The Photonovel Alliance
ERA OF DARKNESSChapter 2-01






    



















“Hello?”





“Who’s there?”













“Is someone there?”





















“Darr?”





“Kane.”





“Lieutenant Kane,” asks Haas. “Are you okay? Sir?”





The soldier stirs from his slumber as he grabs his pistol, checking to see if it’s still there.

“Yeah, I’m alright,” says Kane, his deep voice crackling over his helmet’s static microphone.






“Sir?” asks Meade as he approaches the man. “You sure?”





“I said I’m fine,” he replies, ending the conversation faster than it began. Debris rolls off his war torn armor as he stands, his old helmet’s respirator crackles as he breathes. “Where are we with things?”





Meade shakes his head. “Still low on rations, and we haven’t heard from that bounty hunter yet either.”





“And we’re low on credits,” adds Haas. “Ditching the shuttle was a bad idea,” he says. “We should have sold that Sinear beauty. Do you know how much a Lambda-class shuttle fetches? Even out here-”





“Quiet,” says Kane firmly. “You know we couldn’t risk that.”





“No matter how good the money was.”





“Alright, well, here’s what’s on the itinerary for today. We’ll head to the bar and see if that bounty hunter has anything for us, we have a scheduled rendezvous with him. Then we’ll check out our contacts in the court and see what they have to say.”





The men pack up their gear and exit the alleyway in silence, something they’re now accustomed to doing. Haas takes a quick look back at their impromptu dwelling as they leave, surveying it.





Slowly, the group exits their small sanctuary and enters the street.





Ethna is a haven for crime and business.





It’s not the place for greetings or warm welcomes. Instead, the inhabitants keep to themselves.





Weary travelers, who might fall victim to violence or lies, scurry past the group of men.





The people who mind their own business live longer in this town, and that is a well known truth.





But for some, knowing other people’s business is a profession.





“So,” interrupts Haas as the group moves quietly down the narrow streets. “It’s been 11 cycles since we heard from Kalin.”





“I’m not one to worry, but you don’t think he’s-”





“He’s fine,” says Kane.





“Give him time,” he turns. “We all deal with these things differently. He’ll come back around. I know it.”





It has been hard being on the run from the Empire. The past 47 days have been a trying time for the men once called Able Squad.





For a few, the journey has strengthened an existing bond between friends.





For others, it has meant responsibility and the use of resourcefulness to stay alive.





And even then, some have seen this as a trial of allegiance and the dedication of a soldier’s post; it has created a divide in the men that Kane seldom wants to think about, but is constantly on his mind. The absence of Kalin is a continued reminder of this stress and how it has changed the men of Able Squad.





Everyone copes in their own way, facing the constant fear of discovery by the Empire, and not knowing what danger the next day brings.





The Empire’s reach across the galaxy is dark and broad, covering many places and even more people.





The men watch as Imperial Stormtroopers detain a man who keeps arguing with them.





“That is my master,” declares a protocol droid, “What are your intentions-”









“What?” screams the man. “That was my droid!”





“Hey!” The man screams as the troopers push him to the ground forcefully.





Able Sqaud continues past the scene, knowing the man will be sent to a detainment camp.





And unfortunately, what dangers the Empire doesn’t present, the inhabitants of Ethna make up for.













“Up here,” says Kane as he directs the men down an alley.





“It’s just around the corner.”









“So, this place is safe, right?” asks Haas furrowing his brow under the old helmet.





“It’ll suit our needs,” responds Kane as they continue walking.





“What? You afraid Haas?” smiles Meade.





“I’ve been to this bar before,” says Kane. “It’s probably seen better days.”





“Well, do you think they have comet dusters?” smirks Haas, remembering the taste of the drink like a distant memory.





“When we get off this rock,” says Kane, with the most slightest of grins, the first positive emotion that has shown on his face in weeks.





“I’ll buy you all comet dusters.”





“Now stay frosty, The Second Sun isn’t a place that I want to meet my end at, alright?”





“Copy that.”



ERA OF DARKNESS
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