Wanderer's Redemption: Esoteric Pilgrim
Chapter 1: Humble Beginnings
The word drifted through her consciousness and like a pebble dropped into a pond, it sent ripples through her body, bringing the soft buzz of life to her forgotten limbs. First she tested her extremities, wiggling her fingers and toes, then clenching and unclenching her hands. Next she tested the flexion and extension of her arms and legs, bringing them towards and away from her body, blissfully ignorant of anything else outside her wonderful, weightless existence.
As her mind slowly returned, so did her instincts. Her body jerked as she tried to gulp air, only sucking in thick, cold sludge. Kolto… the word arose unbidden in her blank mind, giving a name to the liquid filling her mouth and lungs. Slowly, agonisingly slowly, move words began to form in her mind, along with images and a sense of self.
Falen…Yes, that was her name… but where was she?
Languidly she stretched out her arms, both soon coming into contact with a barrier. Kolto and walls… Frak! She was in a kolto tank. In a desperate attempt to escape the tank she kicked and bucked, smashing her knee against a wall in the process. In the end her attempt was successful, and the kolto around her began to churn and swirl. The tank was draining.
Falen waited patiently as the tank slowly emptied, and she was softly deposited on the cold, wet floor. Resenting gravity and missing her former buoyancy she struggled froward on her hands and knees, abandoning all sense of dignity. Blinded and weak by over-exposure to kolto she blundered forward, getting personal with a solid wall. Gingerly rubbing her injured nose she redirected herself and spat out a string of curses unbefitting a woman, let alone the lowliest space scum.
Once Falen had finally crawled out of her tank she doubled over, her body forcing the kolto out of her lungs. She retched and coughed, unsightly strings of the blue healing liquid hanging from her chin. Wiping them away with the back of her hand she collapsed onto the cold durasteel flooring, resolving to lay there for the rest of her life.
That resolution died quickly however, the cold floor was beginning to burn her damp skin. With trembling fingers she pried her eyes open and focused on evening her breathing as she waited for her vision to clear. Lights and shadows wavered before her eyes; shapes slowly came into focus, colours and definition following soon after.
Shakily she rose to her knees, then to her feet. Once she was standing she shook herself, trying to dissipate her lethargy. Blood pounded in her head, almost splitting her skull in two. With a strangled moan she limped to the nearest kolto tank, collapsing against the transparasteel. She clung to the tank with such vehemence it was as if it were a long lost lover returning from the war. Eventually her world stopped pitching and Bantha's were no longer dancing about in her head. Releasing her breath she stopped clinging to the kolto tank and examined what was inside.
A man floated serenely inside, the red glow on the floor panels indicating his deceased status. Looking him over with a practised eye Falen sighed, with extensive injuries and burns the guy hadn't stood a chance, even if they'd placed him in a kolto tank.
Speaking of 'they'…Falen looked around the bay - it was obviously a med-bay, she told herself – looking for personnel, but it was deserted. It was only her, four floating cadavers and a big durasteel door. Taking a deep breath, grounding herself and focusing solely on the door Falen took a few cautious steps forwards, at least she was no longer trembling… that had to be progress.
Immensely proud that she had reached the door without incident, Falen gave a triumphant laugh before pressing the door's central mechanism. It opened with a reluctant hiss, revealing another deserted section of the Med-lab. She walked forwards cautiously, gauging her surroundings and careful not to overexert herself. To her right was a locked door and to her left was and observation widow. Catching a glimpse of herself in the window she gasped in horror.
What in Frak's name was she wearing? While not particularly vain, every woman had her limits, and whoever had put her in the awful green sack-like jumpsuit had pushed Falen's limits. She wracked her memory, trying to remember what it was and where the green monstrosity had come from. Standard issue Republic jumpsuit, her memory provided.
"No wonder those Republic officers are so irritable" She muttered darkly to her reflection, "They have to wear these constantly"
Moving on she passed the locked door, coming to another door a little further down, it obviously led to the Medical Office. Ignoring the smoking door at to one side she entered the office looking for something, anything, supplies or information. Luckily she found both. Inside the office there was an active consol –she couldn't help but grin at her good fortune- a lab station, medpacks and the tattered remains of her clothes. They were charred in places, ripped in others and unutterably unwearable.
