfortable leaving the slaves there because he knew they'd eventually carve a path for themselves. But to live nearly your entire life aboard this floating junk heap...it must be a nightmare. He couldn't help but to feel pity for Elyria, even though he could tell by her emotions she didn't want any of it. Stagnation was a cruel fate, especially to someone like Milo. He wanted to be free and travel the stars, which was the whole reason he had ran away from home, where he had everything.

And now, Milo could tell that Elyria felt the same way.

Extending a hand, Milo's face broke into a wide smile.

'Come with me. Let's explore the galaxy together.'

Elyria Vance

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