Ruth means Compassion: A warrior’s tale
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08.10.2012 , 07:16 AM |
Line 1. Skimming through Voss
May-June, 11 ATC – seven-four weeks before the confirmation of the Wrath
It was in Voss-Ka of all places that Ruth spotted a familiar face on the street.
“Vector! Fancy meeting you here!”
The Joiner stopped and smiled warmly at her. “Lord Ruth. This is a surprise.”
“Places to be, Imperial interests to protect. Are you still working with our mutual friend the agent?”
“Then he’s alive. And well?”
Vector’s forehead creased. “Quite well. Did you have cause for concern?”
“No more than his usual job hazards,” she
. “Bring me up to speed. What work is there around here for concerned patriots? More importantly, would you and Wynston plus associates be up for dinner?”
“I fear we won’t have time. But if you want to see him, he may still be in the city.”
“Ruth.” The Chiss smiled a brilliant, genuine smile. “You would not believe how things have been going.”
“Can I ask?”
“How are you personally, in a nonspecific way?”
They sat in a Voss teahouse and caught up for a little while. Eventually Wynston asked about her associates. Including “the captain.”
“I married him, actually.”
Wynston’s face only twitched a little before he inclined his head with a thin smile. “Then he warmed up after all. Good news.”
“It’s been good, Wynston. It’s everything I wanted.” Time for a subject change. “Anyway, I’m sure neither one of us is here for pleasure. As always, call me if there’s anything I can help with.”
Wynston relaxed a little. “Don’t you ever get tired of slumming it with us Intelligence types?”
“When you get tired of my company I’ll get tired of your piddling Empire-preserving concerns.”
“Oh, make it contingent on my liking you. This is how you buy friends now?”
“Hmm? I simply meant it could never ever happen.” She winked, just to be sure they were on the same page.
“You’re probably right. I do enjoy your company.”
A Voss approached the table. “Wynston. It is time.”
“Ah.” The Chiss stood up and bowed to Ruth. “Off I go. If you need anything, call me.”
The Shrine of Healing
They encountered one another before that was necessary. A ritual at a mystic Voss shrine found them in the same room, fresh off a series of traditional trials. Quinn was waiting for Ruth in the ritual room. Wynston and Vector emerged from their trials together.
“Hello again,” said Ruth.
“Hello,” said Vector.
Quinn was silent.
“Ruth. Captain. I understand congratulations are in order." Wynston nodded coldly at Quinn. Quinn nodded coldly at Wynston.
“We should proceed to finish the ritual,” said Vector tactfully.
“Yes,” said Ruth. “We should.”
Her vision was short and distressing. A flash of Baras gloating while she struggled to tell him how much she hated him. She didn’t like the sound of it. She didn’t like the sound of it at all. But before she could resolve anything, a force shoved hard at her sternum. She stumbled backwards while the colors of her world flurried from gold back to the plain brownish colors of the normal room. Frustration and a peculiar chill kept her shaking.
Quinn caught her, eased her down to a half-sitting position. Baras’s voice was like a…like something that made her extremely angry. Purple afterimages taunted her.
Quinn was stroking her cheek, and she reminded herself that there was work to do. With an effort she focused on his face.
"It’s all right, my lord," he said softly. "What did you see?"
"Baras," she said. "Who else?"
Quinn would have asked something else, but Ruth pulled herself to her feet and looked at the Voss who stood guard in one corner. "Can these visions be changed?"
"No. You see what will be."
"Like hell. He had me at his mercy, Quinn. It won't happen."
Wynston seemed to have been monitoring her; now he turned toward his Joiner friend. "Vector? How are you?"
Vector rubbed his forehead. "Distressed. We see no clarity in the vision. Only darkness without stars. The hive sings out of harmony."
"Does that mean anything? Can it?"
"We do not know."
"Disasters all around, then. You should have joined us, captain,” said the Chiss, “you might've gotten something useful about the miseries to come."
Quinn scowled at him. "I have enough to plan for without seeking trouble in visions, agent."
the Dark Heart
The mission led them on, into a strange twisted land unlike anything they had seen on Voss. Ruth and Wynston carried out a peculiar investigation that would have extremely useful results for the Empire. It was pleasant to be accomplishing something understandable alongside her work for the mysterious Emperor’s Hand.
