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Luminous [Working Title] | Jedi Consular

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Fan Fiction
Luminous [Working Title] | Jedi Consular

Charmedseed's Avatar


Charmedseed
04.09.2014 , 08:00 PM | #1
Title: Luminous
Characters: Aitahea Daviin (Jedi Consular); Isme (Sith Inquisitor); Erithon Zale (Republic Trooper); others.
Spoilers: NA [I'm working outside of the main in-game storyline, so few if any spoilers will take place]
Chronology: Chapter 2ish in-game

Related stories:
Only the Force [Challenge | Set after the Sacking of Coruscant]
A Profound Purpose [Challenge | Set shortly after Luminous]


Hello all! Brand new to SWTOR fanfic and I'm super nervous. Heh. Hi.

I finally settled on how I wanted to present the story I’d imagined, and I want to work just slightly to the outside of the player-characters’ storylines. So this Jedi Consular is not THE Jedi Consular, not the Barsen’thor, but another important individual in the fight against the Sith Empire. I’m having a really good time with it, and I hope you enjoy as well.


Luminous


Chapter 1: Wear Layers

“Younglings, this way… and hurry!” Jedi Master Faron called, sweeping the children past him into a small classroom. His five – no, four - young charges scampered through the open door and darted into the shadows, feeling their minder’s urgency. Master Faron glanced down the hallway before silently closing the door behind him. Children scrambled under desks and chairs as the Jedi Temple quaked around them.

“M-m-master Faron?” a wavering voice called.

“Hush now, younglings. We must be silent,” Faron shushed, reaching out in the Force to brush each young mind reassuringly. He felt in return fear, confusion, and anxiety, though it calmed minutely at his touch. Beyond their tiny study room, there was even worse: pain, anguish, and… death.

“Little ones. Listen to me,” the minder whispered, “Search your memories… find the very happiest one you know, and meditate on it. Live… live in that memory.” Faron closed his eyes, a moment of regret, an instant of concern. Then he detached his lightsaber from his belt.

Master Faron hadn’t powered on the weapon in more than twenty years. He carried it as the symbol it was: to demonstrate that he was a member of the Jedi Order. He’d never had to kill, only rarely had to defend himself even at the worst of times. The empath had spent the majority of his time as a Jedi training Initiates like himself, some of the most vulnerable of Force-sensitive children.

He continued to sense his young students, settling into peaceful meditations as he’d asked. He projected one last soothing aura and then left the room in silence, lightsaber gripped tightly in his hand. They were coming. Sith.

Master Faron ignited his lightsaber; green, traditional for a Consular. He gazed into the blade’s bright glow for a moment, and then the attackers swept around the corner. The sage actually found himself recoiling from the aura of dark side energy surrounding the three Sith who approached.

“Well, well, well, my friends. What is this, now?” The closest sneered, whipping the ruby blade of her lightsaber around in a lazy circle. Master Faron shifted to a defensive stance and said nothing.

A Zabrak female s*****red. “It’s a minder, isn’t it? Like a nursemaid?” She edged up behind the leader, leering. “Obviously he’s protecting some little innocent Jedi children around here.”

Master Faron stiffened, a shock of panic racing up his spine. He felt one of his students falter in his blissful meditation, surprised and curious. The final Sith, a tall human male, lightsaber unlit, pushed past the other two and stood face to face with the Jedi Consular.

“We aren’t here to play games, you two nitwits,” he hissed, circling to Faron’s left side, away from the classroom door. The Jedi followed his movements closely, keeping his lightsaber as a ward between himself and the Sith, between his children and the darkness.

“Fine, then, if you’re going to be that way about it. He looks too soft for me, anyway,” the first replied, shrugging and deactivating her lightsaber with a snap. The Zabrak giggled again, no mirth in the sound at all.

“You can’t protect them, you know,” the man said, gazing solidly into Faron’s eyes. The gaze of the Sith was tinged with red, just the slightest glow marring otherwise perfectly normal human eyes. Faron shook his head.

“It is not whether I can or cannot, Sith. It is what is determined by the Force. You cannot understand.”

The young Sith smiled maliciously, his eyes blazing brighter for a moment. “It’s not that I cannot, poor Jedi. It’s that I simply don’t care.”

And then he attacked. Master Faron blocked the first two blows easily, but a third seared deep into his shoulder, a jolt of fiery agony that left his weapon hand numb. His lightsaber dropped from nerveless fingers, the blade sizzling out instantly. Moments after, a vast roar sounded, the rumble of stone and mortar breaking apart. Dust fell between the two opponents as they glared into each other’s eyes. One of the children in the classroom screamed.

“See, Master Jedi? There is nothing you can do. We will tear this temple down atop you; it will be your final resting place. The Jedi are finished.”

Jedi Master Faron straightened boldly, facing the Sith. “Our work is never finished, young man. The Jedi live on. The galaxy will see peace again.” He paused for a moment, reaching out to his initiates, a final touch of calm and… love. “You cannot win.”

The Sith smiled bleakly, shook his head, and raised his lightsaber. “On the contrary.” His blade struck-



Aitahea shot upright, grasping the sheets to her throat. The outcry was trapped in her chest, binding her heart into a knot, painful and tight.

“Lights!” she gasped, waiting agonizing seconds until the room slowly brightened. She looked to her left, eyes automatically seeking out the silver cylinder of her lightsaber hilt on the stand next to the bed. It lay there looking solid and real, and she reached out with a trembling hand to touch it, to feel the reassurance of cool metal and crystal.

More than ten years later, and the Sacking of Coruscant still haunted the young Jedi Master. She was only a child, an Initiate when the tenuous peace began in the wake of the Sith Empire’s attack – Aitahea now held the power and prestige that could have saved them all. Her fellow younglings and Master Faron, all murdered, and only she remained.

Wakeful but now calm, Aitahea considered the dream, taking it to pieces and examining each part without emotion. Part dream, part memories that were not her own, shared through the Force. She hadn’t been in the Jedi Temple at the time it was attacked and couldn’t know of this specific event. Saved by a twist a fate, a simple scheduling occurrence that placed her safely elsewhere on Coruscant as the temple was razed. She was the fifth youngling, the unaccounted-for child.

As a strong empath, Aitahea hadn’t needed to be near the temple to feel the suffering of her friends and teachers. Seated next to her younger sister Tember and their father as they watched their mother and wife being honored for her work as a teacher, Aitahea had gone rigid and white as snow when the Sith attack on the Temple began. The young Initiate gasped like one drowning, and in the same instant the doors crashed in. Imperial troopers flooded into the school, weapons aimed and ready.

