The Price of Survival

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Pryde
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The Price of Survival

Post by Pryde »

The Ring of Kafrene was a failed mining colony that was converted into a deep-space trading outpost for desperate travelers crossing the Expansion Region. It was first created by the Galactic Republic before the rise of the Empire when it found itself under Imperial control. Nowadays it technically falls under New Republic space but the fledgling Republic had spent the last thirty years struggling to maintain order over the outer planets. Many out of the way places soon found themselves under the control of warlords and thieves and Kafrene was no different. On the surface it was business as usual, but scrape away the rusty paint and you'll find the seedy underbelly of Kafrene hidden just beneath. It was here that a young Jedi named Elena Connor had found herself. On the run from the First Order shortly after the destruction of Luke's Jedi temple, Elena had come to Kafrene hoping to disappear. For those schooled in the Force, however, such a thing was not possible.

The usual crowds of Kafrene had filled the streets, flitting this way and that from one merchant booth to the next. The smells of a hundred alien delicacies filled the air and all around were thousands of people completely unaware of what was about to happen. The first signs of trouble were subtle. A hooded girl running through a crowded marketplace, such a scene was not completely unheard of on Kafrene. What followed next were shouts and blasterfire, a hail of crimson bolts burned into the crowd hitting bystanders and melting merchant stands to slag as a squad of stormtroopers raced after the girl. The troopers showed little regard for the safety of Kafrene's denizens as they pushed and shoved their way through the crowd in pursuit of their quarry. Another hail of blasterfire followed after the girl, Some hitting the dirt at her feet while others flew wide, burning holes into the store fronts. By now the crowd had started to disperse in a panic, beings ran every which way, some into danger, some away.

Elena ran as fast as her feet could take her down the main thoroughfare of Kafrene. She had just past a pair of Twi'leks before crashing into a Duros, sending them both sprawling onto the ground. "Hey," the Duros cried but Elena ignored him and clawed her way back to her feet before racing away. The Duros looked like he had more to say but he quickly shut his mouth the second a squad of stormtroopers passed him by.

The young Jedi turned the corner, heading in the direction of the space port. She barely made it halfway down the street before another transport appeared above her. The doors on the side of the craft opened up and a line of stormtroopers filled the opening blasters raised and ready to fire. Elena practically skidded to a halt before changing direction and running into an alleyway. A hail of blasterfire rained down from the transport searing into the ground where she had just been standing a moment before. Elena hurried through the alleyway as the transport tried its best to follow her from above. The alleyway spilled out onto a side thoroughfare where more denizens crowded the open street. Elena startled a young couple as she burst from the alley right past them. A pair of blaster bolts burned their way into the ground at their feet and the couple scattered.

Elena hit the end of the street and turned right into a tunnel. Unable to follow any further the transport set down and the stormtroopers aboard disembarked. The girl raced past crowds of people down a side tunnel connecting to the red light district. That was when a tall figure dressed in a black robe and carrying a vicious axe stepped out in front of her. Elena barely had time to react before he reached out to her and pulled her towards him. As she felt her feet lift up off the ground she reached down and grabbed her lightsaber. The golden blade sprung to life and she swung it at the figure's head, forcing him to react. He raised his axe and let go of his hold of her. She hit the ground and tumbled forward into a roll before scrambling back to her feet and running past him. She didn't get far before the figure turned around and sent a telekinetic blast of energy in her direction.

The force of the blast picked Elena up and sent her flying through a storefront window, sending shards of glass everywhere as she crashed through several mannequins and clothing racks. Elena quickly got to her feet again and headed deeper inside the building, running past racks of clothing until she found a door on the opposite wall. A single cut from her saber broke the lock and she burst out into an alleyway behind the building. On the other side a pair of stormtroopers were waiting for her. They raised their blasters to shoot her but before either of them could pull the trigger the girl had leapt over their heads and cut them both down with two strikes from her lightsaber. She continued running until she hit another giant crowd of people. With her pursuers far behind her she melded into the crowd and slipped away.

Meanwhile, the dark, axe wielding creature behind her stood in the alleyway behind the storefront staring down at the two bodies of the unfortunate troopers that had gotten in Elena's way. A third stormtrooper emerged from the store behind him and without turning around the creature asked, "Well?"

"The girl slipped our net," the trooper informed him. "For the moment we've lost her."

"Failure is not an option," the man replied, "I want the Jedi found. Have your men secure the spaceport. No one leaves." Then he sheathed his axe on his back and stalked away.

Across town an exhausted Elena finally felt safe enough to stop and take a breath. She crumbled into a heap on the side of the street panting heavily. Just a week ago she was at the Jedi temple working on her sparring kata. Now she was running for her life from an enemy she had never even heard of until now. She had no idea why they wanted her dead, but they had been pursuing her relentlessly since she left the ruined remains of the Jedi temple. Were they perhaps the ones responsible for its destruction? There were too many possibilities and right now her thoughts were clouded. She was so exhausted she could barely think.

