The Short Fic Weekly Challenge Thread!
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11.01.2012 , 08:14 AM |
: Varrel Umrahiel (SW), Vette.
Late entry. Spoilers for late Vette companion quests and SW Act 3, though just as background.
Title here is intended in the Roman mythology/Venetian Carnivale mask sense, meaning "Ghost" or "Mask". Have to edit for chronology, sorry. And comment. So far behind!
The simpering human led the bounty hunter through the dim halls of the Hutt’s ‘palace’. Dungeon was more like it. Thick walls helped regulate temperature in most Tatooine houses. Whuddle buried himself in a hole like a profogg. The bent human disengaged the lock on the final door, “What did you say your name was?” he asked.
“Larvae,” replied the masked hunter.
The escort nodded as the door opened on an oblong chamber lit by a few scattered wall sconces and a handful of overhead lights. They did little to push away the gloom. A thin miasma of spice smoke drifted through the room. Whuddle the Hutt lounged on a raised dais in the center, surrounded by slaves and servants, puffing contentedly on an oversized hookah.
“The bounty hunter, Larvae,” announced the grungy human.
Whuddle snorted and shoved a battered protocol droid to the front. He gurgled in annoyance. “The illustrious Whuddle the Hutt has no need for bounty hunters,” translated the dinged protocol droid, “He has more than enough enforcers already.”
The hunter stepped forward into the light. He was a small man, his armor mismatched shades of grey, much scratched and much repaired. An ordinary blaster hung from a belt full of tools of the trade, and no doubt more than a few tricks. Nothing special, one of a thousand guns for hire. The notable things about him were the pair of vibroswords slung on his back, and the mask over his face. Some hunters carried vibroswords, but it was hardly common. Most hunters wore masks as a natural part of their armor, but his was a plain oval of ivory with only a vague, shadowy suggestion of humanoid features.
“I am not looking for a contract,” the hunter said, “I have one. For one of your slaves.”
The Hutt laughed and burbled in his ugly language. The protocol droid translated, “Whuddle the prosperous has many slaves. He expects to be well-compensated for the loss.”
“My employer is willing to pay a reasonable price for the slave,” the hunter said. The dark eye spaces in the ivory mask stayed fixed on the corpulent Hutt.
Whuddle laughed again, gesturing magnanimously toward his grimy entourage, “Which slave has caught your employer’s eye?” the droid said, “The exacting Whuddle has many beautiful slaves. Many different faces. Many different prices.”
The hunter shifted his weight, “Diida.”
For a change, Whuddle said nothing. Then he engaged an underling in conversation. Then another. One sprinted from the room, only to return breathless in a few minutes with a datapad. Whuddle examined the datapad, then croaked at his interpreter. “Whuddle the generous says he has no slave by that name. Perhaps there is another your employer would like better?”
“A shame, that,” the hunter said, “I am only interested in Diida. I would have paid well for her.”
More chitchat between the droid and the slug, none of it friendly, judging by the tone. Finally the droid turned back to the hunter, “The sympathetic Whuddle the Hutt says that his records show she was very old and had been in his service for many years. To his great sorrow, Diida tragically passed away only recently. Being a favored slave, she was interred at his expense. If the hunter would recompense Whuddle for his costs, the hunter could have her body.”
“That will not be necessary,” the hunter said. In the blink of an eye he closed the distance to the Hutt’s dais, drawing and activating both vibroswords on the move. He paused, the humming blades poised at a shocked Whuddle’s blubbery neck, “I’ll take yours instead.”
Varrel Umrahiel returned to the
that evening. Vette bounded up from her card array on the dejarik table and approached him, “Hey, I just wanted to say thanks,” she said.
“Oh?” Varrel asked.
“For saving my life,” she continued.
Varrel stroked the side of her face, “And how did I do that? Or is this for something long ago that you’ve only now remembered?”
Vette scuffed one foot on the carpet, “No, it’s about the Hutt. I’m glad you talked me out of going and killing him like Tivva wanted.”
“Oh?” Varrel repeated, “I thought it caused quite the rift between you. For that I am sorry, she is your sister.”
“No, no, Tivva always had a temper,” Vette said, “she’ll be fine once she calms down. She probably has already. I meant that if I had gone, I might have died in there, but even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have come back the same. That rotten Hutt might be dead, but part of me would have died too. Mother still wouldn’t be alive. Everyone would have lost,” she took Varrel’s hand in something between a handshake and an embrace, “So thanks for saving
Varrel squeezed her hand, “Let me be the Sith, Wrath of the Emperor,” he said, “and you go on being Vette.” He released her, “Have you other business here on Tatooine? If not I’ll have Quinn lift off.”
“None, my lord.”
“Go on then,” Varrel concluded. Vette hesitated for a moment, as though she wished something more, but then she settled and returned to her pazaak solitaire game.
Varrel continued on to his stateroom. The door slid shut behind him. Kneeling, he removed a long wooden case from its
beneath the bed. He ran his hand over the oiled blonde wood, appreciating the grain and glow of the natural material. He unfastened the catch at the front, an old-fashioned one of delicate silvery metal. Opening it, he replaced the paired
dueling blades in their places.
The mask, being nothing more than a cheap souvenir from a street vendor sandblasted to whiteness, he’d already discarded.
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