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08.01.2012 , 10:21 PM |
Tess'iri and Zenith Quesh class quest part 2, Canned Responses. Major Quest JC class quest spoilers. 2500 words.
Tess was pleasantly surprised to find conversation with Zenith was easy and natural. They chatted while the Defender rocketed toward Quesh. She answered questions and asked them, being honest with him and a little frustrated when she ran up against the wall of his paranoia. But she found herself liking him despite some of the ways he thought. He let her in on his desire to hold political office on Balmorra and she broached giving him advice. He listened to her, and she could tell he genuinely considered what she had to say before making his own decisions.
She was appreciative of that and when he nodded solemnly and said “
Jedi speak. Always useful
,” she turned her head away and smiled. She found her reaction a little strange but had no time to explore it. The Defender's engines powered down and they came out of hyperspace and glided into Quesh's upper atmosphere.
“We'll need to dock at the orbital station and take a shuttle down to the planet. The Republic base isn't large enough to land a ship even this size,” she informed Zenith. “You ready?”
“Armed and waiting,
” he answered.
They were greeted at the shuttle bay and inoculated against the planet's poisoned atmosphere. As long as they kept their visit short, breathing apparatuses would not be necessary. Tess'iri thanked them and headed for the shuttle, making herself comfortable for the short trip down. Zenith chose the seat beside her, even though most of the shuttle was empty. He kept his rifle on his lap and his eyes cast about restlessly in the confines. Tess found herself wanting to smooth away the set lines on his face. Battles weren't always over.
The shuttle made a jerky landing and Zenith made her wait until the three other officers debarked before going out himself, checking the landing pad and surrounding area before he allowed her to step out herself. He took a breath and his head jerked, immediately he covered his nose and mouth with his hand.
“Know that smell. Biological weapons. Why are we here again?”
Tess touched his arm, bringing his attention to her. “The Sith have scientists trapped in the factory Nadia's people built for the Republic. Yes, they build weapons, but they're developing medical treatments too. In all things, there must be balance.”
Zenith slowly dropped his hand and Tess realized she was still touching him. “Your people have no eyes.”
It was less a question than it was a statement. “No. We're born without them. The Force is our sight.”
Zenith nodded. “You see much. Explains a lot.
Let's go, Jedi
Tess nodded but found herself wondering if he had just put up a barrier between them.
There was no sign of Nadia as they approached the factory. She had taken a shuttle less than an hour before them and should have been awaiting them around the factory's exterior. Tess and Zenith walked quietly through a haze the color of puke, their boots making slight squishing sounds as they sank into the boggy earth.
“This place is worse than Taris,” Tess said with distaste as cast her Force Sight about them.
“You draw attention to us, it's your problem,”
Zenith said tersely.
“There's no one here,” Tess answered patiently.
Zenith took a shallow breath and slowly nodded in agreement, but held tight to his weapon.
“I wasn't planning on letting my guard down yet.”
“I'm not asking you to. But thank you for watching my back. Here and at the base. And on the shuttle.” She smiled.
He paused and looked at her. “What do you see?” he asked suddenly.
“See? Ah... I see the walls of factory. The entrance is 5 meters or so behind you.” A thought struck her and she turned to face him directly. “I see you. You're holding a sniper rifle with both hands. You're wearing the armor and jacket I gave you on Balmorra. Your lekku are behind your shoulders.”
“What color are my eyes?”
Her head jerked slightly and she concentrated. The filmy color that permeated her world bled in brighter, more distinct. “Violet,” she said. “I can see, Zenith. And I can see you just fine. Why are you questioning this?”
he murmured, taking a step toward her. She thought he was going to reach out to her, but he seemed to catch himself and turned back to the factory.
“But pointless. Let's go.”
She didn't argue with him though she wanted an answer to her question. But she felt that barrier, that wall firmly back in place. There were places other than the battlefield in which to apply a gentle knock, or a battering ram. They couldn't be distracted here.
The emergency doors were down all over the factory and the control plate wasn't responding to her commands. Tess took a step back and calmly contemplated other options, and Zenith had the same on his mind.
“Could blow it open with some detonite. If you don't mind a landslide.
“That's... not how I really want to do this. But I'll keep it in mind.”
