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- - - - - Laira Tython Jedi

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#1
Laira Darkhold

Laira Darkhold

    Jedi Princess

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Blinding Light was all she could see.

 

Laira’s mind was on home, her parents, her brother and little sister. She’d only seen Ma’ree once. She hadn’t been home enough times. She remembered their faces well enough, but how they felt to touch, what it was like to laugh and spend time with them? Those were memories that she couldn’t recall without some reminder of them. She remembered her father had always regretted not visiting his family enough when his wanderlust had called him away, but still she hadn’t made the time. Freedom and adventure had taken Laira far away from her family and now she could not make time to see them every month, or even every year. 

 

Her mother wanted desperately for her to grow into a woman, fit to rule as queen in her stead. For Laira, she had always thought about the throne as a prison, and been afraid of it. Of who she would be when it claimed her. Still she had simply ran away, never deciding or explaining her troubles to her mother. Was she afraid she would fail, or was it fear of having to sacrifice who she was for the crown?

 

Elpsis, her crush at one point. Maybe still? Laira had avoided thinking about whether she was in love with Elpsis or not since Tephrike. She hadn’t even seen her since the first day on Tephrike. After that she had distracted herself, stayed away, and been ushered out by her friends to avoid the inevitable pain of seeing the blind girl and having to explain herself. She was a teenager, she didn’t know what love was, but she knew she had deep feelings about her and wished that they were back on speaking terms, good enough that she could call and check on her friend, even if they weren’t together romantically.

 

She’d expressed feelings for Leo but never got the chance to explore them. The redhead had buried her issues deeper rather than facing them overcoming them like he wanted and so neither of them ever attempted to see where their feelings lead. She was supposed to help Saeza, but spent most of her time acting like the little vong was her padawan instead of her partner. She didn’t even know if Saeza was alive, much less if she had helped her like she had promised.

 

Was this what death felt like? Just blinding light that seemed to go on for hours while recounting your failures and regrets?

 

Suddenly her lungs filled with air, her eyes blurred and vision returned. She could feel the air beginning to rush around her as she fell, looking up into darkened skies. Then the redheaded girl hit the ground, sending echoes of pain through her shoulder and injured back, causing her to gasp. At least it hadn’t been that far to fall. Maybe six or seven feet.

 

Her mind swam, trying to get her bearings but she couldn’t control herself. Instead she convulsed, twisting and jerking on the ground, rolling in the soft grass beneath the dark clouds above. Her muscles tensed, pulling her hands and fingers as she spasmed. It seemed to last forever and she couldn’t get her body under control, but after a moment her body stopped seizing and her thoughts began to clear. She vomited the contents of her stomach onto the ground, blood mixed in from her mouth and cheek as she wiped her face on the grass, dry heaving from the effort.

 

Laira had done this once before, and that time Cato Fett had been forced to revive her. Another time she had blacked out and laid in the sand for hours. At least this time she kept conscious, even if it had given her a seizure. Those didn’t cause bad long-term health issues, right?

 

Laira groaned loudly as she rolled onto her side, her hand slipping through the warm grass, gripping it like a comfortable blanket as she tried to rise, the fire in her stomach and shoulder reminding her she was seriously injured. “Right.” Finally she could touch her stomach, looking at the cut just above her navel. It wasn’t as bad as she had thought, but it was bleeding still. Not deep enough to get through her abs, so everything was still inside. Her shoulder was worse for wear, unable to lift her left arm at all without searing pain radiating from the deep laceration. Those two first, then she could address the headache, loose tooth, cut on her face, and possibly broken ribs. 

 

The princess carefully opened her medipac, pulling out one of the bacta syringes, injecting half the dose into the wound on her shoulder before pulling her suit apart to expose her stomach and inject the second half of the dose. Laira ripped the armor apart some more, pulling off enough of it to make a binding and rolling it down to make for pants and sports-top. Next she went back to the medipac, spraying an antiseptic on both of her injuries before returning to it for the sutures. “Of course, arseholes.” She muttered in an exasperated tone, pulling out the staple gun the Jedi packed into it for closing wounds. 

 

Laira took a deep breath, closing her eyes as she laid down into the grass. Then she started, stapling her stomach wound closed with winces and load moans of pain with each one, increasing in volume as she did so. The wound closed, stapled together in painful fashion, but it was closed. She slathered a coagulant salve onto the stapled wound, touching it gingerly before wrapping a strip of her suit around it to protect the wound until it had time to heal.

 

She wanted so bad to lie there and take a moment to relax and rest after the pain and effort of stapling her body back together. But she was still bleeding out and time was of the essence if she expected to survive. The redhead took the coagulant salve and wiped into her shoulder’s laceration, and then injecting a numbing agent into the flesh with a grunt. “Almost there,” Laira grunted, looking up at the sky. She breathed in deeply before stapling the cut closed again. This time she screamed in frustration, kicking her legs in an attempt to distract her body from the pain, but still it radiated through her body as the staples pulled her skin back together. Tears streamed from her eyes and a sob escaped her mouth. She tested the mobility in her arm, wincing as it almost immediately hurt.

 

So that’s useless for now.” Grey eyes turned to the sky while she pulled her hair back, tying it with the last strip of her suit so that the scarlet locks didn’t cover her face.

 

Now to figure out where the hell am I?



#2
Laira Darkhold

Laira Darkhold

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Laira carefully pulled her cloak over her neck, letting it fall around her shoulders like a cape, packing away what was left of her medipac and storing it back into her belt before she got to her feet and started looking for her Lightsaber. It had been in her hands when she had Fold Spaced herself to whatever world this was, but during her convulsions Laira had lost it. Grey eyes scanned the ground around where she had arrived, finding the shining metal rod after only a short moment. 

 

She clicked it on, the snap-hiss and hum activating as expected. “Good,” she exclaimed, forcing herself to be a little positive about her situation. Next she dug through her pockets, finding her two communicators, both dead. Then her pistol, her favorite five-five-seven which was also completely dead. Probably drained or damaged by the radiation from the Reactor room she had just escaped a few minutes ago. “Speaking of which,” muttered by the girl taking an anti-radiation pill and popping it into her mouth. She had to build up some saliva before swallowing the foul tasting object, but it would help heal her from any potentially adverse effects the reactor leakage had exposed her to. 

 

So, no comms, no gps, and no idea where I am.” She sighed, looking around. She was surrounded by lush green temperate forests, rock formations lined the canyon she had landed in. <This could be Alderaan, I was thinking of home and both other times I’ve done this I’ve gone to worlds that meant something to me or who I was with.>

 

So, with no idea where I am or how long I’ll be here. Water, Food, Shelter.” Deep breath. Laira started off to her left, towards the center of the canyon. If there was a canyon, there was likely a water source in it somewhere and while it was large, she could probably hike its length in three days, maybe two depending on how difficult the terrain was. As it was now, the ground was smooth, the grass relatively short and soft, gentle to the touch, but not to the point where it was difficult to travel. Most of the rocks she could see were smooth. Travelling would be easy as far as terrain, the only issue was the clouds overhead and the fact that she was now in a sports-top and tight-pants, leaving her entire stomach exposed, so rain would force her to stop or risk infection or sickness. Laira could fight those maladies off with the Force, but that was effort better spent elsewhere, like healing and recovering from her injuries as quickly as possible. Her ribs still ached from the man’s boots being driven into them and her headache hadn’t subsided. The fact that she could have a concussion didn’t escape her, which would make the trek even that much more difficult.

 

Still, without freshwater she’d dehydrate in a hurry and she had enough on her to make a simplistic shelter if the rain started before she could stop for the day. It did look like evening was coming upon her.

 

As she walked, Laira’s senses tingled, not in anticipation, just from the aura of the place she was at. The world she walked upon seemed to have a pleasing, calming effect on her. She breathed out, walking along the edge of the little glade she had fallen into. For whatever reason, she had traveled to this spot, so it couldn’t be worse than where she had been. As she passed into the trees, Laira touched her hand to her staples, checking to make sure they were staying in place and not being stressed too greatly by her hike. When she looked at her fingers there was no blood, but that didn’t mean nothing was wrong. 

 

Thunder rumbled overhead, and other than having to walk, Laira realized she didn’t have anything pressing or urgent to focus on and the thoughts she had before she returned to realspace slipped back into her mind.

 

What did she want out of her life? What would she become? What would she say to Elpsis, to Leo, or Saeza when she got back to them? How would she explain her situation to Elpsis, and Firemane wasn’t the best place for her, not after Tephrike. She couldn’t see herself helping them again, not after what happened at Fort Purity with the younglings. Leo had had to explain he’d had no part in the massacre as he was carrying her back to the gunships, but the whole ordeal gave her chills just to think about. All those innocents, killed. There had to be a better way than that, but no one had even thought about it. 

 

Did she even want to see Elpsis again? Laira did miss her, and thinking about just leaving it where they had hurt in her chest. After all the people they had helped save together and how close they had grown, to just walk away forever couldn’t be how it ended. No, she owed it to her friend to go and explain things from her perspective. 

 

She owed it to her mother to decide what she wanted and say it out loud and let the chips fall where they may. Laira knew her mother would never exile her, but still, she needed to decide if she wanted to wear the crown or not.

 

Laira kept walking, the sound of babbling, slow moving water tickled her ears garnering a sigh of relief. Legs pumping, she picked up the pace and took the small knoll in a few steps to see a little creek, maybe ten or fifteen meters wide and maybe a meter deep at most. The water was crystal clear and she could see fish in it. Being outdoorsy did at least tell her that such pristine conditions usually also meant predators, so she needed to keep her wits and stay on guard. The redhead moved over to the creek, dipping her straw into its clear waters and drank deeply. The straw itself was a water purifier so it was definitely safe to drink, but she didn’t have a good way to store any for later. 



#3
Laira Darkhold

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Refreshed, the Redhead Jedi took to working on a shelter near the water. Enough time spent in frigid mountains with her father taught her enough about temporary shelters and so she started working on it little by little, going slow to avoid bending her abdomen or using her left arm too much while she worked. Eventually the little shelf above the ground started to take shape and after a few large leaves had been lashed together, she had a working lean-to to keep the rain off her, intending to use her cloak like a blanket. It sucked compared to sleeping on her ship, but she could manage for a few nights. She had elected to travel downstream in the morning, which would eventually lead her to civilization, there she could figure out what planet she was on and could likely call for someone to pick her up. After this ordeal, she deserved to be pampered. <When I get home I’m gonna get Leo to rub my feet and feed me grapes while I relax in a nice warm bubble bath.>

 

Assuming he was still alive.

 

For now, it was work. With a shelter, next was fire. After that was food. Fire would be easy enough, she had a few firestarters in her pouch plus a lightsaber, so it was only a matter of gathering enough wood to last through the night, which was fairly easy in a forest, even one-handed.

 

While gathering tinder, she knelt to pick up a few twigs, noticing a footprint. Clearly clawed footprints at that ,in the soft ground. Whatever it was, the creature was about human sized, but significantly heavier and bipedal. The tracks lead off upstream, but converged not far from where she found them with several other sets which all lead further up the stream. “Noted, some form of tribal species? Maybe primitive.” Laira mused to herself as she studied them. Luckily, they seemed to travel in the opposite direction from where she wanted to go, so maybe she could avoid any potential hostilities with them.

