Log:First Order: Jakku Raids
Night has fallen on Jakku (this half of it anyway), an uneasy silence settling over this small village settlement, mostly characterized by a few hide huts that their owners have erected here using bone and dry old wood as frames. There are a few newer, more modern material buildings, but they appear to have been cobbled together from scraps rather than designed deliberately, although their makers have done the best they could with limited resources.
A trio of First Order transports rockets through the night, flying low over the horizon. Inside, harsh white light flares up as the target draws into view, and a voice blares over the speakers. "PREPARE TO ASSAULT." Rows of troopers in immaculate white armor fill the ships as they come in hot. The transports will land next round, giving the villagers time to do villager things before they are brutally slaughtered.
For many, this means sitting around the fire, roasting rodents or spinning yarns of past glories, the time Old Man Taki found an Imperial blaster rifle in a fallen AT-AT and nearly blew his own head off, for instance, which brings a laugh and tear to every scavenger who hears it.
"Now, remember that, uh, we don't necesarilly need any of them alive," Arvis begins, standing near the ramp of one of the dropships, his hand holding tightly to one of the hanging grips. "But...you know...err on the side of diplomacy. Initially."
The flickering, uneven lighting of the transport rocks the lines of white-armored troopers as they swoop toward the planet, and a gloved grip tightens around a strap set into the vehicle. FN-2003 is silent and still, save for the jostling of his armor against his fellows. The orders recieve a narrowing of his eyes behind the helmet and the smallest of sneers. Initially.
Ylia is nobody special. She's a human woman with the lines of a hard life written into her face, and rumors about her abound in the small settlement where she ekes out a living now. Was she a pirate? A mercenary? Nobody knows, she won't talk about it, but rumors say that she owns a rifle, that she used it 10 years back to defend against a troupe of rival scavengers who thought maybe thieving was better than scavenging. Rumors say that; truth and evidence say that it doesn't generally go well for the 'lonely' who have tried to mess with her. It's a quiet life now though and she's done well enough to have a hut made of duracrete and old ship parts, not just hide and bone. Every day is the same. Every night is the same. She likes that, in a way. But tonight.... this night is different, there are ships coming, ships never come here for good reasons. They come to burn and die, and to do the same to anyone else getting close enough. The villagers are starting to scramble, uncertain, gathering possessions even though they have nowhere to go. Ylia sets her lips into a firm, grim line and ducks inside her home, to retrieve that storied weapon. Just in case.
FN-2187 shifts into his row, the first trooper of his clan. Slips, Zeroes, and Nines are behind him and FN-2187 glances back briefly to give his companions a nod of assurance. Not to be caught being a sentimental jack off, the buckethead snaps his attention to Arvis and 'Yes Sir!'s with the rest of the task force. His shoulders slag just a slight bit as he readies himself for the task at hand. At close enough inspection of his body language, this trooper doesn't appear to be nearly as thrilled at the night's planned activity. "Keep close. Don't scatter," Eight-Seven hisses at the line behind him. Mostly at Slips.
Who is Lyri? Everyone knows that, because she won't stop talking about it, and though she has shared every detail with those she scavenges with, you won't be tortured with it today. The short answer is no one, just a scrappy looking young woman who appears to be somewhere in her twenties. In fact, she's sitting around one of the fires now, talking the ear off if someone who is roasting a rodent and trying to take it easy at the end of a long, hard day. No such luck, friend, or at least, that's how it was shaping up to be, but the sound of something strance silences the young woman a moment. Then, "What was that?" Then people are scrambling, so she scrambles into the structure that serves as her home as well.
The three transports fly in to the sound of repulsorlifts and some John Williams orchestra hits, dah dah dah DAH DAH DAH, you know the deal. It's very foreboding, the dark crafts swooping in with bright, blue-white spotlights flooding the village with unnatural light. If it wasn't clear that these transports do not bode well for the villagers, the landing ramps that thump into the sand reveal six single-file rows of Stormtroopers, nearly indistinguishable to those who manned the giant death machines that now litter the deserts here. Old Man Taki grabs up that rifle and prepares to open fire, sending a wild shot upwards in his haste that nearly blows his head off a second time. By now, panic has set in and many are either scattering to the wind or scrambling for piecemeal weapons.
