The Short Fic Weekly Challenge Thread!
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06.15.2012 , 05:54 PM
So this WAS short... in my head... I don't know how these things get to be so long. This was my attempt at writing something happy.
It's the same character from my other story so SW spoilers.
“My lord?” Pierce queried from the entrance to the bridge. “I have a favor to ask.” He looked uncomfortable. Pierce never looked uncomfortable, he also never asked for favors. “I need to travel to Dromund Kaas in two days,” he hesitated. “And I’d like you to come with me.”
“What’s on Dromund Kaas?” Ninka asked looking up at the Lieutenant.
“I need to see someone there; my gut says she might need some help. I’m probably just paranoid, but I’d appreciate some Sith authority as backup.”
“My lord, if I may?” Quinn said from the helm. He did not turn from the navigation console so he could not see the Lieutenant grinding his teeth.
“Go ahead Captain.”
“Jaesa and Broonmark will return in three days and we are due for a complete ship retrofit at the fleet in two days. While the Lieutenant can be spared, your presence is required for authorization.” Ninka mulled that over, the ship had seen a lot of action lately and the war was not going away any time soon.
“If there were an emergency somewhere right now could the ship handle it?” she asked.
“Yes, my lord.” The Captain paused, not volunteering any further information.
“Can the retrofit be pushed back?”
A longer pause. “Certainly, my lord.”
“Then I see no reason not to do the Lieutenant a favor.” She concluded.
“Unless I misunderstand the Lieutenant, my lord, this is not an emergency.” Quinn insisted.
“True,” Ninka said slowly. “But Pierce isn’t known for paranoia and I trust his gut.” She said carefully not looking at the Captain. The silence stretched, “Set in a course for Dromund Kaas and reschedule the retrofit. Contact Broonmark and Jaesa and let them know the change of plans. ”
“Of course, my lord.” The captain answered plotting their new course.
“Thank you, my lord.” Pierce said and took himself out.
Pierce waited for the ship to land. He held a small gear bag and stood at the ship exit ramp. He was too well trained to fidget but Ninka could see he seethed with impatience and anticipation.
“Are you all right?” Ninka asked. “Do you need me with you now?”
“I have a few things to take care of first, my lord.” Pierce answered, bobbing his head in response to her first question. “Meet me at the citadel in four hours.” She inclined her head in agreement as the ship doors opened. The ramp had barely lowered when the large man bounded down and was gone.
“Huh, I’ve never seen him like that before.” Vette said peering down the ramp. “And to meet a woman too.” She grinned. “So what are you going to wear?”
Ninka smiled to herself. Trust Vette to ignore the mystery and focus on the most pressing questions. “He said he needed Sith authority so I should probably go formal.”
“Scary-dark-robe-hide-your-face formal, or sexy-mid-riff-baring-duelist formal?” Vette asked, eyes sparkling.
“Dark robes.” Ninka replied.
Vette groaned. “You always say that these days.”
What Vette did not know, because Ninka had never told anyone, was that she was losing her ability to see color. If she tried to dress more fancifully, she might end up looking ridiculous and mismatched.
“Fine, you pick the outfit. In red, not green or purple, and if someone laughs at me I will make you watch me kill them.”
“Yes, my lord.” Vette bowed deeply and scampered off.
Vette worked quickly and Ninka was ready with time to spare. The Sith Lord stopped to check her messages on the bridge before leaving. Vette followed discreetly, hoping to witness a reaction. She carefully picked out her master’s clothes for function and fashion. The supple dueling leathers allowed movement while hiding durasteel plated spine protectors. Artfully cut to show off skin each pleat hid a tiny shield generator. The loops of her belt disguised her lightsaber but still allowed for easy access. The slit-up-to-there skirt was ankle length instead of floor length and allowed movement but flowed gracefully around her thigh high boots. If the Wrath did have to fight, at least her victim would get a nice eyeful before he died. As she had hoped, the Captain turned to update the Sith Lord with their new schedule but choked instead.
, she thought as the captain struggled to clear his throat without being obvious.
