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The End of the Beginning


Fractions of a second. That was all that mastery over the Force afforded to Master Yen in her final moments aboard their transport ship. Her forehead, usually creased with smiles and laughter, sat smooth. Her eyebrows, normally raised in suspicion of her young apprentice, lay relaxed. Her eyes, glistening with grit and determination, shifted purposely across the room. A calming stillness gripped her, as she allowed the Force to dictate her next move. Around her the world was being torn asunder. Sirens blared as metal sheared but there the Master Jedi sat, like the eye of a storm.

Sunao, on the other hand, hated space. To him it was a black sea of nothingness that separated world from world. “It’s 99.99% empty, you know.” He would tell others, a deep shudder escaping him. “It’s all just so… isolating, right?” Even in the largest of the Republic's ships the Padawan felt it, and now here they were, their glorified rust bucket shattering in a hail of asteroids. His heart could be seen visibly pounding through his robes, threatening to break from its cage. His eyes, wide with panic, darted furiously around the room as he fumbled around with his seatbelt. Fear enveloped him.

Usually concerned with the faffing about of her young apprentice, the Force drew Master Yen’s attention elsewhere. She watched, eagle eyed, as several jagged shards ripped from the wall in front of them, followed by an oversized piece of panel. In one sweeping motion, the woman gracefully lifted her arm, shooing away the fragments as they flew towards Sunao. Contrastingly, the Padawan focus was divided. The Force spewed forth a tornado of colours, all swirling around and oversaturating the young man's vision. By the time he spotted the hefty chunk of metal, it was too late. His arm had barely enough time to leave his side before it connected with the head of Master Yen. Perhaps it was the lack of oxygen as they entered the atmosphere or perhaps it was the agony of the scene unfolding in front of Sunao. Either way in that moment he lost consciousness. A final picture of Master Yennifer Reyes' warm smile would be forever etched into the young Jedi’s mind.




A bright crimson encompassed the room as Sunao woke with a jolt. The sirens had cut but the surrounding room still basked in the red hue of the emergency lighting. Flopped next to him, Yen was in a bad way. Blood flowed from a sizable gash on the side of her head as the rest of her sat lifeless. Frantically, the Padawan clawed at the seat belt release, calling out in vain to his Master. Freeing himself, he dropped to a knee beside the woman, removing her restraints and laying her out on the floor. Her skin was cold, clammy and quickly greying. His ill-fitted sleeves, already shredded in the crash, were torn clean from his person as Sunao did his best to dress the wound. Sweat dripped from his brow as he wound the fabric around Master Yen’s head while his chest tightened. Tying it off, Sunao raised a hand over her body, reaching out into the Force. With bated breath he hoped to call forth the sunshine yellow that normally derived from the very centre of her being. Instead, the world around him greyed.

The Padawan shook his head, slamming his eyes shut and straining as he tried to reach further into the Force. Nothing pierced through the blackness of the back of his eyelids, he couldn’t even conjure a single shade in his mind’s eye. Opening back up, he was met with a greying world once more. Knots twisted his stomach as his heart sank like an anchor being dropped at sea. As the man fell back onto his behind, his mind went into overdrive.

What is happening? Could Master Yen be dead? Or has something worse happened?

Suddenly a lightbulb sparked in his brain. Fumbling forward, the young apprentice reached out and took his Master by the wrist. A pulse weakly tapped his fingers, she was alive but barely. The Jedi collapsed, falling back once more in a heap of exhaustion. Behind him, the door whooshed open and a long shadow of a man loomed up and over Sunao. A gust of fresh air washed over the cabin, cooling him as it hit the beads of sweat dripping down the back of his neck. Nary a word was exchanged between the two, save for a sharp gasp from the stranger. It was possible the scene spoke for itself, or maybe the Force had told the shadow what they needed to know. Either way it wasn’t long before Sunao felt the rush of the door as it closed shut. There, in the dimming light, a single tear broke the dam, giving way to a river as they flowed down his cheeks.




