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There is no death, there is only Wrath

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

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bright_ephemera
06.20.2012 , 03:40 PM | #91
47. In which Nalenne and Quinn review the paperwork

A lawyer on rules contentious
May seem pretty loud and pretentious.
But if you’re counting chads,
You’ll find yourself glad
To have someone so conscientious.



“My lord?”

Nalenne looked up from the latest Duranium Man issue to see ghost-Quinn standing before her. “What do you want?”

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Diplomatic Service continue to stonewall us on questions about Voss. The Empire appears to have made no progress in restoring relations. It seems evident that we will not be able to access the planet and our wedding setting, or any associated records, for some time.”

“Ugh. I guess so. You’re good to do the work thing until then, though, right?”

Silence.

“Quinn?”

“I am attempting to say that this is more…that this is…m-more imp-portant…this…”

“Something’s more important than work?”

“Thank you. It’s physically difficult to form those words.”

“Wow. That you’re even thinking it…” Nalenne set her datapad aside. “I don’t need you freaking out on me. Did you have some plan for not-Voss efforts?”

“I thought we might seek insight in the standard 621.b vows, even if we don’t have precise records on how we customized them.”

“Oh. Sure. Dwelling on broken promises with you is precisely my idea of fun.”

“I could return to ‘freaking out’ if you consider that more enjoyable to watch.”

“When you put it that way, it could be pretty funny…okay stop looking at me like that.” She sat up straight, patted the couch beside her, pulled an end table around in front of them, and activated the built-in console.

“Six-two-one-b.” Nalenne brought up the appropriate record. “You think some weird Voss effect interfered with what we were saying?”

“Perhaps. Overseer Ragate placed peculiar emphasis on how our vows were ’heard’ and how that holds me here now.” Quinn sat down beside Nalenne and scanned the console, reading and probably fully processing the contents in a quarter of a second flat. “It was simple. ‘I take you to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward,’”

“No end condition: bad,” said Nalenne.

“’For better or for worse’ – we certainly stuck together through a great deal of both.”

“’For richer, for poorer’ – ha! Poorer. That’s cute.”

“You never failed to earn a comfortable living. ‘In sickness and in health’ – no violations there.”

“You left me behind for close to a week when I was laid up with Rodian flu.”

“Those rebels weren’t going to crush themselves. Besides, you got better. My presence would not have accelerated that.”

“Abandonment. In sickness. Your fault.”

Quinn frowned. “’To love and to cherish,’ which you completely discarded.”

“I cherished the hell out of you!”

“It turned out to be conditional, Nalenne.”

“Conditional on you not trying to kill me? Yes, yes it was. I make no apologies there. I don’t think that counts as breaking the vow.”

“Fine. We’ll continue. ‘To honor and obey,’ for my part.”

Nalenne raised her eyebrows. “Who’s conditional now, smarty-pants?”

“You never ordered me not to kill you. I did obey all your orders.”

“You are a vile rules lawyer and I hate you.”

“Yes, yes. Now, after you promised that love and cherishing part that you were so vehemently asserting thirty seconds ago, you added something sentimental, didn’t you?”

“Yeah. Um, something like ‘where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay,’ which once again failed to have an end condition. But I think we’ve been following it pretty well. ‘Your people will be my people’. That’s on you.”

“How’s that?”

“You went all Baras-people.”

“I was allied with Baras long before you defected to those Servants. You were the one splitting people.”

“Hmph. I guess. Not that it really matters, right? We’re back on the same team. So, ‘My law will be your law.’ You went pretty well Sith code, all things considered.”

“It’s good of you to say so,” said Quinn. “Wait, we missed a part in the standard. ‘From this day forward until death takes us both.’ That’s imprecise, isn’t it? It might have been wiser to say ‘until death takes one of us.’”

“I don’t imagine the guys who wrote it thought they needed to pick that particular nit.”

“It becomes significant when otherworldly powers start dipping into contract law.”

“So that’s our end condition? You think we both have to be dead for your ghostliness to go away?”

“It’s possible.”

“That’s not okay. You think going back to serve divorce papers at the same spot might fix it?”

“That seems improbable, but no more improbable than the rest of this disaster.”

“Great.” Nalenne sighed and buried her face in her hands. “We probably shouldn’t have planned all this in such a hurry.”

“You were distracted at the time. Scrambling to gain the Emperor’s favor while evading Baras’s murder attempts.”

