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Aloy

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October 19th
@Luke Skywalker

Hands, coarse from years of traversing rough terrain bare-handed, gripped the next uneven ledge as Aloy heaved herself upwards, face beaded with sweat in spite of the cool winds. It was a welcome break from the dry, harsh sands the rest of the Wastes were covered with.

The mountains out here may have seemed dangerous, but it wasn't going to stop Aloy from following the mysterious signal her Focus had picked up, deep within these rocks. It was the first time this had happened since she'd arrived in Pandora, and the redhead had to know what it was.

The snow on the highest peaks reminded Aloy of the Cut, and the Banuk. Sometimes, her chest tightened at the thought of home...if she could even call it that. It hadn't been home since Rost had died. Green eyes gazed piercingly into the distance as she stopped for a moment, a resigned sadness on her face. Blinking, Aloy forced the feeling down. Standing here wasn't going to get her answers.

Peering at the cavern down below, Aloy suddenly ran, leaping out into the open air. As she began to fall, the woman released a bright yellow rope, snagging it onto a nearby branch that had grown into the cliffside. Time to go down...
 
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Luke Skywalker

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And then a woman, a young woman, leapt off the cliff and plunged out of sight.

“NOOO!” Luke yelled.

His shock was so great that he could only stand stock-still, staring on with wide eyes and open mouth. What in the Force’s name had possessed her to jump off a cliff? Had she fallen all the way to the bottom? Or maybe she’d landed on a ledge not far below?

If she was still alive, she must’ve been badly hurt! He had to act quickly to save her life and shorten any suffering.

Luke broke out of his shock and dashed to the worn, ragged edge of the cliff, where he threw himself on to his front. He peered down at the stony drop, but couldn’t see any sign of a broken, bloodied body. His spirits sank.

He was about to sign off her death certificate in his mind when he glimpsed a flash of bright yellow. Unable to see much of it from his position, he leaned further over the edge of the cliff to get a better look. He was too concerned about the woman to notice it trembling beneath him, until it crumbled into large chunks of dirt and rock.

“AARGH!” Luke cried as he pitched off the cliff.

Luckily, the ledge below him was a steep slope rather than a sheer drop. Luke slid down it on his butt, the sharp, coarse scree ripping at his pant legs and scraping against his most sensitive parts. He sent more rubble raining down the side of the cliff, and he fretted over it hitting the woman. That was all she needed if she was lying down there with broken bones and terrible lacerations!
 
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Aloy

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It was lucky Aloy was an experienced rappler, having reached the bottom just as the cliff above gave away. The redhead peered up at the falling rocks with a quizzical expression. Strange, she could tell just by looking at it that the surface had been stable. Unless she wasn't alone...

She dodged out of the way of the heaviest rockfall, the cliff giving way on both sides, but the heaviest boulders had now blocked her way out, and her rappel was lost. Frustrated, Aloy took out her bow, emerging from the shelter she'd quickly found in the rock face, to see just what or who had done this.

The dust had yet to settle, but Aloy saw a head of sandy coloured hair, and limbs among the rubble. It didn't look like this had been a deliberate attempt to stop her. Even if she felt annoyed by this set back, she was still concerned for the boy, and holstered her bow, picking her way through the rocks.

"Hey?" She called out, getting closer. "Hey, um--are you alright? Are you hurt?"
 
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Luke Skywalker

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Luke dug his fingers and the toes of his boots into the dirt to slow, perhaps stop, his descent. He got lucky and came to a screeching halt, thick clouds of dust swirling in the air around him. The dry, chalky smell of it burned his nose and the back of his throat. Luke coughed violently, the sound oddly muffled after the deafening rumble of the falling and sliding rocks.

He glimpsed a shadowy shape moving through the churning plumes of dust, which gradually came into focus. It was the girl who he’d seen jump off the cliff. She wasn’t bleeding or covered in cuts and scratches, nor did any of her limbs look particularly broken.

