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11.30.2012 , 09:15 PM |
Triple post, and a zombie prompt!
Lodestone: Allies I.
1200 words, Warrior Corellia spoilers.
Ruth woke up feeling stiff. Upon moving, she figured out that this was due to the full clothing and body armor she was still wearing.
She had lost control yesterday. Those Jedi. Those poor, stupid Jedi. Those poor, hapless…no. No, stop it. They were enemies of the Empire anyway. Nothing worth thinking about.
But perhaps she should have saved her anger for Baras and his agents. His other victims, no matter how infuriatingly stupid, were too numerous to sustain rage against; save it for Baras and his agents.
She groaned when she felt Wynston stir beside her. She also made a mental note to tell 2V to prepare Quinn's old quarters for habitation. She should've done that the second Wynston came aboard. She shouldn't have let him aboard. This was hard enough without him taking her to task for what she already knew were her failures. Seeing him both disappointed and hurt because of her was too much.
It shouldn't be too much. She shouldn't even care, not about the convenient newcomer. He should only matter to her as a security consideration.
He mattered to her.
She wanted to go back to bed.
"Good morning," Wynston said quietly.
She forced herself to turn and face him. He had his patient-neutral face on, the one with just a touch of inoffensive concern. "Hi," she said.
"How are you feeling?"
Several possible answers flickered to mind, but she couldn't think of a full sentence to complete any of them. "I'm not even going to answer that." He was already fully aware of how bad the previous day had been.
He sat up and reached for her hand. "Anything I can do?"
She snatched her hand away. Her sore muscles objected; she really shouldn't have left the armor on overnight, but it was a little late to undo that. "Stop asking that, for one thing. Go get ready. Eat. I'll refocus here and then we'll figure out the plan for the day."
"All right." He didn't move yet, though. "Anything off-limits in the mess? I was safely supervised yesterday, I don't want to go in alone now and accidentally eat something the lieutenant was saving. It'd be a very unglamorous way to die."
"What are you going on about?" She stared for a couple of seconds before softening enough to decide to answer his question. The man had a point, whether he fully knew it or not. "Vette can explain the property markings, it's a little complicated. Go on. I'll be out later."
He smiled. For a moment there wasn't even a speck of caution in it, just affectionate cheer. "Later, then."
She sprang out of bed as soon as he was gone. She stripped off the stiffer components of her outfit, stretched, and then knelt on the floor, sinking into a very unpleasant physical awareness of herself and her surroundings.
She had been charging through each day for weeks, locating, killing, trying not to think. Trying to think of everything, because that was what was needed to stay alive. Trying not to think.
And yes, she had lost control.
She got up to seal the door. Maybe she was among friends, but she had something to do before she felt right about facing them. She sealed the door, then knelt again and settled into a focus exercise her father had taught her long ago.
The meditation didn't last very long. Even if she ducked aside from her anger and let it flow past, there remained an urgency pressing her to get going. Well, a little calming was better than none. She sighed, stood, stretched, and went for a quick shower; dressed, then proceeded to the mess.
Wynston, Jaesa, and Vette were gathered around the table there. They smiled cheerfully at Ruth when she entered. In fact, the atmosphere was warmer there than it had been in quite some time.
Wynston spoke up right away. "Jaesa and I were just discussing some of the nicer parts of Alderaan. She insists anything the Oroboro nest occupies doesn't qualify as nice, but we have some human-city places in common."
"I see," said Ruth. That was very sweet and natural and Ruth was certain it wasn't what they had been talking about.
"We finished gossiping about you a good ten minutes ago," volunteered Vette.
Ah. There it was. "Anything juicy?" Ruth asked stiffly.
Wynston was glaring at Vette. It was Jaesa who spoke up. "They say you're going to be okay, master."
"The rumormonger was light on details," added Wynston.
"Oh, but I did check for safety's sake," said Vette, "and he doesn't have any plans involving Killiks this time."
"Ah," said Wynston with a theatrical touch of nervousness, "that's actually an interesting point."
Vette blinked. "It is?"
"Yes, in fact." He looked to Ruth. "If you're willing, I'd like to call in Vector Hyllus to support your bid against Baras."
"Nope," said Vette.
"His skills may be useful as you maneuver into place politically."
"Nope. Last Killik you invited ripped Ruth's guts out."
"Master Hyllus isn't going to rip her guts out," said Jaesa.
"Yeah, only because somebody else got there first this time."
There was a moment of silence. Ruth didn't look at anybody until Jaesa took in a small audible breath. "I think he would really sympathize with us on this one," the apprentice said softly.
"No," said Ruth. She didn't want a bigger audience of uncertain motive. Vector was kind, but she didn't know him well, and he had a history with too many masters. "I want to minimize staff changes right now."
"I trust him implicitly," said Wynston, as if everyone didn't already know that. "But I'll defer to you."
"Yes, you will, Wynston. You'll be staying with the ship today. Jaesa, you too. Look after things."
Jaesa and Vette exchanged looks. Ruth knew they knew that when she dismissed them, she was about to do something particularly violent. Never mind that; she would try to get it right today, but Jaesa still had to stay behind. Someone needed to watch Wynston, and Wynston needed to not be watching Ruth. If she slipped up she wouldn't have him sitting in judgment on her for it. She couldn't take that.
"I won't be much use to you here," Wynston said, frowning.
"I'll get you Holonet access; I can meet with Darth Vowrawn and you can pull any information you can access about him for my review tonight. If anything happens, call me."
"Likewise," Wynston said emphatically.
She left the mess before remembering that she needed to eat. Before she could turn back, Wynston followed her out and stopped her in place.
"Ruth," he said, "if this is about last night, I didn't mean that I would try to slow you down when work has to be–"
"Just stay here. If you're on my side, do as I say. I need your data access more than anything else anyway." She sighed and tried to push aside the generalized frustration that was rising. "I'll remember. I promise."
"Watch your back out there."
That statement seemed to rank somewhere between absurd and cruel given recent weeks. "You mean that?"
"Yes. Losing you, too, would be hard even for me."
"You're not…" She stopped. She hadn't fully thought through the selfish motivations for him, the ones apart from physical safety, in their earlier discussion. Of course she wouldn't deny him this. "You're not losing me."
All the same, before she left she instructed 2V to prepare a bedroom that wasn't hers.
The justification "they were enemies of the Empire" greased the skids on Ruth's trip downhill post-Quinn. It's okay to flip out and slaughter them if it's for the Empire.
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