Though not Jedi, it was Aitahea’s parents that saved everyone that day. After calming the audience, Aitahea’s mother negotiated a detainment period for the faculty and attendees of the school and the other visitors who were in attendance that evening. Rather than the devastation that could have occurred, the Daviin family kept their precious community calm, and two days later when the Treaty of Coruscant was passed, all the captives were released unharmed… including Aitahea, her Force-sensitivity and early Jedi training hidden.

And she knew she owed everything to them. Her parents, who continued to teach. The remaining Jedi who whisked her off of Courscant and continued her training. Her master, her friends, and those who had perished at the hands of the Sith.

When Aitahea dreamed of the Jedi Temple, all her trials, all her knowledge, all her triumphs against the Sith felt small next to the sacrifices of those who came before her.
Luminous: Jedi Consular Aitahea Daviin and Major Erithon Zale follow a dangerous Sith who seeks to harness the power of an ancient Force technology for the Empire. | More writing at suitablyambiguous.com

AKHadeed's Avatar


AKHadeed
04.09.2014 , 08:41 PM | #2
This is very elegant and smooth. Your writing seems solid, and I'm eagerly waiting to see where you go with this foundation!

Charmedseed's Avatar


Charmedseed
04.09.2014 , 09:45 PM | #3
Thank you! It's been a long time since I've shared any writing, so I appreciate the vote of confidence.
Luminous: Jedi Consular Aitahea Daviin and Major Erithon Zale follow a dangerous Sith who seeks to harness the power of an ancient Force technology for the Empire. | More writing at suitablyambiguous.com

BenduKundalini's Avatar


BenduKundalini
04.12.2014 , 08:15 PM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by Charmedseed View Post
Thank you! It's been a long time since I've shared any writing, so I appreciate the vote of confidence.
Exact same here.

I LOVE your stuff, Seed.

Very glad to see it continued in the weekly challenge thread.

Charmedseed's Avatar


Charmedseed
05.14.2014 , 09:15 PM | #5
Slowly, but surely. I like this portion especially after making an early connection in Only The Force. Enjoy, feedback is most appreciated.

There was no point in lingering on the sadness of the past; that way lay the dark side. With a sigh, the Consular rose from her bed, dressing silently in the earthtone robes of the Order. She wore almost no armor, relying instead on more peaceful methods of interaction; when diplomacy failed to diffuse a dangerous situation, the light tunic and robes allowed for the agility and speed she preferred. She’d just slipped into the subtly-patterned chestnut cloak when the comm in her private quarters pinged.

“Master, are you awake?” A robotic voice called across the connection. It was C2-N2, the ship’s droid. “I’m deeply sorry to disturb your rest, Master Daviin, but there’s an urgent comm for you from Tython. Shall I send it to your quarters?”

“No, thank you, C2, I’ll be out in a moment.” Aitahea smiled at the earnest voice, then ran a hand lightly over her pale hair, smoothing a few flyaway strands into the intricate braids. She left the hood of her cloak down and clipped her lightsaber to her belt before exiting her quarters. Her ship, the Luminous, hosted not only herself and the fretful protocol droid, but her friend and pilot, Prelsiava Tern, as well as several ambassadors from the Outer Rim. Already on their way to Coruscant to deliver the ambassadors, Aitahea was surprised to hear from the ancestral home of the Jedi.

In the main room, Aitahea activated the holocomm and stepped back to see Grand Master Satele Shan flicker into existence. Aitahea straightened; while she had known Master Shan since she herself was a youngling, being called upon directly by the heart of the Jedi Order was a significant occasion. The Grand Master’s features, mature but still sharply beautiful, regarded the young Jedi with approval.

“Grand Master, it’s an honor,” Aitahea smiled and offered a respectful bow.

“Aitahea Daviin, it’s wonderful to see you. You’ve been making an exceptional impression on the Council of late.” The Grand Master’s warm smile crinkled the corners of her dark eyes. “Even when you were a child, I knew you would do great things for the Republic.”

Aitahea felt a blush spread across her cheeks but simply nodded her appreciation of the praise. “I only seek to follow the Force, Grand Master. How can I be of service to the Order?”

“Gracious as always, Master Daviin. Your willingness is appreciated. We need you now to attend to an important mission. We have recently received some disturbing intelligence that a Sith apprentice has been hunting down Rakata artifacts in the Outer Rim.”

Aitahea nodded gravely, her delicate features drawn. “I’ve had firsthand experience with some of these relics. They can be exceptionally dangerous.”

“Just so, Master Daviin. Both the Jedi and the Sith have made extreme efforts to locate and retrieve these ancient technologies, but this artifact’s powers are distinctly troubling: the Sith are seeking a generator or focus of some kind that can – through a gruesome ritual sacrifice – empower a single Force-user to epic proportions. Invincibility, even immortality, or so the rumors state.”

An icy shiver raced up the Consular’s spine as she listened to the Grand Master. “That is without a doubt a tool of the dark side, Master.”

“Which is why we need to locate and secure it first. Allowing the Sith to use this technology to create such a living Force weapon is unacceptable.” Master Shan appeared to pace restlessly in the holo, arms folded and posture tense. “You’ve proven to be an exceptional investigator when it comes to relics like this one, and in the case of it being found by this Sith apprentice first, we trust in your diplomatic skills to sway her to give the generator up. And as a last resort…”

“Of course, Grand Master,” Aitahea nodded, reluctance in her voice. As a Consular, she was a gentle voice of reason first, a warrior second – though she was as equally accomplished with her lightsaber as she was in diplomacy. She regretted every life she’d ever taken, but lived in the solace that it was for the benefit of the Republic and the galaxy… she hoped.

“In addition to the focusing artifact, we suspect there will also be a Rakata-Sith holocron with instructions on how to use it. They may be found in the same location, but it’s more likely they were separated and lost at some point, whether by accident or with intention.”

Aitahea confirmed, sending a brief message to change course to Prelsiava over her datapad. “I’ll start the search immediately, Grand Master Shan.”

“Thank you, Aitahea. I’m sending the intelligence we’ve already gathered to you now.” Aitahea’s datapad chimed, and she spared a glance to the information that began scrolling across the screen. “And we aren’t sending you alone.”

Aitahea’s head shot up, eyes surprised. “I expected this to be a solo mission if it requires such strident confidentiality, Master.”

Grand Master Shan gave a brief smile before retreating to her typical stoic expression. “The Republic military has a vested interest in this artifact being recovered and secured and has extended their own offer of assistance on this mission.”

Aitahea genuinely appreciated the skills and efforts put forth by the Republic military in several of her recent assignments. She had been sent frequently in the past to add the support and expertise of the Jedi to particularly troubling or unusual missions, and for the most part had seen nothing less than the fiercest and most selfless of warriors, sacrificing much for the good of the Republic.

