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Thread: Star Wars: Tapestry, Volume III

  1. #286
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    Fi didn't hear the message in Tam's voice. She didn't even hear it as words, exactly. In truth, she heard it as music: Tam's theme. A distant melody, carried by the wind. But she understood exactly what it meant.

    She gaped in shock at the hole, the size of a small town, torn directly through the hull of the fearsome Super Star Destroyer Executor by Tam's Morning Star fleet and the last of the Rebel cruisers. She was also aware that her jump coordinates, sent to the Whydah much earlier by the retreating Rebel craft, pointed directly through it.

    But not for long.

    "All hands," she whispered into the comm. "Is Tam with you? Do you..."

    Another tear. One more for the pile. "Do you see Tam?"

    She closed her eyes in anguish as the expected negatives came back.

    "Fi!" Zealos Reil shouted over the comm. "When Tam said we'd see an opening, he wasn't kidding! Are you ready to jump?"

    Fi slumped back into the Whydah's pilot's chair. Cali, noticing the older girl's resignation, reached out to grab the hyperdrive levers.

    Thank you, Tam.

    "Punch it."

    Wordlessly, Cali did as instructed. In the space over Dantooine, the Whydah, followed by Reil's X-wing, seemed to stretch slightly. Then both craft shot through the hole in the Executor and vanished from the combat zone in a tiny blink of light.
    Last edited by I. J. Thompson; 07-22-2014 at 06:28 PM.
    Star Wars: Tapestry
    A 6+ year campaign draws to a close...
    ForumGroupWiki

  2. #287
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    “Go!” He let the words loose from his mouth. These were to be his last words, an underscore of his last action; Tam wanted the universe to know he had done everything he could to save his friends.

    It seemed like a lifetime ago, but Tam recalled seeing this moment. It had come to him in flashes and nebulous images, lost among the memories and trauma of seeing his parents murdered. He now knew the Force had opened the veils of destiny. Recalling the images, and matching them up to the present, Tam noted bemusedly that he had thought these glimpses of his fate would be a lifetime in coming. It had never occurred to him how short that lifetime would be.

    Ah, the transience of time. As easily as his memories had been repeatedly reconfigured—first by his parents’ slaughter, then by the discordant influence of Kenlan-As-Buka; the Empire’s radical restructuring that had nearly spawned Darth Victus, aborted by the pure love of friends—so too had been his future. So long he had reacted to this capricious unraveling of providence—the symphony with no master conductor, the tapestry from no single loom—that he almost hadn’t seen his moment to escape the cycle. That single moment of insight, watching the threads of reality as they wove together to create the present, and reaching out to grasp one. A heartbeat late and the universe would have recomposed itself, no imposition of will sufficient to forestall the pattern. He had seen it, and had reacted instinctively—no, he had acted. Was that the Dark Side of the Force, or simply its nature, to be amplified and attenuated by its agents? Tam didn’t know. All he knew was that two small starships took advantage of the pause in turbolaser fire to streak into hyperspace…

    All this had echoed in his mind as his final word faded from his ears, giving way to the sounds of the crumbling Inun around him. He sought no shelter, and took no heed of the bank of tall transparisteel viewports as they crazed and burst open before him. With one final exertion, he thrust forward with his improvised fleet, hurling the vessels forward like a slamball. Those that still had engines fired them on full ramming speed, plunging into the already perforated hull of the Executor. Seeing the ships’ course was true, Tam let them all go. He let go of their crews, and sensed their brief horror as they came to themselves and saw the imminent collision. He let go of the Inun, aloft due to little more than his own resolve. He let go of the pain as the hot sweat of his exertion froze into his skin in the sudden vacuum. He let go of his parents, and the pain of their loss. He let go of his friends—his new family—bound for wherever lightspeed had taken them. He let go of Fi.

    Fi…



    The ubiquitous alarm klaxons did nothing to lessen the din of officers and repair crews as they scrambled across the hangar to other parts of the Executor. Admiral Griff and High Inquisitor Tremayne had decided that they should greet returning shuttle in person. “Let me do the talking,” Griff said. “You’ve done nothing to help in this debacle, and I’ll have none of your self-aggrandizing spin as we debrief Lord Vader.”