The First Order has come to Jakku.
"Hold your fire!" Arvis commands, walking down the ramp of the transport, his hands held upward. His blaster pistol is still drawn, of course. "HOLD YOUR FIRE!" he commands once again, this one more directed at the villagers.
Slip holds his fire, but he can't hold his footing. Stepping off the ramp, his boots sink into the sand and trip him up. He catches himself on the transport, his weapon swinging in a crazy arc as he swings his arms to catch himself. "I hate sand." He growls behind his helmet, bringing his weapon to bear once his feet are under him, and points it at the scrambling villagers. Ylia, looking at you.
"Taki, stop!" Ylia yells at the village idiot, to no avail. "Crotting senile geezer is going to get us all killed," she hisses, and then decides to set her sights a little lower and go after a different idiot. She runs through the panic, dodging villagers, and then ducks into a tent where she saw... "Lyri," Ylia says grimly, and reaches into the folds of her robes, to toss the younger woman a cloth-wrapped object. "Take this. Defend yourself. Or shoot yourself in the head if things get bad." Then she ducks back out again, taking shelter behind a half-wall and readying her grip on her rifle. Seems she's disinclined to volunteer as first in line for village spokesperson, but she could probably be spotted and pointed at with a YOU THERE if no one else addresses the Order.
FN-2187 rolls his shoulders as the ramp flumps down. Oh look, a helpless village. There is a tinny inhale of air from Eight-Seven as the trooper stomps down first, heels sinking into the sand as he moves forward. He doesn't need to turn to know what just conspired behind him. "Nines. Go ahead," the head of their group commands, allowing the Z6 baton wielding trooper to scoot into the head of the line. "C'mon," Eight-Seven mumbles at Slip as he helps haul the man up from his slip. "Gonna get your ass beat back at base for that. So step it up, Slip." Close by, Zeroes rumbles a knowing laugh at a Slip beat-down. FN-2187 nudges Zeroes a bit hard with the butt of his rifle before it's lifted up and trained on the villagers.
Lyri is hiding in her tattered tent like structure, just hoping that the bad people go away. It's not going to happen though, and some part of her knows it. The flap to her tent pulls back, and even though it's a familiar figure she lets out a yelp. Another yelp follows as the item is tossed to her, but she's fast, and she catches it. A moment is spent unwrapping the thing, considering whether or not to use it on herself now, but no. Not yet. Instead she steels herself, and slips out of her tent, not through the front, but the back, trying to skirt the shadows as best she can to shoot some bucketheads should she need to.
While Arvis is making his commands, the transports empty out, the stormtroopers forming into three wedge-shaped formations prepared to open fire at any sign of provocation. Further provocation. Watch it there, Old Man Taki.
The old man himself has that old Imperial carbine trained on Locke, ready to put the whippersnapper in his place. "We don't got what you want!" he yells in a high, shrill voice, glancing over at Ylia and nodding enthusiastically for support. "Whatever it is, we don't got it!"
"Everyone just, uh, remain calm, alright? Alright," Arvis begins, palms still presented to the villagers. "/I/...am Commander Arvis Locke of the First Order. We don't mean you any harm. We're just interested in the location of Lor San Tekka. /He's/ the one we want. Let us know where we can find him, and...well, we'll be on our way." Goldblum smile.
Slip is advancing with his unit, following behind Eight-Seven with a grumbled 'kriffhead' to Zeroes. He's upright now, okay?! He's got this, he's gonna live forever. With his rifle trained on Ylia, he gives it an intimidating jerk toward the center of the village as Locke demands Tekka's location.
Ylia isn't buying the Order spokesman's reassurance enough to come out from her position behind the rubble-wall. She checks to see if the rifle is set to kill and not stun... of course it is, got stuck that way years ago and there's no budging it now. "There's nobody here by that name!" she yells in the general direction of the Order troops. "We don't know any 'Lor San Tekka.' Take whatever you want and leave, that name's not ours."
