Location - Beacon
“Hanna, Jacoby!” Titan came running into the basement.
“What?” They called in unison from the tactics board.
“Guys! Help!” Granville followed.
“This better be the same thing and we don’t have two emergencies at once,” Jacoby muttered.
Titan and Granville looked at each other.
“It’s the same, Granville’s just trying to beat me to it,” Titan answered, glaring at his friend before turning back. “When was the last time you spoke to Alexander?”
“Just the other day,” Hanna replied, watching them closely. “Why?”
“Because he’s had a nervous breakdown from stress! Selina doesn’t want anybody bothering him. I believe Silverclaw is the straw that broke the camel’s back...”
“You’re saying that he can’t lead...?” Jacoby took a step backward, his face a frown behind his mask.
“And we’re in charge now?”
He nodded again.
“Ah. Ah. Ah. Ah. I see...”
Hanna side glanced at Jacoby and dismissed Granville and Titan.
“You can kick that box now.” She said calmly.
“Thank you.” Jacoby tipped his hat and gave the crate a hard kick which sent papers scattering all over the floor. He sat on the edge of a nearby table and cocked his head at Hanna. “So now what do we do? A fine time for Alexander to up and leave us.”
“Not on purpose.” Hanna reasoned.
“Maybe so, but we have limited skills with leading an entire Resistance! And when we’re in our darkest moment.”
“Will we?” Jacoby snapped his head up and stared intensely at her.
“Emmet had been kidnapped, Emily’s vanished away after him without a word, Silverclaw joined the Empire. This is all very bad! For all we know, the Empire could be organizing an attack on us right now.”
“So what do we do?” Hanna asked quietly.
“I don’t know. Take it one step at a time, I suppose.” Jacoby sighed, defeated.
“That sounds reasonable.” Hanna agreed, then her gaze wandered behind him before stopping on something. She frowned. “Are you eavesdropping on us?”
Titan stepped out of the stairwell. “Noooo, I just got here.”
Granville shook his head in disagreement behind Titan.
“Great, well, since you’re here, you can clean up these papers that somehow got scattered all over the floor.” Jacoby stormed out of the room.
Hanna smiled halfheartedly and followed him as he mounted the stairs and open the front door of the Beacon. He took a deep breath. “Do you smell it?” He murmured, his voice secluded.
She sniffed. “Smell what?”
“The fog is getting thicker day after day. We’ve been so involved with trying to stay secret, we’ve neglected to fill the Great Engines.” He replied, crossing his arms.
Hanna nodded slowly in agreement. “So what do we do?” The question had become common as of late.
“I’ve been thinking...and I believe we need to pack up and leave the Beacon.”
Hanna’s eyebrows flew up. “What? We’ve been here for years!”
“Exactly. Every day, the fog thickens, the shiploads of automatons have doubled, and you heard, an Imperial overseer walked right in the other day. I had to do some serious elbow-jabbing to keep some of the newbies from saying anything suspicious.” His voice was dark, like the foggy clouds overhead.
“I suppose that makes sense...”
“Exactly.” Jacoby turned and went back inside.
Hanna opened the mailbox and grabbed a spring that had been left inside, whispering, “Scarlet Man save us.”
Location - A wasteland
The speeder sliced through the icy air. There was always mud here, always slush, and it was always cold. And today there was mist as well, throwing off his sense of direction a little. The few landmarks that helped him find his way were impossible to spot until you were smashing into one.
He’d just have to rely on the sun--which was barely visible through the mist--creating an eerie atmosphere of odd shafts of sunlight here and there.
But he was near, he could feel it in his bones.
A hut came into view. Finally—he couldn’t take the wind anymore. Swerving to the left, he carried along the fence that ran off the hut for a few hundred feet before engaging a small thruster on the underside of his speeder, boosting him over the perimeter and onto the other side.
Area Delta. It was straight out of a horror movie in his opinion, and he’d been to a lot of frightening places. But this one was different. The first thing was the fact that there was nothing naturally living here, making it silent. The mist only helped, making the silence so sharp, it was as if the sound had never existed. He began muttering to himself to fill the void with something natural.
And there were the bones. Here and there was a bone from a victim of Area Delta. Most of them were tinted with green, proof that the air here was full of toxic fog—the dregs of the Fog Works—that slowly shut your body down the longer you stayed.
He opened his mouth to shout out, but anything above a whisper seemed far too loud, so he only spoke at a whisper, for silent air carries sound far.
“Hello? Anyone out here?”
She was here. That valuable human who could get him hundreds of thousands from the Empire. The economy had been unsteady recently, with taxes higher than ever before...like the Empire was preparing for something.
He called out again, and this time he heard something other than his heartbeat. Like a breath in the air, a reply. He scrambled towards it for a few feet and called again.
The reply came once again, a cry for help. He could see figures in the mist as he stepped closer. A man and a woman. The woman still held a spark in her eyes, but the man who she supported as he staggered along had a glazed gaze. The fog was poisoning him.
The woman opened her mouth to speak but he interrupted her. “I’m here to get you out, ask no question, say no words.” He jerked his chin at the man she had at her side. “For his sake.”
She glanced at her companion, her eyes wide, then nodded.
“What’s his name?” He asked.
“Emmet.” She replied.
He motioned her to step away from Emmet and then surveyed him as he stood exhausted, pale, breath rapid, and eyes unfocused. Stepping forward, he shook him solidly. “Come on, old chap! I’m saving you, get a grip!”
