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(L,F&E 51) A Ghost of the Past


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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 06:44 AM | #1
<The planet Averum>

“I know what I saw Pa.” Miriam was lying in her bed as her mother puttered about. When Marcus had brought her home, she had known she would be in for it. After all, she hadn’t been supposed to be at the cantina. But her friends had been there. And so had Marcus.

She needn’t have worried. Her mom had taken one look at her daughter’s torn dress and cut and bruised face and immediately dragged the girl into the refresher for a thorough cleaning, and a gentle examination. Only after her mom was sure she hadn’t been hurt badly did she allow Miriam to answer questions. Not that she had a lot of answers.

“Miriam, that don’t make sense. None of them boys been seen for years. It’s known that most of them is dead.” Her dad sat beside her bed and tried not to glower. It was hard. He wasn’t really angry with her. He was furious with Marcus for allowing her to go to the cantina, and he was beyond furious with the scum who had hurt his little girl. Jon Chines was not a vengeful man, generally, but he was fiercely protective of his children. He had lost too many family over the years. Of course the Chines name was common in this area. Half of the farmers in the area had the name. Especially after the Sith had come. So many lost… So many families decimated. Many families had consolidated, taking new names to shield members who had fought the Sith occupiers. All but one family name. No one dared to take that one. Most didn’t dare speak it.

“It was one of the Kalenaths, Pa. I dunno which one. He didn’t have to help me. He came out of the night like… Like a ghost. Then he was gone. But those eyes… Those green eyes. Pa, how many people in this valley or on this planet have green eyes?” Her mom snarled at her dad and the man sat back. Miriam lay still and let her mom put a cold compress over her sore head. Then the older woman held out a filled spoon and Miriam cleaned it off and swallowed. Whatever was in it had her floating quickly. As she dozed off, she head slow voices.

“Pa… I…” Marcus began but Jon cut him off.

“We will talk about your behavior later. Right now, we got a problem. That scum alive?” The patriarch asked coldly. Marcus grinned and Jon smiled. “Good boy. He have any friends there?” Marcus thought back and shook his head.

“None that I saw Pa." Marcus said soberly. "And I looked after she tossed that fool through the window.” Jon looked at him. “Guy wouldn’t take no for an answer.” Jon shook his head, but his smile was rueful.

“Idiot girl. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.” He ducked as something came flying out of the kitchen and landed nearby. His wife’s voice came from inside.

“Don’t you make me get my skillet, Jon Chines.” Nancia called, irate. Jon winced dramatically as he bent to pick up the oven mitt that she had thrown at him. His wife stood framed in the door, her hands on her hips. He grinned as he handed it back to her.

“Now don’t you do that Nancia." Jon said with a grin. Not that it wasn't serious. She had thrown skillets at him in the past. "Them skillets is expensive…” But then he got serious. “How long will she sleep?” His wife sighed as she came out of the kitchen to reclaim her oven mitt.

“Late morning." Nancia Chines replied sadly. "Maybe till noon. She'll need it. She took one heck of a jolt from that shock blaster. At least he didn't..." She shook her head and snorted. "Add to that the fact she thinks she seen a ghost…” Marcus cleared his throat and they both looked at him.

“Ma, I saw boot prints." Marcus said soberly. "it tweren’t no ghost. And no ghost blew that scum’s balls off neither.” Jon sighed.

“I assume you stashed the body somewhere where it won’t be found?” Jon said, not really doubting,. His son had his moments but Marcus wasn't really stupid. he just acted it on occasion. Marcus nodded.

“Cat den nearby, and well, we was mad…” Marcus admitted. Jon nodded. That body wouldn’t be identifiable at all after a few days. If at all.

“Fair enough. So…" Jon mused. "This never happened. Far as anyone knows, she ill. She come home, go to bed and wake up tomorrow sick. And we keep her out of sight until them bruises heal. But we have a problem. With Miriam laid up, we may not be able to meet our quota.” Marcus looked at him and Nancis did too. Both had fear on their faces. Jon shook his head.

“That’s my worry boy.” Jon said soberly. “Your worry is this. What the hell you thinking letting your sister stay in that dang cantina? She only sixteen.” Marcus nodded.

“I know, Pa. I know." Marcus said sadly. "I didn’t even see her until she toss that fool.” He met his Dad’s eyes. Jon shook his head.

“What were you doing there?" Jon demanded, his anger fanned. "You know that place is a hive of scum and villainy. You know our family’s history with that place.” Marcus swallowed and nodded.

“The card game at Tim’s…” Marcus met his father’s gaze evenly. ”It sort of… well, it fell apart and everyone went there.” Jon sniffed his son loudly.

“I smell booze.” Jon snapped. Marcus met his dad’s eyes. "How many drinks you have?"

“One, and I only had half of it.” Marcus said quietly. Jon sighed.

“You know our history with that demon drink, boy.” Jon said with a scowl worthy of a Sith. Marcus nodded. He turned around and went to the mantelpiece. Over it were a bunch of things. He selected one and brought it back to his dad. His dad looked at him.

“One drink ain’t worth a metal one boy.” Jon said, his face remote. Marcus shook his head.

“She could have been killed Pa.” Marcus said with a gulp. Jon nodded sadly. Marcus handed the switch to his father, turned around and bent over the table. A few moments later the pain started.

Jon did his duty, and then put the switch back up with the others. He nodded his approval. Marcus hadn’t so much as flinched. A good strong son. He clapped Marcus on the shoulder as the boy redid his pants. His voice was quiet when he spoke.

“You in shape to run boy?” Jon asked. Marcus nodded. “ Good. I need you to run to Mary’s place, Kit’s place and Horry’s place. Tell them what happened. You heard what happened the last time a Kalenath was seen around here.” Marcus swallowed and nodded. Jon continued. “And Marcus…” He tossed his one something. Marcus caught it reflexively. On inspection it was a slugthrower rifle. “Don’t get caught.” Marcus nodded, and then he was gone. Jon turned and Nancia was staring at him.

“Jon, the curfew…” Jon sighed. He hoped he hadn’t just sentenced his sole remaining son to death, but… His neighbors needed to know what was coming. Jon shook his head and Nancia came close.

“You think it might actually be one of them?” She asked, scared. Jon shook his head.

“I don’t know. Maybe. But if so... We ain’t seen trouble yet. Not at all…”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 06:46 AM | #2
<A couple of hours before local midnight>

Marcus ran through the woods he had known since birth, praying. He had managed to het to all the neighbors, and then he had managed to get almost all the way home before something had apparently seen him. Before he had known anyone was around, a bright light had pinned him in place and a loud voice had called on him to halt. Of course, he hadn’t. Being out past curfew was a one way ticket to the lockup, and probably a grave. A snap shot had turned out the light, and when fire come back seeking him out, he had fled, Away from his home. He wasn’t going to lead these scums back to his family.