FN-2187 allows Slip in front of him as they advance forward, weapons up and aimed. Behind his visor he is mostly watching Slip, not the pathetic scene unfolding in front. "Don't shoot until you're told," Eight-Seven urges the trooper. His weapon stays still, catching the words of Ylia.
Lyri doesn't seem to buy the reassurance either, but these aren't exactly a welcoming people, especially not to armed and armoed strangers who show up in the night. That never bodes well. Ask her how she knows that, she'll tell you. It's from her little hiding spot that probably isn't as good as she thinks that she aims her blaster at the speaking man, one Arvis 'Goldblum' Locke, though it's held with trembling hands. She hasn't fired yet, but she's jumpy, so it really could happen at any moment.
Dah dah dah DAH DAH, here comes another ship. This one is a shuttle with long, menacing wings that slowly tent together and slide like tectonic plates into a more compact shape as it settles into the sand, gouts of steam hissing as the landing ramp extends and a dark figure strides down the ramp towards Locke, flanked by stormtroopers on either side. The chrome lining his mask glimmers with reflected firelight, and a harsh, vocoded voice projects out towards the commander. "San Tekka. He isn't here?" The black hole of his visor turns towards the rest of the village. "Then kill them all. Leave him nowhere to hide."
This brings a wail from the old man hunkered down near Ylia.
"This isn't really, uh, going as planned, is it?" Arvis asks over his shoulder at the group of Stormtroopers.
Then Kylo shows up. He nods in agreement and addresses his soldiers. "Fire!" he shouts, raising his pistol and squeezing the trigger twice. Both of his bolts fly wide, though.
Bypassing Eight-Seven with a tinny "roger, boss", Slip slinks forward, his body turned and his weapon shifting from villager to villager. Now that his intended target has started yelling at Locke, he lets his focus move from Ylia to scan for dangers. There's the one rambling old man that shot earlier, and a scared looking female hiding out with a shaky trigger finger. About to aim at Lyri, it's then that Kylo arrives and the the order comes through. Instead, he swings his aim for the closest villager and he squeezes a round off, the blaster bolt blowing a hole into a low, stone wall.
"He's not HERE," Ylia yells in a combination of disbelief and despair. Someone... something? gives the order to kill them all, and she lets out a ragged "NO!" before raising the rifle from her hunkered down position and firing at whatever trooper. They're all the same! Some of those rumors about a mercenary past life might have been true.
FN-2187 stiffens a tad as Kylo Ren makes an appearance. "Krif krif krif," he begins to mutter to himself, slogging forward as the legion of troopers start to march on the village. Bolts begin to fly and Eight-Seven takes a potshot at a random body flying through buildings. It hits, miraculously, killing the villager. But FN-2187 isn't watching anymore. "SLIPS," Eight-Seven shouts, as he spies a hit connect to his friend. "You okay?!" Eight-Seven drops down, maneuvering towards the other FN trooper.
Lyri knew this was bad news, she KNEW it, but when the masked thing orders them all killed, it's still shocking. Terrified, she squeezes the trigger of the blaster she was given, firing at the liar who promised they would all be safe. The first shot misses the mark and sails right past Arvis and Kylo, but the second is far more accurate, and heading right for the older man on what looks to be a dangerous trajectory. Not that she waits to see if it hit, she ducks lower immediately after firing, trying to make herself as small a target as possible.
When the order is given, the stormtroopers as a whole begin to open fire, and the villagers fire back, but these are highly trained military operatives against Old Man Taki and one maybe-former-mercenary, as well as a smattering of whoever else happens to have the will to live and fight tonight. A shot sails harmlessly past the dark figure and the commander, but when Lyri takes her second shot, something different happens.
