The Unsought Gambit
Aura Ta’var (#10388)
Written for: Desperate Measures- Coop.
Aura Ta’var (#10388)
Written for: Desperate Measures- Coop.
Aboard enemy vessel the Solar Wren
Ethan disliked space battles, or really even being in space. He thought it would be freeing, but the constant reminder that one wrong move could send you hurling into a cold vacuum really ruined it for him. Part of him started to really rethink the idea of agreeing to fight aboard an enemy vessel. Just one lucky shot might puncture something important and they’d all die.
An energy round ripped through the air, nearly hitting his head as it struck against the wall behind him. He startled from his thoughts and refocused his efforts, firing his trusted DL-44 at the Iron Legion down the hall. They were pinned down, against the odds, and had no hope of reinforcements. He held out a hand and sent a telekinetic strike down the hall, knocking one of the Iron Legion into the wall behind them.
Ethan’s eyes went wide as the wall behind the soldier burned bright orange and exploded inwards. Instinctively he holstered his gun and braced for impact behind the small barricade of boxes nearby. Unfortunately, just as he felt the surge of air push against him, he felt it pull at him. The boxes flew away from him, and his feet left the ground as he flew down the hall. Screams of horror filled the air as he grabbed hold of the nearest person and the lip of a door just within reach. The two of them worked together to pull themselves through it and into a small side corridor, both rolling through as the door closed to try and maintain ship integrity.
Oxygen was thin in this room, and there was no telling how well or how long the door would hold. Quickly using the situation to his advantage, Ethan crawled over and sat on the other person, pulling out his gun and putting it to their face. He blinked a few times at the woman and smiled, “Oh… Sorry you are… I don’t really remember, but you were at the briefing…” He pulled the gun away, the two of them already having a bit of a hard time breathing. “Thought I grabbed someone else.” He got off of her and helped her up. “Ethan Martes… Seraphol’s screw up.”
“I’ve heard of you. Hopefully you won’t get us killed.” Aura spat back as she got back up to her feet. The shorter, black-haired man had almost squished her when she tried to save him and she wasn’t feeling very pleasant at the moment. She sympathetically rubbed her rib cage, ignoring the screams for help from the other side of the door.
They’re just enemies. They would kill you if you let them through.
She couldn’t help but feel guilty. The feeling in the Force as their lives snuffed out of existence was the worst feeling possible and she hated it. She took a deep breath and reached out to the Force in trepidation, trying her best to ignore the stench of death. She felt several veins of life run north up through the ship, all coalescing on the main corridor.
“We need to go North. Everyone is headed that way. I bet that is our route to safety.”
“Yeah.” The man followed behind her reluctantly as she turned to lead the way.
“You ok with that?”
“Yeah. I just have a bad feeling about this.”
“Well, then let’s get off this piece of slag quickly then.”
“Yeah, let’s go.”
The pair of Odanites rushed down mostly empty corridors, sometimes passing by stray soldiers. Aura and Ethan both raised their weapons reflexively, but they didn’t need to expend the effort. They were already working to seal the ship back up, structural integrity warnings already blaring throughout the ship. Ethan didn’t entertain the idea for long either, willingly running to safety the moment he was clear of any aggression directed his way.
Things didn’t get interesting until they got a bit closer, only a measly corridor away. A crowd of what looked like civilians was beating against the door leading to the main thoroughfare she had felt earlier, except this time it was locked. Angry yells and fists futilely banged against the door.
Like trapped rats…
“Please! Let us in!”
“We can’t die here!”
“Do something, you idiot!”
A woman was yelling at a uniformed man, who prevented the crowd getting through. Aura could see scared faces on the other side of the door, all of which flew by far too quickly for her liking.
“Well, we can’t go that way. Thoughts?” Aura asked Ethan. She was partially distracted by the enemy soldier in the crowd. She wanted to know why he was still here.
“Don’t look at me. I don’t know this ship.”
“Well, let’s talk to someone who does. Watch my back.”
The Zeltron pushed her way roughly through the crowd before grabbing the lone soldier by the scruff of his collar and pushing him against a nearby wall.