 

After building her fire and catching a fish, Laira picked at the cooked flesh while sitting in her shelter, looking out over the water, taking in the beauty of the place. Thunder rumbled and the first sprinkles of rain began falling from the sky. The redhead licked her lips as she continued eating, drinking out of a cupped leaf every so often. The creek was quiet, but provided enough fish within for a person for weeks. There were some berries and fruits around, but being unknown species on an unknown planet they weren’t safe to eat without studying further. The fish itself could be potentially poisonous, but she had to eat something and upon dissection they appeared as any normal fish-species she had grown up catching and eating, and so she had caught three out of the creek by stunning them with the Force before grabbing them. One for tonight, the other two to cook and pack up for tomorrow and the next day, which should give her enough food to last her entire journey through the canyon.

 

Eventually, she settled in to sleep, pulling her cloak up around her chest and drawing her legs in close, she slipped into a hibernation trance. She wasn’t great at it, but it did help her speed up her body’s regeneration. Not much, but some. With nothing but a few trip wires around her shelter, she relied on the Force to warn her if danger approached while she rested. Meanwhile, she dreamed.

 

She found herself in total darkness, but could hear the whispers all around her. At first they were muffled, too quiet and hushed for her to make out clearly but as she wandered they became clearer. 

 

<You killed us!> The children’s voices rang out. <You left me for dead.> A familiar voice, now filled with disgust when it was usually filled with kindness and love. <You abandoned us.> Her father’s voice rumbled from ahead, the disappointment dripping in his tone. <You disgraced me.> <You left me.> They all spoke in unison.

 

What was I supposed to do!?’ Laira cried, tears filling her eyes. ‘I tried to save you, I turned on my allies, my friends to try.

 

<But you failed. Our blood is on your hands.>

 

Please, I didn’t want you to die. I did everything I could to save you.

 

<You were so concerned with their lives, but you could not be asked to save mine?>

 

It wasn’t like that! I was worried you were already dead! I didn’t think I could handle that! I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t want to see your body and fall!

 

Her mother spoke again, stern and mean in her demeanor. <You must be able to handle it. You must be able to rule.>

 

Mom, I’m young. I don’t know what I want! I just want to be free while I can.

 

<You were not born to be free. You were born to be my daughter. Our legacies lie with you.> Her father could be heard. Then her mother once more, <It is expected that you learn to rule. The crown awaits and you must be ready for it.>

 

I don’t want your legacy! I want my own! I want to see every star, I want to live in my ship with my friends, going from planet to planet wherever I want and wherever I’m needed! I don’t want what you want from me!

 

The redhead snapped awake, the back of her head ringing with pain. She could see the shapes though, two of them just outside the reach of her smoldering fire’s light. “Who goes?

 

The shapes were vaguely humanoid, but they did not respond in any language she could understand. It was guttural, angry. She reached out with the Force and felt them, and she could feel their malicious intent.

 

One of them roared, bursting forward through the rain and mud, hefting a makeshift sword above his head to crash down upon her. She didn’t recognize his species in the dark, nor would she without having seen them in person, a mass of flesh with a hammerhead like skull, jagged fangs, and muscle.



#4
Laira Darkhold

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The flesh raider hurled itself towards the redhead Jedi, mud squelching underneath its clawed feet. Its sword raised up, splattering rain droplets off the scavenged metal that the blade was crafted from. Laira rolled backwards out of her lean-to, into the mud and wet grass, her shoulder tensing with pain when she put weight on it, coming up in a crouch with her Lightsaber in hand. The creature demolished her shelter, mud splashing into her fire, before continuing to surge towards her. 

 

Laira snapped the lightsaber on and dove low to the creature’s left, dragging the saber blade across the beast’s knees before spinning and raising her saber arm up, taking off the Flesh Raider’s legs and bisecting him at the ribcage. The scent of burnt skin filled her nostrils as strands of flame red hair plastered to her face. The second Flesh Raider howled, like a wolf calling its pack mates. Through her splitting headache she could feel them. Dozens.

 

The howls in response echoed from all around, concentrating downstream from there. “Yeah, yeah.” She muttered, advancing on the Flesh Raider, watching its crude spear thrust towards her. These were much slower than the Mandalorian she had faced, admittedly they were also much stronger than he was, but unarmored and armed with makeshift weapons. She leaned off to the side, letting the tip pass by her chest, flicking her wrist in a circle to snip the weapon off at the haft before sweeping her blade up as she jumped past the raider, slicing him from underarm to collar bone with the blazing azure brand.

 

Laira could feel the others coming, hungry, filled with hate and malice, but she had a moment to grab up her cloak and belt, struggling to wrap them around herself in the dark with one hand, but managing. Even as she set out upstream, she heard the whistle of a projectile fired from a bow and the thud as it struck a tree trunk nearby, fired from one of the other Raiders as it approached the Jedi. She might be able to take them all a few at a time, but one mistake and she could end up dead, and Laira’s chances at making a mistake while possibly concussed and severely wounded were high. She needed to create separation, hide from the tribal monsters for a while so she could rest and go into a healing trance long enough to recover from her injuries. Or at least be semi-functional with them.

 

She took off, leaving the creek to sprint through the wooded hills within the canyon, darting around trees, ducking under branches and boughs as she sprinted. Rain pelted her from above, splashes from puddles sprayed her legs, sticking to her skin and trousers. Water could be felt filling her boots, but at least her feet were in waterproof socks. Her stomach felt like it was burning, but she had to keep running to put distance between her and the largest pack of the beings chasing after her. If she hurried, the redhead might could slip in between the groups in front of her and break away from them and maybe get away without having to fight them anymore.

 

Laira could hear the ones ahead of her trying to cut her off, though they weren’t sure where she was exactly, they were listening for her and fanning out in a wide angle to force her to combat with them. These ones had a better plan than the first two, they just tried to sneak up and investigate. <Feth, feth, feth.>

 

Laira zigged to her left, putting on a little more speed, she could feel her staples opening up on her stomach. She’d have time to fix that later, after she’d gotten away. The redhead glanced over her shoulder, seeing a spear come flying out of the darkness at her, forcing Laira to duck off to the right to avoid it. Another arrow thudded into a tree nearby. She could tell she was pulling ahead and moving out of range, though her stomach was probably bleeding again and she wouldn’t be able to run all night.

 

Head pounding and heart racing, the redhead zagged back to her right, hoping to throw her pursuers off her trail for a time. She just needed to find somewhere to hide for a while longer, re-staple her stomach, and go back into a healing trance. Sprinting as she was, she barely heard the other footsteps in the rain, her peripheral vision catching a glimpse of a trio of Flesh Raiders as they intercepted her escape route. 

 

Laira could do little else but activate her lightsaber and fight it out with the three of them. <Kill one immediately to even the odds.> The redhead threw her legs out in front of her as she met the first one, dropping into a baseball slide, slashing with her blade at his midsection. She heard the gurgle and boiling of blood against the blade in between the hiss of raindrops turning to vapor. She felt the creature’s presence in the Force fill with agony as she dropped her heels into the mud to stop her slid and pop up to standing to engage the other two. 

 

The first slashed at her with a sword, which Laira moved to parry, slicing the weapon into pieces as she did. Momentum carried the heavy metal blade into her, jabbing her flesh. It wasn’t enough to kill, but certainly it opened yet another wound in her stomach. The redhead riposted, the blade thrusting into the creature’s neck, burying the brand into it’s flesh until it severed the spine, dropping the Flesh Raider quickly. The second Raider roared, maul and shield whirling at Laira. She ducked the maul, but the shield drove into her side, knocking her to the ground like a ragdoll as the muscle-bound brute charged through her. 

 

Laira gasped, wincing in pain as the injury to her ribs and shoulder were aggravated by the assault, only barely seeing the incoming maul in time to roll out of the way. As the redhead rolled to her back she swept up with the Lightsaber, slashing the beast’s forearms off. She struggled to her feet, wincing as she did. She could hear the others in the darkness coming for her. <No time,> her blade flicked through the wounded Flesh Raider’s skull and deactivated as she took off running once more.



#5
Laira Darkhold

Laira Darkhold

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Laira panted in the rain, water dripping from her hair and skin. Her eyes blurred due to the rain, and probably mixed with tears from the pain of her staples opening up on her stomach. Her muscles were sore, and the darkness of night was beginning to give way to the dim-light of a rainy day. How long she had ran and how long she had managed to sleep for was a mystery, but given how exhausted she felt, it seemed like running had occupied the majority of the redhead’s night on this planet. She couldn’t hear the Flesh Raiders anymore, but she could feel them, thirty, maybe forty individuals following her. Far too many for her to fight with just a lightsaber, especially as wounded as she was. Still, she was far enough ahead to stop and fix her injuries.

 

Laira pulled the binding off, examining the wide cut and the loose staples. Trickles of blood mixed with the rain from it. She grunted, taking a seat on a wet rock to open her medipac and restitch the wound. She started with the antiseptic again, injecting the liquid into the cut, feeling it burn away the bacteria that had seeped into the injury from the rainwater that clung to her body the entire night. It was getting bad, but she couldn’t just try for another planet. Well, maybe she could, but since Laira had no idea how her teleportation worked. It seemed to be an instinct that triggered when she was about to die and took her to some random worlds, usually ones with some personal importance to her or others with her. If that was the case, it was entirely possible if she was able to trigger it again that she’d just end up back where she started or somewhere worse.

 

Withdrawing the staple gun once more, Laira bit down on a piece of cloth as she pinched the skin together and began the long process of removing loose staples and replacing them with fresh ones that dug into her flesh and clasped it together. Laira could feel herself crying, even if the rain hitting her face obscured it. She wrung out the binding and tied it around her stomach once again, biting her lip as she stood up once more. She was tired, she wanted to sleep, she wanted to heal. She wanted to get dry, but it didn’t seem like any of those things were in her future.

 

She sighed deeply, taking in the air as she started jogging further up the canyon. Maybe this way would lead to some sort of civilization where she could call for help or find some protection from the tribal beasts that hunted her, but she was beginning to doubt it. Why else would they chase her so doggedly unless they knew she wasn’t going to find any help out in the wilderness. Her pace was slower than it had been, conserving energy as the redhead drew on the Force to refresh her muscles only just enough to get some relief from the aching in her arm and abdomen. <Just keep moving.>

 

She turned, moving towards the cliffs that made up the boundary of the canyon. <Maybe I can out climb them and get away from them that way. Or hide in the rocks where I could get away quickly if I needed to.> It was a thought, not her most imaginative idea for how to get out of her dire situation, but it could work.

 

She approached the looming canyon wall, maybe one hundred meters tall at this part of the canyon, probably the highest area she could see for miles which made it a good place to start. The flesh raiders did not seem like they were built for climbing, being round and barrel-chested usually with a gut and shorter limbs than a human of their size. Still, wet rocks didn’t make the easiest surface to climb for her either and so practicing caution would be required to climb it safely. Especially with one arm largely out of commission.

 

She started slowly, testing each handhold and foothold before putting too much of her weight on each rock or root she used to start her climb. She made it about fifteen meters before scrapping her stomach painfully against a sharp stone, feeling the rock tug at the slice in her flesh. She gasped in pain, just hanging from the canyon wall for a moment, trying to blink away the little lights that burst in her aching head when it happened. A minute went by, maybe two with the rain just falling on her as she clung to the wet rocks. <Move.>

 

The redhead reached up, wanting to start climbing again but just held there again. Just holding onto the next stone, wanting to urge herself to keep going but struggling to find the resolve.

