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Saga Half the Battle - Rebel Fleet Troopers, OC challenge-inspired, completed 7/6

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Thumper09, Jul 3, 2015.

  1. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Title: Half the Battle
    Author: Thumper09
    Characters: OC Rebel Fleet Troopers
    Timeframe: 1 ABY
    Genre: Drama
    Summary: A Rebel fleet trooper's attempt to avoid making another fatal mistake causes complications with his new team.
    Notes: This is a short story inspired by the OC thread's Summer Challenge, which is as follows: "Your character experiences walking in somebody else's shoes. You may interpret that in any way you like: they can fill in for somebody at work, read somebody's mind...or pretty much anything in between!" I'm experimenting with a new writing method to get myself back into writing more regularly, and this is the result of it.

    Constructive criticism is welcome. Star Wars is owned by Disney, etc. etc. This is the first half of the story, and the second half will be posted in a few days.

    ---------------------

    Lieutenant Raede Kolinkar got ready for duty with all the enthusiasm of a Hutt going ballroom dancing. The uniform never quite fit right, but the cut of the fabric was really the least of his concerns.

    The Rebel fleet trooper shrugged on his black combat vest over his light blue shirt. The vest hung limply from his shoulders, draped on his gawky frame that still hadn’t recovered the peak muscle tone and health his body had had when he’d been attending the Imperial Army Officer Academy on Raithal just a few months ago. Kolinkar pulled the belt on his grey pants one hole tighter, and then shoved on his scuffed, third-hand boots. His holster sagged awkwardly from his hips, holding the DH-17 blaster that was the most comfortable, familiar part of this whole get-up. Lastly he put in his earpiece and then plopped the large white clamshell helmet on his head. He adjusted it to be marginally straighter and then buckled his chinstrap.

    Like always, he did all this without the aid of a mirror. The last thing he wanted to do was see a reflection of himself.

    With a sigh, Kolinkar left his closet-sized quarters and robotically shuffled down the cramped corridors of the Marauder-class Corvette Gravitas toward the mess hall for breakfast. After being on this ship for a couple of weeks now, he knew his way around well enough to walk mostly on autopilot.

    Most of the doorways he passed on the way were newly adorned with small decorations: scraps of fabric meant to be ribbons, pictures printed on flimsi of people or flowers or landscapes or animals or famous Alderaanian cultural contributions, and various words of solidarity. The ornaments confused him until he remembered the date and the endless security briefings from this past week. Today was the first anniversary of the destruction of Alderaan. Kolinkar rubbed the bridge of his nose to ease a pressure headache that was already beginning. The ship would be on alert today for the heightened possibility of Imperial attacks, and that meant his platoon would be at elevated readiness too.

    He barely acknowledged any crew members he passed in the corridors. Once in the mess hall, Kolinkar went directly to the food serving line, got a tray full of glop that supposedly passed for food, and then sat at a corner table by himself. On the way he walked past a table full of fleet troopers laughing and chatting together. A couple glanced in his direction but then ignored him. Kolinkar supposed they were in his platoon, but he wasn’t quite sure. Hell, he hardly even knew their names, and he’d been relieved last week when they’d stopped bothering to invite him to eat with them. They’d also stopped trying to interact with him outside of strict work-related discussions after he’d kept shutting them down. What was the point? They were a close-knit veteran squad of marines and security personnel, and he was just their brand-new platoon leader, some inexperienced twenty-year-old kid many years their junior, with a black mark on his Imperial record and a name that wasn’t even his own. He’d made it clear to them over and over that he had no desire to be friends with them or care about anything other than their skills with a blaster. He wasn’t there to have friends. He was there to do his job, nothing more, and the two ideas were mutually exclusive.

    He wished they weren’t, though. He was so blasted lonely.

    Raucous laughter reached his ears. Over at the fleet troopers’ table, it looked like they were enjoying themselves.

    Kolinkar poked at his glop of "food" for a minute and watched them. If he changed the uniforms in his mind’s eye, he could easily see himself at that table with his classmates on Raithal, trying to get in some last minute fun and relaxation before another gruelingly hard day began. And always– always– there he was with his best friend Gaiti, making exceedingly detailed and sincere plans for how to get assigned to the same squad when they graduated.

    And, as always, there was the crushing horror that had been his constant companion for the last few months, the feeling he’d felt when he’d discovered that his inseparable friend was dead because of him. That ill-fated live-fire exercise on Raithal still haunted him. In Kolinkar’s turn to deploy his "troops" made up of his classmates, he’d told Gaiti to take his team to what Kolinkar had thought would be the safest place on the entire training field. Some sort of "mishap" or "incident" or "miscommunication" had proven that it wasn’t, though, turning that spot into the wrong place at the wrong time. Kolinkar had purposefully tried to protect his best friend, and it had gotten Gaiti killed.

    Kolinkar briefly squeezed his eyes shut, and when he opened them, he attacked the food on his plate without an appetite, only a desire for its bad taste to distract him from the guilt. He didn’t want to be here. He didn’t want to be alone. He wanted to be cramming for final exams with Gaiti. But he wasn’t.

    Shoveling a forkful of dried mystery meat into his mouth, he scowled at the blue sleeve of his uniform when he glimpsed it as if it and it alone was the cause of all his misery. He still couldn’t believe he’d ended up here, but few organizations were as accepting of someone with a dishonorable discharge from the Imperial military and the subsequent downward spiral and crashing and burning of his life. And like he told himself every day when he suited up, if he was the kind of person who got the Empire’s best up-and-coming cadets killed, then he was already an enemy of the Empire, and he might as well be outwardly honest about it.

    The food did indeed taste awful, but it was nowhere near the magnitude needed to pull his thoughts away from their black hole. All he could think about was how lonely he was and how much he wished Gaiti was sitting in that empty seat across the table from him.

    Two of the fleet troopers eating together got into a loud, exuberant debate. Then another one joined in. Kolinkar glanced up at them. While they were eating they’d all taken their large white helmets off and slung them by the chinstraps on the backs of their chairs, out of the way. Kolinkar kept his helmet on and huddled down into its anonymous depths. Despite himself, he desperately wanted to go over to those fleet troopers and eat with them. Get to know them. But he didn’t.

    Getting too close to people only got them killed, and he’d be damned if he would let that happen again.

