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 Open The Only Way Out

Discussion in 'The Story' started by Evelyn Roslin, Dec 16, 2017.

  1. Evelyn Roslin

    Evelyn Roslin New Member

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    For a brief moment, Evelyn's own feeling of helplessness and frustration intensified, unknowingly channeling a fraction of Del's own emotions. She didn't even notice, so closely did they resemble her own.

    She ordered another drink - whiskey, this time, even though she'd always detested dark liquor. Perhaps an extra dose of liquid courage would help keep her from turning back now, when she felt like she was standing at the edge of something. Something that held promise and threat in equal measure.


    "I don't think the Force knows anything - if it's just an energy field, that's just . . ."

    Ridiculous, was what she wanted to say, but stopped; she wasn't trying to get into a religious discussion here, or push Del away. Not at the moment, at least.

    "But I don't want to feel this way any more. I can't . . . it's not sustainable."

    Surge operations were short-term military efforts that pulled deeply on resources to run high-tempo operations; they could help turn the tide of battle - but they had a cost. From a logistical and human perspective - they simply weren't sustainable. The resource debt, the exhaustion of man and wear and tear on machines, all had to be paid eventually, one way or another. Essentially, Evelyn had been operating under surge operations - tapping the last of her will and control to last this long, to avoid staring in the face the realization that she had no idea where to go from here. Nowhere to go."

    "According to you, the Jedi can't help me. So what the hell am I supposed to do?"
     
  2. Gibaldr Moradem

    Gibaldr Moradem New Member

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    "According to you, the Jedi can't help me. So what the hell am I supposed to do?"

    Lost. Del detested the feeling of being lost. Evelyn was there right now, lost in whatever tragedy had thrown her so wildly into the Force without her even realizing. Now she stood on the spectrum, the Dark and Light tugging on her, warring alongside her emotions. Del knew the Force had brought him here for a reason, as it always did. But he wasn't immune to the Dark and if he wasn't careful, he could slip. Still...

    "I can teach you what I've learned."

    It was a bold offer, Del knew. He was neither a master of the Force nor particularly powerful. But if following the Force was what this woman needed, he could show her the way. She'd have to make the choice to walk it, but if she slipped and felt to the Dark, he'd be responsible for bringing balance back to the Force.

    He downed another glass of wine and grabbed his staff, cherishing the calm of the cool shaft. It was growing late, he needed a place to sleep.
    "I'm going now. You can come or stay. If you come, we have much to talk about. If not, I hope you find balance." Del stood, walking slowly to the door. Once outside, he stood on the edge of the street, feeling the winds around him, flowing with them into the Force. Leaning on his staff, he closed his eyes and waited.
     
  3. Evelyn Roslin

    Evelyn Roslin New Member

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    "I can teach you what I've learned."

    Though she'd asked the question, Evelyn wasn't prepared for such a direct answer, one that offered yet another deviation from her current path. Her hazel eyes held his brown for a long moment, thoughts swirling behind them. Del finished his drink; Evelyn turned back to hers, contemplating the amber liquid.


    Whiskey was Vier's drink, when they felt like a night of imbibing. The smell of it still reminded her of him; she closed her eyes and inhaled.

    "You know I love spending time with you like this. Trying out new places, traveling together."
    Evelyn sipped her wine and eyed Vier, wondering why he seemed so serious suddenly. He reached out, and took her free hand in his.
    "And I hope that we can always travel the universe together . . . for the rest of our lives, if you'll have me."
    He pulled out a ring, and Evelyn nearly choked on her wine as she realized what he was doing. Elation and joy swept over her, and his eyes sparkled as she gave her answer.

    Those same eyes would be empty and lifeless less than a month later. Ever since then, she'd felt like she was treading water, barely keeping her head up.

    Evelyn opened her eyes, rapidly blinking back tears. What sort of man Del was, whether she'd regret her choice - it was all the roll of a dice. One thing she knew for certain - if she stayed, if she didn't find a way to move forward, she'd be consumed by her past.

    So, the only way out, was forward.

    She tossed credits on the bar, neither knowing nor caring if it was the correct amount, stepped out of the nondescript cafe - and had to bring herself up short to avoid running into the black-robed man.

    "Your offer, I . . . I accept."
     
  4. Gibaldr Moradem

    Gibaldr Moradem New Member

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    Evelyn would come. The Force had put him here for her, to balance the Dark and Light inside of her. It wouldn't fail now. Sure enough, footsteps came quickly out of the cafe. The Force spread apart to let her presence through until finally she was behind him. Del smiled as she spoke.

