Well, not my most creative title, but I'm finally back! Whoo! Now that summer's started and things have died down a bit, I can finally get back to writing; I'll start updating every other week or so again. Sorry it took so long! Hope you enjoy :)
Of Jedi and Battle Stunts
* * * Chet * * *
I've been in way more than my share of near-death experiences. But none of them scared me as bad as seeing the General loose her footing on Steev's back and topple though the air.
Time froze as a mental image of her sprawled all broken on the ground flashed across my eyes. I think my heart stopped.
I started racing after her with a half-formed thought in my head to catch her, and I don't think I've even run so fast - I left Scout in the dust, and he's by far the quickest.
Praise the Force, though, the General had it well in hand. She tucked into a flip and landed lightly on her feet, tossing her feathers out of her face.
I skidded to a stop next to her, chest heaving. With the fastest sprint I'd ever run came the biggest stitch I'd ever had.
Once I found my voice, I said the first thing that came to mind. "ARE YOU MENTAL?"
She blinked at me, taken aback, and I instantly felt guilty. Before I thought about what I was doing, I reached out and hugged her – surprising both her and me. Just as I was about to let go, though, she wrapped her arms around me too, pressing her face against my chest plate. I could feel her shaking, and I hugged her tighter to try to help. Guess free-falling can scare even Jedi. Go figure.
But I wasn't quite finished scolding her yet. "Don't you ever scare me like that again," I growled. "Are you okay?"
She nodded and pulled back. I reluctantly let her go.
The rest of the squad pulled up behind us, only a few seconds behind me. Back to the rock monster that wants to eat us.
"What's the plan?" I asked.
She activated her lightsaber again, coughing from the dust and smoke. My stomach lurched – us clones were fine, since we had helmets, but she didn't. What would it do to her?
"I'll try to find a weak spot. You boys distract him," the General wheezed.
Running low to the ground, she whipped around and raced for Steev, who had turned around and was slowly lumbering towards us on massive legs. We started providing cover fire.
The General darted under his belly and swiped at his stomach, but Steev just roared louder (displaying a mouthful of nasty-looking fangs and emphasizing his massive underbite) and tried to stomp her, freaking me out more than words can describe. His big foot missed her by a hair as she backpedaled quickly and slashed at his legs, but her 'saber just skated right off Steev's skin.
"Uh, this thing doesn't (cough) have a weak spot (cough)!" she yelled, flinging the blade up into the air to cut at Steev's arm. It slid off without even a scorch mark and she called it back to her with the Force.
"Try shooting its eyes!" I ordered my squad.
Ace aimed carefully and fired, hitting the right eye while Scout (after a few tries) blasted the left. Steev bellowed in pain, massive hands wiping at his eyes that were crying black tears of blood, and barreled blindly at us (normally, I'd have wondered how the heck Steev knew where we were with his eyes gone, but this was NOT normal). Before, he'd been taking his time, waiting for us to make a mistake, but Steev was taking matters into his own hands now.
The General zipped back to us, breathing hard, appearing out of the smoke (from our blasters) and rock power (courtesy of Steev and his habit of throwing things at us). I tossed her my second handgun so she'd have some way of defending herself, and she caught it easily, hooking her lightsaber back onto her belt.
"We shot his eyes," Ace growled. "Now what?"
"We RUN!" Torch shrieked as Steev, roaring angrily, picked up a boulder and threw it at us – with us small infuriating creatures not dead in the first swipe, he wasn't fast enough to kill us otherwise. I grabbed the General's hand and yanked her with me as we scattered, the rock soaring over our heads and smashing to the ground where we'd been standing a heartbeat before.
The General, panting, looked up at me and squeezed my hand. Her big violet eyes were even larger than normal, and one off-white feather had slipped out of her bun and was tracing the curve of her face. She was funny, strong, brave, fun, nice, one of the best people I knew…Beautiful, too… Thank the Force for my helmet, she couldn't see me blushing.
"Thanks," the General whispered, cautiously peering around the rock we'd hid behind. Her body started shaking from the coughing she was trying to hold back.
A jolt of worry shooting though me, I nodded. "No prob," I muttered back.
