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07.04.2012 , 10:58 AM |
, starring outside-class-story Sith Sorcerer Colran Niral and outside-class-story Imperial Agent Dolarra. 1700 words, no spoilers.
14 BTC. Rrudobar, one of the orbital cities of the planet Duro.
Colran Niral recognized the woman as soon as she entered the clinic. Not the face – pretty, pale – nor the hair – short, brunette, charmingly disheveled – nor anything else about her specifically, but the flushed throat, a certain tremble. She came up to his desk and opened her mouth, but it was a moment before her voice caught up. “Balmorran strep,” she said.
He wasn’t surprised. Refugees from Balmorra streamed throughout the Core Worlds at a staggering rate, and they brought their diseases with them. He couldn’t let this poor plainly dressed and obviously half-desperate woman stick around where she might infect others.
So he ushered her into one of the back rooms and settled her on an examination table. “Nice to have a patient who already knows what’s going on,” he said. Patients who had the wrong idea could be an incredible pain, but this one was spot on.
“I aim to help,” she rasped.
“Easy.” First things first. He washed his hands, then laid them on her throat and entered into the Force meditation that could begin to cleanse and restore.
It was tougher than he expected. He suspected the woman had one or two underlying conditions. Something to check out. But he could at least soothe her throat enough for her to talk.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Dolarra,” she said. “Dolarra Reyne.”
“Jedi padawan Colran. Pleased to meet you.”
She rubbed her throat. “For that relief alone, I’m pleased to meet you, too.”
He had to rest and recharge a little while yet. Healing wasn’t exactly his strong point. Growing up Sith hadn’t given him a lot of opportunity for it.
“Fresh off Balmorra?” he asked.
“Yeah. It’s…kind of a mess.”
“I’m sorry. Got any place to go? The Jedi have some services on station here, we can help fix you up if you need.”
“That’s very kind, but no, I’ve got a place.”
“Then you’re luckier than most. Wait a moment, I’m going to give another round.”
“Is that something Jedi usually have to do?”
“Still learning here. You’re stuck with me while my master takes a day off.”
She tilted her head, scanned his face, and smiled a small smile. “Could be worse, I suppose.”
“Lie back,” ordered Colran. Dolarra obediently relaxed onto the table and started breathing calmly, deeply. He laid his hands on her stomach and slipped into the Force itself, mending, pushing away the clouds of sickness.
And then he felt something. He remembered it from healing Imperial military, from some dealings with Imperial Intelligence. It was an insidious thing, not just a lump of metal but a feeling, like a slow death.
He jerked out of his meditation before he could control himself. Balmorran? No.
“There’s an implant in your spine,” he said carefully. “Somewhat less than healthy, it seems.”
“Oh, that, it’s nothing,” said Dolarra. “Cut-rate cybernetics from back when I figured slicing was a viable career option.”
“I have yet to feel a commercial piece like that. In fact, I haven’t felt anything like it since the last time I was on Dromund Kaas.”
She seemed surprisingly calm in light of the near-accusation. “There’s a wild idea.”
“Wild but true. I know that make and model.”
“I didn’t figure you for an Imperial type,” she said coyly.
“No? You’ve been watching me close enough.”
She gave him a rapid once-over, and he was suddenly, acutely aware that he was unarmed. “Will you let me go?” she said.
“Of course.” He immediately kicked himself for saying it. This was an Imp pretending not to be an Imp; that could only lead to bad things. “It’s been a long time since I talked to anyone from the homeland.”
“I’m a little surprised a Jedi would care about that.”
“I’m only an entry-level Jedi,” he told her.
Those blue eyes sparkled like sunlight on the water when she smiled. “Dromund Kaas is thriving,” she told him. “Everyone’s eyes are on the war, but the planet is at peace.”
He wanted to ask about his family, just on the off chance…but that was too great a risk. “I guess you’re here for Intelligence?”
“I’m here for strep throat.”
“You’re a cagey one, aren’t you?”
She ignored him. “I hear diseases are a lot more difficult than wounds to Force heal. You’re not half bad. I know more than one organization that would love to have somebody like you running support. Saving people. Saving the kind of people who have the sense to survive once they walk out the door.”
“Killing people. That’s what Sith do.”
“Depends how skillfully you play it. If the Empire were made entirely of the killing fanatics, we would never have pulled together to get this far. Our real power is in the sane people behind the scenes. The likes of me.” She paused. “Maybe the likes of you.”