“You. Talk. We all need a way out and I think you know one.” A guilty look crossed the man’s face. It was one she knew well, but she didn’t have time for his confession. “These people are going to die. Help me save them.”
The soldier stared blankly back at her, unsure of what to do. An ugly glare was all he could muster in the end, but Aura could see the struggle within. His eyes gave it away.
“Figures. A pawn of the Iron Legion and Pravus wouldn’t care about the life of anyone but himself. All they can think about is killing things just to kill them. I guess everyone else here doesn’t matter to you. But it makes me wonder. Why did you lock them out of the corridor? Should I tell them for you?” Aura snarled at him, a familiar anger finding its way back to her.
His expression faltered for a moment and the soldier finally relented, pushing her away from him. Ethan had a pistol ready to fire. The man looked at it in contempt.
“Fine. I’ll help. If we are going to get off this karking rustbucket, we need to head towards the fore of the ship, specifically the starboard side. There are several escape pods there as well as a docking port.”
“Better. Lead the way and don’t try anything funny. Lives are at stake.” The Zeltron turned her attention to Ethan. “Ethan, herd them from the back and keep them together. Don’t let them be harmed. I’ll keep our new guide company.”
“Do we have to? I bet we can find it ourselves now,” whispered Ethan.
“Yes. We do. If Seraphol hasn’t told you yet, we are the good guys and they may be our enemy but they are civilians.” Aura emphasized to Ethan. “Just keep an eye out for anything funny. Something feels off and I don’t like it. We good?” whispered Aura.
She reached out to the Force around Ethan, finding nothing but fear and uncertainty.
“Ethan.” Aura grabbed hold of his arm and stared him down. “Time to shelf whatever is making you want to run and help me out. We have work to do. Promise me you’ll help.”
Ethan stared at Aura for a moment and then looked down at her grip on him. A grimace flashed across his face before he pulled his arm away and put on a big smile. “No idea what you are talking about…” He spun his blaster on his finger. “Not sure if you got the memo, but I’m not a Jedi.” He saw her eyes begin to narrow, “Don’t worry I’m not a Sith either… I’ve heard about your issue in that regard.”
Her brow furrowed as her patience began to wear thin with the short man. “Ethan, promise me you’ll help.”
He sighed and looked at her, staring her dead in the eyes to the point where she could just faintly see something behind them before he returned to smirking. His poker face was on, and it would take a good bit of insight to see through that. “Alright, but only because you are pretty and you asked so nicely.” He checked his trusted DL-44. “You are lucky I like Zeltrons… And that’s only because this one dancer back on Selen where I grew up. Me and her…” He saw the glare forming on her face. “Right… saving it for later.”
Aura nodded lightly to him before going over to the soldier and grabbing him by the collar and pulling him to the front of the group. “Start leading.”
Ethan put his fingers to his mouth and whistled loud, getting the group’s attention. “Alright, ladies and gentlemen… And whatever you are back there. We are going to move as a group. Please keep together. If fighting starts, I want you to take cover because I am not a fan of shooting through people. I’m a good shot, but not that good. Follow my comrade and the lovely volunteer she has procured for us as we make our way to the escape pods.”
All of them kind of stared at him for a moment before Aura shoved the soldier to get him moving. The soldier opened the doors and began to lead them through, the civilians following with Ethan bringing up the rear. From the rear, it felt like a death march more than an escape.
Aura had her own problems though. She kept a hand at the ready on her weapon, her eyes only leaving the soldier to scan around for trouble. “Tell me, why did you join the Iron Legion and Pravus?”
The soldier glanced to her, “Same reason anyone does if they aren’t in it for the money.” They took the corner, heading towards the starboard side of the ship. “I have family, and choices are limited when it comes to work… Especially if the choice is either work for us or they kill everyone. My name is Daro, by the way.”
Aura fought against a tinge of pain deep inside of her, thoughts on those who died just moments ago and the possibilities of them having families. Unfortunately, the view did not get better. They passed walked through an area with dead soldiers from both sides, a recent battle that left no victors.
