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08.02.2012 , 02:13 AM |
Title: King and Pawn versus King
Characters: Varrel Umrahiel, Sith Marauder, Malavai Quinn
Notes. Sith Warrior Ch 3 spoilers (pretty obvious from the title):
I wanted to examine “the incident” from my Mwarr’s position, who did not have the emotional baggage of Quinn’s romance. He has different baggage, but still faced the same situation. Varrel has fewer reasons to keep Quinn alive—there’s no sentimentality there, no emotional attachment. This is not the same as having more reasons to kill him (Fwarr wins there hands down). I still wanted to figure out a reason—beyond game mechanics—why Varrel left him alive.
And I get to show Varrel as a bit of a manipulative bastard. He is dark side after all.
Like Morgani, I don’t usually write out the actual class quests, and I paraphrased Quinn’s dialog where it is from the game.
Varrel followed Quinn through the frigate. The unsuspecting frigate. Her crew milled about, ants in a hill, performing their little functions. All very irregular. The crew should not have allowed them to board unopposed. If ordered down, there ought to have been some sort of official welcoming fluff. There was neither. Tension that had nothing to do with the Empire’s wartime footing thrummed in the air. Varrel felt it buzzing about the edges of his awareness like an annoying insect. Quinn’s anxiety was almost palpable. All out of proportion to his stated intent.
Which implied his stated intent had nothing to do with being here.
Which further implied he wanted Varrel here for some other purpose.
There could be only one reason.
Baras was using his last cat’s-paw.
At that moment the pressure doors to the chamber closed. Baras’ trap was sprung. He had no choice but to allow this little charade to play out according to Baras’ script for the time being.
Quinn advanced to the center of the chamber, “My lord,” he began, turning to face Umrahiel, “I regret that our paths must diverge. Out of respect, I wished to be here to witness your fate.”
Umrahiel halted two steps away, “And what fate have you decided, Quinn?” he asked.
“It pains me to say it, but this entire operation has been a ruse. There is no martial law and no transponder beacon. Darth Baras is my true master. I did not want to choose between you, but he has helped immensely over the years, and I am afraid I must side with him. He had me lure you here to be killed.”
Varrel’s eyes narrowed, “I suppose it’s too much to hope that Baras would be here himself.”
“He does not need to. After all this time observing you in battle, I have made an exhaustive study of your strengths and weaknesses,” Quinn stepped aside and a pair of collicoid-style droids stepped out of an alcove as a secondary door opened. “These droids have been programmed specifically to defeat you.”
Varrel evaluated the droids at a glance. They looked like ordinary anti-personnel war droids. He saw no obvious differences in their armament. Quinn must have extreme confidence in his unique programming. His usual style was the
Jar’Kai form, but he calculated he would need more power to penetrate the droids’ armor. That meant a single saber with all his strength behind it. And two opponents, armed with ranged weapons.
A single blade. That meant
forms. He saw
twelve: ‘Defeating bandits waiting in ambush’.
“You will find I am not so easily dispatched,” he said.
“I calculate a near one hundred percent chance of success,” replied Quinn, “And the frigate’s crew has standing orders not to permit you to escape should they fail. But I doubt they will be needed. If anything, I have underestimated the droids’ chances.”
Quinn’s nervousness spiked. Even Varrel could feel it. “Your confidence is misplaced. As is your fidelity,” he growled.
Quinn stepped back, “I regret that it has come to this, my lord,” he said. With the push of a button, the droids came to life.
In that split second, Varrel pulled on Quinn’s fear, opening a conduit to the dark side. His blade flashed to life even as he closed the distance to the first droid, taking the place of the proper drawing of the weapon in
twelve. He intercepted the droid’s blaster bolts with his saber, reflecting them to the other. A slash disabled the machine’s weapon, leaving it nearly helpless. He vaulted to the next.
Varrel Umrahiel was in his element now. His connection to the Force was kinetic. He was most in tune with it in combat. And it directed his movements with deadly choreography. He had little talent for more subtle applications of his power, but in this he was supreme.
He directed a
cut to the second droid’s head, where a humanoid opponent’s throat would be. The blade burned through the servos and he pulled it out vertically, bifurcating the verbobrain. A
strike sliced across the droid’s midsection. The top half slumped to the floor with the scream of abused metal. A third hit severed the connections to its wildly firing lasers and it fell silent.
