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Tales of the Old Republic is the place to post stories you have written about your character or others, either based upon roleplay that has occurred, or an entire side-story to events in-game which shed light on other parts of your character's life.

TOPIC: Atonement

Atonement 2 months 1 week ago #17261

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((Hello! since I've been absent due to technical issue for some time I thought I'd do some writing. These are a bit ambiguous time wise, but I think they work. Enjoy Esk's demons!))

Seven.

Corellia.


He’d been sat opposite the apartment complex for three hours. A small, simple box sat next to him, unadorned except for the full name, rank and serial number of a friend. He’d drawn looks from passers by, not many but enough for him to notice. It was to be expected really, after over four decades of constant war it was not unusual to see a serviceman in uniform not even in the dress white’s he’s currently donned. But it was a little out of the ordinary for them to sit on a bench staring into space for hours on end.

He runs his hand over the inside pocket of his uniform for a final time, feeling the familiar outline of a small, almost flat case. Steadying his nerves with a calming and deep breath he takes up his beret and returns it to his head, fussing over it for a moment until he knows the garment is just so before standing. After a brief repeat with his uniform, pulling the jacket straight and aligning his cuffs with his gloves he carefully, almost reverently picks up the case and holds it tight to his body.

It takes him less than five minutes to enter the building and ride the turbolift to the hundred and thirty second floor. Another five to roam the halls looking for the correct apartment and then another half an hour staring at the door before he summons the courage to press the small button beside it setting off a synthesised ringing through the apartment. Making his final preparations he takes a half step back from the door, his body falling into a perfect parade ground posture as he awaits the dwelling’s inhabitant.

A petite woman somewhere in her mid fifties answers. Her skin is pale and her posture bent as if bearing a great weight. She pushes her glasses further up her nose with a slightly trembling hand as she takes in the familiar uniform worn by an almost familiar face she thinks. With a slightly wavering voice she addresses the Marine, pushing back the memory of a similar visit by two servicemen wearing an identical uniform barring the beret. Her tone is terse, already defensive.

“Yes, Marine?”

Said Marine forces himself to calm his nerves as he looks upon what he’s sure would have been his friend’s future countenance. He manages to meet the gaze of a familiar shade of blue as he replies, his voice controlled and measured.

“Ma’am, my name is Eskkaar Ragnarson. I served in Aurek Squad for a little over three years, eleven months as the commanding officer. Including our deployment to Corstris. I was hoping I could have a moment of your time.”

Recognition. Of course she knows who this man is, she’s read his name countless times in the official reports of her daughter’s death and also in the photo resting on her kitchen side, sent by her daughter in happier times. Her grief flares again, it is a constant presence but having him here causes her anger to rise which she barely contains.

“Fine. You best come in.”

The apartment is homely, filled with pictures and nicknacks that accumulate over years of shared cohabitation. His friend’s face stares back at him from the majority of the pictures, varying from preschool to her graduation from a Corellian University. He takes half a moment to look carefully over each on his way to the arm chair pointed at by his host, setting down the box on the coffee table separating them. Removing his beret as he settles on the edge of the seat.

“Ma’am, I’d like to extend my deepest condolences on your loss. Your daughter….” A pause, his hands wringing the edge of the beret in his hands. “Rasha was a close friend of mine, not just a marine under my command.” Another pause, fighting against the burning pain building in his throat making it difficult to talk. “She was brilliant, funny and a true spirit.” Using extreme care he removes the small case from his inside pocket, opens it and holds it out for Rasha’s mother who takes it in trembling hands. Inside rests Rasha’s dogtags, cleaned, polished and restored to a service issue chain.

“I failed Rasha and the others, I should have seen….” He stops again, memories of blaster fire and the smell of phantom smoke pervading his nose. “The least I can do is offer you some closure by returning these and her other belongings. I know the Navy isn’t the best at seeing everything returned.” He gestures to the box resting on the table, lost for what else he could possibly say.

