Open Onderon The Best Medicine

Falynn Tikarsis

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There wasn’t much struggle to begin with. Ranger Velt had efficiently, if not roughly, pinned the hooded figure to the ground, revealing a man no older than 20 years. The tension in the room began to dissipate as the young man spoke from his position on the ground. Tippie? Falynn remember the chicken in her arms. When they perceived no immediate threat, the two other rangers visibly began to relax.

By now, the creature in Falynn’s arms had ceased its futile struggle and when she laid it on a nearby chair, it mercifully did not move. While Ranger Velt stepped away from the young man, Falynn made her way to him taking care not to slip on the wet tiles. She knelt by the man and gently helped him to a sitting position, already observing for any signs of injury. Since he had landed hard on his back, her main concern was trauma to the head or spine. Falynn checked the eyes for dilation, and satisfied that there was nothing of note, moved on to the spine. His eyes had expressed more surprise than any pain. Taking care not to apply too much pressure, Falynn ran her hand down the back of the boy’s head and torso, feeling for swelling. From what Falynn observed, he had thankfully suffered nothing more than being winded from the impact on his back and maybe a few bruises.

Speaking kindly, she addressed the boy. “How do you feel? Let me know if you experience headache, nausea, or ringing in the ears. It might be a sign of a concussion. Also, if anything else seems amiss it would be better to alert me now, than have to explain a worsening injury to another physician.” Having deemed him stable, Falynn rose to her feet and lifted the chicken off the chair.

“Now, I believe this is your Tippie?” Falynn nodded to the creature and placed it in his lap. “Perhaps you would like to explain your side of the story before we create our own explanations?”


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Haji Sigidi

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At first, the woman's voice caught his blindfolded attention. The strength of her demands, her questions, were as heavy as a second body on top of him. Adrenaline pulsed through his body and thumped in his head, the man's brute force causing choke points in his arms and legs that cried for release. Her promise for that release lead to his mind's eventual ease. "I, I can't. I'm. He's. It's..."

A gasp of air seized into his chest as the man lifted off of him, and Haji curled into a ball rolling onto his side, coughing. His hood pulled off of him now into its natural position around his thin neck, a voluminous wrap around the back of his head with a low v-neck opening, his uncommonly youthful appearance was now on full display. His minimalist haircut and lack of facial hair no doubt added to the effect, though his eye tattoos often received varying results.

The comfort he felt from the gentle molding of his body into a seated position was what ultimately soothed him. Even though it happened almost without his awareness, he complied to the third person's touch. HIs thoughts still dwelled on the last woman's questions, her strength still gripping his chest with a feeling of pain that he could almost taste; and it blended perfectly with the man's anger. Still in shock, a hand running down his neck and spine, Haji tried to speak to the room with his fragile tone saying, "Nora. I mean, that's Nora. I mean that's Tippie. That's Nora's Tippie. (sigh) My name is Haji. I brought Tippie, but they wouldn't let her in. They said animals had to be prescreened under a special program, that they already had a company they worked with. But they don't understand. Nora loved Tippie. She made me promise to bring her. She wanted her to be the first thing she woke up to. So I snuck her in. But the nurse wouldn't let me see her. She scared Tippie and Tippie ran. And then the door, and the man who couldn't decide between his wife and his daughter, and the window, and you stole her. I just wanted to get Tippie back. For Nora. Nora is my friend."

Doe-eyed, Haji lifted his head to the volunteer then and innocently nodded. He vacantly opened his arms as Tippie descended into his lap, and he brightened with her arrival. He gently placed his hands on either side of her, one hand stroking her, and he smiled sadly, "Tippie."

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Bast Emblai

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The adrenaline had worn off and Bast’s heart softened slightly. She was safe. This was not an apprehension of a violent suspect. She even felt a bit foolish for her intimidating commands directed towards the man. There had been no intention on her part to manipulate him with fear. Tippie’s seeker was already compliant. The seasoned ranger had simply made a mistake and let her fear and preconceptions of the situation determine her course of action. Not only was it unwise, but her outburst was unnecessary and had perhaps upset the already frantic and damp figure. With a wheezing breath, the youth rolled onto his side. His hood slipped off revealing large, wide eyes shadowed by two relatively symmetrical dark tattoos. He appeared even younger than Bast had anticipated. His face was bright, his hair cropped, and he had an air of boyish innocence. The furrowed brow and concerned expression that appeared on his carefree face when discussing the chicken was enough to give Bast a pang of regret. They had scared the poor child half to death.