    *****

    Hyperspace was a peaceful place. Its swirling blue tunnel was like a security blanket, protecting the ship from all the dangers in realspace. The visual effect through the bridge viewport of Gravitas was almost hypnotic, and Captain Lucial always preferred that sight over the one of the neverending paperwork on the datapad before her. In particular, the Duro would rather be working on almost anything else but this. Putting the last bit of polish on the brief words she would say to the crew today to mark the anniversary of Alderaan was simple in theory but very difficult in practice.

    "Captain?"

    Captain Lucial immediately picked up on the waver in her bridge officer’s voice and turned that way. "What is it, Ensign Meler?"

    "Ma’am, internal sensors are... indicating blasterfire onboard."

    Captain Lucial leapt to her feet from the captain’s chair. "Where?"

    "It’s... I think it’s in Navigation, ma’am."

    "Contact Security. Nav–" Captain Lucial turned from Ensign Meler at Sensors to Lieutenant Wpriro at the bridge’s Navigation station just in time to see the display’s feed from the Navigation room blink red and then cut out completely. Lieutenant Wpriro looked startled but quickly recovered and began inputting a flurry of commands. When the Nav station remained blank, Captain Lucial stepped up to him. "Lieutenant, what’s happening?" she demanded.

    Lt. Wpriro continued his technological attack as he replied, "I’m not sure, Captain. My station’s been locked out." The Mon Calamari input another sequence, and at last the bridge’s navigational display showed something again: a countdown clock, in progress, running down from a little over fourteen minutes.

    "What is that?"

    Captain Lucial waited impatiently while Wpriro continued working fast. Thirty seconds later he raised his finned hands in the only display of helplessness Lucial had ever seen from him. "As far as I can tell, Captain, all navigation controls are locked out. I can’t access them from here anymore. Something’s got to be happening in the Navigation room."

    "What’s the countdown for? A bomb?"

    Wpriro shook his head. "That’s the hyperdrive clock. I think the ship is going to revert to realspace at that time."

    "But we’re not due to come out of hyperspace for hours." Lucial turned to her comm officer. "Get Security down to Navigation, and warn them of the blasterfire. Have a med team standing by." Lucial looked back at the countdown clock. "If you’re right about reversion," she said to Wpriro, "then that would mean..." She did quick calculations in her head, plotting their course and velocity against thirteen more minutes of flight time in hyperspace. Her stomach sank at the answer.

    Wpriro had been doing the same thing on the navicomp. He grimly pointed to a red dot with several flagged notes from Rebel Intelligence. "It would drop us in this system. Right in the middle of a busy Imperial military refueling hub."

    Captain Lucial had no plans for Gravitas to commit suicide that day. "Drop us out of hyperspace now!"

    "Helm’s not responding, ma’am!"

    "Then reroute commands. Power down systems. Pull the physical plug on the engines of you have to! Do whatever you need to to get control of this ship back! And get Security down there now!"

    *****

    Lt. Kolinkar’s heart pounded as he stood outside the locked door to Navigation with the squad of fleet troopers that had been eating at the nearby table. So they were in his platoon after all. Two of them worked at bypassing the lock on the door, another was running through comm frequencies, and the rest had taken what positions they could in the confined corridor. On the deck was a limp strip of fabric, presumably a makeshift ribbon that had been ripped off the doorway.

    Kolinkar held a datapad with a feed from the bridge. It regularly updated with whatever information the bridge could determine about the situation inside Navigation, and in the corner was a countdown clock fast ticking down from nine minutes. The comm officer had briefly explained the situation on Kolinkar’s run over here and had stressed the importance of disabling Navigation from inside the room before time ran out. Some off-shift Navigation techs were on their way to help.

    Kolinkar resisted the urge to wipe the sweat from his face. Despite what the Rebels thought about the value of his Academy background, none of his classroom training had prepared him for this.

    The still image of a Rodian popped up on the datapad’s display. From beside Kolinkar, a fleet trooper with unsightly scars of burns on his face and hands leaned over to look at the display as well. The name of Avton Vok was added to the image.

    "As far as we can tell, Avton Vok is the one inside Navigation," the bridge sensor officer said over the Security frequency. "We’re not sure why. He’s a slicer, been on board for several months, clean record. Here’s some bio information."

    Text started scrolling on the datapad. The burned fleet trooper suddenly stabbed a scarred finger at one line. "There," he said, "that’s why. He’s from Alderaan."

    Kolinkar didn’t see what that had to do with anything. "How much longer until we can open the door?" he demanded.

    "Not sure, sir," a trooper working on that replied. "We can’t bypass the lock."

    "Then do something stronger," Kolinkar snapped. Like they should have done in the first place instead of wasting time with the lock.

    The two troopers stopped messing with the door’s controls and instead got out small explosive charges. "This way’ll take a few minutes to prep," one said as they delved in.

    "I got a comm frequency connection into the room," the comm specialist announced, holding up a comlink.

    Kolinkar was just about to grab it and demand that the Rodian get his green hide out of Navigation on the double before they blew the door, but he stopped when he noticed that the comm specialist’s eyes– as well as the eyes of everyone else in the squad– were not on him, the one in charge there, but were instead on the burned fleet trooper beside him. There was a nearly palpable expectation hanging in the air that Kolinkar didn’t understand.

    "Work your magic, Sangrey, so we can get back to breakfast," someone said.

    ...That’s right, the burned man’s name was something like Tak, maybe? Tak Sangrey? Sangrey turned to Kolinkar. "I can talk him out of there, sir," Sangrey said.

    "How?" Kolinkar asked. "Do you know him?"

    "I’m about to."

    Kolinkar uneasily shifted his weight and glanced at the countdown clock. Eight minutes. Talking wouldn’t help and would take too long, but they weren’t ready with the door yet anyway. "Hurry it up."

    Sangrey took the comlink and thumbed it on. "Avton? Can you hear me?"

    "Keep out! Stay away from me!" a voice shouted back over the comlink.

    Kolinkar jumped a bit, but Sangrey never flinched. His calm, steady voice was directed at the Rodian again. "Easy there, I’m here to help you. My name’s Tor. How about you tell me a little about yourself and how you came to be in Navigation this morning?"

    "Forget it! You wouldn’t understand anyway!"

    "I hope you’ll let me try. I imagine today’s a pretty rough day for you, isn’t it?"

