The Short Fic Weekly Challenge Thread!
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03.16.2013 , 09:48 PM |
Uh oh.. I did it again.
So, uh.. NotLP: Health, featuring my bounty hunter. 907 words.
Alli’riani awoke to the normal Nar Shaddaa noise. Speeders humming in the distance, carrying the few hundred honest workers left on the planet. The low, rhythmic pulse of the trance music playing in the local cantina, where the entertainment never stops. She could even hear blaster fire, if she strained her ears hard enough. It wasn’t exactly an uncommon thing to hear on a planet like Nar Shaddaa, but the sounds of the city covered it up well. No one would be able to tell that the Cartel just obliterated another rival warehouse, or that the local street gangs had another war.
Things happened quickly on this planet. A gang war roars through the streets in only a few hours, corpses of the gang members and innocent passersby littering the sidewalks. Cleaner droids and trash skiffs would be on the scene within minutes. No one dares claim the body of a loved one who was caught in the middle. On Nar Shaddaa, if you were killed in a gang war, people will say you deserved it, to save their own skin.
Alli stared at the inside of her eyelids, lit pink from the soft luminescent overhead. She knew opening her eyes would mean stabbing pains, but she also knew that she had to open them and get up. She can’t just lie in bed all day any longer. She has to get ready. She’s been given a chance. An opportunity. She’ll be damned if she lets it slip through her fingers.
Slowly and carefully, she pulls herself out of bed. Her muscles are screaming, her head is starting to pound, and she hasn’t even opened her eyes yet.
With eyes still closed, she stands. Every inch of her small room has been committed to memory. Every crack, every misaligned floorboard, every bolt in the durasteel wall behind her counted and memorized. The carpet underneath her feet is worn and familiar, her feet settling into the indention made after months of repeated motion. Ten measured, counted, memorized steps and she’s in the center of a mat placed in the small open space of her apartment.
Ignore the pain. Stretch it out.
Limb by limb, muscle by muscle, Alli stretches. Tears burn the backs of her eyelids, a few even snake down her cheeks, plopping silently on the mat at her feet. The burn in her muscles is overwhelming. Feelings of ice and fire tearing through her body, needle pr*cks and pinches poking at her overly sensitive skin.
“It’s like ice in your veins,” he said. “But once it’s out, it’s like you’re really living again.”
The man whose name she can’t seem to remember, but whose weathered and kind face she will never forget. The one person who stopped by her apartment to make sure she had gotten something to eat, to drink if she couldn’t hold food down. He understood what she was going through. He had gone through it himself. He helped her, like he helped so many other people struggling with their addictions.
“But what if I can’t do it?” she asked. “What if I’m too broken to care what happens to my body anymore?”
He gave her a sympathetic look, and a kind smile. “You can do it, Alli,” he had said. And she believed him.
The burning in her muscles was lessening, and the soreness was ebbing away. The stretching seemed to help her pounding head as well, and she slowly, carefully, opened her eyes. Bit by bit she opened them, giving her pupils ample time to adjust without causing pain. She was facing a full length mirror, as she knew she would be. She was no longer afraid to look at it.
Her hair had grown longer, the front now a few inches below her chin. Her bangs now covered her forehead and eyebrows – and half of a scar going across her right eye and down to her cheek bone. A going-away present. Her eyes were still dimmer than normal, but they had gotten significantly brighter than they had been in the last few days. Her stomach still held the ghost of pregnancy, but had for the most part returned to its flat, toned state. Her skin had regained its color, a light shade of blue, a shade rarely seen among other Chiss. It was still smooth, unblemished save for the scar on her face.
She turned and faced the rack and mannequin that held her gear. Her favorite, and only pair of blasters sat unused, a faint layer of dust beginning to cover them. She would have to sell them, along with her armor. The Hutt she worked for caught wind of the deal she struck with a man named Braden and cut off her funds, slicing her account and taking her savings just to make a point.
Screw him. That stupid oversized worm. He was losing power anyway.
It was supposed to only be a short shuttle ride. Hutta was close. But shuttles off of Nar Shaddaa were expensive. Selling her gear was the only way she would be able to get the funds in time.
I hope that old man has gear for me to use, or we’re both out of luck.
She turned away from her gear and eyed the kitchen. Her stomach rumbled, and for the first time in days she felt genuinely hungry. Things were already starting to look better.
Let’s hope it keeps that way.
The Islingr Legacy
Ebon Hawk Server
"How dreadfully spooky." --