The masked man suddenly turns toward her, his hand reaching out towards the blaster bolt like a claw, and with a tense shift in the atmosphere, the red bolt abruptly halts in midair, shifting and shuddering as it tries to go forward but can't, held in place by some invisible force. The trajectory it's on is obvious, tracing a straight line toward Arvis's chest, and held only a few feet away from finishing it. "Clean things up here and move on to the next village," Ren instructs, nudging Arvis to take a step back as he strides towards his shuttle. Once his foot steps onto the ramp, the energy jolts back into life, rocketing forward to thud into one of the huts.
Old man Taki gives a howl, and shoves that old Imperial gun up over the rubble wall he's hunkered behind to shoot at FN-2187 as he tries to help his friend, only just missing.
So this is how Arvis Locke, hero of the Empire, dies. Shot to death on some backwater by a nobody with a borrowed gu-oh, wait. He's fine. Unclosing his eyes, Arvis notes the halted bolt and steps out of the way.
"Yes, Kylo," he remarks, raising his blaster to fire at one of the nobodies in attendance.
He should have kept his eyes on Ylia, because the woman's blast catches Slip hard in the chest, blowing him back to the ground with a staggered groan. The downed trooper, panting with labored, shallow breathes, manages to drag himself upright, a hand swinging out to use 2187's approach to steady his shaky legs. "Fine, fine." He growls, voice a wheeze. He can smell blood inside his helmet, can feel the oppressive fear Kylo always presses when he's nearby, doing magic. "Let's kill this desert scum, buddy." He growls to 2187 as he sends a bolt toward Ylia and it tears into the ground with an explosion of super-heated sand.
O shit son, it's SPACE MAGIC up in here. Ylia expected a lot of things at this point, up to and including certain death, but she did not expect Lyri's bolt to be stopped by the masked creature, to hang in mid air exactly like blaster bolts do not. "No," she whispers to no one but herself, "No..." The moment of distraction costs her as a trooper's bolt catches her right in the arm, but she hisses in pain and wakes up again. "Lyri, get out of here!" she tries to yell at her younger friend, but both of them know how remote this place is. Both of them know there's nowhere to go. Both of them heard an order, no survivors. They're not going to live through this. So that's how it ends... at least she didn't die of sickness, alone in her own filth, or baked under the sun after getting lost in endless dunes. Could be worse. Ylia draws a breath and fires again. Could be worse.
FN-2187 holds firm for FN-2003 to heave himself up. "That's m'boy," Eight-Seven cheers with a light thwap to Slip's back. He keeps closer this time, hovering on Slip's six to cover fire. It's a pity that he didn't see who fired at his buddy. Eight-Seven swings his rifle around, downing someone damn near Ylia as they run for their lives. There is a grunt from Eight-Seven as he moves forward. "Cover ahead," he reports to FN-2003 as they approach rando-village structures. "Take it. I'll guard point. Nines! Come guard Slip's flank, he's injured!" But Nine just snorts and moves away. Future Finn growls under his breath.
The bolt stops. THE BOLT STOPS. Lyri marvels at this, glacing around for all the people who aren't there. She wants to marvel with someone, but all of her friends are busy doing other things, like dying. She watches Arvis simply step out of the way of the bolt that would have surely hit him, before it's released and harmlessly takes out a tent. A small cry escapes as she sees Ylia hit, hearing the call to run, to flee, and at that order she's on her feet and ready to run. Except she doesn't, because there isn't anywhere for her to go, so instead she starts to fire at the people in armor, getting off another pair of shots that are allowed to hit their target this time. Some random trooper, never given a name, topples over in the sand. She's definitely going to die, but she'll be going out with a fight.
As the stormtroopers fan out to destroy the village and leave no survivors, the specialized troopers come out from the rear, toting flamethrowers and spitting gouts of fire onto the huts and shacks, while their comrades continue to gun down civilians left and right. A bare few of the villagers seem to know what they're doing, with a pair of women so far being the most effective, while Old Man Taki struggles to clear a jam in his carbine. "Get 'em!" he shrieks, smacking the weapon against an old sandstone block. "Get 'em, make 'em pay!"