With a soft, self-piteous wail Falen wanted to fall into a puddle of self-pity but her pride prevailed. She'd lived through worse and she'd be damned if she was going to let a few shredded clothes get the best of her. With steely resolve settling in her stomach she marched to the consol and ran through its options.
Watching the holo-logs gave her the information she had been searching for. Here was a mining facility, they thought she was a Jedi and then there had been a problem with the ventilation systems. She'd never heard of the Ebon Hawk, but then that just gave her something else to investigate.
Feeling better with a purpose she opened the morgue door and continued her search. Falen had seen her share of morgues and they all looked the same, cold, colourless and impersonal. Inside this morgue only two gurneys bore bodies. The one nearest to the door bore one of an old woman. Looking over the deceased woman Falen found no obvious cause of death, it seemed it was a natural. Passing by the woman Falen leaned over the remaining corpse. It was covered in a make-shift shroud and she pulled in back gingerly.
The corpse was so badly burnt in places that gender was impossible to distinguish. Immune to the sight of death Falen examined the body further, grinning as she discovered a working plasma torch hooked into the cadaver's belt. With respect she placed the shroud back over the remains and wished the person peace, it was the least she could do. A quick flick of her thumb ignited the plasma torch and she watched it burn for seconds before switching it back off.
Behind her she sensed stirrings and could hear the rustle of material. Wondering if she had missed someone, she re-ignited the torch and spun around in a single fluid movement, adrenalin pumping through her veins. The old woman was getting of her gurney!
"Zombie!" Falen cried, almost dropping the burning torch on her foot.
The elderly woman watched her with an unamused expression. Hiding her milky-white eyes behind a hood, the woman stopped observed Falen, who was standing there wide-eyed. Once the woman's observations had come to an end she spoke, her voice sage like and heavy with hard-earned knowledge.
"Find what you were looking for amongst the dead?"
It's talking! Falen's mind screamed, but she kept her face blank. A realisation dawned upon her as she thought of an answer.
"You're voice- I heard it as I floated in the kolto tank"
The woman looked pleased. "I had overslept and must have reached out unconsciously – and your mind must have been a willing one"
Falen raised a slim eyebrow sceptically, not believing what she was hearing. "So you can touch minds… and feign death. Who are you?"
"I am Kreia" the woman replied, "And I am your rescuer – as you are mine. Tell me – do you recall what happened?"
"Hey!" Falen snapped, highly unsettled by this Kreia, the talking corpse. "I'm the one asking the questions. How did I get here?"
"I confess I know little more that you do" Kreia answered, truth ringing in her tone. "I do not know where here is. I do recall rescuing you… the Republic ship you were on was attacked, and you were the only survivor. A result of your Jedi training, no doubt"
"I am no longer a member of the Jedi Order" Falen replied coldly, indicating the subject closed.
Kreia cocked her head questioningly, "Your stance, your walk tells me you are a Jedi. Your walk is heavy; you carry something that weighs you down"
This Kreia was pushing all the wrong buttons. "Let's deal with the now. What is this place?"
Kreia talked on and on, showing stamina for conversation that rivalled only the Jedi Masters. Falen stalked out of the morgue, a dark look on her face. It was a long time since anyone had given her orders, and Kreia the talking corpse had handed them out like candy. Find transport, weapons, information, clothes…
"Why don't I go and find the fraking Queen of Naboo while I'm at it?"
Muttering darkly to herself all the way down the hall, Falen wielded the plasma torch with devastating accuracy, ending the life of the twitchy, smoky door. She could feel the beginnings of a headache simmering at the base of her skull and groaned. This was not her day.
Her mood picked up slightly when she found a vibroblade, thinking it would definitely improve her chances. Next she found droids, the battles was brief, some she dispatched by stomping down hard on what passed for their head and the others got to make friends with her blade.
Peragus: Administration Level…
After much droid fluid was shed, she had finally found the override switch, which cancelled out the remaining droids aggressive behaviour and opened up the door to the holding cells. She sauntered towards the door, chatting idly with the droid who tottered along beside her.
Her ears were ringing, and she could often hear faint echoes, like a sound reverberating over a great distance. She knew it was the Force, it was so familiar, and yet it felt wrong. She had lost the Force, been exiled, it wasn't right that she found it again, was it? It was times like these she missed her old friends, there was a pang of sadness as she thought of them. Revan and Kavar had always been there to answer her questions and listen to her problems. She wondered where they were now. How much had they changed over the past nine years?