The Padawan emerged from the crashed ship sometime later, long after the rest of the surviving crew had gone in to remove his Master from their room. His hair was in disarray, loose strands were strewn from side to side while specks of dirt- kicked up from the digging of graves- clung to the wetness of his cheeks. Trudging past the others without so much as a word, Sunao perched himself atop a midsized rock. Crossing his legs, the Mirialan hoped to avoid any small talk by appearing to be in deep meditation. Chatter from the others filled the air as Sunao attempted to push out into the Force once more. Exhaling weakly, the Padawan peered out deep into nature, reaching out for that familiar feeling. The jungle, alive with the most vivid of colours, began to drain. Magenta’s, violets and bone whites of his surroundings slowly wasted away to a lead-like grey.

Suddenly light headed, the young man’s frame started to wobble. His breath shortened to quick bursts, just as the tick of his heart began to increase momentum at a serious rate. Were it not for the mention of a nearby village by the Togruta, Sunao may have keeled over.




Whatever was left of the Apprentice’s elegant garments were quickly being torn away by the relentless flora of the jungle. An alarm from his datapad had been quickly dismissed. Were he anywhere else in the galaxy then the reminder to exfoliate his T-Zone would’ve been followed to the letter. Instead, he trudged along behind the crew as they carved a path forward with his master in tow. He hadn’t shared one word with the others and couldn’t even recall their names at this point. Sunao was so far gone, he barely registered the laser blast, only truly coming to his senses when he bumped into the back of one of his compatriots. The two humanoids, one Twi’lek and the other an actual human stood, barrels front, covered from head to toe in a series of tattoos. Oddly enough, despite their tribal-like appearance, the two sported visible cybernetic implants, suggesting there was possibly something more nefarious afoot in their intentions. Speaking a language no-one seemed to recognise, they gestured to the crew to hand over their weapons.

“Yen would’ve known their language.” Sunao thought, easily departing with his lightsaber. “Or at least she would’ve known how to temper the situation.” He continued, noting the concerned look of his fellow Jedi as they were led out of the dense jungle and into a clearing.

Sunao was tempted to reach out into the Force upon entering a substantially sized village. It was late afternoon and the members of the town were beginning to engage in their evening rituals. From smells to sounds, the air was filled with all sorts of delights to celebrate the end of the day. Full of life, the Padawans' curiosity urged him to take in the evocative colours of the world around as it flowed with such excitement. “No.” He reasoned, glancing behind to the ailing body of his Master. “I have to get something right.”

Finally, stopping by a roaring bonfire near the centre of town, the group was introduced to a well-dressed and untattooed duo. The older, shaggier looking Jedi of their cohort took the lead, skipping out pleasantries to plainly ask for help. The Twi’lek woman clicked a finger for attention and pointed towards the two wounded Masters. Several villagers came out from the woodwork and whisked the stretchers away while Sunao followed closely behind, leaving the others to converse with the two foreign women.




Paying the Mirialan no mind as he stood in the corner, the healers got to work, fawning over the two Jedi in front of them. Orders were barked as helpers scurried in and out of the hut, bringing in a range of herbs, salves and soups. The rest of the survivors entered the hut just as the wounds were being freshly wrapped once more. The two anthropologists, as Sunao came to learn, gestured for them all to leave their compatriots to heal and follow them up to a lookout spot atop a towering tree. Mention of the Republic being camped not too far away filled the Padawan with excitement for the first time since they had hit the planet's surface. His mind ran wild with the thought of proper treatment, rescue and salvation, practically ignoring whatever else was said.

Relinquishing command, the unshorn Jedi posed the question to the group of what next. One by one the others spoke up with talk of getting involved in some sort of conflict that had arisen. Sunao, on the other hand, had a different idea.

“I’m heading over to Republic’s camp regardless. No doubt they’ll be better equipped to deal with Master Yen’s injuries and they may also have a way off world for us.” The Padawan paused, feeling what appeared to be an aura of awkwardness at his statement. “As a back-up plan of course.”
Burdens


“Ghosts of the past speak to all who will listen.”


