13 Reasons to Have an Out-of-This-World Friday (the 13th)
1. Not all of humanity is bound to the ground
Since 2000, the International Space Station has been continuously occupied by humans. There, crew members live and work while conducting important research that benefits life on Earth and will even help us eventually travel to deep space destinations, like Mars.
2. We’re working to develop quieter supersonic aircraft that would allow you to travel from New York to Los Angeles in 2 hours
We are working hard to make flight greener, safer and quieter – all while developing aircraft that travel faster, and building an aviation system that operates more efficiently. Seventy years after Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 aircraft, we’re continuing that supersonic X-plane legacy by working to create a quieter supersonic jet with an aim toward passenger flight.
3. The spacecraft, rockets and systems developed to send astronauts to low-Earth orbit as part of our Commercial Crew Program is also helping us get to Mars
Changes to the human body during long-duration spaceflight are significant challenges to solve ahead of a mission to Mars and back. The space station allows us to perform long duration missions without leaving Earth’s orbit.
Although they are orbiting Earth, space station astronauts spend months at a time in near-zero gravity, which allows scientists to study several physiological changes and test potential solutions. The more time they spend in space, the more helpful the station crew members can be to those on Earth assembling the plans to go to Mars.
4. We’re launching a spacecraft in 2018 that will go “touch the Sun”
In the summer of 2018, we’re launching Parker Solar Probe, a spacecraft that will get closer to the Sun than any other in human history. Parker Solar Probe will fly directly through the Sun’s atmosphere, called the corona. Getting better measurements of this region is key to understanding our Sun.
For instance, the Sun releases a constant outflow of solar material, called the solar wind. We think the corona is where this solar wind is accelerated out into the solar system, and Parker Solar Probe’s measurements should help us pinpoint how that happens.
5. You can digitally fly along with spacecraft…that are actually in space…in real-time!
NASA’s Eyes are immersive, 3D simulations of real events, spacecraft locations and trajectories. Through this interactive app, you can experience Earth and our solar system, the universe and the spacecraft exploring them. Want to watch as our Juno spacecraft makes its next orbit around Juno? You can! Or relive all of the Voyager mission highlights in real-time? You can do that too! Download the free app HERE to start exploring.
6. When you feel far away from home, you can think of the New Horizons spacecraft as it heads toward the Kuiper Belt, and the Voyager spacecraft are beyond the influence of our sun…billions of miles away
Our New Horizons spacecraft completed its Pluto flyby in July 2015 and has continued on its way toward the Kuiper Belt. The spacecraft continues to send back important data as it travels toward deeper space at more than 32,000 miles per hour, and is ~3.2 billion miles from Earth.
In addition to New Horizons, our twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft are exploring where nothing from Earth has flown before. Continuing on their more-than-37-year journey since their 1977 launches, they are each much farther away from Earth and the sun than Pluto. In August 2012, Voyager 1 made the historic entry into interstellar space, the region between the stars, filled with material ejected by the death of nearby stars millions of years ago.
7. There are humans brave enough to not only travel in space, but venture outside space station to perform important repairs and updates during spacewalks
Just this month (October 2017) we’ve already had two spacewalks on the International Space Station…with another scheduled on Oct. 20.
Spacewalks are important events where crew members repair, maintain and upgrade parts of the International Space Station. These activities can also be referred to as EVAs – Extravehicular Activities. Not only do spacewalks require an enormous amount of work to prepare for, but they are physically demanding on the astronauts. They are working in the vacuum of space in only their spacewalking suit.
8. Smart people are up all night working in control rooms all over NASA to ensure that data keeps flowing from our satellites and spacecraft
Our satellites and spacecraft help scientists study Earth and space. Missions looking toward Earth provide information about clouds, oceans, land and ice. They also measure gases in the atmosphere, such as ozone and carbon dioxide and the amount of energy that Earth absorbs and emits. And satellites monitor wildfires, volcanoes and their smoke.
9. A lot of NASA-developed tech has been transferred for use to the public
Our Technology Transfer Program highlights technologies that were originally designed for our mission needs, but have since been introduced to the public market. HERE are a few spinoff technologies that you might not know about.
