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This is the place to post stories you have written about your character's timeskip; what happened to them in the five years between the fall of the Gav Daragon and the rise of the Empress Teta.
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TOPIC: Eskkaar's Timeskip

Eskkaar's Timeskip 1 year 10 months ago #15544

  • Eskkaar
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Herein follows a few of the events from Eskkaar’s timeskip.

If you have feedback I’d appreciate it if you sent it to me in a private message so that I can keep all of Esk’s stories together, without potential long OOC discussions in between.

Last Edit: 1 year 10 months ago by Eskkaar.
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Eskkaar's Timeskip 1 year 10 months ago #15580

  • Eskkaar
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Time: +3 Months after Zakuul Invasion (Few days after the attack on RSS Gav Daragon)
RSS Empress Teta

Heavy footsteps echo down the access corridor, foretelling the quick marching step of an armour clad marine, days after the attack he was still to be given even PT gear to wear in place of his armour, this lax in administration didn’t bother him, the Virtus MkIIb was like a second skin. He brushes past the numerous crew members of the Empress Teta, still not used to this new ship with its full crew complement, bringing his pain to the fore again, the loss of the Gav Daragon still fresh, the loss of friends still fresh.

Thankfully, the layout of a Valour Class Cruiser doesn’t differ much, and he manages to reach his destination quickly, still clutching the borrowed datapad with the message on it. Ignoring the small computer panel on the side of the door, he instead bangs his gauntleted fist against the durasteel three times. When he receives no answer he does so again. Passing members of the crew look at the irate man. In return he graces them with a scowl, one or two even shrinking away, the burn scar covering half his face only adding to the intimidating visage.

Finally, the door opens and the small, sparse office is revealed; a desk and a personal computer about the only things standing out. Wasting no time, he strides across the few meters to the desk, tossing the datapad into man’s lap. “What the hell is that, Captain?” He asks, his voice filled with an undercurrent of anger.

Glancing up, the Mirialan keeps his expression neutral. Rising to his feet, he deposits the datapad on his desk as he begins to speak plainly, his voice carrying the weight of those used to command. “Orders, Sergeant. I’d assume you’d know that.”

“Of course I know that. They’re crap. Reassignment? We might have lost people but the unit is still functional.” Eskkaar pauses, before his training forces his hand. “Sir.”

The Mirialan nods, happy that the Sergeant has finally remembered his place. “At least they enforced discipline aboard the Gav Daragon.” Having delivered his jab he moves around his desk, pointing towards the datapad. “That has come down from the Admiralty, there is no changing it Sergeant. As I understand it, the Gav Daragon was under strength at the best of times. Now? You’re a shell. The unit is a shell of what it should be.”

After days of keeping his emotions in check, trying to help others with their own pain, grief, anger and a multitude of others, not worrying about himself, he finally snaps. Rounding on the Mirialan, only now noticing the lack of tattoos visible, even Eskkaar knew that was how they celebrated achievement. “What the hell do the Brass know about us?! And if we were such a shell why did the same Brass send us out on a limb to the arse end of the galaxy?! Could your unit not handle it?!” Eskkaar emphasises his points by raising his hand and pointing at the datapad repeatedly, as he shouts at the senior officer, whose face drops, clearly unused to being addressed in such a way. “You forget yourself Sergeant.”

“Maybe I do, but this is the biggest pile of Nerf dung I’ve seen. You’re wanting to break up the entire 6 Battalion! The most experienced unit you’ve got! What are you gonna do, drag a bunch of Privates out of basic and wipe their noses?! Not even been to Carida for stars sake!”

Eskkaar drops his hand for a second as an uncomfortable silence falls, the room seemingly empty, after the parade ground volume of the Sergeant dissipates. But even that isn’t enough for him, raising his gauntleted right hand one last time pointing at the Captain’s face.

“We’ve just spent the better part of a month getting our arse kicked by some unknown Empire and you have the gall to call me a shell, call my unit a shell?! What the hell have you been doing? Sat on your backside guarding some core world light years from the fight?!”

The Mirialan’s eyes narrow as the Sergeant points a finger in his face, even as Eskkaar finishes he raises his voice for the first time, barking his order.

“Enough!” As silences falls once more he moves back to his chair, but remains standing as he speaks in an artificially calm voice. “It’s done Sergeant. The 648 will be reassigned, most likely given time the entirety of 6 Battalion will be deactivated. Now get out of this office, you’re dismissed.”

Eskkaar remains standing in front of the desk, his face flushed with anger as he breathes deeply through his nose, attempting to contain his anger. A minute passes before he turns, walking purposefully from the room, down the same corridor as before. Stopping out of earshot he slams his fist against the bulkhead several times, releasing his pent up rage.

Two weeks later and Eskkaar is sat on his bunk, holding his beret in his hands, gently rotating it, his thoughts drifting. As part of the reassignment of the 648, he’d been sent back to Coruscant, garrison duty. He couldn’t know for certain, but he’d heard the scuttlebutt, Captain Fasr (He’d learnt the name after the fact.) had a word with someone high up, and here he was. Stuck in the barracks, unable to do anything outside of drill and maintain weapons as the military was forbidden to help the CSF unless requested.

Mumbling under his breath he curses several times, drawing some attention from the other soldiers nearby but ignoring them anyway, none had the same beret as him. Thinking back he knew he’d made a mistake lashing out at Fasr, but he’d be damned before anyone insulted his friends, not after what they’d been through. Besides, grinning to himself as the the thought occurs, it had felt good at the time.
Last Edit: 1 year 10 months ago by Eskkaar.
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Eskkaar's Timeskip 1 year 10 months ago #15581

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Time: + 10 Months after Zakuul Invasion (Three weeks after the initiation of the blockade of Coruscant)

[Booting Datapad...]
[Enter Password..]
[Password Accepted]
[Compose New Mail]
[Mail opened]


Before you get worried I’m fine. Well, no I’m not fine, but I’m alive. Ria is fine too, she’s still at the Academy, I’m keeping an eye on her.

It’s bad, and it’s only going to get worse, the blockade is really starting to take its toll. My CO told me something the day after the Zakuulian ships turned up. Apparently, dozens of hyperdrive capable ships tried to make a break for it within the first hour, stars know how many people were aboard, but planetary sensors showed that none of them made it. I wish he hadn’t told me, it brought back what happened on the Gav, as if I wasn’t getting enough sleep already.

People are actually starting to starve now, on the lower levels. They didn’t even have much to begin with, and now they’ve got nothing. Everyone is malnourished, especially the kids, I’ve seen them when we’re out on patrol with the CSF, they have this blank stare as they look at you, too worn down to even ask for food now.

I’ve already responded to two riots, one was at a hospital, they knew it would have food. There we were, lined up, shields ready, they’d even given us batons. Something must have drove them on, because the crowd was on us in a second, trying to break through the line. I beat down civilians whose only crime was being hungry, any other time and I’d be up on charges. This isn’t why I enlisted, and it’s damn well not why I re-upped.

In the last three weeks I’ve learnt and experienced one thing that I had never thought I would. Hungry people become desperate people, fast. In the first few days we we’re put on half rations, the first couple of days it wasn’t so bad, more or less just like being on deployment. But it gets to you, I can’t concentrate as well, a couple of times I’ve had blurred vision, even collapsed as I was getting off my bunk. A few of us have seen the Doc, he didn’t seem surprised and scuttlebutt is we’re being dropped to quarter rations soon. I don’t know how long it’ll be before the garrison joins the rioters.

On top of this there is a news article floating around that the Chancellor is just wanting to continue the fighting, even if people start starving to death. It goes against my very being but if something doesn’t happen, a lot more people are going to die.

I’m sorry dad, I shouldn’t be worrying you, but I’m not going to lie. Just, please don’t tell mom, she’ll only worry and make herself ill. You should know that I’ve got some ideas, I’ll make sure Ria stays safe and fed, I promise.



[Send Mail]
[Recipient, Soraan.Ragnarson@Khoondamail]
[Mail Sent]
[Close Program]
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Eskkaar's Timeskip 1 year 10 months ago #15589

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Home, Part 1

Time: +1 Year and 1 Month after Zakuul Invasion.
Jaboon - Civilian Transport

Stars, he hated civilian transport, it was loud, slow and somehow more cramped than military vessels. He’d woken three or four minutes ago when he felt the ship drop out of hyperspace, somehow sleeping through the captain’s tannoy message but the slight vibrations affecting his body’s rhythm enough to jolt him from his sleep. Rubbing his eyes to remove the last vestiges of sleep from his system and swinging his legs over the side of his borrowed bunk, looking at the wall opposite a mere two feet away. His small cabin wasn’t exactly the epitome of luxury, but seeing the general quarters for everyone who hadn’t coughed up the extra creds twenty days ago for the trip from Coruscant to Dantooine he was happy enough.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ll be setting down at the Khoonda spaceport in thirty minutes. All passengers disembarking please ensure you have all of your belongings collected and ready to carry off. Any stored weapons may be retrieved from the Chief of Security once we have landed. Thank you.”

Having only brought one holdall with him he wasn’t going to have much of an issue, especially not like most of the people he’d seen who were bound for Dantooine as well, he could have sworn he saw one guy carrying a sink. Standing, he begins to quickly throw the few items he had removed from his bag back into it, datapad, razor, toothbrush and the like. It takes him less than two minutes to confirm that all of his possessions are accounted for, except for the items stored with the Chief.

Opening the door to his windowless cabin he looks up and down the access corridor, instantly regretting it as people are rushing back and forth with all the co-ordination of a day one company at basic. Effecting a tactical retreat he makes it back inside, closing the door behind himself and slouching down onto the bunk, his thoughts drifting even as he hears the organised chaos going on outside the cabin.

It had been years since he’d been back to Dantooine, back home, at least since he was transferred to the Gav Daragon and that was over three years ago. Even before that he was already in the Military, having served two years in the Army and had only been back once or twice. He wasn’t proud of it, especially as he knew that his mother hadn’t taken it well when he left the first time, add on top of that his sister Ria leaving just four years after him, the worry had apparently almost made her ill at times, something he’d never wished for when he left, just wanting to see what else the galaxy had to offer.

Tapping his foot on the deck as was his habit, nerves reaching the surface as the ship comes closer and closer to the Dantooine. Memories flashing to the fore of his mind; fixing the Rust Bucket with his dad when he was twelve, eating homemade food with his mom sat across the table, Jazira physically picking him up and making him do his school work and Ria constantly dogging his footsteps, even following him out into the wilds at times, despite being warned not to. Lost in his memories he’s not aware as a grin slowly spreads across his face, his left eye tearing up slightly as good memories are mixed with bad. Cuffing his eyes as he finally notices, glad the door was shut and no one can see him he swings his legs back onto the bunk, deciding more sleep was better, especially as he had a half day’s speeder ride ahead once they touched down.

It had been twenty minutes since they’d touched down and Eskkaar was still stuck in a queue waiting to retrieve his items from the Security Chief, again he was reminded as to why he hated civilian transport. Another ten minutes pass before he comes face to face with the Security Chief, a hard man but past his prime, Eskkaar assumed the man used to at least be in Civilian law enforcement or a branch of the military, the Chief’s bearing very much matching his own. Pulling a data stick from his pocket he hands it over and watches as the Chief scans it, his three items popping up on his screen instantly. After checking it over he vanishes into the armoury, returning a few minutes later, a blaster rifle, pistol and a combat vibroknife.

Eskkaar immediately picks up each weapon, quickly inspecting each and making sure they appear to still be functional. He quickly returns his pistol and knife to their holster and sheath located on his right leg, loosening the strap on his rifle he pulls it up and rests it on his right shoulder, all of his movements have been that of a veteran. The chief notices as well, remarking before he can check his own curiosity. “You look like you know what you’re doing, you’re not trying to start a war are you?”

Turning his attention back to the Chief he offers a slight smirk as he replies. “No, but I may be about to walk into another, just for a change.” With a small nod he moves away, longing for fresh air that he can almost taste since the departures began.

Finally free of the confines of the ship he is forced to squint, unused to the level of light after almost three weeks of spaceflight. He gradually becomes used to his new, but familiar surroundings, able to take in the Khoonda Spaceport, which in itself is almost laughable, most of it being just a leveled field with a few repulsorlift sleds, refueling lines and one small building for arrivals and departures. A stark contrast to the last time he had his feet on solid ground.

After again being subjected to what was rapidly becoming his pet peeve - queueing - he made his way through the small building and began walking through the outskirts of Khoonda. The sights and sounds of the markets where traders and farmers alike were hawking their goods for import and export brought back memories from the last couple of years before he left. He would head out on his speeder bike into the grasslands, stopping off first in Khoonda to get a few sacks of supplies and maybe share a drink with some freighter captain, his old curiosity at its peak around new people.

As he begins to make it through to the middle of the settlement, more established buildings and homes are seen. Again he is struck by how provincial the place feels compared to the core, but he prefers it to the harsh lines and materials of the cityscapes, here you can still feel the dirt under your boots and smell the outside, rather than the accumulated fumes of thousands of vehicles and factories. Startled from his reverie by a loud shout to his right, “Eskkaar?!" instinct and training kicking in he is already turning towards it, hand moving to his sidearm as he drops his holdall from his left shoulder, allowing a greater range of movement if necessary. The two individuals, a male and female human, moving towards him pause momentarily as they see his actions. He too pauses, a look of confusion on his face before a flash of recognition pulls their names from his memory, but still having to ask, not quite ready to accept the truth from his own mind.“Drey? Zarli?”

Drey Garron and Zarli Horle, two people he hadn’t seen in near enough six years. He’d known them since school, having been in the same class. Drey was a geekish and lanky 6ft 4in with an abundance of brown hair tied back, at school he’d taught himself computer programming, detesting the prospect of farming for the rest of his life. Zarli was a tomboy, there was no other way of saying it, always scrapping with the lads, Esk included. Her bright red hair had always made her stand out in a crowd, even more so now that she sported a hairstyle with shaved sides and a long braided ponytail down her back. The last time he’d seen them both Drey was still crushing hard on Zarli, and she was learning everything she could about anything even resembling a machine, seemingly unaware of Drey’s intentions.

Zarli continues forward as she see’s him relinquish the hold on his sidearm, throwing her arms out wide and rushing the last couple of steps, wrapping him up in a hug. “Of course it’s us you dumb Nerf! Who else would it be eh?!” After a shocked moment he returns the hug with a squeeze, looking over her shoulder at Drey. “You still got your head buried in any piece of circuitry you can find?" The lanky man grins as he walks over, greeting Esk with his own hug once Zarli has relinquished him, patting him on the back for emphasis several times, which surprisingly hurts as his rifle is repeatedly pummeled into his back. Stepping back he replies, the grin still on his face as his deep voice rings out. “What do you take me for, a farmer?” It was an old joke but it only reaffirmed his friendship with the two, especially as even after six years they all laughed softly.

Eskkaar steps back slightly to retrieve his bag, raising his right eyebrow as Drey puts his arm around Zarli. Confusion. He points at the gesture. “Are you two….you know?”