Luke’s surprise and astonishment was so great that it cut off his coughing fit. How in the Force’s name could she have fallen that far without at least tearing her clothes? It was impossible!

He could do little else except remain semi-submerged in the gritty rubble, gaping up at her as though she’d started squawking and chittering like a porg. Then her words sunk into his dense, confused skull and he forced himself to respond.

Me hurt?” he blurted out loudly. “I should be asking you that! You jumped off that cliff!”
 
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Aloy

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Aloy blinked in the dust as the boy looked at her in surprise. She tilted her head at his words, holding back a smirk. "And as you can see, I'm still in one piece. I'd be worried for yourself." She eyed his legs; the material was torn, blood from the gashes underneath mixing with the dirt.

Aloy crouched down, moving to take out a small bottle of red liquid and a mixture of flowers and roots that had been crushed together. "The only thing that will heal them is rest, but these should help for now." She offered both with outstretched hands.
 
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Luke Skywalker

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Was that blood in her bottle?

He stared at it a long beat, his face wrinkled in confusion and perhaps a little disgust. Was he supposed to drink it or rub it into his cuts? He wasn’t sure which was the more unappealing of the two options.

Luke took the offered items out of politeness rather than with the intention of using them. He stared blankly down at the strange mixture. Oh, he sure wished he’d brought some bacta patches with him!

“What’s this stuff supposed to do?” he asked. “And why aren’t you hurt? Or dead? Did you use the Force to break your fall?”
 
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Aloy

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Aloy fought the urge to roll her eyes at his expression. “Well, it’s not going to kill you.” As if to prove her point, she took back some of the flowery mixture and popped it into her mouth. It was bitter, but she was well used to that, growing up surviving off the land.

“The Force? What do you mean?” Now it was her turn to be confused; was that why he was not as wounded as he should be? “I used that,” she nodded to the faint glimpse of yellow buried under the rocks. “It’s what I always use. ...until now.” Her last words had a slight edge to them, and she pierced him with those green eyes, but after a moment, her shoulders slumped. “You should eat and drink that; it’ll help. Trust me.”
 
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Luke Skywalker

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She nodded at a yellow object that was buried under the rocks, then ran him through with her sharp words and sharper stare.

He felt heat creep up his neck. He’d totally misread the situation, wrecked her equipment and potentially put her life in danger. Some hero he was!

Oh, I’m sorry,” he mumbled. “Maybe I could help you dig it outta the rocks?”

Luke peered down at his smooth, girlish boyish hand, which he would tear up on that rough debris. It’d finish off his ancient prosthetic hand as well, plus the white glove that hid it from view. He thought about attempting to use the Force to lift the rocks, but there were so many of them. And they all looked so heavy! He didn’t want to embarrass himself further in front of the young woman by failing at the task.

“Do you have any special powers?” he asked.

Wow, seriously? He thought he was trying not to embarrass himself again, but here he went with the stupid questions.

“I mean,” he tried to elaborate. “That’s the Force. An awful lot of people around here have powers. I’m pretty sure they’re tapping into some faucet of the Force.”

The Force is not a power you have, he remembered his older self growling at Rey on Ahch-To. Well, oops.
 
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Aloy

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She really wasn’t as irritated at him as she could be; it made getting out of here a lot harder, but he’d seemed to mean well. Aloy looked at the pile of rocks with a sigh. “Somehow, I don’t think we’ll be moving them any time soon.” She looked at him again and it was then she noticed his hands – one was different, though from the damage it was hard to tell anything about it. It wasn’t flesh-like, anyway. Realising she was staring, Aloy shifted her gaze back to his face.

“Powers?” Her brows furrowed in confusion, but then the boy explained. “I don’t know anything about the Force – you’re the first one to mention it to me. And no. I’m just…ordinary.” Others would say she wasn’t, but Aloy didn’t think she was anything other than, well, Aloy. Aloy despite the Nora.