Umrahiel turned his attention to the crippled first droid. He dodged its pummeling arms and beheaded it, putting a second hole through its lower servobrain. The tripod legs screeched to a halt.
“No!” Quinn cried, backing against the far wall, “My programming was flawless.”
Varrel spun on his heel and advanced on Quinn with murder in his eye, “Obviously not,” he snarled.
Varrel seized his former captain with the Force and flung him against the wall. Then again, across the space, the impact hard enough to crack bones. Bright stars of Quinn’s pain sparkled in the fog of his fear. Varrel inhaled the emotions as he might a heady perfume. Darkness surged within him like a living thing. He reached out with it and lifted the traitor, holding him suspended in an invisible fist. His hand mimed the gesture. He could almost feel Quinn’s fragile body within his grip, writhing against the pressure.
“You think I couldn’t figure out where your loyalties lay? Who you truly called lord all this time?” Varrel snarled, “The little reports. Communications. Monthly blood tests to monitor the crew’s health? Tell me, Quinn, what would you have done had you discovered Jaesa was with child? Would Baras have known before me?”
“My lord,” Quinn gasped.
“And Baras’ orders to the frigate’s crew. On the off chance you failed. Oh, you’ve been very thorough, Quinn,” Varrel continued.
“Please, my lord—“
“Don’t snivel, it hardly becomes you,” Varrel said, “I did trust you, though. There is a special place in hell for treacherous advisors,” he said, tightening his grip.
Quinn’s hands flew to his throat as Varrel squeezed it closed. His gagging cut off in silence. Feet kicked more from reflex than conscious thought.
A flash of memory. Overseer Tremmel. Who’d brought Varrel to Korriban ahead of the other novices. Regret. ‘Either you kill me, or he forces me to destroy my own creation. A master stroke.’ Tremmel’s words. A master stroke.
Quinn’s blue face replaced Tremmel’s visage. His eyes rolled back in his head. His hands still clawed weakly at the empty air. Uselessly. Varrel was in Tremmel’s place. Quinn failed to kill him. Baras must have known he was unlikely to succeed. Umrahiel, therefore, would destroy him. And lose a skilled tactician, thus weakening his own position.
A master stroke, indeed.
Lord Varrel Umrahiel would not play into Baras’ hands. The traitor did have his uses. Varrel could sever Quinn’s ties to Baras and transfer that loyalty to himself. Truly, this time. And stealing Baras’ pawn, only to return it to play against him had a delicious sense of poetic justice. A calculating expression played across Varrel’s features. Quinn himself had already shown him how to do just that.
He released Quinn from his hold and let him fall to the deck in a boneless heap. He lay still for a moment, coughing and wheezing. Varrel approached him on cat’s feet. The only sound in the room was Quinn’s agonized gasping for air. He struggled to push himself up with one elbow. Varrel smacked him flat down on the deck with the Force. Quinn grunted, the wind knocked out of him.
Varrel crouched down beside him, maintaining pressure, “You didn’t really believe you could defeat me, Quinn,” he hissed, “This was a fool’s errand, and you’re no fool.”
Quinn twisted in Varrel’s inexorable grip. His eyes were screwed shut against the onslaught. “You were a perfect mole,” said Varrel, “perfectly placed. You could tell your master everything that occurred on board the
. From whom I met in confidence to what kind of ****ography Pierce keeps under his bunk. So I ask you: why would Baras throw away such a valuable resource?” Quinn’s struggles slowed. He still gasped for air, but Varrel could almost hear the wheels turning in his clever, clever mind.
He kept up the pressure, “What kind of man sends his undetected, well-placed spy to certain doom? What kind of master accepts the destruction of so many Imperial personnel as collateral damage taking out a rival? In
? And not an
rival. Not a
rival. Another Sith. Is this the act of a rational man, Quinn?”
Quinn had gone very still. He opened his eyes. Blood filled the sclera of the right one, courtesy of a burst vessel. Varrel felt Quinn’s fear damping down as he pondered the problem. Worked through the implications. He tasted Quinn’s melancholy building behind a dam of denial.
