Chapter Three: New Ship
The three Sith walked through the starport together, Syrosk setting the pace. The aged alien trudged forth, arms folded behind his back, his former apprentices at his flanks.
As the trio progressed, they passed through a series of tight corridors before being deposited in one of many grand chambers. Whilst the typical Imperial decorations dotted the building, more prevalent were the countless screens and terminals displaying a litany of information on the comings and goings of cargo ships and freighters.
From this monitoring station, countless branching paths and hallways led to the various hangars and bays overseen by impeccably operating officers. None other than the newly arrive trio possessed knowledge of the Force. It was the domain of efficient bureaucracy rather than Sith machinations.
"I must say, kind of a nice setup you've got here," Lorrik commented.
"I don't work here," Syrosk bluntly stated, continuing his trek deeper into the starport. "My office is back at the Citadel. And it is much… much smaller."
"Oh," Lorrik muttered as Syrosk led them away from the monitoring station. Journeying down one of the nondescript corridors, only someone with in-depth knowledge of the various markings labels on the walls would have any idea where they were going. "Still, it has to be better than the Academy, right?"
"Just about anything is better than the Academy," Syrosk rasped.
"Won't get any arguments from me," Lorrik plainly stated. "So, how are things?"
"Logistics work is proving somewhat different from what I expected," Syrosk admitted. "When Vowrawn put me in charge of his new organization, I thought it would be behind the scenes, and yet now I find a full team of bureaucrats looking up to me. Respecting me."
"You say that like it's a bad thing," Lorrik teased.
"After spending enough decades being hated, positivity become somewhat unsettling," Syrosk rasped.
"I take it we unsettled you quite a bit then?" Lorrik offered with a smile.
"Just you," Syrosk bluntly stated, rounding a corner and coming to a stop in front of a lift. "This will take us where we need to go."
The trio stepped onto the cargo elevator, which had more than enough space to accommodate them and then some. As the alien manipulated the controls, the Sith soon found themselves descending into the bowels of the starport.
"So, how's the new leg?" Lorrik warmly asked.
"Serviceable," Syrosk plainly answered, tapping his right foot on the cold floor. A low metallic thud rang out. "How's your arm?"
"Weird," Lorrik curiously answered, shifting the weight of the box under his right arm. Looking to its hand, the skin was pale and cracked, an odd blackness filling the scars rather than anything resembling a tone of flesh. "The scarring doesn't seem to be going away. The whole thing's numb and yet I can still fully control it. Meanwhile, Jresh has made a complete recovery since Coruscant."
"My foot gets a bit itchy at times," Jresh joked, completely deadpan.
"Well, aren't you the lucky one," Syrosk rasped.
"There's no such thing as luck," Jresh declared. "You taught us that."
"And there's no such thing as fate," Syrosk replied. "You taught me that."
"Everything happens for a reason, except for when it doesn't," Lorrik joked.
"I've heard worse codes to live by," Syrosk rasped. The lift came to an abrupt stop. "We're here."
"Where are we going, exactly?" Lorrik wondered.
"It's a starport, Lorrik," Syrosk chided. "Where do you think we're going?"
The alien stepped off the lift, not bothering to check if his former students were keeping up. The Human and Pureblood shared a brief look before following.
"I'm going to guess… a hangar?" Lorrik supposed.
"Very astute," Syrosk sarcastically rasped.
"Let me guess, you're giving us another ship, to replace the one we lost on Coruscant," Lorrik suggested.
"Also astute," Syrosk declared, less sarcastic this time. "A pair of artifact hunters aren't very effective if they're beholden to public transit. I doubt you'll find Logistics willing to ferry you wherever you wish to go."
"Aw, but you meet such lovely people on the public shuttles," Lorrik joked. "Still, using them doesn't exactly seem fitting for a Sith."
"Because you're such a paragon of Sith tradition," Syrosk sardonically rasped.
Lorrik cracked a smile. "Oh, how I've missed your charm, Syrosk."
The group came to a stop before a large hangar door. The small, humanoid droids that guarded the area seemed utterly unfazed by the alien Sith's presence. He was free to step forward unburdened by security or protocol as he interacted with the nearby control panel.
"So," Lorrik began, staring up at the sizable barrier before him, "I take it this'll be the same shuttle you gave us before?"
As Syrosk put in the final command, the grand doors parted, granting the Sith sight into the equally grand hangar. Within, there sat only a single vessel.
"Not exactly," Syrosk muttered.
