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Naandi

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re: Trench Foot

Trench Foot
Coara Naandiplayed by Naandi
Aicha Kartooche played by AltaVista
Vadis Coruscatus played by Jedi Vadis
Aden Lukal played by NexusLuke

Abstract: Scattered by the Sith invasion on the Saint’s base, four survivors find themselves stranded on a moon and must face the dangers of it’s hostile environment before they can find a way to escape atmosphere and each other….

_______________________________________

Type: Freeform RP
Status: Closed RP
Date: 9 ATC
Time: Immediately following the events in Scattered, Crash, and The Despondency of Echo-Niner-Six.
Location: An unidentified moon in the Bright Jewel system, Mid Rim

Comments: Trench Foot OOC


Last edited by Naandi on Oct. 24th, 2011 12:40 am; edited 4 times in total


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Naandi

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re: Trench Foot

Naandi felt the darkness more than she saw it. It clouded her thoughts, her memory, and the obscure pain on her shoulder. Streaks of light like silver filaments flashed intangibly across her vision before the spinning red glow and alarum of a warning signal returned her to consciousness.

It was hot—hot like they were breaking atmosphere. And something sinking that felt like fear strangled her breath. But when she looked out the portal window, she could not see the superheated plasma from their entry, only the grey skies of a moon, and she knew it was only gravity that pulled at her heart and quaked the escape pod in its rapid decent.

Still she could not slow her gasps for breath, and a sharp, hot pain keyed her focus. The tiny globe shuddered as it hit a pocket of turbulence and sent white sparks leaping off the wall and into the collar of Naandi’s robe. As Naandi fought the pain, she turned to see an electrical fire crawling down the side of the pod, exuding an ebony smoke into the tiny compartment.

A quick burst of movement and Naandi was struggling with her harness before the flames engulfed her seat. But that short expenditure of energy left Naandi kneeling on the floor and gasping for air. Too quickly the growing fire was consuming their oxygen.

Training rather than presence of mind forced Naandi to slip into a meditative state that conserved the oxygen in her blood, and then, as though directed by whim, she drove her tiny hand towards the fire and a concussive wave burst a panel out of the fuselage.

Immediately, frozen air sucked into the pod and slowed the flames. But the loss of atmosphere and biting cold sent a shock of pain through Naandi’s body, and even as her hands tensed around whatever hold she could find, the pod spun madly out of control.

The flux stabilizers are out,” Naandi called to her companion in a voice much louder than she had intended, but she spoke as much to fight her tunneling vision as to confirm the obvious before the centrifugal force of the spiraling, shuddering pod compressed her lungs and slid her rapidly into a corner.

A box of equipment broke loose and shattered on the wall as the emergency thrusters ignited into life. And then suddenly Naandi’s hearing went hollow and the pressure of the fall became the pressure of cold, murky water washing over her. Naandi hesitated only long enough to check Aicha’s status before fighting her way through the spilling water and out the broken wall.

Twilight and stillness greeted her, or what seemed twilight. Naandi dropped into a pool of thigh-high brackish water upon a bleak, desaturated landscape. The air was close and humid, cooled by dark shadows and water everywhere. The terrain might have been described as a jungle except that there were few trees, massive though they were. Instead, great colonnades of grey, porous rock jutted out of the dark water and obscured the far horizon in the serrated edges of deep ravines. All around was the smell of rot and death, musty but cold, where clump of leaves—like colonial organisms—put off the only moldering warmth as they drifted down slow currents.

Naandi waded slowly around the half submerged pod, trailing the tail of her floating robe behind her. She might have been floating herself, her thoughts were so far away.

She clung to the carbon-scarred fuselage and made a note of the reason for their rapid decent. “We were fired upon,” she said softly to the Mirialan she couldn’t see, as though she only now remembered. A glance beyond the blue of the sky looked in vain for their ship, but it was gone anyhow—it and all its crew—unless there were others that escaped. Naandi looked down at her hands, still clinging to the side, white knuckled and rigid. She pulled her fists away and forced them open, but they trembled rebelliously with the threat of memories rising out of the water.

Pale and perspiring, Naandi closed here eyes and rubbed away the thoughts from her brow with her still trembling fists. Then she whispered a long forgotten mantra and reassured herself that she still had the ability to walk,…to think….to listen to the voice of the Force.

Could you tell where we landed, Aicha?” Naandi asked with a barely audible voice. “Do the nav-systems still work?

Naandi’s footing was unsure, made of the same jagged, irregular rock that comprised the dark columns above, only beneath the dark water she could feel the slick surface of algae and scum. The rocks themselves, worn by time and humidity were grey and lifeless, sometimes carved by the wind to form massive tunnels and arcades where the hanging roots of mangrove trees shed an impassable curtain. But the trees seemed dead, or nearly so, hanging sickly white flowers from their drooping boughs. The black leaves had been overwhelmed by the drapes of a hoary moss trailing in the water like an old man’s wilted beard, as though in mockery of the beauty of the willows that Naandi loved.