They sit in near silence. It stretches unbroken as Maleena goes through her daughter's belongings. Running small fingers over the small embossed letters and numbers on Rasha’s dogtags. Opening the box and pulling out book after book on differing engineering practises, each annotated and highlighted to the extreme, often with entire sections dedicated to pointing out the flaws in each chapter.

Finally after what seems like an eternity she looks up from the items now resting in her lap, meeting the gaze of the Marine sitting across from her. “I never liked that she enlisted, hated it in fact, but she was dead set on it.”

“Rasha was still in school when the Imperials invaded, we lived through the occupation and the Republic’s retaliation by hiding out in basements and below ground speeder garages.”

“After the liberation I knew she was going to join up the minute she finished her schooling. She had this look in her eyes every time she saw someone in uniform or watched one of your ships come in for refueling or repairs at the dockyards.”

“She loved that life, it was clear with every message she sent home and I hated it, as I think any parent does even if they don’t say it out loud.”

They talk. Hours pass. Shadows elongate and move across the room as the sun continues on its path, then they’re stood in the same spot as when they first met. Though now Maleena holds her daughter’s dog tags tight in one hand while she raises her gaze to look at the Marine. Both now showing the strain of the conversation on their faces.

“I know you blame yourself for what happened, and I know nothing I say will stop that. Nor am I sure that what happened isn’t your fault in some way. But, I know Rasha wouldn’t want you too, and I know that you kept her alive countless times before. Thank you.”

He heaves a silent sigh, part relief, part guilt.

“Thank you, Ma’am. Rasha was my frie…” A final pause as he refuses to lie. “She was...is family, all of them are.”

Maleena nods solemnly for a moment before she utters a final sentence as she shuts the door.

“Take care of yourself, Marine.”
Last Edit: 2 months 1 week ago by Eskkaar.
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Atonement 2 months 5 days ago #17268

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Six

Champala


A strange sense of deja-vu had crept up on Eskkaar as he’d stepped off the civilian transport in one of the few plateau cities on Champala, designated for off worlders and safe from the tides that cover the cities of the amphibious Chagian.

Again he was in his dress uniform, again he held another box filled with the personal trinkets of a friend and again his inside pocket was heavy with the restored dogtags of said friend. Specialist Otto Skobra.

His journey is easier this time, his location well known and easily signposted in basic for off worlders like himself. Subconsciously his back straightens and his posture stiffens as he approaches the Chagrian Embassy, his familiar military mannerisms settling easily onto his shoulders once more.

Security checks follow his announcement of his appointment at the reception, going through the motions with a rigid acceptance he has to hold himself back when they insist on looking through the personal affects of his friend. Grudgingly he has to give them their due and accept that they are just doing their job and that he cannot fault them, he would do the same in their position after all, in fact he had.

A short time later and he’s brought to a small, unidentified room in some random wing of the embassy. Just as he walks into the room he almost falls, his legs turning to jelly as he sets eyes upon the face of his friend. Or at least he thinks so, for a split second before images start flashing before his eyes and laying over the top of his reality. The feel of dirt under his fingernails pervades as he looks upon the same face that he had buried beneath the cold hard ground of Corstris.

Twins, of course. Otto had mentioned his brother, but only in passing, never once had he mentioned he had a twin, nor an identical one at that.

The conversation is short, the Chagrin that escorted Eskkaar to the small chamber acts an interpreter for Maotr - Otto’s brother - who speaks only broken basic. Even when handed Otto’s belongings and dogtags his face remains stoic, almost unfeeling if not for the slight waver of the eyes. Eskkaar could tell, he’d seen that look in the mirror over that past few months.

Thank yous are exchanged and Eskkaar is off world and bound for Kuat in under an hour, unsure if the weight pressing against his soul feels lighter or heavier.  
Last Edit: 2 months 5 days ago by Eskkaar.
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Atonement 3 weeks 1 day ago #17335

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Five

Kuat

“Sir, I’m looking for Jyn Merraska, the mother of Torrent. My name is Eskka…”

He sees the hastily thrown and widely telegraphed right hook coming, he could block it, he could retaliate as his training demands. To neutralise the threat as swiftly as possible.