A rogue Jedi running through the streets of Kafrene. That's going to make the evening news, she grumbled to herself. One thing was certain, she needed to get off Kafrene and soon. With a great deal of effort she forced herself back to her feet. Her first order of business was to steal a ship and she only knew of one place where she could do that. She also knew that would be the one place where the First Order would be waiting for her...
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Re: The Price of Survival

Post by Mir »

All things considered, the haul hadn’t been that bad. Moving live cargo was tricky and required a lot of work, but it would be rewarding. Bekka reached a hand up, brushing a gloved hand over her brow. There were strands of hair that were loose from her tight ponytail and it was starting to bother her. One of the problems with live cargo was that…well that they were live and they had to go to relieve themselves. If you had a client who had the scratch then they were paying for containers that were properly suited for these things. But…this client hadn’t had pockets that deep. They’d tried to stiff her for part of the agreed upon fee, which reminded her to check her accounts once she was done with mucking out the hold.

The vacu-suc tool in the cargo hold was working fairly well though Bekka would have killed for a droid or two. Life would have been a lot easier. Maintaining a ship took time and effort. There was always something that needed to be done. Anytime your pockets took a hit it meant stretching things more than they could be. It all created a feedback loop. Maybe there would be the one big score that would set her up nicely for a while. Bekka didn’t know what the odds were but she hoped that they were tipped towards her.

Once she was finished with the task, she headed back to the cockpit of the YT-2400 freighter she owned. An identity challenge might have indicated the ship was named the Moon Pearl, but to Bekka, she just thought of it as home. Dropping into the pilot’s seat, she put her foot up on the dash, and grabbed the data pad she’d left there. Looking over her account, Bekka gave out a little sigh of relief that she had been paid and it was the proper amount.

Working for a shipping guild provided some job security even if it meant giving a healthy percentage to the guild. The guild itself wasn’t galaxy wide, it operated more in the sector but it was starting to expand beyond. They did offer their operators a healthy amount of autonomy. She could take jobs on her own if she wanted. They were good like that and she appreciated it. Now that she had finally paid off the modifications to the Moon Pearl, Bekka was in a position where she could profit off of years of hard work.

Sometimes she did need to take jobs outside of her guild. Since she’d only been with the guild for a few short years, she was still lower on the totem pole when it came to getting the juicier contracts and the better percentages on splits.

Flashing lights in the distance grabbed her attention. Something interesting happened on Kafrene at least once a week. It definitely made the place a fun area to stop over and use as something of a base of operations. Perking up, Bekka looked out of the transparisteel viewport to see if she could figure out what was the story. Her eyes widened a bit when she saw what looked like a few First Order transports coming in and landing in one of the docking bays near where the Moon Pearl was located.

Well that was not good.

It was rarely good when the First Order showed up anywhere. On top of that it was not good when they were here in Kafrene.

The trading port was ostensibly neutral in the grand scheme of things. Just a place for people to make money and trade in peace. A peace the First Order kept uneasy by showing up every once in a while and making their presence known.

What were they up to now?

Activating her local news feed, she plugged into the spaceport’s reporting channel to hear that the First Order had arrived and were looking for a particular person. The details on the person, a woman, were sketchy, but she was a human. That didn’t really narrow anything down at all. There were no real details on the woman. No age, no height, weight, nothing. All they had was a name. Elena Connor.

Elena Connor? 

Who the hell was that?

Not her problem, that was for sure. With the First Order here, Bekka knew the port would be shut down or heavily monitored. That was fine. She didn’t have anywhere to be for a little while.
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Re: The Price of Survival

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Elena frowned at the sight in front of her. Two full squads and a pair of TIE Fighters were patrolling the area around the spaceport. Does a fourteen-year-old girl really warrant this much attention? She ran her eyes over the entirety of the spaceport until she found her way in. A service entry, too small for any regular-sized adult humans but big enough to permit a smaller alien species, or perhaps a young girl. Staying low she pushed herself back up the roof she'd been laying on, then she crawled to the other side of the building and dropped down into the street. The moment she landed she startled a drunken Ugnaught who had been relieving himself in that particular alley. He made some rather rude sounding noises at her, but Elena ignored them and carefully made her way closer to the spaceport. She had to stop before hitting the main thoroughfare and wait for a small squad of stormtroopers to pass. Then she quickly darted across the street and into the shadow of the massive building.

It wasn't far now, just a few more meters and... Shavvit, she swore. There were a pair of stormtroopers watching her entrance. From her vantage point on the rooftop they were difficult to spot, but if she was going to make it inside then she would have to distract them. She crept a little bit closer, just to the right of their peripheral vision. When she felt like she couldn't get any closer without getting spotted she held up her hand as if she were holding a small stone. Then with a flick of her wrist she sent the imaginary stone flying towards the other side of the entrance, opposite her and the stormtroopers.

"What was that," one of the troopers asked as he turned to look towards the illusory sound he just heard.

The other turned to follow his gaze. "No, idea. Should we check it out?"

The first thought about that a moment then nodded his head and shouldered his blaster. "Come on," he said as he led the other trooper away from the entrance.