The only color in the stone jungle was the occasional stair-step fungus in mauve that circled up their weather-stripped trunks. And all around, respiratory roots struggled to the surface, looking like the glistening heads of black serpents. And the larger stumps of rotted trees stuck out of the water, tipped with the abandoned nests of birds or the stately sentry of a long-necked avian.
Naandi stood unbalanced, looking up at the stone canopy, and watched a meteor slide across the dusky sky. Still gazing high, she reached out to stabilize herself on a thick conical stump, a knee growing up from the roots of one of the larger trees, but recoiled as its felt-like surface, water-logged and pithy, crumbled beneath her hand. She only hoped that the rotted hearts of the trees were not so perilously weak, and their widow-maker branches looked more alive than they seemed.

There. Another one.” Naandi gestured to a streak of white just barely visible between the peaks of the rocks. The contrail betrayed the thinness of the atmosphere above. “A meteor or another pod?” Or perhaps pieces of the broken starship, but this she did not ask of Aicha.

Naandi continued without waiting for verification. “If it is meteorite activity, the frequency would explain the state of the topography here: riddled with debris and ore… broken trees. It would even explain why this place looks flooded: a giant impact crater filled with water hundreds of years ago.” Naandi’s scanning eyes looked down at last and she moved slowly back to Aicha, leaving a trail of reflective water cut into the matte of black, rotting leaves. It was the naturalist in Naandi to speak of such things while she evaded the important questions like “what now?”

She stopped to glance above once more upon the columns of rock like so many minarets glistening with salt deposits. “It must have been beautiful once,” before it had been flooded with this liquid stench of rot and decay, “but life couldn’t adapt.” Now it carried the oppressive atmosphere of a dying moon, where only the hoary moss and oozing polypores seemed to thrive. A dead moon: and yet, not completely without life. Naandi could still feel whispers of the Force—dark whispers. She turned her head at the sound of a creature in the distance: a mournful cry in the gloom.


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re: Trench Foot

Yuck.

Aicha’s back and shoulders were pressed tight against the wall of the floundering escape pod, but she still managed just enough leverage to grip tightly at her stomach. Yup. If they kept spinning spinning spinning like this, she was definitely going to spice things up with a little involuntary regurgitation. Or maybe voluntary. She’d known some species of animals to empty their stomachs in times of crisis to alleviate the critical burden of extra weight. However, voluntary or involuntary, she hadn’t decided yet.

After all, this whole mess reminded her of the Gravitron ride back on Coruscant that she used to ride when she’d sneak off to visit the underground circus in the East quadrant. With all the g-forces pressing you against the wall, the hardest thing was to try to touch your nose without smashing your face with your hand. Despite plummeting to an unknown fate and a slight electrical fire that sparked near her companion’s seat—Aicha decided to try.

The Mirialan reached out in an attempt to touch her nose, and promptly grayed out from a sudden lack of oxygen.

As her vision expanded from the focal point it had so rapidly narrowed to as she passed out, she saw Naandi scrambling to check on her and then escape the pod that was rapidly filling with an awful stink, and water too. Aicha punched the safety locks and jammed them apart as she freed herself from her harness and clambered outside.

Grey again. But this time she kept consciousness, even though, for a moment, she wondered why everything seemed so hazy, dull and washed out. A quick glance down to her own vibrantly yellow-green hand to contrast the color levels of the moon and she knew her vision wasn’t fading. The moon just seemed to be dying a slow, insignificant death, simply fading into nothing with all its varying shades of colorlessness. Curious, really.

Could you tell where we landed, Aicha? Do the nav-systems still work?” asked Naandi quietly, who Aicha thought seemed to be quite colorless and fading herself at the moment as she moped about.

Aicha was perfectly capable of being efficient when prompted (and not otherwise distracted). She dove a hand into the pod, feeling around and finally peeling a small screen off the side wall before it too was doused in the murky water. Fortunately, such pods used in the Saints fleet were generally equipped with a small, portable land-based navi-computer. She shook it roughly in the air, hoping to loose any moisture that might have been trying to seep into its circuits.

Naandi had fallen into another lovely soliloquy that Aicha was sure would make her depressed if she listened too closely, so she kept herself distracted with forcing last-known coordinates into the mucked system. The machine’s quick scan landed them squarely in the middle of no-where on the edge of the Bright Jewel System. “Some moon…” she muttered, partly to Naandi in response to her minutes-aged question and partly to voice her slight discontent with their situation. There they sat on some unidentified moon, or, at least, one that no one thought would live long enough to be of any note to include in the public systems.

Scanning. A slight geographical irregularity on the screen snapped Aicha’s attention into focus, and she rubbed a greasy finger to a similarly greasy thumb as she covetously wanted to know what secrets it held. She looked up in the direction of the irregularity, curious to eye the distance. Halfway between them and the screen-revealed “blip”, Aicha finally took notice of the white streaked sky that Naandi had commented on.

It might be a pod- though it seems too big a trail for one of ours. Perhaps a transport ship?” Curiosity still gripped her, and with little other motivation other than to find a way out of the water and a means of contacting any surviving Saints, she nodded towards the white steaks. With childish perception coupled with a wish to have her own way, she prompted the response she wanted from the Jedi with a coyly penned question: “What if someone’s hurt?
Vadis
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re: Trench Foot

"And that's pretty much my story." Vadis said as he and his companion continued to explore the strange lunar surface. They were several klicks away from his fuel-less ship.

"Well I don't believe a word of it. I don't know how anyone could." replied Onora. Vadis didn't mind her skepticism. It felt amazing just to tell someone after all this time. It was a powerful relief sharing his past. For the first time in what seemed an eternity, this dying man felt alive again. Almost to the point of giddiness.