Laughing softly Zarli holds up her left hand, showing a simple ring. “Yes, this lummox finally made an honest woman of me two years back. I figured that I’d led him on long enough as well.” Lowering her hand and stepping closer to Drey out of habit, looking Esk up and down, she still recognised him as the eager and curious boy she’d known growing up, even with the large burn scar on the right of his face. But, she could see it in his eyes, the hurt, the pain. She was sure he’d seen things that she couldn’t or probably shouldn’t imagine. Smiling wider, almost to reassure Eskkaar before she speaks again. “You must be back to see your folks, right?”

His eyes wide open as she confirms his suspicions, smiling for them both, clearly unused to any happy news for some time. “Congratulations! That’s great, I always knew Drey was besotted with you, but I never thought he’d pluck up the courage!” Closing the gap he shakes Drey’s hand several times and kissing Zarli on the cheek as she simultaneously speaks again, once back in place he nods. “Yeah, that’s the plan. I was going to rent or buy a speeder bike and then head out, get there sometime tonight.”

Drey holds out one of his lanky arms, hand resting on Esk’s shoulder. Drey’s voice is almost stern, a complete shock to Eskkaar’s memories of him. “No Esk, we’re not letting you out there are at night. Even if you are some super hot military man. The kinrath are out in force at the moment, some population boom or other. At least in daylight you won’t go riding damn smack into one. You’ll stay with us, no arguments.”

Not one to ever break the habit of a lifetime, Zarli chimes in, poking Esk in the stomach to emphasise her point. “No arguments. We’ve got a bike you can borrow and save yourself getting fleeced anyway. Besides, you look thin, we might as well get a head start on your mother trying to fatten you up, eh?”

Holding his hands up in surrender, a grin wide on his face. “Okay, okay. Between Drey acting like a grown man and you cooking, I’m not even sure I’m on the right planet. This is Dantooine, Right?”

Drey and Zarli’s home was modest, a single storey with three rooms. A larger living room/kitchen and two bedrooms. However, he could tell it was theirs before he even set foot inside, attached to one side of the house was a large workshop, filled with at least enough parts to make three speeders, not to mention the two bikes already assembled inside. As he’d stowed his gear in their ‘guest’ bedroom a couple of hours ago he had a little bit of trouble getting to the bed itself, Drey had been using it as storage, computer parts lay everywhere, thankfully most of them were boxed up, it still surprised Esk that he’d managed to find a more cramped sleeping place on Dantooine, rather than in the Navy.

While Drey ran some errands and Zarli began making inroads on the evening’s meal, he’d grabbed a shower from their small bathroom attached to the main bedroom. Wearing relatively new, but at least clean clothes he felt like a different man as he made his way into the kitchen, offering his help to Zarli. “Right then Z, where do you need me?”

A look of fake shock falls on her face as she looks up from her task of chopping a series of vegetables. “You can cook? Thats new.”

Shaking his head, a grin on his face as he looks around, trying to find a task. “I can make things safe to eat, most of the time. But I’m good at following orders, so starting giving some.”

“If you say so. Here, finish up what I’m doing and I’ll get started on the Bol steaks.” Over the next hour, and despite one or two culinary mishaps on behalf of Esk, one involving a flaming towel, they managed to cook up a respectable meal, just as Drey had made his way back to the house.

Sitting down at a small table that the three of them could barely fit around, the talk was almost non existent as they all enthusiastically ate their meal. Eskkaar could barely manage to recall the last time he had a meal like this, simple home cooking, around a small table, a cool evening breeze gently floating in through an open window from the grasslands. The food was good too, really good, and considering that he was present while the food was cooked he knew it wasn’t down to his culinary skill. Instead he chalked it up to Zarli’s new found - at least in his experience - talent for cooking, and fresh ingredients, in fact he wouldn’t of been surprised if he had seen the Bol walking around before he’d met up with the pair of them earlier on.

Having assigned Drey to wash up, his fault for being absent during the prep, they we now all sat on comfier seats, Zarli snuggled up into Drey’s side, her feet folded under her on the couch, all with a steaming cup of caf in hand. Smiling at seeing them both like that he’s happy for them, despite feeling a pang of jealousy at not having someone to share the same experience with, thankfully Drey snaps him out of his lapse into self reflection. “Come on then Esk, you’ve hardly spoken a word all evening. Are you going to fill us in on what you’ve been up to?”

Recalling the memory of seeing the pain behind Esk’s eye Zarli digs an elbow into her husband’s side, almost spilling his caf before she looks to their guest. “You don’t have to tell us anything Esk, not if you don’t want to.”

Continuing to smile, he nods gently, even as a distant look falls on his face. He sips from his caf, using it to fortify himself. “It’s okay, I won’t lie and say it’s been a fun time over the past year. Even before that we had our down moments, but good times as well. I don’t know if you’ve been seeing my folk regular, but after I left I spent two years in the Army, then transferred to the ODR. From there I got assigned to the Gav, that’s one of the big Valour Class Cruisers, she was an old ship, but I wouldn’t of wanted to serve on any other. ”

For the next couple of hours they spoke, Esk telling them about life in the Navy, life aboard a ship of the line and his life as a Marine, albeit skirting around the edges of wounds still fresh, even after a year. On their part they spoke of Dantooine, how exports had spiked after the treaty with the Eternal Empire and continued to rise, problems with the Kinrath and catching him up on other old school mates. Finally, when Drey caught Zarli asleep, the two of them decided to call it a night, Esk making his way through the dozens of crates in his room, somehow only managing to stub his toes twice. As sleep finally came to claim him he smiles, still nervous about returning home the next day, but even more excited now that he has his feet on solid Dantooinian ground.

This was perhaps what he missed most about Dantooine, aside from his family. The feeling of speeding over the grasslands, up and down the small contours of the land, almost unobscured vision for kilometers in every direction. He’d set off early from Khoonda, just after dawn having shared a basic breakfast with Drey and Zarli. He’d gathered up the last of his things, checking his weapons more from habit than anything else, but still with the warnings of the Kinrath ringing in his ears. While he’d been doing this Zarli had been checking over the speeder bike he was to use, showing the same care a mother would to her child.

He made his way into the workshop, watching his footing as he did, evidently Zarli had a similar philosophy about speeder parts as Drey did about computers, but didn’t share his enthusiasm for boxes, he was shocked to see the speeder that he was to borrow. It was easily the best speeder bike he’d seen on Dantooine, ever, it wasn’t flashy or even new, but he could tell it was built with a rugged practicality he admired and cared for meticulously. After several minutes of shamelessly fawning over the bike he’d said his farewells to them both, promising to return the bike in the same state he’d found it, and to stop off before getting himself on a return transport in two weeks time.

Now he was perhaps half way there, if he was recalling the scenery correctly. He’d stopped off for several minutes not long after he’d left Khoonda, coming across a small herd of Thune, including several young. It was a rare sight, especially this close to Khoonda, as a teen he’d only seen them several days out from Khoonda, as the large creatures normally avoided any population centres. As he eased the speeder over a small rise blocking his vision of the landscape beyond he slowed down, not eager to replicate one of his earlier mistakes where he almost ran into one of the many sparsely placed Blba trees that were a common sight on the grasslands. Instead he was greeted by a large group of Kinrath, at least thirty in number, while they couldn’t see him as all Kinrath are blind, they immediately sensed the heat from his speeder, the group charging towards him, some even lashing out with their poison filled stinger, despite being were some way distant. Yanking on the throttle and rapidly accelerating he was easily able to pull away from the group, thanking Zarli’s superior mechanical skills as he did so. Once he could no longer see them he chuckled to himself, good job they hadn’t let him go last night. Easing back on the throttle now that he was clear of the large insectoids he began to enjoy the ride once more, even if he was perhaps a little more alert than before.

There it was, the Ragnarson Homestead, he was sat on the speeder bike a few klicks away, on top of the last small rise before the farm. From here he was able to take in the entire property, one which he almost had trouble recognising. The layout and buildings were the same, despite small repairs here and there and a fresh coat of paint on all the buildings. In the centre was a loosely walled compound containing the two storey house he had grown up in, a fairly generous barn and numerous sheds. Around this was their farmland, nestled on a surprisingly flat piece of land even for Dantooine, he could see several crops filling up most of the fields recognising Yot Beans, Tritacale and Kibla Greens. What he was most surprised to see was quite a large fenced area just to the north of the buildings, and inside it a small herd of Bol, things must definitely be better than when he left, they hadn’t done any pastoral farming since he was small, it was too expensive on the upkeep.

Throttling up the bike again he makes his way down and over the last few kilometers to the small cluster of buildings, slowing to a crawl as he pulls up just outside of the house, spying his father half in half out of the door, looking to find the source of the noise, even as he finishes what suspiciously looks like a sandwich. Shutting the speeder bike down and leaning back into a sitting position he pulls his goggles from his face, a clear colour difference now visible between the lower dust covered half and the clean upper half. Looking directly at his father he’s glad to see that time hadn’t changed him too much, he still stood tall and with a purpose, but his hair was more grey than black now along with his stubble, even a life spent in the open air can’t hold back the aging process. A grin forming on his face as he takes all of this in, a small part of his brain registering happiness that he himself was very unlikely to go bald in his own old age.

“Hey Dad! I’m hoping that wasn’t the last bit of grub?”

Complete shock, that is the only way to describe the emotions written across Soraan’s face as he looks at his only son that he hasn’t seen in over three years. He takes in his appearance in the seconds it takes for his own body to respond, Eskkaar was thinner than the last time he saw him, which shouldn’t of been a surprise after the mail he’d received several weeks back. What was a surprise was the burn scar covering a large part of his face, Esk hadn’t mentioned it before, nor had Ria, but he had a good idea why not. Finally after what seems like an age, which in fact was only two or three seconds, he speaks as he begins to walk over, “Son? Is that really you?”, without a reply he wraps his son up in a bear hug, squeezing him tightly even before he has had a chance to properly dismount the bike.

Managing to untangle himself from the bike, as he is held in a vice like grip by his father he returns the hug, speaking almost softly as he looks over his father’s shoulder at the house, his mother stood in the doorway, leaning heavily against it, tears heavy on her face. “Yeah dad, it’s me alright.”

His father always had this uncanny ability to know when something was going on behind him, even more impressive as even he will admit his hearing gets worse with every passing year. But once again he displays the ability as he gives his son one last squeeze. “Go to your mother Esk, don’t let her suffer one second longer.”

Released from the bear hug Eskkaar quickly closes the few meters to the doorway, leaning down slightly to wrap his arms around his mother, who continues to sob as she lets her son support her. “Stop crying Mom, there’s no need. I’m back and I’m fine.”She hadn’t changed from Esk’s memories, still wearing her heart on her sleeve, her hair still a deep shade of brunette and still strong of temper.

Through her sobs she manages to verbally lash out, instantly transforming Esk from decorated Republic Marine to an eight year old boy being yelled at for, in his mother’s words, bringing enough mud home to plaster the entire house, twice.“You stupid prat Eskkaar Ragnarson. Why didn’t you tell us you were coming home?! I almost had a heart attack from the shock.” Reinforcing her words she manages to free an arm and pokes him hard in the chest several times.

Stepping back a fraction he rubs at the point on his chest where his mother had been poking, a look of fake hurt on his features. “Stars, Mom! Alright, maybe I should have. But more importantly, I hope that wasn’t the last sarnie Dad was scoffing when I pulled up.” Cracking a smile once he finishes up, its an obvious attempt to skirt around the whole not coming home in over three years issue, just adding more diversions on top of older ones to avoid talking about his demons.

Dee’s features soften as she is able to look at her son properly for the first time that day, taking in all that he is, and the distant look in his eyes even as he tries to lighten the situation. Stepping forward to him, raising a hand and holding it to the right side of his face, over the burn scar smiling softly. “You always were a cheeky child Eskkaar. Of course that was the last sandwich, you’ll have to make your own. I bet you’re regretting not telling us now, eh?” Her smile takes on a devilish aspect for a split second as she moves back the house, removing a handkerchief from a pocket and wiping at the tears, composing herself.

Its was now Eskkaar’s turn to be genuinely shocked as he looked over his shoulder at his father, who wasn’t even attempting to hide his laughter. “Does she really mean that?.”

Walking past his son, patting him on the back as he continues to chuckle, sparing him a few words. “Yes son, I think she does..”
Last Edit: 1 year 10 months ago by Eskkaar.
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Eskkaar's Timeskip 1 year 10 months ago #15590

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Home, Part 2

The room was dark, moonlight slanting in through the open window, casting eerie shadows from the items located around the room, even more so on those still covered in dust sheets. He lay on the bed, his bed, looking around the room unable to sleep, picking out a few of his old belongs despite the lack of light and their odd shadows. The tooth from his first Kath Hound kill, his toy rifle propped in the corner and his Grandfather’s machete mounted on the wall opposite. It was odd, this place, his room, the farm, even Dantooine would always be his home, but he wasn’t sure he belonged here anymore. Had he changed? Had Dantooine? All he could say was that it felt odd to be back.

Finally giving in to the inevitable and all too common truth of the past year, sleep was not going to claim him this night, he quietly slips from his bed and pulls on a sweater over his vest top. Slipping from his room, trying to remember the locations where his foot fall would set off what would be an earth shattering groan throughout the old house in the dead of night. Finally making his way onto the small balcony off the landing, a small grin on his face, calling it a balcony was a bit of an exaggeration, it was more like a walled ledge. As he did when he was younger he scoots himself onto the ledge, leaning his back against the wall, left foot planted on the ledge with his knee raised, enough for him to support his left arm while his right leg hung on the inside of the wall, just enough of a steadying force to stop him from falling.

Tilting his head up he is greeted by the inky blackness of the sky, pierced in thousands of places by small dots of light, clearly visible above Dantooine thanks to a lack of light pollution caused by major population centres. All of this presided over by her twin moons, now high in the sky, half way through their nightly procession dispensing with reflected light from Dina, the sun he had grown up under. His attention is suddenly drawn away from the vista laid out above him as he hears the creaking noise he had managed to avoid come from the landing. Automatically his muscles have already tensed and his left leg dropped back inside the ledge incase he needs to spring into action. All of these pass without him realising he’s actually acting, responding to the threat, the life he has led for the past seven years is now that firmly ingrained into his psyche.

Walking in from the landing is Soraan, his old blue dressing gown wrapped around him, the same one he’d had since before Esk was born. He knew he would find his son there, failing to notice how tightly wound up Eskkaar is, instead he does notice the scar again, somehow even more prominent in the moonlight as his son eases himself back onto the ledge and looks up at the stars once more. Clearing the few feet to the opposite end of the ledge in two steps he leans back against the wall, copying his son and looking up at the night’s sky. Two or three minutes pass in a comfortable silence before he speaks, “Can’t sleep?”

Remaining still, continuing to look at the stars as his body relaxes from its highly tense state of a couple of minutes ago, he replies softly as he wonders which planets are orbiting the stars he can see in the sky. “No, just for a change.”