Elena took this opportunity to quick scramble across the open and slip through the entryway into the spaceport. The opening was a bit of a tight fit. It wasn't exactly made for a human, but she was just small enough that she could make it work, however uncomfortable it might be. She pulled herself along through the crawl space until she hit the other side. Once free of the compact entryway she took a moment to stretch her limbs before assessing her surroundings. There were quite a few ships docked at this spaceport, Elena had no idea which one she should take. She'd flown a ship before, once or twice but she didn't know much about them. With the TIE's outside she needed something fast and something durable. She was likely to take some laserfire during her escape. She also needed something with weapons in case she needed to fire back.

Sticking to the shadows she crept over towards the nearest ship and tried to open the hatch. No luck, the hatch remained stubbornly closed. She didn't know enough about security measures to try and hack it so she needed to find a ship with an open hatchway. She wandered amongst the berths, ducking back behind a rather blocky ship when a pair of stormtroopers passed her by. A short distance below her she saw a ship that looked promising. It was a Corellian design, it's rounded shape was rather iconic of Corellian engineering. The hatch was open and there was a woman there talking to what looked like a First Order officer. He wore the same white armor as the rest but this one was painted with orange highlights and marked with bars. Elena crept as close to the ship as she could and waited for the officer to leave. As the woman headed back into her ship Elena stopped her by tossing a nearby hydrospanner over into the far corner of her berth. The woman stopped in her tracks and turned to look. After a moment she wandered over to investigate the sound.

Elena quickly scrambled up the boarding ramp into the ship. She didn't know enough about the craft to know what its interior was like, however, she did spot where the cockpit was on the ship and used her best judgment to navigate her way through the ship until she found it. Once she was there she began heating up the ship's engine and preparing it for take off. A moment or two later she felt something stir behind her.

"Who--," the woman tried to say but she barely got a word out before Elena spun around and in a blur of motion her lightsaber sprang to life, filling the cockpit with its amber glow as she pointed the weapon at Bekka.

"I need this ship," the girl said, her tone a mixture of desperation and fear, "Please let me take it."
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Mir
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Re: The Price of Survival

Post by Mir »

Snap-hiss

A strangely familiar sound despite it being one not often heard by the galaxy in decades. Bekka had heard it before during her travels. That one particular day had been part of a rather interesting few days. The sound was one she hadn’t thought she would hear again. At least, not for some time. But here was a scared little girl wielding something that looked almost comically too big for her, at least to Bekka. Bekka knew she had installed security protocols on the ship. She could access a wide range of things from the buttons on her belt. Though they were designed to slow down a normal person, whatever that word “normal” meant in a galaxy of countless species, there was a chance they could be used on someone like the little girl in front of her.

Without any form of confirmation, Bekka could just tell that this was the Elena Connors the First Order was looking for. The officer she had been speaking to had been completing a search of her ship along with his squad of soldiers. While he had not been forthcoming with any further information on who Elena Connors was, this girl was checking off all the boxes.

There was enough pure fright in the girl’s voice when she made the plea. The body language was there. She looked as though she hadn’t eaten properly in a few days. She had been slightly hunched, maybe a by-product of trying to sneak about on the ship.

Bekka slowly put her blaster pistol away. As her fingers left the holster, she brushed against her belt, lifting the gangway onto the ship and sealing them inside.

“I can’t let you take it.” She said.

The girl shook her head, this was clearly not the answer she had been hoping for. Bekka wouldn’t go as far as to say tears sprang into her eyes, but there was something there in addition to what seemed like a resolve to make it out of this situation alive. Maybe not in one piece, but alive. Bekka could respect that.

“You see what I’m holding.” The girl replied.

“I do.” Bekka agreed. “But this ship is my life. I need it, too.”

“But I have a lightsaber.”

“Already said I noticed that one, squirt.” Bekka said. Due to her age, she was a bit taller than the girl, but Connors looked like she’d get taller as she got older. “Listen, you can’t take the ship. However, I can take you where you need to go.”

Elena shook her head. “What are we going to negotiate the price? I don’t have any money and I don’t have time for haggling.”

“Free of charge.”

Her eyes narrowed. There was a lack of trust in them that Bekka couldn’t blame the girl for, when it came down to it. “You’d do that?”

“Sure. Why not?” Bekka asked, leaning against the frame of the cockpit entrance. “I’m not a big fan of the First Order. They leave me alone for the most part and I do what I do. You need help and I’m in a position to give it. Way I figure, you can take me up on the offer or you can try to break into another ship somewhere in this spaceport, increasing the odds you get captured.” She said.

The girl’s eyes shifted back and forth as she thought it through.

“While you’re thinking about it, put the lightsaber down, will you?” Bekka asked, and gingerly gestured around the cockpit. “A lot of important parts are in here. Expensive too.”
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Re: The Price of Survival

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Elena stared at her a moment before she finally disengaged her lightsaber and lowered her arm. She continued to hold the hilt of her weapon in her hand, however, as she did not fully trust this woman. In her limited experience there weren't many who'd be willing to extend an olive branch to someone they didn't know. Luke Skywalker was the first. Before that she had to fend for herself. Begging, stealing, whatever it took. She thought see was past all that when Luke invited her to his Jedi temple, but even there she found hardship and pain. She didn't know how many Jedi had survived the attack on the temple or even if there were any Jedi left. As far as she knew she was the last. Perhaps that was why the First Order wanted her dead. To wipe out the last of Skywalker's legacy.

