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Kinnu
12.31.2011 , 06:49 PM | #4
Step Four:

Find a Sith, make him promise not to kill you, and use his connections to get yourself in with the Empire.


Several Months Later...


The Lightsaber hummed softly as the Jedi held it near her throat. Ariadne didn’t dare move, not that she could. Her body felt heavy as she lied on the ground, staring up at her hooded executor. She’d been running so long from everything. Now it was all finally catching up with her.

“There has to be something you want.” She said. Her mind raced but got no where useful. “Credits. Power. Anything. I’ll repent. I’ll do anything you want.” Tears blurred her vision but the hooded figure was unmoved by her plea.

“Your have killed a reprehensible amount of people in your lifetime, including two Jedi. If your intention to repent was genuine you would have done it by now.” He raised his Lightsaber over his head.

Ariadne winced, unable to keep her eyes open. Her breath came in frantic gasps. She heard a beeping in the distance.

She blinked and opened her eyes. The hooded figure paused, raising his head to look out into the distance.

“I left my oven on.”

“Wait, wa—”

The beeping of the small holographic communication device on Ariadne’s bracer jerked her out of sleep. Within seconds she’d grabbed the knife under her pillow and raised it with a savage yell. Save for Snowball glaring at her from the other side of the room, her small bedroom was empty. And her bracer was still beeping. Ariadne grabbed it off the bedside table, holding the knife with her other hand.

Nadhira’s face and steepled fingers appeared in miniature, holographic form. She raised an eyebrow at the knife in Ariadne's hand. “... Is there a problem?”

“No. No. I was just... Gardening.” Ariadne threw the knife into the bed and out of Nadhira’s view. “What’s up?”

“Nothing good. Coruscant is quickly becoming undesirable local.” She leaned back in her seat. “The Jedi are returning and re-investigating matters—and they are straying dangerously close. And there is something else...” She glanced to the side briefly before her hawkish gaze returned to Ariadne.

“Regardless. I’m making preparations to move. My operations, and with them the White Spade, are relocating to Dromund Kaas.”

“... The capitol of the Empire?”

“I have taken precautions to make sure the Spade’s activities are... Overlooked in Kaas City. They needn’t concern you. What does concern you is your place in all this.” Nadhira frowned. “You have a way of getting... Results. Even if those results often come with significant collateral damage-” She eyed Ariadne pointedly, “-they are results nevertheless. I would enjoy it if you continued producing those results. Unfortunately your Jedi... problem creates complications.”

“But they wouldn’t... They wouldn’t send someone that deep into Empire space. I’d be safe.”

“And if I did intend for you to work exclusively on Dromund Kaas that would be the case, little Ari. However, I need someone to enforce my reach on other worlds. People can think that they can escape me; that I have limits. That is not the case.” Nadhira took a breath and exhaled slowly. “I can’t have you being followed by a Jedi to every world you go to, and believe me, the one hunting you will catch up with you eventually. Deal with him and I’ll make it look like you were never on Coruscant to begin with.”

She didn’t wait for Ariadne to respond, the hologram fading out abruptly and leaving Ariadne alone in her room.

---

Veitsi didn’t answer the door when she knocked, but that was normal for the Bothan. She didn’t know how he kept up with the dozen or so holonet screens he had running, much less listen for someone at the door. He’d given her a pass key after SD-550 had broken down his door after they’d waited outside his flat for an hour. Still, she kept a hand on her blaster as she slipped inside. You could never be too careful.

The bothan wasn’t alone when Ariadne walked into his apartment. A hooded figure stood behind him, barely lit by the holonet screens. Her first thought was ambush. Her second thought was to kill him before he got the chance to do the same to her. Her blaster came easily out of its holster and into her hand.

She pulled the trigger.

Veitsi screamed for his precious holonet screens as the figure turned—no, she realized, he’d already been turning before she’d even got her gun fully out of the holster. A beam of teal-colored plasma shot from the hilt in his hand and deflected the blaster shot, causing it to ricochet into the wall.

