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Saga - Legends The Rough Cut: A Tragedy [5 ABY, Hyabb, OCs]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Oddly_Salacious, Nov 23, 2019.

  1. Oddly_Salacious

    Oddly_Salacious Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Galactic Era: Imperial Period
    Time: 5 ABY, Concurrent with Flight to Safety (MB2).
    Characters: OCs
    Special Note: reviewed by @Briannakin, @mavjade, and @Mira_Jade for compliance with the ToS. This story has brief moments of intense drama, but meets the criteria for a PG-13 rating.

    The Rough Cut: A Tragedy


    A light panel stirred to life overhead in a bulby plinkity-plink-plick. Its incandescence touched down on a woman bowed and astride a small metal stool. She might have been asleep in this slumped position, with the curtain of her cropped brown hair falling around her face and the rag covering her eyes. But she shifted, taking in a short shaky breath. From shoulders to bound wrists, her uncovered arms formed a taunt, immobile triangle behind her. Her bare feet were raised at heel to save them from the pinching prick of chilly stone.

    There was a phisshing noise rising from a corner of the stone chamber—about six meters back. The climbing echoes told of an encased room narrower in its width. Whoever the captor, his power was filling the derelict fortress. Lights to brighten the dim air; oxygen to enliven it. An ankle tapped the smooth unflinching steel of the stool leg. Even this.

    The search of her person some hours before had been thorough. Blindfolded shortly after her capture, identities could only be guessed. The efficiency of quick touches indicated the searcher was female, while a sharply sniffed inhale at her stripped nakedness had suggested a male observer. She donned the tank top and knit shorts thrust into her hands, being then guided in cuffs to the low stool. Both individuals had departed wordlessly to leave her as the room's sole occupant.

    Her head came up to reveal a shapely lower face tapered to a regal chin. Her lips were parted and her nostrils widened to bring in more information about her surroundings. It was a frigid air, laced with an unmistakable alkali. Subterranean: but not surprising given Hyaab's inhospitable surface. The abandoned Pahrunei Fortress then, up on the Nanthalc Ridge. It was far too obvious a choice for a pirates' den, but having had turned aside from it a month ago, it had proven a liability to her operation.

    A blunt sob rose from her chest. She dismissed her tears with a vigorous shake of her head. She sniffed once and sat straighter, flexed her arms against the unrelenting binders, clinked the cuffs against the metal stool. One foot smacked the hard, flat floor. She shook her head again and took a deep, clearing breath.

    #

    Plinckity-plick; the light had become accustomed to its energy feed. Three times now it had flickered to life above her. The dark intermissions arrived just as unannounced and left her alone in an inky hush to wrestle with involuntary shivers.

    Was it still reasonable to believe that no more than a day had passed since she was seated on her stool? No food or water had come, nor had any visitors. The blindfold remained over her eyes, and yet she had made no attempt to remove it. Lying on the cold floor in these flimsy garments was out of the question. Hooking her thumbs on the back of the stool afforded some rest as she could lean against her arms. She could also stretch her torso, gently bending to one side and then the other.

    When the light came a fifth time, she was doubled over at the waist with her chest resting heavily on her bare thighs. The temperature in the room had risen a few degrees, but she shivered uncontrollably. A grinding pop sounded behind her as someone passed into the chamber. Slowly, she levered herself upright.

    A man spoke. "Harris Tersia, I will approach and remove your blindfold." Footsteps came towards her followed by an overbalanced pause. Two warm fingers slid under the knotted rag and pulled her blindfold down around her neck. Hazel eyes blinked at the intrusion of light.

    The young man squatted in front of her wore pressed battle fatigues with a polished rank insignia on the lapels—a junior officer. Her eyes followed his as he made a rapid and rushed assessment of her physical state.

    "Harris Tersia," he repeated her name in frosty puffs of air. "I am here to inform you that you've been placed under arrest for major crimes amounting to treason against the Region and the Galactic Empire. As the criminal charges filed against you occurred in the Negs, you are subject to the jurisdictional authority of the region. Your case has been tried in the High Court of Justiciary, and you have been found guilty of these crimes. COMPNOR has waved your right to appeal." She nodded, and the boyish officer proceeded through the legal litany. In due time, he concluded and asked if she had any questions. She shook her head that she did not.

    "Do you need to use the—erm, facilities?" he asked.