    "Like you would know! Like anyone can know what it’s like to lose your entire planet! Every single thing you ever knew or loved, just obliterated! Gone forever!" The pure, raw pain evident in the Rodian’s voice even through the comlink static surprised even Kolinkar.

    "It’s nothing like Alderaan, I know, but I know a little of what it’s like to have the Imperials destroy your home. I’m from Ralltiir," Sangrey answered. "Watching people you’ve known your whole life get killed and cities you grew up in get bombarded by the Empire is a horrible thing to experience. You have every right to be hurting about what happened to Alderaan. How did that lead you to Navigation today?"

    Seven minutes.

    "Because I’m sick of it! I’ve waited a year– a whole damn year– for the Rebel groups I was in to strike back hard at the Empire, to repay it for Alderaan. But they never did! All they ever did were stupid timid little hit-and-runs, with tons more running than hitting! I’m sick of it! So today, just once, I’m going to make us hit something! When we drop out of hyperspace, we’re going to have to do some damage to the Imperials if the captain wants her ship to get out of there!"

    Sangrey frowned. "It’s a pretty big target you picked for a single ship that can’t fight big targets very well. Lots of innocent lives on board will be put at risk if this happens, including your own."

    "So what? Everyone here is a Rebel, damn it! This is what we signed up for! Killing Imperials! Fighting them! Has everyone forgotten that?!"

    Six minutes. Still no closer to getting in and disabling whatever the Rodian had done to the programming in Navigation. Who knew how long that would take? Kolinkar willed the team at the door to work faster.

    Sangrey took a deep breath. His voice remained calm. "No, we haven’t. But we have to pick our targets intelligently. Dropping a ship full of unprepared people into the middle of a massacre isn’t going to accomplish anything. Without any time to prepare, we can’t even maximize the damage we’d do to the Imperials. We’d probably do less damage to them than we could if we went into battle in a smarter fashion, on our own terms. Hurting all your friends on this ship, your allies, isn’t a fitting way to remember Alderaan. All it would do is give the Imperials a chance to shed more blood on this date. Look, I get it. I do. I would love nothing more than to deliver some payback to the Imperials who wrecked my own home. I know you feel the same. We can figure out a way to do that together, but first we need a good, operational ship and crew, and that means we need to stay in hyperspace and not drop out early. Okay?"

    The Rodian sounded weary, deflated. "I– I’m tired of trying to be patient. Of waiting for the higher-ups to decide when the perfect time to strike might be. Because they never think it is."

    "Just be patient a little longer."

    Five minutes.

    "How much longer?!" The Rodian’s anger was instantly back. "This is just another excuse, another stall tactic! I’ve heard a year’s worth of them already!"

    "But this isn’t the way to go about this. You’re not someone who wants to kill his own allies and get them hurt. That’s not what you want to do for Alderaan."

    "I will if I have to! I have to do something! No one else is!"

    Sangrey’s eyes suddenly lit up as if he’d had an epiphany. He took a breath to speak again, but before he could, one of the fleet troopers working at the door caught Kolinkar’s eye. "Ready with the door, sir," he said softly. He held up a small remote that would detonate the miniature charges on the door.

    Finally! Kolinkar pocketed the datapad and readied his weapon. "Blasters on stun. Blow the door," he ordered.

    "Sir, wait!" Sangrey whirled to face Kolinkar. The fleet trooper with the remote detonator hesitated, watching. "Don’t blow the door yet," Sangrey pleaded. "I can get him to cooperate and shut down the program himself." He still held the comlink near his lips but was no longer transmitting.

    Kolinkar shook his head. "There’s no time!" he shot back. "Your attempts at connecting with him aren’t working! We need to get in there now and give ourselves time to figure out his program and stop it."

    "They are working! I’ll have him out of there in one minute, sir! Trust me!"

    "That’s a minute we don’t have! Blow the door," Kolinkar repeated.

    Still the fleet trooper with the detonator waited, looking instead at Sangrey. Sangrey didn’t back down. "Sir, if you blow the door, he’ll panic and probably turn aggressive. With my way, we get the program shut down and no one gets hurt."

    "We don’t have time or guarantees for your way! Now blow the door!" Kolinkar demanded, sending the last sharp words at the trooper with the detonator.

    That trooper made a face but stepped back and pressed the button on the remote. The charges went off with a loud bang and burned through the internal locking mechanisms of the door. Over the comlink, the Rodian gave a startled cry.

    Sangrey cursed and spun around to face the opening door, pulling his weapon while taking one step sideways to stand directly between Kolinkar and the door. One of the front fleet troopers immediately tossed a stun grenade into the Navigation room, but before it could go off, a spray of lethal blaster bolts flew out from inside Navigation.

    Sangrey jerked backwards and slammed into Kolinkar. The impact threw Kolinkar off balance and both of them fell to the deck. He was aware of blue flashes like lightning in the room in front of him, and then things were over before he’d really known they’d begun. He squirmed out from underneath Sangrey’s limp mass and checked on him.

    People were calling for other people, for the Navigation techs, for medical personnel, but Kolinkar didn’t hear the words. He was staring at the lifeless body of Sangrey beside him.

    It was the one-year anniversary of the destruction of Alderaan, and the Death Star was still claiming Rebel casualties.

    *****

    cont'd
     
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Fantastic and very dramatic! You feel for Kolinkar's sense of I have to stay isolated because getting too close is too painful; you lose people you care about. Then - :eek: the urgent situation with the Rodian - the tension wondering and hoping if Sangrey was making headway. It could look like it was going either way and time was literally running down the clock, so Kolinkar had to make a decision. He had no reason to take Sangrey's word as a guarantee [face_thinking] but :( things sure didn't turn out the best and they'll probably still drop out in the middle of the wrong place. [face_thinking]
     
    Kahara likes this.
  3. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Intense story and likeable characters. Waiting for more
     
    Kahara likes this.
  4. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2005
    I like how you show that just because everyone calls themselves "rebels" doesn't mean every single member of said Rebellion shares common sentiments and feels the exact same way about the cause. They don't even agree on what "the cause" is supposed to be...of course defeating the Empire is of major importance, but others like the Rodian have their own personal causes that supercede a vague and monolithic notion of defeating an evil government. It's never easy being on the opposing side in any war.
     
  5. whiskers

    whiskers Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 19, 2005
    Absolutely loved the stand off scene at the end. Very dramatic and the pacing off it really worked to pull off the sense of urgency, not only for the characters but for the reader as well.
     
