Grey. Red. Black.
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12.28.2012 , 03:55 AM |
X: Pale Blue
Warning: mild Smuggler spoiler- and a tad racy.
He never thought he'd see the inside of the place again unless it was in a blur as he was ejected by the bouncers. Back in the Dealer's Den, and this time he's a VIP courtesy of Vee and her "friend". His opinion of Darmas Pollaran is high and flying higher by the minute. Fiendish gambler. Connoisseur of fine spirits and fine women. Nothing but respect for the man. Vee's ties to him are hazy; she hadn't offered details, and Doc knew it was better to just go along for the ride than push her for specifics.
More fun that way, especially when we're not dodging blaster fire and running for our lives
"This is what...the tenth? Thirteenth? Okay, what're we raising our glasses to this time?"
What's there to not raise a glass to? Getting out of that nest of assassins alive after weeks of surveillance? Waiting even longer for Her Nobleness to ferry in an expert jeweler from stars-knew-where to make sure we weren't ripping her off? Credits spilling out of our pockets? Riggs storming out in a huff when Vee made eyes at everyone in the suite, including me? Just two men now in a room full of beautiful ladies? This spectacular Corellian whiskey?
"Everything!" A clink of three glasses: his, Vee's and Pollaran's. He takes a deep draw from the tumbler and slings his arm around a gorgeous giggling redhead. "Soooo...you telling me your name yet, sweetheart? Or do I have to jump up on that table and sing for what I really
want for supper?"
"My good man," Darmas smirks at him, "interrupt the game in
fashion at your own risk. I have to stay on my toes with this one. I
for opponents like her."
"That, and Lisitra there is coming back to
room later, not yours. Right, Lisi?" Veolet winks at the woman. "If you wanna come with, Doc, you'll shut up until this round is over."
." He grins at Lisitra- pretty name, even prettier to hear it roll off of Vee's tongue- and she smiles back, a vixenish glimmer in her eyes. She motions invitingly at the chaise furthest away from the sabacc table. If Vee wants to blow her credits here it's fine with him.
Whispers don't count as talking
. He leaves her and Pollaran to it, settles onto the cushions. "This doesn't count as talking," he murmurs into Lisitra's ear.
. So you're a doctor? What kind of doctor?" Eyelashes flutter over pale blue.
"...the things I've seen. The things I'd
to see. Have any grievous injuries? Anything I could tend to? Kiss and make better?"
"I might," she purrs, "but wouldn't it be easier to treat two patients at the same time?"
A persistent beeping elicits soft swearing from him. "I have to take this. Don't. Move. I need to hear all about your symptoms before making a firm diagnosis."
After all this time it's been accidentally switched on? Kriffing fortress full of people with knives and guns and it goes off now? Not that I really wanted it to go off in a fortress full of people with knives and guns but...now?!
He catches Vee's eyes before slipping out of the room. She tilts a brow at him, shrugs, focuses on her hand once more. He turns a corner; static begins to form a figure. "What do you want! Oh...er...Kira...hi!"
have you been?! Don't answer that. I don't care. I don't want to know. You have to come back. I haven't heard from them in-"
"Calm down. Everything's copacetic."
It was only a dream. Forget it. They're still pale blue. Have to be.
Now that was a stupid question...
"That was a stupid question. You know
. I haven't been able to reach them ever since we docked on the Voss Orbital Station and they went planetside." Little Kira points at him. "It should be
down there with her."
"Whoa now. Don't start with the sanctimony. Why didn't you go yourself?" A sick feeling grabs his guts and squeezes.
If she's dead I won't take the fall for it. I'll drag that Sith bastard back to Tython myself and personally hand him over to Grand Master Shan.
"Told you to stay on the ship, huh? What was the line she fed you?"
"That she had a vision of darkness. That only he could guide her through it."
"Lies. She lied to you. I'm sorry, for you. Not for her." The squeezing becomes wrenching.
Exactly how much do you know, Kira? More than you let on.
"I'll come back in my own time. Say, tomorrow afternoon. Fast enough for you? I'll get to the station and we'll take it from there?"
"I'll be expecting you. Don't let-"
"Night, Kira. Get some sleep. Meditate or something. There's a bottle of brandy hidden in the lowermost lefthand cabinet in the galley, if Rusk hasn't found it yet. Hang in there."
