SCD - The First Year

Ever wanted to try something completely different with your character but don't want to screw up your storyline? Put it here!!
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I have a quick request when creating topics in the forum, "Something Completely Different". If we could preface the threads with "SCD-" so that users who use Active Topics and New Posts can easily differentiate the places and do not get them confused. I am personally getting confused and overwhelmed trying to figure it out when I'm looking through active topics and I know that others are as well. If we could do this that would greatly help in cleaning things up.
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Mission Koht
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SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:25 pm

As the Jedi completed their task on the Nexus World, many of the Jedi were cast back haphazardly into the inhabited parts of space. Their stories are many, and varied, and didn't all begin at the same time. For one young Jedi, the end of one journey was only the start of the next. This is the story of her first year back, and the trials she endured on her long road home.

***

12 years ago


Fire blazed all around, but it wasn’t hot; it didn’t burn; it wasn’t flame. The Force was aglow like a raging forest fire all around the assembly of Jedi, but it didn’t rage as it blazed around them - it was pulsing with life!

That had been their purpose, to revive the heart of light that had called to them - it had called them to it in distress, and they had found their way to it, but now as the profoundly deep nexus thrummed with life, and swelled with strength, Mission knew they had completed their task.

The fog that had stirred up around the Jedi as they poured their strength into the nexus in that last great effort began to swirl, and glow. The girl caught a flicker of motion in the corner of her eye, but there was nothing there... nothing at all. Hadn’t Jaden been there a moment ago? Another flicker and she glanced. Caysen was gone. Mission tried to refocus her attention on the light, and the task. All around her the assembly of Jedi stood firm, pillars of blazing light racing between them and the nexus - and her. But where was... others were gone now. Her focus wavered for a moment, she felt a buzz of energy crawl over her skin, and suddenly she was rolled under by an overwhelming burst of color and sound. She raised her hands against it...

...and toppled over backwards down sandy slope. It was steep, and Mission flailed trying to stop herself, but she tumbled over a ledge and fell - crying out in surprised frustration - something like 20 feet before she slammed down another slope and kept tumbling.

“Come on!” She screamed, trying futilely to slow herself with her outstretched limbs. She just had too much momentum, and this red sand that filled her eyes and ears and nose and mouth was too soft. She summoned the Force to her as she flipped head over heels and unleashed a ball of pure willpower on the slope below her. Something like an explosion rang out just below her, and Mission’s momentum suddenly slammed her into the wall of a sandpit. It blasted the wind from her lungs, and she reeled for a moment, trying to gasp and spit the sand out of her mouth at the same time. Sand from the slope rolled down in smooth streams around her, and the redheaded teenager was half buried in sand the same color as her hair when a breath of air finally clawed it’s way into her lungs.

Mission stared at the ruby red sky above, breathing heavily, and felt that something had gone terribly wrong.

“What is this...?” She whispered, glancing around.

OOC: The turn of events that was fashioned to allow our characters an avenue of return into the events of the UFRP continuity was a pretty drastic series of events. It almost entirely derailed what my expectations of Mission as a character had been from the days I wrote her as a toddler storming around the Jedi Temple bare footed and giggling. She can't be that person anymore, so I needed to get to know who she had become in this continuity as an adult while I was away. I don't regret this change in her character developmental path, because she's turned out to be something much more of her own creation than mine, so I started thinking about who she is now, and that thinking turned into writing... which turned into a LOT of writing. So I'm going to post it here for everyone's reading pleasure as I work on it. It's not precisely a SCD plot, but this is the best place for it. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I'm enjoying writing it!
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Mission Koht
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:39 am

All around Mission was desert. Red, arid desert, and the sky was no better. There didn’t appear to be anything but hot sand and ragged cliff faces as far as the horizon in any direction. Mission slowly extracted herself from the sandpit, and momentarily felt thankful for the light linen garments that covered her body. She would be cool enough in the whites and greys that composed her tunic and pants. Her bare feet could become an issue later, if she didn’t find something helpful in the desert, but as she curled her calloused toes and felt the fine sand under them, she remembered the forest terrain that her feel had learned to cope with... why had she been thrown away from there? She couldn’t sense anyone else near her, and she couldn’t sense any powerful Force anomalies like the nexus either. Why was she suddenly alone?

Mission could already feel her fair skin starting to protest the hot sunlight, so she needed to move. Beyond the massive sand slope, there were other lower stone projections rising up from the ground through the sand. She could already see what looked like bits of shade from here. Maybe there would be a cave where she could wait for night to fall.

That was the right thing to do, wasn’t it? Mission reflected on the stories her father had told her as she trudged in long, sliding steps down the slope. He had spent some years among the Zeison Sha, traveling the deserts of their home world Yanibar. He said they had normal broken camp in the evening, and traveled at night.

Mission continued gliding down the slope for several hundred feet before her foot caught on some stiffer bit of sand and she tripped.

“No!” She exclaimed, and leapt away from the ground. The Force welled up and burst through her, launching her into the air. She sailed nearly 50 feet through the air before plummeting back to the sandy slope and crashing down in her own sand slide. She sat still for a moment, hands outspread as though she might suddenly begin tumbling wildly downward again. Though she shuddered at the thought, she suspected she would have reached the bottom by now if she had never stopped her initial tumble. Would she have survived? She wasn’t sure.

As she pondered survival again, Mission’s thoughts turned back to the Nexus. What had happened? Where were the rest of them? She reached out with her mind again, she still couldn’t sense anything of note, much less anything familiar. She wondered what had happened to the others who had disappeared before her. Where were Jaden and Caysen? Maybe she’d find them in the desert. They’d all found each other last time.

Mission tested her luck, and leapt down the slope again. She made much better time that way, so she continued to do so, surging the Force through her body and launching herself up and out so that she began to plummet 70 or even a 100 feet at a time. Before another five minutes had passed, she was at the base of the slope, and looking up at the side of the next. Some of the shade spots she thought she’d seen turned out to be nothing but little pits of erosion in the sides of the stone projections, but there were plenty of projections ahead, and she was well hydrated for now. She could walk for a bit and find a proper shelter.

So walk she did.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Mission Koht
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Sat Jun 30, 2018 5:22 pm

Mission continued to search through the Force for a sign of anything helpful as she meandered through the desert, but nothing revealed itself to her. A weight began to settle in the pit of her stomach as she trudged through the low channels of sand, but she knew she’d start to panic if she entertained it, so she didn’t. Instead, she reached down and grasped the lightsaber hilt at her hip. It was inert without a focus crystal, but it was still a reminder. She was a Jedi, and she could endure. She already had.

Much more time went into searching than Mission had hoped. She was definitely starting to burn on her face, chest, and neck. Her feet felt hot, but eight years of pounding around bare in the woodlands and mountain ranges of the nexus world has toughened them enough to withstand some heat. Her feet wouldn’t be the first part of her to fail. She was sweating though, and she was thirsty. That would be a problem soon if she didn’t find plant life.

The low channel she been traveling opening up into a wider valley at last, and she found herself in a sort of basin. She picked a rocky projection to her left that looked promising and went to scout it out. It’s promises were lies. She picked another, but again found only disappointment when she’d completed a circuit of its base.

Knowing she had to press on, Mission headed for a third, and spotted something that looked like an actual cavity in the rock as she neared the side facing the basin. A spike of excitement surged in her chest, and she ran toward it. An actual cave! She mounted the rest of the small rise and rushed into the shady embrace of the cave. As the shadows touched her face, she glanced over at a point of light that caught her attention. Her eyes had just registered it as a control panel embedded in the stone wall when a blearing jolt of electricity stung her and blasted her back down the rise. She never knew where she came to a stop.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Mission Koht
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Sun Jul 01, 2018 7:34 am

The ground drifted by before Mission’s face. She hurt all over, and she could feel a tingling like a sunburn on her neck. Her feet felt burned too, strangely enough. She remembered walking on sand, and her senses snapped alive. The desert! She was being dragged up a hill right then! She looked at the two figured dragging her up toward the mouth of the cave she’d found. They looked like desert people. Her lightsaber hung on one of their belts. That wasn’t a polite thing to have done.

Tucking her knees toward her chest, Mission planted her feet and attempted to stand. One of the men felt the weight of her shift in his hand, however, and saw her try to rise. He shouted an exclamation and yanked on her wrist, causing her to trip headlong to the ground again.

“Ooh she’s awake? Get ahold of her!”

Both men pulled on her arms again, but this time Mission moved with their tugging, and managed to get her feet beneath her. She spun her arm so she could grab onto the wrist of the man at her right, then she twisted his arm back hard and shot her foot up into his ribs. The blow connected, and he stumbled back from her outstretched heel.

The other man was still a problem though. He was quite a bit bigger than her, and he clearly was smarter than the first man. She hadn’t managed to wrest her arm free of his grasp in the struggle, and he pulled her forward once more. She leapt off her left foot in the direction of his pulling and was preparing to duck in past his reach when his head swung down and slammed against her eyebrow. She felt a shooting pain and saw stars. The faster man shoved her, and when she spun to avoid falling, she found herself stumbling toward that man whose ribs she kicked. He returned the favor, driving his fist into her belly so hard it reversed her momentum. She fell gasping onto her back in the sand.

The man who’d punched her rubbed his side and laughed. “Damn, she’s got some fight in her.”

The second man laughed as well. “Some? She’d have handed you your ass if I hadn’t been here.”

“Shut up Breck, she just caught me off guard. I thought the fence had done her in.”

Mission continued gasping for air and tried to roll back up onto her feet. The one called Breck shoves her in the ribs with his heel, and all she succeeded in doing was rolling onto her other side. The one who’d punched her a second ago came and kicked her again, then grabbed her wrist.

“Carefully Tody, if you break her we can’t find out how she found us.”

“Oh, who gives a rat’s hide. She’s bad news. We should just hang her out to dry.”

Despite the ongoing protest, the two of them hauled Mission across the soft sand to the mouth of the cave, then Tody pressed a button on his wristband, and the shield that had electrocuted her earlier dropped away. She eyed the wristband and made note of the button.

“I think she might be fun to have around, personally.” Said Breck. “Maybe she can teach you a thing or two about paying attention.”

“Keep talkin’ Breck.”
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:50 pm

Mission tried to keep track of where the pair dragged her as they moved through the desert caves, but it was hard. Her brain still felt fuzzy, and her muscles still hurt from her run in with the shield, not to mention that the pair of them had beaten her pretty soundly with the of blows they had landed. Blood had run down into her left eye from a throbbing cut on her eyebrow, and seemed to continue running only as an additional insult to the injury that was making her eye swell shut already. After a few more twists and turns, she hung her head and just focused on not retching. Between the sunburn, the dehydration, the shock, and the beating, she felt as though she’d been rammed and trampled by some large beast.

“What have you got there?” Asked a third voice.

“Some girl who tried to walk in the front door. Gave Tody a good trashing when we went to pick her up.”

“She did not!” Complained Tody while the other two cackled. “She got a lucky hit. And I gave a lot better as you can see.”

“I’m thoroughly impressed,” said the third, slightly old sounding voice. “You defeated a teenage girl. With help.”

“A teenage girl with a lightsaber.” Tody corrected, trying to save a little face. The third voice made an intrigued sound.

“Can we drop her in one of your cages?” Asked Breck.

“Sure, go ahead. Normally I’d say she’d end up a meal for the Kath hounds but business has been good.”

“Well well little ginger snap, it’s your lucky day. You’ll have a cage all to yourself.” Breck tugged on her arm, and they dragged her left from the tunnel into a cavern glowing with natural light. She lifted her head when she heard a door swing, and they tossed her headlong into the corner cage. Someone kicked sand on her - probably Tody - and then they locked the cage behind her and walked away picking at some other bone of conversation.

Mission lay on the sandy ground for a few painful moments, waiting for something else to happen, but nothing did. The world simply continued to throb around her in silence.

She felt much cooler now, she realized. That helped, but only a little. Her abdomen still felt like she’d been climbing a cliff for the last 12 hours, and her eye had swollen almost shut by now. The bleeding had stopped, which was good, but it also contributed to the swelling.

Slowly, gingerly, Mission raises herself up on her arms, and pulled her feet under her. It made her stomach throb, but she pushed herself up into a crouch and stood up.

Two walls of her cage were rough-hewn sandstone, and the other two were metal slats that had been grommeted together. Judging from the state of the cage’s inner surfaces, she was indeed in a cage meant for Kath hounds. She had never seen one, but she had seen pictures when she was a little girl, and knew they were popular pit fighting animals. Reddish daylight filtered in through erosion holes in the walls and cast a bronze hue on everything it touched.

It reminded Mission of fire.

She had been surrounded by fire that day once before, in another place... and another lifetime too, so it felt already. This world was dry, and unforgiving. Not like the one she’d left behind. On the nexus world she’d had a life, a people, and a purpose. The Force has called her, and she had answered the call with all her might. But she had wavered at the last moment. Is that why she was here? Caysen has disappeared first, and she had never wavered in anything.

So why am I here?

She couldn’t fathom why the nexus had sent her to this terrible place, and these hateful men. She couldn’t imagine what they’d do to her if no one else arrived. Her eyes roved over the claw-scored face of the cave and she hesitated. She knew what they’d do to her.