“Right, and you were a little preoccupied with planning out one of said murder attempts. Work, you know? Getting the ceremony done on Voss was just the fastest thing to do.”

“In retrospect I should have focused my efforts differently.”

“This just occurs to you now?”

He ignored her. “It is doubly important that we reach Voss, one way or another. Someone there must understand the nature of whatever was applying our vows so…concretely.”

“Quinn, I depended on you to get the paperwork right. If you had to pick one form to screw up, couldn’t it have been one of our expense reports?”
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06.20.2012 , 03:54 PM | #92
48. In which Nalenne finds a smuggler (I/II)

This and the following entry contain Act 3 and endgame Smuggler spoilers.

A Smuggler’s lifestyle’s coarse,
Each day she fast-talks herself hoarse.
A customs disaster
With contraband blasters
Is pretty much par for the course.



There were elements other than Imperial ones that could be used in Nalenne’s search for a way onto Voss and the wedding records or spiritual answers thereat. And so, after a few days’ sniffing the holonews for proper information, Nalenne made an unannounced approach to an old converted dreadnaught now called Port Nowhere.

She managed hangar access, but the staff only pressurized the hangar so they could send in two dozen gunmen. Nalenne strode off the ship with ghost-Quinn and Jaesa flanking her.

The guards’ leader was a scrawny Rattataki faded well into middle age. “My lord,” he said with a very small bow. “What brings you here?”

“I wanted to talk to your leader. Nic, I believe?”

His pale eyes flicked over her, her companions, her ship. “I do not appear to be in a position to argue. Stand down, ladies, gentlemen. No one has to die today, I trust.”

“Well, if you’re going to take the fun out of it…” But she liked the cultured sound of him, not to mention the quiet confidence. “Lead on.”

He smiled thinly. “Please, come with me.”

*

“What is that?” said a dark-skinned dark-haired woman, warily watching Nalenne’s approach from where she reclined on her couch. Next to her was a low sabacc table, and across the way was a pretty brunette.

The Rattataki bowed. “The Sith asked to speak with you. I thought it inadvisable to put our people in her way.”

“Try calling first next time, ‘kay, Ivory? The dark-skinned woman swung her knee-high boots off the couch and stood, tugging to straighten the sleeves of her plain brown jacket. “I don’t appreciate being stormed in on.”

“I’m not here for your appreciation,” Nalenne told her.

Something moved behind them. Quinn turned first, but Nalenne was right after him: a scruffy-looking Mon Calamari stood in the doorway, brandishing a lightsaber hilt the wrong way up.

“You’ll want to keep things polite here,” squelched the Mon Calamari. “I’m a Jedi.”

Nalenne looked him over. He was all leather jacket and awkwardness. “A Jedi, huh? And I’m the treasurer of the Coruscant Senate,” she said.

“Really? Wow! I didn’t know they hired Sith!”

The dark-skinned woman spoke. “Guss, it’s okay. But you, Sith…do I get an introduction? I’m Captain Nic.” She strode right up to offer Nalenne her hand.

Nalenne looked at it. “I am Darth Nalenne, the Emperor’s Wrath.”

“Kick*** title! I like it.” There was a significant element of ‘must keep talking and conduct damage control’ running in that voice. “Is the Emperor, uh, wrathful at anything around here lately? ‘Cause I’ve been on good behavior. Promise.”

“I just need to get some people from point A to point B. It’s a difficult point B, but I heard that if anybody could do it, it would be you.”

“Name it and I’ll thread a starship in there before you can say ‘That doesn’t seem physically possible.’”

Before Nalenne could open her mouth, somebody else came running in. Nalenne turned, again, to see a well-built youth in some strange nonuniform kind of soldier-esque armor. He had a blaster rifle out.

Nalenne waved and it flew from his hands, across the room, to break against the opposite wall. “Captain, is there a way you could get your friends to all stop freaking out at once?”

“My lord?” said Captain Quinn, looking confused.

“Relax, Corso,” said Captain Nic. “The Emperor’s Wrath here was just telling me about a job, which is going to be very profitable and is not going to involve you getting yourself killed by running off half-cocked at Sith Lords.”

The youth looked at Nalenne with the most criminally adorable brown eyes she had ever seen, overlaid with a heavy helping of mistrust. “Then I guess we’d better hear the job,” he said.