As the last man of the group, Ethan would close doors behind them. As he noticed one of the civilians reaching for a blaster, he moved up and placed his against their head. “Drop it.”
“I need something to protect myself!” He spat back.
“Yea well… We are going to protect you, and no offense but you totally look like the kind of guy to try and shoot me or my friend in the back.” Ethan smiled at him and motioned for the civilian to back off, “Now go. We are falling behind.”
With another motion they began walking again. Ethan tried to shake off the constant feeling that they were being monitored, like someone was watching them, following them. “Damn it, why did Aura have to say something was off? Now I’m paranoid. And I didn’t know the ship was this big!”
One door on the side opened up just as Ethan passed, causing him to startle and shoot first before seeing who it was. The Iron Legion soldier fell to the ground, their own blaster clattering on the floor. He breathed a sigh of relief and saw everyone staring at him, “All good!” He gave them a thumbs up. “I took care of it.”
Aura shook her head and motioned for Daro to keep going. Daro pointed towards a large set of doors down the hall, “Just up ahead, come on!” He suddenly picked up his pace, going faster and forcing Aura to try and keep up with him. Just as they reached the door, blast doors slam shut behind them, forcing the civilians and Ethan on the opposite side of Aura and Daro.
Other doors opened, a trap on both sides. Ethan gritted his teeth, “Well this is just fantastic…”
Aura glared at Daro, sizing the man up as he ran away. Distrust and fear turned into anger as she heard the frightened, muffled voices on the other side of the door. The facts up till now seemed to verify the man’s guilt, but he was still their best bet for survival. Aura took a calming breath and focused on the fleeing man, reaching out to the Force as she swung her fist through the air. She pictured her hand colliding with the side of the man’s head, his surprise permeating the Force as her telekinetic strike found its mark.
Aura sprinted after the man as he fell, quickly closing the distance while Daro regained his bearings. As the man finally got back up to his feet, the Zeltron was already charging into him.
Aura didn’t get to hear the rest of it before she slammed into him, the pair crashing into the floor. The Zeltron didn’t attempt to outmuscle the soldier and simply grabbed her lightsaber, pushing the emitter into his side.
“If you haven’t realized yet, you have a lightsaber sticking into your side. I suggest you stay still a moment and listen,” growled Aura.
The man continued to struggle, attempting to push her hand away. The Zeltron simply pointed it upwards and activated its blue —nearly white— blade so that it was a mere inch from his face. A strand of hair fell from his head, the man tracing its fall through the air. Daro inhaled sharply and went oddly still.
“Now, open the blast doors. Now!”
“You can suck space. You boarded this ship; therefore, you forced my hand,” Daro replied, fear and anger permeating the Force around him.
“You son of a bantha! You just locked civilians in with a group of your friends, all of them armed. These people are the loved ones of those you serve with and you just shut the door on them. How could you! Do you even care about their lives? What if it was your family?”
“My family is safe and sound as long as I do what I’m told.”
“Do you really think they’ll stay that way once Pravus hears of your defeat? Better yet, what would your family think of you right now, the murderer of innocents. You could already be in an escape pod, but no you stuck around to commit murder.”
An awkward moment of silence pervaded the air, made all the worse by the faintest of muffled noises. Aura got up, pointing her lightsaber at his heart and blocking his escape route.
“Go to the blast door and hear the screams of the ones you profess to not care about. Go on. Do it!”
The soldier made a show of turning around, only to pull a blaster and fire. He only got off two shots. Aura deflected both bolts into the surrounding walls. She swung quickly once more, neatly cutting the gun in half as her saber arced downwards. Daro started to panic, desperately looking for a way out that he would never get. Sweat and fear were clear on his face as his eyes darted back and forth between the blast doors and the Zeltron.
“That was an order. Either open the blast doors or go over and listen to all those innocents die in front of you. Loyal subjects to the Iron Throne are dying by your hand and yours alone.”
