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01.24.2013 , 10:05 PM |
Ananz of the Mellekor!verse exploring a different power dynamic in
Teachers and Heroes
, set sometime during Act 2. Spoilers for the starting state of the Inquisitor's Act 2. 800 words.
"Marvelous! That was perfect!"
Ananz would probably never get used to Lord Zash's bubbly exclamations coming from Khem Val's hulking form. Nevertheless, he noted the feedback as he walked through the fine-control Force exercises. He had been working furiously since the day he walked into her office on Korriban to learn – to learn everything, history, politics, protocol, combat, Force theory, Force applications, so much more – and it was useful to have someone who, while she had her own agenda, was at least enthusiastic company in guiding him through the material that she considered indispensable. There was so much he would be able to do once he mastered this.
"Next, the glass," said Zash. "Remember, broaden your focus ever so slightly to hold it in parallel with the floor. You're lifting it with a flat sheet of Force energy, not just a grab."
The Twi'lek nodded acknowledgement and turned his attention to the filled tumbler on the desk across his office from where he stood. "Up," he said, only spilling a little bit when he overshot his desired altitude, "then in."
"Steady. That's it. And you're not jumping when I start talking, good. There are usually distractions when you're trying to get work done, so you'd better get used to it. – Wonderful!" He took hold of the tumbler, letting his Force concentration dissipate as his hand took hold.
He raised his glass to her, then took a sip of the rich burning liquid. He swallowed it down and offered her the rest of the glass. "Here. For the most unusual woman I've ever known." These days he could afford to feign friendliness with her when he felt like it.
Zash's red Dashade eyes rolled. "You're incorrigible," she said. "I'm not going to drink this. If I get even a little tipsy I think your monster's going to gain the upper hand."
That was the point. "Well, maybe he'd enjoy the rest of it."
"I'm truly surprised that you're as fond of him as you are. You always struck me as being quite civilized."
Ananz shrugged. "We humble servants have to stick together." He liked Khem Val's power and ferocity. The notion of a once-slave so hungry and vicious as to frighten Lords and Darths appealed to him. It took more than chains to keep some people down.
Lord Zash still wasn't taking the proffered tumbler, so Ananz drained it and sent it sailing back to settle gracefully on the desk. "Well then. What's next?"
"I thought we might call a break there and let you get back to your other studies. We've been at this for a while, you mustn't wear yourself out."
"Oh," he drawled, prompted by a mischievous impulse, "I could go for a while longer." He grinned and leaned in to lay a fingertip high on her broad lukewarm breastbone, trailing down a few inches. He tilted his head, suddenly curious. "Can you even feel this?" He wasn't sure of the extent of Zash's integration into her host body.
Zash swatted his hand aside. "Don't do that. I'm still your master, technically. You should show a little respect."
'Master' was a sensitive term, but it was a joke by now. All their interactions outside lessons were, which suited him very well. "You're only my master when I can hear you over Khem."
"Khem wouldn't put up with being harassed, either," she said shrilly, and folded her arms to protect her chest. "You weren't nearly this cheeky when I had my own body."
Yes, her body. The body of the last person to light up with some private glee while picking him out of a group of tools or toys. Dead now. "When you had your own body you could Force Shock me to death for misbehaving. Now–" he lifted a hand and, with a little burst of effort, flicked a spark across his fingertips – "things are different. But, for what it's worth…" He grinned, with teeth, and patted her beefy arm. "I think you are exactly as beautiful now as you were the day we met." The vain git.
Zash swatted his hand away again and somehow, with the features of a Dashade, managed to make an even more sour face. "Today's lesson is over," she fumed. "I hope you enjoyed yourself."
"I'll put it to good use." He sobered. There was so much to do, so much to learn. He had to find out enough to win independence from this poisonous bond before she did, and that necessity was only barely in the top ten threats to his life these days. She knew full well she had to help him against all the other ones. And so they cooperated…more or less. "Thank you for the lesson," he added. "I'll be in my quarters studying if anyone needs me."
"Good," she said. "I'll let you know if my research turns up anything interesting."
"Marvelous," he said dryly. "That sounds perfect."
This is a far-flung data point compared to the single one we (I include myself in that) have on Ananz. Context is everything. In the matter of payback and role reversal, Ananz is...not a gracious man.
Zash is cordial to the Inquisitor, but right from the start she is cordial in a way that says "I think you're useful and you will provide a return on my investment." It can be easy to resent her. She's set up to be more sympathetic than Harkun…but that doesn't actually buy you much.
The 'poisonous bond' is technically Khem and Zash's problem, not Ananz's, but Ananz is squarely on Team Khem for the struggle.
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