It was the quiet before the tempest and all members of Isobel’s most trusted had retreated to their corner of the camp to prepare for the final battle. Bahk had marched from their leaders’ war tent with a threatening gait. An air of exasperation enveloped him as he made his way across to the armoury for a final once over of their arsenal.

“Fools.” The Orsimer snarled. “So many fools. Filling the air with such utter nonsense.” Pushing aside the curtain to the armoury, Bahk entered without missing a beat. “Like that mage. She draws her words from books, not experience. The witch threatens us all if she cannot deal with the reality of battle tomorrow.”

The space inside the tent had been split several ways. Weapons stands, crudely cut from stolen wood, lined the circumference while barrels and crates had been laid out in the centre creating aisles. Of course, no one’s personal items were stored there, instead it was just a mix of scavenged gear and reforged basic weaponry. Pieces of armour were also scattered few and far between. A bit of chainmail here, a gambeson there; most of the army would be fighting with nothing but the cloth on their back.

Allowing his hand to bump along the wooden staves of the barrels, the Orsimer began to pace up and down the aisles. “And the heretic.” He continued, spit flying from his mouth as he talked through gritted teeth. “I’ve heard what he calls himself. Our Kingdom lies in ruin and our people scattered, yet here he is, fighting for a cause that has nothing to do with him. If he is as worthy as he claims, then why are his boots not thick with the dirt of Skyrim?”

Fury coiled it’s way up from the pit of Bahk’s stomach. His lungs filled with fire as he turned to one of the sealed crates in the centre. “He talks of philosophy and war like he is the master of either!” The veins in the Orsimer’s arms pulsated as he gripped the lid. “All I see is another barbarian out for blood!” Tearing it from the box, he unleashed an almighty roar before tossing the wood aside.

Skipping across the ground like a stone across a lake, the lid came crashing into a stand, knocking several bits of armour from its shelf. The clang of metal caused Bahk to whip around, the palm of his hand slapping his forehead as he realised what had happened. Feeling the warm hue of embarrassment flush over his face, the Orsimer cursed his stupidity. The irony of his final statement was not lost on him as he ambled over, picking up the mess piece by piece.

“Focus.” He breathed. “This is not the time, nor the place, there is too much to be done.” Neatly stacking everything back above the rack, the giant's hands fell to his hips, a sigh of frustration escaping through his tusks as he looked up and down the line. A minor insignia, the crest of Skingrad, predominantly adorned most of the weapons that had been recovered from their raids. Longswords reigned supreme for the most part, with a hammer, axe or claymore dotted here and there. Perhaps that’s why Isobel had wanted the frames to be made in the first place, they were more trophy cases than weapon stands.

Bahk closed an eye, cocking one of his brows as he drew close to one of the swords. “They’ll wear these things down to a damned nub the way they sharpen them.” He growled, studying the blade emphatically. Running the backs of his fingers down the steel, the sword glistened, fire from the torches dancing in its reflection. It made the Orsimer sick.

“Amateurs, the lot of them! Men who have never held a blade faun over their razor-edges, taking them to the whetstone each day!” He picked it up, blade in hand, catching the sneer awash in his own face. “Dreams of glory blind them from the simple truth, that most of them will die tomorrow.”

Moving over to a torch strapped to one of the tent poles, he inspected it further.

“Maybe the elf could write this one a song,” he teased, “and the pretty boy could dance along with it. By god what f…” Bahk stopped, loosening his grip as he watched as a glob of his own blood drip down the blade.

“Damn this!” The Orsimer dropped the sword into the dirt below. “What is wrong with me? Why is being here not enough? Why is tonight so different?” He turned away, swatting away an invisible fly before heading over towards a shelf stacked with cloth. Tearing off a strip he wrapped the wound tight, ignoring the stings of pain vying for his attention.

With another deep breath in and out, the giant bounced on his toes, shadowing a few of his hand to hand moves. With a final shake, he turned his attention to the barrel next to him. Bundled together, spears fashioned from scythes huddled like penguins hiding from the cold. Grabbing one by the neck, Bahk removed it, tapping the tip with his finger to test its sharpness. Contrary to the swords, spears could never be whetted enough. What remained of the Counts guard were well armed and armoured, the rebel troops would need to pack a serious punch if they ever hoped to do more than just dent their enemy.

