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(L,F&E 50) The Roads to Recovery

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Fan Fiction
(L,F&E 50) The Roads to Recovery

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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 05:36 AM | #1
<Medical bay on the Dia's Gift, 18 hours after the events on Raaltiir>

Sara woke, unsure of where she was or what had happened. She felt good. Better than she had for a long, long time. Then she heard it and smiled. Her mom was singing. And not a battle hymn, nor something vicious and bloody. No, this was a happy tune, a sprightly dance tune that… Sara’s eyes burned and she sniffed audibly. A voice came to her.

“Sara?” The girl opened her eyes and she couldn’t help but smile when she saw Irene’s face over hers. She opened her mouth and, wonder of wonders, there wasn’t anything in it. No tubes, and her voice sounded normal to her ears.

“Doc.” Her voice was calm, clear and matter of fact. Irene smiled.

“It’s done Sara. You are free. We are free.” Sara smiled at the doctor and then sighed. The doctor nodded.

“Nolikas wouldn’t help. And no one blames her. The Twilek with her also refused to assist so Kina and I and the droids are performing the surgeries. We are almost done with them. Each droid going into a special shielded compartment. So they will have no one to talk to. A couple of days, or at most a week and they will be downright eager to talk to us.” Sara bit her lip at the tone of the doctor’s voice. “What?”

“Be careful. We can’t become them.” The girl sighed, she felt sleep coming for her again, but she fought it tooth and nail. “We… are better than them. Don’t…let… them…win…” Then she was asleep again.

Irene sighed as she checked the slumbering girl’s vitals again. It had been so hard, these last few days. Part of her wanted to tear the scum who had hurt her son and so many others into small bloody chunks. But seeing and working on what Maria had left of the slaver who had hurt her… That stung, badly. More than one of the former slaves had lost their lunch on seeing what Maria had left behind of Bella Tiner. The evil woman still lived. Blind, deaf, and with no useful appendages, but she lived. That had actually stopped Irene’s hatred in its tracks. Yes she still wanted the scum to hurt, but… Not like that. Maria herself had finally, with the help of a well timed sedative in a tea, gotten ten hours of sleep. Irene finished her work, tenderly brushed a lock of the girl’s short hair out of her face and smiled. She was such a good kid, and she had done so much. Irene turned from the bed and stopped. Maria was standing there. She froze, but Maria was smiling.

“She needs sleep more than I need to talk to her, Doctor.” Maria said gently. Irene smiled, but there was a certain melancholy to it. And Maria nodded. “I know, it’s going to be rough, for everyone. Myself included. I burn to hurt them. I… want to hurt them. To kill them. To rend them limb from limb.”

It should have been terrifying, the older woman speaking that way, but Irene understood. Somewhat anyway. What had happened to her had been over quickly. Maria’s torment had taken place over more than ten years time. Irene walked to the older woman, and when Maria didn’t move, put her arms around Maria. Maria stiffened, but Irene just stood, not afraid, not judging, just accepting. Maria slowly embraced the doctor and both battered women shared a moment of peace.

<Somewhere nearby, yet very far away>

“I don’t know what to think…" The acknowledged leader of the clones aboard the DIa's gift said soberly. "Michelle, can you sense her at all?” The avatar of the ship known as Michelle shook her head at the question and the others who shared this strange place with her sighed. Marta and Dia both stood near her and their postures showed worry.

"No." When Michelle spoke it was slow, careful. “I know of cases among the Islanians where the ability burned out.” Her avatar bit its lip. She acted so human at times it was hard to tell she wasn’t really organic. Marta looked at her.

“What happened to them?” Michelle flinched.

“They were always put to death immediately as useless.” Dia and Marta shivered at that. The more they learned about the Islanians, the less they wanted to know. “Nothing in my databanks covers anything like this. Have you been able to find anything?” Dia’s avatar shook her head and Marta did as well. Dia’s voice was worried now.

“No one besides Nolikas has ever been able to determine how or why the ability works." The dead Jedi said slowly. "And she won’t talk about it. Not that I blame her after what her research was used to create the last time.” Marta looked at the other two and shook her head.

“Does she know Sara could do it too?” Marta asked reasonably. Dia and Michelle froze at that. “Sara was very closemouthed about her abilities. And we all know why.” Dia scratched her chin and her avatar's face was worried.

“Now that you mention it, I don’t know." Dia said slowly. "You are right, that would be just like Sara to hide it from everyone, including the healers.” Marta nodded and then her face set. Dia looked at her with a worried look. “What are you going to do?” Marta shrugged.

“I am going to ask.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 05:40 AM | #2
<Twenty minutes later>

Nolikas sat at her desk and sighed. This was just…wrong. She understood, oh yes, she understood completely. She couldn’t help it. Part of being a healer was having empathy. Oh one didn’t need it to be a doctor, or a surgeon, but to be a healer… to know what it was to take broken bodies and make them whole again… That required more than mechanical skills. And Nolikas was very empathic. So the pain that her patients felt called to her. And the rage that they all felt repelled her in equal measure. And what Sara had decreed for the prisoners… She knew it was a just fate, a deserved fate, but… Her thoughts broke off as the chime on her office sounded. She snorted. Everyone was polite to her these days.

Really... I draw my saber once and everyone starts treating me different…People used to just walk in. Not that I mind, but...

“Enter.” She called and the door hissed open. The Rakata smiled as she saw Marta in the door. Of all the kid s on the ship, she probably had the best relationship with Marta. The girl was curious, polite and thoughtful. And scary. She waved the girl to a seat and smiled. “Marta, what can I do for you?”

Marta sat, and for a long moment, didn’t speak. When she did, it was careful. “Did you know that Sara could do what Will and Nia can?” Nolikas stiffened.

“What?” Nolikas asked, stunned. Her voice was quiet. Marta’s wasn’t much louder.

“Did you know that Sara could merge with machinery, like Will can?” For along moment, Nolikas couldn’t understand the question and then her eyes went wide.

“She can?” The healer’s voice was soft, almost inaudible. Marta bit her lip.

“She could." Marta said slowly. "But… Always before we could feel her nearby. We can’t now.” Now Nolikas’ face held horror.