Soraan watches his son, almost able to feel the pain within Eskkaar. He opens his mouth but pauses for a split second, it is no mystery where Esk’s desire to keep things bottled up comes from, pure genetics. Another moment passes before he ploughs on, “Son, do you….do you want to talk? About anything?”

Shaking his head Eskkaar clears his throat, “No dad. I’m fine.”

After a second or two Soraan holds up a finger as if signaling Esk to wait before moving off from the wall and out of sight. A right eyebrow raises in response as a slight mask of confusion descends on Eskkaar’s features watching his dad scamper off. Thanks to the deadly quiet he can hear him in the kitchen but that's about all he can surmise.

Several minutes later his father returns carrying two large bottles, one in each hand. He hold one out for Esk who eagerly takes it, a grin on his face recognising the label instantly. A small cartoon picture of a Graul, Dantooine’s apex predator that he’d thankfully only seen at a distance of several klicks, was depicted as sleeping. Above it a banner was clear, with the beer’s name embossed, ‘Khoonda Golden Ale’, below the picture was another banner, this one containing a phrase reading - “Even a Graul can’t resist.”. It was the beer he’d grown up on, literally as well as figuratively. A small chuckle escapes his lips as he unscrews the cap, remembering the legend that explained the cartoon. Apparently, decades ago, a Graul had wandered into the brewery in a very literal sense, proceeded to break into one of the fermenting vats and drink/eat the entire contents. As the cartoon depicts, the workers were a little surprised to find an adult Graul sleeping one off when they turned up to work the next day. He had no idea if it were true or not, but he liked to think so.

His father had been watching him the entire time and smiled as he heard his son chuckle, happy that there was still that spark within him. Unscrewing the cap from his own beer and taking a swig he resumes his previous position before he begins to talk. “Look Esk, you may not want to talk, I may not want to talk, but we’re going to. Even if it’s only to save your mother the pain of hearing it. How about you start with that ruddy great big scar on yer face?”

Eskkaar was halfway through his own sip as his father began to speak, lowering the bottle he looks at his father for several seconds before nodding. Switching the bottle to his left hand he taps the right side of his face. “This? Compartment fire. Maybe a year and a half ago. The Gav had took some hits as we tried to retreat , but then a day or so later we had this explosion. Some kind of overload in a power relay I think. I suited up, helped put out the fire. A transformer blew while we were in there, some of the debris impacted my mask, nothing major.”

Soraan has to shake his head as he listens to his son speak of such a dangerous task, one he can barely imagine in such simple terms. “That’s nothing major? Come on son. You can hardly say that.”

Turning his eyes upon his father, his face almost expressionless as he replies with a single sentence. “After the past year, I can.”

Silence falls between them, both turning to look out over the grasslands extending beyond the farm. Soraan unable to comprehend what his son has been through, but desperately wanting to help ease the burden he feels. Eskkaar replaying moments from the past year in his head, over and over, unable to shake them.

Shakily, his voice breaking as he speaks, Eskkar begins to open up. “Look dad, when the Gav went down, I lost a lot of friends.” Pausing, he shakes his head, “No, screw that. I lost family. Brothers and sisters in arms.” Another pause, he drinks while his dad stands there watching, not wanting to interrupt, a feeling in the back of his mind that this is helping his son, being able to speak these things. “I literally went through hell with these people, the collective fear of a drop, them carrying my broken body back to the ship only for me to repay the favour a month later, fighting hordes of Killiks that make the damn kinrath look like a youth choir. I don’t know if you can understand it dad, a lot of people in the military say that a civilian never will.”

Esk manages to choke down a sob, still trying to keep a hold of himself, of the emotions he’s kept in check for over a year. Tearing up, cuffing at his eyes to remove the moisture that he sees as a sign of weakness, a sign of failure. All he accomplishes is to make it even more apparent as the moonlight reflects more brightly from his face now, highlighting the tears, and the marks they leave.

He resumes speaking, his voice filled with barely contained sorrow. Holding a finger up for each name spoken, counting them. His friends. His family. His loss. “Felixus Rocorro, Emrys Graves, Margo Faulkner. Those are just the ones from my unit dad, nevermind everyone else.” Tears are now freely falling down his face, he’s given up on trying to stem the flow.

Weakness, sorrow, grief, anger, vengeance and a multitude of other emotions swirl around his head, now released from confinement. Looking out over the farm, the fields and then the grasslands, turning his face more than necessary to limit how much his father can see, an attempt at trying to regain some dignity. He sips from his bottled beer, interrupting his father as he tries to speak.


“Then I spend the next few months sat on my arse on Coruscant while the rest of my unit is out fighting those Zakuul bastards, stars know how many more of them died! Finally the blockade, where I end up beating civilians, just because they’re hungry.”

Breaking point.

He hangs his head, openly crying, his body wracked by sobs. His will finally eroded. The half full bottle of Khooda Golden Ale slips from his fingers, smashing against the floor as he raises his right hand to cover his face.

Soraan was in shock, there was little other way to describe it. He’d never seen his son like this, and he never thought he would. He remembers Esk as a fifteen year old kid going out for days, weeks at a time into grasslands, and him, his father letting him do it because he knew he was strong enough to make it through. Now, he’s sat there, a veteran of stars know how many battles, countless injuries and having to watch his friends die. As a father his heart broke, no one ever wants to see someone they love in so much pain.

He closes the gap, depositing his own beer on the ledge enroute. As he reaches his son he pulls Esk’s head into his chest, wrapping his arms around him, holding him. He doesn’t know what to say. What can you say when someone is in this much pain? Instead he does the one thing he knows he can, be there. Holding his son until he stops crying, until he has the chance to pull himself together, his memories at bay but not forgotten.

After, once he’d managed to stem the flood of emotions, once his father had retrieved his own beer and found a replacement for his son, and once they’d both got over the momentary awkwardness of the tear soaked hug, they talked, properly. Hours passed, the moons continuing their path across the sky, finally being replaced by the faintest glow of dawn on the horizon. Lying back down on his bed, finally feeling tired, he breathes deeply once or twice, it seems easier than before.
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Eskkaar's Timeskip 1 year 8 months ago #15841

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Okay, I will admit that Esk's trip home may have got a little out of hand on my part. I started to write and just couldn't stop.

Hopefully it will still be up to par.

Home, Part 3

The whine of the twin turbine jet engines had begun to decrease the moment he’d spotted the farm on the horizon, removing his hand from the throttle and allowing physics to begin the deceleration. Through his goggles he squinted, trying to get a good look at his destination despite being several klicks away. The Cote Homestead. He’d only been there once, way back before he left to enlist in the Army. Jazira had made him take her there, so she could she Tanner, despite the regular argument over why she couldn’t drive herself there he’d eventually been forced to give in.

Structurally it was almost a carbon copy of his own family’s farm. The same central walled area, filled with a house, barns and outbuildings. Then with the fields spreading out on every side, cut up by different access tracks for the farm machinery. After closing the distance further while the speeder bike decelerated he could finally put his finger on why the Cote Homestead felt so different. It was because it was new, not in the way that every inch of the farm was covered in the latest tech, but the earth walls were more clearly defined, the wood holding up the outbuildings was less weathered and the corrugated metal sheeting had yet to show any signs of corrosion.

Gently easing through the gateway, the speeder almost idling he looks around focusing on the house for a few seconds longer, surprised that no one has heard the speeder yet and come to investigate. Carefully stowing the bike into a secluded corner, fearing Zarli’s wrath if an accidental collision with farm traffic were to occur. Eskkaar slides off the bike, brushing off some of the travel dust that has accumulated even over such a short distance a voice intrudes on his actions, startling him a little.

“Well, well. Look what the Kath Hound dragged in. A Grubber, up to his old tricks again.”

Looking up from his slightly cleaner clothes, irritation momentarily passing across his face, hardly visible except to those who can read him, and the woman stood in the doorway with an infant on her hip always could. She notices the burn scarring on his face, much like his mother had, concern flashing across her features for a split second, before she files it away for later. A smirk crossing her features but remaining, causing her brother to grin in response.

“Are you ever going to stop calling me that? I mean, come on. I’m twenty six years old and that incident happened when I was three. That’s over two decades Jaz.”

Raising two fingers in succession to emphasise his point his sister’s only reply is to burst out laughing startling the infant on her hip, quickly soothing him with gentle words before turning back to her brother as he strides across the yard a small rucksack on his shoulder.

“I’ll stop calling you Grubber, when you stop getting covered in dirt. Deal?”

Her head tilts to the side, a questioning look on her face quickly replaced by one of triumph. She knows that she is going to win the verbal sparring match. Eskkaar is much the opposite, hanging his head slightly, his shoulders hunched as he mumbles several choice words under his breath as he continues to close the gap. Still hunched he misses the incoming playful slap to his arm from Jazira, chiding him with her accompanying words.

“Stop pouting Esk. Drag your head up and stick a smile on your face. Say hello to your nephew!”

Jazira bestows a genuine smile on her brother, happy to see him in person for the first time in years. She turns her head to the small boy resting on her hip, her voice changing in tone as she addresses her son.

“Dannen, this oaf is your Uncle Esk. Say hello.”

Eskkaar returns the smile with a genuine one of his own, mirroring his sister's feelings, annoyed with himself for letting her playful banter rile him up. Instead he focuses on the little boy. Dannen must be two, or is it three years old by now? His jet black hair, identical to his mother, uncle and grandfather has grown out more, resulting in a spiky mess. But one that suits the small child, giving him a somewhat wild appearance that is only complimented by his numerous scrapes and bruises dotted along his arms and legs. No doubt from running around the yard causing his mother and father every different kind of distress.

Now though, he is clearly uncomfortable as Esk leans in, lowering his face to the same level and begins to speak in a playful tone, holding out his calloused hand to the boy, hoping for some connection.

“Hey there Dan, you might not recognise me and I know we haven’t actually met before. But I’m your Uncle Eskkaar.”

Dannen turns his head, burying his face into his mother’s side, a combined fear of the unknown person and the scarring burned onto that person's face triggering some form of primeval fear instinct. His head turns slightly back, just enough for one eye to be free of his mother’s clothes, open, he watches the strange man, his hand tightly grasping onto Jazira’s shirt.

An apologetic smile is forced from Jazira as she looks upon Esk’s disheartened face as he steps back giving Dannen some room, while she holds him to her side. Her free arm rises and gently grasps her brother’s shoulder, applying a small squeeze for extra reassurance.

“He just doesn’t know you yet Esk, that’s all it is. Give him a little while to come around. Why don’t I put the kettle on? I bet you’re dying for a Caf, unless you’ve changed since you were last home?”

Eskkaar had turned his attention away from his nephew as Jazira began to speak. He nods gently to her words, his thoughts drifting briefly to the look on Dannen’s face, a stark reminder that his own visage was perhaps more suited to scaring kids these days. Brought out of his momentary stupor by his sisters last phrase, a simple question, but loaded with meaning, even more so than she realises. A grin is forced onto his face even if it doesn’t quite reach his eyes.

“No, a Caf sounds like the perfect thing right now, as long as you have plenty of sweeteners.”

All three of them negotiate their way through the door, Jazira placing Dannen down in the living room before waving Esk along to the joined kitchen. By the time he has navigated his way through what he thought easily could have been a minefield if Dannen’s toys had been replaced with a dozen or so pounds of explosives, Jazira was well on her way to finishing up making their cafs.

Deciding to give the small boy a little more space, or at least wait for his mother’s comforting presence nearby, Eskkar opted to lean against one of the counter tops in the kitchen rather than the comfy looking sofas. He watched with a growing smile as toys were picked up and played with, chuckling as what looked like a model harvester was unceremoniously launched against a wall followed by a resounding cheer and waving arms.

“Dannen Lanval Cote! What exactly do you think you’re doing?! Pick that up right now and play nicely!”

For his part Eskkaar had to remind himself that he wasn’t the one in trouble. Jazira had somehow perfected their mother’s scolding tone, transporting his mind briefly back to a very similar situation, only he had thrown a toy Graul, not a harvester. A quick glance confirmed that his nephew was hardly phased by his mother’s outburst, clearly a regular occurrence then.

The rich smell of freshly brewed caf reaches his nostrils causing him to pivot to the source, just in time to accept the offered mug with a small grin.

“Thanks Jaz.” He takes a quick sip after blowing over the rim of the mug, allowing the liquid to perk him up before he asks a question that popped into his head. “Did I hear Gramps’s name there?”

A smirk forms on her lips as she sips from her own drink, remaining as she lowers the cup to speak.

“Yeah, you did. Gramps was the first one in the family to see that Tanner was the one for me. He and Tanner got along really well before he passed, so we both wanted to remember him.”

Her head tilts a little as a small amount of anxiety seeps in behind her eyes.

“That’s okay, right? I know you were really close to him as well.”

Unknowingly copying his sister from only a few minutes ago he places a hand on her shoulder and gives a little squeeze, a smile spreading across his lips.

“I think it’s great. Gramps would love it.”

The conversation passed back and forth while they took their time to finish the cafs, both of them skirting around or outright ignoring anything to do with the military and the war. Instead Jazira got him caught up on all the family gossip and the truth about how mom and dad were doing, something he was grateful for. He never had been able to get a straight answer out of them, his parents had always been proponents of just knuckling under and getting on with things. Eskkaar spun several stories about Ria, ignoring the bad stuff, especially the blockade, thankfully including a couple of funny anecdotes one involving his younger sister’s misadventure at a certain cantina.

Dannen had grown a little more accustomed to his uncle’s presence, even crawling up onto the sofa and sitting next to Eskkaar once the adults had moved back into the living room, bringing with them biscuits. The little boy was particularly partial to the chocolate covered ones.

His nephew became very interested when the conversation between the adults ceased and Eskkaar retrieved his bag from the hallway, setting it down on his knee and opening it up slightly. Dannen, with the ever present and insatiable curiosity of a child, moves along the sofa, rising to his knees to get a better look inside the bag.

Eskkaar looks down at his nephew with a smile on his face, tilting the bag, giving the boy an even better look inside before he speaks. Keeping his voice lowered so that he doesn’t startle the child.

“Dannen. Would you like to play with these?”

The little boy looks up, his face filled with excitement and for the first time ignoring the ugly scars on the right side of the strange man’s face. He nods several times, his head bobbing up and down before his attention returns to the toys still somewhat concealed in the bag, his hand reaching out, then the deep voice of the strange man pulling his attention away again.

“Good, but there is one rule. We have to play with these together. Is that okay?”

Small eyes glance up at the man who is still smiling at him, they flash over the scar again, still not liking the disfigured skin. But his eyes roam back to the bag of toys again, his desire to play with them overwhelming his fear. He nods again, his eyes not leaving the bag.

“Alright then, let's shuffle onto the floor and give ourselves some more room.”

Eskkaar slides himself from the couch onto the floor, pulling the bag of toys with him, settling into a crossed leg position with the bag just in front of him. Dannen has to roll onto his belly and slide backwards off the sofa, he slips a little in his excitement, falling onto his rear. But undeterred he moves quickly over next to his uncle, leaning on his crossed legs, eager to get at the toys.

