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Aviditas


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Jenovan
01.22.2013 , 01:48 PM | #1
aviditas (Latin): n. Greed, covetousness; keen desire, lust/passion.


These are some of the personal trials, triumphs and travails of my Sith Warrior, Eilan -- or as he's called in game, Avidior. For the most part, these stories happen parallel to the storyline that plays out during the game, although a couple act as prequels of a sort. Because of the frequent skirting around of in-game events, this is less of a story in chapters and more of a collection of short pieces.

Comments welcome, especially any insight into Miraluka abilities -- Wookieepedia is a bit vague on things, and the Force is a nebulous topic anyway, but if I'm pulling something that absolutely can't be done, let me know ;D

INDEX
Adrift (The Sacking of Coruscant)
Our Secrets (approximately 5 years before the game starts)
Not Herself (potentially vague spoilers for the Dark Temple area of Dromund Kaas)
Arrangements (post-Dromund Kaas)
Extraneous Variables (pre-Balmorra)
Defining the Battlefield (early Balmorra)
Exit Strategy (end of Balmorra)
After-Action Report (end of Nar Shaddaa)
Ebon Hawk * The Thirteenth Legion * RP/Social/Casual
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Jenovan
01.22.2013 , 01:49 PM | #2
Adrift

The tell-tale hum and brilliant red glow of Sith Lord Pavel Rukath’s lightsaber had both died away before the snivelling alien woman’s body had even hit the ground. Several feet behind her, her child, a boy of no more than ten or twelve years, had stumbled backwards and fallen onto his rump when his mother had thrown herself in front of him; his cry of anguish had come a heartbeat after Pavel had thrust his lightsaber home in a clean, efficient kill.

As one would expect, from a Force-sensitive, the Sith observed. He knew the moment she died. It had been the boy’s connection to the Force that had drawn him here into the under-levels of Coruscant to begin with. They were hunting down every Jedi and apprentice they could find, and not just to execute them—although with the adult Jedi, there was sometimes little choice. The apprentices, though, the young ones, could potentially be broken... and reforged as Sith, if they had the strength.

Even the aliens. Pavel was in the distinct minority among the Sith who believed that power was power, and that Force users of any species could be of service to the Empire. It made his task today more complicated than if he’d chosen to slaughter every alien Force user he’d come across, and the Imperial Marines who accompanied him had grumbled at having to take prisoners, but this was an excellent opportunity to potentially bolster their own strength while weakening Coruscant and the Jedi, in terms of both manpower and morale.

And on the subject of prisoners... Impatiently, he gestured for one of the Marines to collect the boy, who was now bent over the crumpled form of his mother. The soldier next to him jumped, as if he expected a shock of Sith lightning to accompany the non-verbal order, and trotted forward—

—only to be thrown back into two of his squadmates by a sudden wave of Force power. Quickly, Pavel held up a closed fist to prevent the Marines from firing on the boy. Unfocused, perhaps even unintentional... but there is strength there!

Before the child could gather himself again for another attack—assuming he could even duplicate the feat—Pavel strode forward and hauled him to his feet by the front of his shirt. “Stop that pathetic mewling, you little wretch.” Here, within arms’ reach, the Sith Lord could easily shut the boy down if he started to fight in earnest.

Surprisingly, the boy coughed and sniffled, but managed to suppress his sobbing after a moment. Pavel noticed that no tears fell from behind the cloth mask the child wore. Of course—the Miraluka were eyeless; it would make sense for them to no longer have the tear ducts that humans did.

Completely blind, but inextricably tied to the Force because of that. The Miraluka were members of the Republic, and their powerful Force users sometimes joined the Jedi, but history showed that some had served the Sith, as well. If this boy could be properly trained, he had the potential to be of real use.

But did he have any training at all so far? If he was with his mother on this day, rather than among the Jedi, it seemed that he was not an apprentice; both Jedi and Sith tended to isolate their students from their families and the world at large. It seemed odd for someone with such obvious power to still be untaught at his age, but perhaps the Miraluka had other paths besides the Jedi’s, or perhaps the boy’s strength had only manifested in this day of wrath. Terror, rage, despair: all were catalysts for the Force, and embracing them was the way of the Sith.

Pavel looked appraisingly at the boy standing in front of him, back stiffened by fear and fists clenched in hate. The child was virtually defenseless, and he knew it, but he was ready to face death head-on if it came for him. A suitable disposition, if he could keep it up.