Nevertheless, even in the years after the Sacking of Coruscant, the Jedi still found themselves mistrusted and even despised by certain factions in the Senate. While military members seldom shared the ire of those in high places on Coruscant, the Order was considered more of a convenient and powerful tool than the wise council it had been.

“Of course, Grand Master. Any help is welcome.” Aitahea meant it wholeheartedly. A detective mission of this sort always benefited from extra sets of eyes.

“Excellent. You’ll be rendezvousing with Major…” Satele’s eyes ran over a datapad briefly handed to her from outside the holo, “Erithon Zale. He’ll meet you at Aurek Base on Hoth. Our last piece of intelligence indicated that the Sith apprentice is headed there. She may already be planetside, so you’ll have to hurry.”

“I’ll have Prelsiava drop me at the orbital station; she can continue on to Coruscant with the ambassadors we have on board.”

“Very well, Master Daviin. The Republic squad is already en route; you’ll meet them on the surface.” Master Shan paused meaningfully, tilting her head with a brief but amused smirk at Aitahea. “Wear layers, Master Jedi.”
Luminous: Jedi Consular Aitahea Daviin and Major Erithon Zale follow a dangerous Sith who seeks to harness the power of an ancient Force technology for the Empire. | More writing at suitablyambiguous.com

BenduKundalini's Avatar


BenduKundalini
05.15.2014 , 05:21 AM | #6
Aaaaah! She's grown up, nooo!!!!!

I loved the story of a Jedi child, and you portrayed it so well...

Speaking of which, I've always felt cheated out by Star Wars games, especially "Old republic" ones, where you NEVER EVER get to grow up as a normal padawan. When one remembers that Yoda didn't want to train Anakin at age 8 cause "he's too old"... and we were supposed to see the Old Republic and the "thousand generations of Jedi Knights protecting the galaxy" in all its glory.

And to think that in Fallout 3 you frigging get to see your own birth, in 1st person perspective! Then interact as a toddler, kid, teen, and finally become your young adult self.



Again, the interactions with Satele are cool. But I'd love to see you write more on Jedi childhood.

Flashbacks, maybe?

I liked "The Grand Master’s warm smile crinkled the corners of her dark eyes." and " She regretted every life she’d ever taken, but lived in the solace that it was for the benefit of the Republic and the galaxy… she hoped."
I also like that you're freely changing the ship's name and the companions.

Shivers up the spine, uh?

Charmedseed's Avatar


Charmedseed
05.15.2014 , 03:37 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by BenduKundalini View Post
Aaaaah! She's grown up, nooo!!!!!

I loved the story of a Jedi child, and you portrayed it so well...

But I'd love to see you write more on Jedi childhood.
Funny you should mention that! I was in a panel at Starfest listening to Kevin J. Anderson talk about the Young Jedi Knights series he wrote about the Solo children (all of this post-OT of course, but I digress), and it got me thinking... #1, more Old Republic era literature is needed. Because I have a need. #2, more YA lit is needed because kids like to read and kids like Star Wars COME ON HOW HARD IS THIS. And #3, which is slightly less related, we need more girl Jedi. So I've formulated some concepts on a series the would follow one of the 'clans' of younglings like we can assume our Jedi characters come from. With an emphasis on female characters, because that's how I roll... I was one of only two women in this panel room, listening to two male SW tie-in authors, and it made my heart ache a little.

(On the other hand I have things to say about 8 being "too old" and how that was basically one of the things that broke the Jedi Order at the start of the Empire, but that's a whooooole other post for another forum.)


Quote:
I also like that you're freely changing the ship's name and the companions.
I'm playing this out as a completely different storyline from the main "Barsen'thor" Consular one. I get a little more freedom that way. =)
Luminous: Jedi Consular Aitahea Daviin and Major Erithon Zale follow a dangerous Sith who seeks to harness the power of an ancient Force technology for the Empire. | More writing at suitablyambiguous.com

Charmedseed's Avatar


Charmedseed
07.23.2014 , 12:48 PM | #8
I'm back! The summer swallowed me for a while, and I was going through a phase of "write something you can publish for money, brain" and then I thought you know, if I'm writing, I'm getting better, so there we are. I've been fortunate to have some beta reading on this portion which I think helped with the overall quality of the text. I also attempt to make it accessible to someone who isn't as familiar as this universe as we are, so hopefully you'll feel comfortable even if you haven't partaken in the Consular storyline in-game.

I'm excited to introduce more characters in this portion - things are about to get interesting!



Chapter 2: Part of the Force

Major Erithon Zale clenched his teeth against the chill and hunched up his shoulders under his armor. A grumble of discomfort sounded from the shuttle pilot, setting Erithon chuckling. “Problem?”

A barked laugh came as reply. “Not a thing, Major, if you don’t mind the ends of your fingers freezing off.”

“That’s not the only thing you’ll freeze off on this planet, pal.” Hearty laughter erupted from the pilot, and even the major had to smile.

“Good to have a laugh, sir, thanks. It’s been bitter out here, and I don’t just mean the cold.” Erithon nodded; border skirmishes, back and forth claims of treaty violations all over the galaxy, and Sith and Jedi at odds around every corner. The galaxy was not a kind place right now. Laughter was in short supply, so even an unsophisticated jest was welcome.

“We’re about to land,” the piloted noted, gesturing at the sensor panel – Erithon glanced over them, then attempted to peer out the front viewport. There was nothing out there but blind, swirling whiteness.

“If you say so, there’s no telling from here.” Erithon chuckled, nodding at the shuttle pilot who cautiously moved the craft through the icy flurry. The ship plunged and veered, alarms suddenly shrieking. Both Erithon and the pilot strained against their safety webbing.

“I thought you said you’d flown on Hoth before!” Erithon called, grasping at the webbing and trying to stabilize his own movement.

“Sir, we’re being fired upon!” the pilot snarled back, attempting to control their suddenly disturbed descent.

Erithon jerked to his left as the transport swerved and dropped violently. “What? By whom?” Even in the midst of the fierce motion, Erithon took a moment to wonder who out there was that good of a shot in a storm like this, and he almost chuckled. The ship bucked again, this time clearly a direct hit.

“Unknown, sir! Hang on, we’ve lost propulsion – we’re going down!”

***

Isme dropped her arm and found herself trembling. It wasn’t with chill – no, she had plenty of technology-infused layers as well as her own Force skills to keep the cold from her skin – but with the effort. It was simple enough to seek out the two life forms coming into the atmosphere in the Republic shuttle. She knew the shuttle was going to be headed this way, and Republic boys all had the same pallid, soggy presence in the Force. But giving the focus to the pirate she’d borrowed, showing him the appropriate aim, taking the shot; that took effort.