There he goes!” Came a shout behind him and he heard shots, not slugthrowers, no, these were blasters. And the red beams meant they were shooting to kill. The only good news was that he was deep in trees, on ground he knew well. But they had a flying car. There was no way he was going to outrun…

Something struck him hard in the leg and he was falling. He landed hard and lost his rifle. He scrambled into cover, aware of his leg going numb. In the darkness, he couldn’t see how badly he was hurt. But he tensed as he heard an amplified voice.

“He couldn’t have gone far. Find him.” He shook himself. If they found him, they would scan the ID tag buried in his head and be able to tell who he was. He reached out slowly, trying to find his rifle. Then he screamed as something landed on him, were, he tried to, but a hand covered his mouth. And a soft voice spoke in his ear.

“You want to live, don’t move.” He froze as something settled over him. Another voice, distorted though a helmet, was heard in the near distance.

“Gun here. Sir, slugthrower.” Boots crushed through the brush nearby. And the first voice he had heard came again.

“Good work, private. He couldn’t have gone far. Not with that much blood on the rocks. Find him.” Marcus tensed, but the arms holding him didn’t move. He was sure the sound of his hoarse breathing was loud enough for every trooper within a hundred meters to hear him, but eventually they moved away. The voice of what had to be the commander came again.

“Check by the river, he may have gone that way.” Marcus didn’t move. That river was in a gorge, sixty meters down. If he had fallen in there… Another voice.

“No sign sir, just the blood and the rifle.” The commander cursed.

“Find him! I already reported the violation. The commander will be… displeased with all of us if we come back empty handed.” The sounds moved away and the hand over his mouth loosened. The soft voice was back in his ear.

“Quiet now. Slow and easy. If we can make it to the tree line we are clear.” Marcus stared around, they were in a small clearing. How the flarg did the Sith troops not see them if they were right out in the open? But they didn’t. He didn’t dare look back, he just kept his gaze on the trees that were approaching slowly, so slowly. But finally, they were in the trees. The quiet voice was back. “Stay with me, kid. Stay with me…” But he was falling, or floating? He wasn’t sure which.

<Later>

When Marcus woke, he wasn’t sure where he was. It was dark. And he felt odd. His leg didn’t hurt; it throbbed a bit, but didn’t hurt. For a long moment, he just listened. The quiet voice from before came from nearby.

“It’s okay, we gave that patrol the slip.” He sat up and froze. A man in black was sitting nearby, but wasn’t looking at him, no, he was scanning the area. Marcus looked at his leg and there was a tear in the pants, and through it he could see a bandage. Marcus couldn’t keep fear out of his voice when he spoke. Sith wore black. The worst kinds of Sith. No one else dared.

“Who are you?” The man in black looked at him and Marcus froze. Green eyes. The man smiled sadly.

“Nobody. Nobody at all. You okay to get back to your place?” Marcus looked around, he knew where he was. He was less than a mile from his front door. Coincidence? Probably not. Marcus nodded jerkily. “That patrol is long gone, and the droids in the area are about as smart as a box of rocks. You are clear. Get going.” Marcus stood and his leg felt like it was on fire, but he could walk. Maybe not run, but walk. He stopped.

“Thanks for saving my sister, stranger. And me.” But when he turned his head, no one was there. He nodded and started off, crouching to avoid the sensor beams that played over the stone walls at regular intervals. He sighed. His pa would not be happy.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 06:50 AM | #3
<The next day>

Jon Chines was not a happy man. Both of his kids laid up. At least both were alive. Apparently due to the same stranger. But that left him in a quandary. He had to have the load done on time, or... bad things happened. Nancia would help as she could, but… He was pretty sure she was expecting again and he wouldn’t put her at risk. Not now. He shook his head. There was really only one choice. Hire help, with money he didn’t have. He shook his head. Maybe he could work out a barter of some kind. He did have friends in the area, but they were all in the same situation, or worse off. The conscription crews had come around again recently so many families were short on help. He walked by the cantina with nothing more than an outraged sniff that covered his amusement at the taped over hole where a window had been.

That’s m' girl…

He carefully didn’t look at the pair of troopers who stood guard at door of the local garrison, such as it was. They didn’t take kindly to farmers getting uppity. He made his way to the generals tore, opened the door and blinked. Someone else was there before him. And Janice hadn’t been open for more than five minutes. Janice smiled at him.

“I’ll be right with you Jon.” She said. Jon smiled. He tensed slightly as the stranger who was in before him turned to nod at him, but relaxed when he saw brown eyes.

“No rush, Janice.” Jon said while he looked around, trying not to be too nosy about the stranger who was talking to Janice. Brown haired guy had a package of stuff laid out in front of him and when Janice handed him his change, the man shook his head.

“Keep the change Ma’am. I don’t need it. Thanks.” Janice and Jon both stared after the man who walked out as of oblivious to their notice. Janice shook her head.

“That was…weird.” She said slowly. Jon nodded. Every family in the area was so tight on money it was very rare to see anyone who was generous with credits. Work done, assistance when needed, advice, sure. Credits? Not hardly… Jon walked to the counter and sighed.

“I need some supplies, but…” Jon hated asking this kind of thing. No one had extra at the moment. Janice just waved at him.

“I know you are good for it, Jon.” She said with a smile. “What do you need?” Jon smiled at his old friend and then sighed again.

“Cough syrup, liniments and some of them sticky bandages of you have any.” Jon said slowly but paused as Janice froze.

“Oh my god. What?” She demanded. “Jon, what happened?” She pressed as Jon shook his head .

“Miriam caught some kind of bug. She is hacking her lungs out. And my idiot boy was out trying to stop a cat from taking some of the stock last night and tripped over something. I think it’s a sprain. I hope it’s a sprain.” Janice’s breath caught as she stared at Jon, horror written all over her face.

“Jon…: She breathed softly. “It’s less than a week until they come…” Jon nodded.

“I’ll have you your money Janice.” Jon protested. The storekeeper fixed him with a fierce glare.

“You think I care about money?” She snapped. “They will shoot you if you don’t produce for them. And after they are done with you, you know what they will do.” Jon nodded. His family would vanish. Sold into slavery, or just executed and dropped in shallow graves. He had seen it happen before. The Sith had no tolerance for failure of any kind.