10. We have a spacecraft currently traveling to an asteroid to collect a sample and bring it back to Earth
OSIRIS-REx is our first-ever mission that will travel to an asteroid and bring a sample of it back to Earth. Currently, the spacecraft is on its way to asteroid Bennu where it will survey and map the object before it “high-fives” the asteroid with its robotic arm to collect a sample, which it will send to Earth.
If everything goes according to plan, on Sept. 24, 2023, the capsule containing the asteroid sample will make a soft landing in the Utah desert.
11. There are Earth-sized planets outside our solar system that may be habitable
To date, we have confirmed 3,000+ exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system that orbit a Sun-like star. Of these 3,000, some are in the habitable zone – where the temperature is just right for liquid water to exist on the surface.
In 1960, the United States put its first Earth-observing environmental satellite into orbit around the planet. Over the decades, these satellites have provided invaluable information, and the vantage point of space has provided new perspectives on Earth.
The beauty of Earth is clear, and the artistry ranges from the surreal to the sublime.
13. We’re building a telescope that will be able to see the first stars ever formed in the universe
Wouldn’t it be neat to see a period of the universe’s history that we’ve never seen before? That’s exactly what the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be able to do…plus more!
Specifically, Webb will see the first objects that formed as the universe cooled down after the Big Bang. We don’t know exactly when the universe made the first stars and galaxies – or how for that matter. That is what we are building Webb to help answer.
Happy Friday the 13th! We hope it’s out-of-this-world!
In a Dragon Age campaign based during the first blight, we had been in a very large city for quite a while. The Blight caught up with us, and the dark spawn began to assault the city. We met the force head on in the outer sector of the city, only to come face to face with a horde of Hurlocks and the Archdemon itself.
Me, the Qunari Barbarian: (surveying the map our DM had drawn out) Ok, we cant win this - but if we run now we’ll die anyways. We need a diversion. How about this cow?
Our DM had drawn a small enclosure with a cow inside it.
Human Barbarian: What if you throw the cow.
Me: I attempt to pick up the cow and throw it at the Archdemon.
Me: (Rolls nat 20)
DM: … You somehow lift the cow above your head, and throw it directly at the Archdemon… 80ft away from you.
Necromancer: I CAST SUPERIOR WALKING BOMB ON THE COW.
Everyone pauses to stare at our mage. After a quick check, the spell has a 120ft range. The spell succeeds.
Our DM begins to roll a saving throw for the Archdemon.
DM: (Rolls nat 1)
DM: … Roll for damage.
Necromancer: (Rolls crit, max damage)
DM: (Holding face in hands) The cow explodes, and transfers the spell onto the Archdemon and the nearby Hurlocks, who also explode. The explosions continue and damage the Archdemon until the entire group you were facing are dead, and the Archdemon is a pile of steaming goo.
DM: This was the main battle I planned for this session.
Our Asteroid-Bound Mission is Set to Slingshot Around Earth
NASA’s first spacecraft to travel to an asteroid will get a boost from Earth tomorrow, Sept. 22.
Earth’s gravity is going to slingshot OSIRIS-REx toward its target, an asteroid named Bennu.
Asteroids are relatively small, inactive, rocky bodies that orbit around the Sun. Scientists think asteroids like Bennu may have collided with Earth a long time ago, seeding our planet with the organic compounds that made life possible. That means that there’s a good chance Bennu contains answers to fundamental questions about the origins of life and how our solar system came to be. We sent OSIRIS-REx on a journey to investigate.
One of the best ways to change the trajectory of a spacecraft is by using the gravity of a planet or large moon to catapult it. It sounds like science fiction, but this type of maneuver, called a gravity assist, is a fuel-efficient way of traveling through space.
We’re not using the slingshot to speed the spacecraft, we’re doing it to change its direction. That’s because the asteroid’s orbit is tilted six degrees in comparison to Earth’s orbit. When OSIRIS-REx swings by, Earth’s gravity will lift it up and sling it toward Bennu.
Spot the spacecraft
Because at its closest approach OSIRIS-REx will only be 11,000 miles above Earth, you can see it with a backyard telescope. For most observers, the spacecraft will appear between the constellations Cetus and Pisces, but its exact position in the sky will vary by location.