    Ewok Poet, Nyota's Heart and Kahara like this.
  6. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Very good interpretation of the prompt, and very engaging story.

    I wanted a Wookiee to give Kolinkar a hug.
     
    Kahara likes this.
  7. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Thanks to everyone for reading!

    Nyota’s Heart: Thank you! You’re right about the aftermath, as we’ll see below. And yup, there was a lot of subjectivity and lack of guarantees during the stand-off, which didn’t do Kolinkar any favors, heh. Thanks for reading!

    Earlybird: Thanks, I’m glad you’re liking it so far. :)

    Leiamoody: Thank you, and I agree. There’s such a broad spectrum that "rebels" could fall under, and I think that’s a fascinating thing to explore. Especially in the early days, there are so many different, independent rebel cells, each with their own local concerns, agenda, and goals– wouldn’t it be tricky to try to get them to unite and work together? Even on an individual basis, there are many Rebels who join because of a personal injustice or trauma they or someone they care about have endured, and I don’t think every single one of them is going to instantly forget their anger or grief and immediately play nice with others. There’s so much untapped story potential in the early OT era, IMHO. :) Thanks for reading!

    Whiskers: Thanks! I’m glad that last scene came across all right. I had some trouble with it and wasn’t sure how it would read.

    Sith-I-5: Thank you! Heh, the mental image I got of a Wookiee hugging Kolinkar was an entertaining one! A Darths & Droids "Wookieegram" would do the trick...


    Here’s the last half of the story. Thanks to everyone for following along with my little experiment! I appreciate it.

    -----------------

    That had been a long, chaotic day.

    The other Navigation techs weren’t able to disable the program or the controls in time due to safeguards that the Rodian had installed. With the Rodian unconscious from the stun grenade, there was no stopping Gravitas from reverting to realspace at his intended premature time, square in the Imperials’ laps. Captain Lucial had nearly talked her way through to a clear jump point when the Rodian’s program automatically broadcast a Rebel transponder code to the Imperial ships. Then it had been nothing but sheer luck that allowed Gravitas to escape in one piece, though battered badly. The damage control teams onboard had been running themselves ragged trying to stem the worst of the damage and keep the ship spaceworthy enough to get them to the nearest drydock alive.

    So it wasn’t until the next morning that Kolinkar had a chance to stop at Sangrey’s barracks to collect his belongings. Kolinkar paused at the door for a moment, willing his bleary vision to focus despite the distinct lack of sleep, and then pressed the door chime.

    A Nautolan fleet trooper opened the door and scrunched her nose when she saw him. "Oh. It’s you. Sir." She reluctantly stepped back, allowing him to enter.

    The bunk room had gone quiet, with the seven somber, equally ragged fleet troopers inside who had obviously been conversing now looking directly at Kolinkar. He felt the temperature drop a few degrees and pulled up short at the sudden hostile vibes from a group that up until now had been apathetic at worst toward him. They were all in uniform– and armed– so Kolinkar decided it would be best to stay in the doorway. Luckily he saw Master Sergeant Varayan, his second-in-command, in their midst. Since Kolinkar’s assignment to Gravitas he’d depended on Varayan to handle all personnel matters in the platoon, which made it that much simpler to keep himself distant. Varayan was probably in there getting things ready for Sangrey’s memorial service later that day. Kolinkar caught his eye and said, "Just here for the pickup."

    Varayan nodded and brought him a box. After handing it over, Varayan quietly said, "I can do it if you want me to."

    Kolinkar longed to say yes, but he shook his head. "No, I’ll do it. It’s my job." Though his time at the Academy hadn’t taught him how to write his first letter of notification to next-of-kin either. He had no clue how he was going to do this, and he was dreading it. "Thanks."

    He turned and walked out. He was just about to breathe a sigh of relief at being away from the inhospitable glares when he heard footsteps behind him and the Nautolan say, "Lieutenant."

    Kolinkar grimaced, stopped, and wiped his exhausted expression neutral before turning to face her. "Yes?"

    The Nautolan crossed her arms and took a second to size him up through slitted eyelids. Finally she spoke with some bitterness. "There’s something I feel you should know. Sir. I get that you want nothing to do with us. That’s clear as water. But we won’t stand by and let you take us down with you."

    Kolinkar’s chest tightened. "I’m not doing anything of the sort," he shot back. In fact, he was doing the exact opposite.

    "Yes, you are," the Nautolan replied, undaunted. "You just did it with Sangrey. He’s– was– our best negotiator. He’s talked people down before in shorter time and against longer odds than that was. When he said he’d have Avton surrendering and cooperating in time, I believed him. We all did. And he would have done it. If you’d known him, you would’ve known that. If you’d known that, he’d still be alive. Plus we wouldn’t be limping to drydock right now."

    Kolinkar unsuccessfully fought to hide a wince and tried to cover it up by lashing out. "I made the call I did based on the information I had at the time."

    "That’s my point. Your information was incomplete, and it shouldn’t have been. You couldn’t trust Sangrey’s abilities if you didn’t know they existed. Do you know exactly what each of us is capable of? Our strengths? Our weaknesses? You can’t and won’t trust us until you have the whole picture, and that’s what I’m afraid of. Your incomplete information is going to get more of us killed. Sir."

    With that, the Nautolan turned on her heel and strode back to the troopers’ barracks. Kolinkar watched her go, then he shook his head hard to clear it and the persistent headache, restraightened his helmet, and walked to his own quarters. Her words hit uncomfortably close to his 0400 hour doubts last night.

    Finally the door to his tiny room closed behind him, offering seclusion from the blasted, messed-up galaxy outside. Now maybe his headache would go away at last. After a long, deflating exhale, he set the box of Sangrey’s belongings on the floor beside his small makeshift desk. Kolinkar tossed his helmet onto his bed, grabbed a datapad and logged into the system to find Sangrey’s next-of-kin information.

    His next-of-kin was a brother who was indeed from Ralltiir, but apparently Sangrey had gotten him to one of the small Rebel safeworlds. That would make it easier for the Rebels to deliver Sangrey’s belongings, at least. The last Kolinkar had heard, nothing was getting past the Imperials onto Ralltiir.

