Shadows of the Past

2 years prior to The Force Awakens...
A persistent and interactive galaxy set shortly before the events of Episode VII

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Pryde
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Shadows of the Past

Post by Pryde » Sat Apr 22, 2017 3:05 am

Quiet whimpering turned to cries of alarm as a First Order stormtrooper shoved the butt of his rifle into the face of a young man, knocking him backwards onto the ground. A second later the trooper had his gun pointed at him and a single laser blast ended the boy's life. There was a chorus of gasps followed by the desperate wailing of the young man's mother as she cradled her son's head in her arms. The other troopers in the squad systematically moved through the square pacifying the aggressive and terrifying the timid. They were getting closer to her, she could feel it. With her eyes closed and her hands cradled around--something, a young woman fearfully rocked herself back and forth. Behind her another stormtrooper had selected someone to make an example of. He beat him severely but did not kill him.

"Anything," the garbled electronic voice of one stormtrooper said to another. The second shook his head.

"Nothing yet."

"Keep looking," the first replied, "Rebels have been hitting our convoys along this path for months. Captain wants them dealt with."

"Yes, Sir," the second answered and the two of them went back to sweeping through the crowd.

The young woman listened for a moment and when she heard them moving away from her she breathed a sigh of relief. Kneeling on the ground amongst a huddled mass of women and children she allowed her grip on the knife she held to loosen bit as her shoulders relaxed. It was at that moment that a hand reached out and suddenly grabbed her, pulling her by the hair the stormtrooper forcefully lifted her head.

"Got her," he cried out to the others, "She's one of the rebels!"

Jessica Sterling didn't waste any time and jammed her knife into the stormtroopers side, right between the plates of his armor. The man cried out in alarm and fell to his knees, going into shock as Jessica relieved him of his weapon. The other stormtroopers nearby were just now turning to look towards their fellow as Jess dropped two of them with a quick salvo of laser blasts. The sound of someone fighting back triggered something in the crowd and the other hidden rebels revealed themselves and started fighting back. The ensuing firefight was short as the small squad of stormtroopers quickly found themselves overwhelmed.

As the last stormtrooper fell a cry of victory went out amongst the crowd but Jess knew it wasn't over. She had joined this outfit merely a week again and with her knowledge and training the rebels had been able to successfully raid bigger targets. Since then the First Order had been stepping up their security and this sweep of the town square was only the first of many. Eventually the First Order would simply decide to liquidate the entire town, she'd seen it happen before.

"I count twelve dead stormies and a small arsenal of weapons we can use on our next target," Jonas Flynn, the leader of this small band or rebels, said as he walked over to her. "I've already assigned one of my boys to hand them out to our best shooters. Why don't you go ahead and keep that one."

"No," jess replied, tossing her blaster onto the ground at his feet. "You keep it."

Then she turned and started to leave. Jonas looked at her in surprise. "Hey, where are you going?"

"I'm out, Flynn, the First Order's getting too close. If you were smart you and your people would leave too."

"Leave," he asked incredulously, "Why in the hells would we leave? We're making a difference here, Jess. Food, clothes, clean water, this town would have none of that if not for us. Please, stay and help us finish the fight!"

Jess turned on him then. "There is no finishing the fight," she shouted at him, "Kill a dozen stormtroopers the First Order has thousands more. Disrupt their supply lines and they'll respond by burning villages. They have more men, they have more machines and if you make yourself a big enough threat they have something worse... Much worse."

Jonas stared at her hard. "If it was so hopeless then why did you even join our fight in the first place?"

Jessica turned away from him. She didn't really have an answer to that, at least not one that would satisfy him. She didn't particularly care about Jonas or his men or even what they were fighting for. All she wanted was to hurt the First Order, she didn't care where or how. "Look, just heed my advice. Get out of this town before it's too late. Take your people up into the hills somewhere. The longer you hide here the more danger you're putting yourself in."

She turned to leave and made it about three feet before Jonas stopped her by calling out to her. "Is that what you did," he asked her pointedly, "Did you run because you were putting yourself in danger?"

Jessica stopped in her tracks momentarily as his words brought back memories of her old squad and... The thought of his name lingered in the back of her mind. It was all she could do to suppress that memory. "Not me," she whispered quietly before continuing on her way.

Jonas watched her leave for a moment, puzzled at the last thing she said. If she was not herself in danger then who? Whose life was so important that it would make her run?

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Pryde
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Re: Shadows of the Past

Post by Pryde » Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:10 am

A few days later Jessica arrived on the planet Takodana at one of the most popular watering holes on the Outer Rim. This place had been run by a woman named Maz Kanata for nearly a thousand years if the rumors were to be believed. Jess wasn't sure of their validity herself but then she didn't particularly care to dig any deeper. An alien living longer than a human was not completely unheard of, but one thousand years?

