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Post by Pryde »

OOC: This thread takes place before the other one (naturally) and probably before the Treaty of Coruscant as well. Again, anyone who wants to is free to join.

OOC Thread.

IC: "Relax, Elena, this is not a race," her Jedi Instructor said, her voice having a strange calming effect that seemed to soothe Elena's nerves. "Start again from the top, imagine the cube in your mind."

Elena Connor tried as hard as she could to remember the size of it, its shape, the rigid corners it has on one side and its rough, sandy texture when you ran your fingers over its surface. She'd been trying for hours without any luck, trying to move the block even an inch. Her repeated failures began to frustrate her and on numerous occasions she had tried to quit. She had no feel for the Force, she knew this and her instructors knew this yet even so they would not let her give up. They saw a potential in her that she could not even imagine and they assured her again and again that if she tried hard enough she would one day become a great Jedi.

"It's not working," she said finally in an exasperated breath. Sweat beaded on her forehead, running down along her temples and across her cheeks. Her instructor gave her a sympathetic look.

"You're getting closer, Little Elena, that time you could clearly see the block."

"But I can't even move it! What good is it to be able to see if I can't do anything?"

"You will in time, young one, in time," she answered then she pulled herself up to her feet. "Come on," she said, holding her hand out for the young child to hold.

Elena took it with her tiny hand and allowed herself to be escorted from the room. It was late on Tython and the sun had long ago set beyond the forest canopy to the west. A serene calm seemed to fill the temple as night brought with it dreams of a bright tomorrow. The future seemed hopeful for the young, auburn-haired Elena as she wandered those halls with her mentor. She was among friends here, safe and well cared for. She no longer had need to fear the encroaching shadows nor fret over whether her family was coming home. Ord Mantel had been an inhospitable world for her but Tython was so full of hope and wonderment. It hurt to ever think that one day she might be taken away from there.

"Elena," her instructor said and the girl's eyes trailed up and up and still further up to meet hers. She seemed so far away now and she was getting further. "Elena," she repeated, her voice sounding distant. Their hands parted and the girl tried to run after her but never seeming to run fast enough.

"Elena," the voice came again though it was changed some how, as if it were mixed with the voice of another. All around her the lights from the temple began to fade and darkness once again surrounded her.

"Elena!" The startled cry pierced through the shadow and this time it was not the voice of her instructor but rather that of Staff Sergeant Presley. "Elena," he called again, gently lifting the girl's head in his arms, "Wake up, honey, we've gotta move."

Elena's eyes fluttered open, reluctantly at first as the piercing sun of Felucia threatened to blind her sensitive eyesight. She gazed up into the Staff Sergeant's scarred face and suddenly remembered where she was. She was on a transport ship bound for Coruscant when they were beset upon by three Imperial cruisers. The ship was badly damaged and caught in the gravity well of the planet Felucia. She remembered the transport bursting through the jungle canopy but nothing after that. Apparently something must have struck her during the landing and knocked her out.

"I'm fine, Sergeant," she assured him, but her voice still sounded shaky even to her ears, "Really."

"Good, then on your feet soldier because we got two enemy starfighters heading this way."

He helped pull Elena to her feet then handed the girl her lightsaber. "Here, you'll be needing this," he said with a wink then he pulled his blaster rifle down from his shoulder and turned to address his men.

"We're heading east through the jungle," he informed them, "Recon spotted a settlement on the way down, it's possible they'll have transport of this rock so let's move!"

All around the crash site the fifteem surviving Republic troopers shouldered what gear they could recover and followed after their commander. One of their fellows had been seriously injured during the crash and after doing what they could for him they fashioned a makeshift stretcher and carefully carried him along behind the others. Elena had fallen in line somewhere in the middle of the column, her mind lost in thought as she remembered the series of events that brought her here.

