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There is no death, there is only Wrath

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Fan Fiction
There is no death, there is only Wrath

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bright_ephemera
06.15.2012 , 09:51 PM | #61
Quote: Originally Posted by iamthehoyden View Post
I have one word...Comic-Con.
...You asked for it. I'm splitting this because I dislike 1000+ word text walls, but the following three parts are one long cautionary tale on why you shouldn't put me on five-hour flights with nothing but a pen and a notebook.

31. In which the Wrath arrives on Ord Mantell (I/III)

Comics-heavy? A bit. One, they’re fun, and two, there are some interesting thematic effects when you transplant American comic books to Imperial culture, and I like thinking about that. I try to include all necessary context.

There once was a media giant
On comics and holos reliant.
Though censors at times
Called some notions crimes,
The publisher pushed on, defiant.


Ord Mantell.

It had bid for a Comic-Con a couple of years before everything went to hell, but the arrangements somehow pulled through. Nalenne snagged tickets because it was the first con in a couple of years that didn’t clash with the rampage schedule.

And so, one fine autumn day on the war-torn planet (which, really, was Nalenne’s favorite kind of planet), she took Jaesa, Quinn, Pierce, Broonmark, and one costume to the nearest spaceport. Vette stayed on the ship and mumbled mockery under her breath. 2V, for once, stayed behind to do ship maintenance.

Nalenne had opted to dress as Salla, a Sith who regularly sided with the Unbowed against their eternal enemies the X-folk. There were relatively few roles that a Sith Pureblood could convincingly pull off, so…Salla it was.

And of course every time she brought this up, Jaesa had to start arguing.

“Within a couple decades of their creation,” explained Nalenne as they walked (it was a fine day; speeders scarcely seemed necessary, especially since the parking would be a pain), “the X-folk went from a fun novelty to a power fantasy for the weak and disenfranchised of society. That’s the whole reason the censors hate it so much. If you’re a lowly alien with incredible, Force-rivalling powers…I mean, of course you’re going to use it to get revenge and to claw your way up the ladder to take your rightful place of power in society. That’s the Imperial way. The Unbowed in the series do it right. The X-folk? Seriously, being nice, trying to earn popular support with senseless, sacrificial work and weak diplomacy? There’s a reason the Unbowed crush them every time.”

“But the X-folk seek a more sustainable solution. A stronger galaxy for everyone through a combination of service and simply of live and let live.”

“Weak.”

“The X-folk would come out ahead in the long run if it weren’t for the prejudices of the writers.”

“The X-folk are terrible, and the only reason they work as villains is that they’re transparent stand-ins for Republic ideals.”

The con was situated in a huge volcano complex, which struck Nalenne as pleasingly exciting. When they reached the door, Nalenne presented tickets for her party.

The guy at the table checked them and swallowed hard. “Yes, er, my lord, we actually have a special attaché assigned to assist you this weekend.”

“Really? I like lackeys.”

He let out a breath. “Good, good.”

A short blond in a stupid-looking jumpsuit can trotting out of nowhere. He bowed in reasonable Imperial fashion, but when he spoke his accent was thoroughly Republic. “My lord. I’m Turin. I’m to see to any requirements you have while you’re here.”

“And try to keep me from any killing sprees.”

“If I can, my lord.” He had a winsome, self-deprecating smile. “Please, come with me.”

Nalenne admired the durasteel-reinforced archway they passed through. “This would make a killer resistance base,” she said.

“It did,” said Turin, “until Havoc Squad cleared out the separatists.”

“Ugh, really? Separatists had the right idea. I should go foment some rebellion after – ooh, check out the program, they got three of the original holovid Annihilators for signings!”

The day went pretty smoothly for the most part. Pierce and Broonmark were assigned to carry stuff, while Nalenne and Jaesa concentrated on acquiring stuff. There was one good panel previewing some of the upcoming Annihilators holovids, and another with an incredible load of Republic propaganda on creating morally interesting characters. Jaesa was captivated. Nalenne was half inclined to liven it up with a Force choking demonstration.

It was that evening, on the way toward dinner, when Nalenne overheard somebody in the crowd. “So then I said to him,” said some spindly Rattataki boy, “Blizzard could reverse engineer Duranium Man’s suit just looking at it and make a competitor in a week flat. He’s a Jawa, for stars’ sake; he could make Duranium Man plus ice beam with his eyes closed if he weren’t plot incompetent.”