“Oh no…” She turned to her desk so fast she bashed a cup of caf off of it. It spilled on the floor and she didn’t seem t notice. She started typing fast, and then she was pulling up holos, images of a body. Sara’s. She started talking, low. “Idiot girl... Why didn’t she tell me? I would have done something different, I could have pulled the Medulla shunt out a different way.” She pulled up an image and froze. “Oh by the Force, I may have done something to the Basal Ganglia…” She was crying now and Marta came closer. The girl’s voice was quiet.

“She didn’t talk about it. To anyone except us.” Nolikas stared at the child, because no matter her birth or training, Marta was a child. And right now, a scared one. Sara was in all ways that mattered the mother of the kids aboard. Nolikas slumped. Then she held out her arms and Marta came into them. Marta was crying and so was the Rakata. It took them both a long minute to regain their composure.

“I don’t know Marta." Nolikas said slowly. "The butchers who did this to her used a droid. They did some damage. But so did I.” Marta looked at her and the Rakata sighed. And when she spoke there was iron in her tone. “If I can fix this, I will.” Marta flinched.

“You may not be able to?” Marta said, hope dying in her eyes. Nolikas nodded.

“The damage is not as bad as what happened to Will, but…” Nolikas shook her head. Now Marta nodded, and her eyes were full again.

“Will is older." Marta replied. "His brain had stopped growing.” Nolikas nodded again and hugged the little girl tight.

"Yeah." Nolikas sighed and looked back at the scans. "Add to that, Sara is in puberty, her body is changing.” Marta froze.

“Is it?” Marta asked, unsure. Nolikas stared at her, shocked out of her tears.

“What do you mean?” The healer demanded. Marta stared at her, not comprehending.

“She is Sara, she never changes.” Marta said soberly. Nolikas stared at the girl, now her face held something deeper than worry. Something far, far deeper.

“Oh… Boy… Come on Marta.” The healer stood and Marta came with her. “We need to talk to Maria.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 05:48 AM | #3
<Forty minutes later>

Maria sat in the small briefing room and was obviously struggling to put thoughts into words. Marta and Nolikas sat in chairs nearby and Kina was standing by the projection screen, perusing a scan. Finally Maria managed to speak.

“I… I knew she could do some of the things Will could, but that was her secret to tell or not. But… What do you mean she is in stasis?” Nolikas sighed.

“I looked over the scans again and I cannot believe I missed it. Not stasis, more a homeostasis. Her body is apparently stuck in equilibrium. Not surprising, given what she has gone through.” Nolikas shook her head. “I didn’t even think… Not with everything else. But I have done some more scans and her hormone levels are so messed up, I am surprised she hasn’t had problems before now.” Kina looked at her and Nolikas paused. “She has, hasn’t she?” Kina slumped.

“I didn’t know what it was. She complained of various things on occasion." The medic replied, horrified. "It took a great deal of effort for her to confide in me that she was feeling bad. I don’t know about human biology, nothing more than I was… taught. I treated the symptoms.” Her voice broke suddenly. “Did I hurt her?”

"I don't know." Nolikas slumped. “But if you did, we can probably help her. The problem is this. Her ability is not a natural one. Just like Will, her ability was artificially engineered. Which means her body has been fighting it all this time.” Maria stared at Nolikas, horror writ large on her features.

“You mean the same thing happened to Will?” Maria asked, her features a mask of horror and rage. Nolikas shook her head.

“No, I think he was past most of puberty when they experimented on him." The Jedi healer said with a sigh. "At least, I have seen no signs of hormone imbalance in any of the scans that I have. And believe me I looked at everything I could after I hurt him. Of course he is much older and has gone through much more.” Maria nodded. She knew Nolikas still blamed herself for that faulty experiment, even if Will and everyone else had forgiven her now.

“So… What do we do?" Maria asked. "What can we do?” Nolikas nodded.

"Well..." Nolikas shrugged. "We start her on hormone therapy, try and get her body to break out of the stasis she was thrust into.” Maria froze.

“You mean to tell me we are going to purposefully put her through puberty?” Maria asked. When Nolikas nodded Maria shook her head and grinned sourly. “And I thought my life was complicated before…”

"I know." Nolikas made a face. “But this may be her only chance for a normal life.” Maria, Marta and Kina all laughed in unison.

“Normal?” They chorused. Nolikas shrugged. That may not have been the best word to use to describe life around this family, no.

“Relatively.”

<The next morning>

Sara wasn’t sure what was worse. The fact that they were discussing this at all, or the fact that they were not asking what SHE wanted. Finally, she had enough.

“Look… If you can fix my ability to merge, that is all I need.” All of the other beings in the room stared at her. She shook her head and controlled a wince as her scalp hurt. The incisions from the removal of the implants were still sore. But she had dealt with worse. “Look… I am happy the way I am.” At that Maria snorted. Sara looked at her and Maria just gave her a very old fashioned look in return. One that had Sara flinch back. Every child knew about ‘The Look’ and dreaded it. But then Maria was at her bedside and holding Sara’s hand in a gentle grip.

“Sara." Maria's voice was soft as new fur. "You haven’t known any other way. You have been in pain your entire life. This may alleviate some of that. Please…” Sara shook her head slowly, but didn’t pull away from her mother.

“Let me make sure I have this straight." Sara said slowly, dazed. "My body is messed up. I have known this. I am not growing up as I should. I have known this too. So you are going to force my body to grow.” Her quiet words brought everyone up short. Surprisingly, it was Irene who spoke. The former slave was such an excellent addition to the crew that’s he had been offered a place aboard and accepted. Her son was adored by everyone aboard, but since he was only five, they all watched out for him.

“Sara, I am not going to lie to you." Irene said with a smile and a sigh. "Puberty sucks. But if you don’t go through it, it is highly likely that your body will…” She broke off. Maria nodded and spoke softly.

“Fail." Sara turned and stared at her mother's scared words. "Not quickly, not spectacularly. But I have seen it. You would just… fall apart.” The fear in Maria’s eyes was a goad to the young girl. She reached up and hugged her mom. Maria held her gently, careful not to disturb the IVs or any of the monitor leads. “I know you are scared Sara. But that is part of it. The fear of the unknown is strong. But I will be here.” Sara shook her head.

