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Before the Saga Gazing at the Distant Lights - High Republic Drabbles [UDC X]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Kahara, Sep 30, 2022.

  1. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Title: Gazing at the Distant Lights
    Author: Kahara
    Timeframe/Genre/Canonicity/Characters: High Republic/various/Canon (unless AU)/various

    Summary: Series of drabbles for the Ultimate Drabble Challenge X. This time around I'm focusing on the High Republic era. The plan is for each week to feature a different character, though that rule may bend eventually.

    Thread title from the lyrics of "A Summer Song" by Chad & Jeremy.

    Index:

    Week 1: "Breakaway" (Indeera Stokes; spoilers for Rising Storm and Fallen Star)
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2022
  2. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Alright, this was finished in my usual last-minute-procrastination-sprint style, so formatting may be a little odd and I'll fix it later. ;)

    This first set features Indeera Stokes from the High Republic series, and features LOTS of spoilers for those books since these drabbles run through The Rising Storm (the first two) and up to the end of The Fallen Star (the last three). And on that note, warning for
    canonical character death, quite a bit of it.

    The title is not from Kelly Clarkson (even though I like that song), but from an instrumental piece in the album Prism by James Everingham. In other words, I had trouble finding a title and was listening to that album a lot while writing. :p

    Week 1

    "Breakaway"

    1. Prelude

    Blunt toenails click-clacked across the floor. The familiar circuitous pattern ended in a whump and sigh of steaming charhound breath as Ember rolled into a graceless belly-up heap between Bell and Indeera. Just as she’d always done on Elphrona, the creature sought out the spot where she would be in range for maximum pets.

    Returning to earth, insofar as their rooms on Starlight Beacon could offer that, Indeera chuckled at Ember’s antics and obliged her with a gentle scratch. Meanwhile, Bell took another moment to emerge from meditation. Where her own mind tended to drift upwards into a more celestial place in her trances, Bell’s way of communing with the Force reminded her of a spring zephyr – purposeful but always changing. He was learning to follow the currents of his insight, and it was clear to Indeera that he would have no small talent for using that intuition as a Jedi Knight. Soon, she had to hope, that searching breeze would not have the lost and lonely edge of a coastal windstorm.

    She helped her Padawan to his feet, careful of the wounds he’d received in their most recent space battle. All was healing with the near-miraculous powers of bacta, but he moved gingerly at times.

    “Well, we can’t keep Ember waiting for the most important meal of the day,” he said with mock seriousness.

    “The next one!” It was an overused joke, but they still got a moment’s laughter out of it and Ember’s tail went into a frenzy of glee.


    2. Bygone

    “Somehow, I just can’t imagine how, I didn’t think training a Padawan would be so terrifying. You’d think that would be seared into my mind after my own apprenticeship!”

    “The kindness of memory,” Nib assured her. “Every one of mine has made me swear off teaching for the sake of my cardiac health at times.”

    Indeera gestured acknowledgment with her cup of Karlini tea, and did her best not to chug the calming brew.

    “Part of it is the circumstances. I’ve been there, but only in a supporting role, for most of his life. And with what happened to Loden… he’s dealing well, considering. He’ll be ready to graduate as soon as he knows he’s ready. Bell will make an incredible Knight; it’s just that suddenly I’m the one that needs to help him get there. I thought I had accepted what that meant. Then he nearly died.”

    “It was a close call – it’s natural to be concerned, especially after the recent loss of a dear friend. And don’t you Jedi Code me -- ”

    “Ha, wouldn’t dream of it!”

    “-- because we both know that kicking yourself over emotions is no good. It’s what you’re doing to manage them that matters.”

    Indeera hummed thoughtfully. “Perhaps it’s pilot’s hubris. Space has always been my element. It’s not somewhere that I expected to almost lose him.”

    “You didn’t, though; you both found your footing and lived to tell the tale.”

    “I’d rather not have any more such stories for a while.”

    “Sure hope not! We’ve had enough adventure lately, and I say that as an alleged flying menace.”

    Indeera grinned at the reminder of what Valo traffic control had termed Nib before the Republic Fair disaster. She could only hope her new friend was right, that she and Bell had enough time before the next test – that they all might have just enough time.


    3. Impend

    Mild headaches from staring at a screen or from tiredness were so commonplace, so ordinary. Indeera hadn’t even noticed the creeping rise of pain in her temples over the last days.

    Why would she? They were all so, so very tired, and there were no answers – only distressing questions. Sleep and meditation didn’t work; she was refilling her energy from a broken vessel that couldn’t hold anything substantial.

    Sometimes it felt like she was watching herself and the other Jedi from outside as they wandered in circles (in their conversations, in the station, in the mirage-like fading threads of the Force) trying to find answers to the unfolding problems that threatened Starlight Beacon. Around and around, like Ember making her rounds on nights when the charhound couldn’t settle. A spiral ever narrowing, like water circling a drain.

    A little twinge here and there was hardly anything compared to all that.

    Breakfast had been a long time ago, that was probably the issue.

    She moved faster than she had in days. Regald needed help, and no one else was close enough – she had to get there!

    The muffled echo of the Force slid out of her grasp like water through a sieve.

    Everything around her warped, twisted, moved out of frame. Her headache surged, and she found herself noticing it even through her absolute dread of the something-that-was-not in front of her.

    For just a second, before she lost consciousness entirely, it occurred to Indeera that maybe this was worth bothering Medical with after all.


    4. Descend

    It isn’t anything like falling from a height.

    She should feel that, though. Sheer vertigo from plummeting down through the levels of the damaged space station as it struggles helplessly to escape from the pull of Eiram’s gravity.

