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By Jodo
#159995
Click Here for Era of Darkness Volume 1: Chapters 1-10 and Volume 2: Chapters 1-7
Click Here for Era of Darkness Volume 2: Chapter 8
Click Here for Era of Darkness Volume 2: Chapter 9

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The streets and markets bustle with activity here.

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Sounds from every corner of the galaxy fill the cold damp air-

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-Even while the Empire's reign looms over the planet.

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Kane leads the former men of Able Squad through a narrow corridor, bypassing one of the many popular areas of Ethna City.

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"They're full of it," says Kane angrily, his second hand surplus armor creaking with each movement.

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"The Emperor himself? he shakes his head. "There's no way. Brior wouldn't attract that much attention."

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"Maybe that's what made him the perfect Rebel," says Meade. "He didn't stand out."

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"And none of it adds up," Haas mentions. "We get sent down there to that frelling ice planet, Dreya is there, and more Imperials show up in orbit at the same time.

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"That's what happens when the Emperor is involved," says Meade quietly, shaking his head. "Everything is always perfect."

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"There are no coincidences," adds Kalin, bluntly. "And we have to get the Hell out of here. The Imps, the Rebels, I don't care who is after us. We have got to move, and we have to move now."

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"We don't have to do anything, Kalin," says Kane with frustration. "We just need to buy some more time," changing his dictation. "Figure out the situation. The-"

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"Don't talk to me like you're still in charge here," replies Kalin, his calm damaged. "I left once, don't think I won't again. We need to go before anything else happens."

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"Excuse me?" asks Kane, his temper boiling.

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"You heard me!" shouts Kalin. "You're not a lieutenant anymore, sir."

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Kalin's words fall hard on the man. Kane grips his fists closed, ready to fight. He draws a sharp breath through his nose, his brow furrowed and his lips pursed in a scowl under his old worn helmet.

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"After all I've done," he says. "After all the betrayals, everything we've gone through? Everything!" he yells, pushing past Kalin, his anger getting the best of him.

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"Calm dow-" begins Meade

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"No," says Kane firmly. "He's right. I'm not your lieutenant anymore," he says viciously. "I'm not anyone."

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Kalin chuckles to himself as he watches Kane leave. "He'll be back," he says sarcastically.

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"Believe me, he will be."

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Kane's mind wanders, full of emotion.

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Anger.

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Disgust.

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Confusion.

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The sound of the hangar fills Kane's ears as it it were a fresh memory, like it were happening right then.

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The old and intimate walls of past deployments surround him.

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Long remembered places haunt him-

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-As do familiar faces.

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"Private Dreya," shouts an officer. "Do you understand why our work here is vital? Do you understand that without us, this ship would not be operational? Without us there would be no Empire?"

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"Yes sir!" shouts the young woman, a service crew member, one of millions within the Empire.

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A nobody.

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"She knows," chuckles Captain Brior, passing the formation. "She's one of the good ones," he smiles, watching her. "One of our finest, right Kane?"

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Kane keeps walking, with no regard for the future.

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"Hey!" shouts someone, a static burst cutting through Kane's memories.

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"Watch it!" shouts the Imperial, raising his rifle in defense. "Weren't you paying attention?"

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"Sorry," apologizes Kane, still shaken. "My mistake," he growls, looking around, still stewing.

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"Alright, really?" he sighs over the loud thumping music from the nearby establishments. "Are you intoxicated?" asks the trooper. "You're the third one this week," groans the man. "Come over here."

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"Up against the wall," he says, prompting Kane towards it. "No sudden movements, okay? I'm gonna relieve you of that blaster-"

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Suddenly, Kane disarms the Stormtrooper in a swift motion-

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-Unholstering his own blaster at the same time.

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"Please, no sudden movements," says Kane, sarcastically. "Come with me."

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"Please-" begs the man. "I just-"
"Quiet!" says Kane angrily. "I want to know something, okay?"

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The trooper flinches slightly, turning to face his assailant. "Anything," says the man trying to remain calm. "Just please don't shoot. I have family-"

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"Shut up," says Kane shaking his pistol at him, a slight creeping fear in his voice. His eyes well up as he speaks, and he fights back his emotions. He pushes the man up against the wall.

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Digging the barrel into the soldier's neck, Kane scowls under his helmet. He looks at the man through lenses that have seen countless atrocities. Countless engagements that always had a losing side.

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"I want to know," begins Kane, emotion in his voice. "What you really think of the Empire."
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"He's been gone for a few hours now," says Meade with concern in his voice.