Before she could pull the trigger again he extended his hand. Her blaster jerked once before twisting out of her grip and into his. She didn’t give him a chance to do anything with it, drawing the Cortosis-weave dagger and charging. SD-550 moved beside her before jerking to the side, attempting to flank the Jedi. Instead of the Lightsaber swinging around like she thought, he flung her blaster back at her using the Force.

It hit her smack in the face and she went down hard. Her vision blurred and her nose ached as she gasped, trying to get her bearings. She looked around, spotting the dagger nearby. Her fingers closed around it just as a booted foot stepped down on them, the end of the Lightsaber coming to hover uncomfortably close to her face.

“I don’t take kindly to interruptions.” The Jedi said softly. He leaned forward and she suppressed a scream, a ragged gasp escaping between gritted teeth as her fingers were crushed.

“I don’t take kindly to assassins.” She spat past the blood running down her face. He must have broken her nose when he hurled her blaster back at her.

“He isn’t—” There was a grunt as Veitsi hauled himself out from under his desk, “He isn’t here to kill you!” There was a pause and then a noise of dismay, “… Oh cripes my equipment...!”

“What do you mean ‘he isn’t here to kill me’?!” Ariadne yelled back from her highly uncomfortable position on the floor. Her fingers had gone numb by now. “Why the hell is there a kriffing JEDI in your APARTMENT?!”

Her body seized up as an arc of Force Lightning was channeled into it, a cry of agony bubbling up out of her throat before it was over as soon as it had begun and she was left dizzy and breathless. “I am not a Jedi.” He said shortly. He stepped over her prone form before he paused, turning to look back at Veitsi. “I will expect news soon.”

The Bothan looked up from his ruined equipment, his expression dazed. A tiny squeak escaped him.

The Sith seemed to find that an acceptable answer, the apartment door sliding shut behind him.

---

Ariadne woke up in the backseat of her speeder with a strange taste in her mouth and a dull ache in her head. She watched the buildings go by for a long moment before she pushed herself up and winced as her sore body protested, the ache in her head making itself much more pronounced.

“I was wondering when you’d wake up.” SD-550 whirred.

“Mmm.” She took a breath, taking stock. She was sore all over, but the highlights had to be her face and hand. Ariadne glanced down and saw it’d been bandaged neatly. “... Great, just what I needed.” She rested her head back on the seat, trying to keep her eyes open. “How are you?”

“All systems functional. I was not damaged in combat with the... Sith.”

Ariadne snorted and then instantly regretted it as pain shot through her nasal cavities. Her eyes watered and she blinked a few times. “... I can’t believe he was Sith. In Coruscant. Aren’t there rules about them not having red Lightsabers or whatever?”

“Not that I am aware of.” The droid replied.

She sighed. “... Great. So how mad was Veitsi?”

“He was still in shock when I deemed it appropriate for us to make our leave.”

Sh—it, he’s going to be pissed. And if we can’t find someone who can take care of a Jedi through him...” Ariadne ran her good hand through her hair. “We’re in trouble.”

“It is highly probable that the Sith is more than capable of handling any Jedi sent after you.” SD-550 pointed out. “... But we would have to get him on our side.”

“I miss Cyric.” It was dangerously close to a pout, but Ariadne promised herself she wouldn’t. “He liked me.”

“And that is precisely why you had to cut ties.” SD-550 said, its optics staring ahead at the skyline as the sun set.

“I know.” She paused. “I feel like sh—it.”

“That is to be expected after what you went through. The effects of Force Lightning are hardly pleasant.”

Ariadne murmured a soft agreement before she curled up on the seat and closed her eyes, trying to block everything out.

---

It was a tense few days before she figured out her next move. She’d boarded her cats at the local vet and had been moving from one place to the next every few days. She was terrified of the Jedi catching her before she could get someone to help her.