No! Bad Lyri! Stop shooting Arvis's people and also Arvis. The old Imperial hefts the just /awful/ FO blaster pistol towards the woman and squeezes the trigger. Pewpewpew. The first shot hits home, but the second one flies off and probably hits a bird or something.
FN-2003 grunts at the hand on his back, but there's a grin behind his helmet. Nines is an asshole, always has been, and maybe his cover could have saved FN-2003, maybe not. If he falls, the First Order becomes stronger for it - isn't that what Phasma said? Maybe she was right. Ylia's bolt takes him in the abdomen, but the realization is waylaid by shock as Slip manages to stagger several steps forward before pressing a hand to the burning pain in his side, between the plates of his armor. It comes away red and warm; he's staring at it as his knees hit the sand. When did he fall? Breathe tastes of copper and honey, was it always like that? So warm, this sand. So slow - he's on his back and a shuddering, halting inhale does him little good as the pain catches up - he's shaking uncontrollably and there's Eight-Seven, he's always been there. He's going to blame himself for this, Slip thinks somewhere in the back of his mind.
A sluggish hand reaches for his fellow trooper, mouth opening and closing behind his mask. It's okay, buddy. It's gonna be okay - but he can't get the words out and instead, strength failing, Slip's blood-soaked hand slides across FN-2187's helmet.
And the First Order is spared his weakness.
The houses have gone up, and the few scattered vehicles. Everything is gone. People are dying. Now they have no way to survive the elements even if they do somehow manage to survive the troopers. Which seems increasingly unlikely. People are on fire, screaming as they flee the huts where they were hiding, now on fire. People Ylia liked, people she disliked, people she banged once when she was drunk on the galaxy's worst excuse for liquor because they were the least dirty options in this sorry excuse for a village. She's seen a lot of hurt in this world and now here's more at the end of it. It's nightmares made real, and she keeps firing, but it's shakier, through tears. And she misses Arvis. Rats.
FN-2187 is about to chastise Nines when Slips is stumbling past. His attention snaps to his friend as the trooper sinks to the sand. "SLIP!" Eight-Zeven gasps, pushing forward and sliding to his knees to the side of the downed trooper. Lost, dazed, and wide-eyed behind his visor, FN-2187 freezes as Slips' hand rises up and leaves a bloody finger trail across his helmet. "No..." FN-2187 moans quietly enough that the noise doesn't even activate his comm link. The man on the ground dies as Eight-Seven can only watch.
After a second FN-2187 stands. The blood blurs the left side of his vision and he starts to stumble around. He doesn't even lift up his rifle. He can see the old man. Screaming and shouting. But the weapon doesn't fire. The trooper stumbles back, putting space between him and his dead friend. His head swings to a ship with movement under it. No shot. Tick tick tick. He turns dazedly towards another villager badly hidden behind a crumbled wall. They're sobbing. Still no shots from the stunned, grieving man. The gun metal cools rapidly in the desert night.
Everything is going up in flames, her tent, every single item Lyri's scrounged for except the clothing that she wears, and this blaster given to her by Ylia. This a nightmare. This is worse than a nightmare, because it's real, she won't wake up from it. Not ever. A shaky breath is drawn, and she lifts her blaster to fire again, which is precisely when the blaster bolt from Arvis hits her, sending her staggering back a few steps, then down to the ground. "Ylia!" she shouts, afraid, in pain, and alone.
The villagers mount a brave resistance, but they're not soldiers. They're not mercenaries. Most of them aren't even hunters. They didn't ask for this, they didn't deserve this, and they weren't even the right village. Still, fire rains down from the sky, spewed out of the mouth of the throwers held by First Order hands, wiping this little den of humanity and potential from the slate for good. Stormtroopers continue to blast away with ruthless efficiency at those who run and those who hold their ground alike.
"Wipe them out!" commands Arvis, continuing to fire. This isn't his favorite thing to do, but it's what the Order asks of him. He'd much rather be at his estate, enjoying world-class meals and watching sappy romance holos. But, no...he must fight! No matter how poor he is at it. At least he's not as bad as Slips. Too soon?
