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12.10.2012 , 06:28 AM |
Lodestone: Do the Math - Subtraction.
Woo, advanced math. 800 words.
She just let the recording loop for a while. Jaesa had told her she should see this conversation. What Jaesa hadn't said was that this was Wynston going behind Ruth's back at the first opportunity. How excited the Chiss was. And how terribly, terribly determined Quinn was.
He always had been. The passion, the focus, the arrogant way he stepped in because there was simply no one who could do it better. She hated that. Near the end it hadn't been so arrogant at all, just…right. She hated that, too.
Damn Wynston. Damn him for being here, for being determined, for being almost perfect only to turn around and start making demands. He didn't have any right to meddle in Ruth's affairs, with the father of her child least of all. Quinn was a traitor, a liar, a threat and a thief, but even so, even knowing she had to cut him out of her life the moment his master was eliminated, she couldn't lose him to such a final thing as death. And it didn't matter how much Wynston offered her if he was just going to turn it to whatever murky combination of his precious job and his patent grudges he was angling for.
She pulled herself together before anyone else could barge in. Time to go, before someone else decided an intervention was a good idea.
She barged out to the refresher and scrubbed her face raw. In time she gave up on waiting for the tears to stop. It would all go under a mask anyway.
What she had been delaying all morning was the search for the Sith Entity. Once it was cut away from Baras, Vowrawn had – not said, but heavily implied – that she could turn her attention to Baras himself. Damn heavy implications, too. She wanted straight answers.
She headed out to the hallway; Vette was loitering near the ship's exit.
"Oh," said the Twi'lek, looking almost suspiciously neutral. "Hi."
"We're going," said Ruth.
"He's out," she growled.
"Huh. I kinda thought so. You know that you're kind of an idiot?"
"Door's right there if you want to join him."
"Looks to me like we're all going out that way. It's the same fight waiting."
"No, it isn't. It never was."
"You do know he really really likes you?"
Jaesa and Pierce finally showed up, drawn by the sounds of conversation. Broonmark ghosted behind them. Ruth steeled herself for the next round.
"It's time to go," she said, turning for the door.
"Where's Wynston?" asked Jaesa.
"He won't be returning. Come on."
Jaesa paled. And, to Ruth's chagrin, took a step toward the conference door as if expecting to find him in there.
"What's wrong with you?" snapped Ruth. "He's fine, he just left. We're going."
"I saw what you wanted me to see, Jaesa, and I talked it over with him. We had some differences regarding how the captain is to be disposed of. At my suggestion Wynston left."
"I just wanted you to know what was going on while you were out. I wanted you to see how he was sticking up for you."
"Then she got an attack of the stupid," said Vette, "and kicked him out."
"Why are you on his side?" demanded Ruth.
"Beeecause he's on your side?" said Vette. "And I'm on your side. It's a big side. Good for a whole crowd when you're not
kicking people off it."
"Silence." Vette had always taken Wynston's part anyway. She probably liked the company of fellow judgmental whiners. "Lieutenant, we've got more tracking to do today. Any word from Vowrawn's people?"
Pierce nodded, ready as ever for business to start. "Couple of messages came in this morning, milord. We have a starting point for looking. Still quite a few Republic blocks between us and anything that might help."
"We know what to do with those." She shot Vette and Jaesa dark looks before slipping her close black mask on. "Follow my lead. Let's play it quick and as clean as we can. We're after answers today, not fights." Because she could do that to get this over with. Get the Entity over with, get all of it over with, just get it done, finished, Baras and Quinn and all the rest. She didn't even want blood right now, she just wanted an end.
And she could play it clean. She didn't need Wynston around to get things right. She could be something that was neither as pliable as the ingénue he was hallucinating nor as ugly as the butcher he was mad at. And she could do it without the string-laced help he offered.
Ruth made little progress that day. She kept herself under control, even if she wasn't cordial about it. When she returned to the ship that evening she found her room as she had left it, minus one bag: clean and bare but for her own possessions in the half of the room she had kept for herself the whole time. She should have kept more.
It was a relief to sense no one else nearby when she lay down. It was simpler this way. Cold, difficult, but simpler. No surprises.
Vette gets math points for the transitive property: if a = b and c = b then a = c. a, b, and c are all on the same side of this fight.
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