“I will work something out.” Jon said with conviction he didn’t really feel. “Some of the transients need work. I can feed them, if not much more.” Janice nodded as she started filling a bag. Jon froze as he realized she was putting in more than he had ordered. “Janice, I can’t pay for that…” She didn’t acknowledge him and he sighed.

Stubborn women…

She finished packing the bag and turned back to him and he was shocked to see tears on her face. When he leaned over to pick up the bag she leaned close. “I hope your boys arm isn’t broken. The Sith troops were bragging that they shot a fugitive in the leg last night. And that they were going to search today.” Jon felt all the blood leave his face. Marcus couldn’t run. Not at all. Jon reached for his pouch to write an IOU, but Janice just shoved him towards the door. “Get out of my shop.”

Jon worried all the way back to his speeder. It was old, but it worked. He stored the stuff and locked it up. Not that anyone would steal it, except maybe the Sith if they were bored. But better safe than sorry. Then, he slumped and turned towards the cantina. As soon as he entered, the proprietor, an old human named Gos, called out to him.

“You owe me fifty credits for that window, Jon.” The fat old geezer snapped. “Your girl broke it.” Jon smiled, although there was no humor in it.

“Fifty?” Jon asked, incredulous. “That thing wasn’t worth five. And from what I hear, some gang member broke it.” Gos laughed.

“Yeah, sure. Fix it?” Goss asked. Jon nodded slowly. That was probably the best thing to do, since he didn’t have the money. He walked up to Gos.

“Anyone here need work?” Jon asked softly. Gos stared at him. “I can’t pay much, but I can do meals.” Gos’ voice was low when he spoke.

“What’s wrong Jon?” The old bartender was not a friend, but no one in the community could survive without the others. Jon sighed and spoke softly.

“Something happened to Miriam on the way home last night.” The bartender’s eyes went cold for a moment, but then he smiled as Jon did, grimly. He made a gesture with his head and Jon shook his minutely. Gos grinned evilly and nodded. “She is hacking her lungs out this morning. And my idiot son decided to go after a cat that got into the field somehow last night and managed to fall on his arm. I think it’s a sprain. But that means he can’t work for a day or so. So…” Gos looked horrified, and then he nodded slowly. When he spoke, it was also quiet.

“One possibility. Human, solo booth. Back wall. Black hair, brown eyes. He looks… Dangerous. He said he was looking for work for a couple of days. Don’t talk to any of the others and whatever you do, leave the three in the corner alone. I think they are in spice.” Jon nodded and walked towards the back of the cantina. He felt eyes on him as he walked, but he forced himself to remain calm. He hated cantinas. He found the man where Gos had said and he was only slightly surprised to see it as the man from the store. He stopped outside the booth and waited. The man looked at him. When the man spoke, it was cold and unemotional.

“Can I help you?” He asked somewhat politely. Jon looked at the man and tried not to shudder. Something about him spoke of barely repressed violence. Jon spoke softly and carefully.

“I hear you are looking for work.” The man inclined his head and indicated a seat. Jon sat as directed.

“Work doing what?” The man asked softly. Jon smiled sourly.

“At the moment, moving six metric tons of nerf manure.” The man’s eyes widened fractionally, but then he smiled.

“Couldn’t be worse than some things I have done in my life.” Jon had to laugh softly at the man’s sour amusement.

“I don’t know, it might get pretty bad.” Jon admitted. “Thing is, I don’t have any money. Until I get my product in, I’m skint.” The stranger nodded slowly.

“So what are you offering?” The brown haired man asked. Jon nodded, now he was on firm ground.

“Room and board for three days.” The farmer said soberly. “For three days worth of work.” The man sat for a moment and thought about that. When he spoke it was thoughtful.

“I have never done farm work or agricultural work.” He admitted slowly. “If you need things moved, I can do that. Even manure. But I know nothing about tending animals or raising crops.” Jon nodded.

“What crops we have are in for the winter.” Jon said with a grin. “The animals are taken care of. I just need this pile moved so it can be picked up. And I can get paid.” The stranger nodded.

“I can do that.” He extended his hand and Jon took it. “Will Edwards. When do we start?” Jon shook, the man had a solid handshake.

“Jon Chines, and as soon as we get back.” Will smiled.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 06:52 AM | #4
<A day later>

Miriam was, in a word, bored. She had always been an active person. Growing up on a farm hadn’t really let her learn any other way to be. Sun up to sun down, she always had something to do. But not now. Her head had stopped hurting and the bruises were fading, but her mother and father wouldn’t let her out of the house. And she understood. The ganger who had attacked her probably had friends, somewhere. And they were probably looking for him. But from what little she had gathered from what she had overheard from her mom and dad, they were not likely to find what was left of him for a long time, if ever. So they would look for the girl who had humiliated him…

She sighed. She knew she could have handled that better. And now her dad had to fix the window. She would help of course; after all, it was her own temper that had caused the problem. Her mom came in, checked her temperature and then left, leaving Miriam to wonder. She heard the door of Marcus’ room open and her mouth curved in a frown. She didn’t know what had happened to her brother, only that he was laid up and… She shook her head as she moved to the sole window in the room, a small, cross shaped aperture. Miriam stared at the field where she had spent most of her life toiling. It was amazing. Half of the pile had actually been moved.

She knew there was someone else helping, she had seen him at dinner and at breakfast. But he hadn’t spoken much. A polite please and thank you mainly. She had been kind of worried on seeing the black hair, but his eyes reassured her, even if they were cold and flat. But on seeing her face, the man had loosened up a bit, actually smiling at her. And she had smiled back, hesitant, and a bit fearful. But he hadn’t said anything. She sighed.

Nerfs were not, by and large, incredibly difficult animals to tend. At least, not in her experience. They only had ten of them after all. Two males and eight females. What they were, was dirty. Their fur was always a mess, and she had been the one to help shear them this year. She was still trying to get some of the nasty spit marks off her clothing and likely wouldn’t be able to. The wool was good, she and her mom had carded it. Some for their use, some to sell and barter. But that wasn’t what made the Sith allow them to stay in operation. No, the main advantage to having a nerf farm was the manure. Miriam shook her head. She just couldn’t understand why nerf manure was such great fertilizer. Of course it didn’t really matter. All that mattered was that her dad had to save all of it for a year, and then get it ready to be picked up. She smiled as she saw her father with a shovel and then she shook her head as the stranger came into sight with another.

She had heard of things like robots that would do the job faster and more efficiently than by manpower, but why would the Sith waste things like that on a conquered planet? People were cheap after all. Miriam shook her head and then froze. An airspeeder was landing in front of her house. An Imperial airspeeder! She darted back to her bed and prayed. For her family and for herself.