“Do you have any training in the Force, boy?” the Sith Lord asked, his voice harsh.

The child made no reply; judging by the angle of his head, he might have been glaring at his captor, if he’d had eyes. Without those telltale markers of intent, it was hard to guess at his state of mind.

Whatever he might have been thinking, however, his silence was disrespectful and needed to be corrected. Without any needless display of emotion, Pavel simply cuffed the boy on the side of the head. “I asked you a question.”

Since he’d been expecting it this entire time, he felt the sudden surge of hate through the Force, and before the child could manifest it as an attack, Pavel drove his gloved fist into the boy’s gut, with precisely enough power behind it to knock the wind out of him.

Indeed, the Miraluka staggered backwards several steps, defensively hunched over, before he fell to the ground again, gasping desperately for air that wouldn’t come. Pavel watched him dispassionately; if the boy gave up now, that would be the end of him.

But the child didn’t disappoint him. As soon as he was able to suck in a few breaths, he climbed to his knees—and made an unexpected Force-boosted leap at the Sith Lord. Surprised, but not caught entirely off guard, Pavel fended the boy off with a raised arm, blocking his attack and throwing him back to the ground.

“What do you mean to do with your bare hands?” the Sith asked in a contemptuous tone. “Claw my face off?”

Again, the boy made no reply, but sat on the ground, silently seething. After a long moment, he finally said, “Is this how a great Sith wins glory? Murdering a woman and beating up a kid?”

Pavel felt a brief surge of anger at the implied insult, but even as his hand instinctively went to his lightsaber hilt, he stopped himself and laughed shortly. “Are you so eager to join your mother in death?” That might very well have been the child’s intention, throwing himself at an armed Sith. He was clearly too stubborn to curl up and die like a weakling, but perhaps also too afraid to let himself be captured—his mother had died trying to prevent exactly that, after all. Provoking Pavel into killing him as quickly as he’d killed his mother would have been a way out.

But the Sith Lord would not be so accommodating. “I can feel your rage, boy. It feeds your strength, doesn’t it?” There was no reply, but he got a sense of the Miraluka’s shield of anger wavering uncertainly for a moment before solidifying even more firmly than before. “Your mother was weak.” Within the Force, he felt a sudden peak of fury that vanished as quickly as it erupted, like a fire being hastily smothered. “She could do nothing to save you, just as the Jedi could do nothing to protect this planet from our might.”

The boy seemed to be listening, though his clenched fists still trembled in frustration. “You, though...” Pavel continued, speaking half to himself, “you already understand one of the core principles of the Sith: Through passion, I gain strength. You can feel it, can’t you?” Still no reply, but the silence was noteworthy. “You can reach for the power that is there for the taking, if you dare. We can show you the way, and hone you into a warrior without peer, if you have the strength and the wits to succeed.” Many didn’t, of course. But then, many would-be acolytes simply had the misfortune of being Force-sensitives taken to the Academies by force. Pavel had a feeling this boy would not falter so easily—if he could be brought around to the right state of mind.

“What if I only get stronger to kill you?” the boy asked, almost under his breath, as if he didn’t quite dare declare his intentions at a normal volume.

Pavel had to laugh. And I thought I’d have to coax him along. His heart is Sith already. “If you become strong enough to challenge me, boy, I’ll welcome the fight. That is the way of the Sith: the strong survive, the weak fall, and so the Empire constantly moves forward, instead of standing in one place and rotting away.” He gestured at the dark, derelict structures around them; the lower levels of Coruscant were like something one would find growing under a log. “This place has nothing for you. If you wish to learn to embrace your full power, ours is the only path open to you.”

The silence stretched for over a minute as the boy refused to offer a reply. What does he hope to gain by this obstinance? He must know this can only end in two possible ways: compliance, or death. Finally, ending the verbal impasse, the Sith signaled for the Marines to take the child. This time, he offered no resistance as two of the soldiers pulled him to his feet and fitted him with a slave’s shock collar.

When the squad’s sergeant reached for his comm to call for a pick-up, as they’d done for all of the previous prisoners, Pavel waved him off. “No, bring him with us. He’s under control, and I want him to see precisely how pathetic and useless the Jedi are.” The Sith Lord had no doubt that if they came across any Jedi, or even older apprentices, most of the fools would try to free the boy; that was simply how their minds worked. But they would fail, and the child would see for himself the weakness and hypocrisy of the Jedi. It would be quite an educational experience.