“My lord,” he said, trying again. “I have rescheduled the retrofit. Your meeting with the Lieutenant is in one hour and if you leave now you will arrive at precisely the allotted time.”
“Thank you, Captain.” Ninka replied without looking up. “Perhaps you and Vette would like to come with me. If it turns out we’re not needed as backup we can pick up some odds and ends we won’t find at the fleet.” She turned to see Vette running to her room to get her coat. She eyed the Captain.
“As you wish, my lord.” He said bowing slightly.
The three arrived at the citadel to find a larger than expected crowd of mostly young adults wearing Imperial uniforms. Not wanting to draw attention Ninka was glad she had chosen to dress up. Her robes would have been instantly recognized as Sith, but dressed this way, she could simply be Quinn’s companion for the evening. She slipped her hand around his arm to reinforce the illusion. Quinn automatically adjusted his elbow. A few people saluted Quinn as they walked past but paid no attention to Ninka. Mostly. A few young men watched Ninka appreciatively then quickly found something else to look at when their eyes met Quinn’s cold glare.
“Interesting,” Quinn observed. “It appears today is one of the graduation days for the Imperial Academy. The ceremony appears to have just completed.”
“One of them?” Ninka queried, having never gone to the Imperial Academy herself.
“Yes, my lord. Groups of students who pass the exams graduate together at least once per quarter. There is a short ceremony, and then they are given their assignments by their advisors. It is more efficient than waiting a whole year.”
“Of course.” Ninka said scanning the crowd looking for Pierce. If he had not stood a head and shoulders above most of the crowd, she would have missed him. Wearing full formal Imperial uniform, he was clean-shaven, and his hair was combed and cut to regulation, she would not have believed the man was the Lieutenant except for the large scar that marred the right half of his face. That and his familiar presence, not the presence of the force, but a stillness and strength she had come to recognize as Pierce. Ninka glanced at her companions; neither of the pair had recognized Pierce yet. Their eyes seemed to slide right over the large officer as they scanned the crowd.
Ninka followed Pierce’s gaze to a young woman. She was a petite and slim; her long dark hair coifed with military precision. From what Ninka could see, she was very beautiful; her male companions also seemed to think so. They leaned in as they spoke to her, smiled when they looked at her, and laughed softly when she said something clever. One of her companions noticed Pierce watching them and snapped to attention, the others followed his example. All except the young woman, who made a delighted sound and threw herself at Pierce. He caught her and spun her around while she covered his face with kisses to the chagrin of the young men in her group. Chuckling at her enthusiasm, he hugged her tightly then put her down. He gave her a stick about the size of a stylus. She turned it on and a holographic bouquet appeared, she laughed delightedly and hugged him again.
“Is that Pierce? Ew. ” Vette said, crossing her arms. “I don’t know which is ickier, the fact that she looks young even to me or that they look so happy together.”
“I would say the fact that he would waste my lord’s time to impress a woman.” Quinn said with disgust.
“Now, now,” Ninka said. “Let’s give the Lieutenant a chance to explain himself.”
Pierce spoke a few words to the young woman then put his arm around her shoulders. He started to steer her in their direction when a silky voice full of command and malice cut through the low hum of the crowd. “Lieutenant Pierce.” It said. The crowd parted for the voice. It belonged to a pureblood Sith wearing dark hooded robes. He was trailed by two men, Moffs by the look of their Imperial uniforms.
“Now we come to it.” Ninka said under her breath. She was glad Quinn was there, he could identify every Sith and high ranking officer by name or face. “Names.” She whispered in his ear.
“Lord Variath,” Quinn said immediately. “His master is one of those in charge of building the new Sith Intelligence, though his direct master is not on the Dark Council. Following him are Moff’s Grandon and Wellings, both oversee parts of the Diplomatic Service. ” He looked down at the Sith lord at his elbow. “It appears you may be needed after all.”
She nodded at Quinn’s words, never taking her eyes off the group in front of them. She expected Pierce to take a defensive stance. He may not be able to defeat a Sith Lord but she knew he would be willing to try. Instead, he executed a crisp salute to each of the newcomers. He then stood at attention and answered their questions, his voice pitched too low for Ninka to make out. The young woman copied his example, though she did not speak at all.