“…is that why you’re, uh, in one piece? A fall like that…it was a long way.”
 
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“Oh, no. I think I was just lucky,” he replied with a sheepish grin.

Then again, wasn’t luck a part of the Force? There were no coincidences, no accidents, no flukes. There was only the Force. But it wasn’t the right time to dive into such a deep and complicated subject. Their top priority was finding their way on to more hospitable land.

“Please tell me there’s a turbolift back to the top,” he remarked dryly. He thought he sounded a little like Han. “What brought you down here in the first place?”

Luke shielded his eyes against the glaring sunlight and squinted around the crumbly, yellow tinged landscape. It reminded him of some of the canyons on Tatooine, which he’d whizzed around in his T-16 Skyhopper, bulls-eyeing womp rats. They were fun to navigate in the air, but pretty dull to explore on foot.

And dangerous, too. The deep black holes in sunbaked earth and rock were home to more than womp rats...
 
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Aloy

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“Right,” Aloy didn’t look as if she quite believed him, but let the subject go. At least she wasn’t picking up a body to take back to Lethe, anyhow.

“A what?” Little he said made sense, though it interested rather than confused her. “Oh,” she brushed her fingers over her Focus again quickly. Yep, the signal was still out there, stronger too. “I found something…a signal. I was coming down here to find it.”

The sun was beating down on them, but it didn’t bother Aloy, who had spent much of her life outside, sometimes in rough conditions. “…why are you out here?”
 
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“A signal?” he repeated, widening his eyes. “Hey, maybe it’s a Jedi holocron!”

Like the one he’d found with Cal that time!

Or maybe it was an ancient Saculite artefact. That would’ve made more sense since there were supposedly a whole bunch of them hidden in this area, though he’d never heard of any giving off signals.

“Oh, I’m trying to find some old cups and plates,” he replied. “They were stolen from this island in the Cosmic Wilderness a while back. They’re worth an awful lot of money, but I only want to return ‘em.”

Hey, what if she was after the artefacts, too? What if she intended to sell ‘em? She might have even been the one who’d hidden ‘em here!

Luke tilted his head and gave her a suspicious squint.
 
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Aloy

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“Maybe…it's starting to sound like you know more than I do,” she lightly remarked.

She now knew that the ‘cups’ he spoke of were what she’d referred to as vessels back home; amazing how something that had been the norm for the Old Ones and also here were so coveted in her time. She’d been right though, when she’d figured out what their purpose was.

Aloy almost frowned by the way he suddenly looked at her. “Hey, I didn’t steal them if that’s what you’re thinking,” she quickly shot him down. “With any luck, maybe they’re down here too. Seems like a good hiding place.”
 
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Well, Luke guessed he believed the young lady. If she was that dishonest, wouldn’t she have shoved him off the nearest sharp edge and ventured off to claim those artefacts by now? No, she wasn’t a bad person.

“I’m coming with you to look,” he decided. “Oh, I’m Luke, by the way. Luke Skywalker.”

He began to pick his way along the steep, treacherous terrain, grabbing at crumbly boulders and exposed leathery roots. Small pebbles and sandy, parched earth rolled away beneath his boots. But he couldn't stop until he'd found those artefacts!
 
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Aloy

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“You sure you’ll be able to keep steady?” The redhead asked, with a cautious look at his legs. But he was determined, already making his way carefully through the rocks.

“Aloy,” she replied. Last names weren’t something that existed anymore in her world. You were part of a tribe, if you weren’t an outcast. She remembered the first time she’d heard Elisabet Sobeck’s name, and thought it had been pretty long. But pretty.

She touched the side of her head. “The signal’s getting stronger the deeper we go.” The ground gave way, Aloy digging her feet in. “Looks like we’re going down…again. Keep your feet firm.”
 
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Luke Skywalker

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“Oh, you worry too much,” he said with a good natured smile. “I can get down all right.”