    To this she nodded.

    #

    Her business concluded behind a privacy screen—it and a portable compost toilet were brought in to one corner of the room—a female attendant had guided her back to her stool before leaving. Her shivering abated and now she had the study of a rough grey wall in front of her. Minutes passed over into an hour.

    At some length, the door opened again. Over a shoulder, a dark-haired man about ten years her senior moved through the half-light. He wore black battle fatigues with no visible decoration or adornment, and a slight misalignment to his nose lent austerity to his angry expression. The heavy footfalls belonged to a pair of soldiers walking habitually in step: a bullish man in his late fifties with regulation-length hair, grey moustache, and clear blue eyes; and a tall brunette woman whose spotted fatigues sported the plate reinforcements for an environmental battle suit.

    "Harris Tersia. I am General Burleigh," the older gentleman introduced himself, "Commander of the Chorus Home Guard. I have with me Colonel Taso in command of the SSR, and Edwin Chorus, The Marquess of The Negs, Acting Commissioner of the Chorus Home Guard and Imperial Inquisitor."

    "Ms. Tersia," Burleigh said, "you have heard the sentence against you. And, you've acknowledged that you understood your sentence."

    She swallowed and nodded.

    "Are you still willing to cooperate with this questioning?" Burleigh asked.

    "I am, and I will."

    General Burleigh straightened his shoulders and pulled a data pad from under his arm. He read over a few summary items. "Communications between your rebel cell and an unidentified person were intercepted over the Hyabb-Twith Corridor S-thread matrix. A drone supply ship was later intercepted by our forces, but self-destructed before it could be boarded and searched." He looked up at her and asked, "Who was your cell in communications with?"

    "Ms. Tersia?" Taso prompted after a pause. The colonel's voice was most unlike her battle-ready appearance; it was kind and sisterly. She pulled her hair out of its bun and offered out the tie. Wrist binders clinked on the back of the stool, so Taso keyed a short release sequence into her suit's visual interface device. The binders clattered onto the floor.

    They watched as their prisoner rubbed her wrists and rotated her arms in slow circles. With a questioning look, she rose from her stool and stretched her limbs and body back to vitality. Burleigh coughed politely and wondered at the construction of the light panel over her head. Taso glanced at him. Negs' expression and posture remained unmoved.

    "Please call me Helena," she said after she regained her seat.

    "Helena Loym?" Burleigh asked, consulting his data pad.

    "That is correct," she answered. "Also, Helani Soosma, Bahktarwa, Kaelyen Swiftsun, and Jane the Wag. Although—" she paused, "I won't entertain the last."

    Helena took Colonel Taso's offer of the hair tie and wrapped it around a short ponytail. One cheek showed a fading bruise. Off to the side and unseen, a muscle leapt in Negs' jaw.

    "I cannot tell you with whom I spoke directly," Helena said. "But the organization was the Antarian Rangers. We were coordinating with a division here in the Negs. They supplied us in intel and materials. We supplied the manpower."

    "Thank you," Burleigh said. "That agrees with our analyses."

    "Always reliable, the SSR." A small smile dimpled the corner of Helena's mouth. "Using the S-thread network would compromise our position here," she continued. "But needs must. We could not leave Hyaab, let alone the solar system. Nor could we recycle our energy supplies or mount a scalable defense for a prolonged stay. We had to accept the risk."

    "What happened here?" Taso asked. "Our scouts found no signs of a previous battle before the main force arrived."

    "A massive solar flare," Helena answered. "It destroyed our orbital relays and decoupled all the launch equipment on the surface. The new supplies would have repaired our dreadnought enough to leave orbit and enter hyperspace. But you arrived sooner than expected." Helena picked at a fingernail that had turned a purple-blue.

    "A flare star?" Taso glanced at Burleigh before returning to Helena. "Our models show Hyaab Besh to be a relatively dormant red dwarf."

    "Relatively. May I know the conditions of my officers?" Helena asked, changing the subject. "Tarv'rytha, a blue-skinned Rylothian? There was a human also, by the name Marlibon. They would have both been in the rear guard."

    Burleigh shifted his weight onto both feet. "Understand that the Home Guard conducted a decapitation strike with a focused exploitation of your defensive arrangement. Standing orders were for the capture or neutralization of all opposition leadership and for the seizure of intel. SSR elements reported that the rear positions were best suited for the decisive action. –You were the only command officer to survive to the capture phase."

