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06.22.2012 , 06:41 AM | #101
56. In which Vette badgers Nalenne to try something new (I/II)

It seems Tatooine never rests
‘Til it asks for all personal quests.
The desert out there
Demands all you can spare
And gives little for passing its tests.

“Hey, Nalenne.”

“We’re out of Corellian whiskey, Vette. I checked. I can’t magically produce more if you ask again.”

“Nah. I was going to offer a bright idea.”


“Remember your vision questy thingy on Tatooine, with the smelly demon bath and stuff?”

“What is it with you and blood rituals?” (*)

“I get the impression that they’re second only to the holovid industry in providing educational materials. You think if you went back there you could get a little insight into certain metaphysical disturbances?”

“You would have to come enjoy the stench with me.”

“Hey, it’s not my ex we’re trying to get rid of here.”

“I doubt I’ll get anything useful out of it. My first Tatooine vision turned out to be a long morality lecture…I mean, it did change my life, but it was basically one long lecture…followed by three seconds of useful information.”

“Information you couldn’t have gotten any other way, though.”

“Smartly managed aerial surveillance would eventually have gotten it.”

“Information needed. If I come do the sand demon blood thing, will you try for your vision thing?”

Nalenne sighed. “I guess.”


Ghost-Quinn looked up at Tatooine’s twin suns without so much as squinting. “This planet is much more pleasant when one can’t feel the heat or sand.”

“Tell me you’ll at least be smelling the sand demon blood when we get there,” said Vette.

“I don’t believe I will.”

“Darn it.”

“It’s a good thing we found a way to bleed the demon without killing it last time,” added Quinn. “I don’t know how many are ever alive at a time.”

“I was younger then,” said Nalenne. “A lot less killing-everything-in-sight.”

“Less effective in many respects, as I recall,” said Quinn. “Though the modicum of self-control was an advantage that you have since lost.”

“I still won, didn’t I?” said Nalenne.

“With my help.” Nalenne and Vette exchanged looks, then glared at Quinn, who shifted uncomfortably. “Until those later parts, anyway.”

They made their way to the cave way out in the Jundland Wastes where they had first encountered the sand demon. “You think anybody else would’ve killed it by now?” said Nalenne.

“They better not,” said Vette. “This one’s ours.”

The cave wound deep into the sandstone plateau, but it opened into a broad chamber with a half-open top. There, standing guard exactly where Nalenne remembered, was the great insectoid sand demon.

“Let’s do this right,” said Nalenne. She activated her saber and leaped.

The monster was actually pretty tough. Nalenne remembered the last time she was here, when she just faced it down until it passed out…this was harder. Amusing, though. And she did have Vette’s combat support.

“My lord,” yelled Quinn, “it’s possible we’ll need to reuse this demon in the future.”

“Couldn’t have mentioned this earlier? Blast.” She dodged, slashed, Force pushed. “Got a really potent sedative?”

“No. I suggest hitting it really hard.”

“Thanks, master strategist.”

“I work with what you give me, my lord.”

With enough head trauma, the sand demon went down, unconscious but still breathing. Right on cue its outer skin started shifting and cracking.

And there came the blood.

“Come a little closer, Vette,” called Nalenne. “You should enjoy the fruits of your suggestion.”

“Ew,” said Vette. “You're going to owe me new boots.”

“Impressive,” said Quinn. “I think this is the first thing I’ve smelled since I died. It’s faint, but it is just as vile as I remember.”

The liquid was close to black, and there was an unholy amount of it, flowing over Nalenne’s boots and sloshing up her calves. She let it come. If the smelly fluid of life was what it took to get answers…well then, it was a good thing she was the galaxy's foremost expert on spilling it.
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