After its closest approach, OSIRIS-REx flip around and look back at Earth, so here’s your chance to say hello! Take a picture of yourself or your group waving to OSIRIS-REx. Then share your photo using the hashtag #HelloOSIRISREx and tag the mission account on Twitter @OSIRISREx or Instagram @OSIRIS_REx.
To Bennu and back
In about a year from now, OSIRIS-REx will arrive at asteroid Bennu.
After it surveys and maps Bennu, OSIRIS-REx will “high-five” the asteroid with its robotic arm to collect a sample, which it will send to Earth. This asteroid sample will be the largest amount of space material transported to Earth since we brought back rocks from the Moon. High-fives all around!
If everything goes according to plan, on Sept. 24, 2023, the capsule containing the asteroid sample will make a soft landing in the Utah desert. That’s the end of the spacecraft’s seven-year-long journey to Bennu and back.
But the mission doesn’t stop there. On Earth, the sample material collected by OSIRIS-REx will be analyzed to determine the asteroid’s chemical composition. Scientists will look for organic compounds like amino acids and sugars — the building blocks for life.
Bennu is approximately 4.5 billion years old. Our solar system is 4.6 billion years old. That means that Bennu is made up of some of the oldest stuff in our solar system. So samples from Bennu could tell us more about how our solar system evolved and possibly even how life began on Earth! Learn more about asteroid Bennu, the OSIRIS-REx mission and the Earth gravity assist.
Hi!! New-ish Outlander fan here. I found your fic blog not too long ago and fell in love with your modern AUs, esp the Vietnam AU! Will there be more to come, pretty please? Thanking you X ☺
anonymous asked: Any chance of your continuing the Vietnam AU? It’s such a lovely series. All the best! ❤❤❤
anonymous asked: Do Jamie and Claire get a cabin goodbye in the Vietnam AU? omg /death
was understandably a bit musty inside the cabin – and Jamie immediately set to
work airing it out.
– help me roll up the shades? Let’s get some light in here.”
hadn’t exaggerated – there were only four rooms. A large living area with an
open hearth, what appeared to be two bedrooms, and a study/library. All the
furniture and decorations were dated, but clean – well-kept. Taken care of.
you come up here often?” She stepped to one side of the living area, eyes
lighting on a large survey map mounted on the wall.
since the fall. But I came here a lot right after I got back from Chu Lai. I
needed – well. I needed time. And space. I did a lot of thinking.”
then he was there, right behind her, arms wrapped around her waist, head
resting on her shoulder.
melted against him.
sorry I wasn’t here with you,” she whispered into the wall. “I’m sorry – ”
His breath tickled her neck. “It doesn’t matter. You’re here now.”
she turned around. And locked eyes with him. And bit her lip.
love you,” she whispered. “I want you.”
eyes closed – almost as if he couldn’t believe her words.
want you in my life, Claire. Now. In every way. For always.”
his eyes opened – brave. Unafraid.
God knows I want you – more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life. Do you
feel the same?”
know I do,” she breathed.
will you do something for me?”
brows furrowed. “Anything.”
want to handfast with you. It’s – it’s a Scottish tradition. We pledge
ourselves to each other – and it’s valid for a year and a day. After that time
we can part – or we can formally marry.”
don’t understand – do we need a priest or something? Why didn’t we do it at
smiled, shaking his head. “We do it just the two of us. It’s valid because we
say it is. And in the eyes of God, it – it blesses us. Blesses our union.
Because I want God to bless us, and protect us. And provide for us. Because He
knows I prayed every single day for you to come back to me. And He delivered.”
blinked back tears.
Yes, of course. What do I do?”
took her hands. “I’m going to make my vow to you – and then you can make yours
to me. And then – one more thing. And then – then, we go to bed.”
nodded. Quickly. Heart somewhere in her throat.
James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, take thee, Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp…”
all happened in slow motion.
vow to her.
vow to him.
sealed their vows with a kiss. And then – then he asked for her wrist. Pulled
out his pocketknife – scored a shallow cut across her wrist. Held out his own
wrist for her to do the same. Then pressed his cut to hers.
the words after me,” he whispered.
he spoke in Gaelic – it was yet another vow. She didn’t understand it – but she
*felt* it so much deeper than what they had just exchanged in English.