“Voss.”

The smuggler’s face fell. “Ah. Well, now, see, that’s a bit of a problem. I…don’t do Voss.”

“’Don’t do’? Are you telling me there exists a planet that has nothing of economic interest to you or your empire?”

Nic exchanged uneasy looks with Corso. “There was some legal action, and things, and it just got really really awkward. I’m not welcome back there.”

“And your people?”

“I don’t think anyone else I’ve ever met could fly you in safely.”

“Even I wouldn’t want to try that run now,” said the brunette at the sabacc table.

“Because Voss is closed off and firing on everyone.” Nalenne crossed her arms. “Would that have anything to do with the aforementioned legal action you’re so obviously terrified of?”

“What? No! That’s ridiculous! Ha ha! Why would my misdemeanors, not that I’m saying there are any, have any bearing on Voss deciding it’s going to kill all outsiders who get close?”

“Nic?” said Corso. “Is there something else we need to talk about?”

* Note:
Spoiler
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06.20.2012 , 07:21 PM | #93
49. In which Nalenne argues the job with a smuggler (II/II)

This and the preceding entry contain Act 3 and endgame Smuggler spoilers.

I’m really, really sorry for all the N-names in this story. It’s bad mnemonic practice, but apparently it’s one of my brain’s favorite sounds and my in-game characters reflect that. Hence Niselle, Nalenne, Nic…Nalang, who if she ever comes up in this story will have a different name…yeah.

A Mon Calamari named Guss
Was harshly thrown under the bus.
But lucky for him,
A smuggler’s whim
Made him once and for all one of us.



“Nic?” said Corso. “Is there something else we need to talk about?”

“No,” said Nic.

“Nah,” said the Mon Calamari. “There was just the handling Gormak monstrosities and then seducing her honores. Nothing that would ruin foreign relations…uh, foreign the other kind of relations.”

“Guss….” said Nic.

“I knew it,” said Corso. “I knew it! You told me the ‘corrupting an honores’ charge was about him giving security the runaround while you cleared your name of the false accusations! But you did sleep with him!”

“Oops,” said Guss.

“Oh, blast,” said the brunette.

“I am trying to detect a trace of reliability or competence in these people, master,” whispered Jaesa, “but…they are what you see.”

“I can’t believe it,” said Corso.

Nic gestured broadly. “We were apart, remember? Split? You were working out your frustrations on Hoth?”

“When you came back, I thought you were done lying to me!”

“I was! I haven’t lied to you about almost anything since then. Was I supposed to confess the full back catalog of my transgressions, too? Because, honey, we don’t have that kind of spare time.”

“Cool your jets, Nic,” said the brunette.

“Stuff it, Risha,” said Nic.

Nalenne waved. “Captain. I’m not finished here. You can fly me in or I can just kill everyone here. Starting with the boy.”

Nic’s head snapped to face Nalenne and, just like that, her blasters were out and aimed. “No.”

“Fly me to Voss.”

Corso stepped in and cut his hand across the space between them. “You’re not putting the captain in that kind of danger,” he said.

Nalenne snorted. Then she drew, activated, and swung her saber to within an inch of the guy’s nose. “I’m not, am I?”

He didn’t shrink back. “No.” Only the edges of her Force awareness showed her his fear. “You’re not.”

She lowered her saber. “They breed ‘em stupid where you’re from, I see. That’s actually kind of charming.”

Nic holstered her blasters and shook her head. “It’s okay, Corso. It’s okay. Go on down to the storehouse, all right? Get us some fresh fuel rods?”

“Nic…”

She fixed him with those big dark eyes and nodded, slowly. “It’s okay, love. Go on.”

Nalenne watched him go with some satisfaction. “That’s more like it.” Nic walked up to stand beside her. “Your man has nerve,” continued Nalenne. “I admire that.”

The smuggler was smiling stupidly in the direction Corso had disappeared in. “Yeah. He’s…you ever look at a guy and wonder what it is that keeps him with you, after all you’ve put him through?”

“More than you know,” said Nalenne.

“We’re lucky they do stick around.”

“I wouldn’t go that far.”

Nic gave her a funny look, then shook her head and looked to the Mon Calamari. “Guss, I’m gonna need you to go warm up the guns and shields, make sure everything’s in order. Don’t want anything going wrong when you’re operating it under fire.”