But no one would reply to her requests for assistance as soon as she mentioned Jedi. She couldn’t really blame them, she’d do the exact same thing. In desperation, she’d sent a message to Veitsi requesting any information he could give her about the Sith. It was a long shot, but if anyone would be willing and able to kill a Jedi it would be their dark counterparts.

She used to time waiting to recover. There was only a lingering soreness in her hand and the bruises around her eyes from the broken nose were starting to fade. She still got tired more quickly than she liked thanks to the Force Lightning, but she was getting better.

Ariadne wished she could say the same for her mental state. She’d been short-tempered and increasingly frustrated. She missed her cats, her apartment, and the relatively stable lifestyle she'd had up until she'd gotten tangled up with Force-users.

When her datapad beeped, she thought it was from a fellow assassin she’d partnered up once with in the past, before she’d gotten SD-550. Instead, it was from Veitsi. She blinked and tapped the screen to display the message.

Ariadne,

You might want to wait longer after trashing my place before you ask me for a favor, sweetcheeks.

I attached the address of the place he’s staying at anyways because he wrecked my stuff too. Make him disappear.

-V.


She bit the inside of her cheek as she read the message. He thought she was going after him. Well, she was in a sense, and what Veitsi didn’t know wasn’t going to hurt him. She glanced up. SD-550 was watching her.

“Get the stuff.” She told him.

---

The apartment where the Sith was residing was located on the middle levels near the Senate District, nondescript and slightly run down. No one cared enough in a place like this to give her a second glance as she walked into the turbolift. She pulled out the featureless white mask she wore on jobs and slipped it on. She hoped that if the Sith didn’t instantly recognize her she’d have a better chance of saying what need to be said.

The doors opened and she stepped out, her boots muffled by the thin carpet. SD-550 was not with her. Sometimes it best served her out of the line of fire. This was one of those times.

She just hoped it wouldn’t have to through with what they’d planned.

Unlike with Cyric, brute force was not going to sway the Sith to her side. Her dealings with the Sith had been nonexistent up until this point, but she had some idea of what she was working with. The arm that wields the Lightsaber can be twisted all the same.

Ariadne raised her hand and knocked.

The Sith was an orange skinned Twi’lek, with narrow facial features, bright blue eyes and a body hidden behind a dark brown robe. He looked more... Ordinary than Ariadne had expected. She took a breath and started talking before he could interrupt her, her voice given a metallic quality as she spoke through her mask.

“Look, I have a limited time to say what I need to so just shut up and listen. If you kill me, I have a droid ready deliver this address and a description of your face to the Jedi Temple. Even if you run they’ll be on guard and you’ll lose any element of surprise you might have had.” She took a breath.

“I have a Jedi coming to kill me. Now, either you can help me get rid of him or I can go to the Jedi Temple myself and see if they’ll take information on the Empire violating the Treaty of Coruscant in the capitol itself in exchange for my life.”

He stared at her as he spoke, his expression going from bored and irritated to stonily cold. He was silent. Just staring. Ariadne was very glad he couldn’t see her terrified expression through the mask. He held her gaze for an uncomfortably long moment before he turned on his heel and paced back inside. The motion-detecting door hung open, and Ariadne hesitated only a moment before ducking in after him. Her legs felt like jelly.

“You have nice eyes.” Ariadne tried to sound nonchalant. She wondered how far she could push him before she got herself killed.

The apartment barely looked lived in. The furniture was standard and as far as she could tell there was no extra decoration or clutter. It was a familiar sight—she had places that looked almost exactly the same when she was on jobs, though she wasn’t quite as tidy.

“I’ve been taking steps to avoid this Jedi, but I’m pretty sure if I stop he’ll find me easily. You just need to be there when he does. He won’t suspect a Sith. You kill him and we both go on our merry way.”

"You are deeply, deeply idiotic." The Twi’lek snapped abruptly, making her jump. "... But I was no better, to reveal myself to you in the way that I did. I asked for this." He rubbed a pointed-nailed hand down his face. "Sit."