The alien removed himself from the control panel and stepped into the open hangar, his former students eagerly following. Larger than any personal shuttle, the Human and Pureblood slowly took in the magnificent starship that stood before them.
The vessel rested its impressive chassis upon three heavy struts, adequately lifting its frame more than a dozen meters into the air. Dozens more meters worth of dark metals stretched out in every direction, formed and shaped into an ordered menace of a thing.
The Fury was dominating by black and gray designs worn in a sharp, prismatic form. Flat, yet tall, it's interior was composed of neatly organized rooms and chambers equivalent in height to a standard home. The frame itself stretched wider and longer than the entirety of Sith's apartment. It was a capable thing, more than a base given flight. Heavy armament lay attached to its two winged prongs, heavy cannons on their exterior, missile canisters hidden within their interior. A military craft, yet a popular choice amongst Sith of all designations and specialties.
The trio of Sith slowly approached the vessel, Syrosk because of his sluggish gait, the other two because of their bubbling awe.
"They gave you a Fury?" Lorrik wondered in disbelief, trying to keep his mouth from hanging agape.
"A couple actually," Syrosk plainly replied, almost bored with his answer. "It was one of the requests I made to Vowrawn before I agreed to work with him. I wanted to make sure-"
Cutting off the elder Sith was the feeling of an arm wrapping around him. Turning his head, Syrosk saw the Human pressing against him, reaching his free hand around his back and squeezing tight.
"What are you doing?" Syrosk rasped, offering the arch of his brow.
"Giving you a hug," Lorrik bluntly answered.
"Well stop it," Syrosk commanded, somewhat perturbed.
The Human released his singular grip, backing off to stand at his partner's side. Looking to the Pureblood, Lorrik saw a glint in Jresh's eyes. The Human's own gaze began to wander, slowly lowering until they settled on the box resting under his arm. As he looked at the neatly decorated gift, the enthusiasm slowly drained from his visage.
"Crap…" Lorrik mumbled beneath his breath.
"You say something, Lorrik?" asked Jresh, tearing his attention away from the ship.
The Human immediately perked up, offering a forced chuckle. "Oh, no, just a cough or something."
"This should be the last thing you need to get started with your endeavors," Syrosk declared. "I've had some… alterations made to your record with Logistics. While Intelligence still has your full profiles, your pasts should no longer be a major concern. However, know that Sith do not quickly forget. People outside of our affairs knew of your placement in the Academy. Knew of your true statuses. Your future is in your hands, but know that you can never erase your past."
"Thank you, Syrosk," Lorrik warmly offered. "Truly."
"It's the least I could do after what I put you through these last couple of years," Syrosk confessed. "Besides, I believe you two can still do some good for the Empire and the Sith, even if you refused my offer to join the Executors."
"You have your path, we have ours," Lorrik said with a smile. "Besides, we didn't exactly want to rush back into the world of Lords and masters telling us what to do."
"But isn't that exactly what you plan to do?" Syrosk asked. "Be free-agents working for Sith Lords too lazy to do their own dirty work?"
"I suppose, but at least this way we hold control over our lives," Lorrik explained.
"I wish you the best," Syrosk began, somewhat soft in his tone, "but we both know that no matter your place in this society, someone will always be trying to control you."
"I know. But I think we're better equip to handle that now, wouldn't you say?" Lorrik warmly offered. "I mean, we took down a Darth. That's something people will remember."
"They'll also remember that you had a hand in earning almost a hundred aliens and slaves a place amongst the Sith," Syrosk declared. "Remember, every action has consequences, and no change comes without protest."
"Thank you, Syrosk," Lorrik offered with a respectful dip of his head. "For everything. I know I like to say you weren't the best master… but let's face it, you were the best we could have asked for."
"Thank you, Lorrik," Syrosk replied, maintaining his stoicism. "Hopefully, you two get the chance to accomplish what you set out to do. I'd want nothing more to see the Sith changed for the better."
Lorrik offered a firm nod. "Same here. I'd say good luck with whatever Darth Vowrawn has you doing with Logistics, but I'm pretty sure you don't need it."
"I wouldn't be so sure," Syrosk said, dipping his head. "I'm to meet three Sith Vowrawn wants me to look after later today. Somehow I doubt they'll be the students you and the others were."
"I'm sure you'll figure something out. You always do," Lorrik confided. There was a pause as the Human's enthusiasm momentarily faltered. "Wait… later today? So, you're going to be busy then?"