She didn’t like forcing others to do her dirty work. She didn’t like forcing others at all. A throwback to being a slave, she supposed, but now that she was Sith it was simply duty. She would learn to do it, or she would be destroyed, one way or another.

Yet another reason she was on this frigid iceball called a planet; in service to her master. She was still a slave at the end of the day, and it stung. It burned and *****led and made Isme furious. But the faster she did this task, the closer she came to her own freedom – true freedom. She would be granted the title of Darth, and then she would be beholden to no one.

Just as this pirate thought he was. He was fighting her Force-control again, grimacing and grunting in his own effort to raise the assault cannon toward her head.

The apprentice sighed, Hoth’s icy wind stealing the breath away instantly. She didn’t bother to use her lightsaber – that would leave telling marks – and instead pulled her fingers into a fist, shattering a small but vital part of the man’s brain, an injury that would be invisible to all but the most thorough of medical droids. The body flopped unceremoniously to the frozen ground where it would be buried quickly by the whirling snow. If it weren’t scavenged by the wampas that were hunting nearby, that is.

“Poor fool. At least you are free now.”

***

Despite all the warnings, Aitahea gasped as the first draft of stinging Hoth air hit her face. For a split second she thought something was wrong – the air seemed to scorch her skin. Then she realized that it was simply so blisteringly cold as to invoke a burning sensation.

She swept the sensation of numbing chill to the back of her mind and ignored it enough to concentrate. She took caution to leave adequate consciousness in place in order to avoid any irreparable damage. Even on the interior of Aurek Base, ice and frost coated the walls, climbing like a living thing through cracks in the durasteel plates. Aitahea decided to keep a brisk pace as she moved through the base.

Like most Republic military bases, Aurek was bustling with activity, although regular work was slowed by the ever-present chill and creeping ice. Everything had to be modified to work in the sub-zero temperatures, from speeders to computers to weapons. There was no lack of work to be done, and the Jedi could feel the urgency that permeated the atmosphere.

“Master Jedi, thank goodness you’re here! We need your help!” The Aurek Base commanding officer was dashing toward Aitahea as she turned the corner into central command. She raised her eyebrows and rushed forward to meet the harried officer.

“I was under the impression I was here to help indeed, Commander, just not so soon. What’s happened?” Aitahea asked calmly, projecting a sense of serenity into the room.

“The shuttle with the rest of your team has been shot down, north of our location. They were on their way in when they crashed.” The commander led Aitahea to a console where a holoprojection of the area displayed the base and the crash in reference to each other. “We believe they’re here, Master Jedi, at the base of these ice cliffs.”

“But you don’t know for certain, Commander?”

“I’m afraid not. We lost contact just as they were entering the atmosphere because of the storm, but our projections indicate they should be in that area. We’ve sent a rescue team out, but it’ll take a while to go around those cliffs.” The man shook his head, reaching up to rub his face with gloved hands.

“I can reach them faster, Commander.” Aitahea stood back from the projection, folding her arms. “And it would be best to be sure there are survivors before we put another team at risk trying to reach them. I’ll leave immediately.”

“Thank you, Master Jedi. I was hoping you’d say just that.” He looked relieved. “But I have to warn you; we suspect they were shot down by pirates or another unidentified enemy. You could be heading into dangerous territory.”

Aitahea nodded, dropping her hand to the lightsaber on her belt. “What part of Hoth isn’t dangerous, I wonder?”

“As you say, Master Jedi. I’ve taken the liberty of requesting a snow speeder and as much emergency equipment as it can carry – if there are survivors, they may need shelter and medical assistance.” The commander shut down the projection before turning back to the Jedi. “They’re waiting for you at the speeder pad. Did they supply you with sufficient cold-weather gear at the station?”

“Yes,” Aitahea replied, pulling back a sleeve to reveal the close-fitted bodysuit under her Jedi robes. She tugged her hood a little closer around her face and nodded. “I’ll be fine – and I’d best be moving quickly.”

“I’ll take you to the entrance now, Master Jedi. You have my apologies - we didn’t plan to have your expedition begin like this.”

“Not at all, Commander. We do what we must. Was there any additional intel on the Sith apprentice we’re searching for? Is it possible she’s the one who shot down the shuttle?”

The Commander shook his head. “I’m afraid I can’t say either way. The storm was interfering with much of our sensor equipment. You may be able to discern from the… the wreckage.” The commander swallowed painfully, shaking his head. The commander and the Jedi approached the hangar bay, busy aides adding the few last items to a speeder that was ready and waiting.

“The Force is with us, Commander. I’ll contact you as soon as I can.” Aitahea swung astride the speeder, checking the navigation briefly, and soared out of Aurek base toward what she hoped would be survivors.

Aitahea flew straight toward the cliffs on the map; she would be able to climb directly down in a fraction of the time a rescue squad would take to navigate around or be obligated to manually rappel down the frozen cliff face. Besides, she felt movement in the Force; it seemed unlikely that the shuttle would have been shot down by pirates. Haste would be necessary.

The Jedi’s brief study of the situation on Hoth during her trip there had indicated the strong presence of several pirate groups, scavengers, as well as Imperial military, but there were few major conflicts near any of the areas each group had claimed for their own. Skirmishes happened more frequently over unclaimed territories and even single ships in the interstellar graveyard that the ice-bound planet had become.

A pirate or even Imperial military attack this close to the Republic base being out of the question, even without the whispers of Force presence Aitahea was left suspecting it was their Sith quarry, attempting to sabotage her pursuit before it had even begun.

A few hours of bitter travel on the snowspeeder brought Aitahea to the edge of the cliffs. The storm had cleared, but she understood how the base wouldn’t have had a clear view of where the shuttle had crashed. The plain the base stood on ended in sheer cliffs that dropped hundreds of feet to a surface of crumbled ice and snow below; the drop ran to the horizon in either direction, meaning a speeder would have to spend a significant amount of time diverging from the straight path the Jedi could take.

Aitahea crept close to the edge, cautious of any loose ice or snow, and peered over the sheer cliff face. The height was dizzying, but the wreckage of the shuttle could be seen easily through the lazy flurries. Smoke still rose from the craft, and with a rush of relief, Aitahea found she sensed human life near the wreckage. She sent a brief message back to the base via her comlink, confirming survivors and notifying Aurek Base that she would be descending the ice cliffs to attend to any needs they had.

