Time: Morning, 20 Days after the Third Moonrise, “Summer”
Place: Myposian swamp paths heading back to Oolong Station
Characters: Warik d’Chiss, Aarlia Gottsdotter (Twilek), Theander, Katra, and Poul (spice harvesters)
Warik‘s bones ached but they couldn’t be heard over the din of his muscles complaints. Fifty-six hours march and combat without respite. They’d lost their gear to the swamp because of Poul’s lack of caution and you didn’t set camp in the Myposian swamps unprepared.
He’d stopped pulling off the leeches or swatting at the insects who seemed determined to taste his blue skin as a delicacy they couldn’t get enough of. Not enough energy for such vanity. His blaster pistol rode in its holster, useless as he’d spent all its charges fighting off the raids of Myposian devils.
Considering his companions, he felt lucky to be alive. Poul had let the devils drag their gear into the swamp after the swamp speeder had broken down for the last time. Katra was a beauty but inexperienced enough in the swamps to be a hazard to herself and anyone with her. Theander had enough smarts to mount the expedition and he knew the secrets of finding the spice, but he was no leader, panicking at the first sign of trouble.
Only Aarlia had showed herself to be an asset. She was young and brash and more confident than her skills deserved, but she’d been able to repair the swamp speeder twice after Theander had driven through gas clouds. And he had to admit that she was an inspiring sight to watch as they trudged back toward the relative safety of Oolong Station.
“Don’t think just cause you’re both blue-skins that you’re getting that,” teased Poul crudely as he made his way up to walk beside Warik. The man had a wheeze that was only getting worse as they force-marched. He’d inhaled some of the swamp gas but refused to admit it. Considering the consumed creatures Warik had stumbled across in the Medicine House, the chances for Poul’s future didn’t look good.
“The blue skin just makes it more likely the critters around here will think we are already dead and more likley to eat you first,” Warik quipped back with a grin, hiding his concern over the other mans condition. He might not be the smartest guy in the sector but he did not deserve to die because of it. Trudging onward he paused briefly to extract one foot from a particularly nasty clump of mud. The quarter staff he had cut from a young tree bowed a bit when he leaned on it to help get leverage. The wood was too green to make a proper weapon or even a walking stick but it was better then nothing.
“”/campaign/star-wars-darkness-falls/wikis/Katra/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Katra!" He called out to the woman who was lagging behind the others. “Keep together!” He turned his eyes back to the trail ahead and spared a quick glance at Aarlia‘s rump. At least if you were slogging through hell you had something to look at. "How’s it going up there Aarlia?"
Aarlia regarded the Chiss with a mocking expression, her hand on her cocked hip.
“Lovely, Darling. What more could a girl ask for?” She looked about her – mud and swamp gas stretched on. She turned back to Warik and began to move toward him, the tip of her lekku moving in time with her hips.
“Shouldn’t be much further, mile or so, then something to drink and a cold shower.” Swiping at a small trickle of sweat that moved down her cheek, she added yet another smudge of grease on her blue skin. “If this lot stays together, we’ll be there soon,” she added looking at the ragtag group and feeling less compassion than Warik did toward this lot of screw-ups.
Warik nodded, struck again by the young womans poise and confidence, not to mention her other atributes. Damned if Twi’leks were not a handsome race. “We better keep moving then, a mile in this slop could still take a couple hours.” He lowered his voice so only she could hear. “”/campaign/star-wars-darkness-falls/wikis/Poul/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Poul‘s not likley to be able to go alot further. He’s hurt more then he lets on, scourced lungs I think. If he dies before we get things settled it will be that muc more difficult." He favored her with a wry grin. “Besides he’s kinda fat and I don’t feel much like carrying him.”
“Come on, come on, we can’t stop,” prodded Theander nervously as he walked by Warik and Aarlia, apparently inadvertently bumping into the shapely Twi’lek. “If we lose the light, we’ll lose the path and we’re dead.”
Under her breath, she said to Warlik, “To bad we didn’t think to bring a speeder…”
The Chiss chuckeled back and resumed the march alongside her.
Exhausted and filthy, Warik began the climb up the steps that led to Oolong Station from the swamp level. The Station sat on a flat-top hill some thirty feet above the swamps. It was protected from most drifting swamp gas, though the storms could still push the poison through the settlement. Reaching the top he paused and Aarlia stepped next to him.
It was twilight and except for buglights hanging from most of the buildings, the center of light and energy was the Pure Bliss bar. They could smell the roasted khiback meat marinated since dawn in a spice broth and hear the laughter of the community sharing light in the approach of the dark.
“I’m taking him to the ”/campaign/star-wars-darkness-falls/wikis/Medicine%20House/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Medicine House. They’ll get him fixed up," said Theander with thin confidence. Whether he was deluded or trying to spare the coughing Poul, it wasn’t clear. They shuffled onward.
Warik was tempted to take Katra up on her implied offer but he was tired and he wanted to get his gear squared away first. Trouble always seemed to show up when he went unprepared. He gave the woman a warm smile.