Aura pointed her lightsaber threateningly at him, slowly herding him back towards the blast doors. A calling she knew well whispered that slamming him into the doors themselves would speed along the process, but she put it aside for now. The light side of the Force promised a better path. Anyways, it was working for now. The man was already halfway there, the faint noises of a fight evident already.
As the pair got closer to the door, Daro became more and more unsettled and fidgeted with his hands. Sweat droplets were already starting to run down his face. The Force was rife with guilt. The man started to breath quicker and then finally dove to his right in an attempt to flee. Aura was ready and purposefully slashed right in front of him. Daro’s eyes widened as he quickly backpedaled and tried a new direction, only to be blocked yet again. Without knowing it the man was retreating back more quickly than if he had listened and walked back on his own accord. Finally, there was nowhere to run. The potent, muffled cries of fright from the women and children were horrible.
“Please! Open the door!”
“I don’t want momma to die. Please, Daro,” cried an unknown child.
“Stay hidden and keep your head down!” Ethan ordered as the sound of his gun firing penetrated through the door.
“Right now my friend is keeping them alive while you cower next to the door after locking them in. Help them and maybe you make it off this ship alive. If you care so much about your family, then have the decency to be worthy of coming back home to them.” Aura lectured sternly. A cold fury lined every word she spoke, one born from the dead voices within her.
The soldier sat on the floor and tried to cover his ears. He rocked every so slightly. His eyes had a tortured look that many soldiers eventually inherited from war. She saw it in herself sometimes.
“That won’t help get rid of what you’re feeling. Only an act of repentance will. Help them and you’ll feel a lot better. Is this pain you’re feeling worth it? Don’t be afraid. Save them so you can save yourself. Trust me and help them.” The Zeltron finally finished lecturing him.
Part of Aura wanted to strike the man down and open the door herself, but another part of her knew what that kind of pain felt like. She would defend those people on the other side of the door no matter what, but she felt better knowing she had given him a choice. Precious seconds ticked by.
“Well? Now or never. Save them or let them all die.”
“Fine. I’ll open the door. Just don’t kill me. It will take a second.”
Ethan flattened himself against the wall to avoid another shot, “I swear to all that there is! Keep your kriffing heads down!” He yelled at one of the civilians as he shielded them with his body. “And someone get that door open!”
“We are trying! They’ve locked it down from the other side!” One of them yelled back.
He gritted his teeth and did the only thing he knew well. He filled the hall with a wave of Force energy, but no real target. Panels and tiles shuddered all down the hall. While not enough to do major damage, it was enough to cause a number of the Iron Legion to stumble and prevented them from getting clear shots. “Everyone! Into that side room!” He shot one of the soldiers and directed everyone in.
It wasn’t a great plan, but it was better than their current situation. The room he led them into was a small changing room. There was only one other door, which Ethan ordered to be blocked off as he kept suppressing the Iron Legion from his position.
A blaster round ripped through the air and just barely grazed Ethan’s shoulder, sundering cloth and armor. Ethan doubled over and fell to the ground, holding his arm where he was hit. One of the civilians grabbed him and pulled him into the room more. A soldier rushed the door, turning in and pointing his rifle at everyone. Ethan’s hand shot out, Force wrapping all around the soldier and silencing his life with a tight crush around his neck.
Pain, hate and a bit of fear were surging through Ethan’s body. The fear that he would fail, fear that he wouldn’t survive, and the fear that he may lose control. He threw the lifeless body against the wall and pulled himself to his feet. “Away from the door!” His voice bellowed as he kept the Force on the lifeless body, throwing it down the hall at the oncoming soldiers.
The wave of power and satisfaction rippled through his body as he tapped into the darker parts of his mind and soul to draw out his power. Another wave of the Force sent the soldiers flying back like ragdolls. Panels and tiles shook more this time, a number of them broke and let sparks fly. The blast doors finally opened and Ethan spun around, instantly grabbing Daro with the Force and hefting him off the ground. “You! Backstabbing coward!”