    The cyborg gestured with a hand to the lowering boarding ramp as the Dark Lord of the Sith descended it, cape billowing to reveal his torn armor and sparking cybernetic exposures. Vader had actually lost an arm in the melee, and Tremayne worked to hide his supercilious smirk.

    “I must admit it wasn’t the first time I’d seen a ‘suicide by Star Destroyer,’” Griff began, “but it was certainly the most grandiose. I assure you, Lord Vader, my men have everything well in—“

    Griff could no longer speak, and it was some moments before he realized he was hurling through the air. He slammed against the ground, gasping for breath that wouldn’t come. As his vision tunneled and he was dragged along the ground, he barely heard Darth Vader’s booming voice. “I tire of you unctuous military elitists thinking you can ‘assure’ me of anything. Mark my words, Admiral: if you lead my ship into disaster like this again, your career in the Imperial Navy will end!” With that, Vader let go of Griff and left him to writhe, purple and gasping.

    Tremayne could no longer contain his smile as he came into step with the Dark Lord. “And the boy?”

    “You sensed it as I did,” Vader said, continuing his march into his damaged flagship. “The boy was atomized at impact. No we can set aside these fruitless pursuits and see to more important matters.”

    “Your search for that Rebel pilot?”

    “The only reason I involved myself here was the rumor that you had found him. A rumor, I don’t doubt, that you yourself perpetuated to lure me here.” The Dark Lord of the Sith stopped and turned to Tremayne, stretching to his full imposing height. “Whatever plans you had—and will ever have against me—come to such a ruin.”

    “Consider me remedied of any such sophistry, my lord.” Tremayne’s contrite bow convinced no one, but his lack of conceit seemed to mollify Vader. “I shall remain in my proper and dutiful station.”

    “I hope so, Inquisitor, for your sake…”



    The images… A human in Rebel fatigues, a look of shock and emergency on his face… The harsh, bleary light that twirled and shifted with weightless abandon, hiding more than it revealed. Shouting, coarse and indistinct. Blood’s sharp, rusty tang. Silhouettes crowding around the periphery, choking away the fracturing flares of light. A voice—a familiar voice—said, “Go get Fi.”

    Fi. Luis had said her name. That was Luis standing there, working with others in the cargo-turned-sick bay to staunch his considerable wounds. Tam Dawncaller wished him all the luck in the universe…

  3. #288
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    The swirling light of hyperspace quickly faded as Reil dropped out of lightspeed. Safe at last. Or at least they would be once they made a second jump. The Imperials could potentially still track them to this empty patch of nowhere, if they were so inclined, but not right away. For now, they had plenty of time.

    The Whydah dropped into realspace just behind him, and Reil relaxed a little. He cut his engines as the Whydah angled into position just above him. Magnetic clamps locked the X-Wing to the freighter's hull, as best they could anyway, with the deep denting along the bottom, and Reil checked the life support unit on his chest one last time before blowing the seal on his cockpit and opening the canopy.

    Weightless, Zealos gingerly hauled himself out of the fighter. He crawled towards a hatch on the bottom of the freighter. He was at the hatch, when he was struck by an idea, and crawled back to X-Wing's R2 unit. It was less difficult than he imagined, hauling the droid out of it's socket, helped immensely by the zero-g. It was however more than a little cramped getting into the Whydah's hatch with the droid. The hatch sealed behind him, and the compartment re-presurized before opening up into the Freighter's engineering section.

    A hand reached down, into the compartment to help Reil up, and as he ascended he was greeted by the unfamiliar faces of several rebel soldiers. Reil yanked his helmet off and tossed it to a far corner, as one of them tossed him a sloppy salute.
    "Good to have you aboard, Lieutenant."

    Reil chucked his gloves over near the helmet.
    "Thanks. Give me a hand with the droid, will ya?"