Nalenne had heard the argument before. And it was a stupid argument. “Blizzard isn’t plot incompetent, he’s intrinsically incompetent,” she informed the stranger. “Have you actually met a Jawa? They’ll steal three pieces of real tech, select a few points to solder together at random, then take credit for any part of it that’s still working.”

“Spoken like a kneejerk Duranium Man apologist,” sniffed the Rattataki. His friends were backing away ever so slightly, but he didn’t seem to notice. “The fact is, every villain he gets is dumbed down so he can deliver one-liners without getting any attention-grabbing competition. It’s maddening.”

Nalenne’s palms itched. It had been a terribly peaceful day so far. “Maddening is people who have such a miserable inferiority complex they get desperate to tear down a fictional character.”

“Says the chick who’s getting wet over said fictional – “

Nalenne already had her saber out. The surprising part was where, in the time it took her to flourish and downswing, some stranger dressed in what appeared to be a masculine version of lame X-folk ally Doctor MacTaggan’s outfit whipped out a blue lightsaber and blocked her strike.

“I’m afraid I can’t let you hurt him,” said the newcomer in a voice like sinking into a warm bed.

Nalenne backed off, but kept her saber at the ready.

The newcomer relaxed. “I’m Rho,” he said. “It’s an honor to finally meet you.” He smiled gently. That face was handsome, for a green tattooed alien.

Nalenne blinked. “You are…who?”
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bright_ephemera
06.15.2012 , 09:55 PM | #62
32. In which Nalenne mixes it up with a Knight (II/III)

A Knight and his colorful crew
Saved the galaxy. We know it’s true.
Humility may
Be his watchword, but hey -
Let’s give him the credit he’s due.


This entry contains spoilers for a Jedi Knight companion's former job title.


The floor was rapidly clearing around Nalenne and the strange Mirialan Jedi. Both had their sabers out, but it hadn’t come to battle yet.

Nalenne’s local guide Turin cleared his throat. “That’s the Hero of Tython, my lord. He’s a bit of a Republic celebrity. Saved the galaxy and stuff.”

“Why in the Emperor’s name is there a Jedi Knight at Comic-Con?”

Rho tilted his head. “The guy who played Byssin in that 2 BTC version of X-Folk is signing. The laser-eye guy? Best X-folk ever. Why is the Emperor’s Wrath here?”

“Tay Vordage signing. Artist, you know? He did Dark Son?”

“Oh, yeah. Not my favorite visual style, but…can we put away the lightsabers now?”

“I think not.” She started scanning the room, checking for the people who looked combat-capable…and the ones who were leaning in to watch rather than backing away. “This is just too good a kill chance to miss.”

“I’ve got five,” warned Rho. He, too, was looking around the room. “Near as I can tell you’ve got…one very interesting entity…plus two and a half.”

“Half? Jaesa’s tougher than she looks.”

“I was referring to the ox.”

“Don’t you start on Pierce!” Nalenne charged.

Her support scattered to cover his. Just as well; Nalenne was looking forward to a duel with a worthy opponent.

After her first successful hit, some bright-eyed dandy ran up with a kolto probe ready to deploy. “You stay clear,” she barked, and Force pushed him clear to the bottom of the stage a dozen meters away.

*

Ghost-Quinn walked at an unhurried pace to stand over Doc. Doc, for his part, scrambled up and took a step toward Nalenne’s fight. “I would listen to her, if I were you,” said Quinn quietly.

Doc straightened his jacket, shot Quinn a disdainful look, then did a double take. “Wow. If it isn’t the Bastard of Sobrik.”

Quinn inclined his head. “Doctor ‘I’m too fabulous to have a real name,’ I presume.”

Doc grinned. “All that time on Balmorra, but I never thought I would get to meet you.”

“No, I believe you only made that effort for the female residents of Sobrik. You were personally responsible for some eighty-three security violations related to our female staff in a six-month period.”

“Violations couldn’t be helped, I only sleep with the bad guys if they help me bypass bad-guy security. It’s a rule.” Quinn sniffed. Doc smiled even wider. “I guess it worked, ‘cause those resistance fighters are still on Balmorra, and you’re, ah, not. Funny story, though, about how I know about you? We had a little cafeteria in one of our Gorinth Canyon bases. Not as swank as Sobrik HQ, but it was home. Had a man-size dartboard on one wall, we had kind of a weekly rotation for pictures of most-hated Imperial officers. You just kept coming up.”