“Bringing in Tippie was very thoughtful. I can assure you we had no intentions of stealing her. I don’t think my lifestyle would be particularly suited for a chicken. It would certainly make it harder to be discreet when I was undercover if I was followed everywhere by a silky-feathered bird.“ A quiet sigh of relief escaped Bast’s mouth as the chicken and it’s chaperone of sorts were reunited. She was not particularly fond of birds. They were unnerving creatures with eyes positioned do they could see everything and an advantage over most species- wings. With sharp beaks and talons, thy were hardly cuddly. Clearly, however, the boy who had introduced himself as Haji was of a different opinion.

“Ranger Tikarsis. You have access to rooms, correct? Of course you are under no obligation to do so, but perhaps you could aid Tippie on her journey to this Nora. I see no harm in it.” Waking up from anesthesia could be little less than terrifying. Bast had been alone and disoriented. Two Intra-Venous lines had been yanked out of her arm before a nurse had rushed in and calmed her. If a bird would bring this girl, Nora, comfort, than Bast was going to make sure she had it.

Glancing over at Corran, who had been unusually quiet, Bast beckoned. She could see him shaking ever so slightly and guessed a little of the past still lingered in his mind. Once again, she reached out to pace her hand on his arm and ground him.
“That was quite the valiant dive at the window. Are you ...alright or do you need a moment?”

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Corran Velt

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Ranger Tikarsis’ analysis of the younger man was polite, astute, and thorough. Moreover, it was kind. That kind of bedside manner that couldn’t be taught. You just had to have the root character for it. That made Corran’s initial over-reaction all the more embarrassing. The Rangers were supposed to be exemplars of justice and virtue and Corran made the first impression that of a brute.

The window-climber – Haji was his name – stated that the chicken was some sort of gift? A present? For someone named Nora. The boy weaved a tale, rather sparse on details, of the trouble in the hallway, the window, and now here. Considering all other possibilities, it all fit together as logic went. Reunited with his fowl, Haji seemed more relaxed. It also helped he wasn’t being assaulted.
Bast made amends easier. Corran himself almost allowed himself to smirk at the idea of his fellow Ranger bringing in criminals with a chicken for a partner. After suggesting that Ranger Tikarsis could help poor Haji complete his quest, Corran noticed Bast beckoning to him out of the corner of his eye. Her hand felt like a weighted blanket on his arm. Did she have kids or something? What made Bast so well-versed in this type of clairvoyant comfort?

She was right though. Corran did need a moment. He wasn’t alright. That much was apparent. Bast herself struggled with the loss of her unit on Outpost Blue. Echo Squad, Corran’s unit, actually came out with some survivors. Out of the five Ranger squads to make the landing, Echo was the only one that wasn’t completely wiped out. Corran wondered if Bast had read the after-action reports. The condition Alpha and Omega squads were found in. Was that what was bothering him? The death?

“I… think I do need a moment,” Corran spoke in a low whisper to Bast, "but I do need to try to set things right.” The young man gently pulled away from her hospital bed and approached Haji. “Hey, uh, Haji. I’m Ranger Corran Velt and I officially want to apologize, on behalf of the Sector Rangers, for my rough handling of you earlier,” The male Ranger paused for the briefest of moments and let the professional discipline slacken, “I… Rangers get scared sometimes. I overreacted. I hope you can forgive me.”

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Falynn Tikarsis

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There had been a huge misunderstanding, that was for certain. From his seated position on the ground, the boy, Haji, related the details concerning his appearance at the hospital. He had brought the chicken for a friend of his, Nora. Unsurprisingly, Haji hadn’t known that all animals brought to the hospital were from a special program and had been prescreened. Falynn didn’t think it was common knowledge. Of course, individual animals could undergo the extensive screening process, but most people though it too much of a hassle. However, awaking from any sort of anesthetic was less than pleasant, so it had been thoughtful of him to bring Tippie for when Nora woke. All too often, a patient would wake frightened and disoriented and begin unintentionally harming themselves. Yes, Falynn decided, the chicken would be good for the girl to have.

“Tippie will have to be screened of course, and the process can be very extensive, but there is a way to get her to Nora.” Falynn smiled at Haji. “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure your friend will be able to see Tippie as soon as she wakes.” If he hadn’t looked as if he needed some time to rest, she would have invited the boy along. Alas, walking around the building and standing in long lines might not be the best idea for someone who had just been flung from the window.