    One of the soldiers dropped into the compartment to lift the droid up, while two more helped haul it up out of the compartment, all the while the droid beeped indignatly. As they set the droid down, it made a rude noise and whipped out it's shock probe. Reil gave the ungrateful thing a swift kick that he quickly regretted.

    "Take the little noisemaker and set it to work fixing the ship," Reil said rubbing his shin, "If it gives you any more attitude, just shoot the damn thing."

    Chuckling, the soldiers took the droid through the cargo bay doors, and Reil turned his attention to the docking clamp controls behind him. He hit the release, and the ship jolted slightly as the X-Wing detached, and went drifting off on it's own. It pained him to do it, not for sentimental reasons, just that it would have been worth a lot of credits, even as scrap, but there wasn't a civilized port in the inner rim he could land on carrying the flagship starfighter of the Rebellion.

    Reil turned around, and saw Cali waiting for him in the doorway.
    "Hey." She said a little weakly.

    "Hey", Reil shot back, "You had something better to do than welcome back?"

    Cali shrugged.
    "Didn't wanna jinx it."

    "Jinx it?"

    "You know, in the holos, when it looks like the heroes are in the clear, and one of them is being pulled through an airlock, and then something happens, and the guy going through the airlock ends up getting cut in half or pulled back down or. . . Y'know."

    Reil shook his head and grinned.
    "While I appreciate the caution, this ain't a holo."

    "Right, this is just an ordinary day, with an Imperial fleet after us, and Tam mind controlling ships, and people disappearing into thin air." Cali said dryly.

    "Exactly. So, about you crashing my ship. . ."

    "Any landing you can walk away from, right?" Cali asked, optimistically.

    Reil grinned
    "We haven't walked away from it yet, here, lemme take a look at that bump on your head. . ."

    Reil took about half a step forward, before Cali rushed him, and embraced him.
    "I thought you died out there you idiot."

    Reil was taken aback for a second and then put his arms around her.
    "Ye of little faith."

    "Shut up," Cali was trembling with anger and relief, "The Rebels were either dead or running, that huge ship showed up, I couldn't raise you on the comm. I. . . I thought. . . I thought that you'd left me. That I was alone."

    Reil gripped her a little tigher.
    "Hey now, easy. . . Hey, look at me", Cali raised her head to look Zealos in the eye. "That would never happen, alright? You and me, we're a team. Where I go, you go, always."

    They just stayed like that for a moment, and then were interupted by the hiss of the gunwell's doors opening.
    "Oh uh, sorry, didn't mean to intrude."

    Reil turned around to see who was exiting the turret.
    "Mith, right?"

    "Yeah, and you're Lieutenant Reil."

    "Captain." Cali and Reil said in unison.

    "Right, captain, my bad. So. . . what the hell did I just watch happen back there?"

    Reil didn't quite know how to answer that question, but he did his best.
    "Tam Dawncaller, playing martyr and saving our asses. I didn't actually expect us to bring him back alive, but I sure didn't think he'd be sacrificing himself to save us. . . Brave kid."

    "He's not dead." Cali interjected.

    "What?"

    "Not yet anway. Luis found him in the cargo bay, they're treating him now."

    "Wait, Luis, our Luis? From Tatooine?"

    Cali nodded, and Reil sighed.
    "He's supposed to be dead too."

    "Lot of that going around I guess." Mith said grinning.
    Last edited by Ice Hawk; 08-11-2014 at 06:50 AM.
    Zealos Reil thought he was hot
    so he left the sim-pod cold
    on his eighth mission he got shot
    and that's all there is to be told.
    Draw your own conclusions rookies.

  4. #289
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    Fi stood in the Whydah's cargo-bay-turned-medical ward, breathless and confused. Two patients lay before her, wrapped in cargo netting in lieu of blankets. To her left, Jyllis Tromso - unconscious, stable. To her right, Tam Dawncaller - battered, bleeding, and covered in rapidly melting ice crystals. Between the swiftly-moving personnel that surrounded him, Fi could see an oxygen mask strapped to his face, bandages and bacta salve being applied to seemingly every exposed patch of skin. Luis Santiago presided over it all, at once both squad leader and orchestral conductor, barking terse orders that no one questioned.

