I used to like snow, too, as long as someone else had to shovel it! Now, not so much. Absolutely... see her with Vader... "Sand? Please, for sand, you just need a good vacuum. Lemme tell you about SNOW!" And those past memories are very dark ones. She is very much out of familiar territory, and has no one giving her orders and telling her what to do, which, for a former Imperial, is very uncomfortable. She would if she could! Thanks! I find fighter battles hard to write, since I'm not a pilot myself, but what is Star Wars without X-wings and TIE fighters swooping around and taking shots at each other? I also like that most of the pilots in SW can't use the Force, and have to rely on skill and training. Just regular people, trying to do their job & not get killed. Okay. Monday's post...a terrible discovery. WARNING: Icky medical descriptions and Spoiler (non-graphic) dead children. * * * Cold. So cold. Too cold. Ambri shrugged her shoulders and paused to rub her hands together. She sucked in her breath. It felt like knives gouging in to her palms and fingertips. Was this frostbite? Uncertainly, she flexed her fingers. On Hoth, they’d been warned about frostbite, but she didn’t actually know what it felt like or what it looked like. In this weather, she didn’t want to take off her gloves to check. She took a slow, deep breath through her nose, wincing as the sharp cold filled her lungs, and patted her cheeks and pinched her nose a few times. Her feet were blistered, she was sure of that—vibroblades inside her boots, rubbing the heels and the edges of her feet. No matter. When she found a hospital, they’d have bacta and synthflesh. Probably. She picked up the rope again, looping it over one shoulder and grabbed the rest behind her in each hand. She had to lean forward, and dug in, pressing her feet into the ground and pushing from her thighs to get underway, but she did it. With a crunch, the sledge slowly began to move forward again. She had to stop a few times to catch her breath. She refused to check the chronometer. It was getting darker, and she was really cold. She’d started shivering, and couldn’t stop. Her hands were numb from gripping the rope, and she’d had to stop and fix it a few times as the knots came loose. Once, she took a few gulps of water. The cold mouth of the canteen burned against her lips. The wet socks were definitely rubbing her ankles and the outside edge of her foot. Screaming sharp pain with each step. Left, right, left, right. She looked up. The slopes and woods to the right were diminishing. Now she could see a broad, open field behind a long mound that might be a fence. About a kilometer ahead, she could see buildings; a series of domes with a tall spire at the center. A house? There were no lights, but Ambri didn’t care. She stepped up her pace, and stepped on a slick patch, falling forward into a face plant. Ow. Painfully, she staggered to her feet. The improvised sledge had slid forward, ramming into the back of her legs. That was going to leave a bruise. She brushed the snow off herself, and checked the knots, tightening one or two that were coming loose. Then, resolutely, she continued towards the house. If that’s what it was. It was set back pretty far from the road, and the drive was uneven. It was hard to keep her footing. She left the repulsor a few meters away, and walked as quickly as she could to the door. To her surprise, it was partially open. “Hello?” she said. “Hello? Anyone home?” She started forward, then tripped. Something was blocking the door. Someone was blocking the door. Ambri hesitated, then reached down to the person, rolling them over. She jumped back in shock. A man. Black vein traceries under dead white skin, dark ooze from his eye sockets, his nostrils, his mouth and ears. Ambri choked, backing up into the cold for several long, deep breaths. Kassallian, and a victim of the plague. She looked into the silent house, dreading what she would find inside. And yet… Her helmet cam was active, had been for the full trip. And whatever was there would need to be documented. She took another deep breath, then stepped over the man and went inside. She dragged him into the hallway, out of the weather. Then she moved inside. It was pleasant and homey, curved walls and lots of cushioned chairs. There was a sort of fireplace towards the center of the room, although it was cold now, and tapestries on the walls, pictures of people outside in fields of flowers, sitting on the ground and sharing a meal of some sort. She moved through the house, past a kitchen, an office of some type, a ‘fresher, and to the sleeping rooms. One had a large bed, unmade, and piles of laundry. In the other…Ambri jumped at the sight of a seated figure. “Hello?” she said. “Sorry, I don’t mean to intrude…” Her voice trailed off as the figure didn’t move. There was an unpleasant smell in the room, a sickly-sweet, rotting smell. Ambri gagged. It was a woman, holding a small bundle in her lap. Black ooze ran from her eyesockets and nostrils. Ambri looked around the room. Soft, stuffed toys, painted tapestries of cartoon animals, two small cribs by the wall…oh, no. She backed away, looking from the small bundle in the woman’s lap to the cribs. She didn’t want to see this. She didn’t want to go anywhere near. Documentation. That was part of the mission. Document what you see. I don’t want to do this. She had no choice. Cautiously, she approached the cribs, closing her eyes and putting her arms out in front of her. Her hands found the bar of the crib, and she stepped closer, looking down. She opened one eye, and closed it again quickly. She’d only gotten a glimpse, but it was enough. What she saw would give her nightmares for months. We’re too late.