Turning her head, Falynn spotted the two other rangers. Though she couldn’t make out what they were saying, she could observe them. Ranger Velt was shaking, though it was barely noticeable. The look on his face was now more despondent and bordered on...guilt? Falynn wasn’t sure. Bast had put a hand on his arm as a means of comfort. It was made clear to her than the two had been through a lot. Falynn was uncertain what the cause of Ranger Velt’s reaction was, but perceived that he needed some time to process.

After Ranger Velt had sincerely apologized to Haji, she spoke. “Ranger Velt...” Falynn glanced at up at him, “would you like to accompany me as I get Tippie screened? It shouldn’t take too long. Or, feel free to walk through the public areas of the hospital. It’s quite an impressive building.”


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Haji Sigidi

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Haji's attention lifted from Tippie, sad smile fading to obtuse vacancy, curiously evaluating the woman in the bed as she appeared to console him with anecdotal humor. He wasn't certain. But it sounded nice, so he punctuated her story with a thin smile. It wasn't until the woman suggested bringing Tippie to Nora, who unbeknownst to them was a seventy-six year old widow coming out of heart surgery, that Haji's spine snapped straight and his eyes lit up, "Really?" Then to the volunteer, "You will?!? That's amazing! Nora will be so happy, and I'll get to keep my promise, and Tippie will be back with Nora, and Nora will feel so much better."

With everything going so well between the two women and himself, Haji had pleasantly forgotten about the man who'd attacked him. All too suddenly, the brute was back in his face and Haji reeled from the sight. Tippie jumped in Haji's arms and he hugged her close, sobering him and sucking the blood and joy out of his face. His back touched the wall. Haji just stared at the man's man-chin, showing no signs of forgiveness or any expressions other than distrust. But a flicker of recognition crossed Haji's eyes when he heard the phrase Sector Rangers. He hadn't realized it if it'd already been said, but by now he was made aware of it and identified the familiarity of it. He questioned if it could be true, if these were friends of the people, friends of his Master's. Something in the realization of his feelings confirmed it, but he dared not move a muscle just yet. His Master's voice echoed in the back of his head, egging him on and promising that the fruit wouldn't be there if he didn't get up and pick it. But he still struggled with sitting on the sidelines. When the man was finished, Haji's eyes began to search for an escape to no avail. They did connect with the woman's in the bed at one point, but kept on searching. His thoughts were running, but as usual his body was of a different mind. It was one or the other, but hardly ever the same.

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Bast Emblai

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Bast watched Haji with interest and scrutiny. He had relaxed significantly and his eyes no longer darted around the room like a trapped animal’s. Her guilt faded slightly at his smile and she returned with a small upward twitch of her lips. Dealing with terrified people was no new task, but it was rare those clients were so fresh and young. She had never had much experience with children, they were fragile, impressionable, helpless. Now, after... what she had done to her team, she was not sure she could trust herself to be an adequate caretaker for such vulnerable, dependent creatures. The boy was clearly able to fend for himself, but he was shaken and Bast was at a loss for how to comfort him.

Nodding at Corran’s acknowledgement for need of a break, the ranger seated in the bed was taken by surprise when he offered an apology to Haji for pinning him to the floor. Admitting one’s fears and faults was a mature step indeed, and one Bast’s dignity rarely let her take. A warm swell of something resembling pride bloomed in her breast. And quickly withered, black and sour, as Haji backed against the wall, his fists clenched and shaking. The air felt electric. Knowing Corran only meant to make amends, yet seeing the shocked and fearful expression on Haji’s face, sent Bast reeling. Corran had tried to make justice. Haji was not accepting of it. But Haji was not an enemy, he was a sweet boy. She was torn, unsure of how to diffuse the situation that had followed a path completely unlike the one she had expected. Mercifully, Falynn spoke up and offered to bring Ranger Velt with her. Turning her attention back to the boy, who appeared as if he could bolt at any minute, Bast gave a concerned and somewhat forced smile.

“We will not hurt you. In fact, you could probably kill me easily, with me lying prone rather helplessly. Please refrain from doing so, however. Could you tell me about Tippie? Where is she from? Certainly not from anywhere around where I reside on Corellia.” Hoping the topic of the beloved bird would soothe the boy, she feigned interest and attempted to suppress her ever growing fear of the clawed and feathered beast that glared at her coldly from the other side of the room, where it was being carried out the door.

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Corran Velt

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Corran had hoped there would be forgiveness. At least coming to an understanding. There was nothing but distrust in the boy's eyes. Haji's gaze had an instinctual look. One of someone looking to get out. To get away. The male Ranger noticed something in the boy's features. Sure, the teenager was innocent in personality and countenance, but there was something else in those eyes. A will to survive. There was something more to Haji, though it wasn't obvious what. Regardless, Corran still felt a pang of regret for his actions. Even if they felt right in the moment. He possibly turned another galactic citizen away from trusting in the Sector Rangers; when they needed to earn and keep that trust the most. Corran wanted to say something to fix the situation but couldn't find the words.