 

<Move.> It felt like her thought, but the inner voice seemed a little different. She brushed the oddity aside and moved at last, continuing her ascent towards the summit of the canyon. She could make it, she was certain of it. Even as her muscles ached and grew tired, she knew she could make the full one hundred meters to the summit, but a rest once she got most of the way up didn’t sound so bad. 

 

She ascended another handful of meters, far enough to where a fall would probably kill her and enough that she was out of throwing weapon range if the Flesh Raiders spotted her on the canyon wall and decided to pursue her up the rocks. She looked down, seeing the rainsoaked canyon beneath her, still tranquil in its appearance. Deep verdent evergreen forest dotted with slate outcroppings and little glades of viridescent grass. She could smell it still, a soft gentle aroma of fresh rain. From up here, in this moment of quiet reflection without panic or urgency, Laira could appreciate the landscape once more.

 

Her thoughts turned back to her friends. They had to. She needed them, more than she had realized. She missed all of them. Elpsis, Leo, Saeza, even Joza and Cato. She missed her family as well. She needed to survive this if for nothing else so she could set things right with all of them. <When I get out of this, I’m going to make it right with each of you. I promise.>



#6
Laira Darkhold

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The redhead ascended further up the rocky cliff, taking her time to check every step as she worked her way up towards the summit. She was more than halfway, probably only twenty or so meters to go before she made it to the top. Her body hurt and her headache was bothering her, causing her eyes to cross, forcing Laira to stop and focus her eyes before she could continue. Already she had missed one hand-hold that had almost caused her to fall, which at this height would mean her death. Luckily, she hadn’t heard the Flesh Raiders yet, but the wind and rain whipped around on her enough to drown them out even if they were howling down below.

 

The young padawan reached for the next hold, gripping the rock and testing it carefully before shifting her weight and moving her leg up to the next spot. Laira felt with her boot, making sure the spot was secure enough on the sole of her boot before shifting her weight back to it. Her arms were sore and her abdomen ached with a dull, pulsating fire, made worse whenever she stretched up. Still, she persevered so far, eighty meters of climbing and she was almost to the top. She could see it now, and could see the path she would take to get out of the canyon, each hand and foot hold on the winding path up the cliff. The rain started coming down harder, fat drops of rain and heavy winds spraying Laira when they struck her and the rocks around her. A mist clung around the stones, but she could tell it was morning now, the sun stuck behind dark clouds. 

 

She reached for the next rock and the stone under her foot gave way, clattering and shattering against the cliff as it fell. Laira hung there, her hand grasping for purchase, white-knuckle tight against the wet stone, kicking her feet to find somewhere to planet them. Water fell into her eyes, hair swept across her face. Desperate, she reached up with her left arm, screaming out from the exertion of the wounded limb to grasp hold of the stone to steady herself, even if only for a moment. 

 

Then she slipped.

 

Fear raced across her features, desperate to find any purchase and save herself, slipping off the cliff. Arms scrambled at wet stones to no avail and she fell. Wind rushed passed her ears, and she struck a stone about ten meters below her, feeling her ribs crack as she crashed down to the ledge, her legs dangling off into open air.

 

Laira groaned loudly, wincing as she tried to roll towards the cliff sucking in air, filling her lungs. Rain fell hard upon her as she crawled back towards the cliff, eyes clearing from the sudden stop. There was a small cave in the cliff wall, largely obscured by the small ledge. The cave was about her height, maybe a little taller and wide enough for her to walk through comfortably. It seemed odd to find such a place carved into the middle of a gigantic cliff, but it was dry and relatively well hidden, and that was all that mattered about it right now. Laira crawled into the alcove, taking shelter from the rain for the first time in hours, igniting her saber to light the way. 

 

The cave was deep, even the light from her saber bathing the walls in azure light did not reach the end of it, and so Laira stopped just a bit inside to work on her wounds and focus on drying off. Hanging her cloak on a small stone and then began wringing out her hair with a sigh. It took longer than she had hoped to empty out her boots, but the waterproof socks had kept her feet dry, and her tight-pants had kept her bottom and legs dry enough. It was mostly just her torso and head that had been soaked since the rain started, but maybe she could ride out the storm from here. She had water and shelter at least.

 

With her hair tied back and at least not dripping wet anymore, her cloak left to dry out at the entrance, Laira turned to her injuries, redressing and readministering antiseptic and coagulant salve to them. The redhead had decided to conserve her last dose of bacta for now, hoping that a healing trance would be sufficient enough to recover so that she could save the Bacta for immediate use later. Once she had cared for herself, Laira decided to explore the cave before seeking out rest, believing it to be best to ensure there were no predators waiting within before going to sleep.

 

She wandered deeper into the tunnel, looking for anything out of place, reaching out with the Force. She could feel tranquility and peace within, but that didn’t mean it was safe. Nature was tranquil and peaceful most of the time. Even predators like manka-cats could be peaceful when they were asleep.

 

The light from her saber found the edges of hewn stone, clearly carved out rather than dug out like before, clearly crafted by someone with some significant skill with stone masonry. She continued, moving carefully and keeping her eyes up, watching for sign of movement in the dim light.



#7
Laira Darkhold

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The Flame-maned Padawan continued down the tunnel until it came to an end, terminating into a large domed room with an oculus at the top that opened to the sky. The room wasn’t lit, dim and gloomy without the light of the star to illuminate it, and the water from the rain poured down the center of the room like a waterfall, falling through a perfect circle hole in the floor, some stray drops splattering on the stone floor. Grey eyes studied the room, first checking the shadows and alcoves that surrounded it for signs of movement or shapes of beings lurking in them. 

 

Once Laira was satisfied she was alone, she inspected the floor, seeing that the cobblestones that formed it were all unique in size, no two exactly the same as they formed a circle around the well in the center of the room. Six alcoves surrounded the dome, with the seventh leading out to the tunnel. Each of the small alcoves held an inscription she didn’t bother to examine or read, but it appeared to be ancient Jedi symbols. Around the center of the room there were four columns that formed a square around the hole and the oculus. One was broken, laying across the flooring, but otherwise they were merely worn by age. Above, the stones that formed the dome were all identical, an interesting contrast, but not her concern for the time. 

 

She sighed deeply, finally feeling as though she could relax after running through the forest all night. Laira yawned, letting out a squeak as she did so, beginning to look for a dry spot on the floor of the cave. She examined the floor for a bit, before retreating back up the tunnel, deciding that incase there was anything about the well that concerned her it was best to be cautious. Sleeping in the tunnel would provide her with an exit if anything came from within or without.

 

Eventually she found a space on the dirt ground and curled up, laying on her right side so her wounded shoulder wouldn’t be sitting in the dirt and get infected, putting her arm under her head before she drifted off to sleep, cold and alone.

 

Her eyes blinked, she felt like she was treading water, suspended in a liquid as her grey eyes searched the inky blackness that surrounded her. An undertow tried to pull her under, forcing her to exert herself just to stay afloat. She felt as though the was tiring, sinking ever so slightly with each passing second.

 

<Did I deserve what you did to me?> The voice sounded so familiar, but she couldn’t place it. It was something she had heard but not often.

 

I don’t even know who you are.

 

A face appeared out of the darkness, like it was pulled forth from the ink. Laira’s throat closed, she recognized it now. He had been a scientist in the Galactic Empire when they had been working on the Dark Trooper Program. She and Cato had put a stop to the experiments by blasting the facility to kingdom come and destroying all the records they could find. And in the process of that heroic deed, she had gutted the lead scientist in a fit of uncontrolled rage. 

 

Laira could recall the noises he made, the sound of her knife stabbing and rending his flesh all in horrifying details that haunted her, echoing around in the darkness. It had been the first time she had lost control and simply couldn’t stop herself, his callous disregard for life, his dispassionate expression when one of his subjects died. It had been too much for her to just sit and watch.

 

No.’ She said, between sobs. ‘You had to be stopped, but you didn’t deserve what I did to you.

 

<Who were you to judge me? You didn't know my story, why I served the Empire. I could have been anyone, I could have been just as much a victim as the men I experimented on, and you'll never know.>

 

No . What you were doing was wrong. You treated people like they were things, you took away their souls and turned them into monsters.

 

The face contorted into a grimace. Before it could speak again, she continued. ‘But you didn’t deserve to die like that. I shouldn’t have been your executioner, but I lost control.’ Her eyes welled up with tears, turning towards the darkness away from the face. ‘I worry I’ll lose control again. That I’ll turn into the worst parts of my dad. That I’ll enjoy causing pain and suffering, that I’ll find excuses to torment innocent beings, that as I continue down that path I’ll begin to justify it to others, and eventually myself. That i’ll start to believe I deserve to cause harm to others. And I don’t know how I can stop myself from slipping that way. I try, but I don’t know what to do.

 

The face withdrew, falling back into the shadows, but the sound of her cries lingered. ‘I don’t want to like hurting people. I don’t want to get used to losing my friends.

 

She heard the next voice, already knowing whose face it belonged to. <I was a Jedi, better than you will ever be. I fought to change my people, to bring them back to the Light my entire life, to protect them. And in the end, you cut me down.>

 

'We were enemies, Kenth. You're people were killing innocents. We were at war and you wanted to kill my friends.'

 

<Yes. And maybe, given enough time I could have lead them away from that. But we will never know now. You took that chance from me.>

 

'I'm sorry. I wish I could say I lost control, but...' She sucked in air, 'I gave into it. I let it happen. I convinced myself that I had to stop you at all costs and I killed you. It probably should have been me.'

 

She looked up, seeing the faces of other friends that she had let down. All of her copilots and wingmen she had lost. They hadn’t made it, but somehow Laira always walked away. Cix and Stalgis from the Death Troopers she had befriended during her time on Tephrike, Maya who flew with her against the First Order several missions, a duros female whose name she never even got to know before she had been killed on her first flight. It seemed like the faces would never stop appearing out of the shadows.

 

<We died for you.> They said, some with sorrow, others with disgust. Some simply saying the words as if it were fact.

 

I’m sorry. I couldn’t save you. I tried,

 

<Did you?> The voices seemed angry, like a crowd of victims finally getting to curse the one who caused their grief.

 

I did! I didn’t want any of you to die, sometimes I wish it were me instead. Sometimes I think I should just give in and end it, maybe that would save someone who’s destiny is to die for me.

 

Stalgis was the only one to speak, wearing a half-smile. <It won’t bring us back, Laira. You’ve got to make due for us now. I know its a lot to ask, but its on you to make us proud, to make our sacrifice worth it.> Tears dripped from Laira’s face. He had always been like a big brother figure when she was on the ship, helping her whenever he could, and sometimes forcing her to be modest around the troopers.

 

I don’t think I can. I’ve let down so many of you, I don’t know that I can come back from how far I’ve fallen.

 

<I know that you will. You’ve got the heart for it, you just gotta find your way.>

 

Look for the light, and you will find it. But if you look for the dark, it is all you will ever see.


Edited by Laira Darkhold, 01 August 2019 - 10:18 PM.


#8
Laira Darkhold

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Stalgis faded away and the darkness that surrounded Laira began to break up, her grey eyes turned to the Light above rather than the darkness below. Her eyes blinked open, waking from her slumber. She was sore, muscles and joints aching, but her headache had become a dull pain behind her eyes instead of the sharp pounding it had been before she fell into the hibernation trance. Looking outside, it was still raining but was dark enough to be night again. Laira considered trying to sleep more, but shuddered about her dreams and nightmares she’d suffered as of late. Something about this place, or herself, had changed and she wasn’t sure what to make of everything. 