Mission sank to her knees beside the sandstone wall and leaned her head against it. Her vision blurred, and she felt an ache in her chest that had nothing to do with an injury. The hopeless loop of thoughts swirled in her head again and again until she began to sob. Tears ran down off her face into the sand, and she covered her head with her arms as though she might block the world out and be safe from it. Only that morning she had sat in the company of so many and felt nothing but hope and a drive to stay the course. How it all had changed in an instant.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Mission Koht
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:43 am

A metallic tapping sound woke Mission from her fitful sleep. She was curled up against the sandstone wall, facing the entire room - with her right eye, at least. The left one didn’t feel swollen anymore, but it was clamped shut with dried blood. With her good eye, Mission took in the room in the diminished light of the erosion hole. The other two cages, the dark corner where barrels of something had been stacked, the entrance she’d been brought in through... and the man standing by her cage, tapping on the slats with her lightsaber.

“Goodness you’re a mess. I hope they didn’t screw your face up for good, that’d be disappointing.”

The man examined the lightsaber for a moment, and then waved it at her. “Speaking of which, this thing was a major let down. Breck doesn’t even want it anymore. Hey what kinda kid drops into the desert with no shoes and nothing but a busted laser sword on her?”

Mission watched him as steadily as her nerves could manage with her open eye, but she said nothing - her nerves couldn’t quite manage that.

The man eyed her a moment, still fidgeting with the saber hilt. “Not gonna talk huh? Too bad, I heard you creepy force-user types like to mouth off a lot.”

“Could I... have some water?” Mission’s voice crackled to life at last. It sounded even worse than she felt.

“Oh yeah, absolutely.” The man said as though she’d reminded him of something important. He walked over to the darker corner and she heard rustling, then he returned and opened the door to toss in something of an oversized dog dish. He shut the cage again, and then reached in and poured the contents of his canteen into it.

“There you go, knock yourself out little dowggy. They wanted to hang you out to dry, but I’m betting you’re worth more as you are. Especially if we can fix your face. I’ve got one question though. How’d you find us?”

Mission gazed longingly at the bowl, hardly caring how demeaning it would be, not to mention filthy. She found her body unwilling to come any closer to the door with the man still standing over her, however.

“You’re not chatty are you. Here’s what I’m looking for. ‘How I got here was...’?”

Again, Mission remained still, watching him with her good eye. She didn’t know what would be worse to tell him, the truth, or a lie.

The man chuckled and kicked the bowl with his toe. It slid an inconsequential distance closer to her and spilled a good portion of its contents in the sand. She wished she had said something.

“Well little dog, get comfy. We’ll sell you off in a few days but we’re not ready to go just yet.” The man smiled coldly and walked away whistling a tune.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Mission Koht
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:25 am

The second the notes of cheery music disappeared down the hall, Mission crawled forward across the sandy floor of her cage and scooped water out of the bowl with her hands and drank it. She drank until her throat didn’t feel like parchment anymore, and then she turned to the sand and focused her best to draw the moisture back out of it. She succeeded in producing only about a mouthful of water, but it was one more than she’d had before.

There wasn’t much water in the bowl, but there was enough to produce a reflection, and when she looked at hers, it wasn’t a pretty sight.

(OOC: At this my wife, reading over my shoulder, suggested I insert a few lines of “Reflection” from Mulan. But that would be copyright infringement, and genre binding... even though Disney owns SW now... moving on.)

Mission considered herself pretty tough. She’d always been able to keep up with Nomi and Caysen and all the other rough and tumble Jedi that had ended up on the Nexus world. But for all that, she was a bit of an easy bruiser. As she regarded her reflection in the water dish, she found that her face was no exception. Even after she spared a few drops of water to moisten and wipe away the blood from her face with the inside of her now sand-stained white tunic, she could see a nasty cloud of blue and purple had settled over her entire eye socket. When she tried opening her eye, it was stiff, and only came about halfway open. It would have to do for now.

There were a great number of uncertainties facing Mission as she sat there in the Kath hound cage, but one thing was certain. She couldn’t allow herself to be sold off by these black-market smugglers or whatever they were. They were the darkness she’d been warned about. Not the kind that wielded the Force maliciously, but the kind that brought out the worst in the world around them.

Mission got to her feet, feeling much better now that she had at least the beginnings of a plan, and reached around to feel the face of the lock. In the eight years she’d spent on the nexus world, Mission had seen some marvels of industrial knowhow be produced by the Jedi to improve their living conditions. They had cut stone, milled wood, and even smelted iron in a few cases. Her father had even managed to find the proper combination of time and scrap to build a puzzle lock to entertain the kids, and himself - not that there was a big difference. She had a basic grasp of how a lock’s bits and pieces worked.

Honing her awareness down as minutely as she could, Mission laid a hand over the lock and tried moving its inner workings. The pieces were small, but she could feel four pins. Her father had never made a key for his lock before, so if they had wanted to open it, they would be forced to open it with their minds. She grinned as she remembered the praline treats he had stored in the box he’d placed the lock on. It was their incentive.

The happy memory of what had been home for so many years now stirred up a mixture of fear and loss in Mission as she realized how suddenly her fun practice had become a dire need. It was distracting and made her lose her mental grip on the lock. Anger and sadness boiled up in equal parts and caused her to tear up again, and it made her black eye burn, so she pushed the memory of sweet treats and the happiness of home down as deep as she could and focused on the technique she’d practiced.

It took a few tries, but the lock finally slid free, and Mission pushed the cage door open as gently as possible.

“Okay I’m out... shoot.”

Mission wasn’t quite sure she knew how to get away. She wasn’t even sure where she was. But she had to go now. If the light from the erosion hole was any indication, it would be night soon, and she could escape into the desert... or she could take their ride.

Now that’s a plan
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Mission Koht
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Thu Jul 05, 2018 8:03 pm

Mission bent down and scooped up the water dish, polishing off its contents and then tucking the dish itself under her arm. It might make a good bludgeoning object, should the need arise. For once, her bare feet were entirely to her advantage as she padded soundlessly across the sandy floor and down the hall.

She wandered around the cave for a bit, discovering that it was quite a bit larger than she’d realized. She tried to recognize a few of the turns but it seemed her memories from earlier that day were mostly an addled haze. No matter, she could still manage. Mission continued wandering around the cave complex, avoiding voices as best as possible and searching for signs of any kind of vehicle. Her search produced a frustrating lack of results. When she rounded a corner and found herself staring at the back of a latrine, she ground her teeth, and decided to go back to plan A. She could still escape across the desert in the night if she got a good head start. When she came back out of the latrine, she was preoccupied enough with her thoughts that she almost bumped right into Tody, who was equally preoccupied with his search for the latrine.

Their past encounter had presented a viable theory that Mission had far better reflexes than Tody, and as they came face to face in the hall, Mission was determined to confirm it. As the big brute stepped back in surprise, she stepped forward in a bound and brought the edge of the bowl straight up against his nose, producing a satisfying crunch.

Mission had realized after the earlier tussle that she had made a mistake by trying to press her advantage over Tody before dealing with Breck, but she now had no one else to worry about, and was free to dance around the brute as she pleased. She rounded up for another kick as soon as she touched the ground and pounded Tody with her heel in the exact same place she had earlier that day. As he staggered back, Mission took another step forward and kicked forward at the side of his left knee. Tody screamed as his knee made a sound similar to his nose and fell to the ground grasping at the damaged joint. Mission jumped on the thug and pounded his head with the water dish a couple more times to stifle his racket. Unfortunately, the damage had been done.

“Hey, Tody are you having prostate problems or something?” Breck stepped around the corner with a grin on his face and paused when he saw Mission crouching over his senseless colleague.

“You, little...” There was actual laughter in Breck’s voice, but he came after her immediately, and he meant business. Mission glanced down at Tody, hoping to see a weapon on him, but she found nothing in the folds of fabric hanging on him, and even taking the time to check had cost her the space she’d have needed to get a head start on the charging thug. She snapped her hand forward and launched the water dish at Breck’s face. He ducked it and rushed on; perfect.

The charging smuggler’s face was a picture of disciplinary frustration as he neared Mission, but it changed to one of confused frustration when the water dish returned to strike him across the back of the head. Mission bounded the last couple of steps to meet him and jumped to throw her knee into his gut. It impacted with a solid whump, and then she smashed the dish against the back of his head again. This time she heard a clank when the dish impacted and realized Breck had some kind of helmet on under the fabric wrapped around his head. She compensated quickly and threw a knee into his face, but he caught her ankle before she could land the blow, and he threw her back.

Mission knew she kicked too much, but she couldn’t help it - she was tiny compared to this man, and she needed the extra power. But she’d had the issue enough in sparring that she wasn’t thrown off by being pushed back. She regained her footing quickly and waded back in. Breck was facing her now, though, and he was much quicker than Tody, so she had to be smart.

“Fiery little thing, aren’t you?” Breck edged closer as he bantered at her.

Mission felt an urge to quip back, to say something her father might, but she didn’t like these men, and she didn’t feel safe enough to open her mouth. She wished she had inherited her father’s size, instead of his sass. She decided to turn her energy into action, hopped toward Breck, so she’d have something to react to. It worked.

Breck reached out to catch Mission, and she smashed his hand head on with the dish in hers. Breck grunted and recoiled his hand, shaking it for a moment, but Mission could get no closer because he kicked at her when she tried - twice.

Suddenly Mission’s opponent rushed her and caught the dish when she swung it at him. He was too close for her to round a good kick on him, and before she could react any other way he had lifted her off the ground by the collar of her sand-stained tunic and slammed her against the uneven stone wall. She’d lost the dish, but she kept clawing and kicking, trying to break loose. It was to no avail, and when he back-handed her across the left side of her face - just below her throbbing black eye - she was stunned into stillness.

“You’re a pretty feisty little Sith child, aren’t you?” He said, moving his grip from her tunic to her neck. “They’re talking about selling you for some profit, but I have half a mind to just keep you here at this point.”

He leaned a little closer, and Mission glared as she caught his foul breath. “I wonder what else you’re good at.”

The “T” of his last word came out with a sharp punctuation as her knee slammed into his groin. The smuggler’s arm slackened for just a moment, and Mission heaved up with all her might, driving both fists square under his jaw and sending him staggering backward to trip and fall over the water dish.

Mission didn’t stop to try and finish him off, or even look at him, she just ran. She leapt over Tody’s unconscious body and headed for the corner. Just as she neared it, she heard a pop and a hollow rustling sound, and then a low buzz before something struck her, and everything went black.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:14 pm

Mission woke with a start and glanced around. She was back in the corner cell again, but this time her hands were bound behind her. She stood up and came to the door but found there were three tack welds on it as well now. She kicked the door in frustration and projected a telepathic scream into the Force. She strained her awareness as far as she ever had, but could only sense the men inside the cave complex. She wished she had noticed them before she had approached the cave in the first place.

The man who had questioned her before came, carrying the same water dish he had before, and leveled an amused smile at her.

“You’re gonna be no end of trouble are you?” He stooped and places the dish by the grating that formed the cage wall, then stood and stared at her again.

“Only if you keep me here.” She replied honestly.

“Oh, so if I let you go you’ll just waltz off into the desert and forget you ever saw us?”

“Yes.”

“Talk about a waste. You’d dry up out there in two days, and worse than that there’d be nothing in it for me.”

Mission shrugged angrily. “Then take me to the nearest free port and I’ll pay you.”

“Or have me gutted by whoever sent you out here, more like.”

“Oh come on!” Mission exclaimed, her hesitancy from earlier forgotten. “No one sent me out here, are you looking at me? I don’t even have shoes, much less any survival gear. Why would anyone send me after you like this?”

The man shrugged. “Maybe to test you? I don’t know how you creepy Force acolytes do things. Or maybe they dumped you here because they wanted you to fail. Did you screw up lately? Dump coffee on someone important?”

Mission glowered at him but didn’t reply. In some deep corner of her mind, she still nursed a small fear that he might be right.

“Mhm, something like that I bet. Either way little lady, I think I’ll be hanging onto you. Don’t worry I’ll keep Breck off ya. Just be a good little acolyte and stay put.”

The den of smugglers was forced to endure two more escape attempts in the following days. The first time, Mission was able to find a notch in the metal slats big enough to catch her cuff links on, and twisted herself around a few times until the slat broke the link like a bolt cutter. From there it was a simple matter of picking the lock and breaking the welds with the Force. She ran across the cage keeper while looking for the entrance and got stunned again.

The second time was less successful. They had welded the entire door shut so she couldn’t sheer the weld points. She had realized after awhile of prowling around her cage that the slats composing the top were farther apart than those composing the walls. Mission could jump much higher than a Kath hound, so she did. Unfortunately her cuffs caught on the metal slat, and she was still wriggling out of the hole when the cage keeper came in to give her water and some food scraps. He pulled out his blaster and stunned her again through the bars as she frantically squirmed toward freedom.

When she came to after that attempt, she knew she’d run out of chances. It appeared that rather than open the cage back up to deal with her, they had simply run a length of chain in and out of a few holes in the ceiling, and then used it as a wench to lower her in. It was attached to a second length of chain, which connected the manacles on her wrists to the ones on her ankles. Even just to go get water, Mission knew she was going to have to either wriggle across the floor like a worm or get up and hop to the cage wall before crouching back down and sticking her head through the opening where the bowl had been left. If even possible, sticking her head through the slats for water felt even more demeaning now than it had before, now that she was trussed up like a pig. She wasn’t afraid of her captors anymore. She positively detested them.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:15 am

When the smugglers finally came for Mission, she was carefully probing the lock of her handcuffs around her wrists. She was also standing and leaning casually against the sandstone wall – as casually as one could stand with their hands chained behind their back and also chained to the ceiling.