*

Jaesa reached the edge of the crowd and tapped a redheaded Jedi on the arm. “Wow. Wow, I just have to say, I love your Tempest outfit.”

The redhead turned to face Jaesa. “Hi! Thanks! I can’t really talk right now….”

“Oh, them? Don’t worry about it, I think the duel is good exercise both ways.”

“You know that girl?”

“Yeah, she’s my master. “

Kira gave Nalenne a skeptical look. “She seems very…Sith.”

“It’s a long story. So that green one’s yours?”

“My very own Jedi Master, yeah. I should probably help him.”

“Well, I’m hers, so we kind of cancel each other out. Yours is cute.”

“He won’t hear a word of it. Believe me, I’ve tried. By the way, is your dress nanosilk? It’s got exactly the sheen I wanted for this costume.”

*

“Salla,” yelled some clueless member of the exhibition hall’s crowd, referring to Nalenne’s Unbowed costume. “Wooo!”

MacTaggan,” countered somebody who recognized Rho’s X-folk costume. “Yeah!”

“Nice, an audience. Pity we can’t give ‘em main character fights,” said Nalenne, “you know? Everybody sees Jedi vs. Sith in real life. I would love to see the mutants, Byssin vs. Dark Tempest or something on the floor.”

“You do what you can,” said Rho.

*

In the shadows to one side of the stage, a tall pale figure crossed swords with a tall dark figure.

*

Pierce eyed a Chagrian soldier for a few seconds, then walked up close. “So I’m not supposed to blow things up today,” said Pierce. “And I hear you lot don’t like collateral damage. Hand to hand?”

The Chagrian looked up at him with zero sign of fear. “You got it.”

Pierce slung his blaster rifle behind his back. The Chagrian did the same with his assault cannon, to nearly-unbalancing effect. They got to work.

*

“What’s Kira doing?” grunted Rho.

Nalenne looked over to where Kira was chattering with Jaesa. “Aw. Padawan-on-apprentice talk.”

“Your apprentice looks kind of…wholesome.”

“Yeah, and your padawan looks like she still has some personality left. Guess we’re both bad teachers.”

*

“So that lady is the one who was kind enough to take you off our hands.” Doc nodded, faux-thoughtfully. “She’s got kind of a wild beauty to her. Unconventional. Raw. I like it.”

“She could kill you with a thought.”

“Is that a defensive note I hear? All this yelling at me for the crime of love, but I’m sensing a certain something.” Doc shook his head. “So that’s why you left. It figures. All that trouble, and it turns out the only thing we had to do to get Balmorra back was get you laid.”

*

Pierce had Rusk pretty much in a choke hold when he felt a sting behind his knee. Rusk coughed a small laugh while Pierce peered at the little astromech droid below. “That was a sedative,” said Rusk, “dosed precisely for a guy your size. I give you one minute.”

Pierce snarled, kicked the astromech droid aside, and tried to reestablish his grip on the Chagrian.

*

A whisper, a hiss, a vibrosword and a red saber in the darkness.

*

“Are you tired yet, Sith?”

“I’m just getting warmed up. You?”

“I’m thinking my friends still outnumber yours. Please, consider surrendering. You’ll be given fair treatment.”

“But the fight’s so much more fun.”

“Don’t you get tired of that? I have the last Emperor’s Wrath working for me, you know. There’s always opportunity on my side for something a little more satisfying than….”

“Hyah!” yelled Nalenne, and renewed her attack.

*

Pierce felt a sting in his calf. Rusk panted. “That was a sedative dosed for a dewback. I give you one minute.”

“Still got time, then, don’t I.” Pierce kicked T7, again. Then he grabbed at Rusk, swung, impacted. Watched and waited a moment. Frowned. “I just broke another rib of yours. Does that bother you even slightly?”

“The mission’s not done yet. So the hurt doesn’t matter.”

Pierce grinned. “If half you ‘Pubs were half as crazy as you, I might not fall asleep cruising through Imperial victories.”

*

“I love him, but he’s a little…uptight, you know? Like, too perfect a Jedi.”

“I wouldn’t mind a perfect Jedi.”

“I would offer to trade, but your boss leans a bit too far in the other direction.”

