[Originally written by Dhallia] ---A short blurb on how Dhallia met IA, reference for Rise of the Relentless, perhaps opening for back story --- Dhallia collapsed into the shade of a rocky overhang in the desert wastes, creating a small dustup of sand. She panted heavily, exhausted from the oppressive heat of the Tatooine desert and the kilometers long run. The vibroblade slash in her left arm bleed slightly but her hands hurt more, clutching the dig site’s only find. Her fingers bleed as she gripped the purple crystalline object, a holocron. It mumbled something lazily in her mind, not being fully conscious. “Quiet,” she ordered and pulled out her canteen. She drank the last few drops and then threw the useless thing aside. The Twi’lek placed the holocron in the sand in front of her and let go, the murmuring instantly ceasing. She sighed, “At last.” Reaching for her utility belt, she grabbed her beacon and short range scanner. As she did so, the troop transports engines pulsed as it passed over head, circling around yet again in search of her. “Damnation,” she hissed. “Why must I be pulled into these political maneuverings?” Dhallia twitched after a moment, looking at nothing. “I didn’t ask you!” she barked. “I doubt you should find it funny when you can no longer torment me.” She looked at the scanner readout. “They’re still right on my tail.” She paused. “They’d shoot me you fool. Some ‘Lord’ you are.” The beacon was still on, but she doubted the ship in orbit was still intact. That or it had been boarded and taken by “Darth Whatshisface’s” troops. Or the crew changed sides. So that plan was out. It was four days hike to the nearest settlement, and with troops just outside rifle range and that transport scouting the desert it wouldn’t take long for them to find her. “Shutup already!” There wasn’t much choice. Maybe that “one with the force” stuff the Jedi talked about wouldn’t be so bad. The Twi’lek climbed to her feet, adjusted the beacon to all frequencies and tossed it next to the holocron. She pulled her lightsaber from her belt and moved from her hiding spot, walking east. Using the force to cover her tracks, she didn’t get far before the soldiers got in sight. She watched them fan out as they approached the hiding spot. Dhallia found a small rocky section that she could ambush the soldiers, but she knew a well placed grenade would end the battle quickly, as she’d have no way out. Still, it was her last hope of surviving the next five minutes. She placed her back against the scorching surface of the rock, ignored the burning, closed her eyes and concentrated on the saber lessons her old master tried to teach the girl. She then focused on the arcane secrets she’d learned over the past few years. “Show me,” she said with smirk. The footfalls of the vanguard passed by her location, they failed to notice her, cloaked as she was by the force. Dhallia raised her hand to them. Lightning exploded from her outstretched hand, arcing through three of the soldiers. A fine red mist erupted from where their heads used to be and the bodies flopped soundlessly into the sand. The Twi’lek spun to face her enemies, the red beam of her saber boiling to life. She flung the weapon at the closest soldier, one that hesitated at the sight of the lightning. She saw most of the others were in the process of taking cover. The blade shot through the man’s chest and stopped as the hilt clacked against his armor. Blood poured from his mouth and he fell to his knees. The Sith called upon the force and the saber came back to her hand with haste, and she summoned the strength to scream. The force shockwave knocked several soldiers off their feet. As she recovered a blaster bolt seared through her stomach. She deflected two more bolts and ducked back into the hole. A barrage of blaster bolts exploded against the rock inches from her head. The suppressive fire continued for several seconds, and she could sense her enemies circling around for the kill. “Any bright ideas?!” she shouted. Dhallia heard a call for cease fire. The desert quieted. “Come out,” the enemy leader commanded. There wasn’t much time left. “Very well, Captain. Don’t shoot.” She threw her saber into the sand, in clear view of her enemies. She stepped out of her hiding spot with one hand in the air, the other clutching the burning hole in her abdomen. Blood trickled from her mouth. There were too many, half a dozen with at least two snipers at a distance. “You have won the day…bravo.” The pain was dizzying, she fell to a knee. “You killed my dig team, acquired the artifact. I offer no further resistance.” She twitched for a moment. “At least I won’t have to listen to you anymore,” she said to no one as her vision began to blur. The Captain stared down at his captive, his orders clear. “Execute the apprentice.” Barely aware of her surroundings, Dhallia heard a hissing thump, then another. The soldiers around her started shouting as one of them fell over and landed on her. Her face hit the sand and blood pooled around it. She hardly heard a nearby explosion, the corpse on top of her protecting her from the blast. The Twi’lek turned her head to look at the sky. She saw the troop transport hovering overhead. Two small objects burned their way toward the tail end of the craft and struck it, sending the ship into a massive explosion. The voices were strangely silent then. As the battle raged around her, she drifted off to sleep, where she had long conversations with that thing she’d dug up weeks ago that was now half buried in the sand, covered in the Captain’s blood.
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