May 18, 2021 3:41 AM
this is a scientific experiment in whether it's possible to give a force ghost a heart attack
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"...An actual ghost."

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"Or so she claims," he says, agreeably. "She's rather translucent every time I've seen her, though, and I've never observed her interacting physically with the world of the living."

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"Right," she says, voice full of skepticism. The old man's had his brains cooked by the sun. "Can I... meet her?"

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"If she'll show herself," he says. "But if the two of us are traveling alone, and I call out to her - it seems likely to me that she'll at least investigate."

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"All right. Can we leave tonight? Or do you want to wait for tomorrow evening?"

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"We don't have much night left right now - we could get a short distance, perhaps, and return before the heat comes, but my old bones are tired, and the predators in this region are most active in the predawn hours. Tomorrow evening will give us enough time to travel, at least, and there's a cave a night's travel away that she frequents."

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"All right. Tomorrow, then."

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He nods. "I think anything else you should learn from her directly," he says, then yawns. "Now, though, I'd like to get these bones to a cool bed. I quite like this village. They actually build deep enough underground it's not baking inside..."

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"I'll see you later, then." She stands to leave.

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He does as well, leading her back to the village and to the house she's been rooming in. He greets the elderly woman who owns the house in a friendly manner, checking to make sure the women he led in earlier have settled alright into one of her rooms. She checks if Ellaita needs anything, then turns to the hermit, making sure he's fed and settling into teasing him about having to stay in her room today.

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Eugh, old people flirting. She disappears into her room as quickly as possible.

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The old hermit has a twinkle in his eye as she goes.

The rooms here are more pleasant than many she's been in during her wanderings - still fairly plain, of course, but the old widow apparently entertains herself with handicrafts, and her artwork decorates the walls, light quilts made from leftover fabric scraps or destroyed clothes on the beds. More importantly, the houses are deeper into the rock than most people bother with, only covered entry ports and some equipment shed entrances and exits and a few gardens or greenhouse tops protruding above ground, and there's vents descending from them deeper into the earth. It's actually cool down here, even in the heat of the day, and it doesn't even get freezing at night like some places do. The trade off is there's no sun light inside, just old lamps, but the locals have adapted. The rock muffles the sound of the machinery that keeps the village alive, though a deep rumble from the pumps still sometimes lurks at the edge of hearing. The food's actually food, not reconstituted powders and bars the villages closer to the towns exchange scrap for, and Ellaita doesn't even have to share a house with the livestock.

It's a good place to get a nice sleep while Jakku's day boils the ground above.

Which means waking up to a frantic siren is more unpleasant than it'd be elsewhere.

It doesn't sound like the gentler sandstorm or predator alarms. It's loud, pitch warbling and pulsing, impossible to sleep through.

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She's up and out of bed, rifle in hands with the practiced efficiency of living on military bases since she was fifteen years old. Seeing nothing in her room that needs shooting, she pauses very briefly to get a blast vest on before heading out, bag over her shoulders and checking her corners before proceeding.

She may be a pilot, but everyone in the resistance needs infantry training.

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The old woman and hermit have also responded pretty readily, though the women who came in last night aren't in the halls yet - the old woman has what looks like a pretty powerful if old rifle in her hands, and she's already swung herself up into the entry port, peering out at a flashing signal light.

"Air raid," she shouts down. "Ships're unidentified, a few minutes out." To the hermit: "Taeol, the passes - "

He nods, firmly. "I can lead." To Ellaita: "There's a hidden pass into the caves. We'll evacuate into those - people will gather here."

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"I have a ship parked on the outskirts. I can get into the air, buy some time."

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He nods and turns to jog into the house's common area, and the woman squints out - "It'll be faster overland than tunnels, but it's damn hot." Still, she moves aside if Ellaita wants to climb up. "We need two minutes from alarm start to get all entrances sealed proper, five for most kids, ten for everyone out and traps up, twenty for full evac of supplies and livestock."

(It sounds like the women are leaving their room, some kids already arriving at a run from elsewhere in the network.)

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"See what I can do. What's your comm frequency?" She flips her hood up and sends the command to start up to her X-wing.

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She relays it. "Comms don't work too well in the caves, but I'll be last out."

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"All right." And she heads out onto the surface, making her way to her ship.

She pulls the camo netting off and hops in, firing up the engines and lifting off, scanning for the enemy approach vector.

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They're spread out a bit, staying high initially but swooping in - not a bombing run, looks like they're trying to land troops -

Ellaita's ship's sensors are better than the local ones. Those are First Order type TIE fighters - too new to be salvage by a different power. There's possibly another type of ship following them at a short distance, but the air quality's crap between the intense heat and the fierce winds blowing sand laden with materials that interfere with most scanners every which way.

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Hells.

She'll try to hit the troopship on her first pass, then peel off the TIEs so they don't just bomb the caves-

S-foils to attack position. Here she goes.

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The TIEs don't seem to have been expecting resistance from her, and it seems they didn't spot her ship until she was already in the air - it gives her a tiny sliver of an advantage.

They're still obnoxiously agile, though the troopship is cumbersome - shielded but easy to hit, and there's plenty of weak spots someone daring with a keen eye can at least graze -

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What's life without a bit of challenge? She lights the dropship up with her cannons then drops a torpedo on it-

-peels off sharply to dodge the TIEs, and then it's a dogfight. They're more maneuverable than she is, but she has the heavier weapons and only needs one good shot on each of them while they need to get her shields down first. TIEs are practically her specialty at this point.

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She can get a good number down, get the dropship floundering, its maneuver jets pouring smoke - slow the entire group down -

Before her X-Wing alerts her the ship in the rear is in sensor range - which is currently shorter than torpedo range -

It's the sort of ship their leader's said to favor. Well armed, well armored, maneuverable for its size, immediately launching several torpedos at her ship.

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She dumps some chaff, drops into a snap-roll and twist, trying to shake the missile lock.

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