 

Of all people, Stalgis had been the one to comfort her in her dreams, which seemed odd considering she came from a loving home. She couldn’t make sense of it, whether it was her subconscious that had assigned him such a role over her parents or close friends, but it was something.

 

She checked her wounds, applying more antiseptic to them before rebinding them under the strips of armorweave. They were looking better, having scabbed over since her healing trance, but were still fragile and delicate. Her stomach rumbled, hungry reminding her she hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since the night before. “Ugh.” Laira rolled to her side and stood, moving around, shivering from the cold air. Once her cloak dried out she could use it for warmth, but until then she had to rely on the Force to regulate her temperature, and to sustain her body without food. Luckily, she had a purifier straw and there was plenty of water due to the rain, so she wouldn’t have to worry about dehydrating and dying of thirst.

 

Laira used the straw to drink from a puddle, checking on her cloak, which was still damp but getting there. She ensured her other things were drying out fine. It might make her stay on whatever Force-forsaken world she was on longer, but the redhead had resolved to wait for the rain to end before travelling again. With nothing much else to do, she decided to inspect the domed cavern to pass the time, even if only to avoid the risk of sleeping through another nightmare like before.

 

With glowing Lightsaber in hand, Laira walked through the cavern, admiring the architecture, which though clearly carved out by a stonemason or sculptor wasn’t built with hard right angled walls, and seemed to have a flow to the room. The unique stones that made up the floor and the uniformed ones for the ceiling caught her eye the most, leaving the princess to wonder the significance of the feat. If only she’d paid more attention to Caleb when they had dated, she might understand more about architecture in the first place.

 

Curious, she walked around the entire room, viewing each of the alcoves at a glance and each of the columns in the center of the room. Overall the little place seemed odd, to have a temple in the middle of nowhere, nearly inaccessible and difficult to find. “Wonder what they used to do here?” the redhead mused moving into the first alcove to examine the symbols more closely. Carefully, she brushed dust off the stones with the carvings. Her hand scraped across the carving and she felt a jolt from the Force, like she had kickstarted an engine suddenly just by touching stones. 

 

Laira recoiled suspiciously, pulling away and assuming a defensive stance, waiting and watching to see what would happen. When nothing sprang out or attacked the redhead, she approached the symbol once more, this time with more caution. The carving was a series of symbols in a circle around a hieroglyph that appeared to be a Jedi standing before a group of children.

 

She felt the back of her head twinge, as though urging her to touch the symbol once more. With some reluctance, she followed her instincts. Laira could feel the Force flowing from the symbol into her, or was it the reverse? 

 

The Jedi closed her eyes, exhaling and inhaling deeply, steadying her breathing as she focused on opening herself up to the Force. She could hear voices, as though she was standing in the temple all those years ago.

 

There is no emotion, there is peace. This means that as Jedi, we must weigh our actions carefully. Always we must be measured and in control without allowing our emotions to get the best of us.

 

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. This means that we cannot allow ignorance to be a crutch. If we are lacking in knowledge, we should seek it out and educate ourselves to better understand the Force and the galaxy. We cannot learn everything, but we can attempt to shore up our weaknesses.

 

Laira withdrew her hand, the voice stopped as she did. “Interesting,” the redhead mused, moving to the next alcove, then the next, until she had come to the final one. Upon placing her hand on the stone and surrendering to the Force, she heard the voice once more.

 

It is the goal of the Jedi to redeem all who fall to the Dark Side, but it is important to remember that Redemption comes from within. One must want it, they must struggle to obtain it. It is not something that can be given by a Jedi. We can only help them on their path, we cannot make them walk it.

 

A child spoke, “How would a Jedi seek redemption?

 

They must look deep inside themselves and opt to change that part of them. They must show remorse. They must desire to atone for their misdeeds by performing acts of good. And they must find forgiveness.

 

She pulled her hand away, listening to the pull of the Force, drawing her attention to the hole in the center of the room. It tugged at her, focusing her attention to the pouring water that ran from the oculus. She approached the well, peering down into it. Within she could feel the Force, deep darkness lie within, inky blackness that no light pierced.

 

Okay.” Laira said with a sigh, surrendering to the will of the Force. She dove into the darkness.



#9
Laira Darkhold

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The plunge didn’t last very long before Laira found herself swimming in a pool of water, unbreachable darkness all around her except for the one circle of light where the rain poured in. The redhead treaded water, using the Force to guide her efforts until she found the source, where the Force seemed to pull her attention and focus her. She swam over in just a few strokes, but found nothing much to her frustration. 

 

Laira grumbled through the eerie silence that had befallen the cave beneath the temple. No sound of dripping water, no light from above. Just impenetrable darkness grasping at her from all sides. She felt her body go limp, simply floating within. Silver eyes sought out the hole from which she had dove into the cave but there was nothing. 

 

Only darkness.

 

She grumbled again, but laid back in the water, simply floating and treading water calmly. Breathe in. Hold. And breathe out.

 

It took several minutes, but eventually Laira felt as though she were standing rather than floating in water. The blackness broke away, receding from the Jedi’s body so that she could see a dimly lit locker-room she’d lived in on the Solemn Purpose at one point. They didn’t all belong here, but they’d shared space plenty of times before. Stalgis and Cix were both present, along with several others who she had lost along the way. Most of them appeared to be silently judging her, many she didn’t know well enough or wasn’t close enough to them for her to understand their mannerisms well. Laira hugged Stalgis and Cix, “I’m sorry.” She sobbed. It wasn’t much but it was all she thought she could do. She couldn’t just let them go like she had the children, and she couldn’t promise not to get anymore of her friends killed in the hellish galaxy she lived in. Not if she had any hope of keeping that promise. 

 

I know, hun.” Cix said, patting her back. “We’re counting on you now.

 

It’s all on you.

 

I’ll try to be better, try to make a difference.

 

Nah, trying isn’t enough. You have to make a difference, that’s it. That's the bottom line.” Laira cried as they let her go and faded away, but she nodded, agreeing with the spirits as they left her.

 

She wiped her eyes, waiting to see what was next for her vision. The blackness returned, shifting around as though it was seeking her memories, shifting through them to find one that would cut her deeply, as though this place sought to turn her back from her chosen path.

 

When the darkness pulled back, she found herself in a jungle, recently rained upon. Kenth, the Hammer of the Dominion was sitting nearby on a downed log. Laira spoke first, “Hi Kenth.” She was pretty sure she knew where this vision was going.

 

His spirited raised an eyebrow, but was otherwise quiet. “We were enemies, and as much as I regret killing you, I had to protect my friends from the Dominion. If I hadn’t, they’d all be dead now and that would be my fault.

 

You can’t know what would have happened. You don’t know what influence I had, what protections I could have secured for you and your friends.

 

I don’t, I couldn’t then either. You can’t ask me to trust someone from that kind of place with all their lives.

 

A Jedi only draws their weapon as a last resort, when all other avenues have been attempted to avoid violence. I tried to offer you and your friends a peaceful way out. You never did.

 

No, I didn’t. I watched your people kill unarmed men, I watched them try to kill me. I saw them execute people, and they were trying to shoot us when you arrived. We’d already tried before the Dominion betrayed us. I did the best I could to keep the people who were relying on me alive.” Kenth faded away, then the jungle followed. The darkness sought out a deeper memory to turn against her, to place before her and force Laira back from the Light.

 

It returned once more, placing Laira into a dimly lit medical facility. On one side there were Bacta tubes containing what was left of human bodies, on the other cybernetics waiting to be installed. Laira turned her head, taking in her surroundings. “Alright,” She whispered, raising her hands to cross them over her chest when she realized her hands and body were dripping with blood and spray, the gurgling noise before her all too familiar.

 

Laira knelt next to the dying scientist, unsure if this was a vision, Memory Walking, or if she was actually revisiting the past. 

 

If you look for the Light you will find it, but if you look for darkness it is all you will ever see. 

 

She remembered that psalm, deciding to look for the light within herself rather than fixating on her darkness. She needed to be aware it existed, but she couldn’t let one moment define the rest of her life. Laira could change, she could reshape this part of herself.

 

You needed to be stopped, but I shouldn’t have murdered you. I’m sorry.” Her hand touched the man’s shoulder, “I will be better. Never again will I lose control or take a life without examining every other option. I promise you.” She tried so hard to believe the words, to focus on changing whatever part of her had snapped and twist it to her will. 

 

The vision faded back to darkness, before reshaping her surroundings into the battlefield on Tephrike. She looked upon the hundreds of faces that surrounded her, bloody and broken children in Jedi robes and clothes. “You murdered us.” Tears welled in her eyes.

 

No I didn’t. None of you died because of me.” She stammered, but held her ground as the apparitions advanced towards her. “I tried to stop my friends, I put them in harms way to protect you, and I failed. But I didn’t kill you. The Dominion murdered you when they sent you out, they just used my friends as the weapon. If there had been another way, my friends would have taken it, but your blood isn’t on our hands even if I grieve for you more than your people ever will.” The first tears rolled down her cheeks, focusing on letting the guilt, the doubt, the distrust go from her heart. It was hard, she felt her chest aching just looking at it all. The spirits continued to crowd around her, grasping at her body with a hundred blood hands. She could feel them, sticky and warm as they grabbed for her. “I wish it were different, I wish we could have cut the head from the snake, could have stopped you from ever being on that field. But we didn’t put you there. We weren’t the ones you ordered you to your deaths.” Laira closed her eyes, but held her own, staying on her feet and refusing to let the children pull her down and pile onto her.



#10
Laira Darkhold

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The grasping hands faded, leaving her alone, and the battlefield shifted once again. Laira wiped her arms, as if trying to escape the feeling of crawling hands on her skin. The sensations of sticky blood, the smell of the battlefield, the sounds all faded back into nothingness and silence. The air hung still for a while, the troubled young Jedi left alone in the blackness of the pit as it searched out another nightmare to make into her reality.

 

Laira could feel hope, maybe it was over? Maybe she’d passed through the iris and come out of the trials she’d found in the pit.

 

The voice of her friend echoed, soft and gentle through the crepuscular darkness. “Laira,” the voice called, almost sultry and alluring in its tone. Laira felt her heart twist in her chest. 

 

Elpsis,” the redhead responded as the vision appeared. It was just Elpsis, no scenery, just her blind friend standing in the darkness alongside Laira.

 

Do you know what it's like to be a prisoner in your own body? A puppet on strings. Starving, afraid, in so much pain that you go along with it because it bloody hurts so much.” Elpsis’s face contorted into a sneer, “Of course you don't, Laira. Because it was all just a game to you. Because you grew up in a palace and were raised on stories. Because you care more about appearances.

 

Laira watched her, tears falling from her cheeks as she was berated by someone she had held so close and dear to her. Elpsis’s face became scarred, cuts and jagged marks across the side of her face as white eyes glared judgment upon the young Jedi. “I’m sorry.

 

If it had been you, I wouldn't have stopped at anything to get you back. I wouldn't have wept about the enemy. But you abandoned me. Because you're a coward. A selfish coward. A naive child who believes the world if a fairy tale.” Elpsis’s body became disheveled, far from the proud woman Laira had known. The air became stale, the smell of rancid body odor, rotted flesh, and sweat swept across Laira like a disease. She almost vomitted, gagging from the sudden stench. Humidity and heat filled the room like a swamp.