Daro gasped for air, his hands instinctively grabbing at his throat to try and pull off whatever was choking him. “Ethan let him go!” Aura called out, rushing him and shoulder tackling him into the wall. Daro dropped to the floor, gasping for air and holding his throat as Ethan and Aura tumbled.
Ethan growled and stared up at Aura who was now on top of him. In his eyes she could see the burning fear and anger, but none of it was really directed at anyone. It took a moment, but he began to calm down and return to his normal self. He let his head drop back against the floor and he just stared up at the ceiling. “Sorry… Lost control for a moment… I couldn’t protect them all… Maybe if I was a Jedi…”
Aura slowly rose up and looked back at Daro, who was still on the floor trying to regain himself. She looked around to where Ethan and the civilians were when the doors closed. Of the original twenty or so civilians, several were dead on the floor. A small lump began to build in her throat, but she steeled herself. She looked back down the hall to where the soldiers were, thankfully seeing no movement.
“Maybe if I was an actual Jedi…” Ethan muttered as he stood up, looking to her before putting his poker face back on. He took a moment and then turned to the civilians, “Alright folks! I think it’s clear. Let’s keep moving before more show up. You will have time to grieve when you are safe.” He walked over to the lockers and started going through them until he found some medical foam and sprayed it on his blaster wound. “Owww! Holy kark that stings…”
Aura moved over to help Ethan put on a bandage, but he just pointed his blaster at her and shook his head, motioning to the people as if silently saying for her to help them first.
“Okay. Fine by me.” Aura shrugged and went off to help the civilians first.
As Daro wandered closer to Ethan, he reached out with his good arm and grabbed the man, yanking him over. Ethan put his blaster squarely against the man’s manhood. In a whisper Ethan spoke, “You are lucky she stopped me… Or else I would have popped your head like a grape.” A smirk appeared on his face, “So do me a favor. Next time you want to screw someone, leave us out of it… Got it?” Daro nodded. “Now go help them out before I shoot you.” Ethan let the soldier get to work and then returned to applying the bandage over his shoulder.
It would take longer than desired to get the wounded fully treated, but there was only but so much oxygen. It was time to move.
“Alright everyone. Let’s move. Air is starting to get pretty thin. We can finish patching up when we are in the escape pods,” ordered Ethan.
Daro and Aura led the way as Ethan once again pulled up the rear. As they stopped to open another set of blast doors, Aura walked over to Ethan. He was leaning against the wall, using it to support himself. “How are you?”
“Oh doing just great. Had a wonderful day that started with being shot at and nearly blown up.” Ethan replied immediately with a heavy dose of sarcasm. “Then I almost got sucked out into the endless void of space, but hey I was able to survive by mounting a moody Zeltron and the two of us finally found a safe way to escape. Then this asshole!” Ethan pointed his gun at Daro, only for Aura to grab his arm and lower it. “Backstabbed me and the Zeltron, followed by an ambush where I GOT SHOT and then tackled and mounted by the Zeltron. So yea… Doing just great.”
“You’ll live.” Aura couldn’t help but flash a smirk.
“Please let me shoot him.”
“He deserves it. It will make me feel better.”
Aura tensed for a moment, part of her wanted to agree. He deserved to die for what he did, at the very least for the civilians who died because of his trap. “No…That isn’t how we operate. He’ll get his due justice.” Aura idly patted her trusty stun-cuffs. “Maybe he will even take a better path afterwards. Anyways, we need to get off this ship.”
“I don’t know if you are being trusting or stupid…” Ethan winced as he stood up straight, “I believe the latter.” The doors opened and the group started moving again.
“Is it bad to have hope?” Aura spat back.
“When it gets people killed? Yes.” Ethan just kept walking, keeping a rather cheery voice. He pointed at a sign on the wall. “Escape pods… This way. If he betrays us again, I’m shooting him and then punching you.”
“I won’t let that happen again.” Aura stated simply in the sort of finality that usually made people pause.
“We’ll see,” Ethan replied, one hand twirling his gun.