“I have responsibilities…” Sara said slowly. “People need me…” Now Marta spoke.

“And what good do you do us if you push yourself until your body falls apart?” The young supersoldier said with a frown. “Sara, you know we worry about you.” Sara snorted.

“Yeah. Yeah.” She sighed and Maria lowered her back to the bed gently. Then she tensed. “Wait a sec… what about you and the others, Marta…?” Marta nodded.

“We have the same problem. But we started the therapy this morning.” Sara looked at Maria, then at Irene and Nolikas. Her face was a study.

“Twenty five of us…” Sara spoke in awe. “You are gonna need help…” Maria snorted.

“We are not stupid Sara, we are heading for the Enclave." He rmother grinned at her expression. "They have a floor all laid out for us, as well as assistants. This will not be fun.” Sara sighed.

“How long is this going to take?" Sara asked after a moment of thought. "I know from my biology studies that the normal human length is…” Maria nodded.

“Years. We don’t know Sara." Maria hugged her daughter again before continuing. "Your system and the other kid’s systems are so messed up we have no idea at all. It may have to go at its natural speed.” Sara winced at that.

“I don’t have a choice do I?” Sara's tone was resigned and Nolikas shook her huge head. The girl in the bed slumped and then shook herself. “Okay. Do it…”

Nolikas started working and Irene came to the bed side to assist. Maria sat where she was and Marta took a chair on the other side of the bed. Sara looked at her mom and spoke quietly. “I am scared Momma.” Maria hugged her daughter.

“I know Sara. I know.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 05:52 AM | #4
<two days later, The Enclave>

“If I had possessed even the slightest idea when you proposed this… this insanity…” Sara snapped and then ay back in her bed and tried not to shiver as her body did … something. Suddenly, she felt like she was on fire. “Hot…” She grated out as she tried not to writhe on the bed. It wouldn’t do the IVs any good or the monitors. Nolikas laid a gentle hand on Sara’s forehead.

“Your body is reacting Sara." Nolikas said with a gentle smile. "Finally. You should be over the worst.” Sara snarled half heartedly as the healer did something and blessed coolness spread through her body. She sighed in relief, but then, she was shivering.

“Cold….” She managed to get out but Nolikas was already working and Sara relaxed as she felt her body adjust. She slumped, conscious of the sweat that was pouring off of her now. A cloth rubbed her forehead, soaking the sweat off. She looked and her mother was there. “I wanna go home…” She managed to croak out.

Nolikas replied, carefully. “Sara, this place has the medical personnel and the equipment. If you had suffered these seizures anywhere else, you likely wouldn’t have survived.” But Sara was looking at Maria.

“I wanna go home.” Sara complained. “Tired of… labs... four walls… Want trees… want… grass… Mom… Let me go home…” Maria shook her head.

“Sara, honey, this place has everything you need." Maria said gently. "You are not out of the asteroids yet, Sara.” But for the first time in her life, Sara didn’t listen to her Mom. She sat up. Nolikas could stare at her in shock as the girl carefully undid each and every monitor and IV line, before sliding out of the bed. She staggered a bit, but she started towards the door, only to find Irene in her path. Sara stared at the doc, but the doc just smiled and handed her a water bottle.

“Don’t want you getting dehydrated.” Irene smiled at her expression. Sara smiled at that and took the bottle, and then Maria was there. She embraced Sara.

“I will take you home Sara. The others have to stay here.” Sara nodded. Several of them were still in danger. She wanted to stay, but…

“Too much like the labs.” Sara gasped out between sobs. Maria nodded. “Can’t stay here…”

“I should have thought of that Sara, I am sorry, honey.” ‘Honey’. Sara shook her head. Maria hadn’t called her that in a long, long time.

“Mom?”Sara asked, scared. Maria smiled at her daughter.

“I am okay, Sara." Maria said gently. "Actually, I am more than okay. I slept for eighteen hours without a sedative.” Sara’s eyes went wide and then she was embracing her mom. Maria hadn’t been able to sleep more than ten hours since her rescue, even with a sedative. “Maybe I am finally starting to recover. I hope so. I am so sick of being a bloodthirsty witch.” Sara hugged her mom tight as Maria cried.

“Me too, Mom. Me too…”

<That night, at the small Mandalorian settlement Sara calls home>

"Sara?" The fully armored Mando doctor was obviously not happy. “What the FLARG are you doing here?”

"Ah..." Sara looked up from her couch where she had collapsed and snorted. “I was sleeping, E’hn. To what do I owe this… displeasure?” The green armored Mando shook his head.

“You still need treatment. No… No stay down…” He ran a portable scanner over her and she snarled, but did as ordered. One did not argue with Mandalorian medics. Arguing with medics at all was a bad idea, but Mandalorian medics had less patience than many and a lot of experience in hurting people. Sometimes more than healing them. He prepared a hypo and she didn’t move until he gave it. It stung, badly.

“Ow, what was that for?” She asked plaintively. E’hn sighed as he sat down beside her sofa.

“Sara, your system is not stable yet. It is getting there, but I think it might be best if you stayed at the clinic for awhile.” Sara tensed and E’hn sighed. “I know it brings back bad memories, but Sara… If anything bad happens, this is too far. If you have a seizure or worse a stroke…” Sara tensed again and E’hn shook his head. When Sara spoke, it was careful.

“I know you mean well, E'hn." Sara admitted ruefully. "But… For some reason I smell the scents and hear the noises and I can’t relax or sleep. I never had this problem before.” E’hn sighed.

“You have also never been going through puberty before.” The medic said sympathetically. “Nolikas sent me a bunch of files. I know what is happening, and I will help as I can.” Sara slumped. “This isn’t weakness Sara, this is a natural body process.” Sara snorted.

“Feels like weakness to me.” The young woman said sourly. “How about a compromise? Mom’s house is closer to the clinic. I don’t think she will mind if I stay with her.” E’hn laughed as he gathered the girl in his arms.