"…Ah… beyond this door someone yet lives…"
Falen almost jumped out of her skin as Kreia's voice sounded within her mind. Her heart was beating madly, and she fisted a hand to her chest trying to slow it down, mentally cursing Kreia.
"Be mindful…his thoughts are…difficult to read… but you have nothing to fear from this one…and he might yet prove useful…"
Nodding dismissively Falen waited her heartbeat to return to normal, took three deep breaths and opened the door. Inside was a man in a force cage, his head snapped up as she entered.
"Nice outfit – what, you miners change regulation uniforms while I've been in here?"
The first thing she noticed about him was his eyes, big russet orbs that were friendly, imploring and cocky at the same time. He was tall and gorgeous, broad shouldered and lanky but far from skinny. Think brown hair was sexily rumpled around his raw-boned face. His mouth was full and sculptured, now curved in a lazy, mocking smile that made her want to bloody it.
"You wouldn't happen to be the Queen of Naboo?" Falen asked randomly, a mischievous smile on her face.
"I… What?" He stared at her blankly for a moment before his eyes made a slow circuit of her body, lingering too long in too many places.
"Never mind, just keep your eyes up and tell me who you are"
"Atton… Atton Rand. Excuse me if I don't shake hands. The field only causes minor electrical burns"
She ignored the sarcasm, but somehow she'd managed to fulfil one of his personal fantasies and he'd managed to convince her to let him go. She hacked industriously away at the consol, all the while feeling his eyes scanning her body. Maybe Kreia had been on the credits when suggesting she extend her search to some clothes.
He watched her openly as she worked the consol, an appreciative smile on his face. She was tall, great body… more curves than a twi'lek dancer. Her head was bent over the consol, black hair pulled back into an unusual gold bound bun, twin braids swaying in front of her ear as her head moved. The force field around his wavered then disappeared, and she stepped back from the consol, her full lips curved into a self-satisfied smile. Her piercing amber eyes were heavy lidded and slanted, sitting on high cheekbones. She wasn't exceptionally beautiful, he'd seen prettier, but there was something about her… a sense of power… a sense of something more.
She looked flustered, irritated and embarrassed. Like a sexy faerie, Atton thought, who'd had a particularly bad day.
He stepped out of the deactivated force cage and grinned down at her, noticing kolto clinging to her long lashes like glass tears and loving the view. Falen was shocked at his height now he was standing next to her; he'd looked smaller in the cage. Falen herself was 5'9 and proud of her height, but this man had at least six inches on her.
"Big guy aren't you?" She said perplexedly, desperately trying to ignore the attraction pulling at her stomach. She could see the sparkle in his brown eyes that indicated the attraction was mutual, whether this was a bad thing she was yet to decide.
A broad grin spread across his face and he winked down at her, "In more ways then one, gorgeous"
Sleazebag… With a roll of her eyes Falen stalked off. Atton sauntered languidly behind her, enjoying the indignant sway of feminine hips. She led him to the Communications blister, pointing to the central terminal.
"Get to work"
He nodded grudgingly before sliding into the seat and working his magic on the active terminal. He was talking but Falen couldn't hear him, she was too caught up in her own thoughts.
There had been a war between Jedi; Revan had killed Malak… they had been Sith! So much had changed in her absence. A great sense of isolation washed over her, what had become of her friends and her former life? Malak had betrayed Revan; she should have been there to protect her friends, from themselves and each other. It was as if all life had moved on without her, she was forgotten and all those she loved were probably dead.
In her desperation Falen sank heavily into a chair, resting her elbows on the consol, before hanging her head in her hands. She could feel the tears coming, pushing their way up but with every ounce of determination within her she pushed them back. She hadn't cried in over nine years and she wasn't going to breakdown now, half-naked in front of a total stranger.
His hand was on her shoulder, shaking gently. He smelled of stale sweat, old cigarra smoke and male. Arranging her face into a façade of indifference she faced him, momentarily thrown of balance by the concern in his brown eyes.
"We've been severed from the main hudd. This level is completely isolated"
She rose smoothly from her chair, shrugging his hand of her shoulder as she did so. She pushed all emotion to the back of her mind and set herself on autopilot, a small tingling of premonition telling her she was in for a long, hard slog.
A/N: Okie, I've started my novelisation from scratch andI swearI plan to continue this one! Read and review, you people know the drill, lol. More chapters coming real soon.