Luckily, Bast spoke for him. Of course, in her own... usual way. Pointing out how easy someone could murder the wounded Ranger in her bed wouldn't be Corran's go-to admission to put someone at ease, but hey, Bast seemed to be pretty good at this comforting thing. Clearing his throat, the male Ranger nodded his head to Haji and Ranger Emblai as a polite withdrawal from the conversation. Thankfully, Corran also had an exit from the situation. "I'll take you up on that offer to escort the chicken," Corran said to Rangar Tikarsis, a little relief in his voice, "You can teach me the ropes of animal wrangling along the way."

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Falynn Tikarsis

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Ranger Velt had taken Falynn’s offer, and she left the room holding Tippie. All animals were screened in the main building, so that was where they would go first. Falynn had never taken an animal to be screened at BactaCorps before, but her volunteer orientation had covered it and she’d done it at previous hospitals. The process was standardized to some extent.

She looked down at the chicken in her arms. Falynn had to admit, Tippie was growing on her. What had started off as a frantic little thing was actually now quite calm and just a bit cuddly. “Well Ranger Velt, my secret to animal wrangling is basically to stay calm and hope the animal likes you enough not to do anything,” she chuckled shaking her head. “Actually there’s a pretty good chance you have more experience with animals than I do. I think it’s safe to call my success back in the room luck. Not to mention, you were the one who drove Tippie to me. I didn’t do much except stand with my arms open. Perhaps you should be telling me your strategy.”

Upon arriving at the screening center, Falynn placed Tippie in the hands of a lab technician who would do a behavioral analysis, looking for aggressive tendencies that could pose a problem to any patient. Based on what Falynn had observed, she didn’t think they would find anything significant. Tippie was not a naturally aggressive creature. They would also test the chicken for any transmittable pathogens that could endanger someone with a weakened immune system. Most of the pathogens found were not a huge issue and the animal could still be cleared. In the event that Tippie did had something...well, she might have to undergo some unpleasant injections that would keep the disease from being passed on.

Falynn explained the detailed process to Ranger Velt as they waited. She hoped Haji would begin to relax with the male ranger‘s absence, and that the ranger could take the moment he needed in a calmer atmosphere. Remembering what had happened in Bast’s room, Falynn quietly addressed the man. “How are you doing, Ranger Velt?” It was a question Falynn always asked, no matter who she spoke with. Whether the person took the question lightly or revealed deeper thoughts was up to them, but the answer still provided insight on their character.


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Haji Sigidi

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Once the other two had left, Haji rose from the corner with relaxed arms, cloak draping down his form. He payed no mind to the rainwater that glossed the floor. A chilly breeze carried in through the open window. He walked to the foot of the bed, somber expression hanging from his face and replied slowly, "I would never." The notion of someone killing her all but offended him. But her next question cured his spirits, causing his eyes to smile. "She's Nora's. From Nora's house. Well, she's not from Nora's house. I don't know where she's from. But when those men from the docks were hurting her, I knew I had to do something. Nora said they were aiming at some jiggery-pokery, but it looked like they were aiming at her to me. I don't know, I couldn't see that well in the dark."

A thought crossed his mind that hadn't before, and suddenly he felt defensive on Nora's behalf, and also a little for himself for not thinking of it before. He folded his arms together beneath his cloak and twisted a distrusting glance at the door, representing the man called Corran Velt, then turned his stare back at the woman in the bed. He nearly outright denied that Tippie was illegal, but he honestly didn't know. He'd had mixed experiences with police types and didn't know who to trust. Sometimes they wore their badges over their hearts, locked them away and lost the key. Haji knew that Nora needed a friend like Tippie. She was a nice old lady and she deserved every happiness life could spare her.

"He said Sector Ranger. You didn't say your name. Are you Sector Ranger too?" Haji sometimes lacked social finesse. His tone was accusatory, but it came from a place of enterprise. He'd been alone for what felt like some time now. Leaving his lightsaber at Nora's apartment was the biggest chance he'd calculated in a while. His master had taught him not to reveal it unless absolutely necessary, so it hadn't seen much use lately, but he still felt incomplete without it. Little did he know that the men he'd crossed were ransacking the place now, but what they'd find was still yet to be determined. Here, now, Haji was concerned with his future. It could be that all this was predestined to unite them on the path. But Haji wasn't certain.