“Love to but I’ve got to get my powercells recharged before this place closes up for the night and I want to pick up some cream for these bug bites. I’ll drop by the bar in a bit and see if you’re still there?” he asked. Not that he was sure he would but he figured he keep the bay door open, you never knew with this place.
Katra smiled, blew him a little kissed and trudged toward the gaily-lit bar.
“Either she’s got more stamina then I gave her credit for or shes an alcoholic,” Warik laughed to Aarlia. “Might not do my ‘warrior’ rep any good but a long steaming shower and a warm bed was what I was thinking after that fun meter-pegging experience! How about you?”
“Add to that something to fill my belly and you got yourself a deal,” smiled Aarlia.
Warik and Aarlia walked across the station plaza to the Perimont, a small two-story hotel and one of the better options for a place to sleep in the small community. The Cradle catered to those with just enough credits or favor to grab some space in the communal rooms. The Launching Pad catered to the well-heeled harvester or opportunist.
“Bedwana chawa nik kapa?” chortled the owner in Huttese. Warik grinned.
“Swamp tried to swallow us but I guess it didn’t like our skin. Spat us right back out again.”
Nomax chuckled, ears quivering. “Hataw chee’puta nek oto?”
“We’re starving. Give us time to bathe and we’ll be back down.”
Nomax nodded and continued into the kitchen wherein a banging of pots and pans began. His food wasn’t gourmet but he had a certain enthusiasm that was hard to ignore.
As Aarila and Warik seperated into their own rooms, Aarila quickly stripped and rushed into the bath. She had not bothered with a towel to cover herself or brought in extra clothes. All she wanted was to beat Warik to the hot, lovely water. Quickly dropping into the iron tub, she had to fight the urge to jump back out. The water seemed to take a bite at her skin before her body got use to the temperature. With a sigh of satisfaction, she slipped deeper into the tub.
Moments earlier Warik had stripped off the foul clothes, grabbed fresh ones in a pile and pulled a towel around his waist. Looking down the hallway, the door to the bath was open so he padded down and turned into the small room.
The steam felt great as it enveloped him, warming his tired body and already starting to loosen stiff muscles. The swamp was hot but in a draining, soul sucking sort of way, the steam was almost refreshing by comparison. Warik had been holding off his fatigue better then the others by one simple method, he cheated. Though he did not advertise it he had some small skill in the use of the Force, not like the professionally trained Jedi or the shadowy elusive Sith but he had learned to do a few ‘tricks’ with it. One of those was to improve his endurance. He had used it many a night on a job to give himself an edge when a foe thought he had to be asleep. Today it had helped him stay sharp in the swamp, sharp enough to shoot a devil that had snuck up on Poul thinking to catch them unaware.
He was struck by the sight of Aarlia’s lithe body slipping under the water, giving him just a glimpse more than was proper. Even though he was hungry and tired his youthful male attentions took note of the quick glimpse of Aarlia favored him with. Though pretty friendly with the young pilot he was not quite on that familiar of terms with her so he took the more cautious approach to her teasings.
“Your piloting skills are showing ”/campaign/star-wars-darkness-falls/wikis/Aarlia/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Aarlia, a fast manuver to beat the poor groundpounder the shower." He quipped lightly and leaned back against the wall to enjoy the steam.
Aarlia had not heard him move into the room but was not surprised to find him there. She moved around the side of the tub to look at him better. The small towel wrapped around his waist accentuated his nicely muscled chest and wide shoulders. It was also a bit too small and a strong thigh showed through the opening. She had noticed his endurance during the long walk and now she found herself wondering how much stamina he truly had.
“My piloting skills are truly impressive. But when it comes to a tub full of hot water, there are few who can beat me,” she smiled sweetly up at him. “Soooo, how about handing me one of those bottles of soap.”
Warik grinned and bowed extravagantly. “I acknowledge my defeat. Allow this humble servant to provide you with such soaps as to enjoy your repast before he must withdraw.” With that he selected a soap bottle and presented it to her grandly.
For a moment as both their hands touched the bottle, the room was electric, suddenly twice as hot as it was a moment before. Warik struggled to not look away from Aarlia’s eyes as she rose slightly from the water.
The door opens, breaking the spell.
“Hey, people are waiting,” groused a lean but dangerous spaceport worker, more than happy to get an eyeful of Aarlia. He doesn’t leave or close the door.
“They you had better leave and let the lady finish.” Warik turned to face the man with a casual easy but his tone was flat.
Seeing that there wasn’t an opportunity in the bath that didn’t involve a beat-down, the other man left, pulling the door shut. The cold air from outside had chilled them both.
Aarlia watched the exchange and couldn’t help smiling. When the other man had left she took the bottle of soap from Warik’s hand.
“Don’t you hate it when real life interferes with a wonderfully set up fantasy,” she winks at him then said. “Let me finish quick then you can have a chance.” Getting down to work, Aarila quickly washed then stood up and grabbed a towel. Warik noticed that she had little inhibition and a lot of curves.
“There’s always someone to spoil the party,” he smiled, enjoying the view until it was his turn. Though not as naturally uninhibited as the pilot he did his best to be ‘unbashful’ as he bathed quickly.