But, he doesn’t.

Instead, he lets the tightly clenched fist collide with his jaw, he allows his body to rock back, his head snap to the side with the force of the blow and drops himself to a knee. All the while his body curls tightly around his friend, or what remains of him inside a familiar case at least.

“YOU! How dare you show up on our doorstep! What gives you the right?!”

Forgoing the option to shield his head, Eskkaar rolls his jaw experimentally as the unknown assailant screams above him. As he raises his head he spots the similarity between the two, the same hair line, nose and dare he think it, temper. A brother.

“Well?! Answer me! You killed my broth…”

That small string named restraint within his brain, already pulled taught, snaps as he hears these words. Eskkaar springs to his feet, his face dark with barely suppressed rage as he towers over the man despite being of equal height, such is the power of his aura at this moment. With his face an inch from the unnamed sibling he speaks, his voice husky with emotion.

“No! No...I may be responsible for his death, all of their deaths, at least I blame myself. But, no...I did not...could not, have killed your brother, because he was mine too.”

Both men remain staring at each other, eyes locked in a seemingly deadly struggle to see and express the truth of their words. That is until they are interrupted by a sharp rap of a walking stick against each of their sides, almost simultaneously, an impressive feat for the elderly woman wielding such a formidable weapon.

As Eskkaar takes in the appearance of presumably the woman he was looking for he sees a frail looking lady, clearly suffering the ravages of time and an imperfect health record due to the relative poverty she has lived in. Despite or maybe in spite of this her voice is strong and carries a timber that commands the attention of the duo.

“Fenn! How many times have I told you about your temper?”

“Ma’am, it’s fi…” attempting to defuse the situation Eskkar speaks up, before being rounded on himself by the aged battleaxe.

“And you!” she looks him up and down, taking in his uniform and the still shielded box in a single glance. “Marine is it?”

Suitably chastised by a look that he’s sure is designed to scare any man, woman, child or suitably intelligent creature, Eskkaar decides to stick to concise answers. “Yes ma’am.”

“Well, you best come in then.” With that she disappears inside, leaving Eskkaar and the now named Fenn staring at each other for a moment more until the civilian steps aside with a single huff.

Venturing inside the small dwelling he follows the faint sounds of Jyn’s walking stick against the metallic floors, occasionally giving way to a light thud as she passed over a throw rug or small section of carpet. The short walk leads him into a small kitchen diner, already the elderly human has sat herself down at the table and is looking over Esk’s shoulders giving Fenn instructions to make a pot of tea, which he complies with. Another huff and the slightly too loud closing of kitchen cabinets follows as the Marine is directed to the seat opposite, and Jyn levels her gaze on him.

“I know that uniform, washed and pressed one that was almost identical more times than I care to say…” A sad smile plays across her lips as she speaks, a fond but still painful memory pulling at her thoughts. “You’re not like the others that came before, I can see it in your eyes, the pain. You knew my Torr, didn’t you?”

His eyes drop to the table, and the box sitting in his lap as he swallows past the lump forming in his throat, something that is fast becoming a familiar companion every time he does this. Lifting the box he sets it carefully on the table and slides it across to her, leaving his hands upon it as he speaks, raising his own gaze to meet hers.

“Yes ma’am, I did. I had the honour of being his commanding officer for eleven months, his friend and brother in all but blood for a little over three years. I’m truly sorry for your loss, I...I failed him, and you.”

Over in the corner of the kitchen the noise has dropped, becoming oddly silent as Fenn listens in, curious despite the anger held just beneath the surface of his skin. Esk has already dropped his gaze and begun to withdraw his hands, a movement that is ceased in an instant as they are grasped in the vice like grip of Jyn.