Jamie’s eyes were so soft and dark and intense on hers.
then another kiss.
then they stumbled to one of the bedrooms, and Jamie struggled out of his
jacket, and Claire lay a calming hand on his chest.
It’s just me. We don’t have to do this if it’s too much.”
then Jamie straightened up, focused, and took proper care of his bride.
orange sunlight of late afternoon sliced through the lace curtains that must
have been made before the War.
sighed, so content, legs still tangled with Jamie’s under the old plaid blanket,
hands gently caressing the scars on his back. He made a small sound and
tightened his grip – burying himself even deeper inside of her. Her lips parted
in a silent gasp.
you *sure* you’ve never done that before? Because Jamie – ”
I seemed to learn a *lot* after the first time, hmm?” he laughed, sucking on
her neck, delighting in her shiver. “I have a most excellent teacher.”
so, so good with you.” Her voice rose higher in pitch as he slowly, slowly
began rocking back and forth. Teasing. “I – I had no idea it could be this
just think – we can have this every day for the rest of our lives, Claire.” He
kissed her swollen lips – the tip of her nose – her eyes, brimming with tears.
my God,” she breathed. “Jamie. I – ”
*mo graidh.* Hush. Let me love you again.”
he eased her onto her back, and helped her lose all sense of space and time.
can’t go out there with no clothes on!”
briefly glanced over his shoulder to give Claire a withering look. “Who’s
around to care? Just a few deer. Maybe a mountain lion or two. And you, but
last time I checked you rather liked seeing me naked.”
theatrically rolled her eyes and followed him, naked, across the living room as
he opened the front door.
know it’s nice out – but don’t you feel the slightest bit cold?”
darted back inside, grabbed her hand, and dragged her over the threshold. “Not
when I have you to warm me!”
laugh echoed from the fir trees circling the clearing right outside the front
of the cabin.
where is this cave, anyway? Some of us haven’t been hiking bare-assed through
the woods since we were in diapers.”
right – oh! Perfect!”
abruptly halted and Claire crashed into his side. “What is it?”
bent, plucked a small plant from the ground, and held it out to her. “I
remember these from when I was small – wild strawberries.”
enough, a small red fruit hid under the sparse green leaves.
lovely.” Claire plucked the berry from the stem and tasted it.
– there are so many of them here.” His voice was suddenly choked – and she
looked up at him in concern.
Are you all right?”
a sign, Claire,” he said softly, voice breaking. “The strawberries – they’re
our symbol. The Frasers. Well, it’s what my Da always told me – that our surname
comes from the French, when a Monsieur Freseliere came across from France with
King William, and was granted land in the Scottish highlands for his trouble.”
mean William the Conqueror?” Claire’s voice was incredulous. “I had heard that
Scots have long memories, but still – ”
Claire – it’s March. Strawberries here in the mountains normally don’t start
until April. It’s a sign, Claire. It’s a blessing from God. It proves that you’re
meant to be here.”
Claire gripped his forearms – the hairs glowing in the afternoon sun – and turned
him to face her. Then gently she lay him down on the grass, amid the
strawberries, and sat atop him.
love you, Monsiuer Freseliere,” she said softly, and then took him inside her.
Madame Freseliere,” he groaned.
have you been? Murtagh was just going to go out looking for you – you forgot
the walkie-talkie, you idiot!”
neither Jamie nor Claire took heed of Jenny’s haranguing. For Jamie simply bent
to kiss his sister on the cheek as Claire pulled a bottle of whisky from the
backpack and set it on the table.
ten-year! You’ve gone for the good stuff,” Ian observed, eyeing Murtagh’s faded
scrawl on the label. “May I ask why?”
handfast,” Claire replied. “We’ll marry as soon as I finish school.”
let out a whoop so loud that wee Maggie, snoring in her playpen in the parlor,
burst awake in tears.
amid the cheers and kisses and hugs exchanged by the Fraser-Murray adults,
nobody seemed to mind.