An explosion blasts bits of rock chips all over Ylia, and she abandons it to run towards Lyri, which turns out to be a bad move, because she gets shot again, this time just below her ribcage. It's bleeding everywhere, not unlike exactly what she did to Slips. Ducking behind cover with Lyri is more of a stumble and fall. "Hang on girl. Hang on," she encourages, though... why? What is the point? She reaches to smooth Lyri's hair back, then picks up her rifle, and shoots at that LIAR who tried coming at them with charisma in the beginning!
/Yes too soon/. Goddammit. There is an almost heavenly ringing. Everything sounds quieter, muffled. One of the red-shoulders grabs FN-2187, steering him around and pointing at the remaining villagers. Sluggishly Eight-Seven lifts his rifle along with the group of troopers around him. But he doesn't fire. He doesn't even register what is going on. Bolts are flying. Phasma is likely lurking around, but all Eight-Seven can do is grip his rifle and attempt to swallow the sobs that lodge in his throat like unchewed food.
Lyri is on the ground, injured, but not yet dead. Not yet. "Ylia," she reaches a trembling hand out to the older woman, her mentor, her friend. There's a brief moment of comfort in the chaos, and then that small calm in the storm is broken. By fire. The hand that reaches out for Ylia jerks as the flames hit her, burn her, and a horrifying sound ripped from her throat. A scream, maybe a deathknell, it might be enough to haunt the dreams of some that survive this (REMEMBER ME, FINN) and then there is only silence from the young woman as she stares vacantly up at the sky.
Maybe Lyri's scream will haunt Finn, but the nearest flamethrower trooper actually laughs. "I love that crispy smell it makes at night," his processed voice announces as he steps around the burning body to pull the toggle wide and spray a fresh stream of flaming gel onto the next hut.
There are so many stormtroopers and so few villagers. The fire burns everywhere. Blasters fire, many troopers taking down each scavenger, riddling them with burns and holes until each stops twitching. Lyri is down, and Ylia is next for the treatment.
Arvis Locke is in the middle of contemplating his next vacation when Ylia pops up and ruins his day. Arvis turns to try and fire first, but he's far from a gunfighter. The old officer's blaster tumbles to the sand, a hand...and arm...and part of his shoulder attached to it. Ylia's shot struck so soundly that even the molded plasteel breastplate he's wearing has scorched and bent back on itself towards the left of his chest.
Commander Locke clutches at the (now-missing) arm and, finding nothing, finds the nearest patch of smoldering flesh available. He stumbles forward, clearly in the throes of shock before he collapses to the ground, kicking up sand as he falls. It's not exactly a vacation, but medical leave is still pretty good. Thank you, Ylia.
"Lyri!" The younger girl's name is a scream, ripped out of Ylia when the fires start burning her poor young friend's body. She reaches for her, but the flames are too hot to get close, and there's no help to be had, anyway. Ylia hunkers down behind the ruined remains of a wall for a little while longer, but there are too many of them, from all sides, and it's only a matter of time before she's gunned down. Like Lyri, she fought bravely, but it doesn't matter; they both end up looking up at the stars with blank dead eyes, forgotten scavengers on a lonely planet.
FN-2187 shudders at the scream that rings out as Nines fires off shots at the indicated targets. Him and Zeroes are unaware of the dead trooper nearby, FN-2003, their old academy friend. Would they care? Maybe. But FN-2187 doesn't bother alerting them. He just stands, his blaster cold, staring into blood stained space as his mind willfully remains blank. When they do return to the ship, Eight-Seven does so in a zombie-like trance, moving wholly on autopilot as he returns without Slips by his side.
The village is reduced to smoldering ruins, just rubble and ash now, where only the dead sit around the fires that still burn. The First Order has come to Jakku. A few stormtroopers team up to recover the fallen commander, hustling him onto the transport as the white-clad soldiers load back up and the ramps clamp shut again. The repulsorlifts hum into life, and it's on to the next village, rinse and repeat, until Lor San Tekka is found, and with him, the map.