“I didn’t bring you in here for a recruitment speech.”
“No, you brought me in because you have some kind of ministry. What I’m struggling to understand is why you’re doing it here when our own people are bleeding, too.”
“These people need my help.”
“These people will stagger on, another space station, maybe another two, before they die of poverty or despair or stupidity. The Republic has no idea how to give them purpose. They have no idea how to take care of themselves.”
“That’s why the Jedi are here.”
“To waste their time and their strength. Too little, spread too thin. Why wear yourself out against that? You could do so much more good if you were working with competent leadership.”
“Imperial competence is another word for large-scale murder. That’s why I’m here and not back on Dromund Kaas.”
“But you miss it.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Sure you did. How long has it been since you saw home?”
He was too off balance to not answer. “Fifteen years. Seven since Korriban, my last time in Imperial space.”
“You must’ve gone to Korriban very young.”
“It’s a long time to go without seeing home.”
He shook his head. “Home’s here now.”
“That’s not what your eyes are saying. Can it be that your Jedi lifestyle – not that I’m criticizing the digs – isn’t quite as satisfying as you had hoped?”
He frowned. “Hold still.” And he steeled himself for another Force meditation, sinking into the corruption of that strong but damaged body. Little by little, thread by thread of the finely woven aura. This woman had seen sickness. She had seen pain. But he had the skill to set that right.
“I would chastise you for avoiding me,” she said when he came out of it, “except that I do like getting less sick.”
“This hit you hard. Don’t you people keep up on shots?”
“With the strains going around nowadays? I don’t have the time or the vein capacity for the number of vaccines I would need.”
“And the war’s only making that germ-mixing worse, both accidentally and on purpose. The sooner it ends, the better.”
“It’ll end when the Empire wins,” she said. “You know that. You’re sweet, but you’ve seen how the Jedi handle things. They don’t have what it takes to succeed. They’re too busy running free clinics tending to the refugees from the planets they’re not strong enough to defend.”
“I’d rather go out like this than live in an Imperial world again.”
“A world of opportunity? A world where skill and strength win out over rulebooks and empty platitudes? I’m not even upper class, Colran, but I would fight and die to keep the Empire going.”
A chill ran through him. “Then maybe I shouldn’t let you leave after all.”
Twin doors slammed shut in Dolarra’s eyes. She sat up. “Thanks for the help. There’s places I need to be.”
“I can’t allow that.” He tried to reach for the snub-nose blaster strapped to her thigh under her tunic. She got to it first. He had to resort to Force bursting a brief stun and trying to wrest it from her grip. For a small and still-sick woman she was hellishly strong.
“I don’t want to hurt you,” he told her.
“Maybe that’s your problem.” She kicked, headbutted, wrenched her hand and its blaster away, placed a shot that only his last-minute dodge reduced from a chest wound to an arm wound.
He raised a hand and started manipulating the air itself, pushing her down against one wall. She grunted and struggled, but couldn’t get up.
All the same, talking wasn’t going to happen while he was concentrating on such a Force effort. Carefully he moved in, knelt on her legs, pinned her arms. He hated being so violent about it, but he had little choice.
Somehow she grinned anyway. Spirit in this one. That was something he hadn’t seen since he had come to this hellhole of a city. “What now, Jedi? You going to tell me I’m a bad bad girl and put me in jail? Because that’s what your adopted family would do. No victory. No resolution. Only the postponement, over and over, of the struggle that only our kind has the strength to win.”
“Your kind,” he told her. “Not ours.”
“You ever miss the rain in Kaas City, Colran? The security of order, the certainty of authority, and the sweet knowledge that if you know better you can damn well take the reins?
He surprised himself by releasing her.
They both stood up. She dug out her holocommunicator, tapped a button. “Here’s my holo frequency. Call me if you ever want to talk.”
He stood still and stared at the space where Dolarra had been until long after she had shown herself out. He was careful. He was always careful around his patients.
But she was gone, and the infection remained.
These are the parents of my Sith Warrior, Ruth. Colran wasn’t part of Dolarra’s mission, he was just a target of opportunity. Not even the biggest Imperial coup of her career as an agent, but he turned out to be pretty useful.
I had wondered what kind of household could produce a bleeding-heart Force-blind-lover like Ruth. Why not a truth-seeking Sith-turned-Jedi-turned-Sith and a Force-blind?
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