She tugs on his hands, refusing to speak until he lifts his gaze back to hers, the shadow of tears are reflected in each others eyes, only refusing to fall because they had long since run dry. As their eyes meet her grip loosens and she gently cradles both in her hands, as only a mother can, rubbing her thumbs over his knuckles, a kind smile on her face.

“You could never have failed him Eskkaar...it is Eskkaar, isn’t it?” A shallow nod is his only response. “He spoke about you...not often. He wasn’t very open, something I think all you Marines have in common, yes?” Another nod, this time accompanied by a small wry smile. “I thought so. Torr was an unruly child, always in trouble. Then he grew up and was being arrested for petty things as a teenager. It was a relief when he enlisted, I thought he would finally grow up, but he never really did, did he?”

A small shake of the head is accompanied by a small “No, I don’t think so.” as Eskkaar remembers some of Torrent’s antics among the unit.

“Did you know, before you joined the twenty fifth hardly two months went past without him spending time in the digg, or whatever it is you call it.” Here Jyn pauses, a small squeeze of the Marine’s calloused hands before she continues. “Now think, how many times did he end up there after you transferred, and how many after you took command?”

She waits patiently as Eskkaar thinks back over the past three years, counting up any infractions of Torrent’s he can remember, discounting those minor ones, ones which were just a part of his friend’s character. As he settles his gaze back on Jyn she has a smile on her face, and she nods gently.

“Twice, maybe three times before you took command, and after?”

By now Fenn has turned and is watching the scene unfold, waiting for his mother to make her point, one which having grown up with Torr as an older brother he has an inkling of.

Holding her gaze Esk replies in a small voice. “None.”

“Exactly, he respected you, more than anyone else. He even said the last time he was home that you were like the older brother he wished he’d had. You were never going to rid him of his unruliness….” Her own eyes turn downcast for a second before she regains her composure. “That is something that is partly my fault, along with his no good father leaving before he turned five.”

“But, don’t you see? You made him a better man...not perfect, who is? But, better.”

Slowly as Jyn has been speaking a small sense of pride had been trying to force its way  through the fog of guilt surrounding his heart. Pride in both Torrent, and himself, that they had made each other better. A feeling which is dampened but not extinguished by his still present grief. Esk removes a hand from Jyn’s grasp, using it to rub briefly under his nose, ineffectively covering a small sniff as he regains his composure.

“Thank you.”

What follows is hours of reminiscing, sharing stories of a son who was mischievous before he could crawl, of a brother who stole a small Rancor toy just so Fenn would have a sixth birthday present and of a Marine who fought just as hard as he pranked.
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Atonement 3 weeks 6 hours ago #17336

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Four

Yulant

After he’d set down his borrowed shuttle in the spaceport located near the center of Leswan and managed to make his way to the outskirts of the city Eskkaar thought he could be forgiven for thinking he was back home. Cultivated fields stretched out in a patchwork with the wilds beginning to take control and reassert their dominance towards the horizon.

It was out there he found himself, dust particles clinging to what was his freshly pressed dress uniform only a matter of hours ago. Walking up to the small homestead that looked so familiar, but yet not so as the architectural differences made themselves known the closer he got.

He fails to even make it halfway across what could be considered the front yard before a shout calls out from the porch, a tall Cathar stepping from the single storey dwelling making his presence known.

“What business do you have here?!”

Eskkaar stops short, intimately familiar with how unknown intruders are treated on his family’s and many other homesteads on Dantooine. He transfers the ever familiar box underneath one arm as he raises the other in greeting, showing that he himself is not armed.

“I’m looking for Zaf Ellan. I was his daughter’s commanding officer.”

Instantly the Cathar’s face hardens and he stares at Eskkaar for what seems like an eternity until he steps back inside, returning a few seconds later, blaster rifle in hand.

Already Esk knows that if Nara’s father is a good shot, a real possibility given his daughter’s talent, that he’s dead. He’s in the open, no cover, no weapons and a good twenty meters between him and Zaf making rushing him pure suicidal.

Even from here he can see the Cathar grinding his teeth together as he chews over what Esk assumes is his next action. With a huff he turns, jerking his head in an invitation to follow and walks around the house.