She smiled at me, then, holding her gun at the ready, she whipped back into the open, with me a half-step behind her.
"YEE-HAW!" Flash whooped, flinging his legs over his own boulder-used-for-cover and racing back into the fray, Darek dashing in beside him.
Vick and Torch poked their heads out from the cave they and Sparks had hidden in. "Down, guys!" Torch hollered. We all ducked as Sparks' head and arm peeped out next to Torch's. Sparks flung a small metal hemisphere up into the air, but just before it hit Steev, it was knocked aside by yet another rock the thing threw at us. Vick yelped, Torch eeped and Sparks' eyes went huge as they quickly withdrew their heads, Steev's boulder smashing into the canyon wall just to the left of their cave. The General hesitated, torn.
"We're fine, just shaken up," Vick reported breathlessly. "Forget about us!"
The General nodded, even though she couldn't see them, and flicked a hand at Sparks' grenade, which was still flying off course. Beeping, it corrected itself with a little Force usage and hit Steev smack in the chest. Four triangular flaps attached it securely to Steev's skin, and as the beeping sped up and stopped, it let loose with a wave of electricity. Blue lightening arched across Steev, but apparently his thick hide protected him from getting shocked as well as blaster shots and lightsaber blows.
"Doesn't this thing die?" Torch screamed.
"Apparently not," Scout yelled back.
"All things have a weakness!" Lex called.
"All we've gotta do is find it!" Cad encouraged, lurching sideways to avoid another of Steev's missiles.
Steev roared again, and from the way the General's eyes widened and the slow smile that spread across her face, I knew she had a plan.
"Make him open his mouth again!" she shouted in between bits of coughing. "Get it mad!"
"That's my specialty," Flash announced proudly.
"Hey! Everyone knows I'm more annoying than you!" Darek protested.
"Guys! Let's focus here," I pleaded. "Just…make it mad!"
"And move lightly and quickly (cough), it'll confuse Steev," the General called over her shoulder as she disappeared back into the smoke. "He senses things through ground vibrations!"
Aah. That explains how he knows where we are with no eyes.
"Make it mad. Gotcha, boss-man," Flash said with a sigh. Then he and Darek did their ritual thingy - a secret handshake that was really a work of art, they spent hours practicing it – and with a whoop, they sped towards Steev, guns blazing and rocks flying, moving erratically in no direction or pattern whatsoever.
Steev might be oblivious to pain, but he noticed when a good-sized pebble thunked him rather hard on the forehead. Letting out a surprised grunt, he moved his head from side to side in confusion, unable to pinpoint where exactly Flash and Darek were, his thick, massive arms holding a rock over himself.
"Yah! Big and ugly!" Flash jeered.
"Melon-head!" Darek taunted.
Steev didn't seem to really get what they were saying, but Flash and Darek were doing what they do best – causing distraction and pure frustration.
Steev lifted his rock higher and roared. The General appeared out of the smoke in mid-jump, yelling an indistinct battle cry, and shot directly into Steev's open maw.
Steev jerked backwards, his suddenly limp arms dropping his boulder as he toppled over backwards, causing a mini earthquake. Ironically, his rock fell on right top of him a second after he crash-landed.
The General, breathing hard, landed in a crouch, the nozzle of her gun smoking. "Not so blaster-proof on the inside, are ya?" she panted, and broke into a coughing fit, her hand pressed to her mouth. A trickle of blood appeared between her fingers, and my breath caught.
I raced to her side and slipped an arm under hers, gently tugging her up. Lex ran up behind me and took her other side. "Get her out of the debris!" he ordered, and with the squad on our heels, got as quickly out of that blasted canyon as we could.
* * * Mera * * *
I was starting to panic – I couldn't get any air into my lungs in, which led to more coughing, and even less oxygen. Chet and Lex dragged me out of the smoke and dust, and once we'd made it out of the canyon, Lex let go of my arm and dropped his pack, searching through its contents as Chet rubbed soothing circles on my back. His worry radiated out in the Force like a neon sign without me even trying to sense it.
The clear air helped, but I still couldn't breathe. I wrapped my arms around my middle as I doubled over. Tears were streaming down my face and dripped to the ground.