<outside>

Jon saw the speeder and was heading back to the house. He was only somewhat surprised when the stranger left his shovel in the pile and followed, silently. He hoped the man had the sense to keep his mouth shut. Jon’s gut clenched as he saw the form of the garrison commander herself. Lara Jortman was not a nice woman. And she looked… unhappy. He moved to his door and stopped, bowing respectfully. The stranger stopped beside him and he wondered why the commander’s eyes were on the stranger. He didn’t dare look. But then the commander nodded to the stranger, then focused on Jon.

“Herder Chines. Someone was seen breaking curfew last night. The patrol fired on him and they say they hit him in the leg. We are going to search.” Jon nodded. There really wasn’t anything he could do. But the commander was speaking again. “I heard your kids are sick. So I brought a medic.” A slim human stepped forward at the commander’s gesture and Jon felt his guts go cold. But he nodded again. Another gesture and the troops moved out to search the area. Jon led the way into the house but paused as he heard Commander Jortman.

“I didn’t expect to see you here.” He blinked at the commander’s words but then realized the words were directed at his ‘help’. Will’s voice was calm, and a bit amused.

“I have done weirder things, Ma’am.” Will replied evenly. The commander actually laughed at that. Jon felt his face go slack. He had never heard the woman laugh. Ever. Jortman sighed.

“I bet.” She sighed and nodded. “Well, let’s get this over with… Medic…?” the medic nodded to Jon who led the way to Marcus’s room. The medic sniffed the air and tensed. Jon stared at the man, but the medic pushed past him and into Marcus’ room, where the boy was lying on his bed, tossing. Jon tensed, but the man was gentle, a quick scan and a dose of something and the boy was lying quiet. The medic checked the bandaged arm and nodded.

“Bad sprain, but this…” Jon tensed again as the man undid the bandage on the boy’s leg and then he stared at the wound that wasn’t a blaster wound. No… The medic shook his head as he began treating the oozing bite. Jon started cursing softly.

“Damn cat. Damn stupid stubborn boy…” He froze as a hand touched him on the shoulder. He stared up into the commander’s eyes.

“He will be okay, Jon Chines. What happened to Miriam?” Jon bit his lip and Nancia came up and whispered into the commander’s ear. The woman’s eyes went wide, and then her face got hard. “A ganger?” She snarled. “I hate those scum. What I would give to just clean all of them out once and for all. But I haven’t got the personnel. You want my medic to take a look?” Nancia was thinking hard, and then shook her head.

“Thank you, Commander. But… No offence… He’s a man. She isn't hurt bad... just...” The commander bit her lip again and nodded, savagely.

“That was probably who they saw last night then. We will find him.” Jon nodded, his sudden relief threatening to overwhelm him. The commander didn’t seem to notice. “Are you going to be able to make the deadline?” Jon met her eyes and nodded, he inclined his head to the Will who nodded as well. Commander Jortman smiled sourly. Jon was amazed. He hadn’t thought the woman had any sense of humor at all. She waved a finger at Will. “You, behave.”

Then she was gone. The medic finished bandaging Marcus’ leg and then as he was walking by, pressed a small container into Nancia’s hand in passing. Then he was gone. They all heard the airspeeder start up and fly off and only then did Jon breath out the breath he had been holding. Then he turned to Will.

“You know her?” Jon asked carefully. Will shook his head.

“I reported my presence here to the garrison. She was there.” Jon blinked at that and Will shrugged. “I am kind of on a reserve list. Sort of anyway. So I have to report every time I land on a new world. Just so they can keep tabs on me I think…” There was a hint of bitterness to his words, but it was quickly gone. “I am glad your son is going to be okay. I’ll be out at the pile…” Then he was gone.

Jon turned to Nancia who was examining the package the medic had given her and froze as she exclaimed. He looked at it and froze. Several doses of top of the line antibiotics. That little package was worth more than the entire farm.

Jon shook his head. “What the hell just happen?”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 06:58 AM | #5
<Later that day>

Miriam was not, by and large, a nosy girl. She had been raised to know that there were a lot of things she didn’t need or want to know about. But between her boredom, her worry about her brother, who was now coming out of his fever finally, and her natural curiosity, she was carefully making her way up the stairs to the room her parents had set up as a guest room. The steps creaked as always, but with the sounds that came for the rest of the house and her mom hovering over her brother, there was little chance of her being discovered. She made her way up the stairs carefully and tried the door. It opened easily. She snorted. The lock had never worked. The door opened and she snorted. What had she been expecting?

The room was small, smaller than hers as a matter of fact. The only plus it had was the small refresher that was nestled into one corner. Sometime a long time back, someone had built this house with two refreshers. Not that they usually used more than one. With only four people in the house, they had no difficulty sharing. The rest of the room was as she remembered it. The small bed against one wall was just as she recalled it, the sheets were even the same as she remembered. She smiled as she saw the racks of books, her friends and companions from many a long night. She shook her head. What was she doing here? This was rude… She turned to go back down stairs and then she saw it. A bundle tucked under the bed. She knew it was wrong, she knew she was making a huge mistake, but before she knew it, she had the bundle out on the bed and open. It turned out to be body armor. She knew what that was. The Sith troopers all wore that, but what caught her breath was the gun. She stared at it. It was a large blaster pistol, dark and lethal looking. And she recognized it. A voice came.

“I should have known better…” She spun at the rueful sound and she froze as she saw the stranger standing there. She stared at him. From this angle, the eyes were wrong, but the hair, the face…

“It was you…” He slumped and then he was in motion. She opened her mouth to scream, but something flashed silver and a hand covered her mouth and she was falling. Slowly. So slowly.

”Crap.” Will lowered the unconscious form to the floor gently, and then checked her vitals before sighing. He touched his collar. “Thanks for the warning, but she saw it. And she recognized me.” He listened to something only he could hear. “Yeah, probably for the best. I think I can dose her enough to sleep until tomorrow, that shouldn’t arouse too much suspicion.” Another pause. “Yeah, yeah… Okay…” He picked Miriam up in gentle arms and carried her back down to her room. He laid her in her bed and covered her with a blanket. He pulled a sympress out of a pocket, dialed it up and applied it to her neck. She didn’t stir at all and Will sighed as he left her room. It had been going so well too…

<That night>

Jon shook his head. This was going well, very well. Nancia came to the table and shook her head.