"Hey Onora, what's the strangest thing you've ever moved by telekinisis?" Vadis asked with all the enthusiasm of a Padiwan learner as they walked along.

"Excuse me?" Onora asked. "Jedi powers are not a game or a contest. Maybe in your day things were different."

"No problem, I'll get the ball rolling," said Vadis. "Once I stacked 17 banthas on top of this guy's ship. He was not amused." Vadis laughed heartily. "Of course, I wouldn't have pranked the man had I known he would go on to become the leader of the Saints---"

"Quiet!" Onora said. "I sense we're not alone. Can you feel it?"

"You're a buzzkill." Vadis whispered. "But yes, I feel it, too. Something is beyond the next ridge. Do you see anything with those Miralukan peepers?"

Onora ignored the crude term for her racial gift and replied, "Not yet. But there are definitely Force users near by."

"Let's go see if they're friendly." Vadis said resuming normal speaking volume as he walked with purpose toward the ridge.

"And if they aren't?" she asked.

"Come on, live a little." Vadis said. "If they're not friendly I'm sure your charm will be enough to melt the ice."

"I'm starting to realize why your apprentices turn on you." Onora said dryly.

"Very funny." Nothing seemed to damper his mood. "Now hurry up."

"Do my senses deceive me, Boss, or are you actually looking for combat?" she asked.

"We're looking for fuel, Onora. That's it."

"And if it's a Sith party?" she pressed.

"Sith fuel is as good as any. Get moving." he said as he sped his pace.

"Anyone ever tell you that overconfidence if your weakness?" Onora wondered out loud.

"All the time." he said as he approached the top of the ridge. "I'll go over first. Ready those heals."

"Ready." Onora said as Vadis disappeared over the ridge with an acrobatic Force Leap.


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re: Trench Foot


As soon as Aden realized his ship had launched precariously into hyperspace, he reached forward to slap the emergency shutdown. Without a proper heading he could fly into a planet, a star, or any heavenly body and vaporize. He didn’t want that to happen. He slapped at the button a couple times, missing, but finding his mark on the third try.

Stars slowed to points, and a planet rushed up towards him, filling his entire view in the canopy. He instinctively veered away from it. He was travelling at too high a velocity to make it down safely, and his ship was damaged and would likely not survive the re-entry process anyway. The two unfortunate facts together meant certain death if he attempted to land on the planet.

He pulled right hard on the yoke to stay clear of the gravity well. His instruments were flashing red, and alarms will still buzzing and wailing in his ears. Yet he had focus. The thought startled him, but he would have to dwell on that later. He focused his attention to his scanner momentarily, catching glimpses of large pieces of mass hanging in space. They had to be moons, though it was hard to tell as the screen alternated between properly displaying the data and imagery and static every half a second.

He fixated on one moon in particular. It was far enough away to slow down some, but not too far away that he didn’t feel he couldn’t make it all the way there. Feel… yes, feel, almost as if he were certain, as if it were fact. Something else to think about if he survived.

He reverse fired the main thrusters, and secondary thrusters. This effort dimmed the lighting in the cockpit, and almost stalled his engines. That would have proved fatal, yet he did it twice more easing the controls just enough each time to keep the engines alive and slow him down to a safe velocity. The moon would have a thinner atmosphere than a planet, and thus a gentler re-entry. Atmosphere? How he came to the conclusion the moon had an atmosphere, he was not sure, but he didn’t give it another thought. The moon felt like it was calling to him. Or was it that something was compelling him towards it? It was impossible for him to tell the difference. Thus he plunged headlong into the gravity well.

While he had slowed down enough not to be a burning fireball falling through the sky, he had not managed to slow enough. It was going to be a rough landing. Intuitively he toggled switches, adjusted his controls, and glanced at the scanner as it fed him ground telemetry and topographical data. He spotted on open section in a wooded area, and lurched the skiff in its direction. The smell of smoke began to make itself known.


Any Republic vessels, this is Resilient Civ. scout Echo-niner-six… reporting mayday… mayday… repeat… I am going in!He activated the emergency transponder, and turned his full attention to setting her down. The atmosphere was gray and visibility was poor at best. The tops of trees began to sore past through the fog, and one appeared suddenly directly in front of him.

He managed to turn his head and put his arms in front of his face before impact. He burst through the tree, felt the nose tip down, a whine of the engines, and he made contact with the surface.


***


Aden awoke to the smell of smoke, and the sounds and flashes of circuitry shorting out. He felt cold. Wet. Was he dying? As the fog in his skull began to fade, he took inventory of himself; testing one appendage, than another, turning his neck and arching his back, feeling for any sign of injury. He was incredibly sore, but the small skiff had seemed to do its job well; at the expense of its own decimated faculties.

Once he was sure nothing was broken, he noticed the cockpit was filling with water, increasing steadily with each passing moment. No time to waste, he manually released what was left of the canopy, and unbuckled his crash webbing and restraining harnesses. The last thing he secured were the weapons and survival pack given to him by the Ensign of the Resilient.

The Ensign had given each of the pilots a small blaster pistol, an alternative to capture, starvation, hypothermia, or any number of other space related perils. Aden had also requested a sword, if by some crazy chance he had to face a Sith. After seeing the way they could decimate their foes, he couldn’t stand the thought of being completely helpless against them. He refused to board his craft until he had such a weapon. At least he could go down swinging with a blade, for he had no intentions of killing himself. He was given a rusty vibroblade, and was hurried into his cockpit.

As the last of the small skiff filled with water he took one last glance as it sank beneath his feet and he had to begin treading water to stay afloat. The transponder light was lit red. He swam for the nearest tree root jutting out of the water. “
Red? Solid Red…He murmured aloud as he made his way through the stagnate water. “Does solid red mean ‘transmitting’ or ‘transmission failure’? Shouldn’t it be blinking red? Did it have a non-standard emergency package?He put the thought from his mind. If the transponder was working, someone might come, even though nobody would be looking for him here. If it was not, than well… he would have to find another way, and maybe just maybe get his first lesson about being a Jedi. Resourceful, intuitive, independent, weren’t these the things that made a Jedi… a Jedi? He was not sure. He never got the chance to figure that out. He had only his preconceptions to consider.

His purpose was simple enough for now. Survive, and Survey. Try to find his way out of here, wherever here was. He had no idea what he would find on this moon. It looked desolate enough, but even though it was a small moon it was plenty large enough to contain any number of surprises. He fastened his small pack to his back, secured his vibrosword underneath it - hilt easily accessible near the small of his back, holstered his blaster pistol on his right hip, and set off.

He wasn’t sure where he was going, but in case anyone noticed his arrival he wanted to be as far away from the ship as possible. If anyone came to take a look it was better for him to decide who looked approachable and who looked dangerous, than for others to do the same to him.

Despite the strong feelings and certainty he experienced earlier, he felt nothing now, if not for a slight uneasiness about the place. No guidance, no tug or pull from the Force steering him gently one way or another. Aden’s father had always taught him to follow his “gut”, to follow his instincts. Until just a few weeks ago, Aden had no idea those feelings came from outside of himself, from the Jedi’s Force. Maybe, just maybe, the Force had something to teach him here. He disappeared into a tangle of snarled rotten trees.
Naandi

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re: Trench Foot

The porous rock crumbled beneath Naandi’s grip as she tried to lift herself out of the water. She was by no means heavy, but the rock was no less unwilling to support her. After a short slide back into the channel, she withdrew her hand, pale and water-saturated, to find several shallow slices on her palm and fingers.

The rocks surrounding them were of volcanic origin, filled with jagged gas bubbles, and crumbling at a whim—more than once sending clinkers of rock tumbling down at the sound of the Jedi’s voices, or more likely the passage of some unseen creature above. But the rocks themselves were not as sharp as the broken calcareous tubes, about the width of a finger, that frequently protruded from the cliff face like the empty carapaces of worms—no doubt the abandoned homes of a similarly shaped creature.

Naandi abandoned any further attempt to climb the steep cliff along their path, trusting it less than the unsure footing beneath. With a defeated sigh, she slid the palm of her hand across the water until her cuts disappeared, and paused to feel the current as it pulled roughly at her ankles, a precaution she had taken several times already. The unseen floor below was filled with pitfalls and sudden drops, and occasionally eddies and swirls spoke of hidden caves beneath the water. For some time now they had been following a meandering path where water and time had cut a smooth half-arch into the rock. And smoother still in some places, a more resilient rock, dark and vitreous, cut a jagged vein across the polished surface, catching the light and disappearing into the water like a timeless bolt of lightening. Beneath the shadow of this cleft, their path didn’t always take the direction of Aicha’s chosen objective, but they were nearing it. Or nearing something.

Naandi moved cautiously, her movements slowed further by hidden currents and water-logged clothing. She had long since abandoned her singed robes, and now she looked more dwarfed than ever, with the water at her ribs and her dark hair floating behind her. She turned to look at Aicha, her eyes silently asking if the Mirialan felt the presence too.

At the warning of a sound, Naandi bade Aicha find cover in case of danger and then ducked below the overhang of the rock. She tried to still the sound of splashing water as it cut around her shoulders and then, from her limited vantage point, she froze as she saw the shadow of a man appear on the water, quickly replaced by his own silhouetted form.

Master Vadis!” called Naandi, immediately recognizing his silhouette and eager to announce herself as a friendly before strained nerves drew swords. But barely had she taken a step toward the quartermaster, before a large rock came tumbling down from the towers above and landed at her side. Naandi felt her footing drop beneath her as the rocky ground split under the weight. For a moment she sputtered at the brim of the water and reached a pale arm out to claw at the low overhang, but an exposed underground current beneath the break caught hold of her leg.

A tiny cavity appeared in the water where Naandi had stood moments before, and then slowly it circled around itself until the tiny vortex grew in strength and reach to something far more threatening.


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They had been walking for hours. Hours! Or at least, Aicha convinced herself it was so. Reality dictated that they had been on the move for a quite a shorter time, but the Mirialan was so consumed by the tiny blip on the navi-computer screen that she felt the slowing of time. Every dozen yards she keyed in the command to rescan the distance, which (to her great frustration) was constantly in flux. The myriad of eddies, pools, and water-logged detritus made any kind of distance projection merely a “best guess,” even for a computer; there were simply far too many reflective surfaces to get an accurate reading.

Aicha’s foot slipped into one more pothole far beneath the opaque water’s surface, resulting in her unhappy groan. “I’m hungry,” she whimpered now and then, discontent not so much with their current situation or surroundings (for she was used to traipsing in less than hospitable environments – one of the many perks to her job!), but by the blasted electronics that never ever work when you need them too! She sighed… loudly.

Curious… That tickle was at the back of her neck again, and Aicha shrugged a shoulder to her ear to rub it away. Still, it was a familiar tickle. Naandi seemed to feel it too, for the little lady went plunging for cover. Aicha parroted her jedi companion, and slipped into an alcove near her.

Master Vadis!” Naandi called attention to the still-unseen jedi. Master Vadis? Why would he be here? Had he come to save them? Was it really him? Did he have his keys on hi—

Oh look--a bird!

But it wasn’t a bird. Aicha’s eyes narrowed as she saw something she couldn’t quite explain. A boulder high above their heads tottered on the edge of a towering stalagmite. Aicha’s head tilted to the side as her jaw slacked in surprise. Time slowed down…

Aicha watched, frozen in that perceptible standstill of shock and anticipation; the boulder teetered and began to fall. What? Had it been pushed? Something had drawn her eyes up there… a little push? An animal? … a person? A thousand questions flashed across her mind, and by that time the boulder had slipped from the edge of its precipice and made its slow descent towards the water. Had Aicha been more attuned, her reflexes honed, her response time more consistent, this heightened perception of time would have been an asset. She could have called out to her companion, warning her of the danger or thrown her to the side with a simple flick of the wrist in a force push. She could have been a hero!

But Aicha was not a hero, nor was she the jedi so many people falsely believed her to be (a misconception she rarely corrected-but that is a matter for a different time). Consciously aware as she was of the situation, her physical ties to the reality of the normal passing of time meant that her lips had only just began to form the shout of warning.

Now here is when time sped up again, for Aicha found herself blinking quickly as everything seemed to happen so fast. The boulder crashed into the water. The thin rock walking surface broke. A sinkhole immediately formed. Naandi was sucked beneath the plane of the water. And now the watery vortex was quickly becoming a sort of miniaturized maelstrom. Drat!

Aicha shot a look up towards the shadowed figure she could only assume was the Quartermaster of the Saints, but had little time to check whether Naandi’s proclamation was correct. The maelstrom was building up velocity, and Aicha clung to the crumbly rocks as the current pulled her fiercely into its mouth. Yet here was her chance. She could be the hero now, couldn’t she? She paused for only a moment, convincing herself that she was voluntarily being dragged into the vortex. For being dragged under water is always less disconcerting when you’re volunteering, and not being unfortunately drowned by circumstances outside of your control.

She dove in, glorying in her moment of courage and selflessness. But the victory was short lived as panic overtook her. The current tugged and pulled, slamming her flailing body against the sheer walls of the underwater cataracts. She gasped for breath every chance she could, when one chute slipped into another and suspended her above the water for a split-second before dousing her into the inky watery darkness once more. The walls grew tighter and tighter, her breath burning fiercely inside her lungs as she gulped in water more often then she did air. The closer the walls became, the faster she sped along in the darkness as the water bottlenecked and plunged forth into broader spaces. Aicha couldn’t tell if her vision was getting darker; she was blinded by the subterranean rapids. Every gasp for air and every attempt to cry for help was answered only in a terrifying watery swallow.

Splat. It ended. Almost as abruptly as it had begun. Aicha lay facedown, gasping and flattened against a smoothed stone surface. The waterfall that the cataracts had ended in splattered flatly in a roar against the rock below, spreading out into a 2 inch sheet of shallow water. The Mirialan moaned and rolled over to her back, coughing and gagging on the liquid that now pressed itself up and out of her lungs.

With oxygen came consciousness, and with consciousness awareness, and with awareness… that returned feeling of anxiety. The air down here was humid, thick and hot as she happily replaced the water with it in her lungs with deep, heaving breaths. All about her glowed with an odd, vacantly orange hue. The occasional hiss of water turning to steam explained it all within a heartbeat. Her descent had been in just one of (what she imagined) hundreds of ancient volcanic tubes.

She coughed again, her hand clapping against her chest. Navi-computer… must have navi-computer…
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The wind blowing past his ears in a natural melody was the only thing the Jedi could hear. Flying through the air free as a bird, he began his decent over the ridge. Few things kick up adrenaline like the weightless feeling of falling. Whoever was down here, they definitely were Force wielders. And if they were unfriendly a little rush would only aid him in battle.

Just before landing in the water the Jedi Knight heard a woman say, "Master Vadis!" This was the last thing he expected, and it through off his concentration. Sith would not address him that way, nor would they further reveal their position by saying anything. And it was not the best way to setup an ambush. So who were they, why were they here, and how did they know him? All these things flashed through his mind taking the focus off his landing. As soon as he hit the water he slipped on the rock underneath, falling completely face first into the shallow body of water.

The next series of events took place at a frantic pace:

Completely soaked, he stood up and looked for the source of the voice. There was a large splash, and two women with long dark hair fighting a mini-maelstrom with the vortex swallowing the yellow-green skined one. Deciding they were friendly, Vadis prepared to Force leap to higher ground and try to rescue them both. But before he could jump, another large boulder fell right behind him from out of nowhere, resulting in a wall of water pushing him directly into the center of the vortex.

"Oof!" was all the Jedi could manage to get out before he disappeared into the watery abyss. On the way past the break in the jagged volcanic rock bed, his tunic caught the edge of the rock at the shoulder, tearing half his shirt garment off. Vadis landed, slamming into the rock and was knocked out cold. A few meters away, the unknown Miralan stirred to consciousness.

Had the Jedi been awake, he would have quickly covered the small amount of chest, shoulder, and back exposed by his torn tunic in order to hide a massive amount of scarring that could only be made by lightsaber impalements.


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re: Trench Foot

Aden had been on the move for what seemed like hours… or was it minutes? … and walked for miles… or was it mere meters? Through some of this terrain it was hard to tell, and Aden guessed he was likely exaggerating to himself. He wasn’t even sure if he was still moving along his original bearing, or if that even mattered in and of itself. He was lost from the first step regardless. Was being lost an incremental concept? Could you be more lost that you were previously?

Then he heard something, over that next rise! The sound of muffled voices, or the faintest hint of a yell on the breeze, if there was such a thing on this terrible place. Or did he? He scurried towards the next rise in the terrain. Before he reached the top a thought interjected itself. Maybe these voices would prove to be unfriendly. He began to move more cautiously.

Splashes could be heard, but they sounded so… strange, and there was something else but Aden couldn’t place it. He finally made his way over the crest of the hill, nearly crawling on his belly. His heart was racing and his hopes and fears were waging war for who would dominate his disposition.

His vantage point slowly broke the plain of the hill and began revealing the scenery before him. At first he could only see the opposing rock-face, and another flanking slope similar to his own. As his vision panned lower the anxiety grew. His viewpoint finally allowed him to see the bottom and… and… there was nothing there! His anxious tension burst like a bubble and quickly turned to a type of disappointment. He breathed a great sigh as he collapsed fully prostrate on the ground.

Maybe he was going crazy. Maybe he injured something in the two crashes he had experienced today. It was certainly feasible. He lifted his head again to survey the surroundings once more. The rock face was unremarkable, save for a couple of boulders that were partially immerged in the water below, the rock face their likely origin. He decided to move closer to see if they were recent additions.

He had made his way into the water, now only ankle deep in this portion of the pool. The still-wet surfaces of rocks, trees, and various other redundant pieces of terrain all bore evidence that this pool was very recently much deeper. Then he noticed the hole. He stayed a few meters away, and tried to peer into it. Water was still trickling and gurgling its way down, the nearest boulder the likely stressor of the obvious fracture that occurred in the basin.

Aden turned and looked up the other slope, plotting a new heading. Maybe he could find a trail of some kind up there. However, a small and incredibly powerful flash of emotion, sensation, and blurry vision washed over him. He could see a face, maybe faces? The feeling of drowning and pain, and fear mingled with resolve. It left as fast as it had come upon him, not lasting more than a second. He found his head had snapped back to the dark hole, and chill bumps had covered his skin. What was that? Was it the Force? The future? The past? Did it want him to flee a similar fate? Or join in an others? Was it a trap? Or a deliverance?

For no rational reason Aden could bring to mind, he began to gingerly descend into the hole, trying to maintain his footing or brace against the sides. The trickling water was an irritant, and constantly threatened to make him lose his grip. It turns out you could be more lost than crash landing on an unknown moon with no idea if anyone or anything were here. You could willingly descend into a watery chasm of darkness to which there could be no bottom, on an unknown moon with no idea if anyone or anything were here.

With that thought Aden lost the last bit of control and choice he had in the situation, as he suddenly slipped and was immediately swallowed by the darkness, caught in a merciless gravity that pulled him deeper and deeper.
Naandi

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re: Trench Foot

The unexpected falls, the razor edges of the obsidian cavern, the roar of water rushing across her and then the hallow silence of submersion: all this was not so overwhelming as the speed at which the dark walls rushed by. Twice Naandi had reached out to stop herself, and both times the pain of the impact on rock had warned her not to try again. She clutched at her arm now, trying to keep her body tight and small as her heart sank into another pitfall.

The darkness was pervasive now; only the sound and the wind and the beating of her heart spoke of how quickly she was passing through the underground cataracts. Naandi’s eyes widened in the dark as the channel took a sharp corner. The water at the edge of the wall welled up, but even as she turned her shoulder into the impact, the tide pulled her down and tumbled her across the ground below. She struggled against the undertow, then finding her footing, pushed herself to the surface. Just as she drew in her first desperate breath, she collided violently into a surface rock. Her breaths became coughs as she clawed at the rock for purchase and finally dragged herself halfway out of the current.

Naandi released one last cough that sounded more like a cry and gasp before she rolled over on her back and tried to collect her strained muscles and thoughts. Everything was black, and she wondered then if the reason the water dripping from her hand was warm was because it was her blood. She tried to sit up, but knocked her forehead against the low rock ceiling. With one hand on her forehead and one pressed against the cavern roof, she curled up as small as she could and thought to herself that now would be a perfect time to give up. She couldn’t see anything, she couldn’t hear anything but the water, but somehow the darkness provided a perfect asylum for her thoughts, and for the second time that day she found her thoughts wandering the paths of a quiet place while her comrades remained in peril.

It is only then that she turned to look around her—to truly look for her comrades. She placed a hand behind her to turn around, but immediately a chunk of the rock broke off and spilled over the edge of a cascade. Her tiny rock island in the middle of the cataracts hung on the precipice of a waterfall, and beneath her, though she could not tell how far, a vast, black field of water lay illuminated by a faint orange glow.

Aicha,” she called out with more desperation than a Jedi ought to betray. But the sound died imperceptibly as it tumbled down the waterfall, and the only response elicited by the sound of her voice was a faint blue-green glow in the water upstream—a glow that faded away with her following silence. The distraction was only momentary, and Naandi called out again. “Master Vadis!” The luminescence resurged and wavered beneath the eddies of the water, but Naandi received no other response.

It was only in that silence that Naandi could at last gather her peace and listen for the lifesigns of the Force. And when she listened, she could feel them. Two living beings were below her, but also a third—a third fast approaching. All this moon seemed to fester with the dark energies of the force, but this signature, isolated and alone, seemed far different, alien, and somehow welcome. Naandi marveled at the will of the Force and this strange funnel of destinies, then reached her arm out into the dark water to offer a hand to whatever was following the same path she was.


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Aicha crawled along on her hands and knees in the dark water, her fingers skimming along just beneath the waters surface as she searched the smooth surface of rock. She couldn’t have dropped her navi-computer. It had to be here somewhere.

The fact that the computer would have been thrashed and crushed from the journey, and waterlogged to boot, never once crossed the young Mirilian’s mind. She just knew she had to have it. Somehow, things would seem better with it. Things weren’t so dire if you had a direction to go in. Or some link to the outside world where daylight could still pierce through. She needed it, and she needed it now. For a moment the memory of her old security blanket crossed her mind.

THWUMP!

Aicha recoiled, her hands unconsciously raising to shield her face from whatever horror it must be. But whatever had just dangerously precipitated down the waterfall laid there still as the stone it had fallen on. So eerily still.

Her eyes slowly adjusted to that dim amber-hued light, and she could see the outline of… of a man! She crawled forward, her knees buckling out at awkward angles as she made slow, cautious sidesteps towards the figure. “Are you… heyloo? Are-are you alright?” Now only a few feet away, she leaned slightly closer to him, still too nervous to fully bring herself near the form.

She shirked again, covering her face in her sloppy sleeves as she turned away. “Master Vadis!” she sobbed, more in the sheer awfulness of it all than in the true feelings of loss. There he lay, quiet dead as dead could be. His shirt had been torn from his shoulder, only to reveal his torso that looked just as similarly torn and tattered in the dim lighting. His descent through the cataracts must have been his untimely end.

Aicha drew herself away from the body, reviled by the dead and now more than ever clinging to the hope of finding that one thing. That very thing she had needed so desperately before. Where was it?!

Her foot slipped off into deeper water. Curious, she looked about, noticing the varying shades of, well, black. A lighter shade circled broadly around where the waterfall splattered loudly at its focal point, but grew darker suddenly at an edge a couple meters in radius. She (and the dearly departed Vadis) was apparently on a large submerged plateau in a rather ominous looking cavern of the otherwise still, dark water.

She would have to swim… somewhere. She’d completely lost her bearings in that twisting maze that had spit her out so rudely on another wet rock. This was all beginning to be far too much. Much too much. Much much much too much for her to handle. What she needed right now was a bit of direction. A bit of… good advice.

She glanced over her shoulder towards the unmoved body, her lips suddenly pursing in thought.

Master Vadis had always had a good head on his shoulders. And he had seemed to be strong in the Force. If he were dead, then surely his body would dissipate and be replaced with a Force ghost. Yes, yes! Any moment now, those soggy robes would wrinkle and fold and there, in his aura of blue, Master Vadis would show her the way out of here.

She waited, crossing her legs in front of her as she turned to face the body. Aaaany moment now… She waited a moment more. Then another moment.

What Aicha made up with in determination, she completely lacked in patience. Or, perhaps that were the other way around. Nonetheless, she didn’t have time to sit around sopping up cave draughts.

Master Vadis?” she mumbled, moving forward on her hands and knees once more. “Master Vadis?” she repeated. Well now, she certainly didn’t know how this all was supposed to work, but it was taking too long. She needed to speed things along. Ever so slowly, ever so taunt with how disturbing touching a dead body was, she nervously reached out for his shoulders, quite intent on throttling the ghost right out of him…
Vadis
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re: Trench Foot

THWUMP!

The man lay on the wet rock with a fresh skull injury from the concussive landing.

Are you… heyloo? Are-are you alright?” a woman's voice asked him. But the man was out cold.

Master Vadis! ” the woman said again in a sob. Again, no reply from the seemingly lifeless body.

A few moments later the woman mumbled again, “Master Vadis?” and then a final time “Master Vadis?

The woman reached out for his shoulders as if to try to shake him into the living. She jostled his body for a few moments when suddenly the snap fizz of a very green light saber ingnited inches from Aicha's face.

"Touch my Master again, and it will be the last thing you do, Mirialan!" said the light saber's female owner. "Who are you?" she continued, "and what kind of person throttles the unconscious?" Onora d'Gan demanded.


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re: Trench Foot

Aden was swept through the rocky water slide, careful to stay tucked into as small a ball as possible keeping his knees tucked to his chest and his arms outstretched in an attempt to keep himself in the center of the tube. The last thing he needed was a severe laceration or blunt trauma. Despite the perilous plummet he managed to stay relatively calm, adjusting whenever possible to descend feet first.

At last he seemed to emerge from one of the tubes at considerable speed, and seemed to skip across the water pool at the bottom in his fetal form. Loosing momentum, he finally was submerged in the turmoil making a large splash as he did so, and tried to break for the surface. He was far too hasty and smacked his head on a dense overhang of rock.

"
Ommmphhhh," was all he managed to utter as he grabbed the top of his head with his left hand and paddled forward with the right. He had water in his eyes and nose, and so he did not open them, at least until he got a second to wipe them clear. He moved forward a few feet, groping in the assumed darkness with his right hand.

To his utter shock and surprise something grabbed his hand. He froze, and his spine went cold with the touch of whatever creature had found him. For a brief second there flashed in his mind an image, a face though unrecognizable, the same from his split second vision before on the surface, and a feeling of calm and peace. His left hand had found the pommel of his rusty vibroblade, but stopped short of pulling it free of its sheath. His eyes popped open, but all he could see was a barely silhouetted blob. His eyes now stung from the water that found its way inside and they had not yet adjusted to the darkness, nor may they ever.

There was something familiar about the appendage that grasped him. Though at first cold to the touch, he recognized the underlying warmth of a humanoid, female he guessed by the bone structure. He let go of the hilt, and allowed the person to help haul him out of the water. He collapsed on his back on the rock ledge, and let go with his first of many questions.

"
Who are you?" He said panting.
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The offered hand pulled away as soon as the unknown man safely beached himself, and as imperceptibly as she could manage, Naandi then reached for her own belt and blade. But the movement was futile: she had abandoned her vibroblade in the cataracts, preferring to be free of the cumbersome object over being impaled upon it and the rock wall. She used the movement instead to quietly put some distance between herself and the water-blind flotsam.

For the moment, Naandi seemed to regard the man with distracted disinterest—not as any threat. Her head turned quickly as though physically seeking out unknown sounds beyond him, and even when he spoke to her, she gave her attention rather to the black pit behind her than to any urgency in his voice.

She looked at him only once, unable to make out any insignia in his uniform, and depended instead on his Force signature. But still she did not respond. Not until a splash beneath them echoed in response to her movement on the edge of the precipice did she at last speak.

Naandi,” she said quietly. Her name was as uninformative as she was unimportant, and she surrendered it with indifference, still peering over the edge.

Then quite suddenly her muscles tensed, for below them a blade of green grew into life and reflected on the droplet haze beneath the waterfall. Naandi turned to the man and said with an unmasked earnestness, “I hope you’re a friend.” Then she lowered herself into the smooth, powerful force of the waterfall’s ledge. “Now come quickly.” Even before she could lower herself to her elbows, the water brushed her over the edge and a burst of telekinetic blue collided into the dark surface below.

For a moment the water was the obsidian black it was before, but then two narrow bodies of luminescent aqua slid over the clear edge of the waterfall and they too disappeared into the black of the cistern below.


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The sharp crackle and sudden brilliance of green light blinded Aicha. Where once she might have struggled against the oppressiveness of the darkness, any night vision she might have gained was obliterated by the lightsaber that now nearly clipped her chin with its nearness.

Her sudden anxiety at her lost of sight was only doubled when the voice began making threats and demanding answers, though for the life of her she’d barely understood a word. Where did this spectre come from? Aicha had neither seen nor heard her arrive, so… she must have been here before... But for how long? Could it be that a jedi could have been living in these depths? A Dark jedi?

The thoughts whirled about her, the threat still hovering in the air as Aicha found herself caught on her heels. She staggered to her feet, her hands raised to her face to shield the light from her eyes. She was hardly in the position to fall into battle; if the Dark Jedi wanted the body, she could have it. Either way, it would surely dissipate into a Force Ghost within minutes.

He’s all yours,” she spurted, backing up quickly with the bold strides of escape. Two fingers shot out from her towards a distant wall, and she hoped that what followed would be the sudden clamor of splashing as if a great beast were rising from the water. She was attempted to press a Force projection into the mind of the Dark Jedi, hoping the sound would distract her for a moment. Fortunately a similarly loud splash near the waterfall behind her doubled her efforts in creating a distraction.

So, she continued to back up, more hurriedly now. One. Two. And three! The last step sent her into the deep, black water surrounding the barely submerged plateau.

As the inky water enveloped her once again, Aicha swam out and down far into its depths, eager to put a distance between herself and the would-be assailant. Something clacked against her in the darkness, and she flailed about as she tried to grab it. The navi-computer! The Force had a funny way of twisting fate to its will, and IF she could have breathed at all underwater, the sigh of relief would have been enormous and genuine. But she couldn’t breath. She couldn’t breath at all. She fumbled into her billowing pockets, trying to grasp onto any clarity of thought before the panic set back in. There! The navi-computer had hit something metal on her. On… on this!

She’d completely forgotten she’d kept one! Given the nature of her profession, it had been a piece of equipment that was always kept on hand-even on the driest of planets. She thrust the thin aquata breather into her mouth, setting it tightly between her teeth. Now came her sigh of relief. That enormous, genuine breath that calmed her nerves, settled her reason and gave her free-reign to inspect her surroundings once more.

She rotated her hand in front of her face, but could barely make out the outline of her fingers. What amber-hued light had been available above the surface was nearly non-existent down here. Curious, then, was the twisting and curling of two luminescent bodies in the distant black veil…
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