    "Your offer, I . . . I accept."

    He hadn't doubted she would. She needed a guide in a dark time, and loath as Del was to admit it, he needed somebody too. It'd been a decade since he'd lost his only friend.

    "Vasi! The Jedi are here, let's go!" The white haired boy looked up, blue eyes stricken with anger. He jumped up, vibroblade in hand. His tan robes flared behind him as he stormed towards the door. Del could see the murder in his face. "Vasi, no! I know you think you need to do this, but you don't! There's more to life than killing Jedi!"

    "You've got no idea what I need, friend
    ." And Vasi dissapeared behind a door, his screams blending in with the thrumms of lightsabers and blaster fire.

    He was so tired of being alone, hopping from planet to planet with no purpose, no companions. Finally, the Force had given him a way to bring balance. It was small, but it was balance none the less.

    "Good, I'm glad. Fair warning, I'm not a master Jedi. I'm not skilled with a lightsaber or powerful with the Force. As such, the Force is not my weapon. It may be yours, or it may not. All I can provide is an organic connection. How it uses you and how you use it is between you and the Force."
     
  5. Evelyn Roslin

    Evelyn Roslin New Member

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    "All I can provide is an organic connection. How it uses you and how you use it is between you and the Force."

    Organic connection? What am I getting myself into?

    Evelyn studied Del for a moment, wondering whether she'd just elected to follow an eccentric. Subconsciously, she reached out, barely even skimming the surface of the emotions brewing around him. It was an instinct she'd developed without realizing it, the real reason behind her 'people skills' and tendency to empathize too closely with those around her.

    Untrained, the impulse revealed little more than the barest of echoes, not even enough to take shape in conscious thought. Whatever she did sense was enough to assuage her worry- for the moment.

    "Weapon, tool, whatever.you want to call it- I just want to stop feeling like I'm being torn apart. So I'll take whatever you've got to give."


     
  6. Gibaldr Moradem

    Gibaldr Moradem New Member

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    Del felt a presence pass over him, prodding. He wondered if Evely even knew she could do that, or if it was totally subconcious. Either or, Del relaxed, letting her in just far enough to find what she was looking. Whatever it was, she seemed satisfied with it and retreated.

    "Weapon, tool, whatever.you want to call it- I just want to stop feeling like I'm being torn apart. So I'll take whatever you've got to give."


    How complicated would this be? He couldn't even guess; Evelyn was his first student, maybe his only one, and it was sure to be a learning experience for them both. It was obvious that she didn't subscribe to the Force the way Del did. If she truly wanted to find balance, she'd have to put moer trust in the Force. Oh well, she would learn.

    "Whether or not you're willing to recieve it is the question." Del took a step into the street, joining the night crowd below the streams of speeders in the sky. He motioned for Evelyn to join him, hope in his heart that the Force had somehting good in store for them both.
     
  7. Evelyn Roslin

    Evelyn Roslin New Member

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    Evelyn followed Del into the early evening, the night air cooler now. The breeze showed signs of turning into a gusting wind, ebbing and flowing in an unpredictable rhythm. The streets were crowded, but nothing that held a candle to Coruscant. For a few minutes, she walked in silence next to the black-robed figure beside her, slipping into the stream of pedestrians with little more than a ripple.

    Though she'd made the choice to learn from him, Evelyn was far from confident in that choice. Striking off with a stranger, on a strange planet, wasn't exactly her modus operandi. In the absence of much in the way of opposition, fear and anger had rooted themselves subtly deeper, manifesting in suspicion and doubt. Her usual world view, of beings as basically good individuals with a default setting to trust, had been shaken, cracked at the foundation.

    As they walked, the crowd thinned somewhat, and she got the feeling that they were drifting away from the main drag, into quieter - and less predictable - surroundings. Small groups clustered near corners or outside establishments, trending towards young and male - a potentially problematic combination. The alcohol she'd imbibed left her feeling slightly dulled, yet quite determined not to show it.

    Perhaps learning more about her new teacher was in order - at least, enough to reassure herself that he wasn't luring her to some shady back room.


    "You live around here?"

     
  8. Gibaldr Moradem

    Gibaldr Moradem New Member

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    Del sensed Evelyn's nervousness. His staff felt heavy in his hand, reminding him it was there at any moment. If any of these men made the wrong move, a heavy length of metal was waiting for them. It had been awhile since he'd put somebody in their place; truth be told. he missed it. Fighting had a way of centering the mind and calling the Force.