“He struck at me first, remember?” Varrel said, his voice almost a whisper, “I’d serve him still if not for that. I did not turn from him, Quinn, he forced me out. I would have remained his right hand.” A bit of a lie, but Varrel gambled Quinn was too preoccupied to question it. “But he decided I was a threat, and for no reason I could ever determine. Is this the act of a rational man, Quinn? Or a paranoid one?”
Varrel eased off a fraction of a foot-pound and stood. Quinn lay still on the floor. “Desperate…” he wheezed.
“I did not start this feud, Quinn. But I
finish it,” Varrel said. “Despite your divided loyalties, you’ve served me well. I would take no pleasure in destroying you,” also a bit of a lie at the moment. Varrel would very much like to squash his traitorous captain like a beetle. But he had a longer game in play. He released Quinn, turned on his heel, and walked away.
Quinn coughed. Varrel stopped walking as he heard Quinn push himself off the floor. Not fully. Not to his feet. No click of bootheels, just the rustle of cloth. “You—“ his hoarse voice cracked and he coughed again before continuing, “you know I could countermand the order,” he rasped.
Varrel did not turn about. He left his back exposed to Quinn, “As if it matters. Consider, Quinn, what sort of tale Baras would spin out of your defeat. Do you believe he would be kind to the memory of a dead man? A dead man who failed him? Furthermore, in the unlikely event you succeed in your mission, how long do you think Baras will let you live? The Force-blind Imperial officer who killed a Sith?”
kill me,” Quinn gasped, “as soon as you were safe.”
Varrel glanced over his shoulder. Quinn knelt on the floor holding one arm tight against his side, either unwilling or unable to stand. “Now what do I gain from that?” he asked
“Revenge,” said Quinn.
Varrel took a step sideways, revealing only a narrow profile, “My quarrel is with Baras, not you. Pointless revenge is a waste of time. I prefer to win.” Time to turn the conversation and Quinn’s attention back to Baras’ motives, “You’re a clever man, Quinn, a valuable asset to the Empire. And to me. Don’t go to your grave out of misplaced loyalty. And don’t take other good Imperial soldiers with you. The people on this frigate don’t deserve to die for Baras’ folly.”
Quinn’s stiff military posture slipped in defeat, “…Unforgivable,” he whispered.
“That depends greatly on whom you choose to serve, Captain,” said Varrel.
“Darth Baras would kill me,” said Quinn.
“Eventually,” said Varrel.
Quinn winced. He raised his eyes to meet Varrel’s, “Is there any chance you would allow me to remain your captain?”
Varrel cocked one eyebrow, “Trust you again?” he asked. He kept his face a mask. Inward, he rejoiced, “A long road, I think.”
“I—“ Quinn’s voice cut off in a coughing fit. There were flecks of blood on his sleeve when it passed, “I will dedicate myself to earning it back, my lord. You will never have cause to doubt me again, I swear it.”
“See that I don’t,” said Varrel. “Rescind Baras’ orders. This ship belongs to the Hand now.”
“Of course, my lord,” Quinn said. He struggled to his feet and limped across the space to the intercom by the blast doors. He cleared his throat and triggered another coughing fit. At last he opened a channel, “Captain Thackery, this is Quinn. Your marines will not be needed.”
“It is done, then?” came a harsh soprano voice.
“The matter is settled,” answered Quinn, “I take full responsibility for the outcome.”
“Damn well better,” groused Thackery, “I don’t want my people suffering the repercussions. Are we clear?”
“Absolutely, Captain Thackery,” he replied. He glanced over his shoulder at Varrel, “An agent of the Emperor will contact you shortly after we disembark.”
There was silence on the open channel. Then the captain’s terse reply, “Understood. Thackery out.”
Quinn and Varrel retreated to the airlock. The frigate’s marines and other personnel scuttled out of the way, disappearing down corridors and around bends at their approach. They met no opposition. In fact, they met no one at all. The path to the docking bay was clear.
They paused at the pressure door leading to the
. “My lord, if I may,” Quinn began, “do you plan to tell the others about what happened here?”
“It would undermine your command, with Pierce especially,” replied Varrel.
Quinn nodded in relief, “Thank you, my lord,” he said.
“Go on. Prepare for departure,” Varrel prompted, indicating the airlock. Quinn entered first, preceding Varrel to the
. Varrel allowed himself a small smile. A promise of loyalty, and hooks to make it stick. A pawn converted to a higher-value piece. This side trip was not a complete waste of time after all.
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