“I’m just trying to get out of this mess in one piece.” Ariadne pulled off her mask and slipped it inside her jacket. She eyed him for a moment before moving over to the couch. It smelled like old cigarra smoke.

"And what did you do to make the Jedi angry? Shoot him?" He asked blandly. Ariadne heard him move into the kitchen, glasses clinking together. She tried to relax, but her body was filled with a sort of numb, trembling terror. I’m blackmailing a Sith. "I killed a Senator they were protecting and the two Jedi guarding her."

"And now you really wish to entangle a Sith in this? To try to force my hand? You know, in the end, that you will regret this with every fiber of your being." He reappeared with a self-heating pot and two cups. "But I will kill your Jedi. One doesn't need to threaten a dog to get it to chase a cat.” He stared at her. "Though such actions are certainly not forgotten."

“I don’t expect to get away clean after bringing you into this, but I don’t exactly have any other options. I can’t kill a Jedi by myself and none of my associates will touch this situation.” Ariadne studied his face briefly. She considered apologizing, but he’d probably make her eat those words later.

"So long as we are in understanding.” She watched as he poured himself something warm and bitter-smelling before motioning in invitation for her to make use of the other cup. "Explain your details."

Ariadne eyed the cup for a moment, debating whether or not she could manage to pour it without her hands shaking. She decided not to risk it. “I’ll say I’m meeting someone somewhere for a deal and let word get out a bit. Somewhere out of the way. If everything goes according to plan he’ll be there to try and ambush me. That’s where you come in.”

“And if you die in the exchange?” He sipped his tea, raising a brow.

“I think it would be in your best interest if that didn’t happen.”

"So I not only get to kill your enemies for you, but I get to babysit you." He said dryly.

"I'm more than capable of keeping myself alive in a tight situation. I am here in front of you."

"By my own mistaken mercy. I could have used the lightning on you until you were a twitching husk." He smiled faintly. The idea was probably highly appealing at this point.

"Probably. My assassin droid was still a factor in that fight, but I think we're both aware that you could kill me with very little trouble." Ariadne leaned back slightly on the couch. She had more important things to worry about who could kill who when they were on the same side for the moment. "I appreciate you not turning me into a twitching husk. I didn't enjoy what I got from your weather powers."

His brow twitched in irritation. "Force lightning is not known for its therapeutic qualities. You're welcome, but it was a foolish mistake...” He pressed his lips together pensively for a moment. “I seem to be full of those, lately."

Ariadne shrugged, "We all make mistakes..." She paused and realized she hadn't gotten his name yet. "... Mr. Sith?" The corners of her lips twitched in what might have been a smile.

"... Kavre will do, for now." He said evenly. "And in my line of work, no, you do not."

"Ariadne." She replied. "And I hope you have a way to cover your as—s, then."

“I will work something out.”

She nodded and stood. "Good. I'll keep in touch and let you know when and where I'm going to set this all up."

"I'll be looking forward to it." His voice couldn’t have been any more unenthusiastic.

---

This must be what Nadhira feels like. All the pieces were in place. Unfortunately, she was one of them.

The alleyway was dark, lit only by a dingy street light on the bigger street running perpendicular to it. Graffiti was scrawled across the walls, mostly in Aurebesh but a few other languages were represented in the mess of spray paint. The alleyway was mostly clear of trash and debris, but a nearby pipe leaked steam, giving the alleyway an eerie atmosphere.

“My sensors have not yet picked him up.” SD-550 said, standing near her. Ariadne glanced over at him. She was incredibly fond of the droid. Ariadne wasn’t one to believe in an afterlife, but if she did, she’d miss the droid terribly if things went south.

“Maybe he got scared off.” She hoped not. She just wanted to get this over with. Ariadne glanced down, checking her equipment. Her jacket was zipped up and her hood pulled over her head. She wore her mask and her blaster hung comfortably from her left hip, her stolen dagger from the right.

Kavre was nearby, dressed like he belonged down here. It was weird seeing him without robes on, considering who he was. He was positioned at one end of the alleyway, slouched with his eyes closed like he was asleep.