    He pulled up a blank screen on his datapad and stared at it, eventually trying several different ways to start the letter to Sangrey’s brother, but he erased each one. Nothing was working. Nothing felt anything but superficial. How could he write a letter about someone he didn’t even know? How would that look to the brother, who was about to feel the same crushing despair that Kolinkar knew all too well? If he’d gotten one of these letters about Gaiti, the last thing Kolinkar would have wanted to read was something that sounded trite, formulaic, and impersonal.

    After an hour of frustration and a screen that stubbornly remained blank, Kolinkar’s gaze shifted to the box on the floor. Maybe there was something in there he could use to at least make it sound like he’d had a clue who Sangrey was.

    He set the datapad aside and sat cross-legged beside the box of Sangrey’s packed belongings. One by one Kolinkar took out the items and studied them.

    There were numerous datacards of mystery novels and holofilms, and datacards with instructional information on zero-g spacejumping. Had Sangrey done that, or just wanted to do it? Kolinkar didn’t know. There was a small, polished stone carving of some sort of quadruped. An empty candy bar wrapper, which was folded with such care that it must have somehow crossed the line from trash to treasure, and a single sabacc card lay on the bottom of the box. There was a small rock and a few other random, odd trinkets Kolinkar couldn’t identify.

    Then there were the holodiscs. Kolinkar put them into a small holoprojector and was fascinated as he cycled through each holo, all of them taken on what must have been Ralltiir. He’d looked at several holos before he realized that the unfamiliar man in each one was really Sangrey before he had gotten the burns that marred his skin. Now that Kolinkar recognized him, the holos had a bit more meaning. There was Sangrey with a blaster and a shooting instructor; another featured a teenage Sangrey with a sports coach of some kind, maybe grav-ball. Several showed a pretty girl who might have been a girlfriend. There were teachers and classmates. Many contained what Kolinkar guessed were family members: parents, grandparents, maybe aunts and uncles and cousins, and definitely the brother who would be receiving the letter. A few were from a couple decades ago and showed a boy with an animal that resembled the carved quadruped– could this have been Sangrey with a childhood pet? Finally there were many of a teenaged and young adult Sangrey with a Gotal of similar age. These holos showed adventure, mischief, excitement, fun, and a deep friendship. It was the most uninhibited Gotal that Kolinkar had ever seen. Kolinkar idly wondered where that Gotal was now, and if he and Sangrey had made plans to take on the galaxy together.

    After the last holo blinked out, Kolinkar looked around at all the odd items surrounding him. Despite himself, he was curious. He tried to imagine what had driven Sangrey to keep those specific items and how their history and meaning fit into Sangrey as a person. What kind of life did he have that would end up with these particular things in a box under his bunk on a Rebel Alliance warship?

    No matter how hard he tried to understand them from Sangrey’s point of view, he couldn’t. He didn’t understand Sangrey’s life or who he had been. If anything, these strange but important objects and memories had hopelessly complicated the effort.

    With a sigh, Kolinkar carefully put the items back in the box and picked up his datapad. Still on the floor, he sat back against the side of his bed and stared at the blank screen again.

    Tentatively he started typing, trying to talk to the brother that he could now see in his mind’s eye. Kolinkar expressed his sympathy for the pain he knew this news was going to inflict. He talked about the passion Sangrey had had for life and for helping others through protecting them and trying to understand them. He talked about the loyalty and friendship Sangrey had earned with his squadmates. And he talked about how Sangrey had saved Kolinkar’s life in the shooting at the cost of his own. He ended the letter by writing I’m honored to have known him.

    Kolinkar was just about to sign the letter but paused, looking back uneasily at the last line. That sentence wasn’t true, because he hadn’t known Sangrey, and he couldn’t sign his name, even a fake one, to it. He erased it and wrote instead I’m honored to have worked with him.

    That was better. That was true, at least. He went to sign the letter but again stopped before doing so. Something still wasn’t sitting right, but he didn’t know what.

    The nebulous feeling nagged at him for several more minutes until his stomach growled. Kolinkar checked his chrono and was a little surprised to see it was already lunchtime. His lack of an appetite meant he’d skipped breakfast that morning, but some lunch sounded good. Maybe some food would get rid of his headache too. Then he could come back and figure out what was wrong with the letter.

    He let his large helmet swallow him up again as he walked through the corridors, which were still laden with the hazy sting of smoke. Technicians and droids worked at numerous open access panels in the walls, fixing extensive damage to the conduits, ducts, and fluid lines. Kolinkar hunched down and averted his eyes each time he walked past them.

    Finally he made it to the mess hall. It was a bit more subdued inside and less crowded than normal. He went to the food serving line and got his plate of glop.

    On his way to the corner table he stopped. There was the table full of fleet troopers again, members of his platoon. There were the Nautolan and Varayan and others. There was also one empty chair. The fleet troopers were talking together, but they were somber, hushed, dull.

    Kolinkar stood for a minute and watched them while his chest tightened and his headache throbbed with a new intensity. He remembered empty chairs at lunch tables, and that awful sense that someone important should be sitting in them but wasn’t, all because of him.

    He’d tried so hard to prevent a recurrence, and it still had happened. Getting close to people got them killed, and not getting close to people got them killed. Well, what the hell was he supposed to do now?! He wanted to scream, fling his lunch tray across the room, and go steal a shuttle or something and fly it into a sun.

    But he didn’t. He didn’t know how to fly a shuttle anyway. Instead he looked at the Nautolan, and then he looked around the table at all the chairs filled with beings he was responsible for. If he ignored what the Nautolan had told him, would more chairs end up empty?

    Kolinkar looked over at the secluded corner table waiting patiently for him, then returned his gaze to the group. Maybe he was doomed to failure either way, but the thought of even more empty chairs, more letters he couldn’t write, was more than he could take.

    Or, rather, it was more than he could take alone.

    Yes, each time his mistakes had caused there to be an empty chair, but it was only empty in comparison to the chairs all around it that were still full, and maybe that deserved his focus for once.

    Kolinkar slowly walked with his food tray to the fleet troopers’ table and stood at a spot well away from the empty chair. They noticed him almost immediately, stopped talking, and turned to look at him. Again Kolinkar felt a distinct chill, but he took a deep breath and asked quietly, "Can I join you?"

    Some of the glares were infected by puzzlement, but there were reluctant, grumbled agreements, and the two troopers closest to him grudgingly scooted over to make room between them. "Thanks." Kolinkar set down his tray in the area they had opened for him, grabbed a chair from an empty table behind him, and dragged it over. He took off his helmet and slung it by its chinstrap on the back of the chair and sat down.

