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SleepingPhlox

"The Resistance Doesn't Rest" Star Wars Rebels, Ryder Azadi (M)

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SleepingPhlox

Sometimes inspiration strikes when you least expect it after an inspiration drought and sometimes the inspiration keeps you up for two hours after you go to bed but you don't mind because it's so much fun to have inspiration.  Hence, this story.  I was watching Star Wars: Rebels just minding my own business and then this came into my head.  Ryder Azadi has a cold during a mission for their resistance cell, and it causes all sorts of difficulty before they can finally get back home.  LIke ALL sorts of difficulty.

Yes, there is a pattern to all the characters I write fics for lately, why do you ask? :laugh:

Opalune is an OC.  Well, she's my character I created for a video game before I realised I don't have time to play video games all that much, so I figured I'd shove her in here.  She's not a Mary Sue, despite her introduction.  I swear.

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Part 1 - Recon

Just outside Capital City, it was pouring rain. It didn't often rain in this part of Lothal – hence why it had been chosen as a good spot for a large city instead of being used for the agriculture that had once dominated much of the planet. But when it did rain, it rained with an almighty vengeance.  Right now it seemed almost as if the planet itself was trying to wash away a terrible, sorrowful pain. The pair of figures skulking around unnoticed from cover to shelter, had so far managed to escape getting wet. But it was only a matter of time before their fate was to change. Ryder Azadi dreaded that inescapable eventuality. He feared it more than being captured by stormtroopers. Which might not be an entirely unlikely thing to happen. It seemed the trooper armour was waterproof, judging by the way they marched around, seemingly unbothered by the aquatic menace from the sky.

“Hey...yoo-hoo. Incoming transmission for Mister Azadi.”

He snapped to attention, immediately looking for the holographic projection that...wasn't there. Because of course it wasn't, they didn't even have the equipment for that right now. Because bringing that sort of equipment would have been a ridiculous idea for an intelligence gathering mission. It would seem, judging from the twinkle in Opalune's grey eyes above the playful grin on her lips that it had been her idea of a joke. 

He raised an eyebrow, but stopped short at feeling any sort of annoyance. He had felt annoyance toward her in the beginning when she first joined his resistance cell, thinking that she didn't take things as seriously as they ought to be taken.  An abundance of annoyance, in fact.  But he, and everyone around them, had quickly grown to learn that she took things very seriously. Even though she smiled and laughed through every moment of every day, no matter how solemn the occasion might be, there was nobody that took it as seriously as Opalune. Excepting, perhaps, himself.

Opalune was a pretty great addition to the cell as far as he was concerned.

When it came to new recruits, the resistance had to be cautious. Spies were a constant threat, and could easily infiltrate the cell by pretending to be an eager new member just wanting to learn new things and do their part.  So they were vetted thoroughly, given the most mundane, physically exhausting – though no less necessary or valuable – tasks until they were sure they could be trusted. And that they wouldn't be funneling intel back to the Empire. Opalune had taken on each task, never complaining, always joking, even volunteering for more tasks. She was serious about being a part – any part she possibly could – of the resistance efforts.

And, he had to admit, her personality made good company. Having someone along who always looked at all the ways a mission could go right, rather than how it could go wrong, made things easier to bear.

He sniffled and ran a finger under his nose.

“Your mind was off on a whole different planet just now,” Opalune pointed out.

“Sorry...I was thinking,” he said – almost mumbled really. “What was it that you said?”

“Delivery truck. There are deliveries going in and out of there pretty much constantly. It would be easy to pull off. Much easier than trying to slip through in between patrols.”

“Well I see where you're coming from, but...” Ryder sighed, stroking his beard thoughtfully. It was risky. Of course, without risk they could hope to accomplish nothing, and the Empire would continue sucking the life out of their once beautiful planet until there was nothing left but the memories of what once had been. “We'll run it past everyone once we're back at the base, and if we have enough volunteers to pull it off...we'll see about somehow getting our hands on a delivery truck.”