"Jess," Maz cried out the second she saw her, "You're usual then?"

Jess nodded and Maz scurried off to go fetch her order as Jess found an empty seat at a nearby table. A moment later Maz returned with a shot glass and a bottle and set both down in front of her. "I can have a room prepared for you," she said, "Or would you rather sleep on the table again?"

"I'll keep my options open," Jess answered as she picked up the small glass, filled to the brim with a strong Corellian whiskey and completely drained it.

Maz gave her a look that easily betrayed her concern but said nothing. Instead she changed the subject. "Someone was here looking for you while you were gone. Nice young man, said he needed your help."

Jess swallowed hard then reached out to grab the bottle and pour herself another drink. "Not interested," she said.

"He claims to have known your father," Maz replied and that stopped Jess right in her tracks.

With her hand half extended towards the bottle she turned to look at Maz. "What," she asked and Maz answered by simply handing her a datachit.

"He wanted you to meet him there and Jess, do be careful," Maz told her before turning to leave and attend to her other guests.

Jess picked up the datachit and looked at it, turning it over in her hands before sliding it into her datapad. A set of coordinates crawled across her screen and a moment later she stood and headed out of the bar, her drink still sitting half touched on the table behind her...

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Pryde
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Re: Shadows of the Past

Post by Pryde » Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:16 am

"Thank you for meeting me," an older man wearing some kind of military uniform said as Jess entered the abandoned building, "My name is Grenn Stark, I knew your father."

"I heard that," Jess answered as she cautiously circled him, hand on the butt of her blaster, "but I've never heard of you. How is it you know my father?"

The grizzled, old war veteran stroked the stubble of his beard. "I take it Rand never told you about me," he said, "Not surprising. I knew him during a time in his life that neither of us are overly fond of."

Jessica stopped her circling and gave him a hard look. "You're Resistance," she said and Grenn nodded.

"You're as sharp as your father," he told her, "Yes, I'm Resistance and you're Jessica Sterling, formerly of Green Squadron. I have a mission for you, should you be willing."

"And if I'm not?"

He just shrugged, "Well, you can go back to fighting little wars on border planets that don't mean a damn, up to you."

She felt chagrined by that. How could this man she barely knew so callously belittle everything she's done so far. "What's the mission?"

"I'm putting together an expedition," he told her, "I can't go into too much detail here but suffice it to say we're going after the First Order."

Jess' eyes widened at that. Was he talking about war? Could the Resistance even win such a conflict? "Are you insane?"

Grenn smiled, "No, not quite. You've fought against the First Order in the company of Green Squadron. You've seen their fleets, but still it's difficult to judge their strength. This mission is strictly recon. We're going into the Unknown Regions to get a better look at our enemy and to see what they are truly capable of, but if we're going to succeed on this mission then we're going to need one hell of a pilot. That's where you come in. So what do you say? Are you ready to get back into a fight that actually means something? Or do you prefer wailing at an impenetrable wall instead?"

Jess resisted the urge to grind her teeth in frustration. In the months since leaving Green Squadron what exactly has she done? She used to travel from one bar to the next picking fights with anyone who claimed to support the First Order. Then after awhile she started involving herself in hopeless battles, not because she thought she could help them win but rather because could use them to hurt the First Order, even if it was only a little. Everything Grenn had been telling her was true, the conflicts she had involved herself in were nothing. Ultimately a few dead soldiers here and there did nothing to change the course of the war, but a mission like this? If they could find something, something to incriminate the First Order then they could use that to galvanize the New Republic into action and that could make a real difference.

"I'm in," she said and Grenn smiled.

"Good, I have the perfect crew lined up. You'll like them, they're misfits like Green Squadron. I want you to meet them here," he said, handing her a small datapad with coordinates on it. "Your first destination is Jakku on the western Rim."

Jess looked at him in surprise. "Jakku? Why the hell would we want to go there?"

"Jakku is the first stop on the road to the First Order and the site of a major battle that took place many years ago," Grenn explained. "Supposedly on the surface the Empire had established a secret weapons facility along with an observatory. That observatory has studied and recorded various paths into and through the Unknown Regions. Now that facility is no longer in service, obviously, and it has likely been picked clean over the years but someone on the surface is bound to know something about those charts. You and your crew are going to need them before you head into the Unknown Regions. Now, are there any questions?"

Jess silently shook her head.

"Alright," he answered, "You'll rendezvous with your team tomorrow and have one day to prepare. In the meantime I suggest getting a good night's sleep. If even half of the stories of the Unknown Regions are true then you are going to need it."

He saluted her then, prompting Jessica to respond in kind then he lowered his arm and walked out of the room, leaving the young girl to contemplate her mission. Just what exactly had she signed on for? And more importantly, why does the thought of going to Jakku leave her with a feeling of dread? What exactly was she going to find there?

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