    For a long minute no one spoke. Helena then cleared her throat. "Will that be all? There seems little that you do not already have. Or might extract." She looked over at Lord Negs.

    "There were a few details about your operations we wished to know more about," Burleigh said, returning to his data pad. "For instance, why did you remain in the region knowing what it meant if you were captured?"

    Helena played with her bare knees as she thought through her reply. "The Antarian Rangers believed as we did, that in the eventuality of Palpatine's death, the Empire would anchor itself on Coruscant and make the Negs the de facto backbone against any ensuing chaos. That is why we focused our efforts to destabilize Imperial control along the Namadii Corridor."

    "Then you're not affiliated with the Rebel Alliance or the Bel Iblis resistance?" Taso asked.

    "Not inasmuch as other pockets and cells may claim to be," Helena answered. "Bel Iblis and Corellia were too remote for us to approach. The Alliance did send contacts occasionally—mostly when we were moving up through the Colonies. But the Alliance seemed too charismatic and pinned too much on chance and desperate measures. Yet," she added, "they are the ones styling themselves now as the New Republic as we had the Hutts with which to contend."

    "Kanorge the Hutt on Metellos. Barmeq Besadii Porlraba on Ord Mirit," Taso listed, delving into a mental trove of SSR briefings. "Barmeq quickly moved in after the Imperial garrison relocated, but it cost him. Without financial backers who weren't dumping the Imperial cred, Barmeq the Hutt was forced to cash out his remaining stocks and push out beyond the Inner Rim."

    "It cost us, too," Helena added quietly. "Barmeq's shipping lanes were hard to find and even harder to block. The Hutts come well-armed and are vengeful foes; their spies are everywhere. We retreated from Nara and came here, dropping the last of our space mines at Farrfin. Whatever Barmeq didn't destroy at Nara Base has probably been sold off to Kanorge, or to the Black Sun if they still exist."

    "Why didn't you let House Chorus work against the Hutts?" Burleigh asked. "The Besadii clan is fighting to regain its former wealth and power and have declared the Negs as their 'New Grand Opportunity'. We had Barmeq held at Ord Mirit until your operations undermined ours and pushed him out beyond our reach."

    "Have you not listened? You and you especially," Helena glared at Lord Negs, "are Imperialists licking at the rot that permeates outwards from Palpatine and his mechanical pet dog."

    "Palpatine and Vader are no more," Taso said. "Much of the Empire's fleet was lost or scattered at Endor. The Sixth Army is unaccounted for and N'zoth has gone dark. There is a top-down void—"

    "The Metellosian Houses extended an open hand to the militias," injected Burleigh.

    "Spare me your addled ways, General," Helena snapped, but quickly regained her composure. "No. While the Empire still has its tendrils, this region will never be free of Coruscant or the Imperial throne. Parliament remains shackled, thus the People."

    "Yet you maim and cripple your own kind?" At last, Lord Negs spoke. His words were suffused with the same High Metellosian accent as Helena's. "Your actions have been nothing more than those of a cheap renegade with imbecilic ideas," he said with a curling lip.

    "A patriot," she bit back at the inquisitor. "Did we ever attack Metellos or Cal-Seti? Were our ships the ones over Xa Fel when it was bombed? Did we ever speak out against even you?"

    "Enough!" The word rang with a force that silenced Helena. Color had come into Negs' pale cheeks and his jet eyes were furnaces. "Tell me of this." He held up his hand and let a slivery thin necklace chain slide from his fist. A blue sapphire twirled and sparkled merrily at the end.

    Helena blanched, but held her chin high. "It's a mere trinket to fool the dimwitted."

    "Helena," Taso gently chided, "don't go telling mistruths now. You know that we would have tested it."

    The hazel eyes shot the colonel a hard look. "My statement remains," Helena said.

    "The gemstone bears the sigil of House Chorus. Why was it in your possession? Did you steal it?" Negs demanded, turning up the heat in his voice. Helena pursed her mouth. "You will answer me!"

    Again, Helena rocked under the sheer force of his words. Her face twisted with some inner turmoil, but at last she breathed out: "No."

    Negs severe visage seemed to dominate the room even from where he stood. His next words were a velvet-lined razor. "Then, pray, name the person who gave it to you."

