Use aforementioned Mandalorian (see step two) to keep the Jedi from killing you.
Ariadne stepped out of her bedroom in the usual clothing that she wore for jobs. A blaster hung from one hip, her mask from the other. She saw Cyric sitting on the couch with a bowl of Ewok-O’s (“Now with new marshmellow shapes!
”) in full armor save for his helmet. He was watching something on the holoscreen, but glanced at her and nodded as she walked in. “Morning.”
She followed his gaze back to the holoscreen for a brief moment to catch a glimpse of her favorite holodrama. "Oooh. This is a good episode." She watched for a moment and then walked past him, grabbing the bag of bread off the counter. Ariadne put a piece of toast in the therma-slice and pushed the lever down.
"Sleep at all last night?"
"A bit. Wasn't all that tired. I can get plenty of rest once I've killed that Zabrak."
Ariadne shrugged and poured herself a glass of blue milk. “There’s time to rest before the job, too. Sleep deprivation is a shi—tty way to end up making a mistake.”
“I will not make a mistake. Why doesn't she just kill that guy to be with the one she really loves?"
Ariadne glanced back up at the projector. She grabbed her toast and wandered over as she leaned against the back of the couch.
"She tries that in an episode or two. Poison. Very dramatic."
"Poison?! Bah! In fact, the man she loves should kill the other guy...” He gestured vaguely, “The one that knocked her up. Challenge him to a duel and slay him in single combat."
"They're civilians. I think any single combat would have to be styled as comedy." She reached over and patted Cyric's head. "Try not to overthink it."
"Mmmhhh...” He shifted his weight on the couch and frowned. “At the very least, this gives me valuable insight into your culture. I didn't realise Republic citizens were so... Dramatic."
She laughed. "If it makes you feel any better, most of them think this show is trash. I just have bad taste in holodramas."
"It's not really that bad, I suppose." He absently reached over, giving Reign a few pats on the head. The feline rubbed up against his armor, purring happily.
"Nah. It's pretty terrible." Ariadne grinned and finished the last of her toast. "I'm ready to head off when you are. Nadhira sent you the address through her datapad, yeah?"
Cyric stood and took his bowl of Ewok-O’s to the sink. That done, he put on his helmet. It was still painfully Mandalorian in style, but she’d made him recolor it—no doubt the CSF had seen the same holocam footage she had. "She did."
Ariadne nodded. "Good. Let's go."
They parked the airspeeder in an alleyway down the street and headed around to where the holodisplay of Svok’s apartment indicated there was a backdoor. The Works was a grimy place, choked with smog and ash. The alleyway was no better, covered in hastily scrawled graffiti and filled with trash.
They were almost to the door when something landed ahead of them with a clang, tossed down from the roof. It took Ariadne a second too realize was it was. A second to long.
The flashbang went off and there was no time for her to do anything but try and look away. Her ears rang and her vision swam. Someone grabbed her arm and tried to pull her to her feet—she hadn’t realized she’d fallen, but she certainly wasn’t getting up again any time soon.
They mumbled something in her ear and let her go. She moved backwards until the grimy alley wall hit her back. Then she turned to the side and ripped her mask off just in time to throw up. She blinked hard to try and clear her vision, fumbling for her blaster. She had it halfway out of its holster when someone grabbed her hands, moved them behind her back, and then locked them in binders.
Ariadne mused that this was not her best day ever.
Her ears still rang painfully and black spots clouded her gaze. She tried to move the binders around to her front but she was still too disoriented from the flashbang. Someone grabbed her roughly by the arm. Ariadne just managed to make out the features of the zabrak. “Get up.” He hissed.
She braced her legs like she was going to stand, then did so—though probably not in the way he intended. When her head hit his nose, there was a satisfying crack. Svok cursed.
He hit her hard enough to knock her out.
When Ariadne awoke, everything was dark and, more importantly, her wrists were still cuffed behind her back. They protested vehemently as she started to move, and she winced. She raised her head, and thankfully no wave of dizziness accompanied the movement. She seemed to have gotten her sense of balance back, though the darkness of the room wasn’t helping too much.
Ariadne started to try and push herself up into a sitting position but the pain from her wrists made her pause. She had to get the binders off. Then she could worry about where she was.