    "Fi..."

    Jyll.

    Fi fell to her knees and clasped the girl's left hand in both of her own, kissed her forehead in relief.

    "...Out of danger?"

    Gripping the actress's hand harder, Fi forced a smile. "We've jumped away. Tam... helped."

    Jyllis Tromso turned her head gingerly toward the boy who'd almost killed her less than an hour ago. She couldn't really see him around the impromptu medical team, of course, but the motion conveyed the intent.

    "He's... special, Fi. You were right."

    Jyll coughed suddenly, a small trickle of blood wending its way down from one corner of her mouth. Fi caught it with a medical napkin.

    "Really gets around, too," Jyll added, with a forced giggle. "I... I saw him come back. You should-"

    Another cough.

    "...You should say something."

    Fi looked in Tam's direction, then back at Jyll. Five seconds passed, for a very long time. Then she kissed the actress, hard, and rose.

    "Tam," Fi commanded, "We need you here, Tam.

    "Tam," she said again, "please... please, come back..."
    Last edited by I. J. Thompson; 08-26-2014 at 08:08 PM.
    Star Wars: Tapestry
    A 6+ year campaign draws to a close...
    ForumGroupWiki

  5. #290
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    The Big Jump

    The words echoed in an eternity of pain, and Tam barely recognized them. Time passed—the Force knew how much—and with it that familiar presence came and went. When Tam was finally able to flutter his eyes open, Fi was sitting on a crate in the cargo bay and strumming a tune on her mandoviol. He opened his mouth to call to her but, instead of producing sound, his larynx froze up. He moved to lift a hand to gain her attention, but it too was paralyzed. All he could manage was the twitch of a few sticky fingers. Sticky. Tam was awash in bacta salves.

    “Welcome back, sleepy head,” a voice said. It wasn’t Fi. It too was a small, weak voice, barely more than a whisper. Jyllis Tromso caught his attention, supine on a cot. Her fiery coils shifted as she looked at the other woman in the room. “Want me to call her over?”

    Tam looked back at the woman, lost in her music. The softly upcurled spikes of her hair swayed back and forth in a quiet dance with her fingers on the mandoviol as the toe of her boot gently kept the lazy, contemplative time. He shook his head in answer to Jyll’s question. Despite the crippling pain, and the unknown extent of his injuries, Tam wanted this moment to go on forever.

    But Jyll must not have noticed, because she called for Fi to come over. Her head immediately came up and her eyes locked with his. After setting the mandoviol down with the care of familiarity, she got to her feet and came to his bedside. “Tam. You’re back. I don’t know how you did it.”

    Did what? It took some effort to even realize what he was talking about, but after a moment the trickle of memory was a flood. Darth Vader on Dantooine. Kenlan’s death. The Executor. Gathering the ships. Fire. So much fire…

    “Tam!” Fi was shouting now, and her double image joined back into one when he came back to the moment. “Tam, don’t leave us, okay?” She looked over at Jyll. “How long has he been up?”

    “Just barely. I called you right over.” The two women looked at him with identically imploring eyes.

    A small wheeze was all Tam could manage. He turn it into words. “Sorry.”

    Fi smiled that beautiful sunshine smile. “Nothing to be sorry for. You’re back now, and you saved us.

    No, he hadn’t saved all of them. Kenlan was gone, and he’d done damage himself. Carefully shaking his head, Tam then shifted his gaze to Jyll.

    “It’s okay, Tam. I’ll be okay.” She shrugged her shoulder demonstratively and tried to hide her wince. “See? Everything is fine now.”

    No. Everything wasn’t fine. Not yet. With all his concentration, Tam managed to swing his arm off his own cot and extend it outward. Fi tried to take the hand, but after squeezing her hand he slipped his away and extended it to Jyll.

    Jyll was nonplussed. “What? Me?” She extended her hand, and as she took his then Tam reached out with the Force, touching her mind and her body, and feeling the reconstructive itch of her mending wound. Tam had saved his friends, and had done everything he could to make right the horrifying wrongs he had done.