“Sounds good to me, old man,” she said, punching his arm playfully. “We should get back quickly. You could do with a hot meal. Hey, want me to try to swipe something? Nothing big, just something to go with the stuff we have, make it more filling?”

Ryder's eyes widened. “Oh, absolutely not! I don't have the energy or the presence of mind to do something quite so risky.”

As if to prove his point, he raised a curled fist to his mouth and coughed, a painful sounding noise that had his shoulders heaving from the sheer effort of it.

“You know I could have come by myself,” Opalune said. It wasn't the first time she had suggested such a thing. The first nine times she suggested it were back in the camp before they had even left. She had been sincere, not like all the other times when she teased him about being too old to be up for the missions with a “sure you won't put your back out, old man?”. The other stuff was banter. This time, she'd been genuinely concerned for his – clearly poor - health. But he had refused to listen.

Ryder shook his head. “Out of the question," he said firmly and emphatically. "I go on every recon mission, no exceptions. The safety of every member of the cell is my responsibility. If anything happened to anyone and I wasn't there to-”

“You don't trust me,” Opalune faux-whined, with an exaggerated fake pout to complete the effect.

“I trust you,” Ryder said firmly. “But no matter how sharp or skilled a person is, they are not invulnerable. Never forget that.”

“I won't,” Opalune said quietly and meekly, and it was the most subdued he'd ever seen her since the day they met. It was a little unsettling, and it threw him for a moment. He only had a second or two, however, before that feeling gave way to an entirely different one...

“Huhh...RRRGKtchhh! Hmmmpphtchhh!”

He managed to pinch his nose and stifle most of it into something quieter, but the beginning took him by surprise and Opalune immediately put into words what his alarmed mind was still forming into a coherent thought.

“Uh...so that was really loud, and we should probably get out of here.”

“I agree,” had barely escaped his lips before they both turned in unison toward the direction they had come from, toward the entrance to the sewers that would take them safely through the city by scurrying under it.

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To be continued...

 

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SneezyHolmes

I don't know much about 'Star Wars' but this was great! I like Opalune a lot so far! :D 

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SleepingPhlox
On 4/9/2021 at 1:24 AM, SneezyHolmes said:

I don't know much about 'Star Wars' but this was great! I like Opalune a lot so far! :D 

I am always so grateful when people read stuff even if they aren't familiar with the fandom.  Especially because I'm never in the cool fandoms when everyone else is.  :laugh:  Thank you, I appreciate it so much!

 

Part 2 - A Close Call

They had nearly reached the point where the mostly beige of just outside the city gave way to the mostly dark gray of just inside the city when Opalune noticed that the second pair of footsteps running alongside her were getting ever so slightly quieter as each precious moment passed.  She looked over her shoulder.  Ryder was struggling.

His lungs and throat were burning from the sheer exertion of making a body that wanted to do nothing but drink water and sleep run for it's very life.  Each breath was an effort, forcing air into his chest when it wanted to cough and choke and splutter.  And his aching, heavy legs were on the verge of deciding that the whole self preservation thing was overrated.  They were nearly there, nearly at a point that dropped off suddenly to a sunken alleyway - the perfect cover - but would he make it?  He saw Opalune slowing her stride to catch up with him and he opened his mouth to call out to her but breathing was about the limit of what his lungs could take.  Speaking was out of the question, and raising his voice was something could only happen in fantasy.

She knew what he was going to say anyway.  Probably go on without me or some similar nonsense.  The resistance cell walked a hazy, confusing line between "the rebellion is more important than any one person's life" and "we're too small to lose anybody".  She didn't care either way.  Ryder had more knowledge that anyone else in their resistance cell and, more importantly, he had the leadership skills. They needed those skills.  She caught up to him, grabbed his shoulders, and shoved him with her own momentum, sending them both tumbling down into the alley below.

The alley had been used much back in this sector's heyday, when it was vibrant and full of people and businesses.  Vibrancy didn't exist in Capital City anymore, and the alley was dead, forgotten, and full of garbage.  Garbage that hurt like hell when you landed on it.  Opalune winced as she slowly allowed herself to perceive her body and the space it occupied.  Her wince gave way to a grimace, but she didn't allow herself to make any loud noise.  This area might be dead and abandoned, forcefully cleared of all the people who had once loved it and called it home, but it was still regularly and heavily patrolled by Stormtroopers.  Everywhere was.