 

Laira started to speak but the apparition cut her off with a raised hand, coming to regard Laira inches from her face. “I can still feel it, you know. I don’t mean ‘in my tender heart, it still pains me so.’ I can still feel what they did, in my body and soul, standing here, right now.” The Jedi recoiled somewhat as Elpsis’s hair began to fall out and her stomach shriveled as though she had been starved for weeks.

 

The blind witch smiled seductively, “Wanna see?" she whispered in a coquettish manner. The darkness lifted, and the scene shifted every few seconds, screams echoing with each one. Laira watched it, torturous acts upon her friend carried out in every way she could conceive. 

 

She tried to watch it all, but collapsed shutting her eyes tight and covering her ears. She could still hear the muffled screams and cries for help. Heart racing, like it would pound from her chest, Laira heard the last muffled words of contempt.

 

And you left me there.

 

She dropped to the floor, uncovering her ears and opening her eyes. “I did.” she muttered after what seemed like a lifetime of sobbing. “I did leave you there. I was afraid, and I made you suffer for it.” 

 

She cried, trying to catch her breath between sobs. “I can’t make it right. I can’t change what happened, but I will never let you down again. I just hope one day I’ll be worthy of your forgiveness.

 

The tormented figure left her there in her tears and sorrow as the blackness reclaimed Laira, holding her there for hours alone.

 

Eventually Laira couldn’t cry anymore, simply no more tears left in her but the sobs had become painful. The regret pounding her heart. She could do nothing about it but to do as Stalgis had demanded. She had to prove she wasn’t that person anymore, that she wouldn’t let her fear rule her, let it affect her decisions. 

 

Finally Laira stood, “What’s next?” She asked, defiance in her voice.



#11
Laira Darkhold

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The blackness rippled, angry with her defiance and stalwart demeanor. It choked her, closing in around her in claustrophobic darkness, but Laira believed she had weathered the worst of it. It was the screaming and the noises that made it so difficult, knowing that she had played a part through her inaction, in her friend’s torment. But, that was over for now. At least until she went to set things right.

 

So?” She asked, wiping the tears from her eyes and drying her face.

 

Light pierced the shadows, peering through a single hole in the viel to illuminate a crown upon a pedestal, sitting waiting to be grasped and taken up. “Your father and I have prepared you for this day your entire life, Laira. It’s time for you to step up and be Gueen of Alderaan.

 

We are so proud of you, Laira. You’ve made us all very happy.” Her father’s voice echoed around the chamber.

 

Her mother spoke again, excitement in her voice. It was the same voice she had used when Laira turned sixteen, when Laira had taken up the Rhindon Sword, and when she had graduated finishing school. “Yes. Now we can retire to the lake and live out what is left of our days in peace.

 

Laira was forced to look at the crown, watching it and considering her options. “I’m not ready yet. Maybe one day, but not yet.” 

 

Her mother seemed frustrated now, taking her stern tone. “Laira, it’s your responsibility. You are the first born of the Queen, you are the heir-apparent. It is time for you to take up the mantle you were destined to bear.

 

Laira sought for a diplomatic answer, unsure of how to proceed. “No, I’m nineteen. I’m not ready to give up my life and be a ruler yet.

 

You don’t get to pick when this responsibility falls to you, dear. You just have to be ready to take it whenever it does. Leia was nineteen when she ruled our people, I’m sure you will do fine. You’ve been preparing for this moment your entire life.

 

No, Leia Organa never had to rule the planet. She got to be free, to follow her dreams. She was a smuggler, the Chief of State, even a Jedi Knight in her life.” Laira retorted, “I’ll let you know when I’m ready for it.” She turned to leave, ready to be done with the conversation, but the vision was not finished. Shackles chained themselves to her wrists and her ankles, pulling against her will back towards the crown.

 

Any second I could drop dead. I could be killed, I could be stricken by disease. You are the Crown Princess, and you must be willing to take it up whether you think you are ready or not.

 

Laira struggled against the chains, digging her heels into the ground, pulling on the chains with her arms with all her strength to no avail. It just kept pulling her towards it while her mother spoke sternly to her child.

 

There are times when I think it would have been better your brother been firstborn. Really Laira, after all these years of calling yourself the big sister and the Crown Princess everywhere you went you’d think you’d have accepted the responsibility by now.

 

Laira continued struggling grunting under the pressure. “I never called myself the Crown Princess.” She corrected, “You did, the nobles did, but not me. Why the hell do you think I changed my name when I left?

 

You used your grandfather’s name. Just because his relationship to our family isn’t known doesn’t mean you changed your name or your destiny. Its time to stop playing and make us proud for once.

 

I did though. I’m more Laira Darkhold than I am Laira Organa now.

 

Just give up. This is who you were born to be.” Faith seemed like she was growing exasperated but the chains kept pulling the redhead along despite all her protests. She pulled on her wrists until they were bloody attempting to slip through the manacles that shackled her to the pedestal.

 

As much as she tried to slip out and escape she was unable to. “No,” Laira cried, trying to break her thumbs to escape. 

 

Quit struggling you stubborn girl.” Laira had been dragged almost to the crown, the chains pulling her hands upwards to force her to grasp it. Inches from the object, Laira snapped her saber on, humming with azure light that burned back the darkness. With a flick her her wrist she severed the chains with the burning blade. 

 

No. I don’t want this. I never wanted this for myself. I’m tired of being who I am supposed to be, I’m ready to be who I am.

 

She looked at the crown one last time, turning on her heels and walked away from it. “I am a Jedi.



#12
Laira Darkhold

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Laira walked away from the crown at long last. The indecisiveness, the doubts, the waiting was over. It was finally over. The darkness around her began peeling away, revealing one final vision to the redheaded Jedi.

 

It appeared as though she was viewing the scene from above, but it was clearly a village or settlement of the tribal beings that had pursued her so doggedly during the night. The sun shone on the village, close to fifty or sixty Flesh Raiders could be seen within the camp, all adults and all armed in some manner. They lived in ramshackle tents and carved out caves at the northern edge of the canyon, a waterfall crashing down to form the creek she had found miles south of there. The camp wrapped from a hilltop to ledges behind the waterfall, torches and fires burning outside the tents and buildings, skulls and crucified skeletons dotted the camp’s edge. A large idol stood at the top of the camp, firewood being added to the base. Within the idol, Laira could see the forms of people, humans and other sentient alien species.

 

Then it all faded away, leaving Laira under the water, the light from the oculus pouring through the well above. She gasped, sucking in water as she was suddenly reverted back to reality, surging out of the inky water and to the surface. The redhead came up coughing for air, emptying her lungs of water, hacking and heaving as she tread water. Once she had regained her composure, she reached for the ledge and heaved herself out of the darkness and into the light, the afternoon sun shining down upon the Jedi in the hidden temple. 

 

Laira shuddered, wringing out her long crimson hair before getting to her feet. She felt tired, her muscles and mind were both exhausted, but she rose to her feet to make her exit from the temple. As she left, six shimmering blue figures appeared, each standing at an alcove. She didn’t recognize most of them, but she could feel the tranquility they possessed in the Force. There was no threat, no words that needed to be spoken. Their presence alone was all the acknowledgement that was needed by the young Padawan. The only one she recognized was of a Jedi she had never met, but one she had seen in her dreams since Tephrike.

 

Kenth, the Hammer of the Dominion, stood at the alcove that represented Redemption, standing full of pride and honor, his will expressing his resolute sense of duty and righteousness through the Force. He stayed shimmering in reality just long enough for her to recognize him, then one by one they faded out of existence once again, returning to their place in the Force, their duty to the next generation of Jedi complete.

 

Whatever mysteries the Force had used in this place to guide her she could not say, but Laira felt a strange comfort for having seen him in this temple at the end, without the disdain her heart had always expressed him with. 

 

So, this is the first day of the rest of my life.” She muttered when she made it back to her little camp in the tunnel. Her injuries weren’t healed, but at least the rain had stopped. She had to be better than she was. Everyday she needed to make an effort to make a difference in someone’s life, somehow. And today would be the first step in that journey. “It’ll take me four, maybe five hours to get to the end of the canyon. I’ll go into a healing trance until evening, then hoof it over to the end of the canyon and see what I can scout out before getting those people out of there.” It all sounded so easy, but sixty or more Flesh Raiders was nothing to bawk at, certainly no walk in the park for anyone. She would need to come up with an actual plan once she had some more information. 

 

For now, rest and recuperation was paramount. As much as she might enjoy running in the camp half-cocked and exhausted, she wouldn’t help anyone in this condition. She needed to wait and rest up for at least a few hours if Laira intended to be anywhere close to one hundred percent.

 

I guess when we get there I’ll find out how much one lone Jedi is worth.



#13
Laira Darkhold

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Laira sat in the shade of the tunnel, facing outwards towards the slowly setting sun. For a while she had sat in the light to dry off and warm up after having been cold for so long, but now as the planet’s star began to sink towards the horizon she had moved into the shade to continue her healing trance to rejuvenate and replenish her cells throughout her body. She’d still not managed to eat anything, but water was still easy enough to find and drink through her survival straw. She had rechecked all of her equipment, going through all of her electronics and survival gear. 

 

She had one all-weather cloak, one lightsaber, bandages, one dose of bacta, a rebreather, a firestarting kit, a multitool with no batteries, and a few other simple objects. All of her electronics were worthless with the exception of her Lightsaber. Laira had surmised that a consequence of her teleportation was that all of her non-Force attuned equipment had been fried during the transition. That much energy and power had to cause issues. Alternatively it could have been the reactor leak she had been near prior to her emergency teleportation. She could see more rain clouds approaching in the distance, and by her guess, it would be raining around midnight.

 

With one final check of her wounds and her arm’s mobility, the redhead frowned. “Not as good as I’d hoped.” she mumbled, but at least her stomach was mostly healed through. Her arm was still a liability, fate had shown her fortune enough to let it be her off hand that was so injured at least. She couldn’t lift it above her head without sharp pain and there was a noticeable catch in her shoulder joint. Her ribs, if not fractured were bruised which made heavy breathing and stretching painful. She would need to watch out for any strikes to her torso.

 

Time to go.

 

Laira pulled her cloak over her head once again, starting her descent back down the cliff wall. It was much easier than her climb, especially since it wasn’t raining anymore and she had at least partial use of her left arm. Even still, seventy or so meters down was a long way and took time to make it down the wall of slate and granite safely. With the waning light of the planet’s star gave way for the first time over a clear sky since Laira had arrived, showing her the twin moons of the world she had arrived on, between shades of yellow, orange, and purple of the evening light. 

 

One was bright and shining, reflecting the light from the star in the evening light. The other was dim, dull, a dark spot in an already dark sky. Beyond them the brilliant radiance of the all the stars in the galaxy shone proudly. Without any electricity in this wilderness the light pollution was so low that she could see the hints or purple the collective starlight caused.

 

Why was it that the deadliest worlds were also some of the most beautiful?

 

Laira began trodding off to the north of the canyon the second her feet touched the soften grass once more, taking off through the evergreens once more. She was cautious, her ears and eyes on alert, her awareness in the Force stretched out enough for her to keep her surroundings well monitored for any potential threats.