Bahk inclined his head. Somewhat satisfied with the result, he moved on to the crate alongside the barrel. Dull and lifeless, the box was filled to the brim with axes. The rebels' seizure of the Count’s wood shipment had taken its toll on the weapons.

“Axes first.” Bahk thought, running a monstrous green finger down the dulled blade of the woodcutters tool. “Axes and then spears.”

The crate teetered as the Orsimer pulled it onto the corner of its edge, scooping out its contents onto the floor. He then set about piling them neatly next to a stool before taking up a handheld whetstone found on a nearby shelf. Sitting down, Bahk began to grind away.

The gnashing of the sharpener was memorising. A hypnotising monotonous tone, it drew Bahk deep into his own mind. “I lived for years without a spark of anger and now it’s nothing but a stone's throw away. Perhaps this is the will of Malacath.” He reasoned. “Perhaps he seeks to fill me with the will to find a good death.” Placing a finished axe to one side, the Orsimer picked up another.

“She would know.” He thought. “My Zaz always knew.” His stomach shifted, pulling down on the strings of his heart, threatening to eat it. The whetstone slipped, causing the sharpened blade of the axe to piece the skin of his pinky finger. “Ah you little bastard!” Bahk exclaimed, tossing it to one side.

“Oh you big silly Ogre!” Her voice was always so smooth, like running hands across silk. “Are you ok?”

Bahk swiveled on his stool like a child in timeout, hellbent on continuing their tantrum. “Don’t Zaz.” He snapped. “Don’t do that.” Getting up to tear more cloth from the bundle on the shelf, he wrapped another wound.

“They were just looks you know.”

Settling back down on the stool, the Orsimer picked up another axe, his face meaner than usual. “What do you mean?” he replied.

“In the meeting. People were just paying attention to your commander's gesture. She nodded, they looked at you. It didn’t mean anything.” Bahk was always amazed by the tone of her voice. It always managed to walk a line between caring and sternness. It never failed to pierce his thick hide.

“Hm.” He grunted, casting another axe to the side. Grabbing another, the giant ground it that little bit harder.

“And the priest? He was just doing as priests do. Do you chastise the rooster who caws at the sunrise?”

“Stop this.” His voice was low, hidden under the weight of heavy breath.

“And the mage? She has passion and war is often romanticised by those who have never been privy to it. You know that better than anyone.”

“And what of the heretic?” Bahk’s comment lashed forth like a whip. “What words of defence do you have for him, huh?”

“You know why he stands in that circle. You know why your commander calls upon all of you. Why she called you all forth tonight and why that meeting was necessary. I know you do. Your father would have -”

“What?! My father would have what?!” Bahk shouted, his knuckles whitening as the grip around the handle tightened. His eyes widened, adrenaline flooding his system.

“Understood.”

Bahk let loose the axe, heaving it away from him with all his might. Off it flew through the back of the tent, tearing a gaping hole in the cloth and disappearing into the night. Standing, the giant bellowed, “AND I AM NOT MY FATHER!”

There was no reply. The room stood empty. Not even the equipment moved under the weight of such words.

“And you… you are not here. Not anymore.”

The weight of a mountain burdened the Orsimer’s shoulders as they fell through the floor. His attention dropped, falling to the ground in front of him as his hands crept into view. Calloused, bruised and bloody, the mer tried to draw his fingers in, attempting to ball his fists. The energy was gone and the anger had melted away. A wind rolled forth through the gap in the tent, caressing the beads of sweat on Bahk’s forehead, cooling him. It beckoned for his attention but he couldn’t bear to look across. Instead he left the tent, ducking out into the moonless night in search of the wayward axe.