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Bast Emblai

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Nodding and watching, the retired detective analysed the Haji’s story. He spoke in rapid, abrupt sentences, words spilling out of his mouth like a tap, then stopping quickly, as if the tap had been turned off. He appeared to still be fearful, repeating information and tweaking it, as if he was afraid she would fact check him. It was still unclear who Nora was. A sister? A girlfriend? A relation? Nevertheless, she managed to piece together that the bird had been rescued, perhaps even stolen. Bast decided it would be wiser not to mention her suspicions of illegal obtaining methods, after all, it mattered little poultry was overproduced and wasted. The crime, if it was that, was harmless.

Rather suddenly, the subject shifted. “My apologies. I am Bast Emblai, and yes, I am a Sector Ranger. Tell me a bit more about yourself. From where do you hail? Are you a merchant?” Given his attire and loose, hooded cloak, she doubted he was a merchant, but generally, people liked to correct her without thinking and could reveal some about themselves. For better or for worse, Bast’s behavioral analysis observations never switched off. She had become hyper aware.

“Say, it was quite kind of you to visit me. You certainly brought more amusement to my day than the stoic nurses. You seem like a good man, visiting this Nora. If you ever need help...” The woman’s eyes trailed off into the hallway where the sound of shrill sobbing and screaming echoed, perhaps a reaction from receiving bad news, or if it came from another room, pain. She lost her train of thought and it took almost every ounce of the woman’s concentration to finish her sentence. “...uh...let m... me know”

Bast could feel herself slipping away. Her heartbeat quickened and her eyes stung. Head throbbing, she heard the screams of one of her men, smelt his burning flesh, knowing she could do nothing to help him. His eyes were wide and glazed, his mouth frozen in those screams as the life passed out of him. Ranger Orn by her side as they ran. She was breathing hard. It felt as if she were drowning. He joked about being locked in a room with her. The door flew open and someone slammed her to the ground. It was cold and new fear surged through her. Now she was screaming, thrashing. A soft slicing sound and Orn was on the floor beside her, a scarlet line across his throat. Bast’s eyes were wet. She was a world away from the hospital bed, lying on a bloodstained floor and being beaten. Hard boots kicked. She felt nauseous. She stilled and closed her eyes, sweat pouring over her.

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Corran Velt

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The process, as Ranger Tikaris described it, was more fascinating than one would initially think. Or she made it sound more interesting. Corran had always had a natural interest in the medical sciences and first aid. It seems like such a... practical skill to have. Especially in his line of work. Of course, the only experience Corran had with anything medical was letting bruises heal naturally and applying bacta-patches to wounds large and small. Maybe Falynn could teach him a thing or two. She certainly was delivering the finer points of animal health and screening with ease.

The male Ranger looked upon the medical staff investigating the wings and feet of the feathery creature silently when Falynn asked an innocently-sounding question that was as loaded as the Death Star. Corran wanted to brush it off with a simple I'm good. How are you? but that wouldn't suffice. The man began with a resigned sigh and anxiously folded his arms, "You mean 'why did I throw an innocent person into the tiles' back there? I don't know. I'm not normally like this." That was an honest admission, though not quite an answer. Falynn was a Sector Ranger and likely would understand if she had any experience in the field at all. If she didn't, she would need to understand eventually.

"Ranger Emblai - Bast - and I came back from an operation in the Manaan sector recently. Casualties were... high. Around 85%," Corran starred blankly ahead at the other medical personnel checking the vitals of the chicken and preparing for some blood work, "I experienced some things I wasn't prepared for. I haven't slept much since then either. I guess you could say I'm a little on edge."

That version of events would do. The official report is more polished, descriptive, and sterile. That doesn't stop the grim reality of what happened at Outpost Blue from bleeding through though. The beheading, the torture, the body bags, and Corran's first time taking a life. Was that bothered him most? Finally, the man turned to face Falynn, "I promise I'm a disciplined and restrained professional. And... I'd also like to think I'm a nice guy."

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Falynn Tikarsis

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Falynn listened as the ranger described the recent event he‘d been through. More importantly, she understood. Although she did not specialize in psychology, Falynn knew how witnessing certain events could put people on edge. That combined with lack of sleep was sure to make anyone act abnormally. Before joining the Sector Rangers, she had been aware of the physical and emotional strain the position would take on the body and mind. When Ranger Velt spoke of the causality rate, Falynn’s heart sank. 85% was indeed very high. Over the years, she had seen her share of death, but it still affected her all the same. Death was not something to be taken lightly. Looking back on Haji’s sudden appearance at the window in a new light, Falynn could understand perfectly what had played a hand in Corran’s actions.