"Yes," Syrosk replied. "This was brief reprieve from my usual duties. I should be returning to the Citadel shortly. And once I've got these new Sith to oversee, I doubt I'll have much free time at all."
"That's a shame, I was planning on inviting you to dinner," Lorrik admitted alongside an almost embarrassed chuckle.
The alien placed a hand on the Human's shoulder. "Goodbye Lorrik. I'm sure our paths will cross again. You'll find everything you need aboard your ship." Removing his hand, the elder Sith looked to the nearby Pureblood. "Be sure to keep him out of trouble, Jresh. You'll be dealing with Sith far worse than myself or Tash from here on out."
Jresh tore his gaze away from the ship to offer his former master a confident nod. With that, Syrosk's business there was concluded and he slinked away with his usual trudge. The pair of stilled Sith offered the gentle wave of their hands goodbye.
"New life, new ship," Jresh commented. "I guess we're finally ready."
"I guess we are," Lorrik enthusiastically stated.
"A shame he wasn't able to join us for dinner," Jresh calmly said.
Lorrik released a defeated, but warm sigh. "Yeah."
"So, does that mean I still don't get to open my present until then?" Jresh wondered.
A shiver ran up and down the Human's spine as he tensed up. Tightly holding the wrapped box under his arm, Lorrik fell silent as he struggled to formulate his next thought. All that came in the following moments were mere stutters and noises.
"Well… uh, you know what? Let's just forget it. It was stupid anyway," Lorrik deflected as he turned on his heels, placing his body between Jresh and the container.
The Pureblood offered the curious arch of his brow. "Is something wrong?"
"No! No. Nothing's wrong, it's just, uh, well, do we really need to get each other gifts?" Lorrik stammered. "I mean, like you said, you didn't get me anything. It wouldn't be fair to me or you. Why don't we just forget about the whole thing?"
"A few minutes ago you were willing to defend the thing from a battle droid thrice your size," Jresh commented.
"I know, weird right?" Lorrik offered with a bout of forced laughter.
"Let me see it," Jresh directed, holding out his hand.
"No, that's okay. There isn't actually anything in here, it's just, hey-"
The Pureblood moved from his stilled stance, reaching out and around his partner, trying to grab the box on the other side of him. The Human resisted, tucking the gift away, trying to reposition himself to keep his distance. The pair of Sith darted around the immediate area, one on the attack, one on the defense. Jresh would reach out and grab with his powerful arms, incapable of getting a grip on his partner. Lorrik would duck and weave, protecting the container beneath his arm under continued protests.
Finally, as the Human spun too fast his grip loosened and he fumbled to keep control of the decorated box. Seizing the opportunity, the Pureblood reached out and grabbed ahold of the gift with the Force, tugging it away with a sweep on his arms. As Lorrik leapt toward it, Jresh lifted it higher and higher into the air, just beyond the Human's physical reach.
"No, please, don't," Lorrik pleaded. "It's embarrassing."
"Since when have you cared about doing anything embarrassing?" Jresh wondered, a slight teasing to his otherwise stoic voice.
"Since it involves you," Lorrik declared. "Now come on, just forget about it."
Still manipulating the gift with the Force, the Pureblood flayed the exterior wrappings, sending shreds of paper raining down onto the hangar floor. Fully uncovered, Jresh lowered the box until it rest in his hands. Lorrik finally settled down, but he still kept his gaze focused on the floor, his face scrunched in preparation.
Examining the box in his hands, the Pureblood was surprised to see a picture of the very same ship that sat beside them, along with the words 'Fury-class Interceptor', 'Model Kit', and "For Ages 10 and Up'.
"I dunno," Lorrik muttered. "I thought that since the only thing you've been interested in was astrogation and starships and the fact that you're patient and don't have any hobbies and you're so hard to shop for because you don't really go out much or like things the way I do which isn't a bad thing in fact it's one of the things I love about you but I still wanted to get you something even if I didn't know what for our special day but now Syrosk went and gave us a freakin' ship himself so it makes the whole thing look stupid and childish and we don't-"
Cutting off the Human's run-on mutterings was the presence of a hand pressing against his back. A moment later, Lorrik was pulled closer, until his head was in contact with his partner's chest. Locked in the Pureblood's one-armed embrace, the Human raised his gaze to see a smile awaiting.
"I think it's a wonderful gift," Jresh whispered. Lorrik's lips began to curl as he wrapped his arms around his partner's waist.
There the two would stand, frozen in each other's warmth, ignoring the various droids and officers that maintained the hangar.