    Helena sat drooped on her stool, her hands grasping each side as she fought to maintain her control. She shook her bowed head.

    "This—is what sustains your pathetic life," Negs snarled, brandishing the pendant.

    "My Lord—" Taso started. But Negs' fury so suddenly turned upon her that it forced the colonel back.

    "Who gave thiisss to you?" Lord Negs hissed at Helena, holding the pendant higher still. Its shadow swung like a black pendulum on the floor.

    Sweat beaded on Helena's flesh. Tiny pearls of it on her shoulders danced in the light. Her knuckles became white and bloodless as she squeezed the lip of the stool. Little spasms shot up her spine and jittered out along her legs, down to her fitful feet.

    "My Lord knows—" she gasped at the floor, "—that which is given in faith, must in faith remain." Lord Negs recoiled. To have the motto of his noble house thrown back at him broke his spell over Helena.

    She raised ferocious eyes to his. "Get off of me you –you vile creature!"

    Burleigh and Taso exchanged looks of startle and surprise. Taso moved to Helena to place an appeasing hand on the woman's fevered shoulder. Burleigh approached his superior. "My Lord, if this woman is of your royal house, then is there some dispensation, some consideration for COMPNOR—"

    "Helena Loym is not of House Chorus," Negs barked. "Her little no-name family was sent away long ago."

    "I thank the Lady Van Chorus for that saving grace," Helena spat back. "Should she have lived to see her family now. One son's desertion—" Lord Negs grew deathly still, "—while the other mutated into this loathsome cockerel. Conrad—"

    "Do not say his name!" roared Negs. Helena rocked back on her stool if struck by a heavy blow. Taso managed to keep her upright by putting her weight behind her. "You're not fit enough to speak his name." Negs stepped towards Helena. One hand rose in a pincer-like vice, the other dangled the silver pendant.

    Helena's long legs thrashed the air, falling, kicking back the stool, and causing Colonel Taso to scramble out of the way. Helena's hands sought her throat as she rolled and jerked. Her eyes roved in watery sockets over the pendant. "In—in—fatuation—wh—th—a—ch—child," she gasped.

    "My Lord, please!" Taso, a combat veteran of many campaigns, had never witnessed a physical attack of this kind.

    Burleigh took another step towards Lord Negs. "My Lord, there must be more she can tell us. She's been most forthcoming." His right hand floated towards his sidearm.

    Negs fumed. "She is poison, General. She seeps into your blood and burns your mind. She bewitched—," Negs' eyes narrowed to slivers, "—stole this from m—my House!"

    "Then let her go, My Lord," Burleigh appealed, watching Helena's struggle from the corner of his eye. "She is sentenced, My Lord." Colonel Taso tried catching and holding Helena's flailing limbs.

    Helena's back arched and her sweaty palms slapped the ground. Her eyes showed their whites. Heels instinctively dug and pushed as to move her further from the dangerous man. A sickening whine wheezed from deep within her wide mouth.

    Negs released his invisible grip. Helena immediately sucked in a huge breath before lapsing into a hacking cough. Lord Negs placed the pendant in his pocket. "So she is."

    Helena coughed and spat several times. "You are changed, Edwin. How you are changed."

    But Negs swept from the room. A moment later, two elite military guardsmen with blaster rifles entered and took positions on either side of the door. In their black armor and closed-face helmets, they appeared as cousins to the Imperial Stormtrooper. Colonel Taso brushed the bangs out of Helena's eyes. Burleigh moved closer and together they helped Helena to her feet.

    "A fleet ship will take you back to Metellos," Taso told her. "You still get to appear before the Court to have your final say. And then, I—I hear it's instantaneous. You don't feel anything."

    Helena nodded. She looked past the armed escort at the open door. "More I pity him, in his fate. I have lived, if only for a little while, brightly. He is the darkness itself."

    End

    Members of the Twi'lek species are often referred to as Rylothian by Metellosian nobility and the upper classes (including Metellosian Twi'leks) reflecting an archaic sentiment or encounter. -oddly fanon

    COMPNOR: Commission for the Preservation of the New Order. Oversees judiciary matters in the Galactic Empire. Most regional judicatures are subordinate to COMPNOR, which has the power to overturn legislation and court rulings. Only a Moff, Grand Moff, or the Emperor (often through advisors) may overrule COMPNOR. -extension of Legends material

    SSR: Special Support and Reconnaissance Company. Provides special reconnaissance to the Chorus Home Guard.