Wandering around behind the armoury, Bahk spotted the weapon lodged squarely in the trunk of an especially thick tree. Somberly, the Orsimer approached, stopping just a few feet away. Looming over his head, a long, sturdy looking branch caught his eye. The image of his son swinging in the wind flickered across his mind. Grunting in exhaustion, he pressed on, trudging forward until he reached the base of the tree. Placing a hand on the trunk, the giant was barely able to feel the knots of the bark under the calluses of his hand.

For a moment Bahk stood there, waiting for the words to come. Beautiful things to weave a tapestry of remembrance for his boy. But there was nothing. No words rolled forth, not even a single tear stained the mer’s cheek. A deep sigh broke free as Bahk pressed his forehead against the tree. The wind behind him shifted, blowing right at his back. There in that instant he could feel them; his wife, his son, his father, all three of them standing before a sea of ghosts, the whole of Orsinium.

“I’m sorry.” he croaked.

Drawing back, the Orsimer grabbed the handle of the axe with both hands, yanking it free of the trunk. Darkness was all that greeted him as he turned around to head back, the sound of fading chatter playing in the background as the camp packed it in for the night.

Lifting up the weapon, Bahk flipped it back and forth, giving it a final once over.

“Axes are done. Spears are next.”
Jin-Soo


Sang’s Fishing Shack by Pembina River
11:39pm



A pitch black darkness enveloped the woods as clouds, thick and heavy with rain, drifted across the face of the moon. The creatures of the forest stirred, chattering amongst themselves while a cool wind gently rustled through the trees. Flashes of thunder and lightning could be seen in the distance and yet, despite the ominous warning signs, a calmness swept the area, perhaps eerily so given what was to come.

A way aways, two specks of light could be seen barreling down a thin dirt road. Although faint at first, the roar of an engine began to slice through the serene moment like a pair of sharpened scissors gliding through paper. The jangle of loose tools reverberated, dancing their way across a metal cargo bed as a voice cried out from the cabin. Unmuffled by glass and sounding as if the vocal cords were made of sandpaper, it made an attempt to hold a tune but broke with every second sentence.

The vehicle, a pick-up, continued along, veering from side to side as the cul de sac at the end of the road suddenly approached. Slamming on the brakes the body of the truck lurched forward as the tires struggled to grip the loose gravel beneath. Luckily the space in front of the lonely wooden cabin was wide and featureless, no real risk of instant death. Dust filled the air as the cab door popped open and a large figure slumped out, wailing as he hit the floor.

“Jin-Soo,” he wept into the dirt, “what have you done… why… why didn’t you just listen to her?!” His fist pounded the earth before it flattened out and pushed him up. Propping himself up against the panel of the truck between door and tray, Jin trailed on. Vomiting out a mumble of words, he slammed the back of his head into pick-up over and over.

Behind him the sounds of the engine petered away oddly mimicking the dulling cries of the animals hidden around. The breeze whipped the dust in the air, latching it to the tear stained face of the man causing Jin to violently cough. Mucus and drool erupted from his nose and mouth as he gagged for air. It took him a full minute to calm down, ending with him scrunching up the bottom of his t-shirt and lifting it to wipe his face. By the time he dropped it back down, the world had stopped in its tracks.

A stillness seized everything around him. Branches refused to sway in the wind, power to the engine cut with a small click, the woods fell ill with silence and goosebumps lined the man's skin as the temperature dropped degrees at a time. Static from the speakers began to creep forth like the silhouette of a predator stalking their prey, raising the hairs on the back of Jin’s neck. The full faced moon forced a gap in the clouds, slowly painting the area in a faint white glow.

Unable to move, Jin’s eyes followed the line of light as it slowly made its way towards the rickety old cabin. Originally bought by his brother with the intent of using it for fishing trips, the place hadn’t been seen by a visitor in years. There it sat, slowly falling apart piece by piece, the passage of time it's only decorator. Here and now, the cabin appeared in the light as one would expect, crooked, beaten and ravaged. All except for its door.

Life returned to Jin’s body once more with him standing and taking a few cautious steps forward. Cocking his head to the side and squinting his eyes, the man could only make out the outline of the door. It loomed large and solid, directly contrasting the dilapidated shack around it. Wearily he continued on, the sight in front of him slowly growing more and more familiar, until…

“No.”

