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06.12.2012 , 12:03 PM | #46
25. In which a widow and her husband reminisce

There once was an impotent Wrath
Who failed at her tactical math.
A rumor made rounds
That her mercy abounds,
And now users and fools line her path.

“Question for you, captain. Do you ever get sleepy?”

“No, my lord.”









“Wow. You stand around feeling nothing all day?”

“Nothing physical, my lord.”

“Ooh, I like the air of melancholy. It suits you.”

“You always were a sadist, my lord. Are you sure you don’t have work to do?”

“I’m sure. Emperor’s giving me the silent treatment. I can’t even raise any of the Hand on holo to put together a sabacc night – um, or work, of course. Ilum’s gotten boring, Corellia’s a snooze….”

“The extension of the Empire’s interests in this war is not a snooze!”

“Says the man who doesn’t have to sleep.”

“I remember a time when you were much more dedicated to your duties.”

“Yeah? Well, I remember a time when you weren’t launching killer robots at my face.”

Nalenne sulked for a minute or two. Quinn was too dignified to sulk; he just stood there emanating displeasure, which was very different.

“I knew it was coming,” said Nalenne.

“My lord?”

“You. Baras’s order to kill me. There are always spies, and logically it had to be you or Vette, and it didn’t seem to fit Vette, so when things went south…I knew.”

“But you let me go to the trouble of setting all that up, and then killed me anyway.”

“I didn’t know how to bring it up. ‘Good morning, beloved, by the way I know you’ll have to shiv me soon so I think we should take some time apart’? Besides, I know how you pride yourself on setting up surprises. I didn’t want to ruin it, not if you were determined not to talk.” She paused, but he stayed quiet, so she kept going. “And then I had to do it. I can’t just go around sparing people to try to assassinate me.”

“You’ve spared Niselle.”

“That’s different. She’s my sister.”

“And Jaesa.”

“That’s different. She’s trustworthy.”

“And was I not different, my lord?”

“No, you really wer…that is, you’re not…you’re different, okay, but you’re so different you actually wrap around and have to go by the rules again. So there.”

They didn’t say anything for a while.

“For the record,” she informed him, “it was really upsetting. I can’t believe you went behind my back, never once tried to talk things through, and then screwed it up that badly. It just wasn’t like you.”

“Maybe you could have asked me about it afterward if you hadn’t summarily executed me.”

“Maybe I’m asking now.”

“I’m dead, my lord.” Quinn clenched his jaw in that old familiar way he had. “I have no further insights to offer you.”

“Don’t give me that. Stars, I would’ve shut you up by now.”

“And I would’ve had you screaming.” He reached out and she met his hand halfway. She felt nothing at all where his fingers passed through hers. “This fighting isn’t really the same since, well….”

“Since it transitioned into sex every time? Yeah. It used to be fun. Pity you had to ruin it by picking a real fight.”

Quinn scowled. “You wildly overreacted that day.”

“And what part of this surprised you, oh research-prediction-tactical genius who knew me better than anyone else ever has or will?”

He raised a hand to his throat. “The part where you actually did it! I thought you cared for me.”

“For a guy who claims to not feel anything, you’re awfully touchy.”

“For a woman who claimed to love me, you’re awfully murderous.”

Nalenne waved. “Sith. What’s your excuse?”

Quinn froze. She didn’t often play the Sith card because, hilarious though it was to watch him fold into abject obedience mode, she liked him better when he let his inner master-villain out to play. Or, at a minimum, his inner arrogant, demanding, charmingly excitable individual.

Ah, but there: face composed, mental wheels spinning as invisibly as he could manage, and submissive transformation complete. “I apologize, my lord,” he said quietly. “That was inappropriate of me.”

“Psht, don’t worry about it. Get back to work.” We’ll deal with the rest of this later.
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