Guss opened his mouth and made a vague gagging noise. After a few moments’ struggle he gulped, hard, and flapped out of the room.

“Wait,” said Nalenne, “he’s your gunner?”

“And navigator. Tricky jobs, but I wouldn’t trust anyone else.”

“That guy actually performs a function on your ship during smuggling runs.”

“Yessir, he does.” Nic nodded with a completely unjustified air of confidence.

“And he’ll be…?”

“Copiloting when I make the deadliest run in the known galaxy? You bet.”

Ghost-Quinn somehow sucked in an audible breath. Jaesa shifted and hugged herself.

“I…may go evaluate options elsewhere,” said Nalenne, “before I commit to anything.”

“You sure?” said Nic. “Guss has been off the juice for three days straight, if we hurry he just may hold out long enough to be sober when we lift off.”

“I am suddenly very sure.” Nalenne started edging toward the door. “Nice talking to you, captain.”

The quickly stifled sound she heard behind her as she left could not possibly have been a laugh.
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bright_ephemera
06.21.2012 , 06:05 AM | #94
50. In which Vette speaks her mind to Quinn

Vette: Doesn’t pull punches.

Twi’lek plus captain won’t work,
Their qualities mutually irk.
She cannot abide
His disciplined side…
Or maybe he’s that big a jerk.



“Quinn. I have a serious question for you.”

“I very much doubt that.”

Vette perched on the pilot’s chair and turned sideways to face Quinn at his bridge console. “I’m sure you’ve noticed my very favorite fashion statement, the slave collar.”

“Yes, I always thought it suits you.”

“Cute, Quinny, real cute. So, Nalenne was never one to use it much, but then a couple of months after you come on board the remote disappears entirely.”

He didn’t look up from the scrolling console screen. “So I recall you saying, nonstop, for months.”

“Meaning that she can’t punish me, true, but she also can’t free me. And a wandering collared Twi’lek can’t get far.”

“Is there a point in all this?”

“Just that, if a really malicious person were to weigh keeping me around, knowing I want freedom more than anything and knowing that the remote release is my only hope for it, said person might quietly dispose of the remote.”

“And I ask again, Vette. Is there a point in all this?”

“Did you take the remote?”

“That’s absurd.”

“Destroy it? Lose it? Throw it away? Keep it on file, so after you murdered Nalenne you could have some fun breaking me in service to Baras?”

“If you think I would discard the only tool that could have gotten you out of my life, you profoundly underestimate my feelings for you.” He kept his eyes on the screen. “Now leave. I have work to do.”

“Oh, right, your eternal work! And how’s that going?”

“Very successfully.”

“That’s great. It’s interesting that you’re still completely obsessed with a system that’s already chewed you up and spit you out once. And that the one person who was ever willing to give you more – well, she did give you more. Her whole original reign of terror was one long love letter you never bothered to read. The one person who was ever willing to give you more, you stabbed in the back.”

“Do you actually lie awake at night composing these screeds?”

“I ad lib. You give me so much to work with.”

“You know what the Wrath’s biggest mistake was? Giving you permission to talk.”

“I was just thinking the same thing about you.”

He still frowned at the console. “I don’t see why you’re so eager to defend your owner.”

“I do it because even she is better than you. And, honestly, she’s kind of incompetent as a slave owner. I’ve finagled it so I haven’t actually done any housework in weeks.”

“Noted for my report to the Wrath.”

“You….” Vette ground her teeth for a moment. “Hmph. Report. What, do you put it on official letterhead before you carry it into the other room?” She eyed the scrolling console for a moment. “You’re actually completely happy where you are. Aren’t you. No friends, no hobbies. Nothing can touch you, nobody talks to you – “

“I regret to say that that statement is manifestly false.”

“- you can just sit here crunching numbers all day and all night for organizations that don’t even acknowledge you exist. Like a droid that never needs maintenance. This must be your fondest dream.”

“My fondest dreams never involved carping Twi’leks.”

“Stars. Either she needs to stop caring or you need to die. I’ve been working on the first one for months with no luck, so…something’s gotta give.” She hopped to her feet and stretched. “Anyway, I’m due for a good stiff drink. Then I figure I’ll go outside, enjoy the warm sun, soft breeze, ridiculously oversweetened ice cream. Play around with my friends - because I have those, unlike some people - maybe meet some cute guy for some quick ‘n’ dirty makeouts – “

“Vette, that’s disgusting.”