“Come.” Pierce said smiling. “There’s someone I want you to meet.” He put his arm around the woman and turned.
“Lieutenant Pierce.” Lord Variath said from the crowd. Pierce froze turning back toward the voice. His good cheer vanished. He squeezed the woman’s shoulder reassuringly then released her snapping into a crisp solute. Stand straight count to two, bow ten degrees hold for two, straight count one, pivot to next officer. He still remembered the hated ritual that only seemed more ridiculous after years away from formal engagements. “I’m so pleased that you’re here.” Lord Variath continued, prowling around the taller man. “I’m sure you would want to be the first to know of our Ensign’s new assignment.”
“Yes, my lord.” Pierce said carefully. He struggled to suppress his commoner’s accent. “I understand she has passed the test to enter the Diplomatic core. I believe, my lord, she received an invitation to the diplomatic service on Alderaan, the invitation was to be made official today.”
“Yes, about that.” Lord Variath trailed off, “Moff Grandon, if you please.” The Sith waved at the Moff to begin talking.
“Yes, thank you, my lord. You see Lieutenant, a posting on Alderaan is highly prestigious. Reserved for candidates with the top scores and the best,” he faltered. “Well the best connections. After due consideration we believe the young Ensign would be better suited to working for Sith Intelligence, where she could make use of her ahem,” he paused flicking his eyes at the Ensign. “assets without her low birth being a hindrance.” The Ensign blushed, eyes downcast. Even the severe looking Imperial uniform could not hide her curves or her beauty.
“Moff Tristan would have something to say about that, sir.” Pierce replied unflinchingly, neither his expression nor his tone betrayed his growing anger. He could see the crowd had dispersed and drifted away. The tension in the group was palpable and no one wanted to be near an angry Sith Lord.
“The girl’s grandfather is long dead, Lieutenant.” The Sith hissed, forcing Pierce to face him. “Her only connection is a career military man who couldn’t manage to get a better rank and posting than Lieutenant serving a lowly Sith.”
Ninka could tell things were not going well, even as she strained to pick up bits of the group’s conversation. Pierce’s demeanor did not change a hair but she could feel his anger building, she knew the other Sith would feel it too. The crowd had drifted away; the hum of so many people no longer masked the conversation. Lord Variath grabbed the front of Pierce’s jacket, “Her only connection is a career military man who couldn’t manage to get a better rank and posting than Lieutenant serving a lowly Sith.”
“Lowly Sith,” Ninka repeated to her companions, lips curving into a smile. “I believe that’s my cue.”
“Lieutenant, there you are.” Ninka called as she glided toward the group.
Pierce looked away from the Sith Lord to see his master. His eyes took in the sight appreciatively. A deadly weapon wrapped in silk and leather.
“Who is this?!” Lord Variath demanded, releasing Pierce.
Pierce smoothed the front of his uniform, resuming his formal manners. “Apologies my lord, I will make introductions.” he bowed precisely to Lord Variath. “My Lord,” he faced the Wrath bowing lower than before. Lord Variath clenched his fists at the implied insult. “May I present to you Lord Variath, of the new Sith Intelligence, Moff Grandon and Moff Wellings heads of the Diplomatic Service on Alderaan. And this,” he said a smile breaking through his perfect manners. “is Amilla Pierce, Ensign Amilla Pierce, my daughter.” He continued quickly without pausing to enjoy his crewmate’s expressions of shock. “Lord Variath, Moff Grandon, Moff Wellings, this is my master Lord Ninka, the Wrath of the Emperor.” Silence fell. The wrath looked up at Pierce questioningly and saw no falsehood. She raised an eyebrow her expression clearly saying,
I’ll get you for this
. His eyebrow quirked in response,
you can try
“My Lord,” Amilla Pierce bowed deeply breaking the silence. “It is an honor.” Moff Grandon and Moff Wellings quickly followed suit. Lord Variath sputtered.