    "You live around here?"


    She said it with a suspicious edge. Del was suddenly and sharply reminded of his gender, their surroundings, and the implications of both. She probably half thought he was leading her into some back alley to do things often done out of the light of day.

    "No. I've never set foot on this planet. I just figured there'd be a hotel around here somewhere."

    A group of young men under a light suddenly dispersed. They spread across the path and all around, trying and failing to be subtle. The Force trembled slightly; a warning.

    "Evelyn, I think we should get of the street. It's getting late."
     
  9. Evelyn Roslin

    Evelyn Roslin New Member

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    "Evelyn, I think we should get of the street. It's getting late."

    Evelyn tensed, hazel eyes scanning rapidly to take in the tactical situation. It turned out that military training was good for something after all - it didn't take a genius to recognize the evolving scenario, but her training and experience helped cement a mindframe focused on solutions, analyzing angles, rather than being paralyzed by fear or indecision. She hadn't served as a grunt, but logistics convoys were ripe enough targets that enemy contact was nearly as certain as it was for regular infantry.

    Before she could reply to Del's quiet observation, the youths started to close the net, no longer able to even pretend that they weren't honing in the two. One of them shifted closer to her, grinning with the cock-sure confidence of youth, faith in numbers, and likely more than a little bit of intoxicants, liquid or otherwise.

    "This your date? Babe, I think you can do much better."

    The street lights glinted off something metallic in his hand, and Evelyn caught a glimpse of a shape branded into his wrist. Some low-level gangs liked markings like that, strutting and showing off; the more successful ones recognized the utility of being able to blend in when required.

    "Toss over what credits you've got man, and we won't rough up your girl - much."

    A second, slightly older looking youth with golden eyes addressed Del. The predatory look in their eyes told Evelyn all she needed to know. Less than a month ago, she might have held out, remained passive in the hope of a peaceful conclusion. Now though, the volatility she'd been trying to force down rose to the surface, in thoughts that came from the primal part of her brain, driven by a surge of fear - and aggression that fed off that fear.

    Threat. Act, act now!

    Just barely, she managed to keep from launching into an attack. She'd never given much credence to the basic martial arts training they all received as soldiers - scoffing that it was too mechanical, too infrequently enforced, to do any good. Now, though, her whole body was practically humming with pent-up energy, as though brought to life by the pending violence. She trembled with the effort to keep from lashing out.

    "Look at this, she's shaking! Don't be afraid baby."

    The man closest to her, with a branded wrist and green hair, laughed, clearly finding this highly entertaining.


     
  10. Gibaldr Moradem

    Gibaldr Moradem New Member

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    Del saw Evelyn tense, her eyes taking the situation rapidly. She wasn't scared - well, she was - but she kept that fear in control. Something about her posture reminded him of something. Martial training. maybe military. Her eyes were keen, though.

    "This your date? Babe, I think you can do much better."

    Insecurity. It leaked off of men like him. The thug was obviously out of his right mind. Del was slim but he knew he was imposing; Evelyn gave off the vibe of a fighter. Any sane man would take himself and his friends along, but not this one. He was young, dumb, and criminal. This was only going to get worse.

    "Toss over what credits you've got man, and we won't rough up your girl - much."

    Del saw the look of this one, tall and sharkish compared to his friends. Dangerous. He was a predator; aggressive, vicious, enjoyed the hunt more than anything else. He wasn't after credits, he was out for blood. Del picked his staff off the ground, tucking it under his arm but keeping his posture and grip slack. Tension wasn't good for staff fighting.

    "Look at this, she's shaking! Don't be afraid baby."

    That one's hand flicked out, perhaps to grope Evelyn. Del shifted slightly, his staff intercepting the hand gently, moving it away.

    "I'll kindly ask you not to touch my student."
     
  11. Evelyn Roslin

    Evelyn Roslin New Member

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    "I'll kindly ask you not to touch my student."

    Del's voice was firm, but calm. It was the rational move - try to de-escalate, avoid violence if possible.

    Unfortunately, Evelyn's rational mind was losing ground at a rapid rate. For weeks, her emotions had been gradually feeding on one another - pain, fear, and anger bubbling just below the surface. She'd been on the verge of giving in to them when faced with her husband's killer on Coruscant, but was denied the chance to act.