Jaesa did a little combination nod-shrug. “She looks after her own, though.”

“So does Rho. I’ll give him that.”

*

“I made three requests to make the Balmorran garrison single-sex purely because of you.”

“Yeah. I read those like fan mail. Slicing your systems, by the way? Very satisfying hobby.”

“I can’t wait to wipe that smirk off your face.”

“Why wait, big guy? Here, on behalf of your many Balmorran fans….” Doc wound up and threw a solid punch at…and through…Quinn’s face.

He withdrew, shook his hand, looked at it, looked at ghost-Quinn. “Now that’s kinda disturbing.”

*

Something stung behind Pierce’s knee.

“Quit it,” barked Pierce.

“That was a sedative dosed for a terentatek.” Rusk’s expression was developing a degree of horror. “I no longer have any idea how long you have.”

Pierce rolled his eyes. “Oh, screw the gun policy.” He deftly swung the blaster rifle off his back, spun toward T7, and fired a heavy round straight into its body.

Rusk was bringing his cannon to the ready, but at the very same moment, both Pierce and Rusk collapsed.

Vette took her aim off Rusk and struggled to balance her blasters with the bag she had slung over one arm. “Nalenne,” she yelled, “you left this on the table back on the ship. I don’t want to know its nerd significance but I thought – “

“Later, Vette.”

*

A high-pitched voice somehow separated itself from both the combat sound and the considerable babble of the audience. “But Mom, Duranium Man’s doin’ pictures!” A small child in a crimson metallic outfit came toddling toward Nalenne and Rho. “Just through there, we gotta go or we’ll miss it!”

Rho took a step forward with the obvious intent of restraining Nalenne. Nalenne raised a hand. “Hold. The kid goes through, then we talk.”
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bright_ephemera
06.15.2012 , 09:57 PM | #63
33. In which Nalenne leaves Comic-Con Ord Mantell (III/III)

A Sith on a VIP tour
May find that she’s watched more and more
The meaner she gets.
It’s safe to place bets
That she’ll wear out her welcome, hardcore.


This entry contains spoilers for a Jedi Knight companion's former job title.


Rho faced Nalenne while the little costumed kid and his mother darted between them. Doc came up on Rho’s left while they waited. A tall, handsome-looking Sith in dark armor came up on the knight’s right. Wow, where did a Knight like you find a hottie like that? Broonmark and Pierce were nowhere to be seen.

“I think it’s time for you to give up,” said Rho.

Nalenne remembered her surroundings. “Hello? Audience. X-folk? Unbowed? We can’t just leave that hanging.”

He scanned the packed room. “Did you have an idea in mind?”

“Can we bring in a common enemy so X-folk and Unbowed can unite and beat him and all walk away happy?”

“I guess? I think I saw a big Cosmoctus mockup backstage earlier.”

“Vette! Help the droid guy get Cosmoctus in here. No time to explain.”

“T7, help the young lady.” Rho looked from Vette back to Nalenne, then closed to resume saber combat. “You keep slaves? That’s disgusting.”

“What, Vette? She isn’t – I mean, she has a collar, and has to obey my every command, and she depends on me for her livelihood and I legally own her, but I wouldn’t call her my slave. Not as such, no.” For a moment the only sound was the swing and clash of sabers. “That sounded better in my head,” admitted Nalenne.

The ripple of excitement in the crowd was Nalenne’s first clue that the big blobby Cosmoctus figure was being rolled onto the floor behind them. She and Rho nodded and turned to the big figure. T7 had figured out some animatronics, wavy bits and lights flashing around the great planet-eating maw.

Attack.

Her mind raced. Rho was right, of course. With Broonmark and Pierce down, Nalenne didn’t stand a chance against what appeared to be an extremely prominent knight plus a Sith friend and whatever droid had managed to down Pierce. Damn it all. Time to find an escape route.

The prop went down fast, of course. Nalenne extricated herself from the wreckage to enormous applause. She stood beside the Jedi Knight and acknowledged it graciously.

Their crews gathered around them. Rusk and Broonmark were barely walking. Pierce was still crumpled off to one side. Doc started patching Rusk up while Vette and T7 attempted to deflect admirers. Jaesa and Kira were still chattering like best friends. Quinn settled at Nalenne’s side, while the tall Sith stood next to Rho.

Nalenne couldn’t take her eyes off the Sith. “Who are you?” she asked.