She didn't wait for a reply before preparing to rappel down the sheer drop. The speeder had been packed efficiently; Aitahea had only to don the pack that had been strapped to the back and she was ready to set up a secure, warm camp for the survivors. Getting down the cliff face was another matter. Aitahea found a rope in the included equipment and quickly set an anchor. She took one last look over the edge, noting some movement around the crashed shuttle. Someone was still mobile down there.

Aiding her movement with the Force, Aitahea gently eased herself over the edge and began her decent. Within moments she found herself dangling in the freezing void, spinning slowly in a recess in the ice. She shuddered once before she could clamp down on the fear and right herself, continuing to drop toward the crumbled ice and snow below.

Continuing to slide, the Jedi quickly discovered that the rope provided for her wouldn't be long enough to reach the ground below. There were still over a hundred feed between herself and the floor of the ice plain below. Aitahea frowned; this would cause a problem not only for the remainder of her journey down but also any chance for climbing back to the speeder and safety with survivors.

Steeling herself for the drop, Aitahea dangled carefully at the end of the rope, measuring the distance with her eyes. It would take an extraordinary use of the Force to control and cushion her fall, but it would be necessary. With a shuddering breath of chill air, Aitahea released the rope and opened herself to the Force.

The feel of it was like… there was nothing to compare to. She was flooded with power and fought to keep it in check, overwhelmed with a sudden insight into the universe around her. She felt at once insignificant, yet entirely precious and unique. She sharpened her focus, imagining the shape of her own form in reference to the planet, and the safety of the ground still far beneath her.

It felt like an eternity. Aitahea left her eyes closed; the Force gave her a sense of the ground rushing toward her and allowed her to stay upright. Her robes fluttered around her, frigid air cutting through the cold weather gear and chilling her to the bone. She waited until she was several dozen feet away from the ground before slowing and gingerly touching one foot to the ice below. Finally she was safe on the ground, trembling in the wake of her charged journey.

A figure climbed out of the damaged shuttle, raising an arm in greeting. Aitahea raised her hand in return and moved quickly to close the final distance. She would have been recognized as a Jedi and the being's presence in the Force - a human male - was relieved and grateful, with an undertone of frustration and brittle helplessness.

Compared to the fall from the rope, the dash across the snowy plain to the shuttle was short and easy. The man walked to meet Aitahea as she approached, pulling off a trooper's helmet as they met.

"Master Jedi? Didn't expect to see you so soon," he tried to joke. "Major Erithon Zale." He gave a lopsided smile, but his blue eyes were rueful.

Aitahea nodded in greeting. "Aitahea Daviin. I wish we'd met under better circumstances, Major, but it seems our investigation has already begun. Is the shuttle still intact? I brought a shelter with, but the shuttle would be preferable."

"It's still alright, mostly. But the pilot..." Erithon glanced back over his shoulder. The Jedi nodded; she'd sensed only Erithon when she was looking for survivors.

"I'm sorry for your loss, Major." Aitahea pushed comfort and gentle regret into the Force, echoing the sound of the sentiment in her voice. Erithon shrugged and turned to face the shuttle, waving for the Jedi to follow.

"Comes with the job, as I'm sure you know, Master Jedi. The backup power is still working in the shuttle, so we have heat. We'll plan better if we're warm."

***

Erithon had been more than a little surprised to see the tiny figure floating down the cliff face, and after a brief moment of panic, opted for the binoculars rather than a blaster. It was a Jedi, not pirates, Imperials, or worse.

He initially felt hard-pressed to be grateful or gracious to the woman who'd approached - he almost wanted to call her a girl. Even with the layers of traditional Jedi robes over the same cold weather gear he wore, she was a head shorter than him, all huge green eyes and pale face inside the hood.

She followed quickly, noting with a moment of silent reverence the human-sized bundle wrapped in plastifiber slightly behind the grounded shuttle. Erithon waited for her, leaning on the portal frame, silent and appreciative.

He didn't know much about Jedi. He'd served with a few Knights during other missions and had always been grateful for their help. They were skilled warriors, to be sure, but more often than not held themselves away from the rest of the enlisted troops. He didn't get the impression at the time that these Jedi thought they were better. They simply did... Jedi things. Meditated. Whatever.

But this woman seemed different right away. He knew from her file she was a Consular, a talented diplomat and empath, but even in the scant few moments they'd spoken, she had struck him as very different than the other Jedi he'd met. He watched her drop from that cliff face like a professional climber, never mind the flat-out drop at the end when she'd run out of rope.

And when she approached... he'd felt warmer, all the sudden. A well of hope had sprung up in his mind, easing the bitter regret and frustration of losing yet another fellow soldier. There'd been many, but every one still weighed heavy on his heart.

Erithon Zale waited anxiously as the Jedi remained motionless in the bitter Hoth air. He wanted to reach down and clasp the woman’s shoulder, draw her away and offer some comfort. What a ridiculous idea, he admonished himself, shaking his head. She’s seen just as much of this kind of destruction as you have. Probably more. She doesn’t need you. Does she?

“Major?”

To his surprise, the Jedi had her gloved hand on his arm, gazing into his face with evident concern. “Are you all right?” Aitahea asked. Erithon blinked rapidly and shook his head.

“I… I was going to ask you that,” he muttered, belatedly adding, “Master Jedi. But of course you-“

“-understand the process of death the same as everyone, Major Zale. It is never easy. It is simply a part of the Force, as is he now.” She smiled tightly, whether from emotion or chill he couldn't say. "But we are alive and well, if somewhat cold. Let's warm up and plan our next move."
Luminous: Jedi Consular Aitahea Daviin and Major Erithon Zale follow a dangerous Sith who seeks to harness the power of an ancient Force technology for the Empire. | More writing at suitablyambiguous.com

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Charmedseed
07.23.2014 , 08:35 PM | #9
Also a brief note, earlier portions have been updated with edits for word choice and clarity. =) Nothing groundbreaking, just was able to take advantage of some beta reading.
Luminous: Jedi Consular Aitahea Daviin and Major Erithon Zale follow a dangerous Sith who seeks to harness the power of an ancient Force technology for the Empire. | More writing at suitablyambiguous.com

Charmedseed's Avatar


Charmedseed
09.28.2014 , 09:38 PM | #10
So here we are, chapter 3 (ish). Sorry to be so slow; I'm teaching 5th grade. Funny bunch of little younglings. I'm proud of this chapter in a squishy, silly sort of way. Hope you enjoy, too.


Chapter 3: Its Own Kind of Harmony

Aitahea made a quick assessment of the shuttle as she and Erithon entered. The power was clearly still functioning, providing a vastly more comfortable temperature than outside. A small hole - now patched against the cold - and accompanying spider-webbed crack in the viewscreen affirmed what had happened to the pilot. The Major latched the door behind them and turned around, following Aitahea's gaze to the viewscreen.