    Almost.

    This woman, the woman that Fiola Shaku had chosen, would die. Her injuries were too severe for even Luis Santiago’s miracle work and she would soon become one with the Force. Tam couldn’t let that happen. He couldn’t do that to another being ever again. He couldn’t do that to Fi.

    With all his effort, Tam squeezed Jyll’s hand, and the woman shrieked involuntarily. Fi jumped to her feet, startled and shouting, watching Jyll writhe on her cot. Others came into the cargo bay, but Tam couldn’t identify them. He didn’t bother. All his attention was on Jyll. There were pieces of her that were out of place, and in the time Tam had spent running from people he realized that he could move things, and put them where he wanted to be.

    He put the pieces of Jyll where he wanted them to be. It was the places they wanted to be, and he just let them go there. He let the cells and the tissues shift and stitch in Jyll’s screaming frame, and let the Force wash over her with rejuvenating warmth. Her painful cry subsided, and Jyll was still, resting silently on her cot.

    “Oh, Tam…” Fi stayed with him while Luis and others rushed to Jyll’s side. She took his now limp hand and bathed his knuckles with tears.

    Things still needed to move. Tam felt it. He had given so much, and there was just nothing left in him. It was all going to fall apart now. He clenched his fist in Fi’s grasp and let his own tears flow. “Goodbye, Fi.”

    “No, Tam! Hold on! Luis, Jyll is fine. Get the frell over here!” She let go of his hand to get out of Luis’ way and continued shouting tearfully. Luis could do nothing, and he knew it, but he tried.

    Tam was too far gone, so he couldn’t tell Luis it was worthless, but he could say, “One last jump…”

    And he jumped…

  6. #291
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    Much had happened since they had lifted off from Dantooine. Mith and his men had mostly stayed out of the way, but had helped out when they were asked. They knew that the individuals on board this ship shared some sort of history, and that there were a lot of feelings and emotions that were being experienced and dealt with. Mith had only really been concerned that they all survived. It was up to them to figure out their own relationships with each other, and what they each wanted to do.

    "What's on your mind boss," asked Bolen, stirring Mith from his reverie. They were in the aft of the shift, away from everyone else.

    "Just thinking about what I'm going to do next," Mith replied.

    "Besides returning to an alliance base?" queried Bolen. "Or do you have something else in mind?"
    Mith looked Bolen in the eye. "Something else," he muttered.

    "Care to expound on that?" Bolen inquired, curious as to what Mith was thinking. Mith thought for a bit before he answered. Bolen knew the story of Mith's brother and what had happened to him. But he did not know that Mith had encountered Ban Id Ell on Ancatar. Mith decided to tell him.


    "........huh," replied Bolen after Mith had told him the story. By the look on his face, Mith knew there was some serious thought going on inside Bolen's bald head. Bolen turned his eyes to Mith. "You think the others are alive, too, don't you," he said. Mith nodded his head. "And you're thinking of going after them," Bolen added. Mith nodded his head again. Bolen wasn't so sure about taking time away from the rebellion to take on personal vendettas, but he also knew that operators could be gone months at a time without contacting higher authorities while on missions.

    "You don't have to go with me. I've been missing since Ancatar. I never identified myself when I called for help on Dantooine." Bolen knew this to be true. The message asking spec ops assistance was coded in such a way as to confirm its authenticity, but not identify the sender. A look of realization crossed Bolen's face.

    "You've been planning this all along, haven't you? That's why you sent the help call anonymously," said Bolen.
    "Bingo," Mith replied. He had already considered going after the rest of Ban's gang before he ever left Ancatar. He'd had a lot of time to think while he egressed back to Basan. He'd started setting the initial foundation for his future endeavor on the raft trip with the bankers.

    "OK. What's the PD on this," Bolen asked with a sigh. He knew there was no changing Mith's mind. PD stood for "plausible deniability"--a believable story which explained why certain unplanned actions were undertaken. A cover story that the alliance superiors would buy into to hide Mith's true motives and activities.