Her eyes watered as she strained her wrists against the cuffs, slipping them around her body. It took a few minutes, but in the end her hands were in front of her. Ariadne reached into her jacket and pulled out a key.
It wasn’t too well known a fact, but binders- even made by different manufacturers- all used the same key with rare exceptions. While the fact no doubt made things easier for law enforcement (who were good at making sure prisoners didn’t do things like move their cuffs around to their front) and for people who accidentally handcuffed themselves to things, it also made life a lot easier for Ariadne.
Her eyes had adjusted to the dark enough to make out the bright red rings around her sore wrists. She rubbed them and shook her hands before she put the binders back on, but this time much higher up on her arms. When they fell, she made sure she could pull her hands out when she needed to.
Ariadne sat back down and closed her eyes. She had no idea where SD-550 and Cyric were. Presumably they were alive, but...
The door opened and Ariadne winced. The zabrak walked into the room and kicked her in the side with little ceremony. She clenched her jaw and fell, unable to keep her balance with her hands behind her back.
“See where your assassin is now?”
Ariadne glanced up at the holographic display. She hadn’t realized Svok had taken her bracer. Nadhira’s holographic image looked down at her, reclining in her chair back in the White Spade. There was no expression to be read on the crime boss’s face—certainly not any pity or concern. “Well done, Svok. I expected no less of you. And what is your intent now?”
He sneered and turned the bracer around so he could talk to her. "My intent? How brazen! I have your pathetic assassin, and the contemptible Mandalorian and droid you sent with her have been killed—with no small amount of satisfaction, I dare say, by my allies.” He gave a harsh bark of laughter. "You know that dog, once given a taste of fresh blood, only lives to taste it again. I'd watch myself, were I you!"
Ariadne's expression did not change at the news, but she glanced away. SD-550 couldn’t be dead. And Cyric... Svok noticed the movement and grinned. "This is only the beginning." He looked back at Nadhira. "I'll see all of you behind bars for the atrocities you've committed."
Nadhira raised her martini to her lips, her eyes fixed solely on Zabrak. A smile hid behind the rim of her glass. "Perhaps we will, Svok. Have you told the CSF about your time in Lab B? Or about your activities before? You have some phenomenal stories to tell them about my atrocities." Nadhira tilted her head, smiling still.
The zabrak paled at the mention of Lab B, but his expression hardened. “You presume to—!" He bared his teeth. "You think you've achieved more than you have, wretch. Like a old wife's nagging words, you are soon forgotten!"
"You think very highly of yourself, Svok. Thinking you of all things are my measuring stick for achievements." A low chuckle followed and she took a sip from her glass.
Ariadne carefully moved her left hand out of the binder while the zabrak was distracted.
"As well I should!” Svok spat furiously. “You have no IDEA what I've managed to—"
She’d pushed herself up and kicked Svok’s leg. The zabrak went down hard and Ariadne made sure he stayed that way, grabbing the binders and shoving them against his neck before she moved behind him. She pulled the chain as tight as it would go.
Svok dropped her bracer but the holographic display stayed on. Ariadne pulled the binders so hard her hands went numb. She ignored the painful jabs the Zabrak dealt her with his elbows, but she was forced to jerk her face away as he clawed at her in desperation. She wasn’t quite fast enough, however—her cheeks and lips stung, and she soon tasted blood.
Nadhira watched and smiled.
It took much longer than she would have liked. Strangling was never her preferred method of execution. Svok’s thrashing slowed and his blows weakened as she cut off his air supply. The binders dug into her palm hard enough to draw blood, but eventually the zabrak stilled.
Silence settled over the room and was broken only by the sound of slow, deliberate applause.
"Well played, little Ari. I was almost afraid I would have to call Navine and her friend." Nadhira lifted her glass again, but did not drink.
Ariadne clenched her jaw and suppressed the urge to scream some very choice words at her boss. Instead, she let go of the binders with numb fingers, blood dripping from her palms. She took a few breaths and checked the mark’s pulse. He did not have one. “It’s done.”
"As you have supplied proof- in an... Unorthodox manner, but proof nevertheless- I will wire the credits to you immediately. And you may wish to know, my techs are still picking up SD's tracker signal. It’s still active. Svok got ahead of himself."