“Time to go little lady,” said the old cage keeper. They appeared to have elected him as her handler since he’d had the most luck with containing her. He and Tody climbed up the side of the cage while the other two watched and began to unhook the chain that connected her to the cage. Rather than be yanked off her feet and then hoisted up like a dead body with her belly hanging out, Mission laid down on the ground and wrapped her feet around the chain. When they pulled the slack out, she came up feet first. After they were kind enough right her atop the cage, she proved to be steadier on her feet than either of them once they untied her feet, and she padded lithely over to the edge of the cage where she dropped down in a loud chorus of jingling chain.

After some grunting and grouching, everyone was ready to go, and go they did. Mission’s captors didn’t bother unchaining her at all, but the old one who kept the cages held onto the length of chain that had been her tether. They marched out of the cave and into the bronzy red daylight toward a vessel which sat in the middle of the large clearing she had been poking through some days ago.

“Yep, she’s cute as a button isn’t she. And she can use the Force?” One of the men at the ship broke away to come talk as the others continued loading supplies into the vessel.

“Yeah, a little bit at least.” Said Mission’s questioner from earlier. “She can pick locks and move stuff. Hasn’t tried any lightning or choking or anything scary yet.”

“Well let’s keep her trussed up just to be on the safe side shall we?”

The men stood and talked until the ship was finished loading. As Mission moved to step aboard, Breck pushed past and grabbed her backside. He dodged her responding bite by a scant inch. The men who saw it laughed and whooped in surprise at the exchange.

“She’s got some spirit, doesn’t she?” Said Breck. Mission regretted missing her mark. Even if she’d been beaten in return it would have been worth it to leave a mark on that pervert she’d been stuck in a cave with for the last week.

Perhaps it wasn’t the most Jedi sentiment ever, but Mission wished she could breathe fire on all of them right then. They were clearly all criminals. The cage keeper prompted her to a corner in the vessel as it took off and bumped her so she fell to her knees there. She spent the rest of the ride with her back and hands in the corner, glaring at them all as they chatted and occasionally eyed her. Breck did more often than the others, and she suspected he was doing it just to make her uncomfortable. It worked. She tried to avoid eye contact with him the rest of the flight.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Mon Sep 17, 2018 8:41 am

During the flight, Mission gleaned a few things. First, she was on a planet called Mon Gazza - she believed it was an outer rim world. Second, there was pod racing in this planet, which reinforced her conclusion about the planet’s location. Finally, she discovered that she had indeed stumbled across a smuggling den in the desert. Based on their conversations, they seemed to transport everything from illegal luxury items on up the list to weapons, drugs, and apparently people as well. At least in cases like this. When they arrived at port, there was already a man waiting for them - apparently to receive her.

“Now I know you’re gonna get good money for her - we both do - so cut me a deal here.” The man who’d questioned her stood a few feet off, talking with a taller man who wore black despite the sweltering heat. He eyed her, then glanced back at the smuggler.

“I can give you fair market value based on her looks and health; I’ll even overlook the injury you seem to have inflicted on her face. But I don’t think I can justify any weight to my offer just because she is some kind of force user. From what you describe she’s some manner of escape artist too. The risk of her getting away, I think, is a notable counterbalance to any supposed abilities she might have.”

“You’re shittin’ me right now, I know you are. You’ve got the kind of connections that can handle her easy, and I know you’re gonna get more from her than I will. Just cut me a deal here.”

The man in black eyed her for a thoughtful moment, pulling at the patch of white-flecked hair on his chin, and then seemed to think of something.

“You said she had a lightsaber before, didn’t you?”

“Yeah but it... yeah, why?”

“Well if you throw that in as proof positive, I can sell the two of them off as a matching set. The Woman and the Weapon, you might say.”

The questioning smuggler’s features appeared conflicted for a moment, but Mission could sense triumphant glee coming from him.

“Tell you what man, it is a lightsaber so don’t skimp on me, okay? I’ve seen market prices for em, we all have since The Disappearance. Give me a good price for her and her laser sword, and you’ve got a deal.”

The two of them shook, and then made the arrangements. Mission felt horribly objectified. She had become not just an object in their eyes, but a collectible novelty at that. Once money had been transferred, the man in black came over to take possession of her. Her cage keeper offered him the chain, but he scoffed and waved her off.

“Please. I don’t need such crude measures to manage her. Take them all off.”

The cage keeper shrugged and began unlocking her cuffs. As he did, the man in black slipped a thin silver collar around Mission’s neck that looked like ornamentation and closed it. The second the cuffs came off her wrist, he tapped a key on a small round device in his hand, and the collar stabbed a split second of blinding pain into her body. Mission didn’t quite fall to her knees, but she wanted to. She had an instant headache from the shock.

“Oops, I apologize.” He said with a grin, rolling the object in his hand. “At least we know it works, don’t we? Right this way please.”

Mission glared at the back of the man’s balding head as he turned away, but she had no interest in defying him just then - her body still tingled from the shock, and she guessed she would have been writhing on the ground after a couple more seconds of it. She’d have to figure out how to get it off later. She hoped she’d have a chance. As she stepped into the man’s transport a few minutes later, she let out another telepathic scream for help. It was pointless though, and she knew it. She was alone in this awful place. As she sat down in the seat she was directed to, she wondered what the others were doing right then. Were they packing up their little settlement? Had the nexus sent them home? She wondered, but it hurt to wonder too much, so she put it away. She had to worry about herself for now.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:58 am

As the transport lifted off, Mission watched the man in black inspecting her incomplete lightsaber.

“It doesn’t work, you know.” She said after awhile.

“What’s that now?” He glanced up at her as if remembering she was there.

“He swindled you. That lightsaber doesn’t work, never has.” Mission shrugged. If she could make some trouble for the smugglers, that would be something at least. She knew the questioning one had been excited to pull the wool over on the one in black.

“You don’t say.” He pointes the saber toward her and tapped the activation switch. Nothing happened, nor did it the second or third times he tapped it.

“Well how unfortunate for them. For you, it remains to be seen. I paid a fee worthy for a Force-sensitive child. Do you work better than your little dud here?”

Mission hesitated, wondering if she should tip her hand. The man grinned and turned to face her, brandishing the control to her collar. “If you’re not sensitive, then this lightsaber is worth more than you are even as a malfunctioning conversation piece. And more importantly, if you aren’t sensitive, then your dying moments would be worth more to me in entertainment value than your warm little body would be on the market. You might be an attractive little redhead but you don’t have any pr-“

Mission glared at him and reached her hand out. The lightsaber snapped out of his palm and into hers. He watched her for a moment, then leaned back with a pleased look on his face and stroked his beard.

“Smart girl. Now, if you please.”

The girl hesitated for an instant as the man in black held out an expectant hand, loath to give up her only piece of home. In that instant, he tapped his control ball, and white-hot pain surged through her nerves. She groaned and doubled over in her seat, but held onto her lightsaber.

“Are we going to do this right now?... very well.”

The man in black pressed his finger to the control ball, and left it there for a moment while Mission’s nerve impulses turned on her and threw her to the floor in a string of spasms. It felt as though white hot knives were being stabbed over and over into every muscle in her body. Her vision blurred through the pain, and after a couple seconds she couldn’t have let go of the lightsaber if she’d wanted to. Her whole body clinched into the fetal position on the floor of its own accord, and when the burning sensation let up, she was left panting and heaving on the floor.

The man in black reached out his foot and scraped the lightsaber out of her hand. When he stooped to collect it, he paused a moment. “I’m glad you’re not some weak-willed milk-maid’s daughter. But you’ll find that defiance is pointless in your position. Now get back in your seat, and wait for further instruction.”

Mission wasn’t sure if she could, but somehow, she did. She settled back into her assigned seat and spent the rest of the flight shaking, and trying to even out her breathing. She tried meditating, but her brain was still crackling with static from the shock she’d received. Her father and Aunt Kaytren had spent a good amount of time teaching her the basics of the healing arts - she could even heal cuts and bruises, though she didn’t seem to be very good at healing her own. Either way, she knew she’d be able to focus again eventually, so she tried not to panic. It was an effort with mixed results. It seemed every time she made progress, another obstacle arose to make further progress impossible.

Something would break her way - Mission knew this - she just had to be ready when it did. However long it took.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:29 pm

There was no way of telling just how long Mission was totes around different starports. The man in black, whose name was apparently Galahad, was a busy man, and had quite a few business arrangements to take care of with different contacts. There were a few times where she strayed too far, and he tapped her collar control just to remind her the consequences of independent thought.

It happened at last as they were walking from one establishment to another in a space port she had yet to identify that she spotted her chance to escape. Two men sitting outside a bar, wearing quite distinctive armor, and sporting the traditional T-visored helmets on their belts. When she saw them, she froze for an instant, then glanced at Galahad. She had to get away from him for just a moment - just long enough to tell the Mandalorians across the promenade who she was, and what situation she’d found herself in. Family and honor ran deep in the culture of her mother’s people. They’d help her.

The second Galahad was distracted, Mission bolted, running toward the mandos as fast as she could. She was only a few yards from them, with words forming in her mouth, when her collar activated and she crashed to the ground. She fought against the sensation of pain and static and reached her hand toward the Mandalorian men, who were now staring at her curiously. She tried to speak; tried to tell them she was in dire need of their help, but her throat was paralyzed with electrostatic fire, and she slowly began to curl into a heaving ball.

“What’s this all about?” One of the mandos asked when Galahad arrived to collect her.

“Apparently a slave girl trying to commit suicide by Mandalorian. Thank you for not indulging her, gentlemen. I trust business is good?”

The mandos eyed him apprehensively when he turned the conversation onto their affairs, and went back to their drinks. Two men who apparently worked with Galahad came and collected Mission from the floor, and another escape opportunity passed away from her wavering vision.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Wed Jan 02, 2019 8:56 pm

Another day of travel passed, now in the company of retainers as well as Galahad, before Mission found herself in some building on another world she didn’t know, being handed off to some twi’lek man called Tain and his assistants, along with instructions to get her “ready”.

As soon as she was handed off, Mission was dragged to yet another building and left in the care of two twi’lek women who – contrasted against the malicious and dangerous feeling individuals she’d spent the last several days surrounded by – felt very gentle and welcoming in the force. Mission felt just the barest hint of ease in their company for the first time time since having been captured in the first place.

“Oh goodness, you’re a fright my dear.” Said the first one to greet her, a red twi’lek with fabric braided around her lekku and a welcoming smile. She took Mission gently by the arm and led her to a changing room in the back of the building with a curtain separating it from a large shower with several different spouts. “Come on, off with those dirty rags. We need to get you into something presentable.”

Mission looked down and the once-white linen tunic she wore, which was now tattered and dyed red by the sands of Mon Gazza. Her trousers were in a bit better shape, but they were still filthy, and she didn’t mind the thought of something clean to wear. Mission hoped the twi’lek woman would go away, but privacy seemed to be out of the question, so she stripped and stood on the cool tiles while her new handler sprayed her down with a rusty colored liquid that evaporated quickly and immediately brought her skin back to it’s fair shine, and then brushed about 50 knots out of her hair while she stood under a shower head that poured out steaming water. After that, the other twi’lek reappeared with a fresh change of clothes and they both toweled her off with frightening haste, then fitted her into the clothing and dropped her in a chair where they began to groom her more thoroughly. One of them swatted her hand away when she tried to resist having make-up put on her eyes.

“You’re pretty dear,” Said the second, yellow twi’lek as she began brushing some sort of product onto to Mission’s lips. “You should be grateful for that, you’ll end up somewhere nice.”

“I’d rather end up home.” Mission countered.

“We understand dear, believe me.” Said the red one who was now deftly weaving braids into her hair. “But there’s no going back now - Oh this little streak of white is lovely! Is it natural?”

Mission knew they were distracting her, but she had no other recourse at the moment. They were also the kindest people she’d met in weeks, and she didn’t want to spoil that either. “Yes, it’s a malin streak. It goes where I go.”

“Good, it adds some extra charm to your braids.”

When they were done, Mission felt as though they’d changed her identity. They had treated the little that remained of her black eye and bruised sides with topical bacta applications, and then covered them with base that matched her skin tone - they hadn’t even hidden her freckles. Her hair was now an intricate mesh of woven locks, with a few carefully fashioned braids holding it all together. Her clothes, however, she didn’t care for - they showed far more skin than she felt comfortable with. At least she had shoes now, though.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:01 pm

When Mission was presented back to Galahad, he let out a low whistle. “I would have never guessed there was such a charming young woman hiding under the desert-stained rat I bought on Mon Gazza. Your people do not disappoint, as usual, Tain.”

The twi’lek man chuckled. “You pay, and we provide. She should fetch a good price I think.”

Galahad accepted the control ball back from Tain and grinned. “Oh she will, I’ve already seen to that.”

He motioned to Mission, and they marched off down the street. She felt the appraising stares of everyone who passed her as they walked, and she hid her eyes from theirs. She felt more like an object than ever before, and she hated it. She wondered if anyone could see the pointed tips of her ears burning red.