 

Along the way she passed several little herds of herbivores grazing just before dusk, some moving around the glades and clearings in search of food. Peacefulness radiated from the planet’s wildlife. It was only the Flesh Raiders that seemed to stand apart from the world’s natural order, their crude structures and salvaged weapons, primitive and primal, aggressive against outsiders. Laira had trouble placing them, having never encountered them before.

 

Darkness began to fall across the canyon as she approached its northern end. Already she could see the rising pillars of smoke from campfires, the idol in the center of the village tall enough to see over the trees upon the knoll. Though she couldn’t make out the shapes yet, she had guessed from her vision there were around twenty captives. If she was lucky, perhaps the Flesh Raiders wouldn’t be expecting one lone Jedi to swoop in and save them. 

 

Assuming she was able to in the first place.

 

Laira moved to one of the canyon walls, hugging the one opposite of the river cutting around the little war camp the Flesh Raider’s had erected, hoping they wouldn’t have scouts or lookouts on this part of the forest at this time of day. Certainly they’d have a watch set, and she’d have to observe to see if she could find any gaps she could exploit before making her move. She climbed up a few meters to a ledge largely obscured by vegetation and then began her reconnaissance of the camp, counting the moving torches within, the number of tents and buildings that had been built within, how many shadows she saw pass through the gates of the camp’s palisade wall, making mental notes of everything she could.

 

Fifty or more Flesh raiders milled around, many preparing for sleep or rest, only a few watchmen carrying torches around the village proper. Maybe seven or eight including the ones in the ledges behind the waterfall where they had a few structures connected by narrow paths or rope-bridges. 

 

They held the watch pretty well, one at the gates, five watching the perimeter and one patrolling the village itself. The rest had dispersed for the night before the rain began again, finding shelter. She looked for the gaps, but the only reliable one she could see involved some swimming, then coming up and climbing the canyon wall to the ledges. No doubt only important Flesh Raiders stayed in those areas, but perhaps she could get lucky and take them off guard then lure some of the warriors over so she could out maneuver them and cut the rope-bridges to strand them there for a while. 

 

Maybe.



#14
Laira Darkhold

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Thunder pealed from the sky as the rain started up once again, a light drizzle from the sky at first, building slowly as the clouds covered the sky and obscured the twin moons from Laira’s vision. The Jedi Princess for one, was quite tired of being rained on by this planet’s climate. She snuck around the edges of the forest, keeping a tree between herself and the palisade at all times, not wanting to be seen at a glance and alerting the watchmen to her presence. Carefully, she moved around the camp towards the little river and waterfall. 

 

It was a short dash to the water, staying low to the ground and crawling into the water once she reached the shore so as not to cause to much of a disturbance in the surface and draw attention to it as she started her swim. She kept under the water, holding her breath as she swam, using small smooth movements with her legs and hips to propel herself through the water until she came to the rocks that sat under the edge of the cliffs. Laira had decided to be careful and skirt the edge around the waterfall rather than risk swimming underneath it and being pummeled to the bottom by the force of it. The redhead ducked around where the waterfall would help obscure her from sight and began climbing up the slippery, moss covered stones. 

 

Just one foot higher than the next, step by step and grip by grip. Sure to check her grip before shifting too much of her weight to that foot as she went.

 

It didn’t take long to scale, but it was tedious. The pace was slow and the caution required in order to properly sneak into the little camp. By the time she was up the ledge with the small structure set away from the rest of the village it had been raining for an hour and other than those that set watch, the rest of the Flesh Raiders seemed to have retired for the night, leaving the poor unfortunate souls they had captured to harsh the weather within the idol where they had been imprisoned. 

 

The redhead peered over the ledge, looking for any signs of waiting Flesh Raiders, finding none she pulled herself onto the ledge and rolled through the mud to crouch beside the building. Within she could feel two presences, both conscious though very different. One radiated aggression while the other was submissive and blurred. As though the creature that possessed it had merely accepted its lot in life and was going through the motions until death finally claimed it. <Here we go.>

 

Laira skirted the building, looking for a window or back entrance to it, hoping to take the two creatures by surprise but unfortunately found none. She considered carving her own way in, but that would merely give whatever was waiting for her time to prepare that just diving in the front door would not, and eventually the redhead decided on her best course of action and went forward with it.

 

She ducked through the fur and leather curtains that made up the front entrance, staying low to the ground as she crouched, rain dripping from her hair and clothes as she moved. Within she could make out the rooms. The entrance lead deeper into the structure with another set of curtains helping to keep the heat from the fire inside the main chamber. Within that chamber a fire burned at the center, the smoke rising through a covered hole in the ceiling where it escaped the chieftain’s hut. Laira could see a rodian woman, sitting up against the far wall asleep. She wore rags and looked badly beaten. Sitting at the fire in the middle of the room was a massive Flesh Raider, easily the size of a Houk with spikes having been driven into its flesh along its back and claws grafted onto its left hand. The being was missing an eye with the orifice simply left open and uncovered and was covered with scars of numerous battles.

 

<Well, this is it.>

 

Laira stood and walked into the central room, igniting her Lightsaber.

 

The big creature did not react as fearfully as she had hoped. Merely turning its head before standing and looking at her. Malice emanated from the chieftain like a sickening haze, but its movements were calculated and deliberate.

 

I’m just here for the girl and the prisoners,” Laira said, trying the route of communication first.

 

To her surprise, the creature responded, in a guttural monstrous version of and ancient dialect she had no knowledge of. She couldn’t understand it, but given its body language and the aggressive step forward it took, it was clear the chieftain had no intention of complying peacefully. It didn’t take a genius to understand the next move as it swiped at Laira with the grafted on claws. She ducked the blades, sweeping with her lightsaber for his armored knees, and rolling past him. The room was probably an eight by eight meter circle, but his reach was impressive and the clutter found around the chamber only shortened the amount of space she could use to her advantage.

 

The saber scattered across the greaves it wore, probably phrik or beskar re-purposed by the chieftain for his armor and weapons. It hurled itself at her once again, bringing both massive fists down for her in a two handed clubbing motion, which she rolled to the left to avoid, striking the saber across his upper arm, burning the meat, but not carving through it. 

 

<Of course. Big guy has tough skin.>

 

Instinctively the beast roared, backhanding Laira through the wall in response to the third or fourth degree burns her lightsaber had inflicted upon him. The size and strength of the Flesh Raider chieftain was enough that the young Jedi was flung against the wall, breaking it under the pressure and collapsing a section of it to lay in the dimness of the outer room. The beast advanced while Laira tried desperately to suck in air through her damaged ribs after having the wind driven out of her body. She almost didn’t notice it’s raised left arm, stabbing claws towards her, barely able to roll out of the way before they drove into the ground down to the knuckles. Laira, still gasping for her breath snapped a kick at the creature’s elbow, hoping to dislocate it under the pressure and weight, but barely caused it to move. Already the beast was drawing his arm back out of the earth and stone with a primal growl erupting from its throat. Her lightsaber flashed, slicing through flesh under its armpit with a boiling hiss of blood but couldn’t severe the arm before it was withdrawn. 

 

The chieftain grunted, recoiling from the injury just long enough for Laira to regain her breath before it charged her again, legs surging the bulk of its body forward. The princess sidestepped, taking another brief slash at its wounded shoulder as it passed by her and barreled down the exterior wall. The whole building shuddered from the destruction, pieces falling from the roof as it shook. Laira heard a squeal, looking back to see the rodian trapped underneath a log but otherwise not seriously injured. “I’ll be back for you, promise.” She said, stepping out into the rain, following the mighty Flesh Raider chieftain.

 

tUbHW26.jpg
Once more, the beast roared, this time Laira answered with a scream of her own. Its claws swiped at her, forcing her to leap over them, but the veteran creature had become more prepared, aware of its prey’s mobility and speed. Its other arm was already moving towards her, thick muscular fingers wrapping themselves around her body to hold her in place. She felt the creature squeezing her chest and stomach with all its might, agony surging through her. Under the pressure, the young princess felt the contents of her stomach, meager as they were forced from her, vomiting up the fluids as her ribs began to crack.

 

The beast leveled its claws at her, ready to spear her through and be done with the annoying Jedi. Reactively, she snapped the intensity of her blade to maximum, the blue blade crackling and surging with power allowing her to slash the chieftain’s clawed arm off at the wrist, eliciting a primal roar of pain. 

 

The rest of the village could hear the commotion, some Flesh Raiders beginning to investigate while Laira and the chieftain fought to the death on his ledge behind the waterfall. Not yet free from his grasp, Laira went to cut off its other arm but before she could the chieftain threw her towards the rocks in rage. Feeling her body surging through the air, the redhead hauled on the Force to reinforce her body as she collided with the stone cliff and fell to the ground with a thud. Before she could rise to her hands and knees the beast was already rushing her again, slamming its stub into the wall just a hair’s breadth away from her face as she slid to the side. Her lightsaber came up, slicing open the beasts chest and stomach cavities forcing the chieftain to recoil or continue to be disemboweled. Driven back, injured and not yet able to catch her breath, Laira could feel her vision tunneling towards blackness. She tried to suck air into her lungs, unable to as her diaphragm spasmed from being crushed and thrown against the rocks.

 

The chieftain regained his footing, grabbing a rock and hurling it at the Jedi who ducked it barely, feeling shards of it rain down upon her as it shattered against the walls of the cliff. Laira, feeling time of the essence, her danger sense pinging as more flesh raiders rushed to see their chieftain being assaulted by a lone Jedi, charged her foe. She ducked his defense, sliding through the mud to come up and slash his underarm once more, this time taking it off at the shoulder, the stump tensing in sudden pain. The malice in the Flesh Raider became fear, the sudden realization that it would not survive without its hands, even if the Jedi left it, its tribe would not follow one so wounded seeping into its primal mind. 

 

Laira slashed its spine with the saber, paralyzing it as it stumbled forward. Finally she sucked in air, feeling the blood in her mouth and the wetness in her lungs as one of them was bleeding from her injuries. Part of her may have wanted to leave the poor creature there, but it was not her way. Certainly not anymore. Modern medicine might have been able to save it, but these tribal monsters would merely devour their fallen chieftain alive. The redhead turned down her lightsaber as she gasped for breath, walking over to the massive being’s hammerhead like skull. “I just,” she gasped, feeling her rib rub against her lung, “wanted the prisoners.” Then she drove the saber through its empty eye socket, putting it out of its misery.


Edited by Laira Darkhold, 03 August 2019 - 04:59 PM.


#15
Laira Darkhold

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Laira started to try to get a hold of her breathing just to stop the pain from her ribs scraping the insides of her lungs. The big beastie’s crush had probably turned bruised ribs into broken ones and it was slowing her down considerably. At least she could finally breathe again and he was dealt with. She sighed, hoping to have a few moments, but alas she could hear the other Flesh Raiders howling and taking up the call all across the camp. Their heavy footsteps could be heard between the crashes of thunder and their swarming number could be seen with every flash of lightning that split the sky. 

 

<Gotta move now!>

 

The redhead turned and ran back into the little hut, sundered as it was, and found the Rodian, still trapped under the log that had once made up part of the roof. Now that she was closer to the poor thing, she could see why the woman was kept here by the chieftain. Not like Hutts do with their slaves, the Flesh Raiders are aptly named, as her left arm was gone as well as her right leg at the knee, both wounds cauterized and sewn closed with crude stitches. She was a meal, kept here in case the chieftain got hungry in the middle of the night. “Damn,” Laira grimaced, frowning as she helped the woman squirm out from under the log. The rodian was in no condition to run anywhere, and so Laira would have to carry her. “Don’t worry. I got you, I got you.