“Miriam is out. Darn girl wouldn’t do more’n grunt. Marcus of course… I did get the broth down him.” Jon nodded. He had no idea how the wound on his son’s leg had changed overnight from a blaster wound to an infected cat bite. Come to think of it, neither of them had checked the wound, but Marcus wouldn’t have lied. If he had said he had been shot, then he had been shot, so what the flarg…? Jon shook his head and Nancia sat. He sighed as he ate. But finally, he was done and he looked at Will.

“We are ahead of where I thought we would be.” Will nodded, but Jon was simply amazed at the man’s stamina. It wasn’t everybody who could wield a shovel all day. When asked about his skill with a shovel Will had just laughed and said that survival was often a matter of digging your foxhole deeper than the guy next to you. Jon looked up across the table as Will sighed. He tensed as the man shook his head.

“I may not be able to stay for the three days I promised. I got word today that my past is catching up with me.” Jon looked at him and Will shook his head. “I’ll be here tomorrow. Then I have to be gone the next morning. We can finish tomorrow I think.” Jon nodded. He was curious of course, who wouldn’t be? But he squelched it. Will smiled at both of them. Then he finished his dinner, cleaned his dishes and went upstairs. Nancia looked at her husband.

“We don’t want to know do we?” Jon shook his head.

“Nope.”

<The next morning>

Jon was up before the sunrise, and was not surprised to see Will up before him. He was surprised to see the man in his armor, with his gun slung.

“What the…?” Will didn’t look at him, no, his gaze was on the treeline. Jon froze as several forms came out of it.

“Go back in the house Jon.” Jon blinked, and then did as instructed. But then he snarled and turned towards the closet beside the door.

<outside>

Will watched as the forms approached. Now they were distinct. A bunch of humans. Scruffy looking. Twelve men and two women, all sporting gang tattoos. All armed. An assortment of slugthrowers and makeshift blasters were pointed at him. Makeshift, but no less lethal at short range. If he was worried at all, it wasn’t apparent. He shook his head.

“You all should leave.” One of the men stepped forward. From his gear, clothing and general attitude, he was probably the leader.

“You killed our man." The leader boasted. "You gonna pay scumscucker.” Will laughed and more than one of the gang looked worried as he stood there and just faced them all.

“That’s odd. I heard your man assaulted a girl, ran from a Sith patrol, got shot, and wound up in a cat den. Oops.” His voice was noninflected, but somehow conveyed humor. The gang leader, stung , spoke sharply.

“We seen you." The gang leader snapped. "You may hide your eyes, but we know what you is. Kalenath.” Will snorted. The dark sound had several of the gang cringing, but the leader just snarled, but Will cut him off.

“That’s funny." Will's voice was cold as space itself and Jon stiffened involuntarily. "I wasn’t born anywhere near this planet and you seem to think I am some kind of boogeyman or demigod. You idiots have no idea at all what you are doing. Ok, since you think I’m some kind of scary, scary critter… I’ll give you this. Run. Now. And I won’t kill every last one of you.” The leader laughed.

“You funny man.” The leader said with confidence. “I am gonna enjoy cutting you, and then turning your corpse over to the garrison. They still pay for Kalenath scalps.” Will sighed.

“You really need to work on your intimidation skills. They are pretty pathetic.” The gang leader bristled, but Will wasn’t done. “I have faced beings that would make every one of you pee in your pants. I have fought Jedi and Sith. And you think I am going to be scared of you?” His laugh was derisive and his hands hooked on his belt, still well away from his gun. The gang leader snarled at him.

“Kalenath or no, you gonna die here fool." The gang leader snapped. "Then we gonna kill the men here and take the women.”

“Okay, just answer me this." The gunslinger said with a scowl. "What the flarg is a Kalenath?” The ganger stared at him, but then it was too late. Will was in motion.

<Inside the house>

Jon watched in shocked awe as the man he knew as Will Edwards tore into the gang. His rifle slumped through the firing aperture as he just watched in stunned disbelief. Will had a big gun in one hand and a smaller one in the other. Every shot the man fired found a target. But then the gangers regrouped, and their fire forced Will to take cover. Jon drew a bead on the closest gang member but then he froze again as fire came from somewhere else. Behind the gang! He could only stare in shock as Sith troops, with Commander Jortman at their head, stepped out of the treeline, firing steadily. Then Will was in motion again. The gangers, caught between two fires, had no chance at all. The last one fell before the Sith troops could reach the yard.
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06.30.2012 , 07:03 AM | #6
<outside>

Will holstered his weapons and nodded at Commander Jortman as the woman walked towards him.

“You took your sweet time.” He said mildly. She sighed.

“I know we cut it close. Sorry.” The apology was stilted, as of rarely used. “But a good day’s haul…” one of the gangers was trying to crawl away and without a trace of emotion, Commander Jortman put a shot through the female’s head. “Scum… Thanks for the call.” Will snorted as he brushed off his armor.

“Thanks for the backup." WIll said with a sigh. "You mind telling me what the frak they thought I was?” Jortman sighed. She made a gesture and her troops started cleaning the area up.

“Back when the Sith conquered this planet." She thought and nodded. "It was oh, forty years ago now… There was a family of holdouts named Kalenath.” Will grimaced and Jortman nodded. “They held out a long time. But eventually they were wiped out.”

"Hmmm." Will nodded. It had happened elsewhere. “No survivors at all?” Jortman shrugged.

“If so, they went deep underground." The commander said with a shrug. "None have been seen for twenty years. Thing is, they all had black hair and green eyes. Nice contacts by the way.” Will snorted and Jortman grinned. “Yeah, we both know that isn’t uncommon off world. On world…” She shrugged and looked around. “You do good work.” He snorted.

“Yeah, we should be done by the end of the day.” Will said with shudder. Jortman nodded.

“I shouldn’t get involved. I know better." The Imperial soldier said with sigh. "But when scum like this start running around, the production drops and my masters start looking at me.” Will nodded. The troops had picked up the bodies and Jortman nodded to him. Will nodded back as an airspeeder landed. The mess was quickly loaded and in seconds, the yard was empty of everything except acrid smells, and memories.

Will slumped as he looked around, the shook himself and started back towards the house. He froze as he saw Jon in the doorway, rifle pointed at his head.

“Miriam just woke up. Says you drugged her.” Jon said, his posture and voice unsure. Will froze even more solid as he saw Nancia come around the side of the house. She held another slugthrower, this one a scattergun, with the ease of long practice. Jon looked at him and Will shook his head. Jon’s voice turned cold, but it was only a fraction of the coldness WIll had projected a few minutes before. “Give me one reason we shouldn’t call them back.” Will smiled sadly.