“Mind? She will be ecstatic. Someone to help her clean. And… She slept all night last night Sara.” Ordinarily, Sara would have brushed his help aside, but just this once, she let him carry her. She couldn’t move. Probably whatever he had dosed her with, but, just this once, she didn’t mind. She was drifting as she spoke slowly.

“I know. I hope I can too.”

<The next morning>

Maria woke to an odd sound. Muted sobs. She darted to the door of Sara’s room and knocked.

“Sara?” She asked softly, unsure. Sara’s voice came from inside, muted, soft and fearful.

“Mom…?” She had never heard that tone in Sara’s voice before. “Help…?” Maria dashed into the room and froze on taking in the sight of Sara, lying on the bed covered in… Maria was at her side in an instant. She picked up her daughter easily and carried her to the refresher.

“Welcome to the wonderful world of adulthood Sara.” Maria shook her head and went to get fresh sheets for the bed.

And some female hygiene products.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 05:57 AM | #5
<Later that day>

Sara sat down at the table and winced. Maria smiled at her. “Still sore?” She asked. Sara snarled and Maria nodded, her face sad. “Yeah, I know. It came as just such a shock to me when it happened to me the first time.” Sara shook her head.

“I don’t want to talk about it Mom.” Sara said with a grimace. “How is the colony doing?” Maria snorted.

“Last night?" Maria asked and Sara nodded. "A fairly quiet night. Four brawls, two knife fights, one attempted murder… pretty much same old, same old.” Sara laughed and then almost contained a wince. Maria sighed. “You should be in the Enclave medical facility, or at least in the clinic.” Sara gave her mom an exasperated look.

“I can’t sleep there. I…” She broke off and slumped. “I dunno. Maybe I was suppressing the feelings? And now they came out? This is really weird Mom. I am a stranger in my own body.” Maria nodded and reached across the table to hug her daughter.

“I know." Maria said gently. "And I am here. For you to talk to, or just as a shoulder.” Sara smiled, but it was rueful.

“Did you ever… I don’t know… Regret? Growing up?” Sara asked a little plaintively. Maria sat back at that. For a long moment she just looked at her daughter, and then she shook her head.

“No. For all its uncomfortable or disgusting parts, its pains, its things that we really don’t want to remember, it also has its joys. Its adventures. Its incredible moments. I wouldn’t want to go back. Oh, I would dearly love to see my Mom and Dad again, but…” Sara froze. Maria had never spoken of her family before Sara’s dad. Maria tensed, but Sara just sat and waited. Finally, Maria spoke slowly. “It’s odd. We try so hard to be our parents, then to be unlike them. You are so like me Sara, I worry for you. But now you have the chance to be something else, something better.” Sara didn’t move, and Maria just sighed. “I guess, well… It’s not any huge secret or anything.” Sara licked her lips before speaking.

“You never spoke of your parents." Sara said soberly. "Or of Dad’s.” Maria nodded. “If I shouldn’t be asking…” Maria laughed sadly.

“No, no, it’s okay Sara." Maria actually laughed a little. "It’s just, well, it was long time ago. I was nineteen. Your dad was twenty.” Maria shook her head slowly. “A lot has changed in fifty years. But I don’t regret leaving. I never expected him to follow me…” Sara’s eyes went wide.

“Dad did what?” Sara asked, startled. Maria blinked and then smiled.

“Well, I guess I should tell you." Maria said slowly. "Samuel and I decided early on not to tell anyone who we were or where we were from. I had joined the military to get offworld. I never expected to enjoy it. Man if my dad could see me now…” Maria’s face had an odd look on it and Sara moved her chair to sit closer to her mom.

“Mom? I can understand you not wanting the people who tortured us for so long to get any more information on you, but…” Sara broke off as Maria grinned sourly.

“It wasn’t that." Maria said with a grin. "No, I was always more worried about my old man finding me and dragging me back by my hair to tend the nerfs.” Sara stared at her mom and Maria nodded. “Yep, my dad was a nerf farmer. Which is the main reason I can’t stand the things, except as steaks. I spent the first sixteen years of my life tending nerfs.” Sara was sure her eyes were as big as dinner plates now.

“You were… a nerf herder?” Sara stared at her mom, utterly stunned. Maria laughed, a merry sound and Sara found herself smiling.

“Yep. Maria grinned in fond memory. “And you wonder why I jumped at the chance to do something else?” Sara shook her head slowly.

“I can see that." Sara shook her haad, amazed. "What I can’t see is you covered in nerf dung, taking care of those things.” Maria snorted.

“Until I was sixteen, I didn’t know anything better.” Her face grew sad and Sara embraced her.

“What happened, Mom?” Sara asked, carefully. Maria was looking at something only she could see now.

“I met Samuel and my life went into a spiral orbit.” Maria focused on Sara and smiled. “This may be a long story, you have anything to do?” Sara held up the medical sensor that E’hn had outfitted her with and Maria nodded. The short answer was… no. Maria leaned back and smiled a small sad smile.

“I was sixteen and I was out working in my father’s fields…”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 05:59 AM | #6
<A bit less than fifty five years in the past on the planet Averam>

Maria snarled as she forced the stupid beast in front of her to move, again. She swore the blasted things just loved to stand right where the predators that inhabited the area would find them easiest. Luckily none of the predators on this part of the planet would tackle something the size of a human. Even a half grown one. She brushed her hand across her closely braided hair and swore again. Unfortunately…

“Haven’t you got that herd moved yet girl? I gave you ten minutes.” Maria tensed as her dad came up on the back of his riding beast. She hated the riding creatures as much as she hated the nerfs. And they responded in kind. Maria nodded to her father and put her focus back on the nerf in front of her, unfortunately, it sank to its haunches with a stubborn blat. Maria had taken enough.

“Stubborn, stupid, blasted carrion, I’ll show you!” She snapped and delivered a kick right where it would hurt the most, square in its gonads. With a startled yelp, the nerf bull jumped to its feet and ran off. The herd followed it of course, but Maria’s heart sank as she saw they were going the wrong direction. “Aw nuts…” A bellow had her cringing.