She spat out the blood that had dripped into her mouth and wiped the rest away before she nodded. “I’ll go meet up with it and see if the Mandalorian’s still alive.”
"Please do—and make sure to see the doctor, Ari." She smiled and cut the transmission.
Ariadne stood, the scratches on her face burning and her palms dripping with blood from the cuts. Her sides burned from where the mark had elbowed her and she walked with one arm wrapped around her waist. She wouldn’t be surprised if he’d cracked one of her ribs.
It took a few minutes of wandering around to find a door that led to the street. The holographic display showed a map of the area, and Ariadne limped towards SD-550’s signal. Svok hadn’t taken her far.
SD-550 met her at the entryway to the alley. The droid placed a hand on her arm as she walked by and she nodded. “I’m fine. Cyric in there?”
Ariadne stopped at the threshold of the alleyway. “Cyric.” She ran to him, her side burning as she upped her pace. The Mandalorian was lying on the dirty ground in a puddle of his own blood. With his helmet on, she couldn’t tell if he was dead or merely unconscious.
“Sid, go get the speeder.” There was no reply, only the whirring, clicking sound as the droid broke into a run.
She turned her attention back to the fallen Mandalorian. She carefully removed his dented helmet and set it aside, searching for a pulse. She couldn’t find one. Ariadne bit her lip and swore. She fought with the buckles and straps of his chestpiece and pulled it off. She winced at the sight of the jagged wound going across his chest. It looked like he’d been burned...
Ariadne glanced up at the two corpses sprawled on the ground. She stood and limped over. They wore dark brown robes, now stained with blood, and the male had an extinguished lightsaber resting in his limp hand.
The woman she recognized as Jedi Knight Keelu Afic, from the holonews broadcast. Ariadne looked back over at Cyric’s fallen form. “I’m sorry.” She whispered.
The repulsolift engine hummed as SD-550 parked the airspeeder just outside the alleyway. The assassin droid stalked over, whirring gently. “If he’s dead, we need to leave him, Ariadne. We cannot afford to traverse Corsucant with a cadaver.”
“I know, Sid.” She rested her head on Cyric’s chest, listening for a heartbeat. Ariadne didn’t trust her cut and bleeding hands to find his pulse—something she knew wasn’t easy to find even in the best of times.
There was a heartbeat. It was faint, but it was there.
“He’s alive for now.” She wiped her eyes. “We have to get him to Doc. Help me get him to the airspeeder.”
It wasn’t easy, but after some careful maneuvering they managed to get him in the backseat. Ariadne grabbed her mask, his helmet and after a moment of consideration the Lightsaber hilts of the two fallen Jedi and threw them in the front seat. She sat in the back with Cyric, letting him rest his head on her lap.
She was worried he would die on the way over. The fact that they had to go the speed limit didn’t help matters. They couldn’t risk the chance of being pulled over—there was no way the CSF would let them walk away with bloodied weapons and masks in the front seat and an unconscious man in the back.
Ariadne squeezed his hand gently. “Just a few more minutes and we’ll be there. Hang on.”
“Doc”’s real name was Lir’ik Kon. He was a grubby Caamasi and lived dangerously close to the Underlevels. Ariadne had heard the Caamasi were generally pleasant to be around, but there was always an exception to the rule, and Doc was that.
“Someone’s here!” He trilled as soon as Ariadne knocked on the door. The bat-faced humanoid grinned at her, showing far too many teeth for just one mouth. “Ariadne! Welcome to my humble abode, please don’t mind the mes-”
“Doc, it’s an emergency.”
He looked past her at the Mandalorian in SD-550’s arms.”Whelp, bring ‘em in!” The Caamasi examined him as SD-550 carried him inside. Ariadne trailed after.
“I’ll have to take ‘im into the OR.” He looked up, “Just nest yourself down comfort-”
“Go fix him up, Doc.”
Doc mumbled something under his breath and stalked away. SD-550 placed the Mandalorian on a stretcher and a surgical droid followed its master into the OR.
Ariadne watched them go. She stood there aimlessly until another droid approached her. “Do you require medical assistance?” It chipped.