“Because my real name is Kalenath.” Will said with a sigh. Jon froze and Nancia did as well as Will raised a hand to his face and when it came away, his eyes had changed color. To green. They stared at him and he shrugged. “You want a hell of a bounty? Go ahead, call them. I am wanted on a lot more than this planet.” Jon just looked at him. “I can absolutely guarantee you that if you do call them it will cause more problems than you can possibly imagine.” Nancia stared at the man and then shook her head and moved the muzzle of her shotgun away.

“Jon, he wouldn’t have saved her if he was bad.” Nancia said slowly. “Could have killed her.” Jon stared at him and then slumped, the muzzle of his rifle drooping.

“You could kill us both, right here and now, couldn’t you?” Jon said, wonder coloring his tone. “You are the best darn gunslinger I ever seen.” Will didn’t move, at all, and Jon sighed. “Why?” Will sighed.

“That is a long story…” Will stared, but paused as another voice was heard. His hand was on his gun, but he did not draw it.

“I would like to hear it too.” A figure wearing old style Republic combat armor came around the corner of the house. She didn’t have a weapon in hand, but the three that followed her did. They fanned out, covering all sides of the house, while the woman walked up to Will. “You are a hard person to catch, cousin.”

Will blinked as the woman undid her helmet. Long black hair spilled out. Jon stared and then didn’t resist as one of the other armed figures took his rifle. Nancia probably didn’t even notice when another relieved her of the scattergun.

“Cousin?” His voice sounded strange to his ears but the young woman just smiled, her green eye sparkling.

“Yep. We wondered if you were ever going to make it here. Let’s take this inside…” Will shook his head as the three armored figures herded Jon and Nancia in. He followed them in and the strange woman who looked more than a little like him brought up the rear.
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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 07:07 AM | #7
<A few minutes later>
Jon was scared out of his mind. What was odd was that no one had threatened him. Maybe because of Will?

Will sat, his back to the wall. Jon, Nancia and Miriam sat was well, and Marcus was lying on the couch as one of the armored forms examined him. Two of the others stood at the exits, weapons just a hair away from ready position. The woman with her helmet off waited in the middle of the room. Marcus made a sound in his delirium and Jon almost stood up, but one of the soldiers shifted a bit, his gun pointing closer to Jon. Will looked at the woman in armor. Jon jumped as the man spoke.

“You might want to high port those weapons.” Will said softly. “Might save any… mistakes. You scare civilians and they often react badly. Especially when families are involved.” She frowned and nodded. The two blocking the exits did just that. But their stances showed they were ready to move. The figure working on Marcus stood up and spoke. It was impossible to tell if the voice was male or female.

“It’s healing clean. Keep him in bed for a few days and he will be fine.” Jon looked at the armored form and nodded slowly. The armored form stepped away from the couch and stood by the other two. Will looked at the woman who smiled slightly. She shook her head.

“I never expected to see you here." She said to Will. "Of all the places you could have possibly come, why here?” Instead of answering, Will looked from Jon, to Nancia, to Miriam, to Marcus, and then back to the woman, who flushed. “I know. But we didn’t have a choice. You know the alert went out yesterday. The garrison will get it shortly and you know where they will come first.” Will nodded and Jon looked blank.

“Alert?” Jon asked. Will sighed.

“I wasn’t lying when I said there was a large bounty on me.” Will said sadly. The woman laughed sourly.

“I’ll say." She snickered at Jon's expression. "What is it up to now? 200? 250?” Will just grinned and Jon shook his head.

“250?” Jon asked, incredulous. “That’s nothing…” He had seen bounties for rogue cats killing stock at 300 credits. But the woman shook her head.

“250 thousand, Jon Chines." She corrected him. Jon blinked, stunned. “But that was before his latest craziness. I expect it to double or triple at the very least. Did you really blow a nuke on Korriban?” Will just grinned and the woman shook her head. “He was IDed by a droid early yesterday. The message hit our data taps late yesterday. You better believe there is one heck of a Sith presence heading this way right now. The garrison will get word in about an hour or so.” Will nodded. The woman sighed. “Which puts us in one heck of a quandary.” Will suddenly went completely still. Jon stared at him and then the armored forms. Nancie just held Miriam who shivered and tried to be brave. All of the armored forms tensed. When he spoke his voice was cold.

“You hurt these people and you will answer to me.” Will said and the fires of hell shone in his voice. The woman blinked as if stunned and then she laughed sourly.

“Like I would? They are kin.” She said with another laugh. Jon stared at her and the woman shook her head. She spoke to Jon. “My name is Megan Kalenath, Mr. Chines. My grandfather’s name was Grissom Chines.” Will blinked at that. Jon shook his head. That was impossible.

“Grissom’s dead." Jon said flatly. "Died in the Sith attack. He was the only boy of my mom’s family. Her only brother.” Megan shook her head.

“He was hurt, bad, but he survived. So did his daughter, my mother. Will you come with us?” Jon stared at her, at Will and then at the three armored forms.

“I have a choice?” He asked. Megan nodded.

“Sure.” She admitted. “You can stay here till the Sith come. And you know what they will do. Or you can come with us.” Jon looked at Nancia and Miriam, both of whom just stared at him. Marcus moaned from the couch and he slumped.

“Some choice.” Jon replied sadly. “Ok, when do we go?” Megan nodded.

“Grab what you can carry easy, we go as soon as possible.” Jon nodded and rose slowly. Nancia followed and the Miriam. Megan turned to Will. “If you wanted Sith to think everyone died in a house, how would you do it?” He didn’t smile, but a corner of his mouth quirked in a motion that might have been the start of one.

“Boom.”
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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 07:10 AM | #8
<Elsewhere, an hour later>

Commander Jortman sat at stiff attention in the assault shuttle as her people approached to land near the Chines farm. She hadn’t had any idea at all. Until the three shuttle loads of troops had simply appeared near her garrison, she hadn’t had any idea. And now, she was terrified. She knew she hadn’t had a chance to uncover the truth, but her masters didn’t care. She flinched as the being beside her laughed.

“Look on the bright side commander. You will be the first out. He may shoot you.” She didn’t reply. Not that she could. The full helmet she wore concealed the injury. But she was one of the lucky ones. Several of her troops had been drawn, seemingly at random, to serve as ‘examples’. Her blood still froze at what the black cloaked from beside her had done. Yes, many of her troops had been scum, but they had been hers. Now though, she was just another cannon fodder. If she had been any less tough, the physical grip on the front of her neck would have killed her. Or the landing would have when he threw her across the courtyard. As it was, the only reason she was breathing now was that her medic, at risk of his own life, had saved hers. And for that… She glared at the form beside her, and he laughed again.