“Maybe. But I’ll be loving every minute of it.” She rapped her knuckles on Quinn’s console. “Have a nice day, Quinny. Enjoy being alone.”
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06.21.2012 , 10:00 AM | #95
51. In which Broonmark cheers Nalenne up

When facing domestic contention,
A Talz may resort to invention.
While some may conclude
His methods are crude,
He does have the best of intentions.



Broonmark walked up to the reading-nook couch and clicked to get Nalenne’s attention. “Sith clan kill today?”

“Um. Maybe later. I’m feeling kind of tired out.”

“Sith clan has had much tired lately.”

“Yeah. It’s nothing, I’ll be back up to speed after a good night’s sleep.”

Broonmark bubbled thoughtfully for a few seconds. “So Sith clan says.” He walked away. Nalenne kept staring at her Captain Kaas book.

A few moments later Broonmark was back. “Sith clan. We have found mandoviol musician clan will like.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Mandoviol clan plays many things with similar harmonic inspirations to Green Nebula and other bands Sith clan likes. Furthermore mandoviol clan has classical training in Nautolan traditions that underlie many of Sith clan’s favorite songs.”

“Uh…cool. Let’s have a listen.”

Broonmark twisted, plucked a small black-haired human off the floor behind him, and thrust the little man in Nalenne’s direction. “Here.”

“You brought me a musician?”

“Yes.”

“Ee,” whimpered the little human.

“Did you even ask him first?”

“Mandoviol clan does not speak Talz. But they hardly resisted at all.”

“P-please don’t k-k-kill me, my lord,” stammered the human.

“Broonmark…”

“Sith clan has rough days. Many clan fights. Even killing does not comfort, no matter how much we kill. So we find other nice things. Mandoviol clan will play.” Broonmark produced a mandoviol case and shoved it into the trembling man’s hands.

Nalenne felt a little obligated to make up for her friend. “Um, hi. I’m Nalenne, this is Broonmark, and you should play a song.”

“Please d-don’t kill me.”

“Relax. Come on, have a seat on the other couch.” Nalenne tried gently coaxing. Broonmark opted to scoop the man up, carry him over, and dump him on the seat.

“Now play,” blipped Broonmark.

So he did.

The man was pretty good, Nalenne couldn’t deny that. In fact, she just closed her eyes, let her head fall back, and listened for a while. It was nice. It was really nice.

After some time the music stopped, for some reason. “P-please don’t k-kill me,” the musician repeated. She looked over to see that he was rubbing and stretching his fingers, looking half desperate.

“Relax. You’re in the fortunate position of having just put me in a good mood through a very nice concert. I’m almost certainly not going to kill you now.”

“P-please don’t,” he said in a very small voice.

“And just so you know, the kidnapping wasn’t my idea. Broonmark meant well. For me, anyway, I don’t think he cares if you live or die. Hey, do you have any albums out?”

“D-don’t kill me.”

“Is that the entire extent of your vocabulary?”

Broonmark growled in sympathetic annoyance.

“please don’t kill me”

“Fine, don’t answer, then. I like your sound, anyway. Send any albums you do have along once you get home, would you?”

The human gasped and shuddered a little bit. “Y-you’re not going to keep me enslaved?”

“Nah, my current slave is high-maintenance enough. I don’t think I could handle a second.”

“C-c-can I go?”

“Tasty though your terror is, yeah, you probably should. I’ve got places to be pretty soon. People to kill.”

“P-please don’t – “

“Yeah, I know.” She stood up and beckoned Broonmark to come with her. “Come on.”

She sent the musician on his way and let the ship retract the ramp again. As soon as the door was shut, Nalenne turned to Broonmark, jumped up, and hugged him.

“You’re the best.”

Broonmark hugged her back. “Sith clan should feel well enough to enjoy killing.”
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06.21.2012 , 04:26 PM | #96
52. In which Quinn first extends an olive branch

A vessel of starship class A
Has useful transponders, they say.
- Of course, that’s a ruse,
Come aboard and you’ll lose.
But you knew that part anyway.



“My lord.”

“What?” Nalenne, having just finished a Talz lesson with Broonmark, tucked away her translation pad and looked questioningly at Quinn.

“I’ve located something that may be of interest to you and taken the liberty of having it delivered.”

“From you, I can’t even begin to guess what that might be.”