“Maybe one stick?”
“Did you blow up a lot of things in the resistance?”
“I think the resistance is out of my system,”
he answered with all seriousness.
“I'm worried about Nadia, but we need to get in there. Can you control the blast?”
“Is a rancor ugly?”
Tess conceded the point. She backed up as Zenith knelt to set up. She watched him work, liking the strength in his hands. She felt unsettled by the attraction and turned inward to the Force but his voice got her attention.
“Cover your eyes.”
Zenith froze as he realized his gaffe and he turned slowly to look at her. “Didn't mean... you laughing?”
Tess couldn't control the smile that she tried to hide with her fingers. “Would you like me to use my hand? Like this?” She covered her mask with her hand. “Nope. I can still see.” She enjoyed the easy laughter and the teasing for a moment. “No really, get it open.”
“I'm here! Wait, I'm here!”
Nadia ran in from the swamp. “
Sorry, there were Imperials everywhere so I hid for a while until it was clear.”
“The emergency doors are down,” Tess said. “We need to get them open.”
“I can do that. There's a manual release in the controls. We built them in just in case. Now where...”
Nadia reached into the panel and felt around.
“Ah there it is.”
* The door slid open.
“Stay here,” Tess commanded. Nadia began to argue but Tess put up her hand. “I mean it, Nadia.”
Nadia fell back into the shadows and Tess knew it wasn't over. Willful girl. But where had she dealt with that before?
The factory floor was expansive and littered with bodies. Tess put a hand on Zenith's arm, knowing he wanted to check them for breath. She wanted to as well, but through the Force she could see that there was nothing they could do for them.
A small huddle of scientists were toward the back of factory, a group of Sith and Imperial soldiers mocking and tormenting them before killing them one by one. Disgust flowed into Tess's throat. Her hand clenched onto Zenith's wrist. Gently he pried her off. Tess looked at him sheepishly and centered her fury into the Force, finding calm and serenity.
They didn't use words. He flanked her as she approached the Sith, he took out the soldiers as the Force users converged on her. He ran out of enemies long before she did and he turned to watch, to take open shots and to admire her as she moved, her green lightsaber spinning and random things found around the factory sailing over head.
He was slightly alarmed when the last Sith Force pushed her violently, catching her body and tossing it through the air like a rag doll. She steadied herself, getting her feet under her mid air and landing gracefully on her feet, knees bending nearly to the ground, her arms out to the sides, chin tucked to her chest. The Sith snarled with fury and came at her doubly hard and Tess wove her saber through the air as she defended herself. Zenith could see that she was giving ground with every swing.
He was beginning to worry. Every shot that he had taken had been deflected easily, despite the Sith's attention being taken up by Tess. This wasn't someone's lackey. This Sith was running the show here.
He watched her get backhanded across the face. A lashing out of the frustrated Sith as they had fought to a deadlock. Her mask skipped along the ground and bumped against his foot and Zenith bent to pick it up. To protect it from further damage.
“Really?” he heard her taunt the Sith. “Is that where this is going?”
She was like no Jedi he'd ever met. Not that he had dealt with many.
“Your eyes,” the Sith said. “Hideous.”
“Please. I could draw blood from the veins in your face. You wouldn't win any beauty contests either looking like that.”
Zenith knelt and leveled his sniper rifle. He couldn't stand by and watch this any longer without trying to help. He watched Tess leap gracefully into the air and Force push the Sith back. While the Sith stumbled, Zenith took his opening. He didn't wait to see what would get deflected. He continued firing until something hit. When his body was lifted and smashed into the wall, he wondered how he got there. As he picked himself up off the floor, Tess's lightsaber shot straight through the Sith's chest.
“Hands off my crew,” she growled into his ear as he sank to his knees.
Zenith crossed to her, her mask between his hands. She replaced her lightsaber at her side and turned her face to him. He ran his fingers over the bone colored planes, knowing a knife had whittled its shape and contours. Red gems hung on either side and shined like blood.
“Lovely,” he said as he handed it back to her. As she reached for it he held on, so they were face to face. She had no eye sockets, no tear ducts; simple smooth skin was unmarred from her cheekbones to her eyebrows. The skin was pale as it was usually covered from the sun and elements.