“Your medic was brave. Pity.” She would have snarled, but nothing came out of the tube that came out of her neck beneath her crushed Adam’s apple. The human smiled as he felt her hate. “He did make an excellent example.” She tensed as he laughed and shook her head slowly. The man had taken twenty minutes to die. The Sith had first cut him with a lightsaber, crippling him. Then the Sith had hauled him into the air and…

“Thirty to dirt.” The call from the pilot had all of the troops besides Jortman checking their weapons. She had a weapon in hand, yes. But its magazine was empty. As the black cloaked figure had said, she was bait. To draw Will Kalenath’s fire. To bring him out in the open so the other four shuttles of troops could corner him. Even now, she had difficulty meshing the image from the alert with the soft spoken if somewhat nuts man who had presented himself at the garrison. His IDs had checked out. He had followed each and every procedure as he should have. There had been nothing to suggest he was who he actually was... Of course, when one was on Sith Empire’s most wanted list, one didn’t survive long being sloppy. She shook her head as she saw the indicator over the door flash from red, to yellow, to green, and then she was in motion.

As she raced across the yard to the house, she saw the pile of manure was all moved and she sighed mentally. He kept his word. That was something to be admired. She didn’t expect to make it to the house, but nobody shot at her. She froze at the door, but none of the troops in cover near the shuttle seemed to have taken any fire. The black clad from strode across the yard towards her and smiled evilly.

“We will find him. Get the kids first. I want to hear their screams.” She entered the house and shook her head. No noise, no sound. No nothing. She checked each room. Nobody. She blinked. What the flarg? She stepped out of the house and shook her head. The Sith snarled at her.

“Rats running away. We will find them. Wait…” The Sith stood still and then danced to the side. A crater appeared in the wall of the building. And in the distance came the sound of a blaster shot.

“Sniper!” Came the call and the troops scattered to cover. Some moved to the treeline. As they entered the shadows, explosions sounded and bodies went flying. But Jortman’s eyes were on the crater on the wall. The Sith brushed himself off and snarled. “We will get him.” Then his eyes went to Jortman. “What are you laughing at?” He hit her and she fell, but he still felt overwhelming humor from her, but not… at him? At the wall?

He looked at the wall where the shot had hit and shook his head. “What is that? Wait…” His eyes went wide and he turned to run, but Jortman just lay there watching as the detcord burned. She was still laughing silently as it reached the end of its length. Her Final thought was a mental salute to an enemy.

Good one…

<A kilometer away>

An awed sound came from Jon as the house, the barn and most of the yard simply disappeared. The Sith in the area didn't have a chance. Two of the assault shuttles blew up and the third flipped over and landed on it's top. He shook his head. They had all told him what would happen, but he hadn’t believed. Will looked at him and sighed.

“They didn’t use that manure for fertilizer Jon." Will explained. "It’s one of the best natural explosives known. Something about the soils around here...” Jon stared at him, then shook his head and moved as one of the armored forms nudged him gently. The other two armored forms had Marcus strapped to a stretcher, and the woman was with Miriam and Nancia, talking quietly. Jon looked back at the cloud that was forming over what had been his home and sighed.

“It weren’t much of a life, as lives go…” Jon said slowly. Will shook his head.

“It was your home, Jon.” Will said sadly. Jon nodded, but then he smiled.

“Saved the important things.” He nodded to his kids and his wife. “To tell you the truth, I never did like nerfs. It was just what the family always done. Never thought I would see 'em blown sky high like that. I… I kinda like it…” Will laughed.
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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 07:14 AM | #9
<Eight hours later>

Miriam was staggering and she wasn’t the only one. She was tough and hard, but... She wasn’t used to walking long distances. She gratefully accepted the arm that Will extended to her and leaned on him. Megan spoke from up ahead.

“Not far now.”

Miriam sighed. She certainly hoped it wasn’t going to be much farther. While she was in good shape, and got plenty of exercise, the emotional shocks had taken their toll. Seeing her home just…explode had hurt. A lot. Her mom and dad were supporting one another as they walked. They were talking quietly and the girl probably didn’t want to know what they were talking about. This was all her fault… If she hadn’t tossed that fool… Will looked at her and his eyes were kind.

“If it’s anyone’s fault Miriam, It’s mine." He said slowly. "I shouldn’t have come here. And I certainly shouldn’t have tried to help your family. I knew going in it was a bad idea. But you and your brother were both hurt. I couldn’t just… leave.” She looked at him.

“Why'd you help me?" She put words to the question that had burned in her from the moment it had happened. From the moment he saved her. "When that ganger bushwhacked me? You didn’t have to. He probably wouldn’t have killed me. So much easier for you if you hadn’t.” Will smiled sadly.

“Easier? Maybe…” He looked away, and Miriam thought he was looking at something only he could see. “I am not a good man, Miriam. I am a soldier. I have had to do some very bad things in my life. Some things I have done, I didn’t have to do. I just wanted to do. So I did them. I try to be a good man, Miriam, Because I am not.” Miriam thought about that and shook her head.

“I don’t see that. Maker knows you have scared me. I thought you was gonna kill me when I found your gun.” Will looked away, but Miram wasn’t done. “You could have killed me. You could have made it look natural-like.” Will didn’t reply. “A bad man would have. You ain’t a bad man.” Will smiled at her, but it was sad.

“I hope you never see the real me, Miriam. I really do.” She was staggering a lot now, and Will shook his head and without a word swept her into his arms. She tensed for a moment, but then exhaustion pulled at her and she succumbed quickly. Megan dropped back and nodded at the sleeping girl.

“Tough kid.” Megan said quietly. Will nodded. Megan smiled at him. “Another hour and we will be there.” He nodded. “You are not going to ask where?” He smirked at her.

“Do I look that stupid?” He asked. 'Don't answer that!" She laughed softly so as not to wake the girl.

“Nope." Megan said with a smile. "You look exactly like Grandmama said you would.” Will blinked at that.

“I know your grandmother?” He asked, dubious. Megan shook her head.

“No. Well, yes… Um…” She shook her head and sighed before continuing. “It’s kind of hard to explain. She knows you. Or… She knows of you. Not sure which. And she isn’t my grandmother per say, she’s sort of… all of our grandmothers rolled into one…” Will stared at her and Megan flushed. “It’s hard to explain. She can do it better than I can.” But then Will tensed. He shifted Miriam’s slumbering form so his gun hand was free and Megan looked up and smiled. She shook her head. “I wondered when they would show…”

Several shadowed form were approaching through the dense forest. As they got closer, Will relaxed a bit. On inspection, they were Wookiees. In silence, two of them took the stretcher and started off, faster than the strange parade had been managing. The others took up position around the group. One of the Wookiees came up to Will and indicated the slumbering girl. Will shook his head and the Wookiee withdrew. Will relaxed, just a bit more. He looked at Megan.