Imagine Faith is asked to a school dance and Jamie has to meet her date. Nor is he pleased with her dress when she comes down the stairs to meet her date.
Modern Glasgow AU: Does Faith have a significant other or any romantic
endeavors (or maybe she is waiting?) We know Fergus has Marsali, and
Brianna has Roger, but what about Faith in the middle? :)
“I canna believe ye convinced me to go tonight,” Faith
huffed as Brianna helpfully zipped the back of her dress. “Ye ken I dinna like
to dance – ”
“Nonsense,” Brianna smiled, tucking a wayward curl back
into her sister’s chignon. “Ye *never* go to these things, and since ye’ll be
graduating in just a few weeks ye might as well go this time.”
Gently she spun Faith around so that they faced each
other. Brianna, at seventeen, was three inches taller than her sister. She had
inherited their Da’s height and coloring, while Faith was the spitting image of
their Mama. For years now she’d been taller than her older sister – and perhaps
that’s why she always felt so much more protective of her.
For while Brianna had had Roger MacKenzie in her life
since they were bairns in Glasgow – first as playground mates, then as friends,
and now in a romantic relationship – Faith had never had that. Her curly brown
head was always face down in a book, teaching herself as much as she could
about science and medicine and technology. She was well-prepared for her first
year of uni – and she had made their parents so proud when she proclaimed her
interest in becoming a doctor. But she was always so *serious* - and so bloody
smart – that the boys had never come calling.
The fact that they had the most intimidating father on
the face of the earth likely didn’t help very much, either.
“Faith? Listen to me.” Brianna’s blue eyes met those of
her sister – the only physical trait they shared. Faith narrowed her brows, and
sighed, but pursed her lips. Waiting.
Brianna smiled. “Can ye relax, just this one night? Ye’ve
met him before – ye ken he’s no’ a bad man. He’ll care for ye – he willa do
anything ye dinna wish to. I bet he’s just as nervous as ye are.”
Faith rolled her eyes. “I feel like such a fraud – all
dressed up. What if he wants to dance and I dinna want to?”
“Then I hope he respects yer wishes – and if he doesna,
well then he’s no’ worth yer time.”
Faith nodded skeptically. “Well then. I’ll bring a book
just in case.”
Brianna turned to look at herself in the bathroom mirror.
“Ye’ll find a man one day who loves ye just as much as Roger does me. I ken ye
will.” She leaned over the sink to apply another layer of mascara.
Faith took a deep breath, and sighed, and reminded
herself to bring a crossword puzzle and pen in addition to her book.
“And how do ye ken wee Roger again?”
Jamie Fraser took another sip from his tumblr of whisky,
watching the two young men squirm a bit.
“We’ve been roommates for a while now – I enrolled at uni
last fall. Trying to get my life back on track.” Rob Higgins paused, just for a
moment, to see how Jamie Fraser – Red Jamie, Roger had described him – would react.
But the man’s face was frustratingly impassive.
“I joined the Royal Marines when I left school. I served
in Afghanistan for two years. After the attack I was able to get a discharge.
That’s how I got the scars on my face.”
“Why Glasgow, then? It’s far from Dorset. My wife – Faith
and Bree’s mother – she was born in Oxfordshire.”
Rob shrugged. “I needed a fresh start, away from – well. I
served with a lot of Scotsmen and they always told me so much about home. So –
“He’s a bonnie wee swordsman, too – captain of the
fencing team,” Roger piped up, shifting uncomfortably in his suit.
“Are ye now?” Ice clinked in Jamie’s glass as he took
The three men turned their heads at nine-year-old Julia
Fraser’s exclamation. Julia’s blond head darted past them – followed closely
behind by the dark braids of her friend Sinem, a Turkish girl whose parents had
recently immigrated to Scotland and who shared Julia’s deep passion for
archaeology. Sinem was sleeping over tonight, and already the girls had spread
out survey maps of Lallybroch to plot out their expeditions for the next day.
Jamie, Roger, and Rob carefully rose from their seats in
the parlor and watched Brianna and Faith Fraser descend the stairs.
