munnin: (Red Mist)
[personal profile] munnin

Title: Hugin Chronicles. Chapter 2: When you have no past, there are no goodbyes.
Fandom: Star Wars – Clone Wars.
Verse: Joe Hogan’s Red Mist Squad.
Disclaimer: No ownership, no profit and no offence meant. Everyone is of the age of consent in their country and period of history
Author’s notes: This ‘verse and its characters belong to the talented Joe Hogan. Individual characters were inspired by members of the Celebrations Rogues. The verse has been hijack by me with the consent of all involved.
Summary: A lost soul starts over.

When he came to, the first thing he knew was pain. Lots of it. Nothing but pain really. Something had hold of him by the armour and was shaking him violently. The pain built and built till it was too strong and he passed out again.

At least in darkness, the pain was less.

The next time he opened his eyes, he was half stripped out of his armour with a blaster pressed to his temple.

Something between training, survival instinct, and muscle memory kicking in, pushing past the pain and the way his breathing came rough and wrong.

The arm holding the blaster broke. Messily. The sort of break where you could see the bone.

There were screams and something large and mechanical tried to knock him over.

He wasn’t sure where the irrationally violent response to the droid came from but moments later it was in pieces.

There was blood on his hands and he wasn’t sure how much of it was his.

Instead he curled up in a ball and slept. Letting the low after the adrenaline high soak the pain away.

It took two days to recover enough strength to explore his surroundings. A ship, a junker of some kind, barely held together with scraps and hope and jury-rigged repairs. The pilot, a small, stinking humanoid of some species he couldn’t name was dead. By the look of him, the broken arm had triggered a heart attack or something similar. Or he’d gone into shock and just died.

The droid was scatted all over the cargo hold on bits. Disparate bits. Parts from a dozen different types of droids, all cobbled together. He recognised parts of battle droids, super battle droids and destroyers. Somewhere deep inside, he knew that’s what had triggered the frenzy of his attack.

He knew droids. He knew enough first aid to tend his own wounds, which were serious but not currently life threatening. He knew an awful lot about the ship; it’s systems, drives, and near disastrous state of repair.

But what he didn’t know was his own name. Who he was or what he was doing there. None of it.

The other thing he discovered he couldn’t do was speak. His throat was raw and every breath came out a rasping. There was a burn and a ragged but sealed cut at the hollow of his throat. Something burning hot had hit him, damaging his larynx but just stopping short of his trachea. And the wound had seared closed. No amount of bacta was going to repair that damage. With the few supplies he could find around the banta-sty of a ship and what was in the pouches of the armour he woke half wearing, he did what he could. And accepted the rest. It was what it was.

Limping the chronically dilapidated ship to somewhere other than the middle of space was tricker. Without the pilot to do… whatever it was that needed to be done to keep the junker moving, the ship had fallen out of hyperspace and was drifting. And he was fairly sure he didn’t have the equipment needed to get it back into hyperspace again.

And he didn’t have the time. The life support system didn’t have long to live either. And the navigation was shot to hell. There was no knowing where he’d come from, or where he was going to.

The trading port of Silvestri VII wasn’t exactly a shadow port. It wasn’t exactly a legal port either. It was just a convenient little moon orbiting an almost perfect halfway point between the Silvestri Trace and the Rimma Trade Route, and within easy jump of the the Sanctuary Pipeline. In essence it was where you went when you didn’t want anyone to know where you were going next.

And somehow he managed to land there.

Land might have been an overstatement. In truth, it was more of a controlled dumping of scrap metal.

Communicating without a voice turned out to be easier than expected. The region had its own form of trader’s pidgin, one that relied heavily on hand-gestures learnt from the non-basic speaking natives. Most people signed as fluently as they spoke, and usually simultaneously. It didn’t take him long to learn the basics.

Having removed any identifying features from the ship before landing (including the pilot), he managed to make it understood he wanted to sell the wreck for scrap. He had hid most of the armour in a sack, somehow knowing it was worth more than the rest of the ship combined.

And that it was important. His only link to the raw and ragged absence of his past.

That and the pearl white crystal necklace. Something told him to hold onto that and never let go.

After much emphatic haggling, during with he learnt a great deal more sign, including some interesting insults, he got what little scrip he could for the ship and moved on, the sack over his shoulder.