    The group of fleet troopers was staring at him with varying degrees of confusion, resentment, and cold shoulders, but despite the less-than-warm welcome Kolinkar was surprised to find that his headache had subsided to nearly nothing. The group was still quiet, still watching him, now with some suspicion.

    Kolinkar took another deep breath and twirled his fork restlessly between his fingers before he finally said softly, "Do me a favor? Tell me about him. And you."

    The End
     
  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    =D= A very nice wrap-up showing an epiphany of sorts, and definite character growth! @};- Very real to life for a person in a leadership role trying to juggle the ups/downs of getting close versus not. [face_thinking]
     
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  9. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Thank you, and thank you for reading! :)
     
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  10. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    love how you showed him dealing with the loss and getting together with the troops. A very nice story
     
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  11. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    I appreciate it, Earlybird. :) Thanks for reading!
     
  12. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    First of all, I am really glad that my challenge theme was inspiring to you and that you are getting back to writing. On top of it, your story appears to be a complete opposite of whiskers' , yet the timeframe and characters are pretty close. Didn't expect that.

    I did not expect a story to start the way it did, either. From the very beginning, one can see that being a small man, on any side of any conflict, is not simple. And, with these people being Rebels and constantly on the run, their uniforms may not fit, they're not eating well, they spend a long time in the outer space...all of that eventually results in post-traumatic stress, questioning the war as whole, questioning one's reasons and motivation.

    The whole thing looks like something Remarque would write if he was living in the GFFA. Since he is one of my favourite writers...you get the picture. :D

    While you don't tell us what happened with the Rodian, his eventual madness is well-written. He is more or less of a cautionary example to Raede himself, the drastic result of not wanting to confide to others for whatever reason. Sure, his reasons were bigger than Raede's, but that can only result in a bigger impact, a louder wake-up call.

    Sangrey should not have died, obviously, but he was a "character as device", the opposite to Raede and I understand why he died. He was doing everything for others and, eventually, he died as a result of somebody else's mistake, but protecting the person, by accident. How ironic. How masterful. How great.

    Raede Kolinkar's character development is remarkable. He goes from not wanting to make friends with anybody because they will die, to feeling incredibly lonely, and for not one single moment do we know if his self-centeredness is real or just a result of the circumstances, if he is afraid of attachment in general because of his young age, if it's a result of his previous injury, stress, his friends' death...or a little bit of both. I like stories where we, the readers, need to figure it out, when it's not all presented to us by the author themselves.

    At the same time, there is a more radical way to look at it, but probably biased: that the Imperials made him that way in their training, that - while he was eager to join the Rebels - through the training, he was rendered emotionless. Maybe his emotions are bottled up and will be released the same way as Avton released his?

    Wondering how all of that is going to come together now that Raede is aware of his failures, not looking at things in black and white, realising that making friends is still better than not knowing anything about the people he works with and that the Nautolan criticised him. The story ends with him still not knowing her name, but at least he asks for it, opening the door to more stories about these people. There is a lot of potential.

    Upon taking a second look at everything, I realised that your response to the challenge is layered. Raede is putting himself in Avton's shoes, Sangrey is doing the same, but Raede is also putting himself in Sangrey's shoes. Super-clever, yet spontaneous.

    Overall, this is one of the best stories I have read on the boards since I joined. I am going to have a look at your 2013 diary, despite not being particularly into Legends.
     
  13. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Ewok Poet, wow, thank you! I really appreciate your thoughts and the time you took to write a review like this. Your challenge theme sparked a few different ideas for me that were fun to brainstorm and play around with, and I was glad for that.

    It was hard to get Raede from Point A to Point B in his character arc, and I think I tried to compress it too much to keep the story length manageable, but I'm happy that you saw a lot in his character. I agree, Sangrey shouldn't have died, it was a sort of wrong-place-wrong-time, but like you said, that was needed for the plot. I was sad about it, though-- I was beginning to like writing about him.

    Thanks very much again for reading and commenting! :D
     
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  14. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Maybe I don't have the words to properly review a story; maybe I'm so self centred, I can only think in terms if myself.

    All I know is, the whole paragraph of Kolinkar sitting down with that box, shot my two - comparatively shallow - entries in the knees and left them in the path of a cow stampede.

    Drat.

    Both halves of the story were good, but for me, it really came alive with the treasures (the wrapper resonating with me more than anything) and when he joined his people at the end.

    Although I felt it not a good idea for him to reference his Imperial days, I did want him to say out loud "my last team died because I got close to them".
     
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  15. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Okay, so I'm really late in commenting but this was fantastic! :D I really like how it weaves that "walking in others' shoes" theme into the narrative in multiple ways with Sangrey's almost-successful attempt at reaching the Alderaanian Rodian, Kolinkar going through his effects and trying to put together a picture of this man that was lost through his decision (and how there's really no way of knowing just from things), and then Kolinkar's eventual tentative attempt at reaching out to the remainder of his team. I like that it ends on a hopeful but not really easy or wrapped-up note; things are going to be difficult. That he's going to try is the victory. =D=

    As noted in whiskers' Out From the Shadows thread, having these two parallel-but-opposite Rebellion era stories (both about Imperial-trained Rebels, no less) is awesome and feels like reading out of a short story collection or something. Both kind of informed my reading of the other, which is really cool and amazing to have happen by coincidence. You two couldn't have planned this better! :)
     
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  16. SnubJockey

    SnubJockey Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Jan 23, 2009
    I found this a bit late, you've got a damnfine story going on here and I'm always a sucker for Rebel Line trooper/Pilot stories. It looks like you've got some great ideas here, but the beginning of the piece has some flow issues IMO. I hope you don't mind, but I made some edits to just the first few sections with distinct edits in italics, and my comments in bold:

    I'd refer to him by his first name, Raede, instead of his last to build a better connection with the character.

    Raede Kolinkar got ready for duty with all the enthusiasm of a Hutt going ballroom dancing. His new Lieutenant's uniform didn't quite fit right, but the cut of the fabric was really the least of his concerns as he suited up for the day's shift.

    The uniform of an Alliance Fleet Trooper didn't offer as much protection as stormtrooper armor or even the combat fatigues of the Imperial Army Officer he had trained to be on Raithal just a few months ago.