Rho grinned. “I mentioned. This is Lord Scourge, who was once the Emperor’s Wrath. He has found a better way. So can you.”

“I think not. Nice fight, bye.”

“Actually, Lord Nalenne, I’m going to have to arrest you now.”

Nalenne tilted her head and tried to decide whether Rho was serious. “I didn’t even kill anybody! Today. Yet.”

“It’s more on principle,” he said.

Scourge stepped forward. “No,” he said, in a voice rich with time and thought and something alluringly smooth. “One like this is best left on the loose. I think she does more harm than good to her own cause…and that buys us time for our purposes.”

Nalenne decided to give in and obviously check him out. “I knew I liked the look of you.”

Scourge frowned. “On second thought, arrest her.”

Before anyone could move, her little aide Turin trotted up. “My lord! My lord! Master Jedi! I – I have to – I have to ask you to, uh, stop.”

“I was done fighting,” said Rho.

“He was about to lay hands on me,” said Nalenne.

Only a Republic stooge would accept the victim card from a Sith Lord. “I c-can’t allow that. I’m going to have to ask you b-both to-to-to l-leave.” He looked about ready to drop dead from fear.

Nalenne shrugged at Rho. “Whaddya know. I don’t think we should bother these people any further.” Then she faced Turin. “Oh, but Jaesa stays. She’s getting her picture with Professor X if I have to kill every staff member here.”

“Is that a priority?” said Rho incredulously.

“Even Sith can care, frog-boy. I’m not going to ruin the con for her, okay? She can stay. Don’t hurt her. Or recruit her. – Jaesa, you won’t go with these guys, will you? You do a lot of good where you are, moderating me. Also I’ll come back tomorrow and kill everyone here if you go with him.”

“Understood, master.”

*

With some difficulty, Nalenne and a wounded Broonmark got Pierce moving. Vette ran ahead to bring the ship to the volcano for pickup. Nalenne stowed the merchandise she had managed to bring with her, then flopped into bed and thought about the soft-voiced Mirialan with the worrisomely good combat skills.

“He’s going to be a problem.”
the Short Fic Weekly Challenge - 70+ authors to date. 1900+ stories. New prompts weekly!
Bright's Fanfic Threads
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Ashlian
06.16.2012 , 06:23 AM | #64
Well done! It was like a stellar (haha) episode of South Park.....one of their celebrity wrestling matches, maybe....

Team Empire comes out about even with Team Republic in the one liner department.....I'm going to say Doc had the edge on Quinn, some of those comments are priceless. And Pierce taking out Rusk with his superior ability to metabolize sedatives...by the third sedation attempt, I was spitting my coffee out. Kira and Jaesa discussing their masters and Nalenne crushing on Scourge... I honestly can't pick a favorite part. Your socio-political comic commentary is spot on, and I love how you showcase the reasons a genius like Malavai would have ever fallen for Nalenne to begin with through it. I just loved the entire three parter, it was truly a showcase of your talent for characterization!

I can't say I'm sorry you were trapped on a plane with a pen and a pad of paper. May more such writing opportunities lie in your (and therefore, our) future

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iamthehoyden
06.16.2012 , 09:31 AM | #65
/claps

The SW vs JK team meeting...so good! Pierce vs Rusk was hilarious; I had tears by the time they both went down. And Quinn and Doctor "I'm too fabulous to have a real name", omg. Very well done!!
aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?
---------------
Fan Fiction: My Name is Solomon Crae The Man in the Box

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bright_ephemera
06.16.2012 , 03:21 PM | #66
A change of pace as some parties on the Helicarrier actually try to get something done...

34. In which Vette and Pierce take Nalenne to Korriban (I/IV)

A planet built mostly with tombs
Seems a dismal locale to presume
That a student can thrive
‘midst more dead than alive…
It just has a bit too much gloom.



“Hey, Nalenne.”

“Vette?”

“I got you a surprise. Figured you might like it.”

“What’s that?” Vette’s surprises were usually expensive but always amusing.

The Twi’lek beckoned Nalenne over and onto the bridge, where Pierce sat at the helm, staring down at a hazy red world. “One free trip to Korriban, and an appointment with some Sorceress there.”

“Um…what do I do with that?”

“What you promised to do weeks ago. Figure out how to unload the captain.”

“Vette,” said Ghost-Quinn irritably from his usual station.