She half turned away from the woman, but kept a watchful eye on her out of the corner of her eye. "I appreciate the sentiment," she said finally, "but you shouldn't help me."

"Just said I ain't a big fan of the First Order, didn't I," Bekka repeated again.

"But it's not just the First Order," Elena told her, "There's something else hunting me. Something dark, with powers just like mine."

The other woman just stubbornly crossed her arms. "Then it sounds like you need all the help you can get," she answered. "You got a name?"

The girl hesitated. "Elena," she said finally, after a brief pause. "Elena Connor."

"Well, Elena, looks to me like you still only have two choices and I know which one I'd pick," Bekka replied, uncrossing her arms and placing one hand on her hip.

Elena nervously bit her bottom lip and looked away. She had no reason to trust this woman, she barely knew her. However, she was right. The longer she stayed on this rock the better her chances of getting caught and with the First Order patrolling the spaceport her chances of leaving were growing slimmer by the moment. "Fine," she said at last, "but I don't really have a destination in mind. I'm just trying to get away."
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Re: The Price of Survival

Post by Mir »

“Getting away is a specialty of mine.” Bekka said. “I’m Bekka by the way. Bekka Quin.” She brushed past Elena and sat down in the pilot’s seat. “So no place in particular huh.” She said and grabbed her data pad. Scrolling through the feed from the shipping guild. “We’ll stick to the Expansion Region. Easier to move around without anyone paying any attention.” Her eyes fell on one particular entry and she smiled. “Perfect.”

“What’s perfect?” Elena asked, leaning over the seat.

Bekka held up the data pad. “Kel Dor family of three seeking passage from Kel Dor to Urajab. Paying pretty well.” She said. “How about that. I’ll take you to Kel Dor and we’ll figure things out from there for you. Isn’t that long of a ride from here to Kel Dor.” Bekka signed herself up for the job, taking control of the ticket.

She started tapping buttons on the controls of the Moon Pearl, starting the warm up for the engines. “I don’t reckon there’s a lot of First Order people on Kel Dor or a lot of patrols in that area.” She said, leaving something else unsaid. Connors was clearly still a frightened shell of herself, so better to let that rest for a while.

Maybe once they were in hyperspace.

They had a bigger problem ahead of them at the moment.

Technically, the Ring of Kafrene spaceport control didn’t have to listen to the First Order. But technically, the Ring of Kafrene spaceport control did have to listen to the First Order. The question was whether she was going to get a space port control that was willing to let her go. The port’s tractor beam projector wasn’t really that strong to begin with and luckily for them the modifications to the Moon Pearl she’d finally finished paying off gave her enough confidence she could break the hold.

Would they report the departure to the First Order? Did the First Order have enough ships here to set up a proper interdiction field? A lot of things she didn’t know. A lot of things she was going to risk.

But the engines were warmed and ready to go.

Time for liftoff.

Bekka brought them up and out of the docking bay and started her ascent. Kafrene Spaceport Control didn’t take long to get in touch with her.

Moon Pearl, this is Control. The port is currently in lock down and we’re not allowing ships to leave.”

“Hey, I get that, but I’ve got somewhere to be and credits to make.”

“If you attempt to leave, we will pass that information along to the First Order.”

She sighed. There it was. “You gotta do what you gotta do,” Bekka replied and turned the communications channel off.

“That’s going to piss them off, isn’t it?” Elena asked.

“Can’t help it.”

Bekka jerked her thumb over the shoulder. “I can control most of the guns from here, and the onboard computer isn’t too shabby when it comes to auto firing. But if you can get on the top guns I’d appreciate it. We may need it."
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Re: The Price of Survival

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Elena was already pretty nervous about this. She had no idea who this woman was or even what she was capable of. Even more so than that she was suspicious of why a complete stranger would put her life on the line for her. Against the First Order of all things. Most people she knew were too afraid to stand against them. Hell, even Elena herself was too afraid to stand against them. She was just looking for a way out, but somehow she found herself on their radar in a big way.

"The guns," Bekka repeated after Elena hadn't moved.

"Um, right," she said, "The guns are...," her words trailed off as she pointed in the general direction of the top of the ship.

"Down that hallway, the ladder on the right. Can't miss it."

"Okay," Elena answered then she hurried back down the hallway until she came to the ladder leading up to the ship's main gun. She quickly scrambled up the ladder and climbed into the seat, yelping in surprise when she accidentally pulled on the control and the seat moved. It took her a moment to finally get control of it and the whole time she held on for dear life.

Okay, what now, she thought, her eyes dancing over the various controls. She had absolutely no idea how to operate this thing.

"TIEs incoming," Bekka called over the ship's internal intercom.

Elena reached up and grabbed the headset above her head and slipped it on. "What do I do," she asked.

"I don't know, maybe shoot them?"

"Shoot them, right... That's um...," she pulled the trigger on the control and the weapon fired, startling her. She quickly recovered, though, and swung the cannon around to line it up with one of the four incoming TIEs. The console in front of her beeped loudly letting her know that she had a lock and she quickly pressed down the triggers again. Red darts lanced across the intervening space between them and the First Order TIEs burning into the ship's hull and turning one of the four incoming craft into a brilliant fireball.