    It was cheap, quick to put on, and lighter to move around in, and as Raede shrugged on his black combat vest over a light blue shirt, the vest hung limply from his shoulders, draped on his gawky frame that still hadn’t recovered the peak muscle tone and health his body.

    (Seems like you're diving into the guy's past a bit right away. I'd either explain it now, or just mention that it didn't fit quite right. If possible, a physical description couldn't hurt either in the section with the mirror “He knew what he looked like... or he caught a glimpse of himself in a control consle”)

    He pulled the belt on his grey pants one hole tighter, and then shoved his stocking feet into scuffed, third-hand boots. His holster dangled awkwardly from his hips, holding the DH-17 blaster that was the most familiar part of this whole get-up. Finally, ran his hands through wavy/thick COLOR hair which was getting well bit past Imperial regulation length, put in his earpiece and then plopped the large white clamshell helmet on his head. He adjusted it until it fit comfortably, and then buckled his chinstrap.

    (Not sure he'd have a blaster before breakfast if he's not on duty. Maybe in an increased alert status which this is)

    Since his defection, he did all this without the aid of a mirror. Even depilation. The last thing Raede wanted to do was see a reflection of himself.

    With a sigh, Raede left his closet-sized quarters and mechanically shuffled down the cramped corridors of the Gravitas toward the mess hall for breakfast. After being on this ship for a couple of weeks now, he knew his way around a Marauder-class Corvette well enough to walk on autopilot.

    Most of the doorways he passed on the way were newly adorned with small decorations: scraps of fabric made into ribbons, pictures of people, landscapes and animals printed on flimsi and famous Alderaanian cultural contributions he'd learned in school, followed by slogans of solidarity. The decorations threw him for a minute until he remembered the date and the endless security briefings from this past week. Today was the first anniversary of the destruction of Alderaan. Raede rubbed the bridge of his nose to ease the pressure headache that was already beginning. They were on operations today, so Captain ___ had raised the alert level, meaning that his platoon would be at elevated readiness too.

    Raede saluted superior officers, nodded at salutes in return, but barely acknowledged any crew members he passed in the corridors. Once in the mess hall, he went directly to the serving line, got a tray full of glop that passed for food, and sat at a corner table by himself. On the way he walked past a table full of fleet troopers eating and chatting together. A couple glanced in his direction before ignoring him. Raede remembered they were in his platoon, but he hardly knew their names, and he’d been relieved last week when they’d stopped bothering to invite him to eat with them. They’d also stopped trying to interact with him outside of strict work-related discussions after he’d expressed no interest in anything that wasn't job-related.

    What was the point? They were a close-knit veteran squad of marines and security personnel, (Pick one or go with Troopers as a catch-all) and he was their brand-new platoon leader, an inexperienced twenty-year-old kid a few years their junior in age, and decades in experience.

    with a black mark on his Imperial record and a name that wasn’t even his own. (Hinting at something, but it doesn't necessarily belong in the reverie right now. Maybe as a revelation to a friend or when it's pertinent later.)

    He’d made it clear to them that he had no desire to make friends with people he had to order into battle, or learn anything about them other than their skills with a blaster.

    Spirited laughter reached Raede's ears. Over at the Troopers’ table, it looked like they were enjoying themselves, and as he poked at the glop of "food" on his tray, he pretended for a minute that he still had friends as he watched them. If he changed the uniforms in his mind’s eye, he could easily see himself at that table with his classmates on Raithal, trying to get in some last minute fun and relaxation before another grueling day began. Down at the end would be his best friend Gaiti, HAIR COLOR brow furrowed in earnest, making exceedingly detailed and sincere plans for how to get assigned to the same squad when they graduated.

    And, as always, there was the crushing horror that had been his constant companion for the last few months, the feeling he’d felt when he’d discovered that his inseparable friend was dead because of him in an ill-fated live-fire exercise at the Academy.

    still haunted him. In Kolinkar’s turn to deploy his "troops" made up of his classmates, he’d told Gaiti to take his team to what Kolinkar had thought would be the safest place on the entire training field. Some sort of "mishap" or "incident" or "mis-communication" had proven that it wasn’t, though, turning that spot into the wrong place at the wrong time. Kolinkar had purposefully tried to protect his best friend, and it had gotten Gaiti killed.

    (It looks like you're using the training scene from Starship Troopers here. May want to make the action a little clearer, or move this section to later. You don't really need to “Tell” with this right now. It's your choice whether to make it actually his fault or an honest mistake.)

    Raede briefly squeezed his eyes shut, and when he opened them, he moved the food on his plate to his mouth without an appetite, only a desire for its bad taste to distract him from the memory. He didn’t want to be here. He didn’t want to be alone. He wanted to be cramming for final exams with Gaiti or writing letters home to his family, but he wasn’t.

    Shoveling a forkful of dried mystery glop into his mouth, he scowled as a stray glob that the blue sleeve of his uniform when he glimpsed it as if it and it alone was the cause of all his misery.

    He still couldn’t believe he’d ended up here, but few organizations were as accepting of someone with a dishonorable discharge from the Imperial military and the subsequent downward spiral and crashing and burning of his life. And like he told himself every day when he suited up, if he was the kind of person who got the Empire’s best up-and-coming cadets killed, then he was already an enemy of the Empire, and he might as well be outwardly honest about it.

    The Rebel Fleet would likely not accept someone with such reasons unless he faked his name and offered a convincing lie. We don't see how his life self-destructed. We don't see why he still wants to join A military, especially one he's opposed to. Now if he was bullied in training for being from a poor family and excelled nonetheless, partially due to Gati's help, and Gati was killed due to negligence of a wealthy legacy student (Father was a Star Destroyer Commander/Sector governor) and the incident is covered up and blamed on him, before he is reprimanded/court martialled, Raede now has incentive to research the actual Empire and join the rebels.
    This makes his defection class-and friend-based, as well as being compelling to Alliance recruiters.

    The food wasn't awful as much as bland, but it was nowhere near the magnitude needed to pull his thoughts away his friend. All he could think about was Gaiti was sitting in the empty seat across the table from him and cracking jokes.

    Two of the fleet troopers eating together got into a loud, exuberant debate about regional smashball teams. Then another one joined in, loudly proclaiming everlasting loyalty to the Raltiir Raiders, even though they lost all the time. Raede glanced up at them. While they were eating they’d all taken their large white helmets off and slung them by the chinstraps on the backs of their chairs, out of the way.