The Marine, a man who had battled the elite of two empires and every type of professional and droid based combat expert, breathes a sigh of relief. His body visibly sagging as he holds his hands to his knees drawing in several giant breaths. Only in a handful of other situations had he faced off against such danger.

He follows despite his better judgement as the sound of blaster fire begins to fill the previously quiet farmland. As he rounds the house he finds Zaf adopting a perfect shooting stance firing single shots into a target that had to be four hundred meters out without the aid of any optical devices and with only a hunting rifle. Something that even Eskkaar has to admit to himself is damn impressive. Even as Zaf speaks, the blaster bolts continue to fly towards the distant target.

“Tell me what happened, do not leave anything out, you owe me that and more.”

So he does, he adopts the monotone that everyone in the service eventually develops when delivering a report to a superior. He speaks of the ambush, refusing to omit details, he retells of the sound and smell of battle that scorched his nose even through his helm’s filters. Only does he falter as he reaches the final part of his tale, his voice simply failing him.

A moment passes with blaster bolts still being fired at a steady rate until Zaf finally notices the absence of Esk’s voice. Turning he lowers his rifle, looking at the marine who still stands tall in an at ease stance, but whose eyes are overwhelmed with a haunted aspect. Refusing to offer comfort the Cathar instead throws the rifle to Eskkaar, pointing to the target after the marine has caught it on instinct alone. Either channelling his daughter or showing where she gained the trait he stays quiet, a man of few words.

Looking from Zaf to the target, then down to the rifle briefly Eskkaar nods his head, stepping up to the firing line. He spends half a minute looking over the unfamiliar weapon, coming to grips with it, testing its weight and balance before he adopts a parade perfect ready stance. As he has done countless times before he raises the rifle and aims for the target, squeezing the trigger slowly on an exhale.

He misses.

Following a low huff from his only companion he tries again, this time hitting the target. From there he falls into an easy rhythm, firing at the target while changing his shooting stance every dozen or so shots. With his mind engaged on the task at hand words begin to fall from his mouth again, informing Zaf of his daughter’s last moments.

“After the mortar strike there was only the three of us left. Me, Nara and Cad. He was injured, stomach wound, nasty. I think even then we, Nara and I,, both knew he was never going to make it but leaving him was never an option.”  

“I still don’t know how many we were up against, but what I saw over the next few weeks I’d have to say it was at least fifty hostiles, if not more. Despite that Nara never stopped firing, I lost count of how many she put down, I know she was the only reason we weren’t rushed then and there.”

“I grabbed Cad and dragged him to the tree line, your daughter covering me all the way. I made it, threw Cad behind a tree and took my turn. Firing into the smoke that covered the enemy position.”

“After she fired her last bolt she ran, ran faster than I have ever seen anyone in my life, ducking as blaster fire darted past her. Then she fell, a rock the mortar had kicked up caught her foot, no more than a couple of dozen meters from me.”

He lowers the rifle, turning to Zaf and looking him in the eye.

“I’d started to move, was almost clear of my cover. Maybe...maybe I could have reached her before…”

Eskkaar takes a deep breath, steadying his nerves.

“She was struck, multiple times. I watched, waited for her to move but she never did. I grabbed Cad and ran until my lungs gave out.”

He falls silent, a beat passes before he hands the gun out to Nara’s father. Why, to receive his punishment or a plea for mercy...he’s not sure himself.

Zaf runs his hand along the rifle, pausing over a small section on the stock, a groove worn smooth by age. Unknown to Esk, said groove was carved by Nara when she was eleven. Her father turns his attention back to the Marine, with eyes hard as durasteel and voice radiating pure malice.

“Did you make them suffer?”

Flashes of blood in the darkness, trip wires pulling on stolen grenades, his knife imbedded in the neck of unnamed pirates and lifeless bodies viewed through his rifle’s scope, these memories live behind his eyelids.

