Ruth means Compassion: A warrior’s tale
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08.11.2012 , 07:48 PM |
Line 3. Denouement
July, 28 ATC – 17 years after the confirmation of the Wrath
The Fury returned to the
. Scourge had disappeared rather than boarding; he had probably stolen his own ship elsewhere. Quinn laid Ruth out in the destroyer’s medbay; now he stood beside her, keeping vigil. Rylon lay nearby, turned on his side so the compress on his wounds could stay in place. He stared at his mother, wide-eyed, as if death were something entirely new and strange to him.
Pierce ordered a course for neutral space and came to join the others outside the medbay.
Wynston spoke. “I’m going to go ahead and call this our last planning session. You won’t be seeing my face after this; I’ve got to disappear to prepare for the next crisis. Larr, where are you off to?”
Larr Gith took a deep breath. “I’ve got some things to figure out.” She squeezed a subdued Doc’s hand. “And he’s going to need help. You can call on me if you ever need me.”
“Thanks. Best of luck to you.”
“I’m bound for Dromund Kaas,” said Pierce. “Got a perfectly good fighting force. Better figure out where it fits into things now that the Wrath is gone.”
“Yeah,” said Vette. “The Wrath. You know, she turned out okay. Guys, you have my holofrequency. I’ve gotta go do something less depressing now.” She hesitated for a long moment, then took a few rapid steps toward Quinn and reached up to hug him tightly. He squeezed his eyes shut and hugged her back. Then she broke away and ran off.
“I’ll be returning home. Coordinating with Light Side Sith seems more appropriate now than ever,” said Jaesa.
“Good luck,” said Kira. “It’s a good cause.”
“And you, Kira?” said Wynston.
“Until you need me again, I was gonna go back to my day job. I’m a Jedi when I’m not being a superhero, you know.”
Wynston joined Kira, Vette, Larr, and Doc in taking Larr’s Defender to Nar Shaddaa, but when they reached the spaceport he took charge of a couple of Ruth’s possessions that had been left on the ship and went his own way. His companions were contractors, allies of convenience; they would go back to their real jobs now, their real lives. They didn’t operate at the level he did.
He headed to one of his safe houses and slept through the night and much of the morning. As soon as he woke up he got to work.
A short tap sequence at his hip caused the visage of the red-haired human to warp and vanish. In its place was a Chiss, short, skinny, crisscrossed and textured by scars from just about every physical process organic skin can be scarred by.
He discarded the physical profile of the redheaded Wynston that Larr Gith and the others had known, took a moment to study his natural face in the mirror, then turned away and pulled out his holocommunicator.
Quinn set up the funeral pyre in the stone courtyard where Colran Niral’s remains had been burned, and those of Colran’s brothers, and their father and mother, and the Nirals before them, on and on. The bier was overshadowed by a narrow roof-high shelter to block rain from directly above, so the fire was free to burn. Quinn stood with Rylon and watched the flame for some time. The youth broke down and ran back inside long before Quinn’s nerve gave out.
He turned away from the pyre and headed to the veranda looking out to the rain-battered lake. After some time he asked, very quietly, “How many times must I start over?”
His holo beeped. He considered ignoring it, but decided to answer. Wynston came up. The old Wynston, the blue one, the one who looked subject to time and fatigue.
“Quinn,” he said. “I’m sorry to intrude, but we found some of Ruth’s effects on the ship. I can come drop them off if you want.”
“Perhaps later,” he said. He was too tired for it now.
They looked at each other.
“There’s a place for you here,” said Wynston. “You do good work. There’s still a lot of people that need help when the great powers go bad. My organization has a whole department for Imperial affairs. If for whatever reason you’re not ready to go back into the system.”
“Let me look after Rylon first. After that…I’ll think about it,” said Quinn. “I don’t know yet.”
“Take your time. And, Quinn…I’m sorry.”
Inside the house, Rylon had locked himself in his room. He spent some time pacing, vaguely waving his holocommunicator. Eventually he swallowed hard, pushed his hair back, and entered a call.
“Rylon,” she said uncertainly.
“I was wondering.” He looked at his feet. “Do you…could you try maybe teaching me the ways of the light side?”
Jaesa’s lips parted and it took her a moment to answer. “Really?”
“Mom kept trying. She thought it was important. I want to honor that. And…Larr says she snapped clear Dark Side in the end, uncontrolled. Lost her defenses that way. Mom ended up angry, and that anger destroyed her.”
Jaesa sucked in a breath. “Did she tell your father that detail?”
“No.” Then, more confidently, “And no one ever will. He’s got enough guilt. Besides, I think it was mostly me she was angry at.”
“It wasn’t. Nothing you could do or say could ever shake her love for you or your father. She saved her hate for the Emperor. As for you, Rylon, you’re always welcome with me and mine.”
Wynston brought up his wrist console’s projection screen and pulled up the available disguise profiles. After flicking through a few gallery pages he selected another human face: handsome, young, with neither a scar nor a worry line in sight. He loaded it into the cybernetic disguise generator.
He didn’t activate the disguise yet, though. He pulled up a different, older file on the projection screen. A silly thing, but he had held on to it for a number of years now.
“GALAXY SAVED”, it read, “III”. Wynston smiled to himself, a little sadly, and drew in another tally mark.
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