    Trying for the emotionlessness of a battle droid, Raede kept his helmet on and huddled down into its anonymous depths. He desperately wanted to go over to those fleet troopers and eat with them. Get to know them. But he didn’t.

    Getting too close to people only got them killed, and he’d be damned if he would let that happen again. He was there to do his job, and he couldn't do that if he got distracted with smashball scores and got a veteran soldier killed. Someone valuable. Not like him.

    Again, Great story, but the beginning tripped me up a bit. hope this helps, you've got a ton of potential and you're writing about my favorite people!
     
  17. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    I had some problems with the flow the first time I tried to read it and managed it only the second time around. Since many stories lag at the beginning, it's my rule of thumb to assume that the author had an idea, but was initially struggling and then, at some point, the words started flowing like crazy!

    I disagree about the first name comment, because this way, we can understand the protagonist's strange need for depersonalisation, cold professionalism, which he will later struggle with. This is something I like in Raissa Baiard's In The Cards as well (a man is trying to downplay his affection for a woman there) and it can be very, very effective.
     
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  18. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    What a powerful story! A very believable exploration of all the many turbid thoughts and feelings of this semi-disenchanted Rebel officer, and one that incorporates the challenge theme in so many interesting ways. First there's Kolinkar's "once burned, twice shy" mentality that makes him go out of his way to avoid any kind of identification with those under his command. Then there's the new persona Sangrey puts on in his attempt to coax Avton out of the navigation control room—the fact that he's "acting" is not mutually exclusive with the fact that he's sincere and really and truly wants to do this to help and understand his comrade.

    And he comes sooooooo close to succeeding, and if he had you could have ended the story right there and it still would have been a mighty fine treatment of the challenge theme. But then you take things to a new dimension by showing us Kolinkar's reaction to Sangrey's "acting"—his growing distrust of Sangrey's approach, which of course ultimately stems from his distrust of identifying or connecting with anyone. And that of course leads to that fateful moment where he angrily gives the order to blow the door, and form there to the gruesome and needless death of not one but two crew members. The Death Star indeed still is claiming Rebel casualties even a year after its destruction (very powerful way to end that segment, by the way).

    And even that would have made a perfectly fitting end to the story. But once again you went even beyond that to take the theme to yet another level—because how can an incident like this not have a great big fat 900-lb. gorilla of an aftermath? And how can that aftermath not explore the same issues of "walking in others' shoes" in still different ways? Kolinkar's grappling with how to inform Sangrey's next of kin was the perfect vehicle for that, since writing that kind of letter is of necessity an exercise in identifying or at least sympathizing with the recipients. And writing that kind of letter is so hard to do, even for those who know the deceased well, so Kolinkar's extreme frustration is completely believable—and I love how for a moment he even considers doing the same kind of self-immolation that Avton tried to do! So there's another moment of identification, of sorts.

    I echo others who said they loved the box of Sangrey's miscellaneous personal effects, described in such detail and riffled through so very carefully by Kolinkar in hopes of easing his task. Just the act of going through those random objects, that obviously had had such a close physical connection to the deceased, starts him on the path toward posthumously "getting to know" his late comrade, and to regard him as a comrade.

    I also found the empty chair in the mess hall a very powerful image. It put me in mind of a Civil War-era song by George Root (1820–95—today, the 30th, turns out to be his birthday) on the exact same theme:



    Really fine job on the characterization throughout this. I find myself curious to learn more about them—especially the ill-fated Sangrey, behind whose amazing diplomatic and interpersonal gifts there no doubt must be an interesting story. (Ditto for every item in that box, right down to the candy wrapper! :D) And for some reason, maybe because I'm an aliens buff, I just loved that the saboteur was a Rodian from Alderaan. A very effective reminder not only that the Rebels welcome aliens (where the Empire mostly doesn't) but also that aliens are indeed all throughout the galaxy, including on places other than their species' homeworld, and that they naturally have feelings of attachment to those places.

    Molto bravissima on this very fine story! =D=
     
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  19. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Sith-I-5: Thank you very much! I'm glad you liked the part about opening the box. Who knows, things might go a little smoother for Kolinkar if he does explain this background a bit and his reasons for keeping his new team at a distance. ;) And I've been very remiss in reviewing stories lately, something I hope to change soon, but your two stories aren't shallow, even comparatively. :) Writing stories is such an intensely personal activity that I find it hard to consider its results shallow to any degree. :) Thanks for reading!

    Kahara: Thanks muchly! I'm glad you liked the couple different aspects of the "shoes" theme. Yeah, Kolinkar doesn't have an easy road ahead of him with his team, but hopefully they'll come to some sort of understanding eventually. And I need to get myself in gear and drop a good note over at whiskers's story. Thank you for reading!

    SnubJockey: Thank you very much! I agree, I ran into flow issues with this story, partly because I think I was trying to make it too short, among other things. Thanks for all your suggestions, and I appreciate the time you took to write them out. I'll keep them in mind for the future. I'm really a lot more comfortable with X-wing pilots, and there's so little info out there to base Rebel soldier stories on. It's always fun to meet another like-minded fan! :) (SoA is my favorite SW novel.) Thanks for reading!

    Findswoman: Thanks a bunch! And thank you for the info on the song by George Root. I've never been in the military, but from my understanding the "empty chair" motif is still an important symbol there to represent people that have been lost, and I wonder if it traces its roots back to that song and the sentiment behind it. I'm also glad you liked the "Alderaanian Rodian." I'm trying to make myself remember that a being referred to by a planet's name (Corellian, Alderaanian, etc.) doesn't necessarily have to refer to a human, and aliens' planetary identities often got lost in this regard, like you said. Hard habit for me to break! Thank you for reading, and congratulations on your story's win!
     
  20. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    And congratulations to you on your win, Thumper09. What an honor it was to win alongside such an excellent story as yours! @};-
     
  21. Jedi_Perigrine

    Jedi_Perigrine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 22, 2008
    I'm so glad to see you're still writing, Thumps! You obviously haven't lost your touch. You capture that desperation and the need to be included so well...especially when there are so many barriers (self-inflicted barriers or otherwise!) to inclusion. Your ability to convey emotional pain is just fantastic.

    Keep up the awesome work, and keep on writing! =D=
     
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