Maria!” Her father was riding towards her and she braced herself. Sure enough… The riding crop slashed through her thin summer weight clothing and left a welt on her arm. “What did you do?” She kept her head down. Maybe if she didn’t answer, but no, the crop struck her again. “I said. What did you do?” Maria shook her head and met her father’s eyes. The rage there didn’t surprise her. What surprised her was that she was almost as tall as he was on top of his beast. They were low slung, but still… She knew she had grown, having outgrown all of the clothing that she had this last year. Her sisters had given her a bunch of snide comments about long legs and big feet. Her father, startled by something he could see in her eyes, raised the crop again. But Maria had taken enough.

“I am done tending those stupid stubborn beasts. Beat me if you want. You will anyway. But I am not tending those dung brained things again…” She turned on her heel and walked out of the field, ignoring the sputtering behind her. Her sisters in other field stared at her and she ignored them too. Her brother however, looked at her from his perch on the roof where he sat with his rifle all day to keep the predators away and gave her a jaunty salute. But then he froze and she heard paws behind her. She didn’t turn. Her father’s voice was low, dangerous.

“Maria, go back and get those animals into the pen.” Maria didn’t acknowledge his order. She knew she was in for it no matter what. Her dad felt that the only important thing in life was the nerfs, and his family, well, they were there to tend the nerfs. No more, no less. She didn’t flinch or slow as the riding crop came down again. This time on her head. She was dizzy now, but she didn’t slow. But another blow drove her to her knees. She started crawling, but more blows came. And then more. And then more.

Finally after a long, long time, she lay sobbing silently into the mud. She heard the riding beast move away and whispers as her sisters moved their herds into the pens for the night, but she just lay there, too wracked by the pain to move. She heard her father’s voice. “Leave her. If she wants to eat, she can get her herd in. If not, tough…”

A soft protest came, and from the tone, it was her brother, but the sound of a fist striking flesh was heard and then nothing. She rose slowly. She saw the door of the house barred, likely locked from the inside. All of the pens but one had groups of nerfs eating in them. She shook her head slowly, and then rose. In moments she was walking. But not towards where the nerfs were gathered in the field that was hers, no. She walked towards the road that led into town. She was maybe halfway there when she felt her strength give out and she collapsed by the side of the road. As darkness claimed her, she swore she saw someone approaching and prayed it wasn’t her dad.

<Later>

When Maria woke, she didn't hurt. She was warm, dry and wonder of wonders, clean. It had been years since she had been totally clean. But she tensed as she heard her father’s cold voice.

“Where is my daughter?” A female voice she didn’t know replied to him.

“If you mean the girl you beat until her ribs were showing, she is sleeping right now." The voice was cool and unimpressed with her father's bluster. "Whether she wakes up or not, well, that is in the Maker’s hands. Get out of here; this is a place of healing, not a bar, or your farm.” Her father sputtered but the other voice was adamant.

“If you don’t leave right now, I am calling the militia. I know they would like that. They still haven’t given up on nailing you for Lilia’s death.” Maria froze. Her mother had fallen, taken a hard knock to the head, and died the next day in the town’s small medical clinic. It had been an accident, but many people thought her dad had murdered her mom. That was what had started him drinking. A growl that sounded threatening from her father sounded and Maria tensed, but the female voice laughed.

“You and what army osik for brains? Sam, please check on our guest…” Maria flinched as a door opened, flooding the room with light. A young man stepped in. His dark brown hair shown in the soft light. He saw her looking at him and put a finger to his lips. Maria just stared at him as he shut the door. She could hear her father shouting now about people stealing his children and then his ranting stopped as if cut with a knife. The female voice was cold, and against her will, Maria shivered.

“Go ahead, call your ignorant little hillbilly friends. Please. This town and this valley could do with less people like you. Give me a reason to splatter you and all of your drunk ‘friends’ across the landscape. Oh, have I scared you? Idiot. Get out of my clinic.” Maria tensed. A few moments later, a door slammed and the young man in the room smiled at her. Maria relaxed, but tensed again as the door opened. A middle aged woman walked in and smiled on seeing Maria awake. Maria didn’t miss the blaster in the low slung holster or the body armor. But the woman just smiled as she sat beside Maria’s bed.

“Good morning. Maria is it? My name is Julia Kalenath.”
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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 06:01 AM | #7
<The next day>

Maria was… bemused. She hadn’t known what to expect when she had woken in this clinic. She had heard rumors of a new clinic opening after the old one had shut down. She remembered old man Karridine, the healer who had run the clinic before. She had been… six, seven maybe, when he had arrived and set up shop? She couldn’t remember. She had liked him; he had always had time for her. Then he had died when she was fourteen. A month before her mom. The town had managed to scrape a bit of a makeshift first aid place together, but no doctor. Until now.

Julia was acerbic, judgmental and very, very good at what she did. She was also obviously a former soldier. But to Maria, she was kind, gentle and compassionate. Part of that, Maria knew was the fact that Maria was hurt so badly. She hadn’t realized when she had been staggering into town, that her arm had been broken in three places. There was also no way she could have known that she had sustained a concussion as well. Julia hadn’t actually been exaggerating. The healer had been worried that Maria might not wake up. So Maria was very grateful to the healer. But this was grating on the girl.

“Look, I can feed myself…” She protested as the boy, Samuel, held out a filled spoon for her. He smiled.

“I know you can. But… Mom doesn’t want you moving too much, okay. Most of your ribs were just cracked. One was broken. And that arm…” Mara glanced down at the splint and shuddered. She didn’t hurt, per say. It was more a dull ache. But it was all over her body. She sighed and took the spoon in her mouth, swallowing the mouthful dutifully. Samuel dipped the spoon back in the bowl of oatmeal and Maria resigned herself to being fed.

She had to admit, this was… different. All her life, all she had known was work. Hard work, from sun up to sun down. This felt…odd. She let Samuel feed her until the bowl was empty, then she lay back and tried to go to sleep. But her mind was whirling. Samuel left to do something with the bowl and spoon and then came back and sat beside her. She looked at him though slitted eyes.

“Is there a reason you are sitting here?” Samuel smiled.