Galahad led her through the streets to yet another building, and they rode an exterior elevator with a panoramic view up to a high floor. As they rode, Galahad turned her away from the window.

“Listen to me young lady. What is your name?”

She stared his for a distasteful moment, then looked away.

“Jo.”

Galahad laughed in a superior tone. “Hm, I very much doubt that. Alright then, Jo. You are about to meet your new owner-“ he tapped the control on her collar for a split second, and that momentary blast of fire struck her, leaving her once more with an instantly throbbing headache. “-and he will undoubtedly be a little more trigger happy than I am if you get any ideas about getting out of line. So I’d suggest you express nothing but polite obedience to him and his retainers. It’ll hurt my reputation if they have to kill you for acting out within the first week.”

For perhaps the hundredth time, Mission wondered how quickly she could strangle Galahad with the Force. Would she be able to before he set her collar off? She doubted it. She also wondered once more how many Jedi had been passed around on the slave market and managed to hold to their principles. She thought once more of those who had raised her, on the nexus world and before. Her path to freedom didn’t lie in abandoning everything they had taught her. In a sea of uncertainty that attempted to drown her, that was one thing she knew for sure.

Mission said nothing in response to Galahad, but she nodded after an awkward moment of silence. He smiled pleasantly and spun her back around to the view. “There’s a good girl.”

Looking out across the landscape, Mission suddenly realized she was on Christophsis. She had always wanted to see the crystalline landscapes Master Lylia had described to her. She felt another in a long long line of grieved pangs in the bottom of her heart. She had expected to one day come to places like this on valiant missions and liberate the helpless from their oppression, not find herself in the midst of the oppressed, praying for her own liberation. The last few weeks had been nothing but one long, cruel irony.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:52 am

The elevator ride didn’t last long enough, and after a moment Mission was being herded through some manner of high end bar to a private room. The carpet in the establishment was black with gold accents, the light was soft and indirect, and the air smelled sickly sweet with smoke and perfume and some other musty scents she wasn’t familiar with. Crystal glasses and exquisite dishes were everywhere - they summoned vague memories of the ones her mother had kept in her apartments on Coruscant all those years ago. Men sat around tables talking and apparently enjoying the company of attractive women - some of whom were dressed like her, and others of whom seemed to have actually had a say in their wardrobe selections.

In the back room, the light was gold, and still indirect but a little brighter. It illuminated a luxuriously decorated room with a table sporting a rainbow of liqueurs, and another where a woman sat working on a folding data portal. She appeared to have been saying something when Mission entered behind Galahad, but she stopped and stared curiously. Mission glanced around and found a man with with golden-brown skin and fine robes sitting on a burgundy leather sofa rising to greet Galahad. He had black hair and was clean shaved, but obviously had to shave often to remain so.

“Galahad, my friend! I’ve been looking forward to your arrival all day! Salicia’s been keeping me good and bored so you get to cheer me up.”

“Well I happen to have just the thing for you Bearden. Consider your boring day finished.”

“Excellent!” Bearden shook Galahad’s hand and sat back down. “Salicia, get this man a drink. Come Galahad, have a seat.”

Galahad glanced at the woman and held up two fingers. “I’ll have a brandy, if you please.”

Mission watched the woman as she nodded, rose from her chair, and went to select a bottle from the far table. Salicia's form and features reminded Mission of a cat. Her ears were long and broad, rising up from the sides of her head to point slightly back. In addition to her ashy grey-black mane, the sides and back of the woman's neck and ears were covered in fine hair. She had an air of subdued elegance, and the emotional colors she exudes were quite different than those of the other two. She appeared, both in person and in presence, to be resigned to her place in the world.

“Thank you dear,” Said Galahad upon receiving his drink. “So yes, we’ve run a pretty thorough data screening on her, but we can’t find anything concerning identity. She’s got a mixture of human and sephi genetic markers, she’s in remarkably good health considering the state in which I received her, and... her midichlorian count is desirably high.”

Galahad glanced back at her with a pleased smile. “I think she could become a rather potent wielder in time.”

“You don’t disappoint Galahad. Tell me girl, where do you come from?”

“I don’t know.” Mission replied, finally forced to look her buyer in the eye.

“Nowhere worth mentioning I would guess.” Said Bearden. “Show a little of what you can do. Go on, use the Force.”

Mission sighed quietly and glanced around. She wanted to dump the man’s drink on his lap. Or maybe Galahad’s. She reached out her hand and made a stirring motion with her finger. The glass stoppers on the liqueur table began to spin in their bottles, rattling at a number of different frequencies.

“Very nice. Care to top me off?” Bearden held up his glass. Mission’s ears burned red, but she motioned to a bottle with a matching color and carried it across the room. She hated being a show piece.

“My my, you’ve got good control.” He said as she topped off his glass carefully. “You must be a quick study. We’ll have to see what else you can do later but I’m already pleased.”

As she moved the bottle away, Mission lost track of her momentum for a moment and liqueur splashed from the bottle onto the varnished oak table. Bearden clucked his tongue and reached up to grab the bottle himself. He took the control ball from Galahad and tapped the key that activated her collar. His tap wasn’t nearly as swift or practiced as Galahad’s and left her doubled over from the pain with her hands on her bare knees. She breathed heavily for a moment while her heart recovered its rhythm.

“Everything around you cost me something,” Bearden explained in an admonishing tone. “I expect you to treat it all with care. The amount of privilege you earn working for me will depend entirely on you.”

Bearden rose with the bottle in one hand and the control in the other, and came to look her over. He didn’t tower over her like Galahad or Breck had, but for some reason she felt more threatened by him than either of them. She could sense a lingering darkness in his presence. He was a heartless man.

“You’ve impressed me so far, Jo.” He said in a teasing manner. As he circled around behind her, she felt his finger drag along her shoulder and hook the braid off her back. She felt as though his touch had infected her with something - a feeling that sank into the pit of her stomach when he raised her braid to his nose and smelled it like a bouquet of flowers. “I think I’ll quite enjoy having you around. Now, go put this back, and don’t make a mess.”

So saying, he handed Mission the bottle and gave her a gentle nudge. He returned to the couch while she put the liqueur back and sat down with a satisfied sigh. “Salicia, I’m happy again. Pay my friend Galahad for his merchandise and tell Meridot to expect a new trainee this evening.”

Mission stayed by the liqueur table after replacing the bottle, since it kept her far away from her disgusting new “owner”. She saw a number of screens run across Salicia’s portal, and her fingers dancing across the key panel with smooth motions. After a minute she closed out two screens. “Done, sir.”

“Goodness Salicia, I do enjoy having you around. Are you sure I can’t talk you into coming back to Hydian City? I could pay you more appropriately there.”

The woman laughed, but Mission felt a shudder of fear within her aura. “Oh you tempt, but you know I do my best work at home.”

“Yes yes, I know. I’ll find the right carrot for you eventually, don’t you worry.”

Salicia was clearly worried that he’d find the right carrot. But she seemed to have been playing this game awhile. She took the comments in outward jest, and collapsed her data portal with a smile. Mission wondered if she was a slave too - or maybe she was trapped somehow. Whenever her father and Master Orspach had talked about the sorts of people they’d met in these places, it didn’t sound as though many of them had a choice. Mission certainly didn’t.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Sat Jan 05, 2019 3:45 pm

Galahad was gone after that, leaving Bearden with a pleasant smile and a small case containing three controllers for her collar. He kept one in his hand and casually fiddled with it as they departed the private room. Mission was intrigued by the number of individuals who greeted Bearden on their way to the elevator. And not just as a friend, but as some sort of superior. Whatever he was, he was an important one.

The elevator took them up instead of down, and Mission found herself being led to some sort of luxury private transport. Salicia stayed with them and indulged Bearden in a little more small talk before heading back to the elevator.

As the feline woman neared the elevator, Mission suddenly felt a strange sense of panic, as if she were losing an ally somehow. On an impulse, she reached out and brushed Salicia’s mind with her own. The woman paused as she reached for the elevator control and glanced back curiously. Mission searched out her eyes, and willed her to see her desperation. Salicia’s features morphed into an expression of grave concern and she glanced at Bearden who was catching up with someone else on the landing pad for a moment. Her pale green eyes shifted pack to Mission for a furtive moment, and then she stepped into the elevator and disappeared.

Mission sighed, and turned away. Maybe it was something, or maybe it was nothing. She felt the latter to be exceedingly more likely at this point. Resigned to her fate, at least for the moment, Mission turned and stared at a space just beyond Bearden and his associate as they conversed, and tuned out the world. She didn’t care what they spoke of, it had little meaning to her, even if they were talking about her. A month ago, Mission had been part of something important - part of a group whose task had cosmic implications. Now, she was a conversation piece on someone’s self. She felt exposed, and empty.

***

The ride from whatever city they were in to Hydian City was awkward for Mission. Bearden didn’t seem to pay her any attention, but he expected her to stand close by - when she had initially moved to take a seat, she’d received a shock for her troubles, and a reset on the expiration date of her headache. After that, she stood where she was supposed to, and tried to look small. It wasn’t hard, since she was.

Mission could, however, see out the window as the transport flew along. She once again regretted the circumstances of her first visit to Christophsis. The landscape was breathtaking, and if she’d had any choice in the matter she would have been glued to the window soaking it all in. But she stood, and waited. If she held still, her headache would subside, and then she could at least enjoy not being in pain for awhile.

Mission again wondered where the others were, and considered letting out another telepathic cry for help. She didn’t. The transport eventually reached Hydian City, and settled into a complex of some sort near the edge of town.

“After you,” Bearden said with a charming smile, playing the part of the gentleman as he had while entering the ship. It felt entirely disingenuous to Mission, and made her detest him even more.

When Mission did leave the ship, she found a small group of individuals coming to meet them. Three adults, and a child. Bearden stepped past her and moved to greet them, but she stayed close, assuming the same proximity rule still applied.

“How’s my boy?” He asked, picking up the young child. The boy laughed when Bearden began poking at him, and Mission found herself even more troubled by the thought that her heartless “owner” was a father. After he’d played with the boy a moment, Bearden kissed him loudly on both cheeks and handed him to a youngish human woman who stood nearby in plain cloths. He turned to the man at the fore of the group and reached out to shake his hand.

“Wex, any news?”

“Plenty, but nothing to discuss in the yard. You’ll be having dinner here this evening?”

“I think I will actually,” Said Bearden, sounding as though it were a shocking idea. “I hate taking all three meals so far from home. You’ll be staying of course?”

It didn’t really strike Mission as a question, but the one called Wex smiled and nodded anyway. “Naturally. I take it this is the little errand that took you to Jewel City today?” He motioned at Mission, and she wanted to hiss at him that the word “this” didn’t apply to people. She kept silent.

“Oh yes, lovely don’t you think? Galahad assures me she’ll be quite a potent Force-wielder eventually.”

“Well let’s hope she can behave long enough to find out, aye?”

Bearden laughed. “She seems a pretty quick learner. Besides, Meridot will show her the ropes around here. Won’t you Mer?”

“Of course sir.” A blue togruta woman who was beginning to show her age stepped a bit closer. “What shall I prepare her for to begin with?”

“Oh I don’t care; whatever’s useful to you for now. She might be a good fit for table duty in a couple weeks actually, with the guests coming. Why don’t you have her show you how well she can fill up glasses - hands-free!” Bearden opened his briefcase and handed Meridot one of the controller’s for Mission’s collar. “Just to keep her on track till she learns the ropes. Don’t be too heavy handed though. It definitely does the work for you.”

Meridot looked at Mission, and Mission returned her gaze. They regarded each other for a moment, then Meridot raised the controller to her eye and inspected it for a moment. “What is your name girl?”

“Jo.”

“Your real name.”

Mission stared at the togruta for a moment, then glanced away. “Joan.”

“That’s more like it. Come with me Joan, we’ll get you sorted out.”

Mission followed after her to the tune of Bearden’s laughter and continued conversation, and was accompanied by the woman carrying his child. Inside the door, Meridot paused and blocked Mission’s path while the other two carried on. “Now tell me, what is your name?”

Mission glared at her. “I said it’s Jo-“

“Oh yes I heard you, and I gave you that out there in good faith, but when you’re in my tending you’ll have no secrets from me except those I allow you to keep. Do you want any autonomy whatsoever within the walls of this house?”

Mission nodded, feeling suddenly stricken.

“Then when I ask you a question, you answer me truthfully. Now, what is your name?”

“Mission.”

Meridot smiled curtly, then rolled the controller in her hand and motioned for Mission to follow her. “Very good. Welcome to my home, Mission. First things first, we need to get you out of those foolish cloths.”
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:54 am

After being allowed to change in private, Mission followed Meridot in some marvelously plain cloths through a set of luxuriously decorated halls to a kitchen where an old man with a thin moustache spoke in a commanding tone to a young man and two young women who bustled about pursuing various dinner-related tasks. To his credit, he bustled around right alongside them. She cracked a rare grin, remembering how seriously the Jedi had taken mealtimes on the nexus world.

“Planche?” Meridot called, causing the old man to pause. “Have you got anything set aside for the home staff?”

“Aye, there’s food marked for you lot in the hot box and the second coldy.”

“Thank you sweetpie.”

The old man humphed and went back to work. Meridot smirked after him a moment and then motioned to Mission again. “Don’t worry about him. Come to me for meals if you miss a regular mealtime.”