Ariadne looked down at her hands, caked with died blood. It was all over her jacket, too. She’d be stopped on the street in a heartbeat if they were on any of the higher levels. “Just gimme a bandage for my hands.”
The droid beeped in acknowledgment and wandered off. Ariadne looked around and sat on a chair against a wall. The waiting room was lit only by a harsh light that made the greenish off-white walls and floor appear stark and dreary. She shifted her position slightly. Not that she didn’t trust Doc, but...
“I have the requested bandages.” The droid beeped. SD-550 watched it distrustfully as Ariadne held her hands out. The droid cleaned the blood from her hands and bandaged the cuts. She flexed her fingers. “Does Doc happen to have any clothing I could borrow?” She gestured to her bloodstained jacket.
The droid processed for a moment, then beeped again. “There is one thing. I shall return momentarily.”
Ariadne stared at the outfit the droid brought out. “... You’re kidding.”
The droid looked at her. “Is something the matter, miss?”
She took the outfit and examined it. “I... No. It’s just more... Frilly than- it’s fine, thank you. Is there somewhere I could change?”
“Right this way, miss.”
She could have sworn SD-550 chuckled as she walked away.
Ariadne knew she shouldn’t be surprised Doc had a nurse outfit lying around. She knew she also shouldn’t be surprised it wasn’t an “official” nurse outfit. While it showed far more of her midriff than she was comfortable with, she supposed she should be thankful it wasn’t worse. The top looked terrible with her pants (which had not gotten blood on them, thank the stars), but it’d do.
The spectacular rainbow of bruises forming along her ribcage was a different matter, but the medical droid had given her a kolto patch for that. Now that she felt like she wasn’t going to keel over, Ariadne called Nadhira again.
The human allowed her unnatural yellow eyes to flick over Ariadne. "The Doc must've gotten very good with the fine print in his contracts if he can get you to bang him. Either that or you really like that Mando'ad."
“I got blood on my jacket. I don’t want to be arrested the second a CSF officer looks at me when we head to the upper levels.” She shook her head. "But that’s not why I’m calling—why did you send me after Svok? What was his latest activity?"
“Why are you asking, little Ari?" Her eyes narrowed, almost imperceptibly, and her long fingers clutched a little tighter around the stem of the glass she had in hand.
"I believe he contacted the two Jedi I've been playing tag with and used them to set an ambush.”
Ariadne had the pleasure of watching Nadhira’s eyes widen. She looked away from the holo towards someone off of the camera. "Would someone care to explain how this information
slipped through the net?" There was something mumbled in the background and she sneered before turning back to the holo. "We'll look into it." She said simply.
Ariadne paused and bit the inside of her cheek before asking the question she really dreaded. "Do you think there will be follow-up from the Jedi Council for this?"
"It's possible," Nadhira said, reclining against her usual couch and bringing the glass to her lips, expressionless. "We will keep an eye out. If they do bring consequences, they will not be on me." She raised her eyebrows pointedly.
Ariadne bowed her head briefly. "Understood."
"Nevertheless..." Nadhira lowered the glass again, examining Ariadne's holographic image. She smiled once more, slowly. "I have an idea."
The assassin raised a brow when the crime boss did not elaborate. "... Could I hear it?"
She shook her head. "Not until I know this could put me in danger. Otherwise it may well be a pointless waste of my resources. You do that enough."
Ariadne resisted the impulse to say something she’d regret. "Understood." She said again. "I'll keep an eye out for information as well."
"Keep me up to date, Ariadne. I'll let you know if I find anything on these Jedi. Tell the good Doctor I say hello—and Ari, darling? Leave those kinds of outfits to the models." She grinned and cut the transmission abruptly.
“Well, that was refreshingly clear.” SD-550 whirred.
Ariadne sat back in the chair and sighed, uncomfortable in the tight outfit. She was going to punch Doc when he came out of the OR. “We should at least get some sort of warning. Hopefully the Jedi Council realizes Coruscant is too hot.” She ran a bandaged hand through her hair. “Kriff, I should have never accepted that job from that Imp.”
SD-550 glanced down at her. “Speaking of Imperials... Perhaps we should attempt improve our reputation with the Empire. The Jedi Council is in no position to do anything about someone under their protection.”