    Now, the green-haired youth's clumsy attempt at a grope kicked her mental alarm bells up a notch. As Del moved his hand away, young and dumb's lips curled into a snarl, and his opposite hand, the one that held the gleam of what she could see now was a 5-inch blade, started to move.

    Act NOW.

    This time, she didn't try to resist; the strength of that primal region of her brain was all the more compelling with the force of emotion. Evelyn's right hand shot out, fingers curling tightly around the would-be attacker's wrist, pulling the hand with the knife sharply down towards her side, cognizant of the blade's tip to avoid stabbing herself. Her opponent's eyes widened in surprise, but before he could react further, she continued fluidly with the basic arm-bar take-down. Simultaneously tracing her rear leg in a "c" shape and bringing her forewarm up into the tricep of his extended arm, Evelyn used momentum and leverage to bring him down to the ground on his stomach, ending with his arm held straight, braced against her slightly bent knee.

    In training, this was where they stopped. Establish joint control, then give verbal commands or apply slow, steady pressure until your opponent tapped out.

    This time, she didn't stop.

    Eliminate the threat.

    Swept up in a surge of aggression, she pulled sharply on his arm, bending his elbow the wrong way against her knee as a fulcrum. There was a sharp crack, and the knife fell out of his limp fingers as his howl of pain broke the relative quiet.

    Evelyn felt aware of her heart pounding in her chest as her tunnel vision cleared, and she became suddenly aware that she'd managed to gain the full attention of the remaining gang members.

    Frak.
     
  12. Gibaldr Moradem

    Gibaldr Moradem New Member

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    Evelyn's take down was fluid, graceful. Del watched with admiration but also apprehension. It was definitely a fight now. With no choice but to act, he moved between Evelyn and the rest of the thugs, intercepting one who was running at full tilt with a knife aimed for her heart. The criminal stopped short but Del was already crouched low, thrusting his staff forward. It took him in the stomach, and he threw up at Del's feet. Before he could recover, Del whipped the staff around, cracking it against his jaw. The man went down and he didn't move. Adrenaline still pumped through Del, urging him to fight.

    Kill them, all of them. Use your hands. Break their bodies piece by piec-

    Del cut off that train of thought, clearing his mind with the Force. He loved fighting, always had, even as he pursued peace. Something about the movement, the contact, the passion- it was intoxicating. And he was good at it. The Force wasn't a weapon for Del, but he was a weapon in and of himself, and if his fists and feet couldn't cut it, his staff certainly could. It was a thing of simple beauty, his staff. Smooth, strait, flexible for a metal rod, resistant to blasters and vibro-blades. It had saved his life more than once. Ended a few, too. Tonight, he'd try to keep it non-lethal

    Excitement. The felling pulled Del's attention. Most of the lowlifes felt mixes of fear and anxiety. But the golden-eyed one, the predator, he was excited. His eyes shifted from Evelyn to Del and back. A strange lust clouded them and he licked his lips. It made Del shiver.

    Refusing to let it get to him, Del flooded himself with the Force and fell into a calm. The he shifted, bending his knees, his staff held in both hands, angled upwards and toward his opponents. He was ready for them.
     
  13. Evelyn Roslin

    Evelyn Roslin New Member

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    Crack.
    Her would-be attacker crumpled to the ground at Del's feet thanks to his quick staff work, and Evelyn felt a surge of satisfaction.

    Her newly acquired mentor had enough experience to recognize and resist the Dark Side's siren call. The young woman at his side, however, was far more susceptible by virtue of both ignorance and innocence in the Force. All she registered was that striking out at their enemies, causing them pain, felt good- and she wanted more of that feeling. Needed it, to twist fear into something stronger and more potent.

    Evelyn knelt down, keeping her eyes up, and picked up the blade that previously belonged to the young man who was currently writhing on the ground, clutching his broken elbow to his chest and making sounds that were a mix of curses and whimpers. The golden-eyed predator spared a look of utter disdain for his comrade, then met Evelyn's gaze- and winked. Out of the five who'd initially confronted them, three were left.

    She didn't have time to react to the revulsion that filled her, because two of the thugs chose that moment to rush them both simultaneously. Apparently blades were their weapons of choice - a group who enjoyed close-in work.

    Knife fighting wasn't exactly a technique the army spent much time on in basic training- just some simple counters and slashes. Fortunately, the thug who picked her out didn't seem to be much for finesse or caution.