“We’ll give it fifteen more m—”

A stream of purple ionic energy shot out of the mist and hit SD-550. The droid Ariadne had worked with for six years jerked and crumpled, its optics flickering before going dark. Ariadne stared down at it. “SID!”

She knelt next to the droid, grabbing its shoulders before she heard the sound of an igniting Lightsaber echoing down the alleyway. Ariadne turned, then froze.

Through the steam she could make out the outline of a blue Lightsaber, held to the side of a cloaked figure. He advanced towards her, the vapor billowing around him. “Ariadne Lekas, you are wanted for crimes against the Jedi Order.” He said as she slowly backed up, boots scr—aping on the filthy duracrete. “You are under arrest.”

She raised her blaster just as a dark shape ran past her. Kavre’s teal Lightsaber flashed before the Jedi raised his own, their blades meeting in a clash of sparks. The Jedi’s hood fell back, exposing white hair and surprised silver eyes.

Their clash was swift and brutal. Kavre fought with no mercy, driving the Jedi back. He’d started at a disadvantage and he was given no chance to recover with the Sith pressing the attack. The blades moved at rapid speeds, Ariadne’s eyes barely able to keep up. She grunted in frustration and looked down at SD-550. Smoke curled from between gaps in the droid’s armor and it still hadn’t moved. Ariadne was no expert when it came to droids, but it looked utterly destroyed.

Ariadne looked up at the two Force-users battling it out and wiped her eyes as she pushed herself to her feet. She gripped her blaster tight enough that her knuckles turned white. She wanted to make the Jedi pay, but they were moving so fast she was afraid she’d hit Kavre.

It was clear the Jedi was losing, however. Sweat ran down his pale face and he was barely holding the Sith back. The Jedi suddenly lost his footing and slipped, both of their sabers moving to the side and slicing directly into the leaking steam pipe.

There was a twin cry of agony as boiling hot steam burst out of the pipe directly onto the two Force users. “Sh—it! Sid, go-” She looked down at the wrecked droid and winced. Sid wasn’t going to be doing anything any time soon.

The steam was warm, and she could feel her hair frizzing as she walked into it. She kept the Cortosis-weave dagger held tightly in her hand, expecting a Lightsaber to come swinging out of the mist at any moment. She found Kavre lying prone on the ground. His face had taken the brunt of the damage, the skin angry red and blistered.

She shoved the dagger back in its sheath and hauled him towards the speeder, the heels of his boots scr—aping against the ground. He was damn heavy, but the speeder was close enough that she managed to get him inside it with minimal pushing and shoving.

The she drew the dagger once more and went looking for the Jedi. It didn’t take her too long to find him—he hadn’t gotten far. He’d also been scalded by the steam, the burns standing out angry-red against his pale skin. He turned to look at her as he leaned heavily against the wall.

“A Sith.” He managed as he struggled to keep his gaze focused on her. “... Wasn’t expecting that.”

“... Yeah, well. I’m full of surprises.”

Ariadne pulled out her blaster and shot him in the chest. The Jedi’s eyes widened before they rolled back and he fell hard.

The hilt of the Lightsaber slipped from his grasp and rolled to her feet.

---

It was a lonely drive to Doc’s clinic. Kavre was unconscious in the backseat, and SD-550’s chassis was in the trunk. She tried not to think about what would happen to the droid, or even if there was anything left of it to have things happen to.

The walls of Doc’s place were painted a greenish off-white. Combined with the stark white lighting overhead, it made everyone look like a corpse. Two medical droids brought Kavre in on a stretcher and Ariadne trailed in after.

“Ariadne!” Doc appeared with his arms stretched wide. “Another one down for the count, I see! You really need to stop going thro-” He stopped when he saw the look on her face, lowering his limbs when she made no move to return the greeting. He cleared his throat. “Auhuh. Right. What happened to this one?”