She had been on a mission with her master to infiltrate the Sith occupation zone and retrieve stolen documents detailing the creation of some sort of weapon. They had managed to retrieve the datafile without too much trouble but were discovered shortly after attempting to escape. Her master had tasked her with the responsibility of bringing the documents safely back to the Republic then willingly sacrificed herself to buy Elena and her escort the time they needed to get away. Even now Elena still wondered if leaving her behind was truly the right thing to do.

"Hey, how're you holding up," Presley said, at some point he had fallen in step with her but she failed to notice.

"What? I'm--I don't know," she answered with a note of uncertainty. She was just a Jedi padawan, no not even that. She was a sixteen year old girl who barely had any experience with combat at all. "I just... Are we really going to be okay," she asked her eyes searching his, almost pleading with him.

"We'll be fine, young one, but we have to keep our heads on our shoulders, understand? No more of this moping around, kiddo, we've got a war to fight and you're our commanding officer."

Me?! She asked herself incredulously, "But I'm...,"

"A Jedi Commander, Commander. Don't forget that."

She hadn't forgotten that, but it was easier not to remember so long as her master was here calling the shots. Now that she was on her own the full realization of her predicament was beginning to dawn on her. I'm their commanding officer? Me? But I'm only sixteen and barely even a padawan! How could I possibly lead men into battle?

"Leaders don't have to be great or strong, Little Elena, they just have to be brave," Presley told her, almost as if he had read her mind, "Keep your chin up and your eyes on that horizon. The men are countin' on you for support."

"Presley, I don't--I don't know if I can do this."

"You'll do fine, trust me. I'll be with you every step of the way."

"But what should I do? Where do I even start?"

"We can start by getting to that settlement, then we can figure things out from there. So buck up, kiddo," he said, giving her a hearty slap on the back, "We ain't dead yet."

Then he moved off to the front of the column leaving a poor, shaky Elena following in his wake. His words of encouragement did little to calm her nerves, but after taking a look at all the uncertain expressions on every troopers face she resolved to try her best to be brave. If not for herself then for them...
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Re: Stranded

Post by Pryde »

How long had they been walking? Elena couldn't say for sure. Trying to gauge the sun's position only made the humid air of Felucia's fungi jungle even hotter. She wasn't the only one feeling the effects, either. Looking around she could see that the rest of the squad were fighting to keep going. She had the benefit of wearing her loose fitting Jedi robes, but Presley and his men all wore the standard battle armor of the Galactic Republic. The skin tight, ablative body suit they wore under their protective metal plates did an excellent job of retaining heat, something that would have been far more useful on a planet like Hoth.

At the front of the column Presley held up a fist to order his men to stop. A moment later he gestured for everyone to get down and every soldier kneeled in the brush. All but Private Jorgensson who up to this point had to lean on a fellow soldier because of his injured leg. Kistler, the man assisting Jorgensson, helped the injured private to the ground, resting him gently against the base of a giant mushroom-like tree. He groaned slightly, the only sound any of them had made during the entire time since leaving the wreckage.

Elena quietly crept up beside Presley, her eyes on the vegetation and her heightened sense of awareness warning her of danger. "What is it," she whispered.

Presley was a long time in answering, he had his rifle to his shoulder and his eye staring down the scope. "I'm not sure," he said, "Thought I saw something moving. Could be Imperials, or it could be native."

That last part worried her. Elena didn't know much about the planet Felucia but what little she did know wasn't good. Felucia was home to some of the galaxy's most dangerous predators including wild rancors, though she was certain if Presley had seen one of those they'd have heard it coming.

"We can't sit around here all day, Sergeant," Corporal Alister Lokar breathed from Presley's left.

Presley nodded though more to himself than to the Corporal's comment. "Alright, you and I will--,"

A sudden shout from behind interrupted him and the ranks of trained Republic troopers broke into utter chaos as the Felucian plant life suddenly sprang to life. A vine-like creature had a hold of Jorgensson's leg and was dangling him over the tooth-filled mouth of a plant Elena had never seen before. Laserfire tore into the body of the plant but did little to phase it. In an instant Jorgensson was gone, swallowed whole by the gaping maw beneath him.