“Qyzen made it for me,” she said, giving the mask a little yank. He didn't let go. “From one of our earlier hunts.”
“This the bone of some beast?” he asked, surprised.
“Yes, can I have it back?”
“You don't have to hide your face from me.”
Tess cocked her head. “You're one of the few who feel that way. But thank you.”
“Jedi, I've found the other scientists, but there are more Sith heading for them. You have to stop them!” Nadia was breathless as she ran up. Zenith dropped the mask like he'd been caught doing something shady.
“Nadia. Out.” Tess said, but then saw what Nadia had been running from. Three Imperial soldiers flanked her, weapons drawn. Tess refitted her mask and readied for another fight.
“Go!” Nadia cried, turning to face the Imperials. “I won't let this be like the ship. It won't be. I won't let it.” She looked over her shoulder at Tess imploringly. “Please, go save them. I can take care of this.”
“Nadia,” Tess said sharply. But words faltered as Nadia Force leapt at the Imperials, knocking them to the floor and stunning them.
Zenith grabbed Tess's arm and pulled her away. “Figure it out later,” he said as he moved.
“You saw that too right? How did I not know she was Force sensitive?”
“Later,” Zenith snapped.
They reached the scientists mere seconds after the Sith did. Tess leapt to battle without hesitation. The scientists cowered as tables and chairs flew over their heads. Tess kept the Sith off balance while Zenith kept his attention with his rifle. When it was over, the scientists shrank back from her and anger surged in Zenith's chest. They had just saved their lives, the Jedi was owed some thanks.
“I'm not going to hurt you,” Tess said with reassurance. “It's over now.”
One scientists got a hold of himself quickly and gave a slight bow at the waist. “Thank you, Master Jedi. The rest of the factory, is it...?”
“It has been reclaimed. You have nothing left to fear.”
“The attack has taken a toll on this place,” the scientist said sadly. “For the time being, we'll only have the power resources to continue one of our important projects. I think you should choose which, being that you saved us.”
“That is kind, however I don't feel I'm qualified for that kind of decision,” Tess said.
Zenith laid a hand on her arm. “Hear them out.”
“We have been experimenting in weaponry using The Quesh venom,” the head scientists explained and Tess felt Zenith tense at her side. “And we have made great strides in medicine. I could go into detail on both programs if that is needed?”
“It won't be necessary, I'd love to find out what kind of medical advances this venom can do,” Tess said quickly, hardly needing to consider at all.
She wanted to find Nadia as soon as she got back on board her ship. There were things that they needed to discuss. Zenith had left her side as soon as they boarded and he wasn't in the meeting room like she expected. She'd really wanted him there when she spoke to Nadia and her father about what Nadia could do. The girl's Force abilities were dependent on her emotions and that was the worst possible way to control the Force. Something would been to be done quickly.
She stopped by her quarters before hunting down Nadia and Delegate Grell and she sensed his presence before she cleared the threshold. The lower level was quiet with Qyzen and Tharan both gone. Tess paused at the door and turned her face to him.
“Been saving this,
” he said before she could speak. He held his arm out to her, a single flower, pressed and dried between his thumb and forefinger. She recognized it by shape though not by name.
“I saw these dotting the plains on Balmorra,” she said. “Thank you.”
“Planet's flower, officially now that Cordon's in office.”
Tess turned the flower over in her hand. “It's lovely. Thank you, really.” She looked up to find him watching her closely. “Did you need to talk about something?”
he murmured, closing the gap between them.
“Let's not talk.”
Tess had a moment to realize what was going on and then a moment more to figure out what she was feeling. As he pressed his lips to hers she tensed, and when no Force lightning came from heaven to strike her down, she relaxed and took her time exploring this.
[*] means I'm paraphrasing what was said. I did the Quesh questline a couple days before this prompt went out.
This is total wish fulfillment and my interpretation of the things Zenith says to the JC. I apologize for the poor quality. I've found that taking Bioware's story and incorporating it into my words makes for poor story telling on my part. I think that's why I tend to stay away from retelling the class quest lines and make my fics about what happens between the scenes. But this was fun to think about.
Be to her Virtues
Be to her Faults
a little Blind.