With a grin rapidly forming at his face, Eskkaar delves into the bag and pulls out something that would be instantly familiar to anyone in the military, only on a much smaller scale. A Manka Class Armoured Transport. Dannen gives out a little squeal of excitement as he reaches over grasping at the toy. Words escaping his mouth at a rapid fire pace.

“What’s dat?! I want!”

A chuckle escapes Esk’s lips as Jaz scolds her child with violently whispered words. Instantly calming him and putting an apologetic look on his face.

“Dannen! Where are your manners! Be patient and ask your Uncle Esk nicely.”

Chastised, Dannen looks up to his uncle’s face, his hand still reaching for the toy walker, fingers tightening on thin air.

“Can I play wiv it Esky?”

Small eyes dart between the new toy and Eskkaar’s face, the little brain taking in the smile, putting aside the scar. The child’s internal monologue working overtime.

He’s strange, and he has the nasty scar.

But he smiles, and he gave me biscuits.

His face is still weird.

But he brought me a toy!

A smile graces the veteran marine’s face, the joy of his nephew infectious. That, and the fear has gone from his eyes. He hands over the replica walker with one hand while ruffling the small boy’s hair playfully.

“Of course you can Dan, there’s more though.”

A hand touches Esk’s shoulder, causing him to turn his head. His sister leaning forward and speaking quietly.

“You don’t have to give him anything else Esk, really.”

Playfully scoffing at his sister he turns back to the bag of goodies, Dannen already off playing with the walker in the middle of the floor. Meanwhile Esk has upended the bag, spilling its contents onto the floor. Troopers, Rifles, Cannons, a second smaller bipedal walker and what looks like a controller. He half turns his head as he picks up the controller, speaking over his shoulder, a wide grin on his face.

“Besides, I got bored on the flight and decided to test them out. No packaging, no returns.”

He fiddles briefly with the controller before looking Jaz in the eye with a cheeky smile.

“Watch this.”

At the flick of a switch a number of lights flare into existence on the controller, Esk settling his thumbs onto the pair of joysticks. Pushing forward on both caused the walker’s leg to respond, the toy appearing to move of its own accord. Dannen was still and silent in response, his eyes wide with wonder, unable comprehend how his new toy was moving on its own.

With a small smirk appearing on his face Eskkaar hit one of the other buttons on the controller. The living room was suddenly filled with the twin staccato ring of blaster cannons, lights flashing briefly from the mounted weaponry on the cabin of the toy walker to accompany the loud noises. An excited shriek is released from Dannen’s mouth, looking over to Esk and seeing the controller in his hand, guessing the connection.

“Again! Again!”

So the next several hours passed with Eskkaar and Dannen playing in the living room. They split the new toys up and set them against each other. Eskkaar’s forces perfectly arranged in textbook formations, overlapping fields of fire, protected flanks and correct spacing between his troopers. Dannen’s were more haphazard in their placement, despite Esk’s best efforts to impart a little tactical forethought. Unfortunately for the Marine, many times he failed to take into account the unpredictable nature of a small boy, most notably when his units were wiped out by a kath hound teddy travelling at terminal velocity from on high. His grizzled face erupting into laughter at the metaphorical orbital strike.

By the time Jazira came to order the living room tidied both Eskkaar and Dannen groaned in protest, looking at each other and sharing a grin before being cowed by the matriarch of the house. They tidied quickly, Eskkaar arranging the new toys as if they were on parade, even making the troopers salute an invisible officer.

“Come on Dannen, it’s time for you to go to sleep.”

The little boy stood up from the carpet, his Kath Hound Teddy hanging from one of his small hands, running to his mother. Small feet came to a stop midway between Jazira and his uncle, turning back he runs to Eskkaar, arms held out wide. On instinct he is scooped up in a hug by his uncle, who balances him on his hip like he saw Jazira do before.

“What’s up little man?”

Dannen glances down and clutches his toy to his chest suddenly embarrassed.

“Will you come back and play wiv the soldiers, Esky?”

A chuckle combined with a genuine smile are plastered over Eskkaar’s face as he replies.

“You bet, but remember, they’re Marines, and what are Marines?”

His embarrassment forgotten, the little boy looks up, a huge grin on his face, holding his teddy above his head in triumph as he shouts.

“The best!”

More laughs and grins are exchanged, Eskkaar making promises he’ll find hard to keep, but not caring. Jazira eventually manages to drag Dannen away as the front door to the house can be heard swinging open. Turning to meet the noise, he is greeted by the sight of his brother-in-law, Tanner Cote. Where Esk stands at six foot tall, Tanner easily stands a head taller, on top of that he is heavily muscled with a full beard. If they hadn’t known each other since childhood, despite Tanner being several years older, Eskkaar would have most likely given him a wide berth at every opportunity, fearing being on the receiving end of a punch he was sure could knock a Bol out cold. Thankfully, his brother-in-law was the very definition of a gentle giant.

As Tanner realised who was in his living room, Eskkaar begun to wave his arms, trying to signal him to keep his voice down to no avail as he strode across the room, pulling the Marine into a bone cracking hug that actually took him off his feet.

“ESKKAAR! You damn hound! Why didn’t no one tell me you were back?!”

With his feet back on the ground he is saved answering as his sister shouts from somewhere down the hallway, yelling at her husband to shut his oversized yapper. Something that would have caused Esk to laugh if he wasn’t still trying to recover his breath.

A sheepish look on his face, Tanner quickly guides Esk out to the back of the house, pulling a couple of beers from the fridge on the way. They both take seats on what is a generous piece of decking, quietly sipping from their drinks, both of them catching up with the other. Before long Jazira joined them, bringing them replacement bottles, but sticking to caf for herself.

“You really wore him out Esk, he would have dropped off even quicker if it wasn’t for a certain oaf.”

She playfully jabs her elbow into her husband’s ribs, eliciting a fake groan of pain before he replies.

“How was I to know, no one told me Esk was back!”

Tanner’s almost shout earns him a separate and somewhat more forceful slap to his arm, Jazira hushing him by pointing back inside the house. After sipping from her caf, perhaps to calm a little of her aggravation towards Tanner she looks to Esk who is smiling at their banter.

“Are you staying for tea Esk?”

The smile remained on his face as he rode the short distance back to his family’s homestead after staying and enjoying a meal with them both. He had really enjoyed himself today, able to completely forget about his recent problems and experiences when faced with the boundless energy and joy of his small nephew. Catching up with Jazira and Tanner had come a very close second, he’d missed their company almost as much as that of his parents. With his eyes on the dusty track ahead his thoughts turned to tomorrow, he and his dad were going out onto the grassland like when he was a child for a spot of hunting. Such a simple thing, but it made him grin to himself for the rest of the journey home.
Last Edit: 1 year 8 months ago by Eskkaar.
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Eskkaar's Timeskip 1 year 8 months ago #15851

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Home, Part 4

It was his penultimate night on Dantooine, tomorrow he would be heading back into Khoonda, returning the speeder bike to Zarli and Drey, then spending his final night in their guest room before heading out bright and early for his return flight to the core. Darkness had fallen outside bringing with it the first rain that Eskkaar had seen since he had arrived back on his homeworld. As the rain had started to fall he ran outside with his father, helping him put the more delicate farm machinery under cover before they both rushed the couple of hundred meters to check on the Bol heard. That half an hour of rushing around in the rain, getting soaked to the skin had actually been one of the best experiences of his trip home. You just don’t get to experience the elements in the same way on Coruscant, not to mention when aboard a starship or cocooned inside a titanium skinsuit and its accompanying armour plates. Now he was upstairs, changing into a dry set of clothes, after his mother had verbally assaulted him and his father. They had stumbled into the kitchen laughing, turning the old prefab durasteel floor into a veritable reservoir, albeit one that was high on the silt contents.

His room looked a lot different since he first came back, all of the dust sheets had been removed and he’d had something of a serious clear out. Things from his childhood had been boxed up, most being saved by his mother at the last second and insisting that they go into the attic, including a selection of his paintings from his first year at school. He’d shook his head at the time, insisting that they’d just take up space, but the look on his mother’s face had forced him to reconsider. He’d kept some of his things out, the toy rifle was still propped in the corner, his Kath Hound tooth lay on its side on the desk. But the mounting on the wall that once held his grandfather’s machete stands empty, he’d removed that and thrown it into his bag, taking a little piece of family history back to Coruscant.

Stumbling back down the stairs, his dry clothes sticking to his still damp skin, he made his way back into the kitchen, his mother was already hard at work, mop in hand. With a decent sized amount of guilt settling into his stomach he strides over, taking the mop from her hands, a warm smile on his face.

“I’ll do this mum. How about you put the kettle on and we have a brew, I could do with a warm up.”

Dee smiles up at her son, absentmindedly rubbing his back as she steps past him on her way to the counter. Soon the kitchen is filled with the sound of a boiling kettle accompanied by the sloshing of a mop bucket as Esk removes the last traces of muddy water. After briefly washing his hands he slides onto one of the seats arranged around the circular table, his eyes glancing up and spying the tell tales wisps of steam rising over his mother’s shoulder. Without conscious thought he begins to tap his right foot on the floor, a nervous tick he developed long ago and can’t seem to shake.

A minute or two pass before a steaming mug is placed in front of him by his mother, he wraps his hands around the mug, warming slightly chilled hands. He mumbles his thanks as Dee takes a seat on his right with her own cup. Breathing deeply Eskkaar is a little disappointed as he can’t detect the distinctive smell of Caf on the air, his suspicions are confirmed as he looks into his mug and takes a fresh sniff of the rising vapours. The heady smell of a particular tea filling his nostrils, a smile breaking out on his face, childhood memories flashing to the forefront of his mind. Of time spent playing in the few days of snowfall they received each year, throwing snowballs at his sisters, each of them making their own snowmen and then being greeted by a warm cup of tea upon escaping the elements, their mother wrapping them in blankets as they settled down to finish their brews.

“Thanks Mum, this is just what I needed.”

Dee shakes her head slightly at her son, amazed by his stupidity on simple things as she scoffs her reply at him.

“Of course it is, you may be some veteran soldier Eskkaar, but I still know what my son needs.”

The smile on his face quickly changes into a grin as he looks at his mother, the action pulling at the scarred skin in an odd fashion. A feeling he has by now long become accustomed to. Dee’s reaction is far from that of her son’s, she can clearly see the way his skin moves as she watches his face. Tears appear as if summoned without conscious thought, her own memories playing through her mind of an innocent, naive teenaged Eskkaar, not marred by the horrors of the seemingly endless conflict that rages across the galaxy. Her left hand comes up to cup the right side of her son’s face, her thumb grazing across the rough burn mark, passing over the ridges and defiles of the scar.

Shocked is his initial reaction, the tears, the motherly touch, all combining to overload his brain, if only for a moment. But not from fear, or the unfamiliarity of Dee’s actions, more it is the absence, time and space literally separating him from his family. A thought flashes into his mind, did he disassociate himself from this type of bond, or was it the training? That endless combination of breaking oneself down, just for the military to build you back up how they desired. He shoves those thoughts aside, choosing instead to concentrate on his mother, on her sorrow. His own hand leaves the warm mug, taking hold of his mother’s hand, bringing it down from his face and holding onto it tightly as he looks into Dee’s eyes.

“Listen to me mum. I’m okay. I may be scarred but I’m whole. I’m still the same kid that dug a hole deep enough to hide myself in and caused you to run around for hours looking for me. I’m still the same kid that vomited all over this kitchen floor because he was idiot enough to eat random berries on one of his ‘excursions’. And I’m still the same kid who practically dragged you upstairs every night demanding you make up those bedtime stories you used to tell me.”

Smiles, grins and silent chuckles grace Dee’s face and shake her torso, her hand still tightly gripped in her son’s as she listens to his reassuring tone. When did he grow up so much?

“I know Esk, I really do. But you’re never going to get me to stop worrying about you.” A pause, as she looks to the floor, composing herself. “Your father told me you re-enlisted.”

The statement hangs in the air. He knew he’d have to tell her, or at least talk to her about it, but he really didn’t know how to. Does that make him a bad person he wonders? Probably.

He takes a sip from his tea, letting the warmth radiate from his core, giving him a placebo boost of courage.

“Yeah. I signed on for another tour.”

A simple admission, but it brings the tears back into the corner of her eyes as she looks at her son. She can see the hurt that lies behind his eyes, they lack the same vibrancy they once did. Desperation creeps into her voice as she replies.

“But why dear? Why sign on when Zakuul won? The Navy’s virtually gone Esk! Why you?”

A frown creases his brow, his mother’s words impacting him deeply in his core. His voice drops several decibels, until he is almost whispering.

“Why? It’s who I am mum. It really is that simple. I’m a Marine.”

Silence falls, interrupted by the quiet sounds of him taking another sip of liquid courage.

“I know I said I left to help with the money, but I didn’t. I wanted to see what was out there, beyond this ball of grass.”

Hurt and confusion pass over his mother face, he sees it from the corner of his eyes. His father had clearly not revealed all of his suspicions to his wife. Clarity flashes into his mind, of arguments almost long forgotten, overhead between his mother and father in the months leading to his departure for the army.

“So, if you or dad ever had any guilt over not providing for us, stop. I couldn’t have wished for better parents.”

A smile and a small squeeze of his mother’s hand are all the extra reassurance he can offer now in the middle of what he knows he has to get off his chest.

“But, the exploration? That stopped being why I stayed in the service, why I fought, a long time ago.”

Several deep breaths are taken, images flashing before his eyes, ones that he would sooner forget, ones he couldn’t possibly tell his mother about.

“I’m not going to give you the details, but you end up seeing things. I’ve seen the worst the galaxy has to offer mum, not just the Empire, or the Zakuulians, even the Republic has its dark moments. But for all it’s faults, the Republic is still the best we have.”

His eyes close briefly, memories appearing as if they have been seared onto his eyelids, where in truth they have been seared onto his brain. Bombs surgically implanted into innocents, decomposing civilian corpses dumped into a ravine and a politician oppressing and torturing his own people all while pretending to be a perfect Republic Governor.

“I’ve helped people too, I guess that’s why I’ve stuck with it. You wade through all the crap for those two minutes when you get to help someone every so often. It’s what keeps you going. That, and your friends. They’re the real reason you fight day in day out. I would’ve gladly laid down my life for any of them.”

“I don’t pick up my rifle for those pompous arse pretentious shites in the Senate, nor will I ever. I don’t even do it for the officers. Well most, there are one or two I would go to hell and back for, because they’ve done the same for me. I pick my rifle up for those who can’t and for the men and women who stand next to me.”

He hangs his head between his shoulders, shaking it from side to side as a grim chuckle escapes from his lips.

“Look, you’ve got me spouting off like some half assed holo-ad.”

“I lost a lot of friends when the Gav went down, even more crewmates. I owe it to them, it’s how I choose to honour their sacrifice.”

His mother’s voice picks up, shaky and broken while she continues to hold onto her son’s hand. Fearing that if she were to let go she would never get the chance to hold it again.

“You don’t owe them anything Esk.”

