Ruth means Compassion: A warrior’s tale
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08.09.2012 , 12:57 PM |
Line 3. Reintroduction
May, 28 ATC – 16.5 years after the confirmation of the Wrath
Ruth paused just before the airlock door and clasped Quinn’s hands. “It’ll be a hostile audience.”
“We’ve had worse.”
“Don’t be so sure. Wynston’s had a lot of time to think about how much he hates you.”
“I’m aware. I don’t expect a friendly room.” Quinn smiled sadly and touched her cheek. “Ruth…my lord. You and I should not pretend that you kept all this secret out of concern for my wellbeing. You kept it secret because you couldn’t dismiss the possibility that I would simply turn you in for plotting against your master.”
She could think of nothing both honest and positive to say to that.
“I am accustomed to being doubted. I can offer no promise that would change that, no grand gesture that would remove it. So let me be clear. I don’t care what anybody on the other side of that door thinks. I do care that there is a stubbornly rational part of your mind that will never be convinced again, but I can do little about it except to serve you in the task at hand, the task of keeping the Empire alive. So I will serve.” He jerked his head toward the door. “Let the audience do its worst.”
The airlock hissed open. Ruth stepped onto Larr Gith’s ship with Quinn at her shoulder.
The Jedi stood at the top of the entry stairs. She pursed her lips, gave Quinn a once-over, and smiled a predatory smile. Then again, all Larr Gith’s smiles looked predatory. That or smug. Or both.
“Please, come in,” purred the blonde, stepping aside to permit Ruth and Quinn to enter the holo room where the crew had gathered.
Wynston’s green eyes were fairly blazing. Ruth had already told Quinn about the permanent disguise Wynston had donned, so the officer knew to match him hateful glare for hateful glare.
“You brought him?” said Wynston.
“She brought who?” said Kira.
“Everyone,” said Ruth, “this is General Malavai Quinn, my advisor and husband. Quinn, this is Jedi Master Kira Carsen – ” Quinn nodded coldly – “Jedi Master Larr Gith – ” likewise – “you know Wynston – ” nothing at all – “and Lord Scourge, my predecessor as Emperor’s Wrath.” Quinn blinked and bowed deeply at that.
“Ruth,” said Wynston, “I can’t believe you led him here. Does he know?”
“Of course he knows. I’ve fully briefed him.”
“My lord knows what she’s doing,” said Quinn.
“When it comes to you, that is consistently not the case,” said Wynston. “You don’t belong here. Forget what you saw and go back to shivving your own kind.” Wynston’s gaze ran from Quinn to Ruth and back. “Or run right along to prepping your report on us so you can get a shiny commendation for selling your wife out again.”
“It’s your word that lured the Wrath here, agent, and I still have no reason to believe you did it for her health.”
“I’m smelling history,” said Larr Gith with a small malicious smile.
“Your powers of deduction are truly overwhelming,” said Ruth. “Gentlemen, save the personal grudge match for later.”
“It’s not about me, it’s about the mission,” chorused the two, and shot dirty looks at each other.
“He’s a menace,” said Wynston.
“He can’t be trusted,” said Quinn.
“Quinn, disengage. Wynston, I believe you indicated we might finally make time to give me the full strategic rundown?”
“Yes,” the agent said stiffly. “Now that we’re…all…together.”
“We are here to save all living things in the galaxy,” prompted Ruth, “which will have to overcome any differences we may have.”
“And override old bad habits, I should hope,” said Wynston, glaring at Quinn.
But he finally got going. He described the threat, indicating that cultist cells in multiple locations around the galaxy were making efforts to stage massacres on a planetary scale to serve as the initial spark for the Emperor’s ultimate ascension. He talked briefly about their target himself, the Emperor, indicating that every intelligence network Wynston had access to – and there were several – were seeking a location fix, mentioning the distinction between the Emperor’s true form and his main conduit the Voice.
Quinn shook his head impatiently. “I know that part well. My lord, I’m sure you’ve considered this, but why haven’t you simply killed the Voice already?”
Lord Scourge answered. “An admirably direct sentiment, but if we kill the Voice we do not know what form his replacement will take. We need to know at all times where the Voice is, and that means either trapping him – which we lack the means to do at present – or letting him operate and continue to issue orders to the Wrath, unaware of our activities.”
“If it comes down to it,” said Kira, “we’ll probably try to hit the Voice shortly before a final assault. Late enough that he can’t make a replacement, early enough that the current vessel isn’t sitting out there ready for the Emperor to step the rest of the way into the moment his true form comes under pressure.”
“You’ll have to be the one to strike the Voice, my lord,” Quinn told Ruth.
He was transparently calculating tactics and odds. “You have the access. I won’t be able to help you. Getting people apart from you out there will attract so much attention we would have to bring a full task force, which would bring its own host of problems.”
“We know,” said everyone else in the room. Ruth continued. “We’ve all thought through a lot of this. I’d like you in on future planning sessions.” She stared at Wynston.
Wynston nodded reluctantly. “Very well.”
“Good. Now, if the briefing’s done, I’m getting back to my ship. It’s time I took up full-time residence on board; we should fly together until this gets sorted out.”
“You could just stay on this ship,” said Kira, almost sincerely.
“I want a real bed,” said Ruth.
Larr Gith arched her eyebrows. “Ah. So that’s why you brought him.”
“Wynston, just call me when something needs killing.” Ruth glared at Larr. “Something I’m allowed to kill, that is.”
She got back to her ship and took a moment in the holo room to breathe.
“My lord,” said Quinn quietly.
“I truly dislike the exercises the agent attempts to drag you into.”
“That blonde woman is a terrible Jedi, if she’s a Jedi at all, and I seriously doubt red is the other woman’s natural color.”
“Was the Sith at least telling the truth? About being the former Wrath?”
“Yes. He left his post to stop the Emperor’s earlier attempt at this killing-everyone maneuver.”
“The danger is real,” she assured him.
“I do believe you in that. Removing the threat to our people, to our son, is paramount.”
“Even if it means working with them. We’ve put up with worse when we had to.” She struggled a moment to recollect exactly what and when. “I think.”
“Ruth,” Quinn said, “I love you. I trust you. I am sworn to serve.” He paused. “And having met our allies, I will do everything in my power to finish this mission as quickly as possible.”
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