When he had finished, Falynn simply said, “I understand. Death of any sort isn’t often something people can shake off and then pretend as if everything’s normal.” She then let the subject rest, for it would do no good to push a topic which was already difficult to share. Falynn did appreciate Corran’s honesty. Though it would certainly have been easier to give a short, terse reply, he had chosen to share more of the personal details, which better explained where his actions had stemmed from.

There was silence as Falynn waited for the medical personnel to finish Tippie’s screening. Several minutes later, the technician came out carrying the slightly ruffled chicken, now with a tag around her leg identifying her as cleared. “You’re all set. The chicken has been cleared and it’s safe for her to be in contact with hospital patients.”

Falynn thanked the worker and turned to Corran, thinking of his last words. “For the record, I don’t doubt that you’re an inherently amiable person. Everyone goes through moments that unexpectedly affect them.” She thought back to when she’d witnessed her first death and inwardly sighed. It had shook her - the feeling of helplessness at being unable to save the man. Even though she had possessed the knowledge, she hadn’t posessed the time it would take. “Well, now that Tippie has been cleared, are you ready to head back, or do you need more time? It’s your call.”


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Haji Sigidi

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"No, not a merchant," he blurted out emphatically. Contorted expression fading to pride with the lifting of his chin, recollection of his still newly given title Jedi Knight warmed his swelling chest. But when he was about to start spinning his latest tale, concealing his identity and twisting the truth as his master had taught him, he noticed Bast starting to babble like an influenced addict with overly affectionate sentiments. And his concerns were confirmed when she trailed off right before his eyes. First he feared the worst, jaw dropping and hands lifting from under his cloak. He moved to the side of her bed, searching, swimming through the concern he felt for any wounded creature. It broke down his wall. And he called to her, "Bast? Miss Bast?"

His panic began to calm as his thoughts carried him to his first idea. He had to concentrate, and so slowed his breathing. He hesitated to touch the stranger's arm, but concluded the connection required it. So his palm rested gently on her wrist.

He breathed. Closing his eyes, he reached out to her form in the dark. He looked into the void, and there in the distance was a light. He reached for the light and drew closer, until embracing it with a hand rounding behind its silhouette. HIs mind touched hers, feeling the emotion. They took hold.

His body shuttered to the fierceness of her feelings. His other hand had found the side of her head and his forehead rested upon hers.

He sensed her panic, her pain, and was helpless to wrestle with the oppressive weight of it all. He heard his own voice, an echo of when he was thrown from the window. The memory of the assault, the physical force of it felt doubly familiar. That small moment opened the door, and the light bled into the dark as his helplessness and discomfort melded with her tortured distress. Then he heard her voice. He was her. No, not just her voice. There were others all around us. We were drowning, and then slammed to the ground. Fear surged. We were screaming, thrashing. Boots kicked us.

"Breathe." Tears wet his threaded lashes, not his. His voice commanded them to obey, as if to force himself to comply so that he might convince her in so doing, not just to breathe air but to find peace. The Force welled inside, rising through him. An infectious serenity spread from him, hoping to reach her. And as it did in him, he warmed to the light of a healing sunrise. It peered over the horizon until it pierced her nightmare with impaling beams. The light cried joy of empathetic grace into the filling cavity until it could breathe nothing else, overflowing with love.

The hospital room quaked with a delicate trembling, evident only in small objects tittering about the tables and in some cases even floating.

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Bast Emblai

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There was no end to the pounding. The sickly sweet smell of blood left smeared on the floor stung her nostrils. It was so real, so fresh, so painful. Another kick. Blood and saliva dribbled out of the side of her mouth as she breathed, wheezing. The woman in the hospital bed could not hear her name nor feel the gentlest touch on her wrist. She was shaking, petrified. Then there was a warmth. Bast had given up fighting. “Breathe,” a voice washed over her. Somehow, she felt safer. No longer trapped in an endless cycle of nightmare. It was as if someone had draped a thermal blanket over her. The base fear and guilt were still there, as was her own revulsion at what she had caused. But whatever she was lying on was soft and there was no blood. A slowing beep-beep on the monitor next to her. A hand on hers. A forehead resting against hers.

Bast finally regained control of her breathing, sensing Haji’s steady breaths and serenity. She opened her eyes. One of the flowers Corran had brought her was floating slightly above the vase. Strange that she did not recall him saying they had levitation properties. Looking up at the boy beside her, she saw a face peaceful yet focused. The ranger had never experienced anything like it. Was it some sort of drug that had been administered. Although Bast‘s voice shook somewhat as she spoke, she gave a bewildered and relieved smile.

