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Vesaniae
11.15.2015 , 04:29 PM | #75
Quote: Originally Posted by bright_ephemera View Post
<3 (I have to pad this out to five characters to reply so <3 <3 as well)
I'm very, very proud of that line.

Twenty-Six
The Citadel, Dromund Kaas
14 ATC



The invitation had been the perfect combination of polite, vague, and urgent to make Nox very curious as she made her way to A’tro’s apartment. She had a feeling this meeting pertained to the information revealed by Darth Baras’ message, and she was most interested to learn what A’tro had made of all that.

Nox herself had been busy for the past five days. She’d cracked down on her subordinates, reminding them of the penalty for failure—and, in the case of her more attractive male followers, the reward for success. Her motivating efforts had borne fruit, producing an approximate location for an ancient vault that was supposed to contain a number of Force artifacts.

It was on Nar Shaddaa, of all places. That planet was certainly a good place to lose things one didn’t want found. Nox had decided that it would be best to handle the matter personally, and had been preparing to leave when she’d received the call from A’tro asking to meet with her.

The door leading to A’tro’s chambers was, as always, flanked by two Imperial Guards. Nox wondered briefly if it had occurred to A’tro that they were probably there to keep an eye on her. Well, if she hadn’t thought of it before, she probably had now.

“Hello there,” Nox said, smiling pleasantly. “The Wrath is expecting me.”

One of the guards took out a comlink and muttered into it, then turned back to her.

“You may proceed, my lord,” he said respectfully while his partner opened the door.

Nox inclined her head graciously and stepped inside, mostly managing to suppress a spike of paranoia as the door slid shut behind her.

The antechamber was empty, so she proceeded into the main living area. A’tro was sitting on her low, narrow black couch, back perfectly straight. She looked up as Nox entered the room.

“Ah, there you are. Thank you for coming,” she said.

Nox took a seat in a chair across from her. “It’s not every day one receives a personal invitation from the Emperor’s Wrath.” She watched closely for a reaction to the title.

A’tro flinched so slightly that Nox’s trained eye barely picked it up. “We have things to discuss.”

“I’m sure we do,” Nox murmured. “By the way, did you change your guards? I seem to recall that one was taller than the other, but the ones outside right now are the same height.”

A’tro canted her head to one side. “You’re very observant.”

Nox smiled.

“To answer your question, yes. Zariel asked to be reassigned when Quinn re-entered my service, and I saw no reason not to allow it.”

Nox leaned forward, sensing gossip. “Perhaps she took issue with the manner of service he provides.”

“Given that she’s his mother, I’m rather certain she did,” A’tro said dryly. “But I didn’t ask you here to discuss my personal life.”

“That doesn’t mean we can’t still discuss it.”

“Yes, it does.”

“Fine, fine, deny me my fun.” Nox lounged back into the chair, which was quite uncomfortable. “What’s the topic of today’s conversation, then?”

A’tro frowned, folding her hands in her lap. “I think you can guess.”

“The Emperor,” Nox stated.

“Yes.”

“I take it you’ve been thinking about Baras’ parting message, then?”

“More than thinking.” A’tro sighed. “Nox, I looked at his records. Everything he said—it’s true. It’s all true.”

“So the Emperor really is going to kill us all? How dreadfully spooky.”

A’tro’s jaw tightened.

“That’s not good,” Nox added quickly in a much more somber tone. Contrary to popular belief, she was in fact capable of taking things seriously when the situation warranted it. “I assume you asked me here because you intend to try to do something about it?”

“Yes,” A’tro said quietly. “I’m not sure what we can do, not yet, but…I am asking for your support.”

“My support?” Nox raised an eyebrow. “My support for what? Some sort of covert resistance movement? A’tro, I am grateful for the information, and I will of course make preparations on my own in secret, but I have no intention of joining a rebel alliance.”

“Did you not hear what I said? If we do nothing, the Empire will eventually be destroyed by its own Emperor. We cannot simply allow this to happen!”

“If you want to directly oppose an entity with that kind of power, by all means, go ahead. It’s your funeral. I, however, prefer to survive.”

“And how do you intend to do that?” A’tro demanded.

“I have plans. But they are my plans, and I have no interest in sharing them with anyone.”

A’tro moved her hands from her lap to her sides, clenching them into fists. “It’s precisely that sort of thinking that has kept us from winning the war! As long as Sith continue to serve their own interests above those of the Empire, we will accomplish nothing. An Empire divided is an Empire weakened. I had thought you, of all people, would be able to see that.”

“I see just fine,” Nox retorted. “But I owe the Empire nothing.”

A’tro made no effort to keep her anger from showing on her face and in the Force. “The Empire enslaved you, so you won’t lift a finger to protect it. Is that what this is about?”

“Not exactly. But you’re close.”

“You shouldn’t let your past hold you back from doing the right thing. Look at where you are now. Through victory—”

“My chains are broken, the Force shall free me, yes, yes, I know,” Nox snapped. She fought back her irritation; this was not the time to lose her temper. “Even if I explained it to you, I doubt you’d understand.”

A’tro regarded her grimly. “Try me.”

“Oh, no, I think not,” Nox said softly. “You’re a Pureblood, born and raised with the understanding that the galaxy exists to fuel your whims. You have no idea what it’s like to fear and resent the establishment that made you what you are.”

“Fine,” A’tro snapped. “I get it. You’re not interested.”

Nox shrugged. “Don’t take it personally. Now, since we are allies, even if I have no interest in joining your cause, I’ll give you a free bit of advice: you’re going about this wrong.”

“Really.”

“Yes, really.” Nox rested her elbows on her lap and steepled her fingers together. “If I were you, I would not have approached me. I’m much too unpredictable and self-absorbed.”

“What do you suggest, then?”

Nox smiled. “It’s simple. Talk to Marr. If I were inclined to gamble, I would wager that he already knows at least some of this secret business about the Emperor.”

A’tro frowned. “Marr is a loyalist.”

“To the Empire, my dear, not the Emperor himself. There is a difference.”

“Yes, I’m starting to realize that,” A’tro muttered. “You think he already knows?”

“Of course. I doubt he’s stayed in power as long as he has by not knowing vital information.”

“Vowrawn knew too,” A’tro mused. “He must have. And that made him a target.”

“You think so?”

“I know so.” A’tro’s mouth twisted bitterly. “I was the one who killed him. On the Emperor’s orders.”

Nox’s eyes widened. Suddenly, everything made a great deal more sense. “So that’s why you didn’t want me pursuing that lead.”

“They told me to keep it a secret,” A’tro muttered, not looking at her. “I didn’t even question it.”

“My goodness,” Nox breathed. “I suppose that confirms Baras’ theory, doesn’t it?”

“Beyond the shadow of a doubt.”

Nox frowned slightly. “That doesn’t change my answer, you know. I’m not going to stick my neck out.”

“Yes, I believe you’ve made that abundantly clear.”

“I’ve given you my advice. Talk to Marr. Together, the two of you could probably take on half the Jedi Order all at once, so I recommend you get on his good side.”

A’tro raised a brow-ridge. “Does he have a good side?”

“Maybe not, but you can try.”

A’tro sighed. “Diplomacy has never been my strong suit.”

“I seem to recall saying a few days ago that desperate times call for desperate measures. Of course, the level of desperation is up to you, but I suggest you try.” Nox smiled her most pleasant smile.

“I’ll keep it in mind.”

“You should. Now, since I’m here…” Nox leaned forward. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that proposal Rictus made the last time the Council met. I was hoping you could help me prevent this foolishness.”

A’tro nodded. “Tell me more.”
There's always lightning.