 

The rodian muttered some Huttese at the redhead, “No, I’m a Jedi here to help.” Laira smiled, helping the woman and then took her by the hip and lifted her onto the redhead’s shoulders with a grunt. Her ribs felt every miniscule movement with the added weight of the rodian upon them, but she couldn’t just leave her there. Laira started jogging out of the hut, she could see the Raiders on the bridge, surging towards her. The first arrows were launched from their bows in her direction, clattering off to the left and right. Anger was driving them into a frenzy, but that made them poor shots and worse tacticians. Laira kept jogging at them, keeping her cool and trying her best to block out the pain she was in. 

 

As the first group started surging onto the ledge she was still about ten meters from them, running straight for the group, her weapon still stashed on her belt. Spears readied and others started throwing scrap as they charged. At the last moment Laira jumped to the left, pulling on the Force to shift gravity’s pull on her like she had on the ship above Azure not long ago, allowing her to fall to the cliff wall rather than to the ground. Once she landed, Laira began running up the ledge and around the Flesh Raiders that had charged up the narrow path and the rope bridges, sprinting as fast as her legs could carry her. The Raider’s seemed confused, struggling to grasp what was happening, but their instincts simplified to ‘chase redhead girl’ was simple enough to have the mob turn around. 

 

She landed on the path with a thud as she finished running along the wall, dropping the rodian who grunted when she hit the ground. “Sorry, one second.” Laira snapped on the lightsaber and cut the ends of the closest rope bridge, stranding the group of about twenty raiders on the far side of the cliffs. With a final exertion through the Force, she twisted the earth and pulled spikes of rock and stone out from the water’s edge far below them, just enough to where they were visible to any who bothered to look. With around a third of the camp delayed and the others still unaware of the specifics, she hoped she could hold an edge over them long enough to make a difference and clear a path for the prisoners to escape.

 

Hopefully that will slow them down hun. Come on.” With that done, she needed to get her charge to some place a little safer, finding a small ledge about five meters up from the camp nearby was a simple enough place. It was close enough to the idol that maybe she could get the other prisoners and help the climb out of this place through this path as well. “Alright, you stay here. I’m going to go get the others. Just be quiet and keep your head down.” The rodian responded in huttese again, giving Laira a nod in acknowledgement before the redhead left her to hide.



#16
Laira Darkhold

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Laira could hear the Flesh Raiders temporarily trapped across the ledge howling and yelling. Some of them threw weapons that clattered against the stones and ground as they voiced their anger. It wouldn’t hold them forever, even very long. They may not have been built for climbing, but with opposable thumbs and even semi-sentient intelligence they could figure it out in short enough order. The main thing was, they were delayed, hopefully long enough for her to get to the idol and free the other prisoners. 

 

The noise and racket caused by the others had roused the little war camp, and put them onto the assumption the camp was under attack. They may not have been tacticians, but they were an aggressive warlike species, so once the call went up they roused from their rest and moved out into the rain and mist to secure their camp. Some moved to reinforce the palisade, but most broke into small groups and began scouring the camp looking for whatever enemy force had penetrated their defenses and threatened their homes.

 

Laira tried to keep the shadows, plaster her wet body against wooden structures or stone walls to hide from sight of the larger groups. She knew she would have to deal with many of the Flesh Raiders but that didn’t mean she wanted to kill them all, or their women and children assuming they had any, though she had not seen any yet. She ran through the mud, sloshing water as she did, rushing a small group that moved into her path. The snap-hiss of her lightsaber activating in the back of the first Flesh Raider alerted the other three to her presence. They turned, roaring in anger, “JE’DAI!” attacking her in a blind rage with crudely crafted axe and sword. Her saber hummed through the air, slashing the first axe at the haft as she stepped forward and slammed her elbow into its stomach, circling the creature in a quick spin to slash her saber’s blade up under its chin and up to intercept the next creature’s sword from clipping her shoulder. It burned and melted, slowly as the lightsaber crackled against the cortosis-weave weapon.

 

The last raider roared angrily, trying to haul his deceased comrade out of the way while Laira twisted her lightsaber’s handle, doubling the blade’s length. Changing the angle of her block, she was able to slash the creature across the chest, leaving a deep furrow of burned flesh. The sword wielder pressed further trying to force his way through her guard. Laira grunted, her ribs cracking as she shifted her weight, reminding her she was wounded in case she had forgotten. Instead of trying to overpower the Flesh Raider, Laira drew upon the wellspring of the Force, aimed at the ground beneath his feet, twisting the stones and shoving them backwards to throw the warrior off balance. As he tripped and lost his footing, the redhead swept her saber across his mid-section, bisecting the monster at the hip before snapping her saber back to its normal length and finishing the Flesh Raider off.

 

She kept moving, hearing the sounds of Flesh Raider’s finding her handiwork as she went, darting from darkness to darkness through the camp as she worked on making her way to the idol on top of the knoll in the middle of the village. Every now and then she craned her head to look back at the ledges, where she could still hear the muffled shouts and howls from the others, the waterfall drowning out much of the commotion she had caused. She slipped through one of the buildings, find a Flesh Raider within. The creature looked up to notice the redhead with surprise. Laira met his gaze for a moment, hesitating. She tried to convey the sensation that she was reluctant to kill him, but would if she had to, though she had no idea how much understanding the Flesh Raider possessed. All she knew for certain was they were malicious and they ate sentient creatures.

 

It didn’t seem to get the hint and so grabbed for its weapon, forcing the redhead to impale him on her lightsaber with one heavy thrust to his chest. She grunted, twisting the burning blade in his torso to ensure he died quickly. “Why didn’t you just go back to sleep?” She asked as he slumped to the ground.

 

It was a conundrum for her now. For this particular Flesh Raider, she was the aggressor in this instance. She had invaded his home, she had killed some of his allies who were hunting her and holding others captive. But he himself? He was just getting woken up when some redheaded tart burst in and killed him. What made this any better than what she had done to that scientist?

 

<I gave him a chance? No, because I didn’t give the one outside a chance. No, its because I had to in order to best save those prisoners. They are going to cook and eat those people in the morning, anything I have to do to save them, so long as it has to be done it could be justified, but she did need to ensure her motives were to rescuing those innocents out there in that idol. She needed to look at each situation, even within this camp, with a calm heart and clear mind, without vengeance or anger, but duty.>

 

Man, this being a Jedi thing was harder than she thought. Still, this would make for a good place to bring them to hide before making the run to the cliff. Laira heaved the creature back into its bed and covered it up so as not to look too suspicious in the hopes that if anyone checked on him before she could escape they wouldn’t notice her handiwork.

 

She peered out of his curtain, thirty open meters to the idol which was well-lit. No other options but to rush to it and cut them out of their cage in its chest and head.

 

Silently the young Jedi slipped through the curtain and made dashed to the idol’s base.



#17
Laira Darkhold

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Laira could hear the sounds of at least one Flesh Raider spotting her, the yelling and likely pointing. She hadn’t made much of a dent in their numbers, but had hoped they wouldn’t be paying her too much attention as she hefted herself up the Idol’s base to the first cage where five of the prisoners were being held. Most of them were laying down, huddling beside one another when they saw her, “Who are you?

 

What are you doing here girl?

 

One of them was older, an Imperial soldier by the looks of him. “Run while you still can.

 

I’m a little busy, but don’t worry. I have no intention of staying.” She said, grinning as she grabbed ahold of the chain that held the doors closed, heating it with the Force until she was able to yank it apart and open the door. “Stay near the base while I go get the rest.” She grunted, climbing further up the idol to the next set of cages. Below she could hear the other captives helping each other down.

 

The soldier called up in a hushed yell, “Best hurry, here they come.

 

Working on it!” Laira hissed back, snapping the next lock to free two more prisoners before making her way to the top, which had a starving, malnourished, Sith Pureblood who was likely near death. “Take my hand,” Laira said, smiling at the young woman. “Let me help you.” The weakened creature looked at her, recoiling on instinct, her tattered Sith Imperial uniform barely recognizable. It took a moment, but eventually she reached out with near skeletal hand and took hold of Laira’s outstretched arm. She was frail, and Laira was injured, but the young Jedi made it work as she climbed back down the idol. The seven other prisoners were there waiting, but they were scared and panicked. All of them could see around a dozen Flesh Raiders gathering as they made their way up the hill to the idol, incensed and whipped into a frenzy of rage. 

 

Laira could hear the others she had trapped were making some progress, either climbing acorss the gap one by one, or circling back to jump into the water and swim to the gates in the palisade to reinforce the ones in the camp. There were still about as many others unaccounted for, either wandering the camp or lying in wait within. “We gotta go. This way.” Laira pulled the pureblood along behind her, taking the lead as she lead them towards the cliffs.

 

Wait, there’s no way out there.

 

Better than running straight into that mob.” the redhead retorted. Some of them were unconvinced, but reluctantly followed the Jedi through the camp. As they ran, a group of three Flesh raiders moved to cut them off and surround them. “Don’t stop, head for that ledge and start climbing. I’ll meet up with you as fast as I can.” 

 

Laira let go of the pureblood, letting the Imperial soldier get a hold of her before darting off to engage the Flesh Raiders. Her lightsaber flashed to life, swiping it wide across the first one’s stomach before she unleashed a ball of heat and fire in the next Flesh raider’s face from her hand. The third was able to get a lucky slash across her back, enough to open a laceration from her right shoulder blade to her left kidney, luckily not deep enough to paralyze her. Laira fought through the pain as blood leaked through her cloak and dripped down her legs. Her saber flashed once more, taking off the Flesh Raider’s arms at the elbow and again into his left pectoral muscle. The redhead took off once more, seeing the Flesh Raider’s charging up the hill and around the rocks towards the prisoners as she caught up to her charges. “Start climbing.

 

The soldier started up, working quickly until he got to the ledge. “Toss me up a rope or a cord, quick!

 

Laira nodded, taking her defensive stance between the prisoners and the Flesh Raiders. She pulled the Force into herself, pulling up a defensive wall of stone on one side of her to delay the handful of Flesh Raiders that had climbed across the gap. She didn’t want to make it too difficult for them to get to her, just enough to keep them all coming from the same direction. One of the prisoners took her grappling hook and whipcord from her belt at her direction and they began helping the stronger ones up to the ledge before hauling up the weaker ones. “Just go. I’ll hold them off until you all get to the top!

 

The soldier didn’t waste much time. Once the Sith Pureblood was up and the last prisoner was climbing, he lashed the cord to his waste and started climbing up the rocks with two other prisoners in tow. They weren’t using the cord, but climbing as fast as their arms and legs could carry them up the cliff in the dark and rain, leaving the Jedi all alone to hold off their captors long enough for them to escape.


Edited by Laira Darkhold, 04 August 2019 - 01:42 PM.


#18
Laira Darkhold

Laira Darkhold

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Laira spared a glance up the cliff. The soldier and his two compatriots were making good time, but weren’t exactly able to hustle up the fifty meter cliffside. It wasn’t a race, it was a life or death situation for them. If they slipped or fell, that was it, and so while they understood the need for urgency, they were still doing their best to protect themselves. 

 

The flesh raider mob approached at a dead sprint, several arrows and spears were launched at the redheaded Jedi, cutting through the rain as they sailed. Laira dodged to the left and advanced out to meet the group before they got too close, hoping to stall them by countering their momentum. She darted to the left, using the wall of one of the buildings to alter her momentum and carry her above the group so that she could leap down and fall amongst the flesh raiders.

