Between work coming down hard, and other characters demanding headspace, this story's been in limbo for a little bit. Now that I'm able to eke out more writing time, I'm hoping to get this back in gear!
In the meantime, here's a goofy little point-of-view piece from Kjara's storyline. Some mild spoilers for the end of Act I for the Bounty Hunter, but nothing significant, I think. This is, as far as I recall, the first time the player sees Torian in the game, and since you don't get to talk to him there, I pondered what he might have been thinking... especially given his "introductory" conversation later in the story.
A First Impression
Most of Torian’s brethren kept their buy'cese
on as they waited in parade rest, but he kept his tucked under his arm. He wanted to see the new Grand Champion of the Great Hunt with his own eyes, unencumbered by the sensor array of the HUD in his helmet. It was, he thought, a better way of taking the measure of a person as a person,
and not as a potential target.
All he knew about the new Champion was that the winner was a woman, and that she wasn’t a Mando. He’d heard some chatter that she wasn’t human, either, but that seemed less certain of a fact. Not that any of that really mattered; any Mando should know that anyone, regardless of race or gender, could be a true warrior. Listening to some of his mates’ grumbling in the last few days, though, it seemed like some of them needed reminding...
“Tion’vaii chakaaryc beroya?
” Jogo muttered next to him, his impatience clear enough even with his helmet muffling his voice. “Let’s get this over with, already.”
The Huntmaster might have heard the exasperated comment; almost as if in response, he called out in Shyriiwook for the Champion to enter.
A slideshow of speculative images flitted through Torian’s imagination in those last few seconds before the new Champion crossed the threshold: a Rutian Twi’lek in the casual gear of a civilian pilot; a deceptively petite Rattataki with a techblade at her back; a tough-looking Mirialan with a cybernetic eye... Who had won one of the toughest, most brutal contests in the galaxy?
The woman who finally entered shattered all of his tenuous expectations. A small ripple of sound—murmurs, surprised intakes of breath, the sudden shifting into a more attentive stance—passed through the room as she paused on the threshold. A
Chiss bounty hunter?
He’d met some of the blue-skinned aliens from time to time (more of them here on Kaas than anywhere else he’d been, actually) and while they seemed to be excellent agents and soldiers, he wouldn’t have guessed at one of the cool, reserved Chiss making it big as a hunter. They had all seemed too... prim
for such a rough-and-tumble career.
But the Champion seemed different somehow, with a hint of the typical beroya
’s confident swagger in her step. She wore relatively lightweight gear, the sort favored by some mercenaries who didn’t want to draw attention by wearing heavy plate-style armor. Her kit seemed somewhat mismatched in design and material, but when you bought (or otherwise obtained) your armor piece by piece, that was what you ended up with, after all. Still, her gear all seemed to be of decent quality, and well-suited to her movement; she must have taken a great deal of care assembling it all, or tweaking it to fit her needs.
‘Course, she can probably buy any armor she wants now, custom-made, too.
That was what bounty hunters put their credits into, wasn’t it? Blasters, gear, and ships: anything that would make them more efficient and effective.
As the woman drew closer, walking between the two parade rows of Mando’ade, Torian focused less on her kit and more on her face. There was a distinctive, nasty-looking scar across her right eye, looking fresh enough to have been gained during the Great Hunt, but she seemed to still have sight in that eye, judging from the way she was taking in the scene. Aside from the scar, her face was … well, pretty,
belying the force of will that surely drove one of the galaxy’s best bounty hunters. With her bemused half-smile, she might have been a holovid actress, or one of the Empire’s camera-friendly PR specialists, rather than a successful mercenary.
Later, he realized he must have caught her attention because he’d doffed his helmet; once she was barely two strides away from him, she met his glance and grinned, her teeth a startling flash of white against the indigo blue of her lips. As she continued down the line, he found himself staring after her, something that his vode
would surely notice.
“Tion gar kar’ta mirc’yc?
” Dess whispered on his left, setting off a few quiet snickers nearby.
” Martik murmured with mock gravity from Jogo’s other side.
” Dess offered as a correction. Jogo’s only input was a snort of disdain.
Dangerous beauty, or beautiful danger?
They were probably both right, Torian thought, and Dess’s opening salvo was uncomfortably on-target. He wished he could put his bucket back on to hide his face, but the Huntmaster was giving a speech now, and drawing (further) attention to himself would be the wrong move. Well... the ceremony would be over soon enough, and he’d certainly been mocked for worse things than finding a woman attractive. They all
got teased for that.
Up at the front of the room, the bounty hunter saluted and bowed slightly to the Huntmaster, who gestured for her to turn and accept the accolades of those in attendance. Torian cheered along with the rest, and perhaps more sincerely than some.
“She’s out of your league, Tor’ika,” Dess commented, not unkindly, as the young man’s eyes lingered on the Chiss.
“Figures you’d go moony over some aruetyc beroya, arue’tal,
” Jogo sneered in digust. One of the others said something sharp to him, but Torian tuned them out; he was mostly inured to Jogo’s venom by now.
Dess was right—she was out of reach. Mesh’ne, balyc ret buruk’ne,
he thought privately. The most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, and maybe the most dangerous, too.
But of course, to a Mando, those two qualities were equally attractive, and overlapped more than a little...
Someday, we’ll meet on a more even footing, and she won’t be out of reach anymore.
It was half a wish and half a promise.