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(( The following is on my SWTOR Smuggler, Jacqueline “Jackie” Rees. ))

The rubble pile tipped beneath her feet. Finding purchase in the most unlikely of areas, Jacqueline Rees navigated the collapsed ruins of three floors. She hopped between sturdy concrete slabs with a practiced ease. Her knuckles bloodied, forehead plastered in sweat, and any exposed part of her coated in dusted debris, she dug through the piles. Left with nothing but her hands, her progress was slow, painstaking, and ultimately futile.

Leaning against a clutter of concrete and rebar, she caught her breath. Three gone. Nothing left of the ones closest to the blast. A few tattered, bloodied pieces of clothing Jacqueline vaguely recalled could be Eirnan�s. The tiniest pieces of bodies were strewn throughout the rubble, blood and flesh smudges of former life. Beneath her, the building groaned, ungrateful for the near destruction their battle wrecked upon it. Overcome by what just transpired, the sights of Viessa being pulled from the rubble pale and bloodless, of Halonan�s battered body being unearthed from the concrete, Jacqueline shuddered. Allowing this momentary lapse, she gritted her teeth against the tide of relief, fear, and deepest of all, guilt. Guilt washed over her, briefly overtaking the relief so hard-fought, her mind replaying the sights of bodies being pulled from the collapse one by one. The fear that followed, the relief at seeing the breath still within them, the guilt of all that transpired and took them here. And finally the uncertainty, the abrupt end to a war fought bloodlessly until now, and now with wounds to lick and altered lives to lead.

She ground a bloodied fist into the concrete rubble beneath her, grounded it till more flesh was scraped away. It stirred her from the mrye and she slowly rose, standing whole amidst the utter destruction. Closing her eyes, she steadied herself, then began to walk. She descended the remnants of the staircase into the chaotic streets below, attempting to leave the building to nothing but memory.

Returning to The Defiant, she took up residence in the medical bay for the remainder of the night. Viessa, still pale, roused long enough to crack a few jokes till unconsciousness took her again. Small smiles snuck between them both. Halonan lay comatose, Jacqueline�s eyes never wanting to part with his chest a moment else she�d miss the second its pained rising would cease.

Another casualty waited in her mind. A delayed one, a child awaiting word of her parents� fates. Staring at her holocommunicator, Jacqueline�s mind returned to the bleak pile on Corellia. Forgoing a holo, she typed a quick text-only message from her datapad:

I�m coming to get you, �Nessa. I love you. – Mom

Jacqueline grimaced and sent the message across the HoloNet. Stowing her datapad back on her person, she attempted some form of rest. The chairs in the medical bay were hardly designed for sleeping in, but she forced it. Curling up in whatever position the metal chair allowed, she attempted and mostly failed at the notion of sleep. Eventually, exhaustion finally took her and permitted a dreamless night.

Author Ari
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