"I was trying to aim us so we landed on you," she whispered as quietly as she could.  It was a joke to lighten the fact that they were lying in garbage - and judging from the smell, probably a lot of loth cat pee - and that his heavy body was on top of her, his weight pressing her right shoulderblade into whatever sharp thing she had landed on.  They were nose to nose, which wasn't exactly where she wanted to be, she didn't want that nose of his anywhere near her!  Not with the way it was behaving today!  But Ryder seemed dazed and was taking his sweet time getting himself together.

Suddenly Opalune felt his chest take in a sharp, quick inhale.  Oh, no.  She knew what that meant!  Somehow she found some reserve of strength deep inside to roll onto her side, using her arms and legs to propel him as far away from her as she could manage. Which...wasn't far. But it was far enough to avoid getting her face sprayed with germs.

“HhhhhGKKTtchh!”

Oh that was loud. That was so loud. Opalune tensed into a state of alertness at the sound of a commotion not too far away. And then relaxed slightly when she realised that it was a group of loth cats who were startled and confused by the sudden intrusion into their normally quiet home. That was a lot of loth cats.  So many cats. So that smell was probably loth cat pee. Fantastic. But her relief was short lived when she heard a faint “did you hear that?” from somewhere above them.

Oh no. Oh nonono. She knew that voice. That particular sound was seared into her memory. With that helmet-radio-y quality to it and the same as every other Stormtrooper's voice because they were all clones and that was just unnerving to her and-...  And Ryder was about to sneeze again. And she could hear a voice saying “I think it was over here”. No. Absolutely not. If she was going to go out, it was going to be in a blaze of glory. Not in an alley filled with garbage and loth cat pee ratted out by a sneeze. Not happening.

She lunged forward and grabbed the large loose collar of his shirt, that hung down to his chest. She'd seen him wipe his nose on it when he thought she wasn't looking, so she guessed he wouldn't mind if she held it over his nose to dampen the sound of the sneeze. So she did. She clamped the fabric over his nose as tightly as she could and tried not to make too much of a disgusted face with the warm dampness of the muffled “HMMPHshhh!” hit the palm of her hand. But at least it had kept the noise down. They would live to fight against the Empire another day.

“I heard it again. Definitely over here.”

Or...maybe not.

For the rest of her life, Opalune would swear that she saw two of the cats look at each other meaningfully for a couple of seconds. She would also say that she knew it was silly, that her mind was assigning some sort of meaning to what she'd seen after the fact, when her brain had time to embellish the memory. But at that moment, it seemed for all the world that the cats looked at each other. Meaningfully. The meaningfully part was very important.

But the moment was over before she could process it, and the cats took off, hissing mightily at each other as they scaled a pile of trash that took them up to the road above. And then came the voices:

“It was just cats. I told you, nobody comes out this way any more.”

“I know, I guess I was just hoping something interesting would happen this time.”

Opalune did not release her breath until she was certain there was silence.

“Are you okay?” she whispered to Ryder.

“I think so...what just happened?”

“Either we're going to start recruiting loth cats to join the rebellion or we just got really lucky. Either way, we need to get out of here. Especially before you start feeling another sneeze coming on. How are you? Can you make it to the sewer entrance on your own?”

Ryder huffed as he pulled himself into a slightly less crumpled-up-on-the-ground position.

“Oof, I'm going to feel that tomorrow. Ouch.”

“Tell me about it, I'm the one who broke our fall.”

“And I do appreciate it. I'm a little sore but I'll make it. How about you?”

Opalune smiled brightly.  She was keen to get underground. At least there they'd be safe from getting into any trouble. “Oh, you know me. Nothing can stop me. I'm always good to go,” she said cheerfully, as if her heart wasn't still pounding over nearly being found by Stormtroopers.

__________________________________________

To be continued...

 

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