Ariadne rubbed her face tiredly. “Accident. Steam pipe burst right next to him.”

Doc nodded and rubbed his hands together. “I see, I see. Whelp, shouldn’t be too hard to fix ‘im up, although...” The Caamasi leaned close and examined Kavre’s scalded Lekku. “We might have to immerse ‘im in a Kolto tank for this.” He gestured for his droids to bring the Sith through the doors past the waiting room. “Let’s get to it!”

Ariadne watched him go before she walked over to one of the uncomfortable waiting-room chairs and sat down on it. She stared listlessly at the wall. She’d be talking with Sid now, if that damn Jedi hadn’t killed him.

Some people wouldn’t care. A droid was a droid, after all. Just get a new one. Ariadne stared down at the Lightsaber hilt, turning it over in her hands.

It wouldn’t be the same. It’d never be.

Ariadne had almost managed to drift into a doze when her bracer beeped. She raised her arm, and Nadhrra stared at her. Her face was pale with fury. “A Sith.”

Ariadne said nothing. It didn’t take long for Nadhira to continue.

“I am impressed, in the way that one is impressed by planetary bombardment, that you even managed to find one on Coruscant. But then you had the nerve to—”

“I DID WHAT I HAD TO!” Something inside Ariadne snapped. “I have always done what I’ve had to. You know that, and you left me to fend for myself anyways. If you weren't such a manipulative, arrogant, vile, stuck up piece of sh—it I wouldn't have to resort to this! Don't bi—tch to me about YOUR consequences, Nadhira!"

Ariadne then realized what exactly had come out of her mouth.

All she could manage was a strained, whispered, “Sh—it”.

“Indeed.” Nadhira hissed, fingers steepling and eyes going very narrow. “Did I not have other plans for you, little Ari, you would be sitting in Lab B for that tirade.” She leaned back in her chair and took a breath.

“As it stands, the handler of that Sith you’ve been so inelegantly blackmailing contacted me. You are very, very lucky she was impressed by your actions because as it stands, you are worth more to me dead than alive. You have been given a recommendation to the Imperial Intelligence Agency by the Sith’s handler. They will not ignore such a request, and neither should you. After what you pulled, your choices are very... Limited.” Her eyes narrowed slightly.

“The Sith assassin- who gave you the assumed name Kavre- will take you to Dromund Kaas, where you’ll be formally trained and then put to work. This is your ticket off Coruscant, I suggest you take it.” Nadhira sneered and cut the transmission.

Ariadne stared at the space where Nadhira’s face had been before she slowly took off her bracer and flung it violently across the room. It didn’t make it to the opposite wall, falling short with a clatter. She stared at it angrily for a moment but didn’t get up.

Well. She’d done it. She’d killed the Jedi sent to kill her and soon she’d be under the Empire’s protection.

It didn’t feel the way she thought it would.

---

It was a few days before Kavre was well enough to leave Doc’s care. He strode out of the medical ward with a droid walking behind him, metallic hands extended in case the Sith were the stumble. Kavre held his chin aloft as he waved the droid away, giving the impression of arrogant strength.

He looked like he was about to fall over any second.

Ariadne pushed herself to her feet and offered a little wave. “Hey, Kavre.” She said, watching him uncertainly. She’d spent the past few days camping out in the waiting room, searching for someone who could fix SD-550 while Doc fixed up the Sith.

Kavre stopped in his tracks and stared at her in surprise. “What are you doing here?” He asked carefully.

Sh—it. She’d really been hoping she wouldn’t have to break the news to him. “Guess you didn’t hear, huh?”

"I don't get very many communications within a kolto tank." He said dryly.

“Your boss and mine talked. She’s giving me a recommendation to Imperial Intel. You’re, uh, supposed to give me a ride to Dromund Kaas since I don’t have a ship of my own.”

"...I see." He said flatly, his lips a thin line. He didn’t look pleased, but then again, Ariadne couldn’t exactly blame him.

“We can go as soon as you’re ready, there’s just something I need to do first.”