    The floor.

    She had hit the floor hard and felt it crash painfully against her body.

    She had hit the floor and it had given way easily, fractured into shards like sugarglass.

    The floor is… broken?

    She should be falling.

    What?

    Indeera flails, trying to contact… something, anything to redirect herself in the void.

    That thing, seen and not seen. Is it gone now? Her eyes won’t focus and she isn’t sure if she is still blinded by tears or if there is just… nothing.

    There is a choked half-scream from somewhere, nowhere, everywhere, and Indeera reaches out and grabs hold of an arm. She has barely an instant of recognition.

    Nib?

    Then the arm just… falls through her fingers, like sifting sand, without so much as another sound, and Indeera can’t find a trace of Nib anywhere in this utter stillness that has nothing of the Force’s serenity.

    Sometimes she thinks she hears people, even feels them trying to grasp her hands and unable to do so. They fall away like cobwebs and dust no matter how hard she fights to grab and hold them – they don’t want to go and it’s her duty not to let them.

    She fails, over and over and over. Every time, she gives all her strength to holding them. Every time, they flow away.

    The hands holding hers are blue-fire burning and Indeera can hear an almost-voice coming into tune like an approaching ship’s transmission.

    “...Avar and Elzar I will haunt them if they even consider blaming themselves for my demise and also they should stop looking for the Loovar candies in Avar’s stash – I ate them all and I regret absolutely nothing. It’s okay, Indeera. You can’t stop this, but we’re going to be alright. They need you back now. You can let go.

    And as though she had been looking at a landscape and its reflection, then realized that she had which was which all confused, everything turns about.


    5. Arise

    The quiet bustle of the medical wing surrounds her, and Indeera can’t quite place what is so different about it but she knows that it is entirely changed in some way.

    She can’t make out specific conversations, can’t glean more from the Force than what simply comes to her without inquiring, can’t concentrate well enough to make out more than a blur of the light and motion of the waking world.

    Indeera isn’t awake, not yet. But she will be.

    Premonitions visit her – nothing world-shattering, thankfully. She sees the faces of people who will stand in this room: Bell, their friends among the Jedi, the medics, sometimes Burryaga. Indeera wasn’t sure about that last one for a while, but she sees him more and more clearly, more and more often in her moments of almost-not-dreaming. He and Bell will sit by her side, enjoying their banter and fussing over Ember (who is here, but also will be here when the Padawans return).

    Some things she knows from herself, not from visions and dreams.

    The galaxy will continue to turn without Starlight Beacon, which she will never see again – not as it was, anyway.

    Indeera will stand with her fellow Jedi when they mourn their losses.

    She will see Bell become the Knight that he already is, soon. (Perhaps not yet; that all depends on Bell.) No matter what, she’ll be proud of him for all that he has become, for all that he learned from Loden and for the way that he continues to learn and grow and care for all around him even in his grief.

    Together, she and Bell, Porter, Ember, and all their kindred spirits in the Republic will face whatever comes next, and they will never do so alone.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2022
  3. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    YAY! So stoked (!) to see you back at it , and with such gorgeous work, too! I know zero about the High Republic era and characters, so I kind of let this story wash over me—but you do a great job of painting Indeera’s trauma and loss, and that whole wistful sense of “you can never go home again.” I love how the banter of the opening few sections is one of the things she recalls at the last (if I have it right). Heck, it’s even there in the transmission-like voice—I don’t know who that is speaking, but that was one of the moments that stood out, especially the crack about eating the candies! Great work and great comeback, my friend—so glad to see this at last, and A1 work! =D=
     
  4. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Great to see you writing about the high republic. I have seen it only here in fanfic and love it
     
  5. Tarsier

    Tarsier Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2005
    I've never even heard of this series, but I love your drabbles! Your writing is lovely as always, and of course you know I love beginning things with a creature!

    [face_laugh]

    Love to see such a sensible approach from a Jedi!

    Love this line!

    Seems it probably was...I like ending the drabble on this note.

    I don't want to quote the whole rest of the set, but I love the ethereal description here. looking forward to more!
     
  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Heart tugging mixture of friendly banter in relaxed happy moments with the disjointed "where am I" feel of the closing drabbles. =D= How devastating it can be to feel you can't return to the optimism and wistfulness that was represented by Starlight Beacon much less to having it be restored in actuality. :(
     
  7. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 19, 2019
    Oh, I always get so thrilled whenever I see anyone writing in the High Republic era that is so near and dear to my heart[face_love]

    I thought that you did a beautiful and moving job exploring the relationship between Bell and Indeera, which was a dynamic I enjoyed seeing develop in the High Republic novels in the wake of Loden's disappearance and ultimate death. The inclusion of Ember was also a wonderful highlight for a dog lover like me!

    Some lines I was particularly fond of:

    Indeera's perspective on the different ways that she and Bell experience the Force is gorgeously insightful here. The comparison of Bell's communion with the Force to a spring zephyr was lovely. It also is just great to see how much confidence Indeera has in Bell's ability to become a fine Jedi Knight. A confidence that Loden also shared.

    This is exactly the sort of banter I enjoy seeing between a Master and Padawan. Love it!

    Another strong simile, and I like how Ember seems to mirror Indeera's unease and disquiet here. As if picking up on it in that empathetic fashion dogs have.

    The sense of dislocation and confusion here was well-done. Captures and conveys those emotions perfectly.

    And the conclusion of the last drabble in this set did a great job of balancing the loss of Starlight Beacon and everything it represents with visions of hope in the future. Especially Bell's future.

    Can't wait to see what drabbles you come up with next!=D=
     
    Findswoman and Kahara like this.