Brianna – resplendent in dark green – beamed at Roger and
darted down the steps and into his arms.
Faith – shy in a gorgeous shade of electric blue – shared
a tentative smile with Rob, who carefully approached her.
“Your tie matches my dress,” she breathed, surprised.
Rob swallowed. “We have Bree and Roger to thank for that,”
he replied softly, bending to gently kiss her cheek.
“You look beautiful,” he whispered, and felt her flush
against his earlobe.
He pulled back to present her with a simple, yet
“Gardenias? Wherever did you get those?”
He bent to pin it to her shoulder. “I brought it all the
way from Glasgow. I – I wanted you to have something nice.”
She gave him the most beautiful smile – and immediately
he knew he’d done the right thing.
Suddenly aware of the silence, Rob turned to stand beside
Faith – and saw that they had had an audience. Bree and Roger, their arms
around each other, grinning ear to ear; Jamie and his wife Claire, him
scowling, her smiling encouragingly at her eldest daughter; Julia and Sinem
with hearts in their eyes.
“I’ll go get the car,” he heard Roger say before dragging
Bree out of the parlor – undoubtedly wanting some time alone.
“Mrs. Fraser,” Rob nodded in greeting. “So nice to meet
Claire Fraser – who must have been in her forties, but
was so beautiful that Rob’s heart actually skipped – extended a hand in
greeting. “I’m glad to know I’m not the only Sassenach in this house now.
Rob’s brows furrowed. “Sassenach? What’s that?”
“It means ‘foreigner’ – or ‘outlander,’” Julia piped up,
still star-struck. “Because ye’re English.”
He swallowed. “I hope that’s not a bad thing?”
And then his heart almost stopped when he felt Faith’s
hand settle around his back. “It never has been in this house. Shall we?”
Reverse Aphelion au: Qui-Gon gets kicked, Obi-Wan races ahead and then "dies". Uears later, during the Clone Wars, Obi-Wan comes back.
Fuck, I think this is gonna have to be an AU of it’s own.
Consider this chapter one? There is totally more coming. This is all your fault.
***Warning for PTSD that Qui-Gon is very unwilling to deal with because it’s Qui-Gon***
“We are definitely getting too old for this.”
Mace Windu made a wheezing sound in response that could have possibly been a chuckle before it ended in a low, pained groan as Qui-Gon sent a rush of Force healing into the younger master’s left side. Flesh began to knit itself back together beneath his hands, plasma burns closed with the faintest of sizzles, and fractured bones set themselves with an audible snapping crack that even the clone doctor on the other side of the bivouac could hear, since he grimaced in sympathy before turning back to his own patient. Altogether, the procedure took about five minutes. When Qui-Gon was done, he stepped away from the gurney to give him room and Mace sat up with a slight glaze over his eyes as he surveyed the new map of scars along his arm, shoulder, and torso. He tested the response time of his hand by opening and closing the fingers a few times, and seemed pleased enough with the result that he was already pulling on the new tunics Qui-Gon offered him as he spoke.
“I’m not disagreeing in the slightest,” he said with a wince as his clothing brushed a still-tender area along the bottom of his ribcage. “This war makes me miss the Yinchorri.”
“Don’t say that, they might just announce that Yinchorr has sided with the Separatists, then what shall we do?”
Mace’s entire body slumped forward, exhaustion emanating from him like heat from star. “If that happens, I’m joining Dooku.”
“Make sure to say hello for me.”
Mace leaned back up and smiled sourly. He had yet to pull his tunics tight, and a v of dark skin stretched down to just above his belly button, giving him a disheveled look that Qui-Gon was sure would scandalize any of the younger members of the Order. He could only imagine the look on Anakin’s face if he saw, and the thought caused an unasked for tremor to shake along the bond with his former Padawan. As was always the case, Anakin responded quickly, if a bit more harried than usual. Qui-Gon could all but see his smile. I’m in a bit of firefight at the moment, Qui-Gon. Please don’t send me images of a half-naked Mace Windu.
Qui-Gon couldn’t even admonish him over that. He had sent them after all, so he wished Anakin luck (and be careful, former Padawan mine) instead and focused back on Mace. He really did hope his face wasn’t red.