But it didn’t last him long. Between clothes to replace his tore jumpsuit, some much needed medical supplies and a couple of nights’ lodgings, there would almost nothing left. In the end he chose to forgo the lodging, walking to the edge of the port to find an empty alleyway. Sack over his shoulder he climbed up the shantytown buildings to find a covered elevated perch between two leaning roof lines. It wasn’t elegant, and even though he couldn’t remember it, he was pretty sure he’d slept rougher.

He lasted a week before he ran out of credits and options. But it was a week that gave him time to consider his options. Getting off-world wouldn’t be hard. Spacers, smugglers, and traders passed in a constant steam, some of them willing to take crew on commission for work. Especially someone good in a fight. He was aware he was well muscled and strong. And good with the blaster he never let leave his side.

But part of him shrunk away from that. The memory of the pilot’s blood on his hands, exposed bone white and jagged, turned his stomach. Perhaps because he did it so easily, with so little thought.

He had been a solider. The armour told him that – it fitted him too perfectly to belong to anyone else. But he had the uncomfortable feeling that he had enjoyed it too.

He spent some hours looking at the armour, hoping something about it would trigger a memory, a spark. He knew how it was fitted, the specs of how it was made, how it was worn. But not what the markings meant. The feathered pattern that ran down one side of the helmet and pauldron, repeating on the ab plate and down the opposite thigh. It wasn’t a complex pattern, lines for red sloping into a central vein over the white armour. But he knew it had to mean something. Something important.

The sale of the armour, even just parts of it, would pay his way anywhere he wanted to go. Or set him up if he wanted to stay. He was good with ships. He knew how to fix things. It wouldn’t take much to set up a little workshop, to settle down near the spaceport.

The thought had appeal. Like something dreamt of that had coming suddenly obtainable.

But that scared him too.

Either way, he had to sell the armour. Most of it anyway.

But he needed to keep the patterns. Just in case they made sense to him one day. Made sense of him.

The answer made itself clear the next time he ventured into town, spending the last of his credits on food. There was a skin painter’s stall, set up next to shopfront of a trader of high end equipment. He had identified the trader, a canny woman with flame red hair, as his best chance of getting the most credits for his armour. But today she stood outside in the season’s afternoon cool change, watching as a younger woman with the same shock of red, painted complex patterns on a brash male Dug’s foreleg, pushing the paint in with a little repeating gun.

That was the answer.

He waited till the Dug was gone and it was almost time for closing before approaching the pair.

By that time, his signing had grown strong enough he was able to explain what he wanted – that had armour to sell, an almost compete set missing only the bucket, belt and vambraces. And that as part of the price, he wanted his skin painted.

The equipment trader seemed dubious, quizzing him on the origin of the armour and the where-abouts of the missing pieces. She sucked her teeth and dickered over the price, arguing that bucket was worth more than the rest put together and she could do him a much better deal with that intact.

The younger redhead, the artist, seemed very pleased by the prospect. And eager to get started.

Finally a price was agreed on and a time made the next day to begin the work. That night he drew the patterns onto himself with a marker he had bought and a broken chunk of mirror he found. He shaved his head, making room for the helmet’s design crossed his cheek and temple before arching over his scalp.

That done, he set about cleaning the patterns off the armour, using strong chemicals he had saved from the ship to strip off the red, leaving the armour white and unmarked.

The next day, the artist tsked and sat him down, redrawing the lines to something neater before beginning her work.

It took three days to complete and she chattered at him almost constantly. After a while, he found it soothing, like white noise. For a lack of a name, she called him Tahlesh, something to do with some local bird. He like it, being close in sound to the Mando'a talyc meaning bloodstained. Something he looked with the red painting taking form on his skin. By the second day she had shortened it to Tahl, which stuck.

A month later he was still there, sleeping in shop’s stockroom at night. His days were spent moving and repairing things for the elder sister Eva, and keeping the young men of the port from bothering the younger sister, Rebec.

In Eva’s workshop at night, he cut down the helmet in secret, moving the electronic components into the lower half. He cut away the upper section, turning the bucket into a mask and goggles that would be just as useful but easier to carry and wear. The red lines either side of the visor carried onto his skin where Rebec had marked him, making it look like a pale intimation of his own dark skin.

He knew the time for moving on would come, but for now, he was content.
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munnin: (Default)

September 2017


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