The molten, crimson suns of the odd tropical planet relentlessly battered the surface with intense heat. Blackened shrubs with long, pointed leaves and odd cerulean fruit swayed with a cool ocean breeze, and in the distance water could be heard splashing against a seemingly endless expanse of sandy coastline. Animals could be heard, tiny insects chirping in high pitched tones, or mammals in the distance sounding their baritone mating calls. Birds with four wings in vibrant colors flew past and perched on the tips of the trees, dividing their attention between picking among the bark for food, and staring at the foreign guest to their shores.
Laren Uscot lay sprawled face-down on a small patch of the beach, his body contorted in odd angles. Much of his clothing had been torn and soiled with Laren's bloody and sweat during the violent crash. Nearby, what remained of the items he had stored in a small compartment under his cockpit seat lay mostly ruined across the shore, though there was likely something in there that could aid the Pantoran - if he ever woke up, that is. In the distance, what remained of his starfighter was smouldering, having burned throughout the night. The mercenary wasn't quite conscious yet, but he would soon realize that he was stuck on a deserted, tropical island. Or perhaps a desert island. Or rather, more accurately, he was stuck on a speck of land in the middle of an ocean.
As awareness flooded the man's aching body, his eyes shot open. Laren's first thoughts came instinctively from years of training and conditioning. He remembered - what? Something about the sensors and this planet. Tropical drinks came to mind, and the bright flash of laser fire skirted across his thoughts. Then he realized he was covered in sand, including his numerous cuts and bruises and -
Excruciating pain. Curses was all he could manage to think. It wasn't the first time he had broken his leg, but it had been quite awhile since he was in such a precarious situation without immediate medical access. Besides his leg and the cuts, he thought he might have had a broken rib or three, but he couldn't be sure. He shook his head - gently, though, since it felt heavy with pain and weariness. Add a concussion to the long list of his life threatening injuries on an unknown planet with too much heat and one too many suns. His thought process stumbled for a moment, his mind blank, before veering in a new direction. He needed to know more about his situation. *Though it might help if I wasn't laying on my karkin' face*, he thought dimly.
With a quick heave, he forced himself around and onto his back with a deafening cry of pain. He squeezed his eyes shut and panted as he attempted to calm himself down. Deep breaths in, and deep breaths out was the old Imperial first aid exercise. That was about all he remembered, besides how to make a temporary splint or sling. He wasn't the most adept in battlefield medicine, let alone simple first aid.
A minute or so passed before the pain was manageable once more. He opened his eyes again, though this time he regretted it. The world was tinged in hues of vibrant red because of its twin suns that battered his vision. Why was it all the sandy planets had to have twin suns and cause loads of problems? He let the thought slide as he looked around. In front of him was a vast expanse of ocean, the water the color of fresh blood. It was just an illusion, however, as the water washed up on the shore it was as transparent and salty as the rest. He tilted his head a little, and to his left - which he realized was somewhere close to facing east - he caught a glimpse of the patch of blackened tropical shrubbery that occupied the island. He was stuck on a desert island. But was it a desert island on the ocean? He dropped his brief concern of semantics and turned his attention to his right, looking for his gear. Not for the first time since regaining consciousness, he regretted looking.
Among the small compartment that remained of his emergency gear nearby was mostly burned or broken beyond repair. However, a few items that survived the crash stuck out. His pair of magna-gloves were all but untouched, merely covered in sand and soot. A few paces further, Laren's sharp eyes caught the exposed screen of his Assassin's datapad among the smoldering junk. As he began to look on his own person, he realized he was missing everything except for the Inquisitorious Stilleto that remained in his left boot.
"I'm living a bloody joke," Laren mumbled hoarsely. What in the nine dungeons was he supposed to do with a pair of gloves, a knife, and a datapad? Fate was not smiling on the poor man today, it seemed. "I always knew I was going to die, but never in such a - a *boring* way." He realized he could talk aloud whenever he chose. Who was around to judge the stranded man talking out loud to himself?
All that was left to do was drag himself under a bush and wait for help. Standard Plagueis protocol had forced Laren to install a tracking device on his Starfighter for official business. He never mentioned to the leadership that he took it off, on occasion, though he was thankful this trip was not one of them. Assuming, of course, it wasn’t destroyed in the crash landing.
“Nothing to do but wait.”
***Eighteen hours later***
Laren’s eyes shot open, though this time red-tinged night greeted his eyes. In the distance he heard the roar of a spacecraft landing, and he could just make out footsteps traversing through the shrubs. Someone had come to save him after all, it seemed.
Someone stepped out from behind the mercenary, their face silhouetted by one of the three moons occupying the night sky. Kelly Mendes stared down at the gaunt face of Laren, a sinister smile gracing her full red lips.
“You’re a bloody fool,” she began. “Do you even remember what happened?”
“Honestly, the last thing I remember is leaving with the *Paladin*,” he replied honestly.
Kelly laughed before continuing, “We were ambushed, by who we don’t know. The Headmaster managed to escape with the Paladin because you were a karking madman.”
“See, you keep saying that, but in which way? I am a murderer for hire, after all.”
“You really don’t remember sending your hyperspace rings flying at the frigate with the downed shields? You don’t remember ramming your Starfighter into a corvette before spinning wildly through the atmosphere of this useless planet? You don’t re –“
“I get your point,” Laren cut in. “I’m insane.”
“You are a Praetor, after all.”
“Kelly, enough. I’m pulling rank. Get some troopers and get me out of –“
Suddenly Laren was floating off the ground at eye level with Kelly. Her focus was visible, maintain a telekinetic hold over an individual like Laren, though she still had time to quip, “How about I just float you on over?”