She drummed her fingernails on the arms of the chair. “Depends on whether or not the Empire’ll
agree to giving me any protection. Nadhira sure as hell won’t lift a finger, the heartless bi—tch.”
“Still, it merits looking into.” The droid gestured to the doors that led to the OR, “He cannot protect you forever.”
“I know.” She said quietly.
The hours slowly ticked by. Ariadne browsed through a few Holonet articles lying on the table as she and SD-550 discussed their next moves. They could only plan so far ahead, though; the next move belonged to the Jedi Council.
Ariadne was dosing off when the door opened and Cyric limped out. His chest was heavily bandaged and he was leaning on a crutch, but he was alive. He looked at Ariadne in the outfit she’d borrowed from Doc and blinked. Several times.
. I knew I died.”
Doc absolutely cackled as he stepped out of the OR after Cyric. “I knew keepin’ that ol’ thing around was a good id-”
He stopped at the sight of Ariadne pointing her blaster at him. “I swear by my frilly nurse outfit, I will shoot you, Doc.”
The Caamasi took a step backwards, hands raised. “No need to cause a fuss.”
She smiled at him. “Why don’t you go follow your own advice?”
Doc looked at her for a moment longer, then nodded quickly several times, “I’ll just- be back here- gotta...” He disappeared into the back room.
Cyric watched him, then looked back at Ariadne and SD-550. An awkward silence settled over the room.
“I... Uhh... I like the outfit, there.”
“That makes one of us.” Ariadne stood and shoved her blaster back into its holster as she walked over to Cyric. “Doc fix you up alright?”
He shrugged, then winced. “Can’t exactly complain. Everything still works.”
“Good. He’s a scumbag, but he does good work. It’s why Nadhira keeps him around. Ready to go?” She gave him a concerned look.
"I guess.. I think I'll need to take it easy though... Might need some.. uhh.. nursing."
Ariadne’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “You get away with that because you’re coming off the anesthesia.”
"Come off it. I killed two Jedi. You doubted I could do that. What chance do you think you've got, eh?" He grinned in a playful manner, but soon winced again.
She took his arm that wasn't occupied by the crutch and helped him walk towards the exit. "I beat you once, bounty hunter. I could do it again."
“I didn’t even try that time.” Cyric smiled at her as she helped him. "Thanks for actually, y'know, getting me patched up, though. Most would've just left me."
Ariadne glanced away. “Geez, Doc must’ve given you hell’va painkillers.”
"Naahhhh... Okay... Mayybe." He grinned.
"Yeah, I thought so." Ariadne watched SD-550 walk ahead of them as they headed out to the airspeeder. “You’re out of it.”
“Hardly. Did we get him?” She noticed him wincing as he walked. Ariadne frowned and let him lean against her. “We got him, Cyric.” She said.
"More like you did, anyway. Ow.. ugh. Hurts.” He leaned his head against her shoulder as they stopped in front of the speeder. “Sorry I couldn't.. y'know.. help more with the mark. All I did was slow you down and get us ambushed."
“You killed two of those Jedi.” Ariadne said as she helped him in the passenger seat. SD-550 had already cleaned off the stuff she’d thrown on it earlier “They would’ve made bantha fodder of me.”
“Probably should’ve done the same to me.” Cyric winced as he bent down to get in the speeder. He leaned back against the seat and closed his eyes.
“What happened to being Mr. Big-bad-Jedi-killer?” She bent down and kissed his forehead. “You did good.”
Ariadne put Cyric’s crutch in the trunk and slid in the backseat. "Well,” Cyric said, “When we get back to your home, we can put my helmet's holorecording on and watch. It might be.. amusing."
She laughed. “The only thing you’re getting at my apartment is some rest and a can of Hillindor Fowl Soup.”
"Aww, really? The only thing?"
“Hey, that soup isn’t cheap. You’re lucky you’re getting even that.”
"Oh, I bet.” He sighed. “Killed two Jedi and my reward is soup."
“Just because two of them are dead doesn’t mean I won’t be seeing any more of them.” She reached forward and squeezed Cyric’s shoulder. “Get some rest. You’ll want it before Nadhira talks to you, trust me.”