"Yes! I got one," she cried out.

"Great, Kid, now get the rest," Bekka admonished her and Elena's cheeks flushed red.

"Right, yea. On it," she said, swinging the cannon around to focus on another TIE. The remaining three had split up and were coming in faster now. In the distance they could see a single First Order cruiser in orbit around Kafrene. It wasn't a destroyer or a First Order blockade, but it was still dangerous enough to cause them concern. Right now it was between them and their only way out of the system...
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Re: The Price of Survival

Post by Mir »

A single First Order cruiser and it was already more than what Bekka wanted to deal with. She continued to weave the ship through space, as the First Order TIEs continued to follow them. The auto cannons were blazing, trying to shoot down the First Order fighters, but she had to give it to those pilots. They were doing a damned good job. It didn’t help that the Moon Pearl was also a big, fat target. A glance down at her scanners told here that more fighters were being scrambled. Not good. Not good at all.

They were getting close to their jump point. Once they got there, they’d be home free. There was no way for the First Order to track them if they were in hyperspeed. Not without some kind of beacon that was already on the ship.

Her fingers flew over the controls of the ship and the onboard computers confirmed her guess. Not such tracking devices or programs had been installed on the ship. Good. Good.

She winced, her eyes shooting upwards as they took a particularly vicious hit. Shifting more of the shields to the back of the ship, she looked down at the navcomputer, which was almost done computing the trip to Kel Dor. Just a few more kilometers.

Her eyes widened as suddenly another First Order cruiser dropped out of hyperspace.

“Fething hell.” She said, throwing them into a deep dive to avoid the oncoming ship that had dropped out of hyperspace a bit further than it had intended.

A few precious seconds later, they had cleared the underbelly of the ship, which was now trying furiously to track them and shoot with their own turrets. But the two of them were in the clear.

Bekka grasped the hyperdrive control and shoved it forward, throwing them into lightspeed. Stars elongated and shifted into a tunnel of brilliant blue light as their speed accelerated to unbelievable speeds.

They’d made it out of there.

She sat back in the chair, running her hands through her hair as she let go of the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding on to.

"Kid, how are you back there?" She yelled.
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Re: The Price of Survival

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There was no response. After calling out to Elena a second time Bekka began to worry. She quickly hopped out of her chair and rushed back to the gunwell, nearly stumbling over herself as she climbed up the ladder in a hurry. Inside the gunwell she had found the girl lying on the floor. The hit the ship had taken moments before had struck the gunwell, completely disabling the gun and showering the girl with a hail of sparks.

"Hey, Kid, you alright," Bekka asked as she leaned down next to her.

Elena moaned softly as she rolled over onto her back, her eyes fluttering open. When she saw Bekka's face she immediately hopped up into a sitting position. "What happened?! Where are we," she exclaimed.

Bekka had rolled backward on the balls of her heels to avoid a collision when Elena suddenly jumped awake. She quickly held up her hands to try and calm the girl down. "Relax, Kid, we're safe. First Order can't track us now."

The wild look in Elena's eyes gradually dissipated as realization slowly dawned on her. She looked to her right and saw the familiar blue and white swirl of a hyperspace tunnel. The woman was right, she was finally safe. Suddenly overwhelmed with emotion the young Jedi threw her arms around the freighter captain and hugged her tightly. "Thank you," she whispered softly.

**********

Aboard the First Order cruiser a lone figure dressed in black robes stood on the bridge. After the freighter had jumped to lightspeed carrying their quarry he smashed his fist into the console in front of them. They needed more ships to effectively blockade Kafrene, but between the Resistance and operations in the Unknown Regions the FIrst Order navy was spread thin as it was. He half turned to the officer standing behind him. "I want a list of all known destinations along their trajectory and I want it yesterday, Captain. That girl is the key to finding Skywalker, I want her found. Do I make myself clear?"

"Crystal, Sir," the man replied, his voice carrying a nervous tick.

"Good," the Knight answered, "alert me the moment you have something."

Then he spun on his heel and stalked out of the bridge heading towards his personal quarters. This was the first time a young Force-user had eluded capture from him and he was determined to make it the last...
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Re: The Price of Survival

Post by Mir »

The day was getting more and more interesting that was for sure. A few short hours ago, Bekka had been minding her own business, working on a few plans for the future. A few short hours later, she was in the middle of a hyperspace jump to Kel Dor with a fugitive Force user in tow, trying to keep her away from the First Order. Life moved at you quick some times. Bekka rose, pulling Elena along with her and dusted the younger woman off.

“You look alright.” She said, ruffling the girl’s hair. “We’ll make a fighter out of you, I suppose.”

“Not exactly what I wanted to be.” Elena said.

“No one really gets what they’re looking for in life.”

Bekka started walking out of the gunwell, though she did give it a quick once over. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed. Usually was the case with most things that went wrong. There was almost always a way out. As far as Bekka’s experiences had gone, that was. She made her way to the large common area on board the ship.

There was enough here to keep someone engaged during a hyperspace trip or more. She dropped Elena down into the corner booth and got her chin in her grip.

“You need some food.”