Uh… “Vette, that’s….”

“What needs doing? I know, no need to thank me.”

“I appreciate the thought, but….”

Pierce spoke without turning around. “Milord, if that man stays on board much longer I just might snap.”

“But we’ve been working great. Straight victories for the last few weeks. I didn’t think there was a problem.”

“I’m gonna have to side with Pierce on this one, my lord. Quinn tried to kill you once, and now he’s just creepy. And you promised.”

“Shuttle’s in an hour,” said Pierce.

“I don’t need you guys dragging me through this.”

Vette crossed her arms. “Then why is he still here?”

“I’m standing right here listening, you know,” said Quinn.

“That’s the problem,” said Pierce, finally getting up and turning around. He looked Nalenne in the eye. “Past time we fixed this.”

“I can’t believe this,” said Nalenne. “You’re staging an intervention for a relationship I’m not even in?”

“No,” said Vette patiently, “we’re staging an intervention for the past-due eviction notice on the guy who botched your assassination. The fact that you’re not in a relationship with him is just a bonus.”

“It’s not like he could do it again.”

“Not the point, Nalenne. You’ll thank me later.”

“I’ll thank you later,” Pierce told Nalenne.

“There’ll be thankfulness all around,” concluded Vette.

“So who am I supposed to consult for this thing I didn’t agree to?”

Vette looked to Pierce, who checked the nav console. “Overseer Ragate. You know her?”

“Oh, ugh. Crazy woman. Put me through this stupid blood divination ritual. My clothes stank for a week.”

“Was it a useful blood divination ritual?” asked Pierce.

“Told me I would need Vette to succeed.”

Vette beamed. “See? This woman obviously knows what she’s talking about.”

Quinn had a sudden coughing fit.

“It was one sentence,” said Nalenne. “She didn’t even mention you by name.”

“It’s better than nothing, milord,” said Pierce.

“You feel awfully strongly about this.”

“You feel suspiciously weak.” Pierce looked from Nalenne to Quinn and back. “Don’t go in for the touchy-feely stuff myself, so I’ll only say this once. I know what the captain meant to you, even if I’ll never understand why. I know half of you thinks there’s a second chance and the other half knows the truth and you’re keeping your eyes shut hoping not to face it. Won’t work, by the way, and the attempt doesn’t suit you. You need this push. We’re happy to give it. There, deep thought done. Sooner we solve this, sooner we get back to a good scrap, eh?”

“Wow, I’m impressed,” said Vette.

“I’m a talented guy,” said Pierce.

Nalenne looked over to Quinn. He was watching her with a perfectly neutral expression. Oh, thanks for the help. She frowned at Vette. “I don’t have to do any of this.”

“My lord? I am willing to set foot on Korriban again, land of the slaves and home of some of the least pleasant months of my life, if it gives us even the beginnings of a hope that something can be done here. That should tell you how seriously we take this.”

“I’m not going to parrot some blunt ‘How do I kill him’ as stated by suddenly-bossy you,” warned Nalenne.

“Just as long as you go, I don’t care what you ask,” said Vette.

Pierce raised a hand. “Uh. I care.”

“Not helping,” said Vette.

“You’re going, milord. Right?”

“Quinn’s a jerk and tried to kill you. Hold that thought,” added Vette.

“I guess.” Nalenne rolled her shoulders nervously. “Just Quinn and me. Okay? But I’m not doing another blood ritual. Those are gross.”
the Short Fic Weekly Challenge - 70+ authors to date. 1900+ stories. New prompts weekly!
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kabeone
06.16.2012 , 05:36 PM | #67
I have to say I love this entire series. But now I have no idea what I actually want to see happen. I'll just keep hitting refresh until you finish it.

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bright_ephemera
06.17.2012 , 04:48 AM | #68
35. In which a question is asked and answered for Quinn and Nalenne (II/IV)

The teachers at Korriban High
Are insane. But you’d better comply.
They’ll assign lots of stuff
On the “eek” side of rough,
But your options are “do it” or “die.”



The divination involved another blood ritual.

Overseer Ragate was a short slight woman, old beyond what most humans would ever live to see. Her robes were rich and crisp, seemingly sturdier than she herself was. She greeted Nalenne with an oddly disdainful laugh and a surprised tone. “Emperor’s Wrath, is it? How far you’ve come, child.”

“Still dragging acolytes through the red red mud here?”