“It was a direct shot, Master Jedi. Whoever was shooting at us either had really good aim or was exceptionally lucky. Not so lucky for the pilot.” Erithon shook his head, a fresh surge of regret in his voice.

Aitahea reached carefully to touch the damaged viewscreen and frowned. She felt a brief pulse from the Force again, the same intuition that had brought her to ask about the Sith at Aurek Base. “But you were safe, Major. How did you control your descent?”

Erithon shrugged, moving past the Jedi to access the controls. He stood as clear as he could from the pilot's seat, also covered with plastifiber. The Jedi moved gently out of his path and back to the rear of the bridge. “The first shot took out the stabilizers, so we were already going down. I think we would have both made it in one piece if not for… that last shot.” He looked stricken, stumbling over the words.

“The pilot saved your life.”

The trooper nodded, swallowing thickly. “His name was Garret. From Vento.”

"Did he have family?" the Jedi asked.

"Not really sure, Master Jedi,” Erithon answered brusquely, focused intently on the control panel. “I'd known Garret for just a handful of moments. The length of the shuttle flight."

Aitahea allowed the silence to stretch out, waiting patiently while Erithon adjusted the remaining functions of the shuttle. The trooper's pain was palpable to her, practically a physical ache to her empath's sensibilities. She found herself surprised; she knew from Erithon's file he was no stranger to loss of comrades. Yet she could sense the memories of those he'd lost weighing on him like beskar.

Despite the grief he was feeling, beneath it the Jedi could sense a solid core of will and strength, a determination to persevere, and a sense of duty Aitahea had seldom encountered. She wondered what Grand Master Shan had known about this young man and left for Aitahea to find out.

When Erithon was finally satisfied with the shuttle's readings and a little recovered from the Jedi's questions – he was starting to believe the rumors about mind-reading Jedi - he turned back to give her an update.

She had pulled off her gloves and was just pushing back the hood of her cloak, expanding on the brief glimpse of delicate features he'd seen outside. She had bright, intricately bound hair, a pale burnished platinum in the low light of the shuttle interior. Her skin was just as light, but for the cold-born blush across her cheeks and the end of her nose, making her look youthful and radiant. Sage-green eyes were intensely observing Erithon, seeming to lay bare his thoughts and feelings. Expecting to feel edgy and unnerved by such a gaze, Erithon was surprised to find himself ready to share anything he was thinking with this lovely woman.

Erithon stopped up short. A Jedi, he corrected himself. A beautiful Jedi, but still a Jedi. Even so, that admonishment didn’t fully stop his imagination. Maybe he wouldn’t want to share everything he was thinking with her, after all.

Seeming to notice his discomfort, Aitahea considerately turned away to the comm panel and tapped in a brief command. "The base ceased to receive your distress signal once you fell below the edge of the cliffs, Major. I've let them know you're safe, but in case your assailant is listening maybe it's best we went to comm silence." She glanced his way briefly, brows raised and fingers suspended over the keypad as she waited for his response.

"Oh. Sure. If they aren't getting anything anyway, no point letting anyone else know we're here." Erithon nodded, folding and unfolding his arms, unable to find a reasonable position to stand in. He settled for leaning on a bulkhead, awkward in his bulky armor.

Aitahea resumed her efficient typing, giving no sign of having observed his lack of grace. "It's not ideal, of course. The speeder I arrived on is still at the top of the cliffs, but it will have to do.” As the Jedi pressed a last key, the com responded with a quiet, final beep and lapsed into silence.

“I think that’s all we can manage for now, Master Jedi.” Erithon straightened and turned his head to glance out the viewscreen, indicating with a nod the swiftly deepening shadows. “With night coming on, we’re going to have to stay put. The temperatures on Hoth drop to levels even the cold weather gear can’t deal with at night.” Erithon fought the grin that was slowly creeping onto his face. Stay put. In a small transport shuttle. With a pretty human female. Huh.

“Of course. If that’s the case, we might want to use the last bit of light to set up a perimeter around…” Aitahea suddenly turned back to Erithon and tilted her head as she noticed his amused expression. “What is it?”

Erithon chuckled and waved a hand at her. “Nothing, nothing. Sorry, Master Jedi. It's... been a long day."

Aitahea smiled curiously, giving Erithon another intense look. Then, suddenly, she laughed. Erithon’s initial grin was replaced by a stunned expression. He'd never seen a Jedi laugh before. He hadn't even been sure it was possible – all the others he’d known had been so stoic and reserved. It surprised him, but even more, he liked it. Liked the sound of her voice. Liked the delighted expression on her face. Liked that he had caused it - somehow.

So Erithon laughed, too, shaking his head in wonder. Laughter in the midst of a life-threatening situation wasn't a new thing, but like Garret had said, it was rare and good to have.

"Sorry, sorry, Master Daviin-" Erithon began, raising his hands, but Aitahea shook her head in return and settled into a friendly smile.

“Don’t be, Major,” The Jedi’s face remained warm and open, green eyes glittering. “Laughter is its own kind of harmony.”

***

About an hour later, perimeter established, the body of Garret secured, and the pair feeling relatively safe and sound inside the shuttle, Aitahea was soundly defeating Erithon in their third game of sabacc. The trooper tossed another losing hand onto the table and flung himself back into his seat.

“Thank the stars Jedi don’t play for credits,” he grumbled, folding his arms. “You sure you aren’t playing any of those mind tricks on me?”

Aitahea arched an eyebrow at Erithon as she scooped up the cards and proficiently shuffled them back into the deck. “Firstly, I doubt any Force influence would work on you. You’re too self-aware,” she stated. Erithon harrumphed, feeling a mix of embarrassment and pleasure at the indirect compliment. Aitahea canted her head and continued, “And of course it simply wouldn’t be fair. Or fun.”

“Fun, huh? I didn’t think Jedi had fun. Come to think of it, I didn’t think Jedi played sabacc, either,” Erithon replied, watching as Aitahea deftly dealt a new hand.

“Most don’t.” Her eyes were far away for a moment, a brief hesitation before she set down the next card. “Play sabacc, that is. I learned from my sister. She’s a starship captain now, although she wasn’t at the time she taught me to play.”

“I thought Jedi children were separated from their families when they’re really young.” Erithon wondered aloud, picking up his cards. Aitahea nodded a confirmation as she contemplated her own hand.

“Most are, and few see their families again, especially if they came from offworld. It’s that way far more often now that the Temple is located on Tython.” She paused a moment to consider a card, watching it flicker to a new suit. “I am unique. I had quite a few opportunities to engage with my family. It is… considered very unusual.”