“Ensign Pierce,” Ninka said, ignoring the other Sith lord. “I believe congratulations are in order. I hope one day we’ll be able to work together. My business frequently finds me on Alderaan, diplomacy would be a welcome change.” Ninka chose her word carefully based on the bits of conversation she overheard.
“Thank you, my lord. Joining the diplomatic service has long been my dream. It’s what my grandfather always wanted for me.”
“Y-y-yes.” Moff Grandon stammered. “We were just confirming her assignment to Alderaan. Isn’t that right Wellings?” he elbowed his fellow nervously. The other Moff snapped out of his daze.
“Of course!” the other Moff said a little too loudly. He grabbed the ensign’s hand and pumped it up and down enthusiastically. He began babbling praise about the her test scores and qualifications.
“This is impossible!” Lord Variath interrupted. “Your file,” He pointing an accusatory finger at Pierce, “Your file, states that you work for a Sith Lord whose master was disgraced and executed. She takes orders from a fringe group of Sith, and has no ties or connections to the Dark Council.”
“All true, my lord.” Pierce replied.
“Nowhere does it state that she is the Wrath!” Lord Variath exclaimed.
“Interesting, though rather pathetic for Sith Intelligence.” Ninka pursed her lips thoughtfully. “Perhaps you should focus on recruiting analysts before you recruit agents.” She raised an eyebrow at Lord Variath. He looked from one member of the group to the other then stormed off with impotent rage.
“Congratulations again Ensign. We will begin your briefing with the rest of the diplomatic core in three days. Enjoy your leave.” Moff Grandon said quickly. He and Wellings backed up tripping over each other as they made their escape. The group watched them disappear into the crowd.
“I’m going to Alderaan!” Amilla squealed happily hugging her father. He returned the hug planting a kiss on her forehead. “I barely recognized you looking all professional.” She giggled. “I didn’t even know you knew proper protocol.”
“Neither did they.” Pierce grinned. He eyed Quinn who merely snorted and looked away. “I didn’t want a common lout like me to give them reason to reject you. Seems I almost did anyway, I’m sorry.” He said sadly. His daughter waived off his apologies.
“You didn’t tell me you worked for the Wrath.” She looked at her father’s crewmates and master studying their expressions. “You didn’t tell them about this either did you? You didn’t even tell them about me!” she accused.
“You don’t write often enough.” He said mocking her.
“It was safer.” He said soberly.
“You always say that!” She stomped her foot as she did when she was a small child.
She crossed her arms glaring at him, he just smiled at her as if he just enjoyed being near her even when she was mad. She sighed; she knew being mad at her father was pointless. “How long will you be here? Can you stay for the banquet?” He shifted in the way he did when he told her he would be leaving soon. She sighed again.
“Lieutenant, we will be retrofitting the ship for the next few days.” Ninka interrupted.
“Yes, my lord.”
“You are on official leave for the next four days. After that, you will catch a shuttle and rendezvous with us at the fleet. Understood?”
“Yes, my lord. Thank you.” Pierce bowed, not a precise regulation bow, but a natural one that conveyed more respect and appreciation than he had ever shown anyone.
“Yes, my lord.” Pierce grabbed his daughter around the waist, hoisting her in the air, and charged toward the exit. “C’mon Mynock! There’s a frozen tart somewhere in this city with your name on it.” They could still hear Pierce and his daughter laughing as they disappeared into the crowd.
“Did you see that coming?” Vette asked after a long moment of silence. “Because, I didn’t see that one coming at all. How old is Pierce anyway? Like fifty? Or was he getting around when he was ten? I bet that was it because he was already two meters tall with a full beard or something.”
“Vette.” Quinn said, pinching the bridge of his nose.
Ninka linked her arms with her long-time companions, one on each side. “We’ve done a good day of work as back up Sith authority. I say we get a drink.”
I make up these stories as a part of my effort to reconcile the things that happen in game that I can't explain, like Pierce not being a full LI. This actually has a second part but I'm not sure if it's worth writing. I'm going to make an effort to stop writing about Pierce for a while