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"Maybe he just needs a break, you know, to clear his mind," add Haas.

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"If you ask me, he's lost his edge," says Kalin. "We're out here alone, and maybe he finally knows that."

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"I do," says Kane, his gruff voice startling the men.

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"I'm sorry," he says immediately, causing a lengthy silence in the quiet corridor. "For everything."

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"I've pushed you boys to your limits."

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"I've over stepped my boundaries."

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"And I didn't know the right course of action to take anymore."
The men listen to Kane, their eyes wide as he speaks.
"But I do now."

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"You've all been through too much, on all accounts. You've been pushed to the breaking point, and I see that," admits the man."So don't feel any obligation to join me-"

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"But I'm going to save Brior," he says intensely. "No matter what the cost."
By Codaks
#160017
Didn't expect this so soon, time flies. :shock:

This was yet a great chapter. There are two things that really stand out.

1. The struggle among the troops and their take of/on the situation. Loved the "flashback".
Personally I would have made a cloud frame, but then again Kain isn't dreaming/sleeping just reflecting or looking back. Sorry debating with myself here... :oops:

2. The way you started this chapter off, gave more life to the city. Made the city more vibrant, instead of leaving an impression of an abondoned or dead place. A little goes a long way in my opinion. Well done!

Great work, looking forward to more :D
By Lance Quazar
#160023
Wow, Jodo. Fantastic work, as always! I love how complex your story is, the story moves in so many interesting directions. Action, suspense and deep character development. This was another terrific installment, despite the lack of any real forward movement in the "plot" and no action. But that doesn't mean it can't be compelling as heck! Fantastic.

Okay, I LOVED the flashback with Dreya. That was a brief, but marvelous little bit of character development for Kane, Brior and Dreya herself, about whom I had many, many questions (still do, but maybe one less now. ;) )

I thought the bit with the stormtrooper as really dark and dramatic. If I had one minor quibble, it would just be this. My impression (granted, taken mostly from secondary sources and not the films themselves) is that stormtroopers are fairly fanatical and can't really be swayed or intimidated from their devotion to the Empire.

While I certainly think there can and should be some differences between them (they aren't clones or robots, after all. And certainly Able Squad itself comes across like flesh and blood people and not brainwashed automatons.) That said, I think maybe you could have used that to your advantage to spin the scene just a little differently.

TROOPER: What do you want? You won't get away with this.

KANE: I don't want anything. I just have one question.

TROOPER: I'll die before I give you any information.

KANE: I don't want information. I just want...your opinion.

TROOPER: My...what?

KANE: Opinion. You remember those, don't you. Tell me...what do you really think of the Empire...?

I also love the fact that we don't see his answer. Maybe that's a card you can play later, maybe not. It makes the encounter very intriguing and a little mysterious, but I love the fact that, whatever the answer was, it played a part in Kane's decision.

Anyway, this was a great "pause" chapter - a pause in the narrative drive, but an important one, which just helped flesh out and make more real, more dramatic and more dimensional your lead character. On that front, it's absolutely terrific.

Keep up the terrific work, it's been wonderful to have you crank out so many chapters! Please keep 'em going and give us as much as you can before school takes over again! :D
User avatar
By Jodo
#160432
Thank you everyone for the feedback and comments!!! First let me say sorry it has taken so long to respond, but I have been super busy lately. The past month has been a huge time crunch, as I prepared for two courses I'm teaching, prepared to work on my thesis, and did a few others things.

Not everything was work though! I got to finally meet up with Darth Vlad's Clone!!!! We hung out one morning before I had to meet with a co-worker, and traded some stuff and got lunch. Hopefully we can meet up again sometime soon.

I also spent several days test driving vehicles, which felt like a chore, LOL. Eventually, I settled between a Jeep Renegade and a Dodge Challenger. I'll be honest, I am not typically one to make a "fun" decision. I try to be a bit more practical than not...But I ended up switching things up for once. So now this is my new ride. :D

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Anyway, back to the PN! I definitely liked the ambiguity of the Stormtrooper's potential response. The reader could have imaged him either saying that the Empire was so powerful or ultimate in its reach that it didn't matter what anyone did. Or that each person was just going their job, and that everyone was just a cog in the Imperial war machine. I'm sure whatever it was he said, Kane took it to heart and used that to either become inspired to dismantle the machine or know there was still humanity in Imperials. :P

And I know Lance, you're dying to see Kane's face!!! :lol: :P :wink:

Thanks again to everyone who commented. It really does help me feel the desire to keep the series going. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

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