“I’m okay.” Elena said.

It was clear that despite what Bekka had said and even the realization that had hit her that they were away from the First Order, Elena was still a bit jumpy. She couldn’t be faulted for that, but she could be helped. Why pause to eat when you thought your life was in danger. Of course, that was one of the prime reasons why you needed to eat when you were in that position. Bekka stepped over to the kitchen area and opened some of the cabinets.

What she saw there caused her to curse a bit. One of the things she hadn’t been able to stock up on was more foodstuffs. It had been on the list, a list which had been promptly shot to pieces by Elena and the First Order. Bekka rooted around in the cabinets, finding some things that could be cobbled together to make a meal. Dropping them into the proper preparation machines, she let them do their thing while she reached into a refrigerator and grabbed them some pouches of water. Tossing one of them to Elena, she opened her own and took a healthy swig.

“Before we go further, I want to make a few things clear. I’m trying to help you and get you to safety. I don’t need to know much in order to do that, but there are things I do need to know, if what you need is going to endanger me and my ship.” Bekka said, grabbing the trays now that they were prepared and bringing them over to the table in the booth. “So couple things. First, you said there’s something or someone dark. Obviously, creepy. But you said you didn’t have a place in particular in mind.”

“So?”

“Well, my first thought would be to run to a New Republic military base and get them to point their guns at the First Order for you. Are we going to have problems if we run into the New Republic?”
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Re: The Price of Survival

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Elena made a face at the mere suggestion. Other than a juvenile record she had from growing up on Vorzyd V the Republic had done nothing to help her in her entire life. Especially not in regards to the First Order. "Yea, right. Like those idiots would actually help," she blurted out without thinking about it.

"Excuse me," Bekka asked, a bit caught off guard by her reply.

The girl sighed. She hadn't meant to say that out loud. "Look," she began, "the first world I ran to after--," her words caught in her throat. She was going to say after the temple had been destroyed but memories of the event and the fear it had caused her prevented her from saying more. "Everything," she finished sheepishly, "was a New Republic world. I thought they could grant me asylum, but when the First Order arrived they stood aside and did nothing. Orders from on high, they said. Someone told them not to interfere, so I ran... Again."

What she left out was that she had to fight her way out of a New Republic government building in order to escape. She thought, of all the people in the galaxy the New Republic at least... But that was not meant to be. Now she was truly alone and on the run from a shadowy government with the resources of an entire empire. Still holding the pouch in her hands she let her arms drop into her lap, her shoulders quivering slightly. Bekka couldn't help but notice the girl still hadn't touched the food she prepared for her.
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Re: The Price of Survival

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"I've had my problems with the New Republic, but never anything that drastic." Bekka said. She looked down at the trays of food, and saw the disparity in how much each had eaten. "You're insulting my food prep machine."

Elena poked at the food, starting to eat a little.

Bekka leaned back in the booth and looked around the room. If you knew what you wanted to do, there was a lot the different entertainment suites on the Moon Pearl could do. But if you didn't, well, surfing the Holonet aimlessly was something. She wasn't sure what was needed to get Elena's mind off of everything that had happened to her in the past few days, weeks even, but Bekka could tell that something needed tobe done.

"So we've got a few hours of travel time. More than a few actually. Want to show me a few nifty Jedi things?" She asked.

"Like what?"

"Beats me, kid, you're the expert here between the two of us." Bekka said with a laugh. She ran a hand through her red hair, scratching at her scalp as she thought about what she could ask. Then it struck her. "Oh, wait, I've got one of those lightsaber things too." She said.

"You what?" Elena asked, this finally grabbing her interest. Maybe it was more the incredulity of Bekka's statement.

"Yeah." Bekka said, rising and depositing her tray in the waste recycler. She walked over to a series of storage lockers and started opening them, rooting around. "Just have to remember where it is." Finally, she removed a thin, somewhat cylindrical lightsaber hilt. It was jet black, made out of some highly polished black metal. The grip itself changed to a square with etchings to help someone hold on to the handle. The pommel was diamond shaped. "Got it off a trader on Bespin." She said and bounced it up and down in her hand. "Doesn't work though. Something's wrong with it, can't tell."
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Re: The Price of Survival

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Elena stared at the lightsaber hilt in bewilderment. Where did it come from? How old was it? She didn't remember seeing anything like it at Luke's Jedi temple. Was it perhaps from a Jedi who had lived before the Empire? That would make it nearly sixty years old at least, but these weapons had been around for thousands of years beforehand. Suddenly, something Bekka had said had drawn her attention. Doesn't work? She asked herself quietly. Why not? It only took a moment for her to realize the problem. She felt nothing from the lightsaber, the weapon was just an empty shell. Could it be...

"It doesn't sing," she muttered quietly under her breath, just loud enough for Bekka to hear.

"It doesn't what," the freighter captain asked, confused by the girl's statement.

Elena held out her hand. "May I?"