“What did you mean by ‘home staff’?” Mission asked while Meridot dug through the hotbox. The older woman chuckled.

“Clever girl. The republic’s anti-slavery laws were never very robust in the outer rim even at their height, but ever since the Jedi disappeared and the senate lost their collective spines, there’s been no one to enforce any of it out here.”

Meridot handed her a small bowl of stewed meat to go along with the bread and veggies she’d already received. Mission frowned at the bowl, realizing for the first time that her experience in losing her people might well be a galactic condition. While the order had indeed grown small, it had still held enormous sway due to the determination and guidance it provided the republic. What might the galaxy be like now? Was there anyone to look after them? Definitely not out here... but something Planche had said turned Mission’s thoughts aside.

“Are you part of the home staff?”

Meridot finished up in the hotbox and turned on her with a smirk. “I’m the head of the home staff. But yes. And I don’t mind. I know how to treat people, and keep them working in good spirits. My heavy hand is just the face I wear for Bearden so he keeps me where I am.”

Mission smiled. Perhaps there were some good people in this place after all.

“Now, tell me about yourself. Where do you come from?” Questioned Meridot when they sat down in a secluded corner later. Mission regarded her with interest for a moment. She sat straight as a board, with her chin held high. Nothing about her suggested that she was a slave to anyone. Even so, Mission hesitated to tell her the truth. She didn’t know what it might mean to anyone else.

“There’s not much to know.” Mission mumbled with a shrug, prodding at her stew. Her collar suddenly activated, and she tensed expecting the usual torture, but the impulse it sent through her nerves tickled more than anything else. She rubbed her neck and quirked an eyebrow at Meridot.

“If you want to keep your life private from Bearden and his guests you’re going to need a straighter face than that. And I’ve already told you there are no secrets from me in this house.” Meridot eyed her expectantly, rolling the controller ball casually in her hand.

Mission sighed and put her spoon down. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. The truth is stranger than anything I could ever dream up.”

“Now that, I believe. So tell me, what is the strange truth of who you are?”

Mission looked into Meridot’s steady eyes for a long moment, and finally relented in her mind. The truth.

“I spent the last few weeks with a man named Galahad who bought me from some smugglers on Mon Gazza. How I got on Mon Gazza I have no idea, but before I appeared there I spent the last eight years with my father and many others on a strange planet that’s not on any map I know of... before that, I was raised in the Jedi temple on Coruscant.”

Meridot paused with her spoon hanging from her mouth and stared at Mission. She found herself again and swallowed her food after a moment. “You were part of the Great Disappearance?”

“It seems so. What do people think happened?”

“No one knows,” Meridot replied honestly. “Some people thought a second purge had occurred like in the final days of the clone wars, others said they’d simply abandoned us. It was right around the time of that awful battle on Metellos too, some people assumed they’d finally met their match or something.”

Mission shook her head. “No that was coincidence. For one thing they weren't all even there, not by a long shot, but they finished the Metellos campaign. My father was there. But it happened before he or the other Jedi with him ever made it home. Something just called us away. Pulled almost the entire order straight through space to some planet. I don’t know what happened in the end, but we had accomplished what we were called there for, and then suddenly I was in the middle of the desert on Mon Gazza. Those smugglers caught me before the day was over.”

Meridot stared quietly at her for a moment. “By the Force, you really are a Jedi aren’t you?”

The memory of a wavering light, and a buzzing sound played through Mission’s thoughts, and she shrank away from them. “I wouldn’t go that far. I never finished my lightsaber - never was formally taken on as a Padawan either.”

“Hmm... well you’re a missing piece of a puzzle, at the very least.” Meridot stirred her stew thoughtfully. “Be wary of Bearden. For now you’re just a trophy to him, but in time he’ll expect more of you.”

Mission glanced toward the far door. “I thought he might.”
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:28 am

In the following days, Mission began to settle into a routine, though she did so with a certain grudging hesitation. After demonstrating her telekinetic prowess to Meridot, the head of the house staff declared that her skills needed fine-tuning, and assigned her a number of tasks around the house, along with the stipulation that she wasn’t to use her hands for any of them. In the house staff’s quartering, she washed dishes, set the table, and served food all using the Force.

In some ways it felt wrong to use an ability so profound for tasks so menial, but Mission remembered back to conversations she’d had on quiet evenings on the nexus world. Her father had told her about years in his youth when he’d felt the same way. He had realized over time that the Force was not only an ally in the difficult times, but also a companion in the quiet times. She determined to view the Force as her quiet companion during her present ordeal, and embraced the tasks Meridot gave her. As long as the head of the house staff kept her busy in back, she didn’t have to spend any time around Bearden.

Of course the day was coming when that would end, and Meridot informed Mission after breakfast the day before it came. Mission was standing at the head of the house staff’s meal table, shifting her hands back and forth in slightly showier motions that were strictly necessary to control the trajectories of the numerous dishes on the table when Meridot caught one of the plates and set it on the table.

“Bearden will have his expected guests tomorrow. You’ll be setting and serving dinner for them.”

Mission sighed and closed her hands together, causing all the dishes to slide together into finished stacks at once. “What all must I do?”

“You’re to function as their dinner server, and simultaneously as their entertainment. You’ll be expected to keep a pleasant smile and tone for the entirety of the evening - none of this indignant glowering you do back here.”

Mission grinned, motioning the dish stacks to her. “Not even a little bit of discontented frowning?”

“None of it. You and I have already decided where you’re to say you’ve come from, so stick to the lines and sound grateful. They may call on you to do a few parlor tricks, just do your best. I won’t be far, so if you get in over your head I’ll come chastise you and make you do better.”

“Oh that should make things better. Nothing improves my focus like a shock-induced headache.”

“Now you’ve got it. I’m preparing their menu now with Planche, and then I’ll let you know if there’s anything tricky on it. In the meantime go to the store room and keep practicing pouring drinks with the water bottles. Practice catching loose drops too, the last thing you need is to be dribbling red wide on a guest’s robes by accident.”

Mission spent the next hour doing just that. She was confident in her ability to pour drinks without making a mess of any kind, but she spent some time overfilling glasses and catching the drops as the rolled over the sides.

It was a strange task, trying to control a liquid. Solid objects could be manipulated from a fulcrum point or telekinetically enveloped depending on the need and skill of the practitioner, but liquids required more focus. It wasn’t possible to simply grab ahold of a liquid and pick it up. Instead, the practitioner had to either form a perfectly watertight envelope or channel the liquid could settle into or flow through, or they had to be able to interact with the liquid on a more profound level where it’s physical connection to the Force existed. Force wielders who could manipulate liquids in their fluid form, without having to envelop them in telekinetic energy, could technically be said to be practicing hydrokinesis. These individuals could also control the temperature and phase of the liquid as well. Mission was not capable of hydrokinesis yet.

Nonetheless, not a single drop of water fell to the ground. Meridot arrived after another hour with a handful of fruits and a peeler, which she informed Mission would be on the menu.

“Oh I’ve done that before, I don’t need the peeler.” Mission informed her matter-of-factly.

“You’re telling me you can competently cut the fruit in such a way that no mess is made and none of the flesh is thrown away with the peel?”

“Definitely.”

Meridot insisted that she demonstrate, and Mission proceeded to spin and peel four fruits at once, each shaved clean of skin without a single speck of waste.

“I suppose you have done this before.” Meridot mused, plucking one of the fruits from the air and biting into it.

“Oh yes, I helped with meal preparation quite often. My father’s an enthusiastic cook... and an enthusiastic master of telekinesis. I’m sure if he were here he’d cook the entire meal himself and then it’d all come floating out of the kitchen and serve itself to the dinner party...” Mission hesitated, and then grinned. “Well actually if it were him he’d have beaten those smugglers on Mon Gazza into the sand by himself and then used their hardware to signal a pick-up call.”

“I’m sure he would.” Meridot agreed, handing Mission another of the peeled fruits. “That’s his style though, not yours. You’ll find your own way out of this mess and back to him eventually.”

Mission accepted the fruit and ate it, but she still had reservations about finding her father and the others. She had no idea what had happened to them. It was entirely possible they were still stranded on the nexus world... or maybe they were all back home, waiting for her to catch up... or maybe they’d ended up on some uninhabitable world. Mission pushed the thoughts aside and focused on her situation. Ruminating hadn’t done her much good so far.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:31 pm

That evening, the menu items were prepared in their simplest versions for the home staff, and Mission served the entire meal to them. Meridot said she needed a rehearsal run, so she practiced serving in full theatric style, spinning dishes and swishing bottles, peeling fruit in delicate spirals, and pouring beverages in the most elaborate ways she could manage. The house staff were an appreciative audience, as was little Varden, who took many of his meals with the house staff when his father was too busy to be bothered. Anise, who was Varden’s caretaker, also expressed heartfelt appreciation for the service and the theatric flourish. She assured Mission that she would be the talk of the evening when the guests arrived. Mission wasn’t sure she wanted to be the talk of the evening among any guests of Bearden, but she accepted the compliment nonetheless. When she poured Varden his water a moment later, she focused a little more carefully on the shape of her envelope, and a tentacle of water reached out to tap his nose. Anise smiled and made a little “boop” sound as it happened. Varden erupted into a fit of six-year old giggles, and Anise had to rescue his cup as he reached up to rub his nose with both hands.

It was a fun night for everyone, and then it was over. Anise hustled Varden off to bed while Mission cleared the table of dishes and levitated then off to the kitchen where mercifully someone else had been charged with washing them. It was good practice, but Mission was tired of pulling the whole kitchen duty chore list every day. Meridot came through and hustled everyone through the house making sure their work was done, and then hustled them on with equal urgency to the house staff quartering.

The lighting in that section of the house was low, and very conducive to sleep, which was mostly what they did there. Mission had been given a bed in the corner across from Anise, and sometimes they talked at night, but that particular night Varden seemed to be demanding more attention, so Mission did something she hadn’t in quite awhile. She did her stretches.

Jedi were usually fairly limber people, but Mission had gained a reputation even among her friends on the nexus world for having no bones whatsoever. Joints felt a little stiff as she started, but she insistently worked through the motions, and began to find that her limbs and head and feet were soon willing to twist and bend into any order and alignment that she wished. It felt good to do something recreational again. After bending and stretching out on the floor space between beds, she braced herself between the feet of hers and Anise’s beds, and sank into some of her more trying leg bends. Finally she caught the wooden rail across the foot of her own bed with her hands, and lifted herself slowly, precisely up into the air in a series of positions that demanded complete control of different muscle groups. She finished with what some of the older Jedi told her resembled the hands of a clock going round, though she’d never seen such an ornate timepiece in her early childhood that she could recall. Resting her full weight on her palms, Mission began to shift her torso such that her toes traced a large circular shape on the same two-dimensional place as her arms. Her feet went slowly up alongside her as her hips pivoted, then up over her head as her body straightened out as though in the middle of a dive, and then finally they dropped slowly back along her right side until her toes pointed down. She repeated the exercise in a counterclockwise direction as well, then lowered herself to the ground. Her muscles burned, but she was pleased to see she hadn’t lost her range of mobility in the last month of hardships.

After Mission had completed her last bit of cool-down stretches and gone to bed, Anise returned to their dim little corner from putting Varden to bed. The elder of the two girls always seemed to have an instinct about whether or not Mission was asleep, however. She moseyed in through the dark room and settled onto the edge of Mission’s bed with a sigh.

“That poor little boy. I wish I could take him away from here.”

Mission rolled over under her blanket and popped her eyes out into the light. “What happened?”

Anise accepted the unspoken invitation and scooted back onto the bed, settling atop Mission’s legs. “Nothing happened. But that’s just it, nothing ever happens. His dad’s too busy being a villain to give his son any attention and he’s all pent up in this house all the time... He called me “mommy” tonight while I was putting him to bed. The poor boy.”

“He’s lucky to have you.” Mission assured.

Anise smiled, but her sad eyes persisted. “Thank you. He deserves a mother though... and a family.”

“Family’s more than blood,” Mission said, searching out her bunk mate’s eyes. “You’re more his family than that wretch who owns the house.”

Anise leaned back against the wall. “Maybe so.”

“There’s no maybe about it!” Mission insisted, sitting up out of her covers. “Look, my mother is mandalorian; I learned a thing or two about family from her and them when I was a child. Did you know the mando’a don’t trace bloodlines? It doesn’t even matter to them. New children and even adults are adopted into different clans all the time, so they don’t worry about heritage. They’re all family because they choose to be, and they all take care of each other regardless of where or when they were born.”

A small trace of a smile crossed Anise’s face in the dim light. “Family by choice. That sounds nice.”

“It’s what you are to Varden.”

After a quiet little while, Anise made her way to her own bed where she nodded off to sleep. Mission fell asleep at some point as well, and dreamed of mandalorians in full armor having tea and sandwiches.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Thu Jan 17, 2019 12:02 pm

Dinner was an hour away the next day when Meridot tracked Mission down and pulled her into one of the many decorative rooms that filled the house. She handed her a bundle of clothes and hustled her into the closet to change. When Mission unraveled the bundle of fabrics and made sense of the garment, she found herself feeling a little skeptical. When she voiced her concerns to Meridot, the matronly togruta swatted the door tersely.

“When you’re a slave girl entertaining a bunch of adult male children with power complexes, you can either wear something exotic, or you can wear something revealing. Would you like me to go find the outfit I found you in two weeks ago?”