“Two reasons. One, Mom didn’t want to leave you alone. We don’t have a lot of stuff here yet; most of Mom’s stuff hasn’t arrived yet.” Maria stared around the room. There were more pieces of equipment than she had ever seen in her life. Samuel shrugged.

“We knew we were coming somewhere where this would be the main medical clinic for a large area, and mom likes being prepared.” Maria nodded, she supposed that made sense. But Samuel was speaking again. “And while we are sure we have treated the injuries we have found, we can’t be sure we have found everything.” Maria tensed. “So Mom went to go get some of the stuff that is in storage waiting for transport here.” Maria thought about that.

“And those are your two reasons?” Samuel shook his head and sighed.

“No." Samuel said slowly. "She was worried that if you were left here alone, your dad might come and snatch you.” Maria froze.

“He isn’t a bad man…" Maria protested halfheartedly. "He just…” Samuel nodded.

“…is angry and he gets drunk. So he gets dangerous. I know the type. Don’ t worry.” He said in a calming tone when Maria tensed again. He pulled something out of a pocket, it looked kind of like a blaster, but…not… Samuel showed it to her. “This is a stunner, non lethal. I know how to use it. But mainly, the door is locked and I have a comlink that I can use to call the militia if I have to.” Maria thought about that and her heart constricted at the thought of the militia carting her dad off. Samuel sighed.

“It’s not your fault. You are a victim here.” He said gently. Maria slumped, and then she shook her head, ignoring the faint dizziness that came.

“Where is your dad?” Samuel looked sad and Maria froze. But Samuel smiled at her,a lthough his face was sad.

“He is stationed on a Republic cruiser, the Hornet Strike. And the fleet doesn’t know where she is. Can’t find it. At the moment, all they are saying she is ‘missing’. But that usually only means one thing.” His jaw worked and Maria laid her good hand on his.

“I am sorry.” Her head was buzzing now, and she shook it. But that seemed to make it worse. Samuel looked at her.

“Maria…?” His voice held worry. She struggled to speak.

“D…Dizzy…” She gasped out. He leaned over her and said something softly. Then he shook her.

“Stay awake, Maria. Stay awake. Stay with me…” It was really buzzing now. It didn’t hurt, just felt, very strange. Then she heard Julia’s voice, and Samuel’s. But she couldn’t figure out what they were saying. A firm hand was shaking her.

“Maria.” Julia’s face came into her field of view and she swore the woman cursed. Then she was falling…
My stories in order:
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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 06:04 AM | #8
<Some time later>

When Maria woke, she felt light. Almost as if she were floating. She didn’t hurt. Nothing hurt. It was as if everything… Suddenly she did hurt and she couldn’t bite back a groan. A muffled exclamation came from nearby and suddenly Julia’s face was over hers.

“Maria?” Maria smiled at the doctor, but then tensed as she realized there was something in her mouth. She tried to reach for it, but her hands wouldn’t move. Julia spoke quickly. “No, don’t try to move just yet. You gave me one heck of a scare. I am so glad I thought to bring TX…” A beeping came from nearby and Maria froze as a shadow moved. It resolved into a… a what? Maria wasn’t sure what it was except it had a large bulb shaped body and a bunch of arms hanging off of it. It was hovering off the ground and Julia looked at it and nodded, then she looked at Maria and smiled.

“You will sleep again, when you wake, you will be better.” Maria felt a pain in her arm and looked to see one of the metal arms retracting. Was this a droid? She had never seen one before. She nodded off wondering.

<A while later>

When Maria woke, she felt good. Her arm hurt, her chest hurt, her head hurt, but it didn’t seem to matter. The tube was gone from her mouth and she felt things glued to her chest and head. But that didn’t seem to matter either. Julia came in with a steaming tray and set it down on a table before sitting beside Maria’s bed.

“Good morning, Maria.” Maria nodded to her, wondering why the pain didn’t bother her. It should have. Julia nodded to her as she set the tray within easy reach. Maria tried to reach for a piece of bread, but her hand only came an inch or so off the bed before she had to drop it. She was so weak… She stared at her hand as if it wasn’t hers, then she turned scared eyes to Julia. Julia sighed.

“You had what medics call a subdural hematoma. What happened was that when your father struck you on the head with his riding crop it bruised your brain. Which swelled just like regular bruise. But the blood didn’t have anywhere to go, so it started putting pressure on your brain. Thank god Samuel recognized the symptoms. If I had been any slower…” Maria was scared now, and Julia shook herself.

“Enough of that. You are alive. That is what is important. Now, you are going to feel very strange for a while. I had to give you some serious medications to put you out enough to do what I had to. And when the painkillers wear off, you are going to hurt. But pain is good; it tells us the nerves are working. Okay, ready for breakfast?” Maria nodded slowly, then sighed as Julia filled a spoon and held it out.

<A year later>

Maria sat back with a smile. She truly enjoyed working for the clinic. It was hard work. Her father had never held with fancy ‘book learning’ for his children. So her education had been in bits and drabs, usually wherever she could squeeze in time to read. She did love to read. And she loved to draw. And right now, she was drawing Julia. She liked Julia. The medic hadn’t just saved her life. She had totally changed Maria’s life. No longer was she covered in nerf dung all day every day. No longer did she worry about getting beaten of she messed up, or just if her father had too much to drink. Maria had fully expected her dad to try and take her back, but when the man had finally arrived, with several of his ‘friends’ from the bar, Julia had taken the precaution of calling the militia. Needless to say, the militia had not been impressed, and her father had spent the night in the lockup. And Maria hadn’t looked back. Julia was a strict teacher, but she was fair. If she made a mistake, she expected to get corrected. And Maria was learning, so much, so fast. She looked over to where Samuel was sitting studying and, as if he could feel her eyes on him, he looked up and smiled. It was as if something went thump in her chest. She shook her head and focused on her drawing.

Julia smiled when Maria presented her with the picture. Then the doctor frowned slightly. “That is very nice Maria. Have you ever drawn anything other than people?” Maria blinked at that.

“Um… No… I never had much time for it.” Julia smiled.

“Would you like to try it?” Maria grinned at that, and Julia did as well.