"Lisi, honey. Show Doc where it hurts."
* * *
Lisitra has commandeered the refresher. It's just him and Veolet, and neither of them is fully awake. He rolls over and brushes a lock of platinum-white hair behind her ear. Stars, does his back ache. They really put him through his paces- and he enjoyed every second of it.
"Vee. I need you to get me to Voss. Today. Just the orbital station."
She groans and kicks his shin under the sheet. "How much did I lose?"
"Half? Doesn't matter, babe. Take me there and I'll give you my cut. All of it."
So much for the clinics.
"You're serious." She sits up, frowning. "Is it the wife? Tell me again- why'd you have to go and marry a kriffin' Jedi?"
"Early midlife crisis. She won't be my wife for much longer. I still can't let her die."
"If my wife ran away with a Sith-"
"Yeah, well, I'm not you. And she didn't. Not exactly. Or she did-
I don't know
- but I love her. Loved her. Past tense. It's just duty now."
Say it enough, might convince myself of that.
"You have no clue about what she's up against. Let's just say that if she can't pull it all off you won't have to worry about losing creds to Pollaran or anyone else anymore."
"Holy Hutt ****. The
"What led you to
conclusion? No, no, never mind, but I didn't say that. I didn't say otherwise but I didn't say
. Get me to that station, back to her ship. Please. All I ask." Her eye has gone wide; he kisses her chin, the tip of her nose, her lips. "Though someday I might ask you for something else. If you ever decide to settle down."
"If I did it would be with a scamp who knew his way around a shotgun and a bacta tank."
Lisitra emerges, her coppery hair a halo of frizz. "What did I miss?"
Vee blows her a kiss. "Not a thing, sweets. Doc here was just telling me about a medical convention he has to get to in a bit. It's been fun. I'll pass back this way soon and we can go shopping. I need a new blaster or a dozen. Give Darmas my regards, will ya?."
Bless her. As soon as the Emperor's dust and we can all breathe easier...
XI: Just Walk Away
Vee hadn't offered to stick around and help. No blame; she had business of her own, and he completely understood her distaste for anything involving the Sith.
than 'understood'- shared. Not a bad parting. A kiss on her cheek from him, a slap on his rump from her. He'll miss her- already does- but he doesn't miss the credits. Those were worth it.
"Let me get a handle on this. Again. They left the ship. None of you have heard from them since. Your coms have been on. You've been checking the holo and trying to reach them...how many times a day?" He sags back into the uncomfortable conference room chair and stares at Kira, Rusk and Tee-seven. The ship's interior is the same as when he'd left but
"We've been taking shifts," Rusk rubs his chin and sighs, "a minimum of ten times per shift so an approximate total of twenty to forty times per day."
"Docked here? No supply runs?
have you been living off of?"
Kira shrugs at him. Her face looks worn, with dark livid crescents like bruises underneath her eyes. "All that nutrient paste you had stashed in the hold...and the medbay...and your quarters. We made a few runs, though. Is this even relevant? Should I finally just go down and start searching?"
"Been near a mirror lately? You're not going anywhere. It's time for you to get some rest. You too, Fideltin." Stars but do they both look
. The droid beeps and chortles. "Yeah, you too. Rest, and then we wait. It should have been pret-ty damned obvious to all of you that no response after a couple days meant no response from then on."
"You're one to talk-" Kira slams her fist down on the table "-we weren't just trying to reach her, we were trying to get hold of
"Sergeant? Think you can get Tee-seven settled and powered down? I need to talk to our mutual Jedi friend here." He raises his eyebrows, hoping Rusk will catch the signal.
He does. Thankfully. "Sure thing, Doc."
Gotta admire the man's survival instinct. Don't think I've ever seen him move so fast...
"Kira." She appears on the verge of tears. Taking the chance that she might very well deck him, he rises from his seat and half-circles the table, leaning against it when he reaches her side. "I made mistakes. That's not easy for me to admit, you know? Mistakes. Over. All done with my tantrum." He winces.
And that's just what it was, a very long and interesting one but still...a kriffing tantrum.
To his complete surprise, the anger drains from her expression as she nods and sniffles. "Okay."