Head still hanging down, eyes unfocused on the wooden table a foot away from his face, the patterns of the grain and years of stains reflected in his pale blue orbs. A single sentence slips from his lips, quiet but unmistakable in the silent kitchen.

“You’re wrong mum, I owe them everything.”


Heavy and omnipresent, fills the entire kitchen.

Two generations locked in their thoughts, prisoners within their own minds as they process each other’s words. The son continuing to hold onto his mother’s hand, a lifeline that even he was unsure he needed.

A free hand, tanned and slightly weathered, lifts towards glassy eyes. Nimble fingers whisking away the building moisture beneath pale blue circles, the same circles that she can see reflected on her son’s face. This was the most honest they had been with each other in years, she had poured out her fears, her inability to understand why her son had to be the one to put his life on the line, potentially for people he’d never meet. She had sat there as he let words spill forth, an uncommon occurrence in and of itself, telling her who he was within his soul. Dee was woman enough to admit that she felt shame, how could a mother not know who her son truly was, what he felt within himself.

Putting aside those feelings of failure and inadequacy in her parenting she found a new emotion, or rather one that she had suppressed for a long time. It glowed in the depths of her fear, pushing back the darkness that she had felt at the edges of her vision for so long, since Eskkaar had signed his name to the enlistment papers.


Dee Ragnarson was proud of her son. She could never put aside her fear of him getting injured or killed. She could never put aside the constant worry that filled her every second she knew he was on deployment. But now, thanks to her son’s truthful words, she could be proud. As a mother she could put aside her worry and fear for brief moments and acknowledge his achievements. Praise him for the good things he has done, and support him in his own choices.

Her free hand moves to join the other enclosed in Eskkaar’s calloused palm, she moves so that she takes his hand in both of hers, squeezing tightly to drag his attention away from staring into his by now ice cold tea. Two sets of pale blue eyes meet, reflected in one another’s gaze.

“Eskkaar, I want you to listen to me, listen carefully.”

A faint nod from the dark haired marine is the only answer.

“I’m proud of you. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to worry about you. But, I’m proud that you’ve done these things, helped people, saved people.”

His back straightened, the reassuring praise from his mother rebuilding his confidence quickly, just like when he was a child.

“I’m sorry that you lost so many friends Eskkaar, I really am. I’m not sure I could ever fully understand your loss, or the things you’ve seen.”

Two sets of eyes mist over once more, his because of re-lived loss, hers from seeing the pain buried behind her son’s eyes.

“I’m sure they would be proud of what you’re doing, of the honour you do them by continuing their fight.”

A moment passes before he stands, pulling his mother with him. Leaning down to close the gap wrapping her in a hug, silent tears falling down his face, unlike his outburst almost two weeks prior with his father. Dee, holds her son tight, rubbing his back gently as she feels the small sobs escape his chest.

One. Three. Five minutes pass before he steps back, scuffing the tears away on the sleeve of his jumper. A wry grin on his face as he guess what a mess he looks.

His mother smiles up at him, feeling relieved that her fear for her son, and for her daughter Ria no longer feels all encompassing, able to block out even the smallest moments of joy. She picks up their abandoned mugs, the smile remain on her face as she looks up to her son.

“How about I make us a fresh cup of tea, and then you can tell me all about your friends? I seem to recall a certain vid that had you larking around with them a lot.”

A deep chuckle, full and sincere is released from his lips, remembering simpler times.

“Yeah, that sounds really good. Thanks mum.”
Last Edit: 1 year 8 months ago by Eskkaar.
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Eskkaar's Timeskip 1 year 4 months ago #16491

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OOC: For Reference (Read first!) - 1stfleet.org/index.php/85-news/170-terror-strikes-anaxes

Time: +1 Year, 7 Months after Zakuul invasion.


That’s how he felt.

Naked, exposed and vulnerable.

This was while wearing some new high tech blast vest with hardened ceramic inserts, designed to provide the next best protection to actual armour while being able to pass as civilian clothing. Accompanied by an nondescript blaster pistol resting in a holster on his right thigh. A shake of his head is the only reply to his thoughts. How the hell did he get into this mess?

He’d been sat in the staging area - a now disused warehouse - getting his kit ready along with the rest of the Tac Team. Weapon, armour and equipment checks. Halfway through donning his helm he’d heard the shout from the other end of the warehouse, a group of field agents were clustered around temporary computer terminals and foldout planning tables. The tallest of the group, his CO for the last six months, was an imposing Cathar waving Esk over to the table.

Jogging over he came to a stop several meters short of the group, still uncomfortable around the true Naval Intelligence operatives. Partly because of his healthy caution for spooks, partly because of the open contempt one or two had thrown his way, but mainly because he could never figure out what they were truly thinking. Captain Sung, his CO, waved him forward, an impatient growl escaping his lips.

“Don’t make me wait Sergeant. Get around this table, we need you to fill in for Dacci. His bowels aren’t co-operating right now.”

With a raised eyebrow Esk squeezed his way into what he assumed was Dacci’s place around the briefing table, a feat made surprisingly difficult in his current outfit of full battle dress, and a rifle holstered on his back. He could feel his palms get sweaty as the rest of the group, either in uniform or their undercover outfits, stared at him. A flash of anger causes him to clench his fists, putting all his attention on the Lieutenant leading the briefing across from him, repeating in his head the familiar ‘Just do your job’ mantra he’d been practicing for months.

Thankfully the Lieutenant quickly began speaking, pulling several locks of black hair behind her right ear, revealing several distinctive geometric tattoos on her face.

“Listen up. We’re working in conjunction with the SIS and the Anaxes Security Force on taking down the Republic’s Fist. Our operation tonight is to apprehend a male Zabrak by the name of Ulas Del.”

A flick of a switch and a grainy image appears on one of the terminals, it shows a gruff, middle aged male Zabrak. A blast scar covers the right side of his face, marring his dark skin and pulling his lower lip down at the corner.

“He’s got an extensive criminal record; assault, arson, burglary, possession of narcotics. Along with that he’s been brought up on attempted murder charges three times but with insufficient evidence to get a conviction. To cut it short he’s a bad guy.”

“Instead of the usual snatch and grab to get this guy we’re going for the covert approach. We’ll try and get him away from the crowds and then take him discreetly. I’ll be taking point, callsign Aggressor, with the usual damsel looking for a bad boy play. Norduin, Endeel and the Sarge here will be in plain clothes, callsign Defender, they be the Captain’s eyes and ears in the club.”

Esk looks to either end of the table as the Lieutenant points out the two people he’ll be working with. A female twi’lek who seemed to wear a constant smirk offered him a small nod in return. The second, a human male that he recognised was an Ensign and was clearly fresh out of his training nappies, but still happened to squint down his long nose at the sergeant.

“Once I have the target separated, Defender will move in and assist with subduing him. Everyone else will either be with the Tac Team here, or on surveillance.”

“We’re hoping to nab him without tipping off anyone else in the Fist. If they work in cells like we assume, and if we get a clean grab we should be able to work him over for a few days without any of his buddies knowing he’s missing. Questions?”

Everyone shook their heads except for Eskkaar, he was too deep in thought, committing the floor plans of the building to memory as best he could. From his left the booming voice of the Captain intruded on his thoughts.

“Alright. We move in thirty minutes. Get your crap in order.”

He had already split up his time. Spend an extra five minutes going over the plans before getting out of his armour and into whatever civvies the spooks had for him. That was until he heard his name, drawing his attention away from the table and back to the Lieutenant again.

“Lieutenant Morillo, what can I do for you?”

The Mirialan was staring intently at him as he turned to face her. The officer was clearly scrutinising him, trying to read his body language and the determination in his eyes, wanting to know if he was going to be able to pull through for this mission. One that clearly fell outside of his comfort zone.

“Look Ragnarson, I know this isn’t your style. To be honest I’d prefer that Dacci wasn’t emptying his insides right now, but you’re all we’ve got. Just do three things; keep your cool, watch my back, and make sure we get this clown. Okay?”

His head nods up and down swiftly, pleased that the unfamiliar officer is at least being honest with him.

“You got it LT.”

The briefest moment of relief passes over her eyes, thankful that this quick discussion hadn’t become a shouting match as some of her others had with those service personnel originating from the more confrontational divisions. The same eyes take in the sergeant’s current attire and her brain decides to leave one final reminder before she moves away for her own prep.

“Go see the Chief, you’re not going to blend in stomping around in that.”

A burst of static breaks through the music intruding against his ears, snapping him out of his brief flashback. The gravely voice of Captain Sung sounds into his right ear from the comms bud the Chief had thrown to him back at the warehouse.

“Defender, check in. Confirm eyes on Aggressor.”

Eskkaar turns his body, leaning against the bar with his hip while raising the bottle in his hand, taking a sip as he listens to Norduin and Endeel sign in. It takes a moment, waiting for the fluctuating mass of bodies in the grimy club to shift, granting him a glimpse of the Lieutenant no more than five meters distant. He moves the bottle past his face, using the top to scratch his left ear, conveniently placing the borrowed crono on his right wrist near his mouth, enabling the open transceiver to pick up the softly spoken words.

“Defender three, check. Confirmed visual on Aggressor.”

Colours flash over his skin from the pulsing neon lights, music continues to pound through the club and vibrations radiate up from his feet, music and several hundred people dancing combining to make their presence felt. As the bartender wanders back to the end of the counter where Eskkaar remains standing, the once Marine now stand-in undercover intelligence operative waves him over, holding up his empty beer bottle in silent communication. Comms messages interrupt his thoughts every couple of minutes, quietly acknowledged and filed away as he tries to casually scan the club and its occupants.

Eskkaar’s concentration narrows as a nasal voice breaks through the current monotonous track being blasted through the speakers that seemed to be located in every nook and cranny of the club.

“I can see Del! The target...he’s here”

“Dammit Defender two, report!”

A deep breath can be heard by all on the net. Eskkaar refrains from shaking his head and possibly giving away any abnormal signs to the denizens surrounding him, he fails completely in stopping the small grin pulling at the corner of his lips. Eager to hear newly minted ensign put in his place.

“Visual on target. Aggressor is moving to engage.”

He has already switched his position, leaning his back against the bar, sipping from his beer and using it as an excuse to let his eyes wander the crowds. A moment passes before he spies the female mirialan, cocktail in hand. Her red dress standing out against the muted colours of the other patrons, no doubt intentionally so, making her way over to an isolated booth holding only two occupants. Even before the request is broadcast on the comms he is replying with his own sighting.

“Defender three, visual confirmed. Target is accompanied by one human male.”

Turning back to lean against the bar with his forearms he attempts to sneak a glance at the booth every minute or so. He watches as the lieutenant slides onto the booth’s seating next to Ulas Del, resting a hand lightly on his arm and leaning into the possible terrorist. He wants to shake his head again at the roundabout way spooks always seem to do things, but he manages to refrain from momentary tick. By the time he snatches another glance the unidentified male human is gone, probably shooed away by the grizzled zabrak as soon as the lieutenant had batted her eyelashes at him.

The next time he turns his head to watch the booth is when he knew tonight was not his night.

The booth was empty.

On instinct he is already moving through the crowds, brushing past dancers and drinkers alike. His wrist raising to his mouth again, uncaring of who sees the gesture.

“Does anyone have a location on Aggressor?”

Seconds pass.

“Defender two, negative.”

“Control, negative.”

“Defender one, nega….wait. She’s being dragged by two unknowns towards a passage in the southeast corner. Target is following.”

Thanking his almost obsessive need to commit mission details to memory he automatically orientates his body to the southeast corner of the building. Several more shoulders are brushed aside before he sees a glimpse of red through the heaving mass of people.

“Control, Defender three. I’ve got eyes on Aggressor. Request permission to engage.”

He’s still following, leaving behind a wake of disgruntled patrons, drinks knocked out of their hands. Waiting for the reply.

“Defender three, Control. Negative. Follow but do not engage.”

Eskkaar’s teeth grind together in frustration as he continues to push through the crowds. His line of sight gets blocked by a surge of the crowd, the music switching to a high tempo bass line, the entire club begins jumping in time to the music. His body is jostled from all angles as he fights his way forward, his foot slipping in spilled beer collating on the club’s floor.

As his knee crashes to the ground his eyes land on the Lieutenant again, her feet encased in matching red heel scrape along the floor, unable to support her own body weight. Ulas Del’s two goons, whoever they are, have a hold of an arm each, by now bodily dragging her towards the passage. Scrambling to regain his footing as the bodies of the dancers press against him, he’s already on the comms, the anger and frustration at what was happening seeping into his voice.

“Aggressor is injured. Repeat, Aggressor is injured. Engaging.”

Back on his feet he abandons all pretence, aggressively shoving his way through the heaving mass of dancing flesh, mumbling to himself as he elbows his way past a particularly boisterous Rodian.

“Damn spooks can court martial me if I survive.”

Finally free of the dancing masses he can charge his way across the remaining distance to the passage. Pressed up against the entrance he pokes his head around the corner for the briefest second, taking in the long corridor piled high with crates and boxes that he assumes hold the club’s stock. The corridor is empty.

As his head swings back around the corner he is already pulling the blaster pistol from its holster, raising it to the ready position, held solid by both hands. Rounding the corner quickly he notices a familiar female Twi’lek from the periphery of his vision, forcing her way through the crowd just as he had several seconds before. Saying a silent thank you to himself that he’ll have at least some backup.

Narrow, linear and dangerous are the thoughts that enter his head as he advances down the corridor. His eyes swivelling left to right each time he passes a stacked crate, the combined voices of dozens of NCOs yelling at him to check his corners echoing through his mind. After a ten or so meters the rest of the narrow passage enters focus in the shifting light coming from a combination of the dance floor behind him and the few overhead lights. A door the same colour as the drab grey walls sits closed, leaving no sign as to Morillo’s location.

Training informs his actions, slowing his steps as he approaches the door, caution momentarily overriding his need to help the lieutenant. A fact that probably saved his life he realises in some distant corner of his consciousness as the door begins to open. A dark skinned hand emerges, its wrist clad in a worn and tattered sleeve, fingers firmly grasping a rugged blaster pistol.

With adrenaline beginning to course through his veins he fails to express or comprehend his surprise that the door is opening towards him on hinges. Instead instinct, muscle memory and years of close quarters combat training combine as he notices the skin pigment of the unknown hand. Dark skin equals not the lieutenant, therefore the hand belongs to a hostile.

All of these thoughts pass in a split second forcing his body into action. A swift step forward is followed by him lashing out with his right foot. The resulting savage kick slamming the door brutally against the exposed wrist, fingers spasm on reflex dropping the blaster to the floor. Both sounds, the breaking of bones and the clatter of the metal casing against the floor are drowned out by the shrill scream echoing from beyond the door.

Surprise, Speed and Aggression. He’d put the three maxims of CQB into practice in barely two seconds. Now that he’d definitely lost surprise thanks to the wailing terrorist behind the door he had to put the other two into overdrive. As the hand retreats through the door Eskkaar unleashes a second kick forcing the door back through its frame at high speed until it impacts with something solid.