He beckoned her back into the cargo bay. “Czerka recently developed a novel storage and preservation system. You’ll recall that the current standard plastiform packaging doesn’t store well with certain comic book runs.”

“Yeah. There were some different inking and binding compounds Spectacle Comics had to use during the last war because of supply issues. Everyone knows those runs are just going to deteriorate faster, even in plastiform.” She narrowed her eyes. “I just didn’t know you knew that.”

“I do pay attention when you talk.”

“Yeah, but I always thought you only retained the irrelevant parts long enough to come up with angry one-off criticisms.”

“To return to the Czerka packets,” he said stiffly, “they’re supposed to be tremendously stable. Your Captain Kaas collection from those years will do much better sealed within them.”

“I guess so, yeah.”

“With your permission I’ll have 2V repackage them within the week.”

“Ah ah ah, I’ll do that myself. 2V doesn’t touch Captain Kaas. Or Scarlet Nexu, for that matter.”

Quinn grimaced. “I wasn’t going to mention Scarlet Nexu.”

“I know you weren’t. Still…I’ll wrap those up. Thanks for finding this.” Her smile faded. She tilted her head. “And why exactly did you do this?”

“My lord?”

“When you do non-professional nice things, or even just talk like a normal person, there’s always a purpose. So what’s the play, captain? If you don’t say it up front I assume it must be trouble.”

“I have no intention of causing trouble, my lord.”

“I can think of one glaring counterexample to that claim.”

Quinn scowled. “You really enjoy bringing that up, don’t you.”

“Can’t help it. The betrayal was an awfully memorable cap to all the nice things you ever did for me. So, you’re being nice without obvious motivation now, I assume you’re winding up for something equally awful.”

“Would you stop harping on that incident! Is that all you ever think about?”

“Is there something else I’m supposed to think about when I look at you?”

“I don’t see why you’re so bitter. You got the better of the engagement by far.”

“Oh, yeah, give me the resentful look. How is it that you try to kill me and then you’re always the one playing the victim card for it?”

“One of us still has a pulse, Nalenne, and it isn’t me.” Quinn rubbed his temples, then made an impatient slashing motion with his hand. “This isn’t what I came here for. I….” He paused, considered. Visibly clicked into his sharp calculation mode. “I meant to tell you that I have located a cell of anti-Sith rebels several parsecs spinward of Dromund Kaas. I thought we might go destroy them before they get any ideas.”

Nalenne’s irritation vanished. “Oh, yeah, that sounds fun. Rebels are always entertaining.” Her eyes lit up. “Are you going to do your abandon-hope, Empire-will-inevitably-win monologue? I thought your latest version was really good.”

“It did go over well, didn’t it?”

“Excellent stuff, watching the hope in their eyes die. Only you could make me look forward to attempts at surrender and conversation.”

He studied her face. “My lord, I must ask. Do you have any comprehension, whatsoever, of the fact that we were fighting fifteen seconds ago?”

“Well…yeah, sure. But then you brought up something that makes sense for you.” She considered. “You’re a jerk, and I found out the hard way I’ll never connect with you like I do with my family and friends, and I won’t put my life on the line trying. But I will say, your combat tips are always gold. I appreciate the fights you throw my way.”

“And that’s how it’s to be?” he said, very calmly.

“Well…yeah.” A longer pause. “Don’t make this weird.”

Before Quinn could reply, Broonmark shuffled back into the cargo hold, messily chewing the last of some snack. He walked right through Quinn en route to the couch.

Nalenne fixed her eyes on the line where the Talz had passed through the captain. “…er. Don’t make this weird-er.”

Nalenne hurried out one way and Quinn left by another, leaving Broonmark to wonder about the Czerka box lying forgotten on the cargo bay floor.
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06.21.2012 , 04:35 PM | #97
53. In which we see the average day in the life of the Wrath

A villainous schedule’s packed
With evil on wickedness stacked.
The average day
Points a clear, nasty way:
The plan? To leave nothing intact.



6:00 – Sleep. What the hell else would anybody be doing at that hour?

10:00 – Breakfast. Usually cereal with a side of ice cream, and coffee poured into the ice cream. Jaesa still considers this process yucky and unnatural. Jaesa is stupid and wrong.

10:05 – Get pestered by Quinn over the day’s work. Swear at Servant One, Servant Two, and Quinn for being annoying control freaks.