The Hand wanted her to locate and free the Emperor’s Voice, some kind of entity that acted as a conduit for the Emperor’s will. She wondered what could be powerful enough to trap it. She needed to free it to counter Darth Baras’s claims of being the Voice himself.
They paused to rest on their way out of the deep, winding cave they had ended up in. Ruth settled on a rock beside Wynston. “Did you need to tie up anything else in the area?"
"No, I think I'm finished here."
"Very well. I have one more thing to deal with."
"Can I assist?"
Could he? "It's a sensitive matter. And I do not know whether I can protect you if...things do not go to plan."
"When has that ever stopped us?"
She had to smile. "If you come with me, you will be doing a great service to the Empire. And I shall try to protect you from what we find."
"With an offer like that, how can I refuse?"
When they got back outside to their speeders, Quinn touched Ruth’s arm. “My lord. You know I must express my concerns with bringing in nonmilitary personnel.”
nonmilitary, Quinn. Intelligence is perfectly trustworthy.”
“Whatever matter we face is well beyond their agency and may be too sensitive entirely. We don’t know.”
“I want a full team there, captain.”
“They scarcely constitute a team.”
“We are all going,” she snapped, frustrated by this obstinacy he had developed since Wynston showed up. “Fall in line. That’s an order.” She got moving. Quinn followed close behind. Wynston and Vector trailed them as they followed a dark path that led deeper into the blighted hills.
She recognized the half-ruined stone building, though she had never seen it before. There was a will within. It was partly disciplined and all hateful.
She turned to Vector. “I must ask to go on with only these two. There are secrets of the Sith, of the Empire. Things I cannot permit the hive to see, regardless of its intent. Do you understand?"
Vector bowed graciously. "We understand. We could withhold this information, but if it will set your mind at ease, we will stay and stand watch. No one will disturb your mission."
Further in. Ruth knew the way.
A square chamber lay at the heart of the ruin. It was intact, surprisingly well lit. A Voss man in the robes of a Mystic awaited them.
“Wrath. Come to me. I am your Emperor.”
Ruth and Quinn approached and genuflected. Wynston seemed to hesitate.
“Wynston. This is the Voice of the Emperor himself, his own embodiment.”
The Voice turned its glowing eyes to Wynston. The Chiss stared right back. "I'm not familiar with any Voice of the Emperor," said the agent.
Dammit, man, when did you turn suicidal?
"When do I need to speak to those below the Council?” The Voss sounded…amused. “Here I have found a loyal servant, but this knowledge is her secret. And now yours, Chiss."
"He will serve, master," said Ruth. "He always has." To her considerable relief, Wynston did opt for a deep bow.
"No doubt." Those Voss eyes trailed back to Ruth. “Darth Baras plays the old games. He maneuvered me here, knowing this body could be bound to this place. This vessel must be destroyed for me to be freed.”
“What’s binding you?” asked Wynston flatly.
“An entity known as Sel’Makor. A great and ancient evil. But I sense the bulk of his attention is elsewhere. Strike me down quickly, Wrath. I will not oppose you.”
“Will I meet your new form?” asked Ruth.
She drew her sabers and made a swift end of it. She was an expert in quick, painless deaths. The Voss folded and she felt a strange clearing of the air.
“We’re done,” she said shortly, and started leading the other two out.
Wynston kept up beside her, shouldering Quinn out. "Ruth, I'm trusting you that that thing is what he says he is."
"If you could feel it...the Voice is power. I will be watchful, but I do believe that that was the closest contact with the Emperor that you or I will ever get." Ruth took a deep breath and shuddered. "Rather intimidating, actually, I hope to do something a little more relaxing soon."
"After Baras is dealt with."
"Yes. After Baras is dealt with. How much of this will you have to report to Intelligence?"
"I think this one is best left as a Sith matter."
"I appreciate your discretion."
"I hope you know what you're doing."
She looked away. "A Sith learns to trust her instincts. This feels right, and so I must continue."
Sometimes there was no choice.
Quinn totally would’ve killed Ruth in the Dark Heart, and returned to the ship calling it a tragically overwhelming fight, if Wynston hadn’t been in the way. Keeping the Voice trapped would’ve suited Baras’s purposes and possibly earned Quinn a shiny gold star. Mean Wynston, crushing Quinn’s dreams! The agent has been disrupting the captain's job ever since that week he spent banging Quinn’s supervisor/arsenal on Nar Shaddaa.
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