<Two and a half years later>

“I don’t care what he says. I am of age.” Julia sighed as Maria continued to pack her meager belongings.

“Maria, he is your Dad. Yes, he was a drunk, but he hasn’t touched a drink according to any of my sources since I told him what he did to you. That he nearly killed you. He has changed.” Maria looked at the woman who she had lived with for almost four years and sighed. She loved Julia, as much as she remembered loving her mom. Maria shook her head.

“I can’t stay here Julia." Maria sighed and continued. "I want to, but… I can’t…” Julia nodded.

“I know. Ah Maria…” She embraced the girl and Maria was fighting to keep from crying. “I am going to give you the same advice my dad gave me, a long time ago. It’s a big galaxy out there, and a dangerous one. Some people will hurt you because they want to, some people will hurt you because they don’t know any better, and some people will hurt you because they are stupid. Keep your eyes and ears open, keep your mouth shut. Learn everything you can and train hard. The more you train, the less you bleed. Follow your orders and keep your head down.” Maria nodded. “I have to stay, Samuel has gone for the day. Good luck girl…” Now Maria was crying and Julia was too. They embraced again, and then Maria picked up her small pack and without a backward glance, strode out of the clinic that had been her home. She walked to the shuttle and presented her ticket. The pilot nodded to her and she took a seat. The ride was uneventful. When she left the shuttle she paused. Ahead lay a building with a sign.

Republic Military Recruiting Center

Maria squared her shoulders as Julia had taught her and strode to the door. And her future.

<Eight months later>

Maria smiled as she tore the top off a ration pack. They had a mess hall, but very soldier worth being called that had some kind of food nearby at all times. She froze as a voice came to her. Her sergeant. He called out to her. “Hey, Private Chines!” Maria tensed, she couldn’t get used to being called by her last name.

“Yes, sergeant?” The sergeant jerked a thumb toward s the HQ.

“Medic wants to see you.” Maria froze for a moment, and then nodded. She sighed at the open ration pack, but then tossed it to her bunkmate who grinned. As she walked to the HQ, she wondered what was going on. She hadn’t been hurt since basic when she had stepped on a dummy mine, which actually been a regular one. Someone had gotten a reaming for that, but Maria was just happy she hadn’t lost her leg. Maybe a follow up? She shook her head as she approached the medical area. She knocked and voice called. “Enter.” She paused. Did she know that voice? She shrugged and entered. Then she froze solid. The man in Republic uniform stood looking at her his brown hair shone in the light. She thought he looked good in a military haircut.

“You are a hard woman to find Maria Chines.” Her jaw was hanging open, but she didn’t care. He was wearing the rank of a warrant officer though, so she saluted. He returned it. “You didn’t really think I was going to let you get away, did you?”

“Fraternization regs sir?”

Samuel Kalenath just grinned. “I am assigned to the Fifth regiment medical corps, you are Sixth combat engineers. I don’t think that will fly in a court.” Maria just shook herself and then they w ere embracing. And the universe was theirs for the taking.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 06:11 AM | #9
<the present, Nova Ordo>

Sara couldn’t help but smile as her mom finished the story. “So… He followed you through training and all? Wow…” Maria had a big grin on her face and her eyes were distant. Sara embraced her mom and then picked up the dishes. She had made dinner while her mother had talked. And they had both relaxed for the first time since Sara could remember. Maria shook her head in fond memory.

“Yeah, apparently, Julia had some contacts. But… We, Samuel and I, well, we didn’t want to be separated, so we got married. The Republic military didn’t approve, mind you. We got letter of reprimand out the wazoo for a year or two until everything fell apart and we were fighting just to survive. Will was born on a transport between bases. I always wondered if that was where he got his love for flying. He certainly didn’t get it from his father or myself. Samuel hated flying. Me, I can do it when I have to, but I don’t enjoy it. And your brother was military mad from the moment he could walk.” Maria slumped. Sara finished the dishes and came back to her Mom. She sat beside her mom and her arms were around the older woman.

“It’s not your fault, Mom." Sara said quietly. "It wasn’t your fault.” Whatever Maria might have said was tabled as the door chimed. The two women looked at each other and then Maria sighed and called.

“Enter.” But instead of a figure in Mandalorian armor with some kind of problem for Maria to solve… Her son, Sara's brother walked in.

Will!” Sara shouted and was almost airborne as her brother entered the house. He closed the door and took her charge, catching her easily and enduring her embrace. But… He was smiling? Maria blinked. She hadn’t seen him since Sharra’s body had been cremated.

“Mom, Sara. I…” He looked… For an instant he looked more like the boy she remembered than the raging, hard bitten, highly capable warrior he was. Maria tilted her head.

“What has happened, Will?” She asked. He smiled as Sara led him to the table. She would have gotten him a plate, but he shook his head.

“Trava and a few of her friends ambushed me." Will said with a smile. "I have eaten.” Sara had to snort at that. Mandalorians lived to fight and to cook. And since it might be an insult to decline a meal, well… He had eaten, and probably more than was good for him. Sara shook her head as she sat between the two of them. Will looked her over and she sighed. He nodded. “This won’t be fun for you Sara, but… I think it will help. With the rages anyway.” Sara looked at him and her eyes narrowed.

“What has happened?” Sara asked, something about him was different. Maria looked from her daughter to her son and her eyes were narrow as well. Something was off about him. He wasn’t angry… Will held a finger to his lips and produced a jammer. Both Maria and Sara’s eyes went wide at that. Who would dare to bug Maria’s place? But the telltales glowed green and Will sighed.

“I can’t take any chances with this." The soldier admitted as he pocketed his scanner. "None at all. Mom, I… I messed up. Bigtime…” Maria sat back and waited and finally he spoke again. “Sharra is alive.” Maria’s eyes went wide and her head shook in disbelief. Sara, on the other hand was cool.

“You burned her body.” Sara said slowly. Will nodded.

“A clone.” At his soft words, Sara froze. Maria shook her head, dazed. When she spoke, it was slow, careful.

“If the Sharra that died on Tython was a clone, how do you know this one isn’t one?” Maria asked carefully. Whatever she expected she didn’t expect the goofy grin that came across his face.