Lex found was he was looking for – an oxygen tank and mask, and quickly strapped it on as black spots swarmed my vision. I gulped the air frantically as my coughing gradually stopped. Chet kept rubbing, which actually helped me relax quite a bit.
"You coughed hard enough to break a capillary," Lex explained. Chet snatched a cloth from him and wiped the blood off my hand before Lex could do it himself. "That's why you're coughing up blood. You'll be fine."
"Good," I rasped. "Everyone good?"
There was a chorus of yes's, and then the rest of the squad, clustered around us, added their own comments.
"That was absolutely wicked," Flash and Darek said in unsion.
Vick shuffled his feet. "Glad you're okay," he mumbled with a shy grin. Sparks nodded in agreement.
Ace shouldered his rifle. "Good thing you didn't die," he said gruffly. "Or Chet here would've been absolutely crushed."
Chet flushed and muttered something under his breath, socking Ace in the ribs.
Torch patted me on the back gingerly. "Good going, boss-girl."
I rolled my eyes. "C'mon, I'm not made of glass," I teased.
Torch blushed as Cade threw in his two cents. "At least now we know what to do if we meet up with anymore with Steevs," he said brightly.
Ace pulled a face as Torch rolled his eyes and Flash and Darek sighed.
"What?" Cade asked in confusion, and we all laughed.
I took off the oxygen mask, ignoring Lex's sound of protest, and got to my feet, brushing myself off. There was a collective hiss of air, and I blinked. "What?"
"Uh…you're sorta bleeding, General," Torch pointed out.
I twisted my head to the side and peered at my arm. Blood was oozing form the long cut some sharp stone shard made. "Huh. What do you know. I'd forgotten about that." And of course remembering about it made me realize the pain. I winced. "Ouch."
"Why the Force didn't you tell me about that?" Lex griped. He put a hand on my shoulder and gently shoved me back into a sitting position. "You're not getting anywhere until I bandage that. And put that mask back on!"
I sighed and put the mask back on.
* * * Chet * * *
Once Lex was sure that the General wasn't going to keel over and die we got back on the road. Thank the Force, her cut hadn't been too bad – long and deep, but it could've been way worse. Like, no-more-arm worse. And Lex had been able to patch it up quickly. Still, though, I'd been freaking out – the General bleeding, hurt, made my fists clench with a burning desire to kill Steev (yes, I was aware that he was already dead) and my heart pound with a throat-choking fear.
Odd, considering I never reacted that strongly to any other injury, mine or not. But before I could think too deeply on it, I was distracted. Flash, of course, was being Flash.
"You were wise to seek help form the world's deadliest weapon," he told the General, referring to his and Darek's two-man charge to make Steev mad. "And if any more Steevs show their ugly faces, I'm gonna – AHH!"
Ace, rolling his eyes, had had enough. He'd nudged an unstable-looking rock with the butt of his rifle, and it rolled onto its side with a CRASH not unlike the noise Steev stomping around. Flash had dived behind Darek with a yelp.
"Deadliest weapon, huh?" Torch choked out, cracking up.
Flash, blushing, stepped out from behind Darek (who was shooting him a death glare with his arms crossed over his chest). "Oh, shut it, Torch," he muttered sheepishly.
The General laughed, with that high, musical bell-like laugh Omwati make, and I smiled. It was a pretty sound, one that made me want to make her laugh again.
Ookay. I'm sorry that I keep saying it, but WHAT THE FORCE WAS WRONG WITH ME? I'd never felt like this before. Heck, I didn't even know what this was! What was it about the General that made her so special?
Lex would know. I grabbed onto that like a drowning guy reaching for a lifesaver. Lex would know. He could help me figure things out.
Because there was no way I was going to ask the General herself. That would be just a tad bit awkward.
"Chet? You okay?" the General asked, looking at me in concern.
I mentally shook myself. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm good."
She was still looking at me weirdly. "Okay. If you say so," she said softly.
I grinned at her, even though she couldn't see it through my helmet. "I'm good," I said, and meant it this time.
So...what do you think? Not my greatest chapter, but I haven't been able to write in forever. Review please!