Erithon drew a fourth card and scowled at it. “Well, unusual or not, seems like getting to know your sister was pretty good for your sabacc game. Forget it. I fold.” He tossed this hand to the table as well, sighing as he cradled his face in his hands.

Aitahea broke into a peal of laughter, and Erithon peered up in mock-dejection. “Sure you’re not cheating there, Master Jedi?” A mysterious smile remained on the Jedi’s face.

“If I were, do you think I’d tell?”

***

"Master Faron, how do we not have emotions?" the youngling asked. He was Rodian, star-filled eyes a constant source of mystery and beauty to tiny Aitahea. Her young clan had been listening to Master Faron recite the Jedi Code for the first time, surrounded by the presence of the ancient and majestic Jedi Temple.

There is no emotion, there is peace.

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.

There is no passion, there is serenity.

There is no chaos, there is harmony.

There is no death, there is the Force.


Aitahea considered her classmate's question in silence. She felt emotions all the time. She felt love for her parents and baby sister, and she missed them now that she was at the Jedi Temple. She had been afraid before she had met Master Faron, before he had hushed the clamor of thoughts and feelings that overwhelmed the young empath. She felt emotions like joy when she learned a new skill or fact with her clan mates.

"Aitahea, you seem very thoughtful," Master Faron commented, kind eyes on the fair-haired girl. The other younglings looked expectantly at Aitahea, who flushed a little at all the attention. But she surprised herself, wanting – needing even - to share her idea.

"I think we still have emotions, Master Faron," she began, "but we can choose to have peace that sort of... goes over it."

"Very astute, little one," Master Faron praised. Impressed, Aitahea's classmates nodded solemnly at her. Their teacher continued. "We are all sentient. We are thinking, feeling beings. It is one of the requirements for connecting with the Force. Does that mean that non-Force sensitives are not? Of course not."

A little Miraluka boy, his mask covering the smooth expanse where his eyes would be, piped up. "I don't have physical sight. But most sentient beings do. Not having eyes doesn't mean I'm not sentient. I’m just different."

"Well done. We are all very different, even among our own species," Master Faron agreed. "Force sensitivity is the same. Just because another being lacks a sense you have, they are still fully capable of emotional feelings - that which makes us sentient."

"Are emotions bad, Master?" queried one small girl. She'd arrived at the Temple just days ago, a delicate-looking human girl with flyaway brown hair and mahogany eyes. New to Jedi training, she rarely spoke during discussions, and Aitahea had heard her crying at bedtime in their sleeping quarters. She didn’t even know the girl’s name yet.

Aitahea found herself startled and curious at the new girl’s question. Carefully, she opened herself to the Force, just as Master Faron had taught her. The elder Jedi had helped Aitahea to understand her connection to others as an empath when she first came to the Jedi Temple and instructed her how to set up a “shield” of sorts so she wasn’t constantly bombarded with their feelings. All of the other members of her Jedi clan were empaths, as was Master Faron. Together, Aitahea and her clan mates had learned to be very careful about sensing others’ emotions. Feelings were very personal and private; most of the time what others were experiencing was their own business and no one else’s.

But an empath could use her talent carefully to better understand others in order to help them, and that was what Aitahea tried to do now. Concentrating, she moved her imaginary shield out of the way just a little, enough to share a fraction of what the other child was feeling.

The girl was guilty and frightened. Her emotions were strong, too, pushing hard at Aitahea’s mental shield. This scared Aitahea, and she quickly slammed her shield back into place, jarring the serenity of the Force around her. The Miraluka boy flinched and turned to face Aitahea, tilting his head in a silent question. Aitahea just huddled deeper into her robe, looking away.

Master Faron spared Aitahea only the slightest of glances, instead directing his attention toward the other little girl. “Emotion is neither good nor bad; it simply is. What is important is what you do with it; how you react to it. Your reaction can be the cause of great good or terrible evil. So choose your actions carefully, with compassion. That is what it means to be a Jedi.

“Well done, younglings. Let our discussion end here for today. Please go and attend to your other duties. Off with you!” Master Faron added pleasantly, offering a gentle smile. The children scattered away to other parts of the Temple for their various activities, but Aitahea lingered and watched as Master Faron approached the anxious newcomer. Their Master knelt and spoke quietly to the shivering girl, who calmed almost immediately. Aitahea didn’t need her empathy to understand the sudden change in the girl’s demeanor.

After a few more words, both Master Faron and the girl turned to approach Aitahea. “Aitahea, I think you should spend some time with our new arrival. It would do you both much good, I believe. Take some time to yourselves in the Temple gardens, why don’t you?” he suggested, briefly touching each girl’s shoulder.

“Of course, Master Faron. I’m Aitahea Daviin,” Aitahea said, offering a tiny hand to the other girl. The newcomer smiled uncertainly, but placed her own hand in Aitahea’s.

“Nice to meet you. My name is-“

***

Aitahea awoke, suddenly and immediately alert. She’d been dreaming again, this time a half-recalled moment from her youth at the Jedi Temple. But this memory refused to linger, slipping through her fingers. She was trying to remember the name of the other child in the dream when heavy footfalls approached.

“Master Jedi?” It was Major Erithon Zale. Aitahea rose from the bunk, finding her companion leaning into the passenger cabin, eyes worried. Erithon had taken the first watch and given Aitahea an opportunity to rest after her harried journey across the ice. “We have to move.”

“What do you mean, Major?” Aitahea frowned, feeling the trooper’s anxiety trickling like icy water into the Force.

“We’ve got company, Master Jedi. Pirates, I’m pretty sure.”

Aitahea passed her hand across her eyes and cleared the haze of sleep from her mind, taking a moment to reach out in the Force for their immediate surroundings. Erithon was a solid, bright presence quivering with worry and just a touch of frustration. Beyond him there were a dozen or so other beings, focused stealth barely covering simmering violence. Their target was clearly the shuttle Aitahea and Erithon currently occupied.

“I see,” Aitahea’s calm voice belied the plummeting anxiety she suddenly felt. “Do you have any suggestions, Major?”

Erithon motioned for her to join him in the cockpit. “I’ve been working while you were resting. Got a surprise for you… and them.”

“You said we needed to move.”

“And move we will, Master Jedi.” Aitahea followed Erithon onto the bridge of the shuttle where the trooper sat in the copilot’s chair. The controls had all been routed to that side and parts of the boards were a tangled mess of wires and electronics.

“I rerouted several of the systems – wasn’t able to do anything about the stabilizers from inside the ship – but I think…”

Erithon punched a few buttons in succession as the Jedi looked on. The man’s enthusiasm and hope were infectious, and Aitahea leaned forward in anticipation.