“What... happened? Haji?”. Then utterly exhausted, she lay her head back, only to find her pillow had been floating ever so slightly as well.

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Corran Velt

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The silence between Corran and Ranger Tikarsis felt awkward for the male Ranger. Sure, Falynn had claimed to understand but Corran still felt insecure about this first impression. First he tackled someone in a potentially insane panic and maybe over-shared when he intended to moderate. The silence offered no answers.

Mercifully, a medical worker arrived with Tippie to interrupt. The fowl had been screened, tagged, and given the stamp of approval. To think, all that kerfuffle over a procedure as simple as that. After the Technician had delivered the chicken and departed, Falynn actually did have something kind to say. Corran felt relieved in a sort of indescribable way. Perhaps he hadn’t besmirched himself after all. At least, not entirely.

Now came the question of what to do next. As much as any other man in any other situation would have probably taken the opportunity to spend more one-on-one with Falynn, Corran felt like it would be better to not leave Bast Emblai alone for too long. Besides, Nora needed their Tippie.
“Do I need more time? Oh, I see how it is. No, I think I learned my lesson in time out,” The male Ranger jested, “Let’s get this little bird back to her owner.”

The walk back to Bast's medical ward was a short one, but Corran figured that once the bird situation had been resolved that he would maybe go back to the Crimson Venture and try to get some sleep. If not, maybe take off ahead of schedule and get somewhere else. He wasn't really sure where. That nucleus of a plan disintegrated as soon as the pair of Rangers opened the door to the hospital room. Corran froze in the doorway but didn't immediately react. Objects floated aloft in the air and others looked like they had been scooted across the tables or shelves. The man's gut instinct was to immediately charge the lad who was standing at Bast's bed side, but he cooled that fighting spirit with cold logic. Wordlessly, he entered into the room, one step after the other, and gestured for Falynn to follow. When the two Rangers were inside, he closed the door slowly.

For anyone who had seen it before, it was obvious Haji was a force-user. Corran didn't trust them, but the Jedi zealots could be negotiated with while the Sith Empire criminals would have already butchered the room. "Bast.... Haji.... is everything alright in here?" The male Ranger asked calmly as he gradually advanced on the pair near the hospital bed. He wasn't sure if Ranger Tikarsis had ever seen a force-user in action, but he hoped she wouldn't overreact. Force-users were incredibly dangerous, even the kind ones when they wanted to be, and Haji was still an unknown in many ways.


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Falynn Tikarsis

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Falynn smiled at Ranger Velt’s jest, silently relieved he hadn’t taken her meaning in a wrong way. As they walked back to Bast’s room, Falynn reflected upon the landslide of events that had only recently occurred. She had to admit, this hospital visit had been unusually lively, but not in an unpleasant sort of way.

Just as they were about to enter Ranger Emblai’s room, Corran froze in the doorway, subsequently blocking her view of what had surprised him. It appeared that for the second time that day, Falynn had walked right into the middle of something. When he carefully entered the room, gesturing for her to follow, she knew all was not right. Quietly, she came in and almost gasped at the sight she beheld. Only years of training for unpredictable events kept her clear-headed and seemingly calm. Several objects were levitating in the air, mysteriously controlled by some force. No, she corrected herself, the Force. The other rangers were as genuinely shocked as she was, so it couldn’t have been their doing. That left Haji. There could be no other explanation, he was a force-user.

Falynn’s knowledge of force-users was minimal to say the least. She’d never encountered one personally or even knew of them until leaving her home world. As a young girl, they would have been like a figment of her imagination. It wasn’t until arriving on Coruscant and doing some of her own research that she realized just how real they were. She remembered another medical intern bringing up the subject of force-users and their supernatural abilities after a lab one day. Her curiosity piqued, Falynn had done some browsing to discover more about a force-user’s talents. She had learned that they wielded a power called the Force and used it to carry out extraordinary actions. It had struck her that if what the text stated was so, then they could potentially use it for healing purposes. That thought had been too incomprehensible to fully process. Nevertheless, being in command of so much power undoubtedly meant that the user could exploit it however they chose.

Snapping back to the present, Falynn watched Haji carefully for any sudden movement. If the situation escalated...she didn’t want to think of everyone that could be involved. Sighing, Falynn murmured more to herself than anyone, “Please let there be a reasonable explanation for this.”

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Haji Sigidi

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Everything dropped.