He took another step - and his leg slipped out from underneath him on the steep, slippery ground. Luke yelled as he spilled over a ledge and snatched at a leathery root growing underneath, which he managed to catch hold of in both hands. Clinging to the precious little root, he dangled under the ledge, his bandage boots swaying in the air.

Phew. That was close!

But Luke shouldn’t have assumed he was safe so soon.

The root gave a sharp jolt and dropped him a few inches, the bottom of his dust covered tunic flapping against his useless hanging legs. He could feel the root fraying away like a worn out old piece of rope. Sandy dirt tumbled on top of his head and down the back of his tunic, where it scratched against his skin.

He considered calling up to Aloy - help, please - or reaching out with the Force in an attempt to strengthen the root, but it was too late. It broke with a bonelike snap and he pitched through the air.

“Whoa!” he cried.

Luckily, he hit a flat ledge a short way down on his feet, which would have looked real skillful had the impact with the ground not knocked him back off them. He tumbled over on his back.
 
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Aloy

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Aloy might’ve thrown a sarcastic remark the boy’s way after his last words proved otherwise, but she was too concerned that he might injure himself further. She rushed forward, not caring that the ledge could give way with both of their weight. But she was too late, as whatever he’d clung onto underneath snapped, sending him plummeting down.

“Luke!” She shouted, skidding onto her knees and peering over the edge. Activating her Focus, she could see his figure below, moving. He’d made it. He might have been foolish, but he seemed to somehow get out of scrapes with minimal damage. Maybe it was that thing he’d asked her so eagerly about…The Force?

Aloy hopped down, going to his fallen form. “Please tell me you’ve not broken something,” in contrast to her words, her tone was caring and worried, if a little irritated. Something within the rock walls caught her attention. No, not the walls…it was noise, merely reverberating off them.

She nudged him, careful not to harm him further. “I think we’re close.” A slight smile appeared on her face as she looked into the distance.
 
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“Just a little bruised is all,” he replied from his place on the ground. And that went to his sense of pride, too, although he should’ve been used to falling on his butt in front of people by now.

He made no attempt to move, until she nudged him in the side. Though she was gentle, he still felt a small sore twinge in his chest. Luke clenched his teeth to stop from making a meek cry of protest. He didn’t want Aloy to think he was worse hurt, otherwise she might not want him to join her in the cave!

Luke hefted himself to his feet and brushed dust off his pants, before peering around the steep, treacherous landscape. He had to screw up his face rodent-like to make out stuff in the sharp glare of the sunlight.

“We’re close?” he repeated. “Do ya see the entrance?”

‘Cos he’d lost his bearings after that fall and couldn’t see any landmarks now!

“Maybe you should lead and I’ll follow in your footsteps?” he offered, his voice more humble after his initial cockiness and impatience.
 
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Aloy

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She breathed out in relief that he wasn’t that badly injured. “Seems like you’re made of strong stuff.”

He pulled himself up, and Aloy nodded. “Looks like it,” she stood herself, taking a few steps forward. Yep, they were definitely close. “Okay.” The Focus would show them the way, so it made sense that she went first.

The path got narrower, forcing her to squeeze through the sharp crags. The cave eventually opened up to a small clearing, with a triangular door set back into the rock face.
 
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Luke’s hard drilled humbleness was soon forgotten when he glimpsed the triangular door set back into the rugged rock face. Whoa! He certainly hadn’t been expecting such a civilized entrance out here!

“Huh,” he said. “I wonder if that’s easy to open.”

He bustled forwards - and his left foot came down on a square of dry, sandy earth that sank down unnaturally with a sharp click. His stomach also seemed to sink. Had he just stepped on a…

Feather tipped wooden darts began to shoot out of rows upon rows of holes in the rock walls that surrounded them. They flew at the two adventurers from all directions, eager to pierce their flesh and inject ‘em with Force knows what poison!

Before Luke could attempt to duck the darts, he felt a sharp prick in his neck and scalding heat poured into his blood vessels.
 
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