Bekka nodded and deposited the ancient Jedi weapon into the girl's tiny palm. Elena concentrated and closed her eyes. A moment later the lightsaber hilt began to levitate above her palm and gradually disassemble itself. Once she had cracked the casing open Elena opened her eyes and grabbed the hilt. She inspected it closely then frowned. Bekka, meanwhile, had come around to the other side of the table and looked over the girl's shoulder. In the focusing chamber of the weapon there seemed to be shards of what used to be a crystal of some kind, but it was in pieces now. Bekka turned to the girl and opened her mouth to ask for an explanation but stopped herself short when she noticed how sad she looked.

"It must have happened a long time ago," she said quietly, "Maybe during a war or something. The casing seems fine, but...," her words trailed off. "Without a Jedi to connect to it must have felt so lonely."

"The--crystal?!" Bekka asked dubiously.

Elena nodded. "It was alive once. They all are, even the one that's currently powering my lightsaber. If you learn to quiet your mind you can hear them speaking to you."

She picked up the case and screwed everything back together, by hand this time. Then she half turned and handed the hilt back to Bekka. "The lightsaber looks fine, you just need another kyber crystal to power it."

"Where do I find one," Bekka asked, looking at the hilt with renewed interest.

Elena frowned. That was not the question she was hoping to hear. "There are places I can take you," she answered, albeit hesitantly, "but I really shouldn't. If anyone sees you with that weapon you'll be in danger."

The freighter captain put her hands on her hips and gave the girl a look. "Sounds like if anyone sees me with you I'll be in danger."

The girl bit her lip. "True, but--," she began slowly, "going there now wouldn't change anything."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, unless you can feel the Force you won't be able to hear your crystal calling out to you. The lightsaber won't function unless you form a bond with your crystal."

"Oh," the captain replied, looking a bit crestfallen.

Elena tilted her head to the side and gave the woman a pointed look. "By the way, you still haven't asked me," she said, suddenly changing the subject.

Bekka looked confused. "Asked you what?"

"Where I came from? Who trained me? Are there other Jedi like me," she pointed out. Not that I would have answered them anyway, she thought, keeping that last bit to herself. "I appreciate you saving me from Kafrene, but if you're trying to trick me...," she left the rest hanging in the air.
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Re: The Price of Survival

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Bekka laughed. She had to laugh. No other option really. The idea that Elena had suggested was rather preposterous all things considered. But she could understand it. Still, the thought amused her deeply. She spun the lightsaber hilt around in the palm of her hand, keeping her hand flat so the hilt could properly spin. "I'll be honest with you. The Jedi stuff, it doesn't interest me that much. You say you're a Jedi, that's cool." She said, grasping the hilt and walking over to put it away. "We get into some kind of donnybrook with the First Order, if you are what you say you are, I'll see it well enough. You want to tell me about where you came from, that's your choice." Bekka shrugged.

"That's weird. You always let strangers claiming they're Jedi on board your ship without checking to see who they are?"

"You're the first." Bekka said. "Maybe the last. I don't need that kind of reputation."

Elena eyed her, unsure. "You're hard to pin down."

The other woman smiled. "That's kind of how I like it, kid. Moving things with your mind is pretty shiny, I can't lie. Listen, as far as I'm concerned, the Jedi are out there doing Jedi things. Doesn't affect me what they do. Doesn't affect me what they don't do. That might be an eye opener for you, considering you're, by your claim, a Jedi. But there's quadrillions of people out there in the galaxy. Jedi aren't helping all of them all the time. People die everyday. Not enough of you to go around." She said. "Eat the rest of your food. You don't know when the next time you're going to get a full meal in. Unless you like talking to your stomach when it's being loud and annoying."
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Re: The Price of Survival

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There aren't any of us left, she thought as she dug into the rest of her meal, just me. She considered saying it out loud, but it really wasn't any of Bekka's business. The destruction of Luke's Jedi temple and the First Order's relentless pursuit of her were her own troubles and no one else's. She did, however, consider asking Bekka what she knew about the Jedi. She talked as if they were real whereas in Elena's experience most people considered them to be myth. After the exhausting ordeal on Kafrene, however, she didn't really feel like engaging in a lengthy conversation.

After she was finished eating Bekka showed her to a room on the ship where she could get some rest. It wasn't until the prospect of having someplace safe to sleep was presented to her that Elena suddenly realized just how tired she was. Within seconds of her head hitting the pillow, she was fast asleep, but her dreams that night were far from peaceful. She tossed and turned as the black-clad axe-wielding maniac from the day before haunted her sleep. When she awoke the next morning she looked and felt awful. Her hair was mussed and disheveled, she had bags under her eyes and her clothes were all wrinkly.

As she climbed out of bed the familiar smell of caf brewing somewhere else in the ship filled her nostrils. Bekka must already be awake and brewing coffee, she surmised. She got up, slipped her shoes on and left her room to join Bekka in the common area.

"So how'd you slee--," Bekka started when she heard Elena enter. The second she turned around, though, the freighter captain balked in surprise.

"What," Elena asked.

"It's nothing, just--your hair," the captain tried to explain.

Elena glanced at the tangled auburn locks that fell across her face and shrugged, "It'll sort itself out eventually."

Bekka made a face and gave her a disapproving look. "Don't you want to comb it," she asked.