“No! Fine fine, give me a second.”

Mission squirmed her disgruntled self into the folds of silk and satin, and when she glanced in the mirror she decided it wasn’t quite so bad. It was a single garment - a dress - but it looked like a skirt and a top. The skirt portion was a flowing assortment of winding green and white ribbons that hung down about a handbreadth below her knees. The top of the garment started with an interwoven mesh of black ribbons that tucked into the waistline facade of the dress, and gave the appearance of a corset without actually cutting off the oxygen supply. The uppermost portion of the dress was half green and half white, overlapping in the middle the way flower pedals might, and wrapping around both the chest and the upper arms. Delicate straps about the width of a woman’s thumb fit snuggly over Mission’s shoulders. The only thing exposed were her shoulders, and she didn’t mind that so much. Especially given the alternative.

Meridot gave her a stiff appraising look when she stepped out, and then nodded. “Very good. Now give me the rundown of the menu again.”

Mission proceeded to explain all the options and variants available to Bearden and his guests that evening while Meridot nodded along. At the tail end of the presentation, she nodded thoughtfully for a moment, and then shook her head. “I won’t be far if anything comes up.”

Bearden’s guests arrived shortly thereafter, and once they’d all been settled, Mission began her debut performance. There were four men accompanying Bearden at the table, including Wex, the man she’d seen around the house a couple of time since he’d met them on the courtyard those weeks ago. They all watched her curiously, except for Bearden, who positively glowed with pleasure.

Mission began by asking the men what they’d prefer to drink. As each one of them stated their preference, the bottles containing their choices rose up from a table behind Mission and came slowly forward. Matching glasses rose and came to call as well - Mission motioned them forward as she might another person. The bottles turned upside down behind Mission one at a time, and their contents described wandering lines through the air on their way to the glasses, which then bobbed through the air in unison toward their owners. All throughout the display, Mission took small steps and made directive motions the way an orchestrator might. When the last drink was settled, she paused at the foot of the table opposite Bearden and pushed her palms down in a gesture of completion.

“She’s quite something, aye lads?” Said Bearden, glancing exultantly around the table. The men echoed each other’s compliments and praise, and Mission cared for none of it. She cared only that Bearden’s expectations of Meridot had not been tarnished.

The dinner courses proceeded in similar fashion, with Mission taking orders and then dancing plates and dishes in and out on unseen currents of the Force. It was a painfully showy display of powers, in Mission’s opinion, but she reminded herself that the Force was her ally, and that her flourish and showmanship protected the slaves in other parts of the house.

Incidentally, serving as both table-staff and entertainment allowed Mission to remain in the room the whole evening, which in turn allowed her to be a discrete third party to the discussions around the table. The men spoke in practiced and discrete terms themselves, as was undoubtedly their habit after so many years thriving on clandestine business dealings, but Mission began to discern what she was hearing as the night went on, and it troubled her greatly.

Apparently a charismatic senator had come to some prominent places of influence recently, and was already becoming a scourge to those who operated outside the legal system. Specifically, he was putting a great deal of pressure on the drug cartels that thrived in the mid and outer rims. High level individuals like Bearden and the others around the table were hardly within range of the changing winds at the moment, but it did affect the way they did business, and the changes that they discussed so casually around the table horrified Mission inwardly in the scope and variety of criminal activity they suggested. These men dealt in drugs, but they also dealt in weapons, all sorts of contraband commodities, and man-trafficking.

Mission noted all their names as the evening progressed, as well as their faces, and the locations they mentioned. She determined right then and there, standing in the corner waiting for the next course, that she would track down each of these men one day, and see them all brought to justice. They had only been able to thrive this much because the Jedi were absent.

Dessert came last, after the salad and cheese plates had been cleared away, and as Mission described the available dishes, two of the men requested the fruit collages - one of the men, a slightly heavyset human, complained about his doctor’s orders on the matter. Mission resumed her subtle dance and began summoning plates of crafted dessert to the table, along with coffee and sweet wines at their pleasure. The fruit collages were the last to come, and they arrived cleaned but otherwise unprepared with a collection of plates and utensils. The heavyset man had just enough time to wonder why his desert hadn’t been prepared before Mission stepped into a new level of theatrics.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:18 pm

The fruits all zipped toward her for a moment as though to plaster themselves against her, but she waved them away with an intimidating gesture. One fruit flew close again, and she took a step toward it, then sliced her hand downward and clove it in half with the Force. It was a plump fruit, and sprayed a mist of juice when she “slew” it, but the men chuckled, now fully engaged in her dueling fruit show. The second and third varieties of fruit attacked her at once - a large fruit, and a large cluster of small fruits that grew on vines together. Mission took a ready posture with her feet spread and dodged under the large fruit as it attacked, allowing it to fly past and bump clumsily against the far wall. The cluster was a more patient foe, and approached at a more measured pace, but it was still no match for Mission. As it attacked, lashing out with its vines, Mission somersaulted back through the air and came down in a low spread making hardly a sound. She spun upward back to her full height again as the cluster approached, and thrust her palms forward at it. The cluster exploded into a constellation of individual fruits, and the vines fell lifeless to the floor.

Mission spun her hand around with a clever smile and grouped the small fruits off with the cloven fruit from earlier.

The large fruit had been making its way back and Mission had fought the cluster, and as she flicked the vines aside with her toe, it attacked her from behind. The young woman sensed the attack, and spun around with a wide kick that split it in half from one end to the other. She proceeded to mime a series of additional acrobatic kicks that sliced the fruit into more manageable pieces, and then finally planted both feet on the floor and divided the pieces into two groups with a commanding swipe of her hand. She turned to face the last of the fruits - the ones with the rinds that Meridot had been concerned about earlier - and began to weave and dodge back and forth as they flew at her. As each one flew past, se parried them with gentle taps and their rinds popped off, leaving them to tumble through the air as individual slices before loosing momentum and coming to a stop midair in small groups. The fruits flew at her faster and faster and were each defeated until as the last one approached, she held her hand out and it stopped dead in front of her. She smiled, and swept her finger to one side. The fruit spun in a sympathetic motion and its rind peeled on in a thin spiral that tumbled to the floor. When it was finished, Mission made a couple of elaborate flourishes with her hands and footwork, and produced the finished fruit collages for the men who’d requested them.

Bearden began to applaud, and the other men at the table joined him heartily, as did the kitchen staff watching through the ornate windows in the double door. Mission smiled and bowed, and thought nothing of the crime lords she entertained with fruits, but instead thought of the Jedi who had applauded her nimble display of agility on the nexus world after she’d demonstrated her mastery of the Ataru advanced set footwork - the very same she had just applied to her show.

The dessert course represented a dismissal of business talk, and a revived chatter of fascinating things and amazing people. One of the men was telling a story about some terrifying creature he’d recently seen that flayed the skin from its prey after killing it and drank its blood. “Just as quick as she did with those fruits!” He declared, waving a finger at Mission. “It was the most insane thing I’ve ever seen.”

One of the other men let out a low whistle and glanced back at her for a moment. “When you say it like that, I might feel a little nervous having one like her around.” He chuckled and glanced at Bearden. “You might want to sleep with one eye open Bearden.”

The master of the house grinned and fixed Mission with his possessive stare for a moment - it made her skin crawl. “Indeed I might...”

After the guests finished up dessert and coffee, they moved to one of the house’s middling guest rooms, and Mission was given the rest of the evening off as a reward for her marvelous performance. As she ate the home staff’s meal table later, eating leftovers from dinner, she pondered the evening’s events and couldn’t help but feel that something of significance to her had occurred.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Sun Jan 20, 2019 9:17 pm

Two weeks later, a stranger attacked Mission in the courtyard while she sat enjoying a quiet spell between chores. It was a brief altercation, in which she handily defeated her assailant before running to get help. When she arrived back with others, the man was gone, and the security staff had no record of an intruder anywhere. They seemed far less troubled by it than they should have been to Mission, but she had no recourse other than to accept their placating words.

A week later, two men attacked her in the hallway. It was a more or less unused wing of the house, and she had only gone there at the request of the security staff on instruction to examine a refresher that seemed to be experiencing plumbing problems. She wasn’t a plumber, but the home staff dealt with home maintenance coordination, so she obliged. The refresher was fine, and Mission was on her way back to the main wing of the house idly pondering if she could sneak out this way when a man came around a corner and swung a baton at her.

Mission’s predictive reflexes saved her from the awful blow, and she tumbled backward, sensing a third person in the hall as well. She ended up tumbling between his feet as they spread apart in his failed attempt to grab her. She dancing around the two of them for several seconds, trying to avoid any primitive habits that would turn into a brawl she would lose. Instead she focused on getting in and around them, striking them at their weak points, and outmaneuvering them in the dim hall. She took a few blows, but she eventually created enough of a twist in the overall melee that she was able to bound off the wall and drive her knee into one of their faces. He went down, and then she dismantled the remaining assailant’s guard with a series of precision strikes that left him groaning on the ground.

Security did show up that time, conveniently after she had finished off her attackers, and they brushed her along with a cursory degree of thanks for protecting the household and their assurance that the intruders would be dealt with. Later, as Meridot looked her over, Mission voiced her suspicion.

“I think they’re singling me out.”

“I can hardly argue that you’ve been singled out,” Meridot agreed, fussing over a bruise on her jaw with a bacta swab. “What I can’t work out is who or why.”

“Do you think it’s one of Bearden’s jealous work friends?” Mission asked.

“Oh I doubt that. They’re far too afraid of him for any of that. Not to mention that he’d have had one of their heads over it by now if it were true.”

“Then it must be Bearden’s men.”

Meridot paused and stared at her. “But why w- oh my...”

“It makes sense doesn’t it?” Mission said, pinching the swab from Meridot’s frozen hand and continuing with her own bruise.

“It does if he’s decided to put you to better use than entertaining guests.” Meridot watched thoughtfully as Mission finished with the swab and threw it away. “In which case he’ll either be planning more of these attacks, or be planning to make your training a little more official.”

“Or both.” Mission mused.

Three weeks passed before another attack occurred, but Mission was prepared when it happened. She had given up the notion of enjoying any peace around the house, and had taken to constantly listening to the Force for cues about the world around her. It was a good exercise in general, but specifically, she saw the attack coming a mile away.

In addition to having greatly attuned her mind to the environment, Mission had also discretely armed herself. There were more than enough utensils in the kitchen to go around, so no one had missed when a pair of rolling pins had disappeared. Mission had mused that killing one or two of her assailants would likely lead to some new faces in the security staff in the coming days, but that simply wasn’t her way. So she had stolen the rolling pins, and ground them down into much more wieldy fighting sticks. She also spent a few minutes before bed in the storeroom every evening practicing the stick fighting techniques master Lylia had taught her, and testing the speed and precision of her Force-based martial skills.

The result of all Mission’s preparation was that even though four men came after her that afternoon three weeks later, as she made her way under the garden canopy between the main house and a storage outbuilding, they never stood a chance.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Wed Jan 23, 2019 10:33 am

Mission lept up into the rafters as soon as she sensed the beings approaching with clear malicious intent, and spread her feet wide so that she was braced lightly between two struts in the garden canopy. She hung there for a patient moment while they waited, continued to wait, and then cautiously made their way under the canopy. They stalked their way through the garden, and stalked their way right underneath her. Mission indulged in a single moment of pleasure as her careful attention paid off, and then sprung her counter-snare.

The diminutive redhead dropped from the rafters onto the shoulders of the rear assailant and boxed his ears with her sticks. He immediately collapsed forward, and when her feet touched the ground she took an anchoring step forward, then crouched and extended her sticks toward the next one in line. He flew through the air with a loud wham and crashed into the other two before smashing into a bed of flowers where he remained motionless.

Mission sprang forward lightly across the intervening 10 feet between herself and victim number three, bringing her knee into his gut while she clamped onto the back of his neck with her sticks. They both settled toward the ground, and as soon as her bare toes touched dirt again, Mission sidestepped and worked the man over with her sticks before he could get up his guard. He collapsed to the ground neatly enough that Mission could turn to face victim number four while he still had a couple of running steps to go. Mission hopped up off the side of a raised flowerbed and threw a stick at the man’s face, then spun and shot her heel forward to meet his jaw before he could recover from the first blow or slow himself

To the man’s credit, he didn’t have a glass jaw, but he still staggered when Mission kicked him in the face, which gave her time to land and wade into fighting range. Rather than going for his face again, Mission ducked low and gave his knees a healthy beating before reaching up to smash his hand between the sticks when he attempted to swing at her. As he drew his hand back, she followed his motion and sprung off his dragging leg to strike him on the temple with the bottom of her stick.

Mission’s feet found the ground at about the same time as the man’s knees. She gave him one more kick in the chest for good measure, and when he toppled over backward, she found Bearden and two guards standing at the far end of the hanging garden, watching with weapons drawn and something like astonishment on their faces. But not quite. Even so, they rushed over and began securing the area. Mission felt nothing like concern or alarm at the presence of the intruders exuding from Bearden when he reached her. Only satisfaction.

“Goodness my dear, you seem to have a nose for when these infiltrators get into my home. I may put you on security staff at this rate.”

Mission glanced around at the men being carried away in various states of disrepair and shrugged a little uncertainly. Bearden made her more nervous than they had. “Where did they come from?”