10:11 – Run out of swears for the time being. Agree to go kill stuff.

10:12 – Finish breakfast, which at this point has finished melting, which is Quinn’s fault.

10:30 – Usually in hyperspace by now, en route to the day’s rampage location. Read comic books or shoot the breeze with the crew.

11:00 – Kill everybody in sight. Alternately, capture people alive as per orders while swearing at Servant One, Servant Two, and Quinn for being spoilsports.

12:30 – Lunch break. Talk loudly to Vette and/or Jaesa to drown out the sound of Quinn babbling about the next mission. Consider finding a spiritual muzzle for Quinn.

1:00 – Kill everybody in sight. Terrorize the countryside, if appropriate. Screw capturing people alive; let Quinn suppress swears while killing continues. High-five Broonmark and Pierce, a lot.

4:30 – Run out of things to kill. Talk or bludgeon Broonmark down from his blood frenzy. Figure out where to go for supper.

5:00 – Hot shower. Let 2V-R8 worry about getting the bloodstains out of the day’s outfit.

6:00 – Supper. Accompany the normal people to a good restaurant if there’s one within an easy hyperspace jump; otherwise, rations and ice cream and swearing at Servant One, Servant Two, and Quinn for selecting remote mission locations.

7:00 – Browse the latest holonet news, then pick a comic book or holovid for the evening. Share with Jaesa if it has a character she likes. Share with Vette if it’s one of those alien comedies she enjoys so much. Share with Pierce if it’s one of the Czerka Weapons Division-sponsored comic book issues that are basically thinly veiled product placement and prototype teasers. Share with Broonmark if there are few words and many ultraviolent action scenes. Never share with Quinn.

11:00 – Secretly muck around with the mandoviol for a few minutes. Get annoyed that it doesn’t sound amazing. Go back to comic books or, alternately, a Talz lesson and companionable chat with Broonmark.

12:30 – Get ready for bed.

12:35 – Remember how nice it was to have Quinn physically around.

12:35:05 – Snap out of it.

12:40 – Sleep.
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bright_ephemera
06.21.2012 , 10:08 PM | #98
54. In which we reaffirm heroic opinions

Some subjects have prominent stamps
Which in turn make for polarized camps.
Emotions run high,
For the fans would all die
Before saying they picked the wrong champs.



Jaesa set down her coffee and gave Nalenne a strangely intense look. “Favorite Spectacle hero. Go.”

Duranium Man. No question.”

Pierce snorted.

Nalenne eyed him with her best hauteur. “What was that, Lieutenant?”

“That was the complete absence of surprise, milord. Ninety per cent of the women I’ve met who know what comic books are choose Duranium Man.”

“Nerdiness reaching critical levels,” said Vette. “I’m outta here.”

Pierce shook his head. "For my money, I always preferred the Remarkable Brute."

“Ha! You would,” said Nalenne. “Duranium Man has slightly more finesse."

"Didn't he level half of Kaas City in the last issue you showed me?"

"...yeah, but he used smart missiles."

"I just don't see the appeal. Look at the Brute. An unstoppable killing force with an advanced degree in astrophysics, and he becomes some kind of mascot or just a running gag in every hero team. Change the name, cut his power by 99% and hand him some shiny armor, and suddenly he's got a female fan club ten trillion strong."

"It's not just Duranium Man's armor,” said Nalenne. “Or the smarts. Or the looks. Or the fact that he's got enough money to buy the Core Worlds and still pay off his own bar tab."

"So what's that leave him?"

"It's the attitude, lieutenant. The swagger. Here's a guy who isn't intimidated by anybody or anything, because he knows that no matter what happens he's got the power or the connections or the sheer nerve to survive and win. He's always got an angle to play. He knows it. And that confidence is sexy. He could walk right up to a Sith Lord and give as good as he gets without so much as blinking."

Pierce didn't so much as blink. "And that's attractive," he said dryly.

"Irresistably so."

"Good to know you can recognize your type."

Jaesa had been slowly thinking something through. “The trouble with the Brute is, what’s the use of all that strength if you lack the discipline to control it? How can you admire that?”

Pierce answered Jaesa, but he was looking at Nalenne. “You tell me. Gets the job done most of the time, I’d say.”