“Yes.”
Last Edit: 3 weeks 6 hours ago by Eskkaar.
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Atonement 2 weeks 2 days ago #17359

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Three

Humbarine

He didn’t want to admit it to himself, lest it become true. But, there at the edge of his thoughts, among the murky memories and hazy half formed concepts he’s afraid.

Afraid that he’s getting used to this...used to meeting almost familiar faces, used to being shouted, sworn at, hit and even comforted.

It shouldn't be like this, he doesn’t want it to be like this, but here he is. Walking up to another unfamiliar door, this one connected to a decent sized apartment it looks like. Carrying another identical box with differing contents, this one less full than the others, reflecting the age of its owner. To complete the picture, Private Cad Mapa’s refurbished tags reside in a case within his inside pocket, just like the times that came before.

He only has to knock once before the doors open, revealing a man of equal height to the Marine. His hair more grey than its natural brown, clearly physically fit but looking as if he had gone to seed with age. His clothing looks to prioritise function over comfort, his face and forearms showing several scars. All of this could easily be forgotten, or overlooked if Eskkaar did not immediately recognise his bearing. That shadow of a thousand yard stare, the stance of someone who has spent hours at parade rest and the square set of his shoulders. A soldier, no...a veteran.

For his part it takes the veteran a total of three seconds to correctly guess the identity and ascertain the purpose of his visitor. He remains silent, waiting for the uniformed man to speak.

“Sir, I’m Gunnery Sergeant Ragnarson. I was in command of your son’s unit during our deployment to Corstris.”

“Huh..” seems to be the only grunted reply Eskkaar will receive as the seconds tick by, taking in a breath he prepares to speak again before being cut off.

“Ragnarson? Damn mouthful if you ask me. Let's cut the batha crap, I’m Devin. You?”

An eyebrow quirks momentarily at Devin’s gruff manner before he regains his composure, this wasn’t exactly what he expected. The marine nods briefly, his shoulders relaxing despite seeming to remain exactly as they were.

“Eskkaar...Sir.” He tilts his head, a non verbal apology for not being able to drop all formalities.

Devin half smirks as he replies. “Fine, as you wish son.” He reaches out for the box held in Eskkaar’s hands, his voice becoming minutely hoarse, betraying the emotions he obviously keeps a tight reign on.. “This my boy’s?”[/color


Esk releases the box as he speaks, dipping a hand inside his uniform jacket to retrieve Cad’s tags, setting the case atop the box. “Yes Sir, I wanted to make sure you received all of his belongings, and to personally offer my condolences.” He pauses, waiting for the sick feeling he’d become accustomed to to return, further disgusted that it has lessoned. “Devin, I’d also like to apologise. I should have done more, been better, more aware, I…”

Cad’s father holds up a hand silencing Eskkaar as he runs a finger over his son’s dogtags which he has revealed. Half a moment later he replies as he meets Esk’s gaze. “Don’t son. Let's not lie to each other. We’ve both lived the life, fought in battles, survived wars. Not everything goes our way, that’s just the way it is.” Devin’s eyes pass briefly over the Marine’s uniform, taking in the commendations, campaign ribbons, and a golden set of wings with the a number six embossed upon them. “By the look of those I know you did your best, that’s enough for me.”

Heaving a half sigh of relief Eskkar nods his head. “I appreciate that Sir, maybe I’ll be able to live with that some day.”

“You will son, you’ll never forget and you shouldn’t. But, we all have to learn to live with our past.” Devin tucks the box and dogtags under one arm as he holds out his hand for Eskkar.

A calloused and battle worn hand meets another, both grasping the other in a firm grip, exchanging more meaning than all the words they had spoken over the past minutes combined.

As Eskkaar turns to leave a father to his grief Devin speaks for a final time, asking a question that had obviously been weighing on his mind.

“Did he suffer?”

Turning back, his features already schooled, something he’d had to become good at quickly following Corstris, he lies. “No Sir, he didn’t.”
Last Edit: 2 weeks 2 days ago by Eskkaar.
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