“Oh I believe these men are working for some of my disgruntled former associates, if past experience shows. In galactic commerce there are some pretty sore losers I’m afraid.”

The answer technically made sense, but Mission didn’t buy it. There was no sincerity in Bearden as he spoke, and the facts didn’t add up.

“Well I hope they’re gone for good this time.” Mission said at last, watching as her would-be attackers were hauled away.

Bearden reached over and turned her away from the sight, nudging her gently toward the outbuilding she’d been headed for. “I wouldn’t worry about them anymore. I have a feeling you’ve pretty thoroughly demonstrated the futility of their mission at this point, whatever it is. And you’ve certainly proven your worth to me! I may have to speak with Meridot sometime soon. See if we can’t find a more useful position for you around the house...”

Bearden watched her for a moment, his face a facade of calm satisfaction. He definitely had plans for her. Mission watched him back as benignly as possible until he finally shrugged and nudged her on again. “Anyway, something to look forward to perhaps. Don’t keep Meridot waiting with your chores.”

Mission smiled and nodded, and edged away from Bearden through the garden, grateful for a reprieve from his company. In the cool of the storehouse, Mission sat on a deep freeze chest and let out a deep, pent up sigh of anxiety and relief all at once. She looked down at her hands and found them still clamped tight onto the improvised fighting sticks. She was pleased with her success today, but she was afraid she might have also played further into Bearden’s hand. It didn’t help her to fret, however, so she tried not to - it was a good thing. The more autonomy she could get, the closer she would be to escaping without endangering Meridot and the rest of the house staff.

With a force of will, Mission pried her fingers off the fighting sticks and clapped them together, then pulled the rubber tie from around her wrist and bound them together. Mission had been wearing loose-fitting tunics the entire time she’d been at Bearden’s house - with a couple of notable exceptions - and they served well to conceal her weapons. She had tied a sash around her abdomen under the shirt, which allowed her to tuck the sticks into the small of her back without drawing attention, so long as she stood up straight. That was no issue; her posture was fabulous.

Having collected at last what she’d set out to collect nearly fifteen minutes ago, Mission made her way back to the main house and the staff quarter, and regaled her friends with the short and sweet version of how she had single-handedly pounded four full grown men into the potting soil. As she went to bed that night, Mission grinned thinking back to the first pair of unfortunate encounters on Mon Gazza. She felt confident that if she were presented with either scenario now, she’d likely overcome the obstacles - especially with her trusty rolling pins in hand. How much difference a little practical experience could make.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:08 pm

The next few weeks were an existential struggle for Mission, and gave her an immense amount of respect for the Jedi from her childhood who had spent extended periods of time under false identities. She was indeed promoted to the security staff - though she kept the decorative control collar for obvious reasons - and began patrolling the interior grounds every other rotation in the company of another staffer. She wasn’t granted access to any of the important areas of the house, or informed of their contents, but she knew where they all were now. She was also allowed to carry her fighting sticks openly on her hip, and participate in occasional sparring matches with the other security staffers - although she did this with care, since they proved to be none too hesitant to activate her collar mid-match if they felt she was getting “carried away”. They were in fact sore losers, especially where a 15-year old girl was concerned. But she still enjoyed the freedoms she was granted.

The reason it became a struggle for Mission was because while she was indeed gaining new freedoms, those freedoms necessitated spending less time with Meridot, Anise, and others she’d come to rely on for encouragement during the daylight hours. She still slept in her usual bed at night - when she wasn’t on night-guard duty - but it still left a small gap between her and her actual friends there in the house. She had traded one need for another.

One evening as she and her unspoken handler patrolled the interior of the house, Mission came upon Anise and Varden playing in the usual energy-draining bedtime routine. What it amounted to was Anise waving and shouting and calling about excitedly in one spot while Varden hurricaned around the room squealing with laughter and throwing objects about. The more the little boy panted, the harder he laughed as fatigue set in. Mission convinced her partner through a combination of sweet talk and subtle empathic nudging that it would be acceptable for her to stay and watch over Anise while he closed up the rest of the wing.

While Varden clambered around wearing himself out, Mission made small talk with Anise for a bit and whines about her stubbed toe. Anise was entirely sympathetic until something slid out from under Varden’s rushing path, and he fell and smacked his head against one of his play sets. It wasn’t life threatening, but there was immediately screaming, and closer inspection revealed that there was blood too.

“Oh goodness he’s going to need stitches, look at that!”

Anise’s concern was for her little boy, but Mission could sense a barely contained edge of panic as well. Anise’s standing in her role and the house in general was predicated on her ability to effectively manage Varden and avoid just this sort of incident. The injury was minimal enough, but Mission knew she’d be in trouble once Bearden heard of it.

“Let me see him,” Mission said, settling on the ground beside Anise while she cooed to the crying little boy. “There there little man, it’s gonna be just fine.” Mission assured, wiping away one of his frightened tears. “Don’t you know Anise’s kisses fix everything? Watch, she’s gonna kiss your head and it’s allll gonna be better. Does that sound good?”

Varden looked up at her through the preponderance of his scared and confused sobbing. “Y-y-yeahh.”

“Okay, then be a tough little man and hold still for her.” Mission tapped his nose, and brushed a hand across his head where the bleeding had begun. Anise gazed at Mission uncertainly, but she bent down and kissed his head, then went back to cooing softly and scooped him up off the floor. The other security staffer met them at the door - undoubtedly drawn by the sudden outburst of screaming - and found them about to exit the play room. Mission rejoined him and assured him it was nothing but a bopped head, then urged him on his way. She shot one last furtive glance back at Anise, and then continued on her rounds.

Late that night - or rather early the next morning technically - Mission returned to her room, padding tiredly across the floor into her corner of the bunk house where a small shelf of soft candles lit the space between her and Anise’s beds at all hours of the night. When she glanced up from her bare feet and the floor, she found Anise sitting on her own bed, quietly regarding her as she approached. She felt the Force as it interacted with her bunk mate, and was colored by her presence. The emotional spectrum that Mission discovered was a mix of curiosity, confusion, and awe.

“How’s Varden?” Mission asked, drawing closer and stripping her sash.

“Sleeping like a baby, and quite possibly convinced that I have magic powers.”

Mission smiled sleepily and climbed onto her own bed. “Maybe you do. Ever think of that?”

Anise breathed a sigh of laughter. “Only in passing.”

Mission squirmed under her blanket and then bobbed her barely visible eyebrows at her bunk mate. “I guess you’d better think again.”

Anise said nothing more, but as Mission looked across the illuminated space between their beds, she spied a hint of a smile on the older girl’s face.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Sat Feb 02, 2019 5:57 pm

The next few weeks were routine enough that Mission almost forgot she was a slave. She had duties, and she had a collar around her neck that could put her in mind numbing pain at a moment’s notice, but she had gotten good enough at the former that she had come to the point of being able to avoid the latter almost entirely. And it frustrated her to no end. She didn’t want to get comfortable here. She needed to find her family, and she needed to find a way to bring freedom to the slaves in this house. She needed a way to escape. But nothing seemed to work out.

One day, Mission had actually found herself unattended with one of the control balls connected to her collar. A thrill of excitement had filled her as she reached for it, but the second she touched it, it had activated her collar. Then with a throbbing headache and angry tears streaming down her face, she had lifted the ball telekinetically and tried to manipulate it. Nothing. It was touch activated. She had spent the next couple of days simpering over her latest failed attempt at freedom, but life had brushed her onward from that point.

Despite now being a member of the security staff, Mission did still have house staff duties as well. Some of the other security staffers teased that she was a part-time slave. Mission would always snicker along with their jokes, but it was somehow validating to hear them call her a slave. It meant she was still one of Meridot’s people, and not one of Bearden’s.

This point was driven home for everyone when the monthly supply boat arrived while the master of the home was still beside his private cruiser in the courtyard. Mission was walking through on patrol when it touched down, so she broke from her path and moved to help unload supplies. When Bearden saw her hauling bags of consumables off to carts with the other house staffers, he seemed to take issue with it.

“You’re on patrol today my dear,” he stared, casually blocking her path to the cart. “You shouldn’t feel obligated to help with chores while you’re providing protection to my home.”

Mission stared blankly at him for a moment, and then shifted the bag of rice to her other shoulder. “As long as I bear the mark of a slave, I’ll continue to be of service to my fellow slaves. But I thank you for making it optional.”

She wanted to shoulder past him and get back to work, but she didn’t dare. Not right then. Not when she’d already made so bold a statement. Bearden regarded her for a moment as if he’d just realized she had a personality, then he nodded with an amused smile and stepped out of her way. There were no reprisals for defying him; no changes in duty or harsh treatment from the rest of the security staff. Mission felt a small degree of excitement when she thought about it. She had finally won a match against her captor. But at the same time, she felt a strange sense of foreboding as well. It seemed like every time she accomplished something around there, something “good” would happen that she didn’t consider to be an objective improvement.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Sun Feb 03, 2019 12:46 pm

Some time after the incident in the courtyard, Mission was working house duties with Meridot when they were informed that a few of Bearden’s people would be coming for an informal meeting, and that they needed to prepare some light refreshments. Normally it would have been the kitchen staff’s responsibility, but the kitchen staffers were paid employees, and this was short notice. Apart from that, Bearden was apparently treating his retainers to dinner before coming home, so the stakes were set about as low as possible.

Mission found herself assigned to the detail that brought refreshment out to the guests when they arrived, and she was surprised to find Salicia sitting among those at the table. Once again, she had her mobile data portal set up on the table and pounded away at it while they all talked business, and once again, Mission found a sense of resigned commitment to be the most defining factor in the zyggerian woman’s aura as she approached.

Pausing beside Salicia, Mission held out her platter of nuts and dried fruits, and brushed the woman’s mind again. Salicia’s feline eyes froze as though she had realized someone was standing behind her, and then swiveled up slowly toward Mission.

“Would you care for something ma’am?”

Salicia regarded the plate as if it were some strange, alien object, and then reached up and scooped a handful of nuts from the dish.

<<Why do you perceive my presence?>> Mission asked, leaving a gentle pressure from her mind against Salicia’s as she moved on.

The zyggerian’s mind didn’t precisely reach out in response, but it responded much more substantially to Mission’s mind than other non-sensitives she’d interacted with. Her mind had a clear, if quiet voice. <<I don’t know... what’s happening?>>

Mission displayed the pleasant skin-deep smile she reserved for Bearden’s guests, and didn’t glance back at Salicia. <<You seem to have an uncanny awareness of when someone is probing at your mind.>>

Salicia’s fingers slowed for a moment, then picked up their pace again. <<What does that mean?>>

<<It means I can ask you why you’re here when you don’t want to be.>>

Before anything verbal even began to form through the exchange, Mission got a flash of a much older zyggerian woman, likely Salicia’s mother, given the attached emotions. <<What makes you think I don’t want to be here?>>

It was a shabby defense, but Mission didn’t blame her for it. They were both in extremely unsafe waters. But Mission had navigated these particular currents more, so she tried to be understanding. <<I’m an empath; I’m very sensitive to other people’s emotions.>>

By this time, Mission had made a full circle around the table with her platter and come near to Salicia again. The woman glanced up at her with a needy look and smiled. “Could you show me to the refresher? First visit.”

Mission smiled and gestures toward the far door after glancing back at Bearden - he was embroiled in conversation. The two of them traipsed out of the room and around the corner into a smaller hall before Salicia took a long step forward and barred Mission’s path with her arm. She hadn’t realized until just then how tall the woman was. Apparently she was fairly representative of her race, which made her no less intimidating as she leaned down and eyed Mission carefully with her slit pupils.

Mission was concerned for an instant, until she perceived Salicia’s emotional state - the woman was even more afraid than her, and her emotional state suggested she was about to do something radical, like jump off a cliff. Finally, the zyggerian woman’s ears flicked and she stood up straight, towering over Mission but simultaneously becoming somehow much less intimidating. “Now, where’s that refresher?”

Mission thought for a moment, then headed off toward the furthest refresher from the meeting room.

“So do I pass your scrutiny?”

“You do. And to answer your question, I inherited this job.”

Mission glanced back at her as she stepped around a corner. “Inherited?”

“Yes, from my father. It was Bearden’s way of tying up the loose end my family represented when my father passed. That’s been about nine years now... unfortunately I’m twice the bookkeeper my father was.”

“And why are you telling me this?” Mission asked, feeling suddenly hopeful.

Salicia paused for a moment in the hall, and eyed Mission closely for the second time. Again, she felt as though she were about to jump off a cliff. “I don’t... think you’re what Bearden believes you to be.”

Mission smiled. “I’m not. I’m a Jedi.”

Salicia’s expression vacillated somewhere between elation and skepticism. “Have you returned? We’ve heard nothing since the Great Disappearance.”

Mission’s smile faltered a little. Perhaps she’d been a little too dramatic. After all, she was more of a second-hand Jedi. “I don’t know what’s happened. All I know is that I’m here, and I need to get away. Can you help me?”

Salicia began moving again, and Mission pushed ahead through the halls to the refresher. At the doorway, Salicia paused and Mission could see the wheels turning in her mind.

“What do you need?”

Mission stepped aside for the zyggerian, and then leaned in the doorway while she washed her face. “I need a way to remove my collar, and a way to escape so it doesn’t look like the house staff helped me.”