    "Simple," said Mith. "Ban Id Ell was obviously working with the Empire on Ancatar. It's likely that his associates are, too. They may have some valuable intel to offer."

    "Ahhh", replied Bolen. "I see. And it's quite possible that he mentioned something to you during you can encounter that could be useful for tracking them down." Bolen was seeing the bigger picture come together, and he liked it.

    "And...." Mith urged him to keep going.

    "And...you weren't in a position to securely share that with the alliance, so you didn't tell anyone. Thus, there is no one who knows the real story except you, so no one can contradict your story." Bolen had a devious grin on his face, which told Mith he not only understood, but was also game to go along.

    "Don't forget," added Mith. "If any of the intel Ban gave me was compromised, his associates might have been alerted. I had to keep it to myself to prevent that." Mith's voice was rich with sarcasm. He and Bolen were both smiling now.

    "Let's do it," said Bolen to his friend. Mith nodded, grateful for Bolen's support.

    "Alright," Mith answered. "We'll have to find a way to separate from the pathfinders, but that shouldn't be too hard. Now is probably not a good time to talk to the folks on this ship, so we'll just wait until a good time to let them know we need to go. We'll see where they land and go from there."

    "Copy that," replied Bolen. "In the meantime, we'll mingle and help where we can." Bolen headed back toward the flight deck to see if there was anything he could do, and hopefully to hear about any plans the group had for the immediate future. Always gathering information and intel, it was the nature of a commando.

    Mith stood by himself for a few moments. Bolen would go along with him, he knew that. Bolen was a trusted comrade and friend. He would help Mith hunt down and eliminate those who had tortured and killed his brother. Bolen knew Mith would want and need his help. But there was something Mith had not told Bolen--something else he needed help with. Mith was not hunting down Ban's gang for justice. His motive was not simply to get even. Running deep, underneath the cool exterior, Mith could feel the hate and anger boiling. He hoped Bolen could keep him from giving in to it.

    Mith Mankar wiped his eyes and forehead. Casting aside memories of his brother Galen, he turned and followed in Bolen's wake. Before he could search for his brother's killers, he needed to finish his current mission. He'd see what he could do for this group, and afterward, like Tomas and The Starving Artist, he would disappear.

  7. #292
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    It was quiet on the Whydah's bridge, the transparisteel cockpit largely opaqued to keep out most of the whirling tunnel of hyperspace.

    They sat together, each thinking thoughts of their own, not wanting to speak but desperately wanting to be close to one another. Luis Santiago, at the sensor station, elbows on knees and fingers laced together, his face resting upon them. Before him was Zealos Reil in the captain's chair, with Cali Bellum, all pretense of disinterest abandoned, seated in Reil's lap with her arms wrapped tightly around his neck. She kissed the young man's forehead tenderly, and for once, Reil didn't comment.

    Jyllis Tromso, partially mobile at last, sat in the co-pilot's seat, her fingers gripping those of Fiola Shaku, who sat behind her at the gunnery station.

    Fi kissed Jyll's fingers gently and looked up as the cockpit hatch swished open. Mith Mankar entered, looking bewilderingly pleased. Fi didn't fault him for it. Mith was an Alliance military man, and for the Alliance, a battle survived was a battle won.

    She knew she should feel the same. And she would try to.

    Seeing all the seats taken, Mith leaned against a bulkhead politely.

    "It... was an incredible victory. An incredible sacrifice."

    Not looking up, Luis wiped a hand across his face. "I tried to save him. I tried."

    Jyll looked up. "We know you did."

    There was silence, for a while.

    "Without Tam," Cali volunteered, "we'd all be dead. We're all alive, but he's gone."

    Fi sniffed, and looked up. Her friends looked back at her.

    "He's not gone," she began gently, not knowing quite what she was saying. "Tam was special, you all know it. People like that aren't just 'gone'. His spirit will..."

    She searched for the word. "His spirit will echo throughout the galaxy."

    They considered this.