“Ancient ritual. It’s respectable work.”

“If it makes you happy, I guess. So, I have a question.”

Ragate’s rheumy eyes fixed on ghost-Quinn, who was standing just behind Nalenne’s shoulder. “I know.”

“Right. Yes. Um, do you know what he is?”

“A blight in the Force. A thing that should not be.” Ragate looked back to Nalenne, her gaze suddenly sharp and bright as bare steel. “Your boyfriend, wasn’t he? It was the scandal of the week before the war started back up.”

“Yeah, I try not to talk about the boyfriend part. So….” She looked at Quinn. He raised his eyebrows a tiny bit and watched her expectantly. And once again, I say, thanks for the help. She turned back to Ragate. “I’d like to wipe him out of existence. Any advice?”

“You know the price of knowledge.”

“Do I have to? Can’t I pull rank or something to skip the bloodbath?”

“The skull, the symbol of death. The blood, the fluid of life. What better tools to divine what to do with a dead man?”

“I was hoping a polite question would do the trick.”

Ragate laughed an eerie shrill laugh, then jerked her head toward the high stone arch she was always guarding. “Get in there, kid.”

To the altar, which always had a full stock of human skulls; to the blood pool, which always had an intact wall nearby through which some weird monster that couldn’t resist the smell of skull-plus-blood was always ready to crash. The fight didn’t seem quite as difficult this time around.

When Nalenne emerged from the ritual room, a bloody skull in either hand, Ragate stared. “Give the skulls to me, child,” she rasped with a newfound intensity. The old woman accepted them and cradled them in her arms, watching as the stubbornly non-clotting blood trickled down through the furrows and fused joints of the bone.

Nalenne fiddled with her blood-spattered sleeves and wondered when she would be free to pick up the change of clothes she had left in an office around the corner.

Ragate chuckled malevolently and looked up to fix Nalenne with eyes turned suddenly red. “Ah, you will not be free of your human until you pay him what he is owed.”

“See, Quinn, you just have to pay me - what did you say?”

“Pay him what you promised, and he pays you, for your own vows were heard and your debts made binding. Only when they are fulfilled can he be killed.”

“My lord,” said Quinn diffidently, “this still ends my violent death. Are you certain there is no peaceful release option?”

The old woman cocked her head. “Are you a complete imbecile? We’re all Sith here.”

“Don’t mind him,” said Nalenne. “He’s been under stress.”

“I would suggest a smarter mate next time around,” sniffed Ragate. “I suppose at least this one is easy on the eyes.”

Nalenne giggled for about two seconds before she noticed something. “Wait, you’re giving a suggestion? I thought all counsel had to be paid in blood.”

Ragate’s eyes darted from side to side. “That was the last of the arcane energy from your current ritual.” She nodded down at the skulls in her arms. “Now begone before you make me angry.”
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bright_ephemera
06.17.2012 , 06:40 PM | #69
Meta: Notes on the series direction

: All right, everybody. Earnest But Inexpert Academic calls this head-faction meeting to order.

: And then bam, pew! And then she gets taken hostage by an uncontrolled –

: Extremely Flaky Creative Mind, please focus.

: Yes’m.

: We’ve been at this for a couple of weeks now, ever since…what was the precipitating event?

: I think it was the image of losing Vette’s collar remote so she’s kind of enslaved whether a Warrior wants to keep her or not. Then we combined that with that fantasy you haven’t shut up about for the last five months where you kill Quinn during the Incident, and it just spun out of control.

: You know you like it, Cynical Rakghoul Engineer. Now, EBIA, we’ve got a bunch more ideas on this story, right? Right?

: I know you’ll die without approval, Attention-Seeking Jawa, so you’re in luck. There’s plenty more; in fact, there's enough that I think we should start planning the shape of this story. Basically there are two paths this series can take: One, we go on forever. No one meaningfully changes, the crew keeps bumbling from silly occurrence to silly occurrence, and Quinn’s forever aloneness is a perpetual punchline that will never interfere with Nalenne’s love life or emotional wellbeing.

: All in favor, say aye. I live to see that man suffer.

: …

Aye aye, EFCM. Malavai Quinn deserves to suffer, because he is an objectively terrible human being.

: I can’t support that policy at all! I’m still kind of in love with him.

: We know.