The response was having Emmet’s stare come back to focus.
“Let’s go.” He ordered.
Emmet nodded slowly and twitched his face, as if coming back into contact with his brain, then moved forward, the woman close behind.
Once everyone was back on the speeder and well on their way did he make instructions.
“I’m Nautilus. I heard some of your Resistance friends mention you were missing and I decided to help them out and find you.” He said to the woman. It was a lie of course, but everyone lied in these uncertain times.
She nodded, looking more awake now that the air was fresher. “I’m Emily Purplebottle.”
Nautilus smiled under his mask. Finding her had been that easy? But then he felt a twinge of guilt. He wasn’t a bounty hunter or a mercenary, he simply needed money because his Rebellion needed it to grow, and Eerie needed some for her endeavors.
He didn’t kidnap people. But he had done his research and discovered any high-ranking Resistance member was worth a lot to the Empire if brought in. He needed this.
“Miss Purplebottle, a pleasure to meet you. Any idea of how to make your friend here any better?”
Emily nodded. “Aether.”
Nautilus grunted. “I see.”
Two hours passed, and night fell. Nautilus’s radio beeped.
“Hello?” He whispered, conscious of the two sleeping behind him.
“Nautilus, I need you to come here right now.” Eerie’s voice was urgent, making Nautilus’s heart leap when he heard it. What was happening?
“Why? What’s going on?”
“I got the news that an army from Lucky is on its way here, to the Landing, to sniff out the Resistance and everything related even remotely to it. That includes us!”
Nautilus froze. Lucky was finally doing it. Finally exterminating anybody who defied him.
He needed to get back to Eerie and help her defend her shop. But what about Emmet and Emily? He couldn’t have them tagging around once he got back, and besides, he could live without their bounty. It didn’t feel right to turn anyone over to an evil force like the Empire. But what do to do with them? His solution came a moment later as a house came into view.
A brief minute later he had disappeared into the darkness alone, leaving two sleeping figures on someone’s doorstep.
Location - Supplemental
The sun peaked the horizon and Creel examined the two sleeping people. Was her luck too much, or did they carry Aethermeters? Signs of Resistance members?
But why were they here? She didn’t care, all she cared about was gaining Alexandria’s trust after almost leaving the Empire.
Creel grabbed one of the satchels that sat beside the woman of the two, and without trying to wake them, looked through it. Her reward was great, a map of Aethasia was inside. Not just any map, a Resistance map. One which marked every hidden tunnel, every supply hub, every little detail about Resistance locations.
Creel could have danced for joy. It was like she’d found pure diamonds. Lucky’s army was about to leave Evercity to take apart every building in No Man’s Landing brick by brick to extract every Resistor. But this would make the job quick and fast. She rushed back to Alexandria, whose convoy had been sabotaged by bandits in the night. Creel had been heading to a nearby town to fetch assistance but this was worth the delay.
Alexandria had never looked so please with that map in hand and word that two Resistance members were ripe for the picking.
Location - Supplemental
My head felt like there were mushed bananas inside of it and my lungs felt dried up. I tried to get my brain slowly in order, but things had been blurred. The last real thing I remembered was watching Emmet dying before my eyes in Area Delta.
I opened my eyes. A roof was over my head and Emmet was alive and breathing, asleep against a porch railing.
I heaved a sigh of relief at that and slowly stood up. So had we been rescued? By whom? When? Did it matter? I was alive! We almost weren’t.
I looked across the road and then turned to examine the house. This was the same house I’d parted ways with Jyn after she attacked Titan. Was it just a coincidence I was here?
I turned back to the road and saw Imperials walking along with it. My instincts to hide were strong as they approached, so I scrambled over the railing and moved to the back of the house where I discovered I could get underneath it.
Crawling my way back to the porch, I lay under it and watched through the cracks in the boards as the Imperials mounted the two steps to it, seized a drowsy Emmet, and drug him away in his delirious state.
I caught my breath. Emmet was being snatched away again! I wanted to scream and yell, claw at them, and tell them to let us go home. But I was weak and tried. And I’d given up. Everything I did failed.
I crawled out once they’d gone and sat totally and thoroughly defeated, my mind wandering in circles for a good hour, before I roused myself, reached for my satchel, and searched for my map.
My map. It was gone.
“No, no, no!” I whimpered, dumping everything out. But it was gone. Took by the Imperial’s no doubt.
Panic took over my mind. The Resistance map was in the hands of the Empire. If the Resistance found it was mine, they’d dig a pit, throw me in it, and publicly shame me before tying me up and putting a hat of shame on me, and then finally chain me to the ground and make me load shipments for years in on end.
Not that there’d be a Resistance to do so once the Empire acted. And such a thought scared me so silly that I stood up and ran. Because it was my fault they had the map, my fault Emmet was back in prison, and my fault the Resistance was about to be annihilated.
And no one could say otherwise, I’d been stupid every since sneaking onto the ship to help the raid at the Isle.
I deserved whatever punishments they inflicted me with, and I could take it too. But I couldn’t take the way Jacoby would shake his head at me, or how Hanna would smile sadly as I walked by, or how betrayed Alexander would feel when he knew what I’d done, or how everyone else would shun me...the person who destroyed the Resistance.
I could live with that tile as long as no face was attached. If there was some mystery member who’d let the map leak, but no one was certain who, it would be fine.
I would not return to the Resistance. The Scarlet Man himself would have to drag me back.