The crowd of civilians, Daro, and the Odanites rushed the last fifty meters to the escape pods, for once without any surprises. Aura kept on Daro’s heels the entire time, ready for whatever he might try next. The soldier made for an escape pod, but the Zeltron wasn’t done with him yet. She reached out and held him back.
“Wait just a minute. You’re going with us.” Daro stared at her in disbelief. “The rest of you can board. Just leave at least one free.” Aura commanded the group, her eyes never leaving the traitorous Daro.
“Kark off! I brought you where you wanted to go!” The soldier glared at her, his eyes threatening violence.
“Only after you tried to kill everyone here. You locked all of these civilians into a death trap. If it wasn’t for Ethan, they would all be dead right now. You were just going to run away. People died today because of you. You killed your own people. So, no! You don’t get off without any justice.” Aura raised her voice so everyone could her his crimes.
The civilians muttered amongst themselves, some already shooting angry looks back at the man. A few were skeptical and tried to dissuade their more combative companions to stay calm. It didn’t work. One of them pulled out a gun, only to have the crowd prevent him from firing. Screams and frightened yells filled the room.
“Can I shoot him now?” asked Ethan, a knowing smile on his face.
“But he wanted to-”
Aura cut him off. They needed to get moving.
“No one is shooting this man! He will be tried for murder and attempted murder, but you will not kill him. Got it!”
Grumbling ensued along with a vicious scuffle of words but a voice of reason came forward. It was an older woman with a hardened face. Several people moved to let her pass and speak for them. The crowd hushed.
“We understand. As the matriarch of these people, I will ensure he gets a trial under our laws and customs. Let us take him. After all, his crimes are against us.”
“Not on my dead body. Get off!” Daro finally took a swing at her face. Aura was waiting for it. She let go of his arm and used the Force to slam him against the opposite wall. She called her lightsaber to her hand, activated it with a snap-hiss, and batted Ethan’s stray blaster bolt harmlessly up into the ceiling.
“I said no killing him!”
Meanwhile, the old woman wearily waved her hand the moment the brute swung his fist, unleashing the horde of survivors on Daro. The soldier had barely fallen to the ground before he was beset by a flurry of kicks. Aura unclipped her trusty stun cuffs and handed them to the matriarch. “Tell them to use this instead.”
The woman nodded and prodded the nearest man, who dutifully passed on the message and the cuffs that went with them. A precious minute later, Daro was finally in cuffs and looking worse for wear than usual. He was alive though. The soldier glared at the Odanites before being shuffled away into an escape pod. The rest of the civilians followed hastily now that the drama was over with. The older woman was last to enter but stopped at the doorway for a moment, several pods already being ejected into space.
“Thank you for your help. We appreciate it. He will stand trial. We are in your debt. If our paths cross again, know you will have our aid. Good bye, Jedi.”
“Glad to help. May the Force be with you.” Aura smiled, thoroughly happy with herself. She saved people today.
“Yeah, cya later.” Ethan grinned and waved at Daro just to spite the bound man.
The pair of Odanites took a remaining escape pod and quickly shut the door behind them. The thrust of the vessel carried them far away from the abandoned enemy ship. The pair were a little cramped but alive…
“Oww! Did you just hit me?!” Aura rubbed her arm, trying to dissipate the sting from Ethan’s punch.
“Yup. A promise is a promise. He tried something funny. I tried to shoot him. You saved his life and now I punched you.”
“You’ll thank me later…” promised Aura.
“I don’t think so. I do think you’re stupid though.”
“It might be awhile before they pick us up. Maybe we should get along.”
“Why wouldn’t we? Want to hear the story about the dancing Zeltron now?”
Aura stared at Ethan, listening to his story for a little.
“—Oh she was great. Best twenty thousand credits I’ve ever spent. And it was the night I found out that you Zeltrons have this one spot on the base of your spine that drives you—"
“OWW!” Instinctively Ethan touched his face and the growing red spot. “Holy kark… You are an abusive woman.” He looked at her disapproving look, then turned his gaze back to the endless void of space. “Try and share a nice moment…”
Aura smirked deviously. “Enjoy it while it lasts. You may not make the return trip home.”