Ghost-Quinn shook his head. “Duranium Man has every imaginable tactical advantage over the Brute, but Captain Kaas surpasses them both. He has all the necessary cunning, the resources, the keen sense for what tool to use in what situation. And he has the discipline Duranium Man lacks. Every time he crushes the forces of mercy and freedom, he does it with all the style of a true Imperial hero.”

“Spoken like the boy who probably wished for nothing but Captain Kaas’s military enhancements every birthday,” said Pierce.

“So, Jaesa, your turn,” said Nalenne.

“You know I like Professor X. You know, from the X-Folk.”

“He’s not a hero, dear.”

“He is to Jedi readers.”

“He’s pathetic. ‘Woo, I can read minds and lecture you on the virtues of a doomed effort to use goodwill and compassion to equalize a fundamentally unequal galaxy.’ There’s a reason Forcito and the other Unbowed cream him in every issue.”

“You always say that. But Professor X never gives up on his ideals, and that’s something to aspire to.”

“He picked some sorry ideals,” said Pierce. “You do know that if you put that lot in a room, the Brute wins. Every time.”

Quinn’s lip curled. “That depends entirely on how quickly Captain Kaas can call in his fire support.”

Pierce jabbed at Quinn’s immaterial face and sneered. “You would know, eh, slowpoke?”
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bright_ephemera
06.21.2012 , 10:16 PM | #99
55. In which a distraction tactic is considered

When setups just can’t seem to budge,
Let colleagues and friends be the judge.
A push just might go
Where kismet’s too slow:
At times all it needs is a nudge.



Jaesa approached Nalenne in her quarters. “Master. I have a strictly hypothetical question for you. You don’t have to answer it if you don’t want to. But if things were different…I mean, if you had never met Quinn…do you think you ever could’ve hit it off with Pierce?”

Vette cornered Pierce in the engine room. “Quick question. Would you do Nalenne?”

“Jaesa, that’s an…unusual question. I thought you were solidly on Team Quinn.”

“I was just wondering about what-ifs.”

“Vette put you up to this, didn’t she. Very well, I’ll indulge you.”

Pierce regarded Vette with eyes like highly amused rainclouds. “When you play with fire you don’t go halfway, do you? Hypothetically speaking, I’ll play along.”

“It’s just that Pierce does complement your style really well. And I know you like him.”

“I like him just fine. Whether he likes me is a different question. He’s crazy enough to treat me as an equal, and I would never try to override that if he’s not into me.”

“I like her just fine. But I’m not exactly the long-term type. Not like that. And she tends to get attached.” Pierce looked toward the bridge. “Excessively attached.”

“I don’t think I would want to stay with him like that. We work well as is. But….”

“But?” prompted Jaesa.

“Even if I had no intention of starting anything, I kind of wish he had come on to me. Just the once. Enough to register that I’m attractive, you know? His opinion matters to me. Is that tribute too much to ask?”

“But she could stand to make the snubbing a hair less obvious. I don’t think she fully appreciates the fact that she uses my body almost to its limits – almost – every day. Even if she had no intention of starting anything, it wouldn’t kill her to acknowledge that that’s at least as hot as sitting on the bridge thinking.”

“Still,” said Nalenne. “Another big STOMP HERE sign on my heart? Not me.”

“Still,” said Pierce. “Another moth to that more-than-a-little lethal flame? Not me.”

Vette gestured at nothing in particular. “It’s just that I’d love to get her unstuck on you-know-who,” she said.

“Vette, I’m a capable man, but even I couldn’t bang that much crazy out of a woman. Things are better as is.”

“It’s just that the two of you are unstoppable, master.”

“Sometimes ‘unstoppable’ just ain’t enough.” Nalenne laughed, a little bitterly. “No, things are better as is.”

“But be honest, Pierce. In a consequence-free environment you would hit that.”

“Sure. Wouldn’t you?”

“…I don’t even know what to say to that.”

“Ask a loaded question, Vette, don’t expect me to play nice.”

“I think I’m done with this line of inquiry.”

“Thought so.”
the Short Fic Weekly Challenge - 70+ authors to date. 1900+ stories. New prompts weekly!
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Ashlian
06.22.2012 , 02:52 AM | #100
ROFLMAO! I never thought I'd see Pierce turning down sex. It's a smart man who comes to that realization, though....

“Vette, I’m a capable man, but even I couldn’t bang that much crazy out of a woman. Things are better as is.”

Works on so many levels. TY! I am so enjoying this.