“…we have engines.”

The shuttle roared to life and flung itself violently into the air, knocking Aitahea off her feet. “Major?” she cried, clinging to a nearby console.

“Sorry! No stabilizers!” Erithon bellowed back, fighting the shuttle for control. The ship continued to rise at an unsteady pace. The viewscreen was dark save for flashes of blaster fire. It was impossible to tell if any of the shots struck the ship as it rocketed wildly higher. “Hang on, this might get bumpy!”

Aitahea could sense the ice – and the pirates – dropping quickly away. They seemed close to reaching safety; the shuttle had nearly reached the top of the same cliffs Aitahea had rappelled down the day before.

“Jedi, can you give me a hand here?”

Erithon was struggling with the controls, the control stick fighting him like a living thing. Aitahea scrambled to her feet and pitched forward to hold tightly to the copilot’s seat, leaning over Erithon’s shoulder.

“What do you need, Major?”

“Hold the stick. I need to get us propulsion or they’re just going to shoot us down again while we hang here.”

“I’m coming around,” the Jedi replied, winding one hand into the crash webbing and reaching for the controls with the other. She placed her own hand lightly over Erithon’s and then nodded at him. The trooper nodded back and quickly slipped his hand away, in one motion releasing the crash webbing and diving under the console to tangle with more complex controls.

Aitahea gasped and found herself relying on the Force to augment her strength. The control wheel twisted wildly in her grip; she braced herself hard against the side panel and the flight chair and grasped both handholds on the stick.

“Just one more second… there!” Erithon shouted, and the shuttle launched forward and upward in a spectacular arc. Erithon flung himself back into the seat, snapped into the crash webbing, and added his strength to the Jedi’s, pushing the stick forward. Aitahea gasped as they angled toward the ground.

“Hang on, Jedi!” Erithon whooped. He reached across the console with one hand to press a button, swore vehemently, then reached further down to simply tear wires from the control panel. That action seemed to be effective, as the shuttle began to both lose what little altitude it had and slow its speed. The control stick suddenly went slack under the Jedi’s hands, and the trooper let go only to pull Aitahea into his arms.

“Sorry, but this landing might be a little-” Erithon’s last words were lost in the grating screech of durasteel on ice. The crash webbing held Erithon in place, and his grasp kept the Jedi from flying through the viewscreen. Aitahea shut her eyes tight and held on.

Long moments later, the sickening motion of metal sliding over ice stopped, and Aitahea opened her eyes. Erithon was curled over her, his face pressed into her hair and arms pinning her tight against him. She remained half out of the copilot’s seat, her legs off to the side while his were still wrapped in wire from the console. A console that had begun sparking.

“Major!” she exclaimed, struggling to untangle their entwined limbs. “Fire!”

Erithon, dazed but aware, released the Jedi immediately and unsnapped his crash webbing so he could stand. Aitahea was up in a moment and raced to find a portable fire suppressor. She turned and tossed the container to the waiting Erithon, who activated the suppressor and doused the sparking console in fire retardant.

The next few moments were punctuated only by the gasping of the shuttle occupants and the creaks and crunches of the damaged craft. “That was well done, Major,” Aitahea commented between breaths.

“Thanks. I’m usually a better pilot,” Erithon acknowledged, “but under the circumstances, I figured you’d look past the rough landing. Are you in one piece, Master Jedi?”

Erithon eyed the Jedi as she took a moment to run her hands over her arms. During the unexpectedly frenzied flight and subsequent brutal landing, her hair had come partially loose from its plaits and now framed her face in silvery waves. The trooper started, suddenly realizing that the tactile memory of softness on his face was from when he’d grabbed the Jedi to protect her during the landing. Held her in his arms, his cheek pressed against her hair.

Erithon was flushed when Aitahea looked back up. “I’m uninjured,” she confirmed with a nod. “What about you?” As the Jedi stepped forward, a hand outstretched, Erithon quickly turned away and set about untangling his feet from the console’s nonfunctioning wires.

“Fine, fine,” he muttered, “just let me get out of this mess.”

Aitahea paused and pulled her hand back to herself, concerned. It wasn’t an unusual response to hide one’s injuries; she’d seen it frequently enough when deployed with other beings. Some feared the appearance of weakness, some even feared her Jedi “powers” when it came to their person. Under the circumstances, any injuries Erithon might want to hide could only slow them down and endanger them further, so Aitahea felt compelled to apprise his condition despite his protests.

Reaching out in the Force, she was relieved to find nothing but minor bumps and bruises, but there was more to it. Aitahea noticed a slender but strong thread of emotion running through his thoughts. It would have been barely noticeable, if it didn’t deal directly with Aitahea herself. She blinked, caught off guard, and found herself reaching up to smooth a hand over her hair, loosened from its usual braids during their escape. She hadn’t even realized it.

“Master Jedi?” Erithon asked, breaking Aitahea’s reverie. He had turned back, disentangled from the console’s damaged electronics, and was about to add an embarrassed chuckle when the whole shuttle juddered around them, settling onto the ice. Aitahea stumbled and Erithon reached out to catch her by the hand.

“You keep ending up in my arms like this, Master Jedi, and I’m going to start getting ideas,” Erithon jested, offering stability while Aitahea regained her footing. Their hands still clasped, an astonished Aitahea stared at the trooper, perplexed. Just a moment ago he’d been fighting to hide this feeling from her, then immediately made light of the same.

Even more surprising was that she found herself smiling in response.

Erithon released the Jedi’s hands, almost reluctantly it seemed, and looked around the shuttle. “Well, I think we’ve about done this poor little ship in.” The interior lights shuddered relevantly and Erithon sighed. “We have a few hours until dawn and the temperatures get tolerable enough to travel. We shouldn’t be far from your speeder.”

“Understood,” Aitahea replied, nodding. “You need a chance to rest as well, and I can sense anyone who might attempt to approach in the meantime. I’ll keep watch.” The Jedi didn’t mention that she also wanted some quiet contemplation in which she could address the strange collection of emotions gathering inside her.

Erithon stifled a yawn with one hand and nodded his agreement. “Appreciate it, Master Jedi.” He moved to the cabin hatch and paused, looking as though he wanted to speak. After a moment, he merely smiled. “Thanks.”

“Of course, Major. Rest well,” Aitahea added. It wasn’t until well after Erithon had left the bridge that she began braiding her hair back into place.
Luminous: Jedi Consular Aitahea Daviin and Major Erithon Zale follow a dangerous Sith who seeks to harness the power of an ancient Force technology for the Empire. | More writing at suitablyambiguous.com