"What.... What??" At first he replied sleepily. She had opened her eyes first. Then he opened his. And to his surprise, she was awake. Her eyes were right there. And then there were the others, returned. He stumbled backwards into a table, reached for support, knocked over some contraption and wobbled the table. His hand found the drenched windowsill, and he stabilized his slick boots. He held his chest, eyes turning over in his head that was still swimming with dreams. He braced himself, seeing double. The lights blurred his vision. They were hot. The rain cooled his knuckles. The thought of jumping came to mind.

"I uh. She, m-miss Bast was in trouble. She. The dreams. Terrible dreams. Ranger Orn. I didn't do anything... wrong. It's not what it looks like" He pointed at Bast before touching his temple. He hadn't known pain like that himself, only in others. It was a gift, his curse. It lingered in his innocent soul still.

"Don't hurt me, please." He cowered behind a hand, outstretched and protecting him from Ranger Corran. His words were a mixture of sentiments and experiences, both his own and Bast's. It was almost as though he was still being kicked and bludgeoned. And yet he was aware. "Please don't tell. Don't tell anyone."

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Bast Emblai

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As soon as Bast’s head had touched the pillow, the door opened once more and she shot back up. There was a pause. Corran entered the room cautiously, calmly. She would have never guessed the man had been taken by panic just a few moments earlier. Ranger Tikarsis followed close behind and shied slightly at the strange scene. Suddenly, the objects that had been so fluidly suspended, as if in the vacuum of space, crashed down. Flinching at the noise, Bast’s eyes quickly scanned the room for any broken objects.

Haji startled awake from his trance and ran like a terrified animal towards the still open window. Just as she thought he might scamper out, the boys eyes rolled back and he clutched his chest. Barely thinking, the recovering woman tried to swing her legs over the side of the bed and help. Was Haji having a heart attack? Was he dying? She could no let anyone else die on her watch. Although she had full range of motion in her upper body, the woman’s legs gave no support as she tried to stand. Collapsing back onto the cot, she silently reprimanded herself for her foolishness. Her body was only human and a faulty human one at that. The only mercy appeared to be that the boy had recovered from his fit and now extended an arm to protect himself from blows he anticipated. There were none.

“He is telling the truth. I... slipped back. I am fine now.” The last part was not entirely true, but expressing distress would aid no one. She was able to think straight, and that was what mattered. “Haji helped. I shudder to think what he saw if it is true He is a force user. I have heard empathy can sometimes be a curse.”

Turning towards the boy at the window, she calmed her voice, using the one she typically reserved for traumatised witnesses to violent crimes. “Come stand by me, Haji. Away from the window. Perhaps we should close it. Ranger Corran is one of the best men I know. Loyal and kind. He helped save my life. He would never take yours. Ranger Falynn... is... well, I assume a guardian of the law. The law does to take lightly to violent attacks.” Making eye contact with Corran, she tried to communicate it was okay. Hopefully, the two had been through enough together for him to trust her. If he considered her trustworthy anymore. Without taking her eyes of the ranger, she directed a question towards the woman poised next to him. “What is the news on Tippie?”


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Corran Velt

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The atmosphere of wonder and mystery came clattering down with the various floating and shifting objects in the hospital room. A tense aura returned. Corran knew that Haji could fling him around the room like a rag-doll or chuck the Ranger out the window with a flick of the wrist. Force-users were dangerous and cornered ones were likely to be even more destructive. The male Ranger showed the palms of his hands, speaking softly to the Force-user by the window, "No one is going to hurt you, Haji. No one has to know about your... abilities. Close the window, will you? Ranger Bast could catch a cold."

Corran had no idea what power Haji had used on Bast, but it sounded like some sort of memory-scan. He mentioned Ranger Orn, Bast's recently beheaded partner, and terrible dreams. Whatever Force-user had seen, it must have been truly painful. Bast, for her part, confirmed Corran's initial guess. She had struggled to rise to her unresponsive feet only to fall back onto her sterile mattress. Even a broken body couldn't stop her drive to action. The wounded Ranger then asked after the chicken.

The male Ranger gestured to his female companion and the fowl in her arms, "Ranger Tikarsis is the medical expert in the room, so it's best that she deliver the good news." Corran hoped that would be the final push to bring Haji back to the present reality. Though the discovery of the young man's abilities gave the Ranger an anxious pit in his stomach. When Corran wrestled Haji to the ground earlier, could he have crushed the Ranger's throat with only a stare? Did Haji have membership in one of the Force-based religious sects? Who were his "people?" A rogue and undisciplined Force-user would be worse than one constrained by a code.

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