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12.15.2012 , 07:59 PM |
Gah, parenting! I am the worst at parenting. We'll see how the kid turns out
Lodestone: First day on the (officially recognized Wrath) Job.
Sith Warrior endgame setting. 1000 words.
It came down to single combat under the eyes of the Dark Council. Upon seeing Ruth's old master again, hearing his dismissive words, and knowing how much he had taken from her – for no reason, in spite of her loyalty, in spite of everything – she joined battle swiftly and brutally.
He met her in kind.
Her rage rushed in from all sides, feeding off everything Baras had done to herd her here. Every cut, every lie, all of it. She raged, and he met her with a dark implacable hate that made her fresh fury seem like the weakest wave of irritation.
Something to learn, she told herself, fighting. Something to break and take for herself, because that's the way it's done. But she found that her frenzied attacks weren't breaking through Baras's defenses. He held, and struck, and held and struck. It was with an almost bored gesture that he swatted her saber aside with his own and flung a searing purple lightning that slammed through her energy defenses to char armor and flesh.
She twisted free, intercepted the stream with her saber, but her neck and chest were screaming pain and the raw power of his attack hadn't lessened any. When she staggered back a step, the old Sith laughed. "Had enough, child?" he bellowed. "Can you feel your grip on life slipping?"
No. It won't end like this.
"Why persist in this futile gesture of vengeance?" he continued. She could barely hear him over the crackling of pain. "Let go. Embrace your death."
Vengeance? That wasn't all she had going for her. She flicked her gaze to the crowd of her crew. Her friends. Their Force signature was bright in Ruth's awareness; Jaesa pulsed with small intentional warmth when Ruth met her eyes.
Something rose up beyond the anger.
Ruth returned her gaze to Baras. She had many more years' training in focus than in rage. In control than in aggression. And in protection than in revenge.
It was much more than just her that pushed him backward, steadied her on her feet, drove him back in a shower of sparks and light-warping Force waves. But hers was the will and the direction. What was lost, her hate could not recover; but there was love yet to work for.
She felt the small stab of Baras's fear when she flung his lightning back at him. He was a master in the hatred he had fed her, but he wasn't ready for anything else.
She fought. She prevailed. And before the eyes of the Council and the Empire, she gave Darth Baras his execution.
She stood straight, not bothering to watch as Baras slumped and fell. Instead she turned slowly to meet the eyes of the Council. This was her vindication.
"At last, the end of Baras." Darth Vowrawn's easy conversational tone made less sense than ever, but at least there was respect running under it. "The air clears, and my lungs breathe deeply again. You have proven that you are truly touched by the Emperor. The Dark Council knows that the Emperor's Wrath has free rein."
Darth Marr's words were dim in her roaring ears. "You are acknowledged, Wrath. Your actions will not be challenged as long as they do not contradict our own."
Vowrawn beamed. "You are answerable only to our ultimate master."
She wished her father were here to see it. She had meant to climb to get to where she could do more good. This was it.
No one could stop her.
She owed the Council some acknowledgement. "I look forward to working with the Dark Council for the Empire's benefit," she announced. And working in spite of it if she had to. She would deal with that as it came.
She held her head high and let her friends fall in behind her as she left the strongest masters in the Empire. Her peers.
She headed straight to Darth Baras's offices. She remembered starting here. It would make a statement to take it again.
She did a quick check around the room, sharply dismissed a cringing acolyte who had been doing something in the hall – cringing didn't mean harmless – and shut the door once her friends were in.
Wynston was at her elbow in an instant. "Your burns. How do I take the mask off?"
She helped him start on removing her mask. The flex panel that sheathed her neck came next, and that's when she was harshly, vividly reminded of the pain pulsing down her neck and shoulder. Wynston's movements were quick and precise as he picked away the rest of the armor necessary to reach her Force-burned skin. His hands were warm, the kolto jarringly cool against her flesh while he worked.
He met her eyes. "You did it, Ruth," he said, slowing one pass of kolto application into something like a caress.
"And a sight it was," opined Pierce.
Jaesa just smiled at her.
"You're not completely roasted, are you?" said Vette.
"I'm still breathing," said Ruth. She laughed a tiny bit. And sobbed. Both motions were painful.
Wynston put a free hand on her back. "Steady, darling," he whispered.
After her effort to maintain rigid pride before her rivals his manner seemed overly familiar. Ha. Sith thinking, that. She leaned into him a little and let her adrenaline rush slowly wear off. He was quick in getting her patched up, alternating between frowning at the damage and flashing gentle smiles at her. When he finished and backed off a little, Ruth straightened and looked around; she saw Vette was examining the furnishings of Baras's office.
The Twi'lek examined a vase. "So can we sell this stuff?"
"Sure," said Ruth. "I don't want it."
"Have I mentioned you're the best Sith I ever worked for?"
Ruth's laugh was less edgy this time. "I'm glad someone approves. I've just officially earned an Empire full of people who will eat me alive if they get the chance."
Pierce snorted. "Think they'll find chances are tougher than expected."
Wynston gestured back toward the Dark Council chamber. "Anyone who underestimates the Wrath in the near future is rather badly slow on the uptake."
"That…would describe some Sith I've met," said Vette. "See a chance to kill? Why let a little thing like self-preservation get in the way?"
Ruth took a deep breath and clipped her armor back into place so as to look impressive for the walk back to her ship. "Come on," she said. "We're going home."
Home is the Niral complex on Dromund Kaas. Ruth's crew has already visited it once, right after Baras turned on Ruth. Wynston's never been. (Wynston has at this point been about eight nights of sexytimes, five of them on Nar Shaddaa which clearly doesn't count for relationship purposes, and a handful of professional jobs ever; not exactly bring home to Father material.)
Why did this fight turn LS? Part of the difference between the canon fight (DS smackdown) and this is that she hasn't been spending every spare minute stewing over Quinn. Just staying connected with human company instead of brooding-self-company is huge; it both weakened her hate and strengthened her connection to nice things. Even with the shadow of doubt.
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