The Sergeant is already rushing through the door as the screaming stops, blaster pistol held high as he sweeps the new room from left to right, ignoring for a moment to quiet groaning coming from the huddled humanoid form by his feet. Desks, chairs and terminals are arranged in some kind of dingy back room office space. From the far corner another passage lies open, the dull glow of artificial lighting leaking into the room.

Leaving the injured terrorist he crosses the office on swift feet, repeating the same drill as before upon reaching the passage. The obvious difference, a lack of crates, nothing at all exists within the corridor except for blank smooth walls. Advancing now at a half jog, aided by the lack of potential cover, Eskkaar moves with his blaster focused along his axis of movement.

The sound of his footfalls slow, as a seemingly dead end comes into view, its wall as solid as those lining the corridor he is traversing. Within a few more steps it is the flicker of one of the few overhead lights that give away the right hand turn. As he rounds the corner the wind gets partly knocked out of him as a shoulder drives its way into his stomach, forcing him back against the wall. Stars briefly flashing before his eyes as his head bounces off the solid wall, soon followed by his right hand, pain radiating from his knuckles forcing his fingers to spasm and drop the blaster.

It takes a split second for the blurry lights in his vision to clear, for his brain to process what his eyes had been trying to tell him in that fraction of a second. The metallic object continues its downwards trajectory, carving a path through the stagnant air towards Eskkaar’s neck. Before he can consciously react his muscles are already moving, remembering hours of hand to hand drills, pulling his left arm up to block the strike. Opposing right and left forearms clash together with a dull thud, both men feeling the vibrations move along the bones in their arms.

With the knife hovering mere inches away from his face he strikes quickly, his right hand already formed into a fist delivers two quick blows to his assailant’s solar plexus. The man trying to skewer his neck begins to gasp for air, his diaphragm spasming from the hits to the large collection of nerves. Eskkaar continues his attack, grabbing the wrist of the hand holding the knife he violently twists it, keeping the knife as far away from himself as possible. The hostile paws at his throat with his free hand, in a misguided attempt to draw more air into his lungs. Eskkaar seizes the opening, his right hand yanking on greasy hair, pulling his assailant’s face down as his right knee powers upwards.

Both meet with the sickening crunch of cartilage, before the hair in his hand slips from his grasp, it’s owner unable to support his own body weight. The knife scrapes across the floor as it’s wielder completes his slump to the ground. A swift kick to the hand sends the knife skittering back down the passage from where he came.

Two deep breaths are taken by Eskkaar, both to replace the oxygen used in the brief scuffle and to calm some of the adrenaline running through his veins. Grabbing the pistol from the floor he notices his split knuckles, blood trickling over his fingers, they must of split against the guy’s leatheris jacket he reasons. Moving again with renewed purpose he shakes his head, clearing out the last of the cobwebs at the edge of his vision.

He passes three more corners, voices blaring in his ear, filing away the messages but refusing to respond, instead saving his oxygen now that he is close to sprinting his way down the twisty corridors. Rounding one more corner he is greeted by an open security door, his feet pounding hard against the solid ground as he sprints through, not giving it a chance to close and end his pursuit.

Looking around, immediately checking his corners after his hasty advance he finds himself in a stereotypical dark alleyway. Shrouded light works its way in from the surrounding streets, casting the environs in a half light, barely illuminating the detritus littering the ground. He searches left and right, looking for any trail left by Del or the lieutenant, finding nothing in the darkness. Quickly concluding he’s going to have to choose a direction and hope for the best. His deliberations are interrupted by a muffled scream echoing from his left.

His feet slip in the accumulated filth of decades if not centuries as he dashes, homing in on the location of the scream. His reward is another scream seconds later, closer than before, confirming he picked the correct direction. Legs continue to pump, pushing him ever forward, vaulting over a long forgotten derelict landspeeder. After gathering himself from landing on the other side he finally sets his eyes on the pair again, for the first time since he began his pursuit down the winding corridors.

“STOP! Drop your weapon and release her!”

Both parties stop. Del turning with his arm wrapped around lieutenant Morillo’s throat, forcing her to stand on shaky feet, only one now clad in a red heel the other lost, as his other hand holds a blaster to her head. The bulky zabrak’s face is flushed from his exertion, sweat clearly visible beading on his skin. The lieutenant seems shaken, her left cheek swollen and already starting to bruise as blood leaks from her bottom lip. Eskkaar stops a good ten meters distant, an attempt to not provoke the zabrak into hasty action as his own blaster pistol is trained on the pair.

“Back off! Walk away or I’ll kill her!”

The zabrak’s gruff voice echos off the semi enclosed alley walls mixing with the just audible bass reaching Eskkaar’s ears from the club. However, the marine’s focus isn’t on the suspected terrorist, but on the barely standing Mirialan. Her eyes flicker to his blaster as she sees the almost imperceptible movement of his thumb, switching the firing mode to stun. Restrained as it is by a dark skinned arm her head moves up and down slightly, her nod disguised as a half hearted attempt to escape her captor, accompanied by a pained groan to sell it.

His index finger slowly transitions from its place resting along the casing above the trigger guard, coming to rest on the trigger itself. In an effort to buy himself half a second he takes a half step back, faking his intention to withdraw as he stays focused on his next task. The trigger is gently depressed, bypassing the gas chamber through a secondary emitter, creating a stun bolt that leaps from the barrel. Light, blue and bright flashes across the ten meters separating him from his target, illuminating the alley for a couple of nanoseconds before it hits home.

The bolt dissipating when it impacts its target, centre mass, something that would have earned him twenty points on the range a couple of years ago. Her body glows the faint blue of the bolt for a moment, her legs collapsing as the electromagnetic energy overloads her central nervous system. She drags his arm down with her, surprise making it impossible for Del to exert the required strength and coordination to both keep his own blaster trained on the now unconscious Mirialan and hold her upright at the same time.

Eskkaar’s focus never falters, he watches as Morillo begins to slide towards the ground, as Del scrambles to keep his shield upright and in so doing opens his defences. A second pull of the trigger, a second bolt leaves the barrel, this time finding a more suitable target. The Zabrak’s body reacts much the same as the Mirialan’s, except now that both have had their nervous systems overloaded they crash to the ground without restraint, unmoving and without noise.

Before either of their bodies meet the ground, feet are swiftly covering the gap, stepping over the lieutenant’s unconscious form to kick the blaster away from Del. Eskkaar flips the zabrak over onto his stomach, placing a knee onto the back of his neck, with just enough pressure to keep him in place should he wake. A quick check of his pulse via the carotid artery reassures the marine that their target for the evening’s operation still lives.

The sound of footsteps pulls his attention over his shoulder, identifying a familiar Twi’lek - Norduin. Relaxing slightly, he returns his focus back to the prisoner as he calls over his shoulder.

“Check on the LT, I had to hit her with a stun bolt. How far out is the Tac Team?”

Sounds of hurried and forceful movement come from behind him as the Intel operative begins to aid her unconscious colleague.

“One minute. Breathing, steady pulse, she’ll be okay once her nervous system evens out.”

With the capture of Ulas Del and his two goons the disused warehouse was practically alive with activity. The aforementioned criminals had already been taken to a screened off area at the far end of the warehouse after being given the most basic of first aid, the raised voices issuing from behind the portable screens evidence enough of the ongoing interrogation. The Tac Teams were relegated back to their section undergoing a strange sort of organised chaos, halfway between packing up their gear and being ready to move at a moment's notice on any new leads. Field agents scurried about, inputting new information into the terminals to update the other branches of the military and local law enforcement.

In a complete polar opposite and much to his own indignation Eskkaar was currently being poked and prodded by a medic as he sat on a fold out bed. For the most part he was choosing to ignore the ongoing monotone delivery from her, knowing that he was fine except for a few bumps and scrapes. Only when the issue of a possible concussion came up did he mumble a reply about surviving Carida and a sparring match with some ham fisted bloke called Drayke did she relent. Finally finishing by applying a small dressing to the back of his head which he apparently cut on the uneven duracrete when goon two had tackled him.

It was as the medic began walking away after giving him instructions to remain seated that he heard a familiar raised voice from the opposite end to the interrogation area. Glancing over his shoulder with a slight grimace passing over his face at a sharp jab of pain behind his eyes he spots Captain Sung clearly arguing with Lieutenant Morillo, who by now had relieved herself of her undercover attire and had to crane her neck upwards to maintain eye contact with the large Cathar. Turning his head back slowly, he refrains from shaking his head but his shoulders slump slightly anyway, even without listening in he had a good idea what they were arguing about.

Breaches of protocol, insubordination and putting operational objectives at risk. In short, enough charges to reduce his future military service to garrison duty on some random dustball in the Midrim. He’d known that when he’d made his move in the club, he’d known that the Captain was an absolute stickler for the rules and had brought personnel up on charges for much less. With a small sigh he straightens his back and forces his shoulders into their typical military bearing, what’s done is done, and more than anything he’d do it again. Just because some jumped up officer wants to follow protocol is no reason for someone to undergo what would have been the worst torture, even if they were a spook.

Taking the small tube of mild painkillers the medic offers him Eskkaar makes his way out of the makeshift medbay which was only designed for triage anyway and over to where he stored his gear before the mission. Well practised hands begin to systematically clean his issue weapons, stripping them down and reassembling them each in a matter of moments before he goes through a similar routine with his armour. His focus is such that he fails to notice the light footfalls that close on him, not noticing the new presence behind him until he is addressed by a tired voice.

“Sergeant Ragnarson.”

A quick turn and fired off salute are the action ingrained in his bones, standing with his back ramrod straight as he takes in the hard to miss swelling, bruising and small abrasions taking up the left side of Morillo’s face distorting what should be evenly spaced tattoos.


A return of the salute is her own reaction, her face remaining impassive as she ignores the general lethargy that has crept into her muscles since having her central nervous system overloaded by the stun bolt a couple of hours earlier.

“At ease, Ragnarson.” He loosens his stance, his feet moving shoulder width apart as his hands move to the small of his back as the lieutenant continues to speak. “I just wanted to thank you for your quick thinking back at the club.” She purposefully stops short of detailing what exactly he did or did not save her from, her own military identity and a healthy dose of pride not allowing such an admission.

Letting his eyes drop from their maintained stare against the far wall allows Eskkaar to make the briefest eye contact as he responds. “You’re welcome Lieutenant, but I was just doing my job.” After a ever so slight tilt of his head that the casual observer may interpret as a nod he returns to staring at the wall.

Recognising and being used to the at times over professional attitude of the Marine units in the Navy, Rena simply nods in return. However, the movement draws her eyes to the half filled kit bags behind the Sergeant. A curious expression settles on her faces as she addresses Eskkaar again. “Are you planning on a vacation Sergeant?”

“Wha...No Sir.” He replies, confusion rippling across his face before he regains control. “Not at all Sir.”

“Then why are you packing up your gear?”

“I...um. I saw and overheard yourself and the Captain ‘speaking’ earlier Sir.” He pauses unsure if he should continue but mentally shrugs as he assumes his future on garrison duty can’t get any worse. “And, well, considering the Captain’s way of following procedure Sir, I assume I’ll be taking a shuttle off planet before the night is through.”

A small shake of the head and the merest hint of a wry smile pulls at the corners of her lips, causing her to wince as it pulls at the cut Del graced her with. “I suggest you attempt to improve your hearing Sergeant. I’m afraid you’re stuck with us for a while yet after I made it clear that you saved the Captain, the Navy and the Senate from a rather nasty media situation. The Republic’s Fist has been known to release videos of their captives you see.”

It takes him a few seconds but he put the pieces together eventually, a small unexpected sense of relief washing through him. Surprised that he’d actually prefer to see this through despite his reservations about being assigned to Naval Intelligence. After a glance cast back over his shoulder at the half filled kit bags he returns his focus back to the Lieutenant. “In that case Sir, if you’ll excuse me I best get this squared away correctly or I will find myself on a shuttle.”

“Yes, I suppose you should. Dismissed, Sergeant.”

A swift exchange of salutes if the last piece of protocol that brings their interaction to a close, leaving one last thought swirling around his head. ‘How in Stars sake is he not going to piss the Captain off again before this assignment is through?’
Last Edit: 1 year 4 months ago by Eskkaar.
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Eskkaar's Timeskip 1 year 4 months ago #16566

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This felt familiar. The recycled air, unapologetic artificial lighting, the inexplicable difference between real and simulated gravity known only to those intimately familiar with space travel, but most of all, the precisely organised chaos of a Naval ship as it takes on new supplies, personnel and equipment. As much as he tried he failed completely to stop the stupid grin spreading across his face as he strode down onto the hangar deck.

He was home.

Well, his second home. He could never not count the small farmstead outside of Khoonda as his home, with the smell of home cooked food drifting from the windows courtesy of his mother, or the string of profanity issuing from beneath another broken piece of farm equipment as his father toiled to keep it running.

Still, the RSS Justice would do right now, it made a very pleasing change from the small cramped shuttles he was used to for the past six months, or the same four walls of his barrack block on Coruscant. He chuckled to himself as he saw the members of the Intel detachment pause at the foot of the ramp, unsure of where to place themselves, too used to operating independently of the service branch they supposedly belong to.

Almost like a bunch of baby Bol who had lost their mother he thought absentmindedly as he began striding away from the shuttle, waving for them to follow as he hitched up the two kit bags he had, one on each shoulder. Weaving his way through the scramble of deckhands maneuvering repulsor trolleys loaded with everything from Bantha Milk to Concussion missiles, Pilots jovially gallivanting across the deck to their respective fighters and even an irate Marine or two trying to keep an eye on the crush of people and machinery.

“Sergeant, what do you think you’re doing? We were told to wait by the shuttle.”

Looking over his shoulder the features of Lieutenant Morillo came into focus, an agitated look on her face as she attempted to avoid the bustle around them, just without Esk’s level of expertise.

“Easy LT, if we stood there we’d be waiting hours. You read my file, I’m a Marine. I know how this works. I’ll have us checklisted and in our bunks before scoff time.”

The grin accompanied by his words earns him a small cheer from the other members of the Tac Team if not the few Operatives that had accompanied them. Food will always get you in a soldier's good books, operatives on the other hand, he had no idea how to please.

Striding up to the security station just off the hangar deck the experienced sergeant immediately eyed up the young marine on duty, taking in his rank and the almost nervous way he stood while adopting an at ease posture. He had to shake his head at the youthful look on the marine’s face, he hardly looked a day over sixteen. We’re recruits getting younger, or was he getting older?

“Specialist.” A brief exchange of salutes, protocol above all else. “Sergeant Ragnarson, Lieutenant Morrilo…..” Esk continues to list those gathered around him, each one earning a fresh salute from the Specialist. At this rate he’s going to break his arm thought Esk. He catches the arm mid salute and lowers it for the poor lad, holding it in place as he finishes listing those present.

“We’ve been seconded to the Justice from Naval Intelligence. We’ll need processing through security Specialist and showing to our quarters.”