“Cloning tech isn’t perfect and won’t be for a long, long time. Clones are always sterile. And Sharra is expecting my kid.” Both of the women froze at that, and then both were crowding him close asking questions. But he just sat, and finally Maria shushed her daughter with a gesture.

“Will, what happened?” She demanded. When he met her eyes, his were brimming.

“I don’t know all of it." He admitted. "Apparently, the Bladeborn found her, healed her, and protected her. I have no idea why. They said… they said I was important. A Jedi told me the same thing. But…” Now tears were falling and Maria held her son.

“What did you do, Will?” She asked. She knew her son. His rage...He slumped in her arms.

“I thought she was dead." Will cried. "I went bonkers. Cranna found a Sith with no memory. One of the Sith who followed the one who I thought had killed Sharra. Cranna gave her to me.” Maria’s indrawn breath matched Sara’s. Both knew what this man was capable of. Will bowed his head. “I hurt her, a lot. And then I... did worse.” Maria froze. He was saying he had… She shook her head slowly.

“Why Will? Why?” Maria asked, trying not to be judgmental. He spoke slowly, carefully.

“Her master could see and hear through her." Will sighed and controlled himself. "Apparently through a combination of implants and Force powers. I had to make it look like she was no further use to him. I had to make it look like she was useless. I knew if that happened, he would break the link, feedback from that kind of thing hurts. A lot.” Sara nodded, she knew. “A couple of nights later, the Sith tried to extract her. I caught the Sith, crippled him and burned him alive.” Maria nodded. “Mom… I’m a monster… What kind of person can do things like that?” Maria held her son as he sobbed. Her voice was quiet.

“The kind who has nothing left to live for. Like my Dad.” Will stiffened at her words. “Let me tell you a little story Will, about a world called Averam, and a stupid little girl named Maria Chines…”
My stories in order:
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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 06:15 AM | #10
<The next morning>

It had been a long night. After Maria had told Will her story, he had finally opened up completely and the three Kalenaths had spoken until the early hours of the morning. And then, Maria had been insistent that her son stay and sleep. And he hadn’t really had anywhere to go. He knew he had to go to Sith space, but… He didn’t want to. Not alone. But he had no choice in the matter. Olana was too visible, Sharra was laid up, and the Stormhawk was in spacedock at Coruscant of all places. So when he fell asleep, he was wondering what to do next.

As always, his body clock woke him at 0530 hours, same as it had since he had been in Basic Training. For a moment, he felt out of place, and then he snorted. Of course he was. This wasn’t his home. He didn’t have one. He sighed, got out of bed and started his morning rituals. As he cleaned himself he thought hard. He had to find Nia, but the phrase ‘needle in a galaxy full of haystacks’ came to mind. The Sith controlled a vast section of the galaxy. And to find a single stasis pod in Sith space...

Sith space… Hmmm…

He shook his head and exited the refresher. He was not surprised to find his clothing cleaned and folded ready for him. He smiled as he put his clothing on and then started strapping his gear on. Moms might grow up, grow older, but they were still moms. He finished and stepped carefully outside. Sara was finishing up breakfast and nodded to him. She held a finger to her lips and he nodded. Maria was sleeping. And he wanted her to. It seemed she had finally managed to get beyond the horrors that lay in her past. He hoped so anyway. Sara laid two places and smiled as she took one, he smiled back as he took the other. They ate in silence. When they had both finished, he helped carry the dishes to the sink and helped to dry while Sara cleaned. Finally, they were done and both sat in the common room. Sara looked her brother over and smiled.

“You look better.” Sara said diffidently. Will had to grin at that. He had been a mess the night before.

“So do you." The soldier admitted. "How are you holding up?” Sara bit her lip and Will extended a hand. After a moment, Sara took it.

“I don’t know." Sara said with a sigh. "My body is doing weird things. I hurt in a bunch of odd places. Not to mention the messes.” Will nodded. “But I am not as angry as I was, which is a good thing.”

“Indeed it is, vod.” Sara smiled at his words. But then her face became closed.

“What will you do now?” She asked. Will sighed.

“What can I do? Start looking.” Sara nodded, but her mind was obviously working quickly. Will let her think for a moment and then she spoke.

“Then you are going to find a depot to hack into, try and trace from?” Her words were not really a question. Will nodded.

“I have a list of them, all deep in Sith territory. One thing…” He pulled out a datapad and showed it to her. She hissed at the name of the first planet on the list. Averam.

“I have never been on a Sith held planet, except as a prisoner and all I saw then was cells." Sara said slwoly. "What are they like?” Will shrugged.

“Depends on the planet." Will admitted. "Some are fairly normal, except for all the guards and people in black with lightsabers running around. Some are barren wastelands. And everything in between.” Sara nodded. When she spoke, it was thoughtful.

“Is it possible any of our kin are still alive?” She asked. Will but his lip, then shrugged.

“Possible, yes." WIll shrugged before continuing. "Probable? I don’t know. You think I should go.” It wasn’t a question. Sara shrugged now.

“I don’t know." Sara said with a sad grin. "I certainly can’t go, not until this flarging osik runs its course.” Will grinned and gave his sister a hug.

“You are calmer now than I have ever seen you." Her brother said with a smile. "Of course that may change when you get PMS.” Sara slugged him on the shoulder and he winced dramatically, but both were smiling. “But I do know where my first stop has to be.”

Sara nodded. He had to go to Tython. To make what amends he could for what he had done. But…

“Ummm… I may have something that can help…” Will stared at her suspiciously. “You know you are kind of wanted, by a whole lot of people at the moment, and well…” He gave her an old fashioned look and she grinned. “Let’s just say that our family is bigger than you know now. A friend of yours helped me out a while back and she asked for sanctuary. I gave it.” His eyes narrowed as he took that in, but then he nodded.

“Well, if she is trustworthy." Will said soberly. "I have known a few women who were not.” Sara grinned.

“She is, you see, her name is Michelle.” Sara wished she had thought to bring a picto reader. The look of shocked surprise on her brother’s face was an image she would treasure. She just wished she could have preserved it.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here