“I’ll give him your regards,” Mace continued with a raised eyebrow at Qui-Gon’s expression, “though you know he’ll probably task me with convincing you to join the Dark Side–”
“–like he has with every other new apprentice of his. Believe me, I’m fully aware. I have the scars to prove it and everything.” Qui-Gon finished for him, before holding out a hand. “Can you stand?”
“Guess it’s time to find out,” Mace replied, and clasped Qui-Gon’s hand with one of his. He braced himself on the edge of the gurney with the other and pushed himself slowly to his feet. His legs wobbled at first, but held, and after a moment he pulled his hand away from Qui-Gon’s, resting it lightly on his shoulder. A few minutes after that, and he was walking around the bivouac on his own. Mace immediately made his way over to the other patient.
“How are we doing, Ponds?” Mace asked the clone stretched out across the gurney. Qui-Gon wasn’t the only one to catch the unusual amount of gentleness in his words, if the subtle look he shared with his assistant (a relatively new clone named Kix) was any indication, but neither of them said a word.
“Only a…little sore, sir.” Ponds responded without moving. He was covered in all the bacta patches they’d been able to scrounge up on such short notice, but even with those and Qui-Gon’s emergency healing, Qui-Gon had still recommended that he be transferred to a starship with a proper bacta tank as soon as possible. “I’ll be ready to fight again soon.”
Mace glanced at Qui-Gon as if asking permission, and Qui-Gon responded with a subtle Go Ahead I Won’t Tell wave of his hand. Kix made himself appear busy with a datapad walked to a different area of the bivouac politely, while Qui-Gon turned away just as he saw Mace pressing a kiss to the injured clone’s forehead. He only caught, “If you ever try something like that again…” before he was pushing aside the entrance flap to makeshift medical tent and walking outside.
Falleen was once a beautiful planet, of that Qui-Gon was sure. He could feel it in what few flora and fauna remained amid the seemingly endless amount of Separatist manufacturing facilities that now dotted the landscape like giant, smoke-spewing ticks. The Living Force did not lie, and it never died, either, even when what represented it perished. It was a part of everything, even death, but that only made it all the more difficult to deal with in a place like this. Since arriving on this planet, Qui-Gon had been experiencing dark visions while he slept, of blood and pain. Flames roaring up, licking at his skin, catching at his clothing, eating away at him until he was nothing but ash and memory.
He’d also dreamt of red. A red face face turning to red hair turning to red blood turning to red flame and consuming him whole.
He knew exactly who he was seeing, but he did not know why. Why would Falleen remind him of him of that man? What was the Force trying to tell him?
Qui-Gon closed his eyes and exhaled slowly, then inhaled, then exhaled again. The strange air tickled his throat and nostrils in an uncomfortable way, but he repeated the process twenty more times until his heart rate slowed and he could focus on that man without succumbing to a panic attack. He also carefully blocked his connection to Anakin. One could never be too careful.
He was given a single second of something that did not make sense, of layers of red upon red and two golden eyes. Qui-Gon thought they must represent Maul, who else but the Sith he had fought and defeated all those years ago? But the moment he thought that, his connection to the Force ached like skin rubbed raw and a sense wrong wrong wrong flooded it until he felt his breath catch. What was wrong about it? What did he not understand?
Red and golden eyes.
The name burned.
Suddenly, the sense of distance Qui-Gon had given himself spun out of control, and he was back there. Back on Naboo, back in that forest of bridges and forcefields, back at the edge of the melting pit.
It’s been over ten years, you are no longer there, he assured himself uselessly as the details of the plasma refinery complex came into focus in his mind’s eye, so perfect it was like he was there.
You are no longer there, he repeated again when Obi-Wan’s face flashed before him. A child, a comrade, a corpse.
You are no longer there, you are no longer there, you are no longer there, he repeated as he felt his Padawan die in his mind and his arms again and again and again and–
His eyes snapped open, the memory ended, the vision tucked itself away, and Qui-Gon turned to Mace with an impassive look on his face.
Mace looked him up and down, concern pressing his brows together. “Are you alright?”