    The Hyaab System: a wide binary star system. The red dwarf, Hyaab Besh (HyB), orbits the F-class Hyaab Aurek (HyA). HyB has one rocky planet: Hyaab (HyB-a). Hyaab is nearly tidally locked with its parent star, and is mostly cold, high desert with a thick atmosphere. Infrared radiation levels are higher than average with marginal visible light reaching the surface. Geographical records indicate warmer and wetter periods when HyB approaches HyA every 400 thousand years. The last permanent settlement was abandoned sometime before 1000 BBY when most of the surface water evaporated during intense solar bombardments, resulting in thickened cloud layers. -oddly fanon

     
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  2. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Fascinating characters! You created a really intense interrogation here. Helena is brave and determined, and she knows the consequences of her actions will be her downfall. But she is accepting of it:
    She may be at the end of her life, but her life, although short, was meaningful and glorious. Better to burn brightly and fast than to never burn at all.
     
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  3. Oddly_Salacious

    Oddly_Salacious Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Thank you! I researched different styles of tragedies and used some of Aristotle's writings for plot development cues. In truth, I was unsure about posting something this graphic, so I got the ToS check. I wanted to show that the Dark Side is no flamboyance. It is self-serving, full of malice, and fully capable of wrecking lives on the personal level. To Lord Negs, the darkness flows outwards when harnessed to the right triggers.

    I needed to show Edwin Chorus (Lord Negs) in his fallen state. One of his triggers is emotional pain. He was infatuated with Helena when they were younger, who rightfully rejected his approaches. Ed suppressed these moral and emotional complexities when Helena's family was sent away (by a protective mother--protective of them both). There is also the matter of his older brother, Conrad. This is a very different pain for Ed. Ed wants his brother to survive; but he knew that Conrad's defection would eventually come, and it would tear them apart for the rest of their lives. Recall Edwin's younger self in Talay. He's now been under Palpatine's direct sway for 5 years. Besides Conrad and Helena, only Palpatine knew Edwin as thoroughly. Now they had all gone beyond Ed's scope. He's not lost - he's clinging to the only thing that works for him.
    And so, I am framing up the eventual confrontation for Ed. As the story goes, Metellos is a tricky place to be right now thanks to a certain duo and their blue-skinned sidekick.

    Helena Loym was named in tribute to Myrna Loy, who was from Helena, Montana. Helena's pseudonyms were created in the spur of the moment except for Kaelyen Swiftsun - a character almost as dear to me as Ush Mei-mei. Helena is a warrior patriot, and it seemed fitting to merge her with Kaelyen.
     
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  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    This is a very intriguing addition to your universe of stories! Wonderful job with all the gritty details the setting and of Helena’s interrogation; she’s got real gumption and spirit to be able to stand up to that whole experience as well as she does. One of the biggest twists to me is the way Lord Negs goes from being a laconic, aloof bystander in the interrogation to turning out to have a closer connection to Helena than anyone else there—and ohmigosh, he’s got the Force too! :eek: In that relatively short time he really does reveal just how much the darkness has consumed him. I imagine his just deserts are coming to him in a future story, and that even after Helena is “painlessly” executed her memory will continue to haunt him—another way her brief, bright light will continue to shine on.

    I also liked the way Taso showed a certain amount of understanding to Helena, or at least a much as possible for the circumstances; she seemed almost to admire her. Is she a character we’re likely to see again?

    Great work once again, and do keep it coming! =D=
     
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  5. Oddly_Salacious

    Oddly_Salacious Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Yes. [face_plain]
    You are also correct: Negs' darkness is interwoven with his infatuation for Helena. The first draft was from Negs' POV, but it switched to focus on Helena as I realized Ed must have changed. That set up the need for an eventual, final confrontation for him. I wrote this story before my Restoration Challenge entry (which was fun!), but held it back to fully gauge the correctness of the tone. The mood and Ed's dark side revelation is purposeful for MB3 (drafting) and for the conclusive story planned to follow that.
    Many thanks for your comments! I appreciate getting feedback on this story in particular since it was outside my comfort zone.
    On to Metellos! :bluesaber:
     
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