"Hey. Sweetheart...I meant that only as a friend, the 'sweetheart'...if you start outright crying
start outright crying and that's so,
not something you want to experience," he lays a comforting hand on her forearm, "because my voice shoots up about ten octaves, I whimper, my nose runs like a faucet stuck on 'on', my...it's ugly. Besides, Jedi don't cry, do they? Don't you have some kind of internal valve to shut off that kind of thing? No emotion, only-"
"You whimper?" She blinks, sniffs, and a smile twitches the corners of her lips upwards. "You're saying you cry like a little girl?" Sounds erupt from her: a snort and a giggle.
There it is. That's better.
"I sure do. Don't make me humiliate myself in front of you. I know how you ladies talk. I'd break down into a puddle of whimpering snot, you'd tell the boss about it, she'd never look at me the same way again. Am I right?"
Except Miri's already seen me cry. Those first few minutes after the marriage droid was dismissed. Don't think about that. Think about pointing a scattergun at a Sith's face.
"Maybe," Kira laughs, grins up at him, "but seeing as how you two were-" she bites her lower lip, gaze skittering aside as her features take on a solemn cast "-
so close, there's probably no reason to tell her. Am I right?"
"So you know."
"You're serious. Look," she shakes her head, "about a month after you were aboard you started disappearing at all hours instead of pestering me with idle chitchat and
started locking down her quarters at bedtime. Not too hard to figure out. I considered confronting her about it, even going to the Council."
"You didn't- why?"
She doesn't know everything, then. Miri kept her part of the bargain, staying quiet about the wedding. I'll keep my part. For now.
"Because she was as happy as I'd ever seen her. We used to talk a lot about the Jedi Code. She thought the Order needed reform, that positive attachments and emotions helped to foster peace, not hinder it. Those were her exact words- 'foster peace, not hinder it'. She was happy, it didn't seem like it was changing her for the worse," a quick wry smile at him before staring into the near distance again, "and
was happy that you'd stopped haunting the bridge and telling bad jokes."
He leans down, searching for her eyes with his; found and held, he lowers his voice to just above a whisper: "You say 'she was'. Past tense. If she was...gone...you'd sense it, right?"
"Of course. Wouldn't you? She's not
gone." Her face is the final confirmation he needs. Sorrow there. Regret. Pain.
"Time for you to get some beauty sleep." He pats her arm before turning away to saunter over to the Republic banner in the far corner.
Suffocating silence, and then:
"Doc?" Very soft. She hasn't left the conference room. "You're not whimpering."
"I made that up, Kira."
"Figured you did." Her hug is fast, warm, consoling. "I'm leaving before you set me off again. Night...and I'm glad you're back."
Alone, he tries to lose himself in the banner and recall exactly why he'd ever left Balmorra.
His vision blurs.
* * *
The things here are monstrous. Trees snake upwards in sinister curlicues. Creatures with spiked spines and razor maws stalk the land, their footsteps quaking the ground he runs upon, across. He dashes into a cave, its entrance filled with luminescent turquoise fungi. At least it's otherwise empty except for fallen shattered stalactites and heaps of bones. Wandering deeper he realizes he's trapped in a labyrinth. Panic bubbles up in his chest...until he catches a scent of sweet sweat and spicy-bright bitterflowers. A wisp but he knows it so well- and it's his only way out of this maddening maze. Distant murmurs tickle his ears, transforming into distinct words as he rounds a corner-
"I could never do those things to you. I love you. There. I said it."
And there they are, backlit by wan turquoise, partially cloaked in sickly purplish mist.
"Show you what?"
"How much." The Sith's lightsaber sizzles awake in a blaze of bloodred. "Kneel."
She ignites her own sabers. The sunny yellow he remembers has been replaced by glowering orange wrapped around cores as dark as any void. "I'll kneel. And then I'll drive these up into your guts."
"Exquisite. Give me more."
They fly at each other. He can only observe as if restrained behind a thick transparisteel window, unable to move further into the cavern. Their duel is a dance, a ballet of brutality...and yet neither seems determined to wound nor kill the other. Synchronized slashes. Swift strafes and somersaults in mid-air. The thrusts and parries become so fast that his mind lags behind until it finally gives up, leaving him with a surreal impression of cold, artful beauty. She bares her teeth in a feral smile. The Sith laughs.
They're beautiful together.
Three weapons clatter down. The Sith sweeps her up and drives her back against a wall studded with spiky mineral deposits. She's hidden except for her hands; they clutch, fingernails digging, tiny pallid spiders clinging to broad armored shoulders.