More vines reached out seeking other prey. One had wrapped itself around the ankle of Private Kistler as he struggled to replace the spent power pack of his blaster. He shrieked as the vine pulled him off his feet and dragged him across the ground. The others had tried to get to him but they had worries of their own. Blasters were replaced by vibroknives as each soldier fought desperately to keep the encroaching vines at bay. Kistler was gone as well, swallowed by the plant before anyone could come to his rescue.

Feeling the pain and loss of two of her soldiers Elena sprung into action. With her lightsaber in hand she deliberately placed herself between the plant and the rest of her squad, her blue blade a flurry of motion as she sliced apart every vine to cross her path. "Run," she shouted over her shoulder at the rest of the squad.

"But, Sir," one of the men behind her began, looking to Presley in hopes that he would order them to avenge their fallen.

"You heard the Commander," Presley said, much to the soldier's dismay, "Full retreat, double time it!"

Elena stood her ground as the others retreated and only when she was sure they were safe did she try to flee herself. Before she could run, however, a stray vine caught her ankle and pulled her to the ground. Jarred from the impact her lightsaber had fallen from her grip, rolling just beyond her reach. She clawed at anything she could trying to find purchase but finding none. She thought this was the end for her but then all at once she was free and Sergeant Presley was at her side, a bloody vibroknife in one hand.

"A good commander should follow her own orders as well," he chided her, helping her to her feet.

She summoned her lightsaber to her hand and together the two of them hurried after the rest of the squad. They had run a fair distance before deciding they were safe, mostly out of exhaustion than anything else. Half the squad had collapsed to their knees while others leaned against a giant mushroom breathing heavily.

"We should have killed that thing, Sergeant," that soldier from before had shouted. Only now when he had spoken again did Elena finally look up and see him.

Specialist Tye Fenn, a close friend of Kistler's. He had been the most vocal against taking orders from the Jedi and the look he was now giving Elena made her shrink back involuntarily. "It ate two of our people and we're just going to walk?! Kistler could still be alive in there, we have to go back!"

"We don't know that for sure, Tye and going back is only going to get more of us killed," Presley answered sharply, placing himself between the angry Specialist and his Jedi Commander.

"It's just plant, Sergeant, and now that we know what we're up against we can kill it!"

"With what," Presley asked, "Heavy ordinance will kill our men just as surely as leaving them behind and you saw yourself that small arms fire had no effect on it."

"She could do it," Tye answered with a nod of his head towards Elena, "She should do it. This whole damned mission fell apart because of her! If she hadn't--,"

"That's enough," Presley snapped, taking a menacing step towards Tye. "You all knew what you signed up for when you put on that uniform. Now we got a job to do and we're going to do it. Are we clear, Soldier?"

"We're clear, Sir," Tye replied, though the look he gave Presley implied this was far from over.

Elena felt numb, this was her fault. She had just been promoted to Padawan and given an assignment and because of her inexperience the mission was a near failure. She set off the alarm that alerted the Imperials to their presence and because of that her master was now dead. She barely even knew the woman and thought that she must have broken some kind of record. Barely even a week of training and her first master was already dead.

"Get up, Elena, we gotta move," Presley's voice broke through her reverie. She looked up to see the rest of the squad looking at her.

When had they recovered? How long had she been sitting there? "I--I'm sorry," she said quietly, quickly getting to her feet and scurrying past Presley to join the others.

Some Jedi I turned out to be, she thought to herself, idly turning over her lightsaber in her hand. Part of her had wanted to chuck it into the underbrush and leave this life and these responsibilities behind but the words of her mentor kept coming back to her. "Faith is the strongest weapon in a Jedi's arsenal, Little Elena. As long as you have faith in yourself and faith in your allies then there isn't anything you can't do." She held her lightsaber out in front of her, its blade silenced and its pristine, silver hilt reflecting the light of Felucia's sun back at her. She stared at the weapon in silence for a long time then with a sigh she clipped it to her belt and continued to follow the others deeper into the jungle...
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