Just a little replay of Eilan's first meeting with the esteemed lieutenant, from both sides of the encounter...
As the story starts to intersect with actual scenes in the game, I'll be drawing on dialogue from the game in the attempt to build up context for it, in the characters' thoughts and actions. Trying to explain the how's and why's of what happens in-game is one of the things that draws me to fanfic in the first place.
Defining the Battlefield
Eilan smirked as he heard someone—presumably their contact, Lieutenant Quinn—sharply dressing down a subordinate. Reaching out through the Force, he could tell that the subordinate was shaken and humiliated, as seemed appropriate, but in contrast, he felt nothing at all from the superior officer—not a hint of the irritation that suffused the man’s words.
A block, from a non-Force-sensitive?
That was what it felt like: as if the officer’s emotions had been blocked by a screen, or a wall. Someone with a drop of Force sensitivity
can’t have risen to lieutenant without it being noticed...
It was an interesting little puzzle. Perhaps some people could block naturally, with no other Force talent... or perhaps it was trainable, although if that
were true, he might expect every spy from both the Republic and Empire to have the skill. Whatever the case, he could see why this officer would be a useful operative in Baras’s network.
“Well, what do you think? Is he handsome?” Eilan whispered to Vette. It was another of their little games to lighten the inevitable dull moments that came with acting in an official capacity. Being brought up in a noble household had prepared him well for tedious formalities, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t try to alleviate his boredom as he saw fit. In reality, this particular “game” was less frivolous than it might have seemed; Vette had an excellent eye for detail—perhaps not a surprising trait in a treasure hunter—and Eilan frequently found her observations useful.
“Huh. I guess, if you like that type,” the Twi’lek reported. “Dark hair, blue eyes, mid-thirties maybe, clean-cut, ‘cept he’s rocking the 5 o’clock shadow. Not scruffy, though,really, just... well, I guess some guys just have that, yeah?”
Eilan made a sound of agreement as he turned Vette’s description over in his mind. He would never know what “dark” really looked like, nor understand what “blue” was, but he knew that combination was a little unusual. “Striking, would you say?”
Vette “hmm”ed appraisingly. “Not from this far away. Just looks like another stuff-shirt officer.”
Jillins!” the aforementioned officer hissed to his subordinate. The threat in his voice made Eilan grin (admittedly, mostly because of Jillins’s increasing apprehension), but again, it only highlighted the absence of the expected matching emotion in the Force. How thoroughly peculiar.
The apprentice took the dismissal of the cowed soldier as his cue, and crossed the room to introduce himself to his new contact. The unforeseen Force handicap was something to be investigated later, but for now, he remained polite, proper, and on his toes. Judging by the rather messy state of affairs on Balmorra, there would be time enough later for playing games with the lieutenant—after
he’d gotten a firmer idea of the house rules...
Lieutenant Quinn cursed inwardly as an imposing figure, armored and caped in black and grey, leaned casually against the distant door frame. He’d gotten too caught up in giving Corporal Jillins a well-deserved reprimand when he should have kept his office clear today in anticipation of the Sith apprentice’s arrival. Now he looked (and felt) unprepared—not the first impression he wanted to make. After a last acidic rebuke, he dismissed the rattled corporal and gave his guest (or guests,
since the Twi’lek slave mentioned in earlier communiques was at the Sith’s side) his complete attention as the apprentice crossed the room.
Quinn had just a few seconds to make what visual observations what he could before conversation began. Not as heavy a build as I would expect for a Soresu adept. Light on his feet, and in lighter armor than most of that school, as well. Armor is not designed for intimidation, aside from perhaps its color. Heavy cape is an aristocratic choice, but that makes sense, given his background. No apparent cybernetics. Odd choice for a Sith to wear a visor rather than a full facemask. Concealed scars or cybernetics there? There
is scarring on his face, not fresh; may predate training on Korriban? Clean-cut. Confident stance.
And then they were within speaking distance. “Apprentice Eilan, I presume?” At the man’s nod, he bowed respectfully. “I apologize for the delay, my lord. Lieutenant Malavai Quinn—I’m to be your liaison here on Balmorra.”
The Sith’s lips quirked as if in amusement at some private joke, but he simply replied, “A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Lieutenant.” His speech was well-enunciated and his accent was clearly Kaasian; if he were truly non-Imperial, as Quinn suspected, he’d certainly been well-tutored in all the proper mannerisms.
“And to you, my lord,” the officer replied politely. “Lord Baras will brief you personally by holo, but I thought I should take a moment to acquaint you with the climate here on Balmorra first.” He paused before continuing; some Sith had no patience for sitreps, or for non-Sith taking up roles of authority...
“By all means.” Eilan gestured with a wave of his hand for the lieutenant to proceed.