    "'Echo'", Mith repeated. "I like the sound of that."

    An insistent beeping erupted from the navicomputer.

    "We're coming up on our destination," Zealos Reil announced soberly.

    * * *

    The planet was barren, and mercilessly cold. Its entire surface covered in wind-blasted ice and driving snow, it was about the last place in the galaxy any living sentient would want to be... making it possibly the best place to be for the few dozen living sentients now gathered together on its surface.

    Hoth.

    At the base of one of the planet's massive, frozen canyons, Luis, Reil, Cali, Jyll, and Fi stood huddled together in the cold, their faces dimly lit by the purple light of the tail-end of sunset. Behind them, in the near distance, stood the newly-established Echo Outpost. Little more than a sturdy prefabricated shack and a generator, it was nonetheless home to a small Alliance survey team, along with a handful of attendant mechanics and guards. The outpost was only one of many such structures about the galaxy. If the survey team's findings were satisfactory, and if High Command approved, the Alliance might one day decide to build a full-on base somewhere around here. Then the laser crews would begin carving into the ice, the first step in creating a new home from which the survivors of the Battle of Dantooine could plot and prepare for the eventual overthrow of Palpatine, and his Empire.

    Maybe Fi and her friends would stay here and help build that base, if it came to be. Maybe. The sky was, at this point, wide open.

    One of those lasers had already recently dug into the ancient ice of the planet. In the ground before Fi and her fellows, a rectangular void, two meters by one and three deep, stood vacant. It was already beginning to fill with driving ice and snow.

    Mith, flanked by a trio of rebel technicians, activated the industrial tractor beam projector that sat in the ice before him. The device was an extravagance for an unproven outpost such as Echo, but a necessary one - the planet's difficult terrain, combined with its extreme temperatures, made the moving of heavy equipment by droids a near impossibility.

    But the load in question was not a heavy one. It was a shroud, inside of which rested the spent body of Tamander Dawncaller. Though not visible through the wrappings, everyone knew Tam's lightsaber was held close to his heart.

    The shroud rose slightly in the howling wind, and moved to hover over the yawning grave. Then it descended into the darkness.

    If Mith knew when the shroud touched bottom, he didn't have to say so. The sound of the tractor beam deactivating did that for him.

    The grave didn't need to be filled. Hoth's blowing ice and snow would take care of that soon enough.

    No one looked at each other. Tears were a bad idea on this world of Hoth, and if tears were cried, that was known only to the cryer. Instead, all present lifted their gaze to the fading purple light of the day's sinking sun.

    EPILOGUE

    The morning, though days had passed, was still smoky. The plains of Dantooine, littered with the debris of battle, would likely remain that way for some time.

    Undeterred, the boy picked his way through the wreckage. Twelve years of age, he by all rights should never have even been here. But days had safely passed, and at this point, his parents in the farmhouse behind had to get on with the business of discussing with their neighbours about how to rebuild. They could only trust that the boy had sense enough to stay out of danger.

    Luckily, the boy did. He avoided the remaining licking flames and curling smoke, only venturing into the detritus to retrieve the most enticing objects; a white helmet. A black one. A boot.

    The starship pieces were plentiful, but too cumbersome to carry. But from beneath one, a sound.

    A chirp.

    The boy stood perfectly still, then coughed as the smoke of the assorted wreckage invaded him. The chirp came back.

    There!

    It was a smoking piece of starship wreckage, about the size of a small table. The boy's parents would have most certainly told him not to touch it, but touch it he did. He grabbed it in his little hands, and threw it to one side.

    Underneath, in the mud, among the smaller pieces of shattered metal, lay an organism. Small, white, and fluffy, the being flapped its tiny wings weakly and chirped at him once again.

    The boy lifted the tiny fabool, who squeaked in gratitude, to his chest and held it close. Then, abandoning the wreckage all about him, he ran back toward the farmhouse in the distance.

    "Mom!" The boy cried, "Hey, mom!"
    Last edited by I. J. Thompson; 11-04-2014 at 03:47 PM.
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