: Even if we all voted to torment Quinn forever, the indefinite-continuation scenario will inevitably weaken, slow down, and probably start to feel like a writing burden. It’ll be difficult to impossible to maintain whatever quality level or tone we were shooting for. Not great. Our second option: We continue the overarching plot and actually bring it to a close someday. We wrote a beginning; now we write a middle and eventually write a real ending.

: Does that mean I have to end up giving Quinn nice things? That’s disgusting. Like really indulgent fanfic.

: We’re writing really indulgent fanfic already.

: …Touché. Well, EBIA, you scholarly types all know that "dying painfully, again" is a legitimate story ending. So if you want to get all structured on me I’ll keep working in the general direction of an overall vision. But I don’t have to make it something ASJ and you will like.

(Did you know there’s a 20-image limit on these posts? Bah!)

(Also, I finally actually rolled Nalenne as an in-game character. She exists!)

(Now with any luck, EFCM will get back to producing the fluffy day-to-day stories to fill in between plot points.)
the Short Fic Weekly Challenge - 70+ authors to date. 1900+ stories. New prompts weekly!
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bright_ephemera
06.17.2012 , 06:42 PM | #70
36. In which Nalenne examines her vows (III/IV)

In the Empire, fine print’s no myth;
Read it well and your safety comes with.
Okay, that’s a lie.
Though on guard, you’ll still die
At the casual whim of a Sith.



Nalenne settled on the reading nook couch and looked up at ghost-Quinn. “Let’s suppose that the outstanding debt is something we both did at once.”

“That would narrow the search,” agreed Quinn.

“I know you swore undying devotion…in retrospect, maybe that was unwise…you swore it a few times, but I only ever returned it when we got married.”

“True.”

“Does anybody have a copy of those vows on file?”

“It was only slightly modified from Imperial standard 621.b.”

“Yes, but every detail’s going to matter.”

“It wasn’t my idea to change it at all. Furthermore, didn’t you save a copy?” said Quinn.

“Er, no, I don’t think so.”

“Then it’s a good thing I did. In the ship databanks.”

“One of your personal vaults?”

“Yes, one of the more heavily encrypted ones. I haven’t referred to it in some time.”

“Oh, I paid a slicer to open every last one after you died.”

“I see.”

“And reviewed the contents. And then wiped everything that wasn’t directly related to Baras.”

His eyes widened. “You deleted it all?”

“Yup, and double-overwrote where it had been. It felt good.”

“You erased our wedding vows?”

“I wasn’t exactly planning on using them again,” said Nalenne defensively.

“This might be the key to my ghostly state and you wiped it out of spite!”

“Bitter heartbroken rage. Subtle difference.”

“Did we leave a copy with the officiant, the Imperial envoy on Voss?”

“Doubtful, but we could ask.”

“If anything would cause inexplicable noncorporeal disturbances, it would be Voss. It was a vile place.”

“Don’t be so harsh,” said Nalenne. “We got married there, after all.”

“Yes, but the food was terrible.”

“Voss. We’re going.”

*

“Voss?” said Vette. “All right! They had the weirdest liquor I have ever tasted, and I’ve never been able to find it anywhere else.”

“That place was alive with the Force,” Jaesa smiled.

“Bggglok,” growled Broonmark, whatever that meant.

“Are we still banned from shooting the ‘Pubs there?” said Pierce warily.

“I think so,” said Nalenne. “But Gormak are still open season, unless they seriously decided to try to reunite the race.”

“Here’s hoping they didn’t,” grumbled Pierce.

“But it would be a great thing if they did,” said Jaesa.

“Killing is a great thing,” buzzed Broonmark.

“Do what you like,” said Nalenne, “I’ve got my own business to handle. Just don’t tell me if you do anything illegal, okay? And don’t get caught.”

“Sith clan kills witnesses,” quorked Broonmark cheerfully.

“What he said…I think,” said Pierce.

“I can guess: Kill killy kill kill,” said Vette.

“Hey, that’s not necessarily what he said,” said Nalenne. “Give the Talz some credit.”

Vette gave Nalenne a Look.

“Okay, it’s what he said.”

“Thought so. Let’s go already. There’s a shot of lonoren out there with my name on it.”
the Short Fic Weekly Challenge - 70+ authors to date. 1900+ stories. New prompts weekly!
Bright's Fanfic Threads
Forever Shenanigans!
Ceterum autem censeo, Malavai esse delendam.