Fifteen minutes later each member of the detachment had their I.D confirmed, their person searched and their kits bags inspected with all service weapons placed in storage with the Quartermaster. Ten minutes after that they were showed to their quarters, a disused tool room hastily stuffed with bunks and a modicum of home comforts. Five minutes later, they sat in the quickly located Mess Hall, courtesy of Eskkaar.

The occupants of the other shuttle that had accompanied them weren’t seen for another two hours. It especially put a smile on his face as Captain Sung was among that group.

Just before he reaches the briefing room he feels the shift in the ship’s momentum through the slightest vibrations below his feet, signalling the Thranta-Class warship jumping to lightspeed. Rounding the corner and being greeted by the blue streaks outside the view ports comes as no great surprise.

Nor does the seating arrangements, either side of the short aisle leading to the front of the room lies roughly thirty people. As expected one side is taken up by the familiar faces of the of Intel detachment. The other is home to twenty four Marines chatting animatedly among themselves, the familiar if different uniforms lighting a pang of regret as he takes a seat with the Intel personnel. Still, he takes a aisle seat, as close as he can get to the marines.

A tap on his left shoulder draws his attention away from his conversation with Norduin, the female Twi’lek that had followed him through the back corridors on Anaxes. Sat with his legs in the aisle, elbows resting on his knees is a smirking Mirilian pointing a green finger at two small badges on the human’s uniform.

“What’s a spook doing with a recce badge....and is that a set of MADI wings? That’s just wrong.”

A returning smirk pulls at Esk’s lips. “Oh, I know mate. Believe me. But, I ain’t a spook. Just a Marine who got shunted around after we surrendered to the Zaks.”

The face of the Mirialan Marine expresses his true sorrow to hear these turn of events. “I'm sorry, shavit luck you've got there.” His green hand extends across the aisle, breaching the divide between the Marines and the Intel detachment. “Sergeant Bendak Apinea.”

Esk tilts his head, acknowledging the obvious point from the other Marine. He reaches across, clasping the offered hand in his own, giving it a firm if brief shake. “Sergeant Eskkaar Ragnarson, Esk for short.”

Bendak nods, leaning back in his seat, running a hand through his hair. “Well then Esk, you got any ide...” Interrupting the Sergeant words are a bellowed shout from the front of the briefing room.

“Captain on deck!” instinctively Esk turns his head and sees a Human male standing at attention, if he didn’t know better he say the man had been carved out of stone, his face was all hard edges and his gaze could have leveled a charging Rancor.

The shuffling and scraping of over five dozen pairs of feet draws his attention back as he stands to his feet like everyone else, facing the front as four officers make their way down the central aisle. The first he doesn’t recognise, but judging by the rank insignia on his uniform, the blonde haired man must by the Justice's commanding officer. Behind him strode the familiar forms of Captain Sung and Lieutenant Morrilo, finally was another Lieutenant, this one also a human but missing his right ear thanks to a nasty burn scar.

As if choreographed the Intelligence officers moved to stand in front of their personnel, the unidentified Lieutenant in front of the Marines, and the CO of the Justice standing dead center, demanding the attention of the room as he spoke. “At ease, take a seat.” He waits for the renewed sound of shuffling to die down before he continues. “For those of you who don’t know…” A pointed glance to the Intel personnel. “I’m Commander Kaim, Captain of the RSS Justice. For the duration of this operation the Justice will provide any necessary support as per the Admiralty's orders.” Eskkaar couldn’t help but smirk at the disgusted look on Kaim’s face, clearly he thought his ship should be elsewhere. “To that end, Captain Sung and Lieutenant Morillo will be leading this briefing.” The two senior officers switch places, polite nods being shared as they execute the familiar dance that is protocol.

Captain Sung dominates the space that Kaim was just occupying by his sheer size, even after being in the man’s unit for six months Eskkaar was still surprised by it, the growling cadence of his voice only adding to the effect.

“As you may know since the treaty with Zakuul was signed there has been a spike in terrorist activities throughout the Core Worlds. Most of these are small time groups of disaffected citizens, they’ve had little success and local security forces have largely been able to intercept and apprehend them.”

“However, one group has steadily been gaining ground and has to date carried out twelve attacks resulting in high numbers of fatalities. This group calls itself the Republic’s Fist and in the most basic terms they want the current government gone and a new one in it’s place that will ‘See the Republic rise once more’.”

“Over the last two months Naval Intelligence, the Strategic Information Service and local Security Forces have have combined efforts to bring these criminals to justice. At this point we have several leads, each of which is being explored. Our task is on the planet Talus in the Corellian system. Lieutenant Morillo will now brief you on the operational details and the responsibilities of each unit.”

Ceding his place at the front of the room Captain Sung moved back into one of the far corners, trying to conceal his large form and give the focus of the room to the Lieutenant, who by now had stepped up, squared her shoulders and eyed almost everyone in the room within seconds.

“Afternoon. Intel gathered and an SIS team imbedded to Talus eleven days ago has confirmed the presence of Fist operatives and sympathisers on the planet.”

She moves to one side as she powers up the display screen behind her, first showing the planet before zooming into a portion of the surface, showing the majority of a single continent. Three locations are highlighted. Morillo raises a hand points to the first location.

“Dearic, capital city of Talus and home to the planet’s primary spaceport. Also where the primary garrison of the planet is housed. This is where we’ll be inserting, other military traffic will be suspended while we shuttle down, this way no increase in shuttle traffic will be noticed. We’ll be doing something similar the day after, an outlying post is due to be relieved, so we’ll be posing as their relief and shipping out in the repulsortrucks they usually use for nonpriority transport.”

Her hand skims over the surface of the display, pointing at the second location.

“From here we’re on foot as we advance on the suspect location. We’re to consider this an active combat zone and to take all the usual precautions, primarily we’re not to be seen, at all. To this effect we’ll be moving at night and holding up during sunlight hours.”

Again her hand moves, pointing to the final location before the display zooms in again. As the image comes into focus a group of buildings are in the middle of the screen, the surrounding terrain not truly visible yet.

“This is our primary. Planetary records indicate it is a disused and abandoned factory facility that was last inhabited over three centuries ago. Seeing as it is so far away from any major or in fact minor population centres explains why it wasn’t demolished or reused since then.”

“Best guess so far, using the intel gathered elsewhere and from our SIS friends on Talus is that this is either an operations or training centre for the Fist. Either way, whatever it is the size of the facility suggests its importance.”

“Our task is to continue gathering intel on this location, we’ll be establishing observation posts and if the opportunity presents itself slipping inside the facility to plant audio, visual recorders and other sensing equipment.”

“If and when we gain any actionable intel which is confirmed, a Special Forces team has been put on alert and will join us in any direct action. Their task will be to capture any key figures we can identify while the rest of us will aid in securing and clearing the compound, before searching for any other physical evidence.”

Right on cue, Kaim steps back in. Not quite pushing Morillo aside, but close enough for her to scowl at the back of his head as he begins to speak.

“Final unit assignments and briefings will be given during the third watch. As you may have guessed we’re currently enroute to Talus and will be in orbit within three days. Make sure you are ready to deploy to the surface within fifteen minutes of arrival. Dismissed.”

The mess hall was near enough packed, the room alive with chatter and the clatter of plates and cutlery. Eskkaar had already claimed his meal and was scouting for a free seat, as he weaves his way through the tables he spots a lone figure sitting at the end of one, making his way over.

“Evening El-tee, mind if I join you?”

The Mirialan looks up, moving some stray locks of hair behind her ear as she leans back away from her food, gesturing to the free seat opposite.

“Sergeant, please take a seat.”

Esk nods his head as he carefully places his tray down on the table before sliding onto the seat, picking up his knife and fork and setting to work on his food, looking up briefly as he asks a question.

“How’s tricks then Sir?”

A green hand lazily points the knife it holds to a datapad beside her tray, powered up and clearly displaying mission data.

“Busy to say the least, what with the prep for Talus.” She quickly powers down the datapad, setting it one side. “Why don’t we dispense with the formalities since we’re off duty?”

Flashing a grin between mouthfuls he nods, accepting the point. “Okay then Rena.” He takes a hefty swig from his sizeable glass of water. “What’d you want to talk about?”

“I don’t know, we’ve served in the same unit for six months and I’m not sure I know anything beyond your name and rank.” She taps a finger against her chin in thought, something he’d seen her do before while trying to figure out a problem. “Lets ask each other questions. Where are you from?”[

The ex-marine smirks as he continues to make his way through his dinner. “I’m pretty sure that’s in my file, but since you asked. Dantooine, little grass ball way out in the Outer Rim. Gramps was a farmer, so is my dad. I figured out pretty quickly that wasn’t for me.” He finishes his train of thought, thinking that was probably enough of an answer, pointing his fork gently at her. “You?”

“Mirial, originally. But my parents moved us to Humbarine after the Treaty of Coruscant was signed. Studied computing at university, enlisted with the Navy after graduation. High marks in my education got me earmarked for Intel.” She recounts in a straightforward manner, very similar to the tone she used in briefings. Setting her gaze on him she tilts her head to the side briefly in thought. “You’re not going to stay with Intelligence, are you?”

A shake of the head followed by a slight pause precedes his reply. “No, I doubt it. No offence but I prefer the simplicity of being a Marine. I’m not cut out for all the undercover and covert stuff you do.” He flashes another grin as he tidies up his now empty plate. “Besides, it’d only be a matter of time until they had me wearing a red dress like you, and I’m not sure I have the legs to pull it off in the same fashion.”

Her lips pull into a coy smile, the motion tugging at the facial muscles beneath the skin carrying those by now familiar geometric patterns, pulling them out of alignment for a split second. The scraping of chair and the clatter of trays being dumped on the table stop any further conversation as a new voice intrudes.

“Esk, we’re taking these seats.” A hand slaps down onto his shoulder, leaving a faint sting in its wake as he turns to take in the newly arrived diners. Bendak, the Mirialan Sergeant from the briefing is joined by a lithe Cathar who takes her seat with grace equal to a dancer. The Sergeant’s other companion is the total opposite, he’s already loudy cajoling with a group of other human males, something along the lines of paying up for a lost bet.

Esk smirks before clasping the hand of Bendak again. “I can see that Bendak, I’m sure I won’t hold it against you.” He nods his head in the direction of the other Mirialan at the table. “You probably recognise Lieutenant Rena Morillo.”

Rena stands slightly, holding out her hand. Two green palms meet, fingers clasped in a firm shake. “Pleasure to meet you Sergeant, but please, I’m off duty. Rena is fine.” Exchanging terse nods they both sit down, the brief moment of rank rearing its head mitigated quickly.

“Who’re your seat taking buddies Bendak? Pretty sure I saw them in the briefing.”

“Aye, that you did. Specialists Nora Ellan and Torrent Merasska. Both members of Aurek squad, and looking at the unit allocations you and Rena here have been assigned to us for this little jaunt.” Much like Esk a quarter of an hour earlier all three of the new tablemates begin tucking into their food, letting the Sergeant and Lieutenant digest the news.

More handshakes and nods are exchanged, as if the military actually has a protocol for meeting fellow personnel for the first time in a casual setting. Eskkaar takes a moment to finish his glass of water before he replies, another grin on his face. “Well, at least that’ll save us some time getting to know one another, and make lying in a pit for the next couple of weeks less awkward.”
Last Edit: 1 year 4 months ago by Eskkaar.
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Eskkaar's Timeskip 10 months 3 weeks ago #17130

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“Shift your damn feet Esk, you keep kicking me and I’m trying to sleep here.”

Shuffling slightly in his prone position, a near impossibility given that the subsurface recon post they’d dug under cover of night ten days ago had barely enough room for the the four of them. Two lying on their fronts gazing out of a narrow opening concealed by native vegetation and camouflage netting. The other two practically crouched behind while they sleep propped up against their back packs that they’d managed to squeeze into the enclosed space.

“Stop whining Bendak and go back to sleep before you burst a blood vessel.”

The tired Sergeant replied to the other, his attention still focused through the lens of the electro-telescope sat before him on a small tripod, watching the same far off figures scuttle about in the disused factory. Beside him another Mirialan; Lieutenant Morillo, glances over her shoulder towards the final occupant of what has since been affectionately called the ‘pit’. Speaking up, her voice filled with mock exasperation.

“Are all Marines like this, or is it just the men?”

Specialist Ellan had curled around her own pack, using at as a pillow. Characteristic for her, she manages to use some super sensory ability and crack an eye open just as Morillo’s gaze falls on her. The Cathar huffs, matching the Mirialan’s level of mock exasperation with little effort. It looks like she shakes her head, but she could just as well be settling back down on her pack before drifting off.

A smirk on her face, Morillo turns back to the vista laid out before them; a valley complete with a sizable river meandering through its middle. The walls either side filled with wooded slopes until grassland takes over on the flat floodplain, a remnant from when the factory was used and the ground had been cleared in centuries past. Still not fully reclaimed by nature, nor the forests.

That was where they found themselves, just inside the treeline directly across from the factory complex. What would have been fields spread out before them in a gentle slope until meeting the river, the opposing bank complete with a series of small docks and boat sheds, linking the factory to the water way.

“Any change?”

Lieutenant Morillo spoke up softly, allowing her tired compatriots as much rest as they could snatch from the cold ground. Her own attention now fully focused through her own observation equipment.

“Negative. Usual regular activity through the rest of the complex. The civilian light freighter is still being loaded as well.”

Esk’s gauntleted finger crosses her field of vision as he briefly points out the approximate location of the freighter, which is difficult to see properly at this distance with the naked eye.

“I’ve noted down what looks like three crates of maybe a dozen civilian or militia grade blaster rifles. Two barrels of blaster gas and fourteen individuals who have got on but not come back off.”

A small hum of acknowledgement is the Intel operative’s only response as she focuses on the ship in question. Moments later she abandons the telescope, glancing down at her wrist as she examines her crono, deep in thought. Rena Morillo’s face hardens as she makes her decision, deciding to follow it through with the same level of conviction she has all her assignments.


At the single, softly spoken word the Sergeant pulls back from his own optics, turning his face to look at Morillo. His face questioning as he replies in the same tone.

“You’re sure?”

“Yes. If you’ve not seen those dozen or so targets get off the freighter I’d put money on it leaving within the hour. That’ll mean the factory will be at the lowest personnel count since we turned up. Add in that were supposed to have a decent bit of cloud cover tonight and it should be our best chance.”

Already Morillo is typing out a request to Captain Sung, intending to send it via an encrypted comms burst within the next few minutes. Meanwhile, Esk has returned his attention to the optics, but he shifts his focus. Now he follows a route he planned days ago, going over details and contingencies again for what must have been the hundredth time.

“Ellan will cover us from here then with her sniper rifle and keep us looped in on what the Fist are up to. Apinea, me and you will use the terrain to move undetected to the river where he’ll hunker down and cover our extraction in case it all goes arse over tit. That grenade launcher of his will come in handy if that’s the case.”

A pause follows, filled by the minute tapping of Rena’s fingers against the datapad while Esk moves his electro-telescope, panning until the optics are centred on the next stage of the infiltration.