“Yes.” The lie slipped out far too easily, so Qui-Gon followed it with a crumb of truth. “Something about this planet is not right.”
Mace stared at him a little longer, and then sighed. “You’ve been feeling it too, then?”
Qui-Gon nodded, glad to have the attention off of himself. “The Force is trying to warn us of something. Have you alerted Master Yoda?”
“I have.” Mace frowned at nothing. “But he hasn’t experienced any visions, and there are no records of Sith activity in the history of Falleen, so I doubt it’s a hidden temple we don’t know about. Have you had any visions?”
“None that I can interpret. They may just be nightmares.”
Mace hummed, unconvinced. “It’s never nightmares with us, Qui-Gon. What did you see?”
Qui-Gon considered lying. It would be easy and he was quite convincing, but he had a feeling Mace would see right through it. He decided truth was the wisest course, or most of the truth, at least. He was not going to say the name, though. He couldn’t. Not right now.
“I’ve seen red, and two golden eyes,” he explained, crossing his arms over his chest. “I have no idea what it’s supposed to mean, but I haven’t had a proper sleep cycle in weeks because of it.”
“I know who that sounds like. Do you?”
“Yes,” Qui-Gon said grimly. “I don’t need a reminder, please.”
“Maul is dead, Qui-Gon.”
Qui-Gon glared sidelong at the smaller man. “I am aware of that. I was the one that killed him, after all.”
Mace met his gaze with a cool calm that made no small part of Qui-Gon want to smack him. The sheer anger in the thought surprised him, slightly, though Mace had a habit of digging into the heart of things with the tenacity of an especially irritating exogorth.
Mace broke off the eye contact first, and focused across their small encampment (aside from the bivouac, there was a handful of hurriedly-made defense structures manned by a small contingent of Mace and Qui-Gon’s legions. The rest were off in the thick of battle, headed by Anakin and his new Padawan) into the middle distance.
“Believe it or not, Maul was not who I was referring to,” Maul said offhandedly, “but it’s good to know that still bothers you. You should talk about it.”
“Remember earlier when you said you’d rather join Dooku than deal with the Yinchorri again?” Qui-Gon asked pointedly. “Naboo is my Yinchorri.”
“Touchy,” Mace grumbled.
“I’ve heard that’s what the T in PTSD stands for,”Qui-Gon replied. “Now, may we please drop it. I promise as soon as we’re not in the middle of a battlefield and I’ve had at least three day cycles of sleep, we’ll get drunk and tell each other about everything that has ever hurt us.”
That earned him an almost-smile. “I’ll hold you to that.”
“Would you like to tell me who my vision reminded you of now, or was that simply a quip?”
Mace’s almost-smile fell back into a frown. “I believe Dooku may have acquired another apprentice.”
Qui-Gon’s stomach plummeted to his knees, followed by his heart and his lungs. Everything suddenly felt far too heavy inside him, like gravity had decided that it wanted to drag him into this planet’s core. “Oh,” was his witty response. “And what’s the name of this one?”
“I don’t know.” Mace shook his head, as if trying to shake out an unpleasant memory. “They didn’t say much while they mowed down more than half of the 187th and nearly killed me.”
That did absolutely nothing to abate the sinking feeling filling Qui-Gon’s entire body.
“What did they look like?” he asked, fearing the answer without knowing why.
“I don’t know,” Mace said, with an apologetic expression. “They had a mask on, voice modulator, red armor, a red lightsaber. I caught a glimpse of golden eyes when I slashed through part their mask during our duel, but…” Mace shook his head again. “This one’s a monster, Qui-Gon. I’m lucky to be alive.”
“What did they want?” ‘Didn’t say much’ wasn’t the same as ‘didn’t say anything’, even though most of Qui-Gon hoped that this new tool of Dooku’s was the mute type. That made dealing with them easier, but if what they were after could be discovered, then a way to defeat them could be devised far more quickly.
For the first time since starting this discussion, Mace didn’t respond. His mouth was set in a thin, hard line. Qui-Gon had to repeat the question again, already dreading it.
“What did they want, Mace?”
Mace didn’t look at him when he answered, but Qui-Gon saw his hand tighten around the lightsaber at his belt.