“Thank you, my lord.” Quinn brought up a map of Balmorra on the terminal, then zoomed in to frame the Markaran Plains. Several icons of varying colors dotted the map. “Even though the Empire wrestled control of Balmorra from the Republic during the war, we were never able to completely eradicate their forces. Now we’re facing a rather sizable resistance movement.” With a few keypresses, many of the icons began to blink, indicating previous and current locations of conflicts with resistance forces. “No one wants to admit it, but it's clear that the Republic is backing it.”
The Sith apprentice stroked his chin thoughtfully, but he did not appear to be looking at the display; indeed, his gaze still seemed focused on Quinn—although it was difficult to tell with that visor in place.
Visor... I don’t see any allowance for vision at all—no eye slit, no perforations or screening... It looks like solid metal.
Casually, the lieutenant reset the blinking icons and started a repeating display that showed troop movements in waves of colored dots. The Twi’lek glanced over at the animation instinctively, but her master showed no sign of noticing.
“The Republic is violating the treaty, and we aren’t calling them out on it?” the Sith asked, his tone neutral.
“We need solid evidence, my lord, something damning, and the resistance has been... circumspect, thus far,” Quinn replied, watching Eilan carefully. Could he be blind...? The Force can compensate for much, I understand, but...
And then it all fell into place.
The redactions in his dossier, the lack of personal historical information... He’s not just non-Imperial... He’s not even
Coming into his own during the War, Quinn was quite familiar with many of the aliens who fought for the Republic. He’d seen any number of Miraluka among the Jedi, hooded or masked to protect their eyeless, but still vulnerable, sockets, and to avert the discomfort of their allies. In spite of—or more properly, because of—their blindness, they were all
Force adepts, and because they did not rely on sight, Miraluka Jedi could be dangerously unpredictable in combat, especially against non-Force users. Their entire species was a grotesque example of the flexibility of human adaptation.
The implications of the apprentice’s true identity were staggering, and it was clear why such information would be left out of official documents. It was exceedingly rare for anyone who was not human or red-skinned Sith to be allowed into the Academy, let alone taken as an apprentice by someone as influential as a Darth. On top of that, Eilan had been raised in a noble household to be married
to the daughter of a Sith Lord. It was completely unheard of!
And yet, unless this was some sort of extremely elaborate double-bluff, it was happening. I thought that it would be bad enough if he’d been an uplifted slave, but this is... unprecedented, to say the very least.
Where had Eilan come from, and was he truly so powerful, or his potential so great, that traditional Sith values had been set aside on his behalf?
Could it be that he was a Padawan, taken on Coruscant?
There had been an effort to capture Jedi apprentices after the destruction of the Jedi Temple, the lieutenant knew, and Eilan seemed to be of an appropriate age. Some degree of previous training, and the chance to turn a Jedi to the Dark Side—something many Sith would find irresistible—might have made the boy seem worth the trouble to whoever had found him. If he proved useless or intractable, he’d be one more dead Jedi, but if he was converted and trained as Sith... Yes, it was easy enough to imagine such a circumstance. Perhaps if he attacked the mystery from that angle, he’d have more luck than he’d had previously in finding any information about the young Sith’s origins...
“Hm. Well, perhaps I'll have time to do something about that while I’m here,” the apprentice was saying. Quinn realized he’d been staring at the other man a little too long, and he fervently hoped that his agitation hadn’t been obvious. There was nothing in Eilan’s tone to indicate such a thing, but the lieutenant certainly didn’t know him well enough to be sure.
“Something tells me your presence here will leave an indelible impression on the state of things,” he said carefully. That was only the truth, both in terms of Balmorra and in the greater sphere of the Empire. Removing Commander Rylon would certainly be a blow to the resistance, and exposing the Republic’s involvement would prove to the Galaxy at large that the Republic’s hands were no cleaner than the Empire’s.
If the Empire could then make significant progress in breaking the back of the resistance, Quinn might finally be recalled to more important, and more visible, assignments. Helping Darth Baras’s apprentice was his sworn duty, but if, in doing so, he could earn Eilan’s favor, such that the Sith would praise him to the proper ears...
Unless Darth Baras had greatly overestimated the abilities of his apprentice—which was highly unlikely, in Quinn’s experience—pinning his hopes on the young Sith’s success seemed like a winning bet.
“...And I look forward to it.”
The apprentice tilted his head slightly in a quizzical expression, a hint of a smile on his lips. Before he could speak, however, the terminal behind Quinn beeped with an incoming transmission.
“Darth Baras on a secure line,” he confirmed after a quick glance. “I'll patch him through immediately, my lord.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant.”
Quinn bowed again and excused himself to his private quarters until the briefing was over. He had far too much to process and absorb at the moment, and a few minutes’ time wouldn’t put much of a dent in it, but he could at least attempt to regain his composure.
An alien Sith, a hammer to crush the resistance, a disgrace for the Republic, a way off this planet. Is this a windfall set before me, or a land mine?