 

She pushed out with the Force, drawing on the mud to spray up and around her when she landed, hoping to disorient or blind any of those who were close by, sweeping her saber in a wide arc aimed for their weapons. The group moved to surround her, those whose weapons were no useless roared in anger. Laira pulled the Force within herself, channeling it into her awareness and reflexes, submerging her mind into the flow of the river. As one surged forward another behind her thrust with its spear, she side-stepped the weapon grabbing its haft to angle the point into the charging raider, diving underneath another’s blade while bringing her blade up under his arm and slash across his chest.

 

Laira kept moving, slipping her leg behind another flesh raider’s knee and using his weight to stabilize her movement as she stepped around his comrade, dragging the saber’s point across a third’s knees. More were rushing forward from the gates, others surging around a building. She had to keep moving.

 

The redhead jumped, using the Force to urge her muscles further and propel her to the wall of the building. She grunted, leaping again from her perch over the crowd to place herself between the mob and the fleeing prisoners. They weren’t even half-way yet, they needed more time. 

 

She stomped against the earth, driving a spike up from the ground into the first charging Flesh Raider. The spike speared him through and drove into the one behind him. The others rushed around the obstacle to engage the Jedi, whose saber pushed into a whirling defense, short, quick swipes aimed for weapons and hands. Some fell away from her, another despite the loss of his hands bull-rushed the Jedi Padawan who spun off to his left, cleaving a deep burned furrow in his chest as she danced out of his way. 

 

Laira could feel her heart pounding, wetness clung to her burning back. No time to waste trying to heal the injury, all she could do was hold the line, steadily being driven back by their sheer numbers. What she wouldn’t have done for a good blaster.

 

One of the flesh raiders was slightly larger, and as she slashed his forearm she recognized the stereotypical toughened skin that came with what she supposed was their age. Perhaps it was a rare mutation, but she’d not had the experience to know for certain. Behind her the prisoners were starting to pull up the weaker captives one at a time. With six of them to do, it would be a while at that pace.

 

The flesh raider’s drove her back towards the cliff wall, as time went on, they started to wear down her defenses, small cuts on her arms and legs opening up as their weapons struck just before she could slash them apart with her saber. Blood dripped into the mud around pieces of charred flesh as the mob began to grow, reinforced by the raiders from the ledge in a trickle that surged their momentum forward. Laira managed a short glance up the cliff, seeing the Rodian being the last to be pulled up. <Good they made it.> The short distraction allowed one Flesh Raider’s spear to stab into her thigh, the redhead letting out a scream of pain, forcing her to her knees. Her lightsaber slashed the flesh raider across his midsection as she retreated by scrambling backwards on her butt, crawling through the mud away from the enraged flesh raiders. 

 

She waved her saber ahead of her to ward off the Flesh Raiders when she felt the cord drop down beside her. The redhead grabbed it, wrapping her left hand around it and letting it coil around her arm as the prisoners began to pull her upwards. Pain surged through her injured shoulder as they lifted her away from the clawing hands of the Flesh Raiders. Arrows and spears clattered around her as she was lifted higher and higher. It felt like hours, her arm’s circulation cut off and hand going numb when she was finally pulled over the cliff. Immediately the soldier began working on her leg, while the other two hefted her up. “We gotta move. There’s an outpost twenty klicks north-north west where we can go. A patrol might grab us before then.

 

Laira, a little loopy from bloodloss. “That’s great. Hey, could you tell me what planet this is?

 

The soldier laughed, “It’s Tython. Thanks for the save.



#19
Laira Darkhold

Laira Darkhold

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Saeza sat in the cockpit. She had considered going to Alderaan to tell Laira’s parents what had happened on Azure, but after being screamed at by Leo, she had decided that was not the best course of action. Instead she had composed a message to send to the Royal Family along the back channels Laira often used.

 

//start

//to: Faith Organa

//from: Saeza

 

I know we’ve not spoken often, but I thought you should know that Laira, Leo, and I participated in the Battle of Azure representing the Silver Jedi Order. During the course of the Battle, we were sent to board and disable a Mandalorian vessel, which caused us to become separated. In the end, she was not recovered and has been missing since with many believing she has passed into the embrace of the Force.

 

My sincerest condolences, 

 

She is one of my only friends, so I thought I should tell you.

 

//end

 

Saeza clicked send and sighed. She still didn’t believe Laira was dead, but couldn’t find any trace of her presence or how she could have escaped. Leo had taken to drinking, and she’d only seen him leave his room twice since they had gotten back. Once to scream at her for trying to go back to Azure to find Laira, and early in the night when she had went to check on him after hearing him dry heaving in the refresher. He’d been very drunk, and so Saeza had helped him into his bed and used the Force to ease him off to sleep, where he’d been ever since.

 

Her disappearance had bothered him greatly, especially since he was certain she had died. He’d only explained that he’d seen her lying in a pool of her own blood right before the reactor ignited, but wouldn’t say more. Saeza found herself doubting Laira’s survival as well, but she was certain she had not felt it in the Force. Instead the young Yuuzhan Vong had decided that perhaps it was different for Jedi who returned to the Force, and they simply vanished in the Force like Laira rather than the cold chilly void others left when they passed. Leo would have none of her optimism, going so far as to glare at her anytime she tried to explain that it was possible Laira was alive, but she couldn't be upset with the Death Trooper. She had been one of his only surviving friends, and he was trapped in his grief for now. After a few days of letting him wallow in it, she would start helping him recover.

 

Regardless, Saeza was now left with the question of where to go from here, a question she’d not considered before. Laira had always been so confident and assertive it had allowed the little Vong to sit back and follow, but now she was the only one that could make decisions with Leo in his mourning.

 

Saeza wasn’t sure why, but she wanted to go to Corellia, perhaps to see the floating mountains or just to avoid having to go back to the Solace of Conviction and explain to Master B’rahk that Laira was missing.

 

Either way, she set her course and then went to check on Leo. Rowdy had spent the whole time sitting in Laira’s X-Wing with all his lights off. Saeza could tell he was active and on, but he was non-responsive, not even to pick on Tinker like he usually did.

 

The petite jedi entered the darkened room, moving to sit on the bed alongside the Death Trooper. She could smell the alcohol on his breath each time his chest rose and fell. He was drooling, sprawled across the bed like he’d fallen there even though she had gently tucked him in. She could smell the hint of vomit that made it evident he had thrown up once more after she’d put him to bed. “Jester? Could you clean that up?” She asked the Seeker droid who was in the corner. 

 

Leo, wake up Leo.” Saeza said in a soft cooing tone as she rubbed his back softly. 

 

Huh?” The tall man groaned loudly.

 

You need some water.” She stood, noticing his comlink was buzzing, but ignoring it. Whatever it was it could wait. She fetched a bottle of water and returned, seeing his comlink buzzing again as she handed him the bottle. He tried to grab it, but alas he was too far gone to be able to drink it by himself, so she sat beside him and helped him sit up enough to drink then held the bottle for him until she was satisfied he had enough for the moment.

 

Feel better?” She asked, her comlink buzzing on her wrist.
 

Not really.” He slurred, rolling back over away from her to go back to sleep.

 

Her comlink started buzzing again, so she stood to walk out of his room answering it with a click.

 

Hiya!


Edited by Laira Darkhold, 04 August 2019 - 07:37 PM.


#20
Laira Darkhold

Laira Darkhold

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Laira spent the trip back to the outpost limping for the most part. About four kilometers out, they had been spotted by an Imperial Scout Trooper on patrol who swooped by to see what the motley assortment was up to, and after their situation was explained, Laira had borrowed his Holocomm to call her friends and explain to them that she had ended up on Tython. She didn’t talk long, but gave Saeza coordinates to retrieve her and accepted Leo’s very drunk, but very sweet, adorations before returning the device to the trooper.

 

The Imperials didn’t ask her too many questions, though it was pretty clear they wanted to. The soldier she had rescued, Sergeant Major Hal Trask, had enough clout to keep the superiors from being too concerned with her, especially when he had been backed by the Sith Pureblood. Basically they claimed she was a fellow prisoner who had managed to hide her Lightsaber and lead their escape attempt. The Sith had claimed she was a fellow Acolyte within the Sith Empire and that any further questions would have to wait until they had received medical treatment and been debriefed by their Master, Darth Interex of the Inquisition.

 

Once the Imperials had relented in their questioning, the Sith had told her, “You saved my life, so I have saved yours, Jedi. We are even, next time we see one another I’ll kill you.” to which Laira had responded, “Only after we hug though, right?

 

Hal spent most of his time keeping an eye on her while the medics checked him out and gave him fluids and food. She received one hundred and eighteen stitches along with several bandages and been soaked in Bacta for a few hours which helped. It helped a lot more that she had been able to finally rest in a healing trance for a while.

 

Once her nap was done, Hal had woken her and left her to dress. Her armor had been cleaned and she’d gotten a sonishower, which was basically the worst excuse for a shower that could have been imagined, but at least she and her clothes were clean. Laira would need to sleep, but she had a few other things on her mind when she limped out and found Hal waiting for her in the medical center.

 

How are you?

 

Fine. They’re going to hold me overnight to make sure I don’t having anything worse.” He handed her a datapad. “They detected some radiation poisoning, a partially healed concussion, and a ton of other injuries in you, but they scrubbed your DNA records since they think you’re Sith.

 

Thanks.” She responded, patting his shoulder. “My friends should be here soon, I’ll make sure they take me somewhere to heal up.

 

Thank you. We’d all be dead if you hadn’t come along. Speaking of which, how did you come along?

 

It’s a long story. How about we just leave it at ‘the Force works in mysterious ways’ and call it a day. I was just in the right place at the right time.

 

Suit yourself.” He said with a grin, watching a freighter drop through the clouds from the window. “Looks like they made it. Must have been close to the Core when they got the call a few hours ago.

 

Aye, they were off near Corellia. Might be where we go back to let me rest.” She smiled at him again, “It was nice meeting you Hal. Maybe next time you can buy me dinner or take me dancing instead.

 

I’ll hold you to that next time you’re in the deep core.

 

She waved and left the medical center of the little outpost, walking with a slight limp from her injuries, but otherwise she was going to be alright. A few scar removal treatments and she’d be fine, but for now, it was time to rest. She met her friends as they were coming off the ramp, Leo rushing past Saeza to grab Laira in a big hug, “Too tight.” She said with a gasp, causing him to let go suddenly.

 

Sorry, just happy to see you.

 

I can tell,” Laira said, waggling her eyebrows, “I’m just pretty banged up right now is all, so you gotta be careful.” She opened her arms and gave him a soft hug that he returned before she walked back to Saeza.

 

He thought you were dead and wouldn’t listen to me when I said you weren’t.” Saeza said standing rigidly as Laira hugged her, taking a moment before gingerly returning the gesture. “So where to?

 

For me? I’m getting a bath, some food, and a nap. You take us somewhere nice in the meantime.” Laira responded as they lead her aboard the ship. Saeza nodded, leaving the two to go back to the cockpit and take off while Laira went for the captain’s refresher.

 

Leo helped her into the small room, then started to make his exit when she started the water. “Where are you going?” She asked.

 

Um,

 

Oh, yes actually. Go fetch some strawberries. And some chocolate. And a chair so you can sit next to the tub and rub my feet.