“Yes, m’Lord.” The sergeant was clearly dubious, but Pavel let it slide, for now. There were much bigger things afoot.

------
In case it isn't clear, this occurs during the Sacking of Coruscant.
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Jenovan
01.22.2013 , 02:02 PM | #3
Our Secrets

Bridging the gap...

Eilan, the young Miraluka boy, has been deemed worthy of the effort of training. His strength is such that Lord Pavel conceives of an almost heretical idea: marrying his completely Force-blind daughter to Eilan in an effort to bring that power into his own family line. It is believed that Miraluka can breed with humans, and Eilan is put to the test (with slaves, of course) to prove it.

With that key requirement met, Eilan officially becomes a member of the Rukath household, with his betrothal to Pavel's daughter dependent on his successful completion of training at the Sith Academy on Korriban.

Eilan is 16 or so when this story occurs, and Diarwen, his adoptive sister, a year older.

----

Eilan was engrossed in his audiorecord—an analysis of Exar Kun’s so-called “Dark Holocron”, read out loud in a mellifluous artificial voice—but not so lost that he didn’t notice Diarwen slowly creeping up behind him. He wondered if she would ever truly understand that his Force sight encompassed everything around him, and that it was not as easily distracted as human eyes. Perhaps if he reached out and stopped her now, she’d get the idea...

But no. He’d wait to see what she wanted, first. Obviously she had some sort of mischief in mind, or she wouldn’t attempt to sneak up on him, but what?

“Still at your lessons, brother?” she asked a moment later, her lips near his ear. Her tone was clearly meant to be provocative, and from what Eilan could tell from her emotions, her intent was straightforward, no trickery involved. And so she finally makes her bid...

“Your father asked that I provide him a report on this text tomorrow,” he replied without betraying any reaction to her less than subtle approach.

“My father is away until tomorrow,” Diarwen pointed out. She backed away and stepped in front of him, where he’d see her clearly if he had eyes. Even with his Force sight, he could see her toss her head, a habitual motion that no doubt tumbled the waves of her hair in an appealing fashion. She was, he understood, a very pretty girl.

“Yes,” was all the young man said as he halted the playback of his datapad and set the device aside. He had to fight back a smile at the brief surge of frustration, followed by hopeful excitement, he felt from his foster-sister.

For years, Diarwen had treated him with disdain, but for some reason known only to her, she seemed to change her mind in the past few months. Outwardly, her behavior was much the same, but it was easy enough for the Miraluka to perceive her feelings: a tentative, conflicted attraction that she wasn’t sure how to act upon. It seemed that today, she’d finally made up her mind on what to do.

“Since you do have until tomorrow,” the girl said in her best approximation of a sultry murmur, “why don’t you take a break from your studies for a little while?” As she spoke, she moved closer, one arm resting along the back of his chair. “Surely you could find something else of interest?”

Her attempts at coquetry were laughable, but Eilan remained composed, as always. “I’m sure I could,” he agreed, his tone neither encouraging nor particularly discouraging.

Predictably, Diarwen interpreted his lack of protest as assent, and leaned in to kiss him. Before she could do so, however, he stopped her, pressing his fingers gently to her lips as if quieting a child.

“We aren’t yet betrothed, dear sister,” he admonished her lightly. He felt a spike of anger from her, but before she could speak, he continued, “and wouldn’t Theyad be jealous?”

He sensed her jolt of surprise—clearly she had thought she’d kept her dalliance discreet—but she seemed to keep her outward composure. “His jealousy is of no concern to me,” she declared in a careless tone. “He merely serves to entertain me, nothing more.”

“How cold, sister.” Now Eilan finally allowed himself to smile, and the expression drew a sudden flicker of unease from Diarwen. “Perhaps I should tell him what you really think, the next time I am graced with his company.”

“What- what are you talking about?” the girl stammered, the battle between denial and realization clear in her voice.

“Ah, you didn’t know?” He could feel her hanging on his every word now, and he savored it. “Theyad is an ambitious young man; gaining the favor of both Rukath heirs is certainly a well-calculated move, don’t you think?”

“No.” She backed away from him quickly, out of his reach, as if he would physically harm her. “No, you’re lying, he would never...”

“He would and he has, dear sister.” The Miraluka still wore a smile as he drove the verbal knives in. “Tell me, has he ever sung to you, after? He has the most remarkable voice, don’t you think?”