“Thank you.” He told her softly, relaxing under her touch. It wasn’t long before he dozed off.
The drive to Ariadne’s apartment didn’t take too long. She and SD-550 were mostly silent. They’d discussed everything they’d needed to in the waiting room. It was only midday outside, the sun shining off the many towering buildings that made up Coruscant.
Ariadne let Cyric lean against her again as they made their way into the large apartment complex. They got a few odd looks in the lobby, but Ariadne cultivated an image of eccentricity and no one asked any questions.
At least until they got to Ariadne's floor.
"Goodness gracious, child! What've you gotten yourself into?"
Ariadne looked over her shoulder—not an easy task when she was supporting Cyric. "Mrs. Shol? Uhm. I was at a costume party. My friend fell off his swoop on the way home, though. We just got back from the Medcenter."
"Well, let me know if you need anything, dearie. I'm just down the hall."
Ariadne nodded and smiled. "I'll keep that in mind, Mrs. Shol, now if you'll-"
"And wear a sweater next time, girl! You must be freezing in that costume. What are you supposed to be, anywho?"
"She's supposed to be a Mandalorian maiden.” Cyric answered for her. “I'm a Mandalorian warrior, as is obvious, ready to terrorize the galaxy. Rarrghh." Cyric grinned, but Ariadne could tell her was still hurting.
“Haha, yeah.” The lie came easily. “Unfortunately a friend of mine had a little too much to drink, all over my other shirt, so I had to borrow my friend’s. As you can see....” She smiled in a ‘what can you do?’ sort of way. “At least I fit in at the Medcenter.”
Mrs. Shol chuckled. “I’m sure all the young lads there weren’t complaining! Go get some rest, Ari, seems like you two have had quite the time.”
Ariadne nodded. “I’ll let you know if I need anything.” She headed into her apartment before Mrs. Shol could interrogate her anymore, chaining and locking the various mechanisms she had attached to her door without any real conscious thought.
"Should've seen the looks we were getting.” Cyric chuckled. “Most were at you. A few were at me. Which is kinda weird."
"Nonsense.” She said distractedly. “Good looking man like yourself, people are going to stare." Ariadne did the last of the locks and helped Cyric over to the couch. "Wished my neighbors were a little less helpful, though."
The Bounty Hunter lied back with a tired grunt, followed by a wince. "Helpful neighbours or not, I can’t thank you enough.”
"It was nothing. You need anything? I'm going to go take a shower real quick."
"I'll be fine. Feel free to leave the door open."
"In your dreams, Mando-boy." Ariadne pulled her hair down, letting it fall around her shoulders. "Shout if you need anything, I'll be out in a couple've minute."
As she walked into her room, Cyric called out, "I look forward to it!" She resisted the impulse to roll her eyes and shut the door behind herself.
The cuts on her hands stung when the hot water hit them, but she managed to get her hair and face washed without too much trouble. The water made her bruises look even worse, but Ariadne knew they’d fade in time.
She had to rewrap her hands once she got out of the shower, the slender cuts going from one side of her palm to the other. She hated being cuffed and hated strangling people even more, stupid ‘brak. Ariadne pulled her shirt over her head and stepped out of her bathroom. She was about to rejoin Cyric when the holographic display in the bracer she’d thrown onto the bed beeped. She had a message.
“Damnit.” Ariadne grumbled and walked back over, hitting the button to let it replay.
Nadhira’s image slowly taps a finger against the stem of her martini glass, remaining silent for the first five or ten seconds of the transmission. "I will assume you are doing something very important that you aren't answering my call.” Ariadne grinned despite herself. “No matter. It will make it much easier for me to explain this without your questions. I've received word, rather sooner than I expected, about the Jedi Council situation. They've sent someone after you, little Ari. I can't provide an escape route this time. Enjoy yourself with that Mandalorian you're so taken with."
The grin faded from her face. Ariadne felt her insides go cold.
Nadhira took a sip from her glass, her lips stretching slowly into a smile. "Lead the Jedi back to me and the next time I see you it will be in Lab B. In the meantime, little Ari, I highly suggest you run."
Ariadne stared down at the message for a few moments before she said the first thing that came to mind.