“We’ll then swim the river and scale the opposite bank, moving towards this group of buildings which according to the blueprints contains a maintenance hub. I’ll hold there while you get in and do your Intel thing. Then we’ll bug out.”

A soft lilting chuckle drifts from his companion as she finishes typing away on the datapad in her hands, placing it gently beside her. The human’s eyes drawing together in confusion at the oddity of laughter at such a time. This only managing to pull a further smirk from Morillo as she relents and replies to ease the confusion.

“Do you always do that? We’ve been over the details maybe a dozen times in the last forty eight hours alone. I think we know what we’re about Ragnarson.”

The Sergeant huffs good naturedly, his attention back on the optics as the distinctive sound of a starship’s ion engines in start up fill the valley.

“Force of habit I guess, you’re right by the way. That freighter is about to leave. I guess we’re on for tonight after all.”

It didn’t take long for the promised cloud cover to arrive, darkening the valley before the sun began to set beyond its walls. Shadow embracing the members of the Fist and those of the Republic Navy hidden among the landscape, watching the terrorists every move. All but three that is, Apinea, Morillo and Ragnarson finalising their own preparations for the coming hours.

A hurried and whispered conversation sees the three leave the scant safety of the ‘pit’ and venture out down the valley. Rena and Esk are garbed almost identically, each stripped down to only their suit’s body glove with a pair of Intel’s fancy night vision goggles dangling from around their neck, along with a rebreather. Both equipped with their preferred weapons and each carrying a bag strapped to their backs. Bendak on the other hand has retained his full armour, only darkened with camouflage paint.

Quick is their pace at first, covering much of the needed ground in under an hour, knowing well the lack of patrols on this side of the river and the lack of observation employed by the terrorists easing their progress. They slow after moving within audible range, each of their actions now precise and measured as they near the river bank, crouching within a small thicket of bushes as they await the all clear from their overwatch.

An agonizing thirty seconds later and two brief bursts of the same tone sound through their headsets, giving the all clear. Bendak settles into his own supporting position, curtly nodding his helmet clad head at the others before they move off. Crouching almost to the ground they cover the short distance quickly, eyes scanning the opposite bank twenty or so meters away.

With deliberate care they slowly lower themselves into the water, pausing every few steps, sure that the noise so loud to them must be heard by their targets within the factory. When no hue and cry is raised they continue to advance each time. Quietly putting their small rebreathers into use both Ragnarson and Morillo drop beneath the surface of the river. Careful strokes move them through the slow current, drawing nearer and nearer to the opposing bank.

Minutes later ripples spread out from underneath one of several docks marring the bank as a pair of heads break through the surface. Each individual looking and listening again for the hue and cry signalling their discovery. After slowly wading to the bank their progress is beyond slow, darting from shadow to shadow until they are finally free of the docks.

Crouched behind a long forgotten stack of durasteel crates that are in a state of perpetual decay the pair peer towards the larger complex, a mere fifty meters distant. Across open ground. Slipping the night vision goggles over his eyes Esk can make out several of the terrorists, committing their patrols routes to memory. A barely audible whisper breaks the silence, Morillo having shifted to decrease the distance between the two.

“Two O’clock, ground level, single door.”

Shifting his attention he manages to pick out the entry point, thankfully unguarded. He nods slightly, pointing out the patrols. Readying his rifle before giving the go for Morillo to make her move, dashing across the open space on soft steps, blending into the shadows on the far side, a single burst of static on his comm confirming their role reversal. He scans one last time, before following the Lieutenant.

Crouching down next to Morillo once he’s safely across, both hyper alert for any signs they’d been discovered. He waits until his breath evens out again before sliding around the corner of the building, keeping to the shadows until he can peek through a window, that happened to be in dire need of a cleaning. The maintenance room inside lies empty, just the low hum of machinery can be heard accompanied by the ambient light from a half a dozen terminals.

Another swift nod is all the communication that is needed between the pair, Morillo moves past him, kneeling before the door. With deft hands a small device is pulled from her pack and attached to the access panel, a few taps from the Mirialan later and the door slides open. A smirk from the Lieutenant is the only indication he receives of her success before she ducks inside, already pulling more devices from her pack that she needs to install amongst the plethora of wires and terminals.

On the other side of the wall the Sergeant hunkers down, making his profile as small as possible in the shadow of some abandoned pallets. His eyes constantly scanning for the patrols, aided by the night vision capabilities of the goggles. Breathing in a calm and controlled manner even as a blaster rifle toting Zabrak makes it within five meters of his hiding spot.

As he hears the slight hiss from the sliding door his head whips around, feeling relief as he watches the Lieutenant exit. Careful, and as a pair they return to the river, sliding into the water with a slight splash. Both slipping on the muddy bank, rapidly submerging themselves and putting some distance between any patrols that may have heard and themselves.

Back in the ‘pit’ some time later after subsequently regrouping with Bendak and retracing their steps while maintaining noise discipline, the four Navy personnel sit huddled - as best they can - around the receiver for the Lieutenant’s devices.

“Come on El-tee, don’t keep us in suspense.”

Too focused, Morillo ignores her fellow Mirialan. Switching several more settings before the semi silence is broken by at first the broken voices of unknown individuals. Seconds later the small display screen flicks between what looks like camera feeds. As she looks up to each of her colleagues a grin reigns on her face, tapping the receiver.

“Game on.”


The shower had been immense.

Frankly, after over two weeks in the field he’d have killed for a wet wipe. So the bag of rain water suspended above head height with a shower head attached, and canvas sheets pegged to to durasteel poles acting as cover for your decency had been. In essence. Heaven. The rest of the combined unit who had been on surveillance seemed to be of the same mindset, having been relieved forty eight hours ago the mood had improved ten fold. Grub and a shower, enough to improve the morale of any military personnel.

Now they’d gathered within the walls of the Talus outpost they’d set out from days prior, bolstered by other Marines from the RSS Justice and that Special Forces team they’d been promised. Over a hundred personnel now seated on the packed dirt, all attention focused on the front, several officers ready to begin the briefing. Rubbing shoulders with Bendak and Morillo he waited with the rest of them, the sound of small talk reverberating off the compound’s walls until a call for silence was made, from a familiar face if not voice.

“Quieten down!”

Lieutenant Noy, the commander of the Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the Justice took center stage as it were, beginning the briefing.

“Thanks to the combined work of Naval Intelligence and Outlaw Squadron we’ve managed to confirm several things about the facility.”

Behind him a large screen attached to a portable terminal had been erected. At him pressing a small remote in his hand, four images pop up on the screen. Surveillance images of two male Humans, a male Twi’lek and female Cathar.

“These four individuals are our primaries, confirmed as high ranking individuals within the Fist. Memorise their faces. If you come across them during the Operation you are to attempt to capture them, failing that and only in extremis has lethal force been authorised.”

Another click, and a large scale map of the valley appears on the screen. The factory and all guard posts marked clearly.

“If all goes according to plan then you won’t encounter them. As you’ve probably guessed Command has authorised an assault on the Fist’s position. Assignments are as follows. Brigand Squadron will deploy to the Western side of the valley, responsible for capturing any terrorists who try to escape by crossing the river.”

With a raised hand pointing toward the Western bank a series of green points are highlighted, positions to be occupied by Brigand.

“Special Forces will deploy via shuttle to this building here, they’re tasked with rounding up the four individuals shown before. While Outlaw Squadron along with attached Naval Intelligence Operatives deploy to the adjoining building tasked with acquiring as much evidence as possible before the Fist attempt to destroy any. ”

Again, a part of the map is highlighted, this time a building towards the center of the factory complex.

“The rest of the Twenty Fifth Reconnaissance Group are going to assault the facility as a whole. Marauder from the North, Outcast from the South and Raider from the East.”

The arrows appear on the screen showing the broad axis of attack for each squadron. Shortly followed by a number of crosses dotting the valley.

“The Operation will begin with precision concussion missile strikes from the Justice on these targets. The missiles will be laser guided by teams already in place. Once the hardpoints are taken out Marauder, Outcast and Raider will begin their assaults from their holding positions.”

“Once the Fist’s forces are engaged, four shuttles will advance from their holding position and teams will fast rope onto the roofs of the already marked buildings. Dorn will provide security for the Special Forces team while Aurek through Cresh and the Intel Operatives begin sweeping the buildings.”

The map is now full symbols, showing the various stages of the plan, responsibilities of each unit. It is essentially a collage of military planning.

“Additionally, Apollo flight will be on station, each bird with a full CAS payload if needed.”


Rhythmic, incessant tapping.

The armour clad foot bounces on its heel, the front of the foot repeatedly slapping against the deckplate of the shuttle. The sound muffled through the helm and the engine noise coming from the Fortitude-Class craft.

It was a habit, one he’d developed over the years since he’d enlisted. Before every engagement his right foot would start tapping away, unable to be quelled until he had his boots on the ground in the AO. Which, he knew, was in just a matter of moments as the brightly light interior compartment of the shuttle had been plunged into a steady red seconds before, signalling that the craft was moving from its holding position to the deployment zone.

Different voices begun to filter through his headset, a final comms check before they were thrown into combat. Whilst he replied and from the periphery of his visor he could see the two Marines nearest the hatch stand and double check the fast rope lines that would be deployed.

“Ragnarson, check.”

The voices continued briefly, silence descending on the twelve occupants of the shuttle once more, even if it was short lived. Barely a minute later orders were barked out by the Strike Team Leader, one Gunnery Sergeant Derfel Nirn. The hard assed human male he’d spotted during the briefing aboard the Justice several weeks back. Even though he couldn’t see due to the helms they all wore he doubted his face had changed its immovable expression. He recalled that the Gunny looked like a particularly stubborn rock.

Everyone stood, grabbing onto the handrails lining the ceiling through the center of the compartment. Each activating their magboots in preparation for what they knew was coming next. The red light flashed green for several seconds before all lights were cut, plunging to compartment into near darkness. His HUD compensating with the Low-Light Image Enhancement system, casting what he can see in washed out colours except for the eleven other people around him, each outlined in ‘friendly’ green thanks to the transponders hard wired into their and his suits.

The shuttle banks, everyone leaning with the direction of travel before a sudden vibration can be felt through the soles of armoured boots as the shuttle’s ramp lowers. Something that would’ve almost gone unnoticed if it weren’t for the muted sound of combat in the distance and the distinctive temperature drop of the air being pulled through the helm’s filters now that the seal on the compartment had been broken.

From then everything speeds up. The shuttle hovers, the lines are thrown free of the craft and two columns of six began shuffling forward as each person begins their own descent. When his turn comes he follows the rest of his team, reaching out and grasping the rope. Stepping off the ramp and letting gravity do the rest, gripping the rope tight with his hands and feet to slow his descent, vibrations running through his extremities before his feet land solidly on the roof of the target building.

Roughly fifteen seconds later everyone is on the roof, two distinct thuds follow as the lines are released and the sudden increase in engine noise declares the immediate departure of the shuttle. Words of command are given over the comms, a dozen pairs of boots begin to move with practised synchronicity. Seven rifles, three carbines and even a pair of assault cannons check every corner as they move single file down the narrow staircase leading to the highest floor of the building.

There the teams split, the other clearing the top floor while traversing to the opposing side of the building and the other staircase, which for some inexplicable reason doesn’t reach the roof. Assuming point, Esk leads his team down another floor to their first objective which lies behind a sealed door. More practised moves follow, the marine wielding the assault cannon takes station with the formidable weapon’s barrel pointing down the next flight of stairs, a particularly nasty surprise for any terrorist who feels like a scrap. Everyone else stacks up on the door except for Morillo who removes the same electronic lock breaker used days previous on another door in the sprawling factory complex. Twenty seconds later and the door is unlocked, three seconds after that Eskkaar taps the small console next to the door, causing it to slide open. Bendak leans around his fellow Sergeant, tossing the primed flash grenade through the opening.

Even with his face and body turned away from the door and discarding the flash and near deafening noise that intrude on his senses he would’ve known exactly when the grenade detonated, the shock wave forcing him off the wall briefly. The next instant he’s turning, rifle raised and forging his way through the sparse cloud of dirt and dust raised by the grenade. Before him a shape rises from its half crouched position, clearly shaken by the detonation yet still managing to bring their weapon to bear on the general direction of the threat.

Tap. Tap.

The sound of two blaster bolts being discharged ring through the room as he continues to move, reaching the corner of the room as the body crumples to the floor. Seeing an identically clad Bendak in the opposite corner he begins to work his way further into the room, working his way past the unorganised mess of terminals and haphazardly placed sleeping arrangements. Reaching the far corner of the room he turns and provides overwatch for the other members spread out as they conduct a more thorough clearing, and the two Intel personnel, Morillo and Norduin begin plugging in remote drives that are programmed to pull any and all data from each terminal to be examined later.

In two minutes the single assailant was confirmed KIA, every nook and cranny of the room was cleared and all data had been copied from the terminals. As one and at a single word of command everybody filed out of the room, bunching up behind the cannoneer on the stairs, beginning their descent once more. Even within the building now the sounds of combat were clear, the logical conclusion being that the other squadrons were currently successful in their tasks of driving the terrorists back into the complex.

A combination of things contribute to what happens next, some Esk can later identify, others he has no idea of nor the motivation to figure out exactly how they aided the terrorist. What he does know is this, suddenly and with no prior warning the entire complex shakes, as if an earthquake just happened to occur during their assault. Later he’d learn it was a close air support run from Apollo flight, emphasis on the ‘close’ as somehow it became lost in the comm chatter that next to the target was a building filled with over a dozen Navy personnel. Thankfully the building remained standing, even as dust and pieces of ceiling rained down on those inside.

As the fire team was jostled, stumbling into walls and against the furniture scattered about the room they found themselves in is when Esk’s recollection gets a little fuzzy. Suddenly there is a burst of lancing pain below his chest, forcing the air from his chest in an explosive scream as his body doubles over around the source. From there he recalls falling to the ground, his hands grasping for the wound as he tilts his head to view his torso, an odd rectangular shape protruding from below his diaphragm is all he can see.

Around him, muted by his helm and the aftermath of the missile strike he picks out the sharp retort of blaster bolts being discharged. A heavy object falls next to him, half over his immobile legs, humanoid in shape and wearing the irregular clothing of their current adversary. An uproar of shouting follows, words he can’t pick out along with random shapes glimpsed through the dust haze shaken free from the centuries old building. His vision begins to blur as he feels his breathing increase rapidly to the verge of hyperventilating, barely feeling the pressure as someone begins to manipulate if limp body.

Different voices fade in and out over his active comms as they merge into one wall of sound..

“Ragnarson! Can you hear me Sergeant?!”

“Watch your corners! Set security! Sepsom get your ass in gear and treat the Sergeant! Ellan, call this in!”

“Justice Actual - Outlaw 1-4. We need an emergency medevac. Patient is critical. Over.”

He manages to blink rapidly as his helm is removed, the sounds becoming clearer briefly before fading off again as unconsciousness claims him.
Last Edit: 10 months 3 weeks ago by Eskkaar.
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