Jin stopped dead in his tracks.

“No...” his head shook, “no-no.”

A tremor began to take hold of his right hand, the shake coiling its way up his arm like a serpent climbing a tree.

“NO!” he screamed.

There in front of him stood a fortified steel door. A door with a little window and a small slot that sat at about waist height. A prison door.

Without warning the speakers from his truck blared to life. White noise crackled as the sound of a microphone being held too closely to a sound system screeched.

“We have a code red in Cell Block B! I need all available guards to Cell Block B immediately.”

Jin whipped around. “Shut up!” He marched towards the truck, feet pounding the earth. “Shut the fuck up!”

The announcer rebelled, defiantly growing louder.

“I repeat, Code Red! Jimmy Waiken has been stabbed repeatedly.”

“Stop!” Jin cried, his voice now breaking at the mention of his former best friend, causing him to stop in his tracks. “Stop, please stop.” He pleaded, the anger giving way to a pathetic beg.

“Code red! Jin-Soo has murdered Jimmy Waiken! All guards to Cell Block C!” the PA continued tauntingly. The headlights of the pick-up turned on, flashing blue and red while the speakers began to mimic a police siren.

“It’s not true!” He yelled as his legs gave way. So numbed by it all, Jin could scarcely feel the rocks break his skin as his knee’s dove into the gravel below. Burying his head in his hands, the man exhausted whatever emotion he had left. “Please… it’s not true.”

“Appa.”

A voice, miniscule, hushed and familiar, cuts through the hurricane of noise. Coming from the direction of the cabin, Jin’s head instantly shoots up.

“Appa.” It repeats innocently, a light faintly appearing through the window of the prison door.

“Ha-Eun?” Jin croaked, straining his ears in hope.

“Jebal.” It replied.

Adrenaline flooded the man’s body causing him to leap to his feet. The deafening chorus around him melted away as Jin steeled himself, his knuckles cracking as his fists balled. The tremors stopped and the hammer dropped; without another moment of hesitation he charged up the steps to the cabin, bursting through the door and into the light.




At first, the world around him was a blur. Skeletons of buildings, distant lights, moons upon moons and a bizarre neon sign. A cacophony of questions flood the man’s mind, each one failing to sweep away the one standing like stone at the centre of it all.

“Where is Ha-Eun?”

Whipping around, the door had vanished and asphalt sat beneath his feet. His breathing was heavy and his goosebumps had been replaced by beads of sweat. It didn’t take long for Jin to notice he was flanked by two others; a young looking man with piercings and bright orange hair and an even younger looking boy, small faced and innocent in appearance.

Completely willing to ignore the inexplicable world around him, the middle aged man stepped forward. Ready to launch into a tirade, Jin took a deep breath in and… paused, noticing one of the young men was pale and wide eyed. Flushed with dread the boy stared off into the distance, far beyond the group.

Turning, Jin only saw the glimmer of steel flying at him. Ducking just in time, he heard the clinking of a chained rope fly by his head. Pivoting on the balls of his tippy-toes, he managed to narrowly avoid another as it tore a jagged slit though the sleeve of his tee.

With barely a moment to catch his breath a voice cried out, wailing in pain. Jin wheeled around to see that one of the boys had not been so lucky. Several rustic hooks had sunk deep into his legs as he scrambled to try and pull himself free.

Following the chains, Jin looked towards the neon sign, momentarily noting the familiarity of some of the flashing characters, before noticing the hideous creature. Leatherface 2.0 stood with it’s jaw ajar over the remains of some poor bastard, rope flowing like tentacles from its mouth. The metal began to retract as the boy cried out in pain, begging for the two around him for help.

Jin, unable to set aside the look of innocence in the kid's face, rushed over.

“It’s going to be ok.” Jin said as he gripped one of the hooks. “I’m going to get you out of this.”









Yeah this looks great, I'm in. Got no questions as it's pretty self explanatory to me, even got an idea for a character.
Finito




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