He was, of course, almost sure of the answer before he asked, but the wordless sound of angry, envious disbelief she made confirmed it. “You... you wretched, ill-mannered mongrel! You should have remained a slave!”

“I’m just as much of a slave as you are, dear sister,” Eilan said softly, deadly serious now. The words hit her like cold water, and her jealousy drained away, to be replaced by real fear. As a Sith with no Force sensitivity to speak of, she was all too aware of her value in Imperial society, especially as the heir of a Lord. Eilan’s words had cut her to the bone—with his abilities, was he truly her equal, despite his race? Was he, perhaps, her better?

“I hope you die on Korriban!” she said venomously before fleeing the room, her emotions in chaos. But as furious as she’d been, part of her hadn’t meant those hateful words at all, Eilan knew. That was, perhaps, what amused him most.
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Jenovan
01.22.2013 , 02:14 PM | #4
Not Herself


Temples and tombs, Eilan mused as he led Vette up the broad, curving stairway into the Dark Temple. The legacy of the Dark Side, buried in dust. What wisdom is lost every time some secretive, paranoid Sith Lord goes to his grave?

That was what they’d come here for, long-lost Sith secrets—items and knowledge that had passed out of memory or into legend. Darth Baras had sent them to find a very specific artifact, but that didn’t mean that Eilan wouldn’t keep an eye out (figuratively speaking, of course) for anything else that looked valuable or useful. Anything that could give him an advantage over the Sith around him—especially a hidden or unexpected advantage—would make this little adventure worthwhile for him.

“Um... I know I’m supposed to be a professional treasure hunter and pirate and everything, but this place is super creepy,” Vette piped up, interrupting her “master’s” train of thought. “Worse than the tombs on Korriban, even.”

Some other more oafish Sith might have laughed at her fear, or even struck her for speaking out of turn. Eilan, on the other hand, silently weighed the concern in her voice and the fizz of nervousness he could sense around her via the Force. She wasn’t simply commenting on the temple’s grandiose, but crumbling, architecture, or the ghoul-patrolled corridors—she felt something here, dark and ephemeral and wrong.

And so did Eilan. This place was seething with Dark Side energy, as tangible to his Miraluka senses as the heat of a fire would be to Vette. The intensity of it was enough to make him feel slightly queasy if he “looked” at it for too long, although nausea was oversimplifying the sensation; he might also describe it as claws sc****** across his brain, or his mind being turned inside out, or his blood reversing its course in his veins. He was horribly tempted to open himself to it just to see what would happen. The thought of surrendering to that power, of letting its corruption wash over and through him, was seductive, even erotic, and it was only reluctantly that he closed his “eyes” to the Force and returned his attention to his companion.

“The tombs on Korriban were built to commemorate individual Lords of the Sith,” he explained, his voice lacking some of its usual polish as he focused on blocking out the energy around them. “This was a temple—designed as a powerful focus of the Dark Side—and many Sith died here for the darkest of purposes. I would imagine that their strength flowed into the dark fount and intensified it.”

He could feel them, those Sith Lords of old; their spirits (or souls, or whatever remained of them) drifted on the dark currents in the Force like flotsam on the stormy seas of Kaas. Every so often, one would brush against him, and he would instinctively lash out at it, as a swimmer would against something bumping into him in the water. So far these spirits seemed... not harmless, because they weren’t, but quiescent. But these were Sith, he reminded himself. It is power they respect, and power they crave. If I draw heavily on the Force while here, who knows what attention I might draw? Of course, he wasn’t going to handicap himself based on such a supposition; if he needed to reach into the Force to fend off the mind-addled soldiers and slaves here, he would. But he’d do so with the assumption that he was being watched by unfriendly eyes.

“You’re not afraid of ghosts, are you, Vette?” he asked his companion, a hint of mockery in his voice.

“‘Course not!” the Twi’lek girl replied indignantly. “Long-dead Sith? Can’t possibly be scarier than the live ones.”

Eilan wasn’t sure if he was included in that statement or not, but he chuckled quietly anyway as he led his companion deeper into the temple’s shadowy halls.

*~*~*

Within an hour, the Sith apprentice was forced to revise his understanding of the ghostly presences in this place. It seemed that some of the disembodied spirits had taken control of slaves, soldiers, and even Sith who had been sent here to investigate the site. Eilan could only assume that no one was truly immune to possession; he tried his best to guard both himