“Do you hear that?” Ash murmured, turning her head towards a broken apartment complex. The dull booms and snaps of artillery and blaster fire in the distance did nothing to distract her from Corellia’s broken streets. Her immediate surroundings were more important than a distant battle.
“Hear what, sir?” Elara stopped beside her, pistol held loose at her side.
There it was again. Ash held up her hand, “that.” Elara raised a brow then, “I do now. Shall we take a look?”
They should be focusing their efforts on pushing back the Empire but…
Ash turned towards the faint noise, “I suppose we should.”
They started off at a light jog until reaching the apartment entrance, slowing to a cautious speed and carefully walking through the wrecked lower levels of the building. The noise got slowly clearer, a keen, distressing sound; crying. Not the sound of an adult or even a child crying either.
It was loudest while still being slightly muffled at the broken door to an apartment. Inside was a mess, likely a result of an Imperial raid, and the bodies of two Cathar lay sprawled with vibroblades just out of their reach. The both had blaster burns riddling their bodies. Elara looked them over and commented that the bodies were about a day old.
A door at the far end of the apartment was still shut, next to another room that must have been the main bedroom. Ash frowned and opened it, slowly stepping inside; the crying was much louder.
She put her weapon away, looking around the small room clearly meant for a baby. There was a cot opposite the door and she sighed, walking over to it to see exactly she expected. The Cathar infant was a little squirming, noisy thing covered in dark blue fuzz. When it noticed her it slowly went quite, sniffling and staring at her with big wet eyes. Then it started to squirm again and reached for her, grunting and straining weakly.
Elara looked at her with some surprise when she walked out of the room, holding the infant to her armoured chest like the fragile thing he was; she had swaddled him in a blanket. “We should get him somewhere safe.”
There was something odd about the way Elara was looking at her but Ash restrained the urge to comment. Elara just nodded after a few seconds and turned to leave.
Regardless of what Elara might have just been thinking about, it hadn’t been such a terrible detour. The Ghorfa took pity on her when she was young and defenceless, she had no reason to leave the little one alone to die.
Hopefully he would survive beyond the rescue.
21. Relationships: Does your character have a special someone? Are they developing feelings for someone in their crew? How do they get on? What do they like about them? What don’t they like about them? How far has this relationship gone?
“I can’t justify losing the people who can fight over the people who can’t, you know that,” Ash kept her voice even. Her throat tried to constrict around her voice, a knot of emotion settling within it; she hated these ‘talks.’
“I suppose that’s my mistake, hoping you might have started to think differently by now,” Elara spoke with clipped tones, her body language tense and eyes flinty. She didn’t like this any better than Ash; not that it stopped these blasted arguments from sparking given the right provocation.
Ash crossed her arms, trying not to think of it as a defensive gesture, “I’m not about to mirror you just so I can have your approval at the cost of what I think is the right choice, that’s not a good way to think things through.”
The frown made her throat tighten and Elara’s terse voice made her gut twist, “I never asked or expected you to mirror me, I expected you to uphold the Republic’s ideals. Regulations state that-“
Ash ground her teeth, “I don’t care what the regulations say! Try giving me a reason that doesn’t rely on your precious rulebook for once.”
Elara took a breath, brows still furrowed in the look of disapproval that made Ash instinctively tense, “you agreed to obey the laws of the Republic when you were recruited. It isn’t ‘my’ rulebook, it applies to everyone; including you. Especially you, as it happens, because you are a high ranking officer. If nothing else, you’re supposed to be setting an example.”
“I get the job done and I never surrender. I feel that’s a decent example without someone picking over details.”
“Details matter when not surrendering resulted in the deaths of over three-hundred civilians.”
“Details matter when not surrendering meant we were there to stop the Sith from decimating allied forces and winning a key battle. I thought we already talked about that incident.”
“You don’t know that they couldn’t have survived without us.”
“Neither do you.”
Imagine your OTP rescuing a lost dog or cat together and returning the pet to the grateful and worried sick owner.
Ash tried not to look like she was waiting for someone like some kind of lost child but she felt inherently nervous. They finally had the time to relax a bit after Corellia and even after all this time she felt so very unsure about how to act. So far she had relied on Elara for cues or explanation, which seemed to have worked. She couldn’t shake the voice at the back of her head telling her she was going to trip eventually and Elara would see what a freak she was.
Her hands balled into fists and she hid them in her coat pockets, mentally wrestling with herself.
A small tugging at her calf made her look down to see an Akk puppy chomping on her trouser leg. When it noticed her looking, it sat and stared at her with its big, glassy eyes like it hadn’t done anything, fabric still in its mouth. The staring match persisted for several long minutes until Ash bent down and picked the little creature up in her gloved hands, managing to tug it free without ripping the cloth. It squirmed momentarily, barking until it locked eyes with her and going still and silent.
She looked aside to see Elara standing there with a puzzled look on her face.
“You can’t keep it.”
“What? No! No, no, this is uh…it tried to bite me!”
“That must have been terrifying.”
Ash narrowed her eye at Elara’s smiling face and sighed, looking back at the puppy, “I think he belongs to someone.”
Elara frowned, thinking, “if he does, there should be a chip to scan.”
Ash nodded and then looked at Elara. Before she could even open her mouth, Elara fixed her with a stern expression, “no.”
The major grumbled, looking at the puppy again, “you could’ve been an amazing attack dog.” The puppy tilted its head at her, barking with a wag of its long reptilian tail. Ash just sighed again.
END OF TROOPER STORY SCREENSHOTS.
But fuck yeah, I finally finished with Ash.
I’m not certain that these are my best because I’m half asleep right now but here we go!
GUESS WHO’S BACK IN THE TOR FIRING LINE?
“Garza said it’s fine so long as the Havoc symbol is clear, especially if this ends up protecting me better than gear I can buy,” Ash murmured, connecting another layer of armour meshing to the underlay of the chest.
“Are you sure you’ll be able to run in it?” Elara looked over her shoulder, observing Ash’s deft hands with a mix of admiration and genuine interest. She didn’t often watch Ash when she worked with the materials they scavenged during their outings. Ash once explained her knowledge through her living off trading scrap and salvaged tech with Jawas, the little aliens had taught her a few things and she picked it up from there. She would often tamper with her robes to improve them but coming across the same high quality material she was using now had been extremely rare and worth more in trading than tinkering.
Ash grunted, temporarily wrestling with the tough mesh, “I spent seventeen years running around in a desert like this. I think I can manage anything that isn’t sand just fine.” Fastening the last layer into place, Ash straightened in her chair and pulled the light sand coloured robe up to observe it, “not bad.”
Elara crossed her arms, “not bad?”
Ash smiled forlornly, “it won’t be the same, it’ll be very close, but not the same. Still, I feel like this will be a good thing. Not like anyone else will be able to tell the difference.”
Elara looked down at the ‘robe’ Ash was holding, outwardly it just looked like the same wrappings worn by the Sand People of Tatooine. Underneath was a different story however and it was much heavier than the normal robes, about the same weight as their regular body armour. Plating and mesh were woven together underneath and Ash had coated the top most layer with a film of transparisteel fibres.
Ash looked up at her, her smile a little warmer, “I could make you a set if you want.”
Elara propped her hands on her hips, trying not to look amused, “I don’t think falling on my face would be very helpful.”
Ash chuckled softly, laying the armoured robes down, “true. I was kidding anyway.”
I’ll just take this moment to appreciate Elara’s new armour.
Meanwhile Ash is off to the side all -
internally of course she’d never do that so overtly big nervous dork that she is
AKJhskajhsdg I’m sorry this took so long to respond to. I don’t know how to write complimentary Ash.
- - -
“Ash, you are drunk, you need to sleep,” Elara said, trying not to smile as she walked with the taller woman towards their ship.
“Sleep is for civilians, I-I’m fine. I’m better than fine, I can still talk,” Ash murmured, one arm slung around Elara’s shoulders. Elara had a support arm around Ash’s waist and held onto Ash’s wrist to make sure she didn’t slip away and fall over. Though Ash had a surprising amount of coordination while intoxicated she wasn’t above stumbling.
Elara could feel the smile trying to win her over, “I’m very aware of that.”
A chuckle escaped Ash’s throat and she leaned her head against Elara’s, “what, still blushing?”
Elara gave her a sideways glance, “hardly.” She continued struggling to keep her face straight, part of her didn’t want to encourage Ash but…
The Major smirked, her one eye half-shut in the most comfortable and laid back expression Elara had ever seen on her. “You’re a terrible liar.”
“I could say the same about you.”
“Nope, I haven’t lied. Least not about you. I never lie about you, nothin’ to lie about.”
“Then you’re excellent at exaggeration.”
“Nope. I would’ve taken you on even without Garza’s prompting, you’re talented and good and everything the Republic needs.”
“You’re really cute too, specially when you’re talkin’ about re-gu-la-tions.”
“Ash, you are really, really drunk.”
“You can still understand me can’t you?”
Elara looked at her, trying to ignore the heat in her face. Ash was grinning. She was lucky that Ash had dropped her Republic accent around her enough times that she could understand the woman when it slipped away unintentionally. Like now. But Ash had a point, she wasn’t so drunk that she was speaking Tusken, like she had been with Aric that one time.
Maybe she was thinking just clearly enough that it wasn’t the alcohol talking…
Ash chuckled and tapped the tip of Elara’s nose, pulling her out of her thoughts, “and I think you look really good either way. Standin’ there in your armour with fire and stuff in the background-“
“-or hair down and sleepin’ in my arms. You’re real peaceful lookin’ in your sleep, you know that? It’s cute.”
The smile finally won and she shook her head, helping Ash scale the ramp leading into their ship. “You really need to sleep.”
“Ash fears having reason to betray the Republic.”
“Question for you, girl,” Ash spoke up as they walked through the Slippery Slopes cantina. Elara stopped and gave the hunter a measured look, biting her tongue to avoid a naturally scathing reply.
“What is it?”
Ash tilted her head, “why Republic?”
Elara narrowed her eyes, “you mean why did I leave the Empire?”
Ash shrugged, “same question.”
She didn’t feel at all inclined to share with the abrasive woman, there was little indication that Ash would understand her reasons. “You first. Why did you become a bounty hunter?”
Ash frowned and for a moment Elara held her breath, hoping the other woman just went with the question rather than pursue her own. Ash finally grunted and crossed her arms, “gave purpose. None before. Living ghost. Helped someone, got paid for it. Started helping more.”
The incredulity she felt showed more than she liked but Elara was hard pressed to contain it, “you kill people for credits and call it helping?”
Ash smiled her dead smile and tilted her head, “remove thorns, send message or revenge for weak creature too frail to do alone. All ways of helping. Just very bloody.” She gestured to the equipment Elara carried to patch them up on the field, her face suddenly becoming serious, “not healer. Not protector. Just weapon. Weapon kills. People pay for killing. So I kill.”
Elara felt some measure of sadness at Ash’s words, frowning at the hunter, “you kill because you don’t see yourself as anything more than a weapon?”
Ash nodded, “if nothing else, can be good weapon.”
“Nice ship,” Ash commented lightly, glancing around as they entered.
“Yeah, try not make a mess,” Aric muttered, walking by her without so much as a look.
Ash spread her arms, a durable bag of what belongings she owned slung around her shoulders. “Small faith wounds me, cat.”
Aric looked back at her, frowning deeply, “Aric.”
Ash grinned viciously, “cat.”
Aric growled and turned, disappearing off to the armoury, most likely to distract himself with some maintenance. Elara tried not to calculate how much a headache Ash was going to be.
The hunter settled down easily enough in one of the available bunks and stowed her gear. By the time she was done, Garza finished debriefing Elara and turned her attention on the hunter as she entered the main room.
“Ash, seeing as you’re now part of the military you may hold the rank of sergeant. You’re not exactly a specialist in anything other than killing.”
Ash smiled broadly, it only made her one normal eye look like chilled glass, “is good skill.”
Garza had a mild look if displeasure for the hunter’s response but switched to one of neutrality as she addressed Elara. “I trust I don’t need to tell you to keep an eye on this one.”
Elara glanced briefly Ash, who only continued to smile in her own unsettling way, and felt the creeping urge to keep her hand near her pistol. “Her leash will be short, General.”
Garza nodded, “glad to hear it. I’ll contact you again when you reach Nar Shaddaa.” With that, the image of the General disappeared.
Ash clapped her hands, “Hutt moon? Many fun things there, many bounties. Good money.”
Elara gave the hunter a stern look, “we are not going there for bounties. I’ll see you’re brought up to speed while we travel there.”
Ash shrugged, “few days, small space.” She smiled that unfriendly smile again, “hostile people. Very familiar.”
Elara disregarded the reaction in favour of walking up to the bridge. She needed to plot their course anyway. Perhaps it would allow her the time to think of better ways to deal with the hunter.
So I heard ya’ll wanted some more.
all two of you anyway