Elena looked away, her cheeks burning red. "Don't really know how," she said sheepishly. "I mean, there was someone at the temple who would do it for me, but I've never actually owned a comb before leaving my home to become a Jedi."
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Re: The Price of Survival

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Bekka had woken up early. Something about hyperspeed always made her an early riser. Maybe it was the idea that you couldn't afford to waste time since you were hurtling through space at such a breakneck speed. She'd done a few inventory checks, to see if there was any miscellaneous parts she could scrounge around for when they got to Kel Dor. They'd be out of lightspeed soon and she wanted to make sure she had everything arranged.

She was a little concerned for what Elena was going to do once she got to Kel Dor. Whatever was going on, the kid's next step was going to be an important one. Bekka wanted to help her further, but she didn't know the whole situation. On top of that, Elena wasn't telling her everything. Bekka couldn't tell how she knew, but she had a good feeling.

The reason why made sense, but there was a limit to how much Bekka could do unless she knew more. While she did have some contacts she'd picked up along the way, what was she going to tell them? First Order was after the kid and leave it at that? You needed details if you were going to help someone.

She sipped at her caf as she thought about the situation. She turned at the sound of Elena coming into the place.

"So how'd you slee--." Bekka said, wondering if the bed had been comfortable enough. Her eyes widened as she saw Elena's hair. After the girl said she wasn't sure how to comb it, Bekka got up from where she was sitting and fished around until she found a brush and handed it to Elena.

"I don't know how to use that either." Elena said, handing it back, and Bekka laughed.

"Today's as good as any day to teach you." She said. "Turn around."

She started brushing Elena's hair, explaining that she needed to start from the bottom at the ends in order to avoid pulling her hair out due to the tangles. "Who taught you how to brush hair?" Elena asked.

"Ole Miss Karsy." Bekka said. "She used to look in on us after my mother passed away."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"Happened years ago. My mother caught some illness. There were a few traders that came from out of system, and I guess they had some kind of disease we'd never dealt with before. Ripped right through the planet, took a while before everything was able to settle down. We lost a lot of people before that happened, including my mother."

"What planet?"

"Tiny little speck in the Outer Rim. Aeyruh." Bekka said. "Haven't been back since..." She stopped as the alarm went off.

Elena tensed. "What's that?" She asked.

"Just telling us we're about ready to drop out of lightspeed. Nothing to worry about." Bekka said, handing Elena the brush once more. "Keep it, I've plenty. Let's go see what Kel Dor has in store for us."
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Re: The Price of Survival

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Elena followed Bekka's retreating form with her eyes before glancing down at the brush in her hand. She stared at it a moment before running it through her hair a couple of times to practice. Then she held it out in front of her once more before stuffing it into her pocket. She looked up in the direction of the cockpit where Bekka was no doubt guiding her ship down to the surface of the planet for a landing. After a moment the girl stood and followed after the older woman. By the time she arrived in the cockpit the ship had come out of hyperspace and had already broken the planet's atmosphere. She had never been to Kel Dor before and had no idea what to expect.

"I guess this is where we say goodbye," she said quietly, though there was a hint of uncertainty in her voice.

Bekka had a look of concern in her eyes. "Where will you go," she asked.

Elena thought about that for a moment before realizing she didn't have an answer. She supposed she could go back to Vorzyd V, but what would be the point? She had no home there to return to. She could perhaps stay on Kel Dor for a while, but she knew nothing of the planet nor its inhabitants. A place like this would not feel like home, either. If only she could return to the temple, but after the attack it was little more than a smoldering ruin. There was no one left to train her nor take care of her. She was well and truly on her own.

"I don't know," she said finally, her voice just barely above a whisper. "My training didn't exactly include a manual on how to survive being hunted by the First Order... I guess I just--hop on another ship and go somewhere else."
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Re: The Price of Survival

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The quiet in the girl's voice gave Bekka the real answer underneath the words she said. Elena didn't really have a solution. In lieu of responding, Bekka simply nodded and rose, stepping past Elena and out of the cockpit. She went into some of the storage bins and handed Elena a breathing mask.

"What's this for?" Elena asked, seemingly grateful Bekka wasn't going to press the issue.

"Dorin's atmosphere is pretty unique. It's why the Kel Dor have to have breathing masks when they're offworld."

Unsaid was the note that the mask would help obscure Elena's face, making it that much harder for any of the First Order who may be on planet to identify her and give her away. It would help, but it would not be one hundred percent effective. Further, Elena couldn't stay on Dorin forever. She'd have to leave eventually. Whatever the problem she had with the First Order, this was a temporary solution, a salve that would only stall but not stop the issue.

Bekka stepped back into the cockpit, landing the Moon Pearl on the proffered docking pad. The two women fitted their masks on as the landing ramp deployed. As they walked down, Bekka looked over at Elena and could tell what the look was on the girl's face, despite the mask. Bekka checked in with the droid in charge of the docking pad, a droid hard wired into a large computer console. She placed an order to replenish some of the Moon Pearl's food stuffs.

"Are you supposed to meet your passengers somewhere?" Elena asked.

"Yeah, my guild has a location here and that's the meeting point. It's not too far from here, no one wants to go too far from the spaceport." Bekka replied. "I think we could find you some kind of passage there though." She said, leaving the words hanging in the air.
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