    He fainted right, then brought the blade down in a horizontal slash to the left. Evelyn had the strangest sensation that it was happening in slow motion, her senses heightened, her mind subconsciously opening to the Force as fight-or-flight systems seized hold.

    The instructor spoke aloud to the cluster of cadets circled around him as he demonstrated with a rubber training knife against his partner.

    "If you're in a knife fight, you're going to get cut. Accept it, and don't waste time worrying about it- take the paper cuts to create an opening."


    Rather than try to completely dodge the blow, she brought up her forearm to block, trying to time it to connect with his wrist. She partially connected, the blade biting into her arm rather than her chest, but with far less momentum or depth than originally intended. The pain registered briefly and fed into anger. Evelyn stepped forward a half-step, closing the remaining distance between them and simultaneously thrusting her own blade into his stomach; ripping it in a "z" pattern, just like in training.

    Except this wasn't a rubber knife- and the metal tip tore through his flesh. A warm gush of blood spurting out. For a split second, horror rose like bile in the back of her throat.

    God's, I didn't mean to-
    Yes, you did. Kill him, spill his blood, make him pay!

    Caught between horror and blood-lust, Evelyn wasn't prepared when the arm wrapped tight around her throat, nearly jerking her off her feet, as a blade rested against her stomach. The golden-eyed one had taken advantage of the flurry of activity and distraction to flank them. He held her crushingly close, chuckling as she gasped ineffectively for breath.

    "Oh, we're going to have fun."
     
  14. Gibaldr Moradem

    Gibaldr Moradem New Member

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    Evelyn was again impressive, taking two at a time. But Del felt the Dark sweep in fast and hard and before he could react, she had ripped into one of them. His blood spilled all over the street and Evelyn came away covered in it. The Dark swelled even more and Del felt like it was laughing at him. He faltered, pushing back against it hard, trying desperately to reestablish balance.

    A knife took him in the shoulder, pushing through cloth just deep enough to bite. It had been thrown by the golden-eyed thug, the pain surprising Del. Before he could right himself, the predator was on Evelyn, crushing her against him, knife held to her gut. The Dark side fled from her and he felt fear take its place.


    "Oh, we're going to have fun."

    The words were said in such a twisted way it made Del want to vomit. He forgot the knife, leaving it in his shoulder. Gripping is staff, he advanced, but the thug backed away, eye shining with an angry lust. Del snarled, looking for an opening. When he didn't see one, he made one. The Force around him turned Dark and jumped on the thug, turning all his feelings to fear, fear so deep it made bones ache. He pulled away from Evelyn, eyes wide with horror, and Del rushed forward, jumping high and landing a kick to the thug's chest. It sent him reeling, but Del continued the attack with his staff, busting both of his targets knees, breaking them inwards. As he collapsed, Del yanked the knife from his shoulder and placed it to the man's throat.

    Kill him. Slit his throat, leave him here on the street for someone else to find. End him, end him, end him. He's nothing, his life is nothing. You can take, take it, take it. Take it!

    Del dropped the knife, letting it fall to the ground with a clang. Instead, he grabbed the man's hair and brought his fist down into his face. Over and over again, his fist descended, until the thug's face was broken and Del's knuckles were bruised but he only stopped when he heard, "P-please."
     
  15. Evelyn Roslin

    Evelyn Roslin New Member

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    Fear flooded Evelyn as the man backed away with her, his breath harsh and excited against her ear. Her vision was starting to go hazy from lack of oxygen, and she struggled to remain conscious. She felt something large and shapeless gathering in the air; something she couldn't name, but felt like an underlying hum of electricity.

    The pressure around her neck fell away, and Evelyn stumbled forward, gasping and drawing air into her burning lungs. In her peripheral vision, she was aware of a blur of black moving past her, the dull crack of Del's staff echoing a half-second later. She turned, chest rising and falling, to see Del raining down blows on the man's face. As she stepped closer, the golden-eyed man's trembling plea reached her ears.
    Fear shifted rapidly to anger as she stared at the man whose intent had been only too obvious moments before. Now, he was helpless, begging for his life.

    Just like Vier's murderer begged for his.

    Her mind flashed back to Coruscant, the memory bleeding further fury into the present.

    "He should die."

    Covered in blood - partially her own, mostly belonging to the man who had stopped gurgling some time during the altercation - Evelyn stood next to Del. Her tone was more statement than question, and she found her gaze drifting between the helpless, crippled man, and the knife Del had dropped seconds ago.