Salicia toweled her face off and examined her own reflection in the mirror. “You’d need an excuse to go somewhere other than here with Bearden then. Someplace where there’s no other culpable party.”

“How would I do that?” Mission glanced back at her, fearing she already knew the answer. Salicia’s eyes found hers in the mirror reflection, and showed regret. “You’d have to gain his trust. Give him a reason to take you places with him.”

Mission sighed. “I thought as much.”

“I suppose the collar prevents you from escaping on your own?”

“Oh yes, that’s why they don’t let me do exterior security detail.”

“You’re on security detail?”

Mission rolled her eyes. “Yeah. He started sending thugs after me with some lie about them being after him, and when I beat them all off he got all impressed and assigned me to patrol with his security staff.”

“Oh well you’re in a better position than I would have thought.” Salicia said quietly, exiting the refresher. “What you should do for now is start to express a little interest in his work whenever he’s open about it. It sounds as though he’s trying to position you as some kind of asset anyway so it shouldn’t be hard.”

As they walked back, Salicia reached out and touched the collar on Mission’s neck. The clasp was disguised as a sapphire gem at her throat. The rest of it was a simple, polished silver loop. “I’ve never seen this sort of control collar before. I’ll see what I can learn about it. You focus on Bearden. And Joan?”

Salicia caught Mission by the arm, and it occurred to her the woman didn’t know her true name. “Be careful with the chances you take. You’re in a unique position to make a diference if you can accomplish your ends. But one mistake...” She let the rest lie, but the implication was clear to Mission. ONe slip up, and it was both their heads - or maybe all of their heads - on the chopping block

That night when Salicia and the others departed, Mission found herself wearing a genuine smile. She’d found another ally.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Mon Feb 04, 2019 11:10 am

It wasn’t hard for Mission to maneuver herself around the edge of Bearden’s work activities when she set her mind to the task. The frightening part for her was how quickly he warmed to the idea of her involvement once she expressed an interest. He seemed to have embraced her cover story more readily than she’d expected, which was good for her, because the fable she’d concocted with Meridot presented her as the rejected protege of a self-obsessed master who would be reasonably eager to prove herself worthy in a new setting. Bearden seemed to like all that quite a lot as he came to learn more about the character Joan, and occasionally made statements implying that she could gain a lot in the proving as far as he was concerned.

However, for every bit of ground she gained in earning Bearden’s favor, his right-hand man Wex was there to keep a suspicious eye on her. It was undoubtedly his job to do so, but he often asked doubtful questions when she spoke of herself and her opinions, going to lengths to be critical of her. Bearden would assure her that it was just him being protective, but Mission felt equal parts of suspicion and jealousy boiling within Wex any time she interacted with him. She began to keep a careful journal of everything she said about Joan as time went on, skimming through it any day she knew she would encounter the two of them.

The enmity between Mission and Wex only grew when Bearden occasionally started to involve her in decision making. It started out as a casual curiosity question or two when she would come to serve refreshments to him and whatever assembly of underlings he was entertaining - her comments would spark either showering compliments of her cleverness or patronizing criticism of her lacking experience - but as time went on he actually began to consider her opinions as counsel, which troubled her for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that it made Wex steam with frustration. It also meant that if “Joan” stated an opinion that affected Bearden’s decision, Mission had to sleep with whatever consequences that opinion resulted in, so she was cautious. She hated to admit it, but in light of the logistical situation Bearden’s little empire was facing with the advent of the young senator’s cartel inquisition, she was actually offering sound advice for the protection of their interests.

One day, when Bearden had his quarterly wine-and-dine gathering that amounted to an internal financial audit, he invited Mission to attend with him. At his request, Meridot dressed her in a gown to match Bearden’s attire for the evening. As usual, Meridot spared her the indignity of wearing something revealing by finding her something striking instead. It was a black dress that seemed to have been styled after a foxglove blossom, with a tasteful amount of blue and silver accents complimenting the seam lines. Mission noted curiously that it matched her control collar quite nicely. Had Bearden planned it this way? The thought made her a trifle uncomfortable, but not nearly as much as did the actual act of clasping the arm he offered her while they prepared to step onto his cruiser. Mission played the part, and gave him the pleasantly hollow smile she always gave when he complimented her.

When they arrived at their restaurant in Hydian City, numerous patrons stopped and stared at her as she passed on Bearden’s arm. She detested their impressed gazes, and wanted to rip Bearden’s arm off and beat him with it like a wookie for positioning her in such a way that anyone might think she actually desired to be there as his “plus one.”

When they reached the private room, an attendant showed them to seats at the head of the table where they had set a spot for Mission at Bearden’s left hand - right across from Wex. Bearden pulled her chair out and seated her like the gentleman he presented himself as, and then sat down at the head of his criminal empire for an evening of cheerful small talk and casual posturing all around. Mission’s only relief during the dinner affair was that Salicia was there. When the conversation had finally gained enough momentum that they could exchange a glance without garnering undue attention, she caught Salicia’s eye, and the woman gave her a subtle nod. She had learned what she needed about the collar.

The smell of freedom in the air was enough to make the rest of the evening a bearable occasion for Mission. She smiled and nodded and commented, but her only thoughts were of finding her escape route, and making her way to Mandalore.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:56 am

On the ride back after dinner, Bearden sat down beside her on his cruiser and smiled in the pleased fashion that he so often did around her. “I hope you enjoyed getting out of the house for a change?”

“I did. I’m very grateful for the change of scenery.”

Bearden nodded knowingly. “Yes, I thought it was high time you started to enjoy to fruits of your labor a little. It seems to have sat well with you though. Perhaps I’ll take you out again with me some time. There are other aspects of the business you need to learn if you’re going to start being a part of things.”

Mission said nothing besides expressing a liking of the idea of getting out a bit more, but internally she whirled with a storm of conflicting thoughts and feelings. She hated how comfortable Bearden was getting with her, and the familiar tones he addressed her with, but she needed him to continue doing just that if she was to escape. Her stomach continued to churn as they drew closer to home, and she breathed an internal sigh of relief when the ship finally sat down and the doors opened.

Bearden finally let her go to change into something more comfortable as he went to do the same, and she made a b-line to her corner of the house staff quarters. Mission sat on her bed with her head spinning for several minutes before Meridot came and sat beside her.

“How was it?”

Mission’s glowering eyes told the woman all she needed to know when she finally looked up, and they sat in silence together for a few moments. They didn’t take too long, however, because Bearden was of course expecting her to attend the business portion of the evening as well.

Mission got out of the gown and into something on the more fashionable side of ordinary, and made her way back to the meeting room just as several of the guests began to arrive. They too had changed, Mission realized, and as they all settled in she realized they had all probably changed on the way. Even Salicia was wearing business casual attire when she arrived. It amused Mission for some reason to imagine them all struggling to keep up with Bearden’s moods.

Thankfully, finance wasn’t a subject she had learned much about in Bearden’s company yet, so she mostly got to remain silent that evening. She did gleen however that Salicia was indeed a capable bookkeeper from her interactions with the rest of the business group. She also gleaned a good bit more from the zyggerian once the need for either of them to speak openly had passed.

<<I can remove the collar from you, if you can get away from Bearden during an excursion out of the house.>> Salicia explained, communing with Mission through the mental pathway she was provided.

<<So I need to escape and find my way to you. Any suggestions?>>

<<Well he does occasionally come to stay at his penthouse in Jewel City and check on things there for a few days at a time. If you could get yourself invited along that might work.>>

<<I don’t like the sound of that.>>

<<I don’t either, and I’m sorry. I don’t have any way of getting close to you here in Hydian City or I would.>>

<<It’s okay, it needs to happen far from here anyway. What happens once you break me loose?>>

<<Then you stow aboard one of our last-minute delivery cargo containers going off world. I’ll have better information for you then, but if I have at least a little warning that you’re coming, I can have you off Christophsis within 12 hours of your escape.>>

Mission was in a better mood after that, but a small tendril of fear worked its way down into her stomach as the night went on as well. She didn’t like the idea of an invitation to Bearden’s penthouse.
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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Mission Koht
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Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:00 pm

Re: SCD - The First Year

Post by Mission Koht » Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:07 am

The days following the quarterly dinner turned to weeks, and as Mission’s anticipation and anxiety over her plan of action built, she found too that a subtle feeling of regret was building in the back of her mind as well. She knew she couldn’t stay here and continue being party to Bearden’s criminal lifestyle - she ethically couldn’t, even if the stakes had been lower for her personally. But the regret she began to experience manifested whenever she got to spend some time with Anise before bed, or step off into the breakfast nook and have lunch with Meridot. They’d both become quite special to her, and she hated to leave them here in the hands of their master, especially knowing how furious he would undoubtedly be once she escaped. She had to find some way to protect them. One evening, as she was skimming through her journal of Joan’s identity, a solution came to her. The Journal. The next day, Mission strategized her routine so she could have lunch with Meridot, and tucked the journal under her shirt.

“How’s patrol life today?” Meridot asked, settling down with her soup and sandwich.

“Very dull. I think I’m ready for a change of scenery.” Mission smiled at the aging togruta and sipped her soup.

Meridot dipped her sandwich a bit and grinned. “On to greener pastures aye?”

Mission caught her eye intently for a moment, and nodded. Meridot regarded her curiously for a moment, then went back to her lunch.

“I suppose those aren’t any plans you’ve run by Bearden then?”

“Decidedly not.”

“Hm, clever girl, but you do have a plan?”

Mission nodded, resuming her lunch as well. “It’s all worked out, I just need to get myself invited to Jewel City so my perimeter safeguard will be deactivated, and I’ll meet my contact there who can remove the collar and smuggle me off-world.”

“My you’ve been busy. I hope you haven’t trusted anyone in vain?”

“No, just another slave really.”

“And in Jewel City... you must have befriended Salicia.”

Mission glanced up at Meridot in surprise, but the matronly togruta only spread a satisfied smile across her lips and sipped her soup. “You’ve chosen your friends well, Mission. She isn’t in it for the glory and respect like most of Bearden’s pandering lapdogs; just happens to have inherited a bad family business. Ironically it’s what makes her better than her peers. She doesn’t spend any time scheming. Don’t forget about her when you’re gone.”

“I won’t forget about any of you!” Mission declared.

Meridot stirred her soup and chuckled. “My dear child, I love you so but what would you do for us without the rest of your order to support you?”

“My mother has been Mand’alor twice. We’ll figure something out.”

Meridot watched her with that veiled, incredulous stare that so rarely crossed her face. “You... are full of surprises, Mission.”

“Mission Koht-Winterhold.”

Meridot grinned “Clan Koht. I’ve heard of their work. Your mother’s people are a credit to the Mandalorian name.”

Mission smiled graciously, but she knew she didn’t deserve any part of the compliment. She wasn’t a mandalorian... she wasn’t really much of a Jedi either. She did have a duty to protect those who had taken care of her, however, which was both a mandalorian and Jedi trait. “Now let’s talk about covering your backs after I’m gone, when Bearden gets angry.”

“Oh dear, if you give him the slip in Jewel City he’ll hardly blame us.”

“He’ll want to blame someone, though. Just call it insurance.”

Meridot swirled her soup a little. “What did you have in mind?”

Mission produced her journal and handed it to Meridot. The woman opened it and began to peruse through the pages, occasionally nodding at a recognized detail or two. “This is quite thorough.”

“Wex is quite skeptical, I’ve had to be.”

“He should be happy to see you go... in fact.” Meridot pulled the nub of graphite from the folds of paper and handed it to Mission. “Why don’t you comment as much in here. That’ll direct his questions as Wex if anyone.”

Mission grinned and took the nub, and the journal where she flipped to the last page she’d written on. She began to mumble allowed what she wrote and a smirk traced across her face. “Finally, this facade... will be over. I can’t wait to get out of the... boring... patrol routine. I think I’ll miss... Wex most of all... but, I think he... will feel better... once I'm out... of this dreadful... place.”

Meridot took the journal and read the note for herself. She purses her lips finally and handed it back. “It’ll do. Tuck it away somewhere safe where we can find it, but don’t tell anyone where... goodness I’ll miss having you around.”

Mission leaned her face on her hand and looked up at Meridot with a sad smile. She didn’t want to think about it.

Later that evening, when Mission informed Anise of her plans - in far less detail - the older girl bounded off the side of her bed and wrapped her arms around Mission’s neck. “I’m so glad you’ll finally be out of this place! You’re meant for more than all this I think.”

“So are all of you,” Mission countered, feeling suddenly selfish in the face of Anise’s selfless response.

“Oh sure, I’d do a million things with my freedom if I had it, but I don’t know what they are because this is all I’ve ever been. I need you to get out there and... blaze a trail so I can follow along one day when the rest of the Jedi catch up with you.”

Tears welled up in Mission’s eyes, and she hugged Anise back. “Why are you so wonderful? You’re supposed to be mad I’m leaving you here.”

Anise laughed and squeezed her back. “That’d be silly. I’ve known all along you were just passing through.”

Mission smiled and sat down beside Anise, hugging her arm like a little child. “You’ve made this place bearable. You’ve been my best friend.”

Anise giggled quietly. “Someone had to do it.”
I'm broken but I'm happy, I'm poor but I'm kind, I'm short but I'm healthy... I'm lost but I'm hopeful, I'm hard but I'm friendly. I haven't got it all figured out yet, and that's just fine.
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