“Sneaky, sneaky. What better people to have as guards for someplace hidden in a forest?” She grinned at his words.

“You haven’t seen anything yet.” He smiled at her tone, but then focused on his footing. Wouldn’t do to disturb the girl he held so carefully now that they were close to where ever it was they were going.
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kalenath
06.30.2012 , 07:15 AM | #10
<Later>

Miriam woke cold. She immediately tried to move, and was worried when she couldn’t. But a kind voice came to her ears.

“It’s all right dearie. We had to do some work to get that tag outa your head. Open your eyes.” She smiled a bit sheepish as she did. The scene around her gradually came into focus and she was amazed. She lay on a bed, a wide bed, far wider than hers at home. It had rails on either side and she blinked as she saw she wasn’t wearing the dress she had been. No, she was wearing something else. Something that looked a bit peculiar to her eyes, but felt very comfortable. She tried to move again and her hand lifted from the bed, if very slowly. The voice came again.

“See? You will be all right.” Miriam smiled as she looked up and then she blinked. The woman who sat beside her wasn’t anyone she knew. So why did this woman seem so familiar? The woman patted Miram’s hand. “Oh Miriam, I am so happy to see you.” Miriam shook her head, and then froze. She didn’t feel her hair! Now the woman’s face was sad. “I am sorry. We had to cut your hair to get at the tag in your head.” She couldn’t make sense of what the woman was saying. The woman slowly took one of Miriam’s hands in her own and moved it to Miriam’s scalp. Miriam tensed as she felt bare skin and stubble where her hair had been and then, a bandage? A weird one. It wasn’t wrapped around her head, no, it was like it was stuck to the top of her head. Miriam felt her eyes fill and the woman gathered the girl in her arms. “We had to do it so the Sith wouldn’t be able to find you. And us. Welcome to Sanctuary Miriam. I have waited almost ten years hoping to see you again.”

Miriam stared at the older woman. “Lassa? But… They took you. They took you away…” She remembered the woman now. Lassa had been a neighbor of her father’s. One who had often baby sat for Miriam and Marcus while their parents were working. Ten years before, the woman’s family had failed to meet the quota that the Sith had ordered and they had been punished. The men had all been executed and the women carried off. None knew where the women had been taken, but lots of dark rumors had circulated. Lassa gave Miriam another hug before lowering the girl back to the bed. Lassa’s eyes were hooded when she spoke again.

“That they did. I… It ain’t important what happened to me, except I wound up here. I know this is one hell of a shock. It sure was for me. But the hair will grow back. Now, you have been out for almost a day. What they gave you to knock you out won’t let you eat solid food for a while, so I brought some soup and some broth for ya.” Lassa uncovered a pair of trays nearby and Miriam’s stomach started growling. The two women shared a grin.

<Nearby>

“…I cannot believe you did that. I know your reputation, but… geez…” Will sat as the doctor looked over the scans of Marcus’ leg and winced.

“It was that or let the Sith catch him. Blaster wounds are fairly distinctive.” The doctor nodded; his face intent on the flimsy he held.

“But to catch a wild cat, kill it, and use the head to bite this kid on the leg to cover up a blaster wound… I couldn’t do that…” Will nodded.

“Good. I am glad. Is he going to be okay?” The doctor growled at him.

“Of course he is going to be okay. The antibiotics that he was given helped a lot. But cat bites go septic at the drop of a hat. We will keep him under observation for a while. But there shouldn’t be any problems.” Will nodded. “The others are out of surgery, and Miriam is awake.” He handed Will a box and Will took it with a sigh. “What will you do with the tags?” Will looked at him.

“You don’t want to know.” The doctor blinked and then swallowed hastily. He grinned a bit worriedly.

“Probably not. Oh…” The door opened and Megan was standing there.

“It’s time.” Will nodded, and then he extended a hand to the doc, who took it and shook.

“Take care of them, doc. They are good people.” Then he was gone, leaving the doc to stare after him and shake his head. Then the doc snorted and went back to his work. Lots to do.

Will followed Megan through a bewildering maze of twists and turns. He didn’t bother to try and memorize the route. This was a fairly common design of underground Republic Military base. If almost as old as he was. They stopped outside what would be the command center in a regular Republic Base and Megan nodded to him. She stepped aside and he started forward. The door opened and… he blinked. Inside were was whole bunch of people. All of them looking like him. But his eyes were on the woman who sat in a wheelchair straight ahead. She was old but unbowed. He walked forward and stopped. Something about her… She smiled at him.

“Hello Will. Welcome to Averum Resistance Command. My name is Julia.” His eyes went wide.

“Samuel Kalenath’s mother?” His voice was hushed and she nodded slowly. “That makes you…” He broke off, unable to finish. But Julia just smiled.

“Your grandmother. Captain Julia Kalenath, Fourth Medical Brigade, Third Regiment, assigned to Averum.” Will straightened and then saluted. Her commission date was well before his own after all…

“Captain Will Kalenath, Republic Special Forces, I…” He broke off, then so continued. “I am not a part of any Republic push. I don’t know what kind of help I can be. But anything I can do, I will.” Julia shook her head, and there was a bite in her voice.

“Can the Kay-det flarg, Captain. Will… Come here, boy…” He moved closer and she looked up at him, then, she stood. One of the men nearby jumped to assist her and she snarled at him. “I am old, not decrepit.” The man smiled at her as he held out and arm, which she took with obvious reluctance. Will bowed his head until she could look him in the eyes and she smiled.

“I see Maria and Samuel in you. Come, sit…” She sat back down in her chair heavily and Will sat beside her. “Tell me everything. We don’t get a lot of news here. We get some Holonet stuff, but it’s usually garbled. Most of what we get is off the Sith nets and its… well… a bit unreliable.” Will laughed. Small understatement there. “Maria, Samuel, are they alive? We haven’t heard diddly squat since they left planet.” She broke off as she realized Will had stilled in place. He looked away, and when he spoke, it was quiet.

“Mom’s alive. Dad’s dead.” Julia’s eyes went wide. “It’s a long story. A very long story…” Julia smiled sadly and took his hands in hers.

“I have all day boy. Begin at the beginning…” Will nodded.

“I joined the Republic Military underage at 16, I was young, dumb and full of myself. I had no idea at all what I was getting into. But the Sith had to be stopped, so I went…. “

He settled back. This would, indeed, be a long day.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here