"Just walk away, Kimble."
He obliges the Sith.
This, he refuses to watch.
The bedside table is the same, too.
He pats gingerly at his jaw as he hauls himself up off the floor.
No longer Sith, merely more carrion littering this blighted place. You disappointed me, Fulminiss. Your weakness was apparent from your initial lunge. I expected more from one of the Emperor's most celebrated plaguebearers. So much more, and yet you were just another bootlicker serving the ultimate madman.
As was I, once.
Jedi. Cast the Mystic into the maw. Rewards. Power. Sel-Makor offers them to you. Like the one who came before.
A flash of sickly violet- her eyes. Strangely shrewd, her voice: "That's an interesting offer."
"No. Respect Valen-Da's vision. If not for visions we wouldn't be here.
wouldn't be here."
Would that all visions were as specific as the Mystic's. Mine failed to indicate that I would acquire a lover
a student. Unspoken, that latter, but we know it to be true. Our reciprocity is both salvation and potential downfall: you reawaken me to my every sense and soothe centuries' worth of agony, I guide you through the ascent to the dark side and show you how to best harness its power. Emotion. Mutual. Dangerous. I saw you startle and miss an opportune strike when you thought he had the better of me. I was watching for that reaction, such a familiar one that it is. I've been too indulgent; the chain will tighten, it will strangle you one last time before I ensure its breakage.
She does my bidding. How shocking. I taste it as well. Heady. The most virulent spice flooding veins, caressing synapses.
synapses. Thank the was-Jedi beside me for that. It aches. If I could only gather a scant handful of Sel-Makor I could dispense with her and-
Sel-Makor is Death. Darkness.
-I know what they did to you during your captivity. Is it subterfuge to not reveal that I orchestrated a fair amount of the torment you and your crew endured? Appearances had to be maintained. You were the victim of brutalities unspeakable even to me and yet you never mention it. My hope is that you never will. Passion is useless without discipline. You know nothing of Sith discipline but the torture you experienced. Time for the lessons to begin in earnest, once we depart Voss. A step forward. No. No step. Sprinting. Leaping.
Fight the thing. Shutter thought. It hears me. Will it make me the same offer? If we took it, if I recanted my words about the Mystic? What could we do together? Take him down. Harvest his power. Keep part of it, bring the rest back to Sel-Makor. It could be ours.
I've watched you sleep, witness to your most turbulent dreams. Awakened you in myriad ways. Suns have set. Moons have risen. Not centuries. Not even years. I never longed for an apprentice, and you cannot be such; for all your inclinations you could never bring yourself to backstab me. This is what I...love...about you. I refrain from that expression, 'love', for a reason. You are a tangle of contradictions. You long for stability. You thirst for blood. I can grant you blood; there will be no stability until he is gone. Until then I own you. I will continue to own you. The Jedi have lost an invaluable prize. Your will is blinding. Terrifying. Beautiful. I will be its keeper. Its architect. I know the very core of you now. My efforts until these moments have been tentative. You have no concept of what I can impart, teach, give. But you will. It hears me. Hear this, then: the darkness has gradations.
The Voss woman walks into the yawning maw with regal determination.
You failed- like he will- to recognize that. Thus: your annihilation. How you scream, Sel-Makor. Will he scream as loud? An unequaled banquet. Bliss.
* * *
You wince as you walk past the corpses? When you've not winced at death during the entirety of our acquaintance? Fascinating. Your teeth are sharp. I bear their imprints on my shoulder even now. Your tongue is twice as keen. You seem to take delight in confounding me and yet you shudder over a few slain Gormak lunatics. I should have expected this. These, however, are the contradictions which keep me in closest orbit. It nauseates me to do so, offer up the links to your other chains. But you would be a broken thing without them. Someday...
"Ahead of you. Take it. Call."
"All this time? Since we first set foot in Voss-Ka? How could you!"
"Easily. I am
. Do you not recall consorting with a Sith for months on end?"
...lesson number one already. I
This doesn't follow the exact order of this particular class quest's convos. Chalk that up to Scourge being basically drunk on Sel-Makor's presence- and fighting valiantly against it. Kind of AU if you take game storyline as gospel but...there it is. Oh, and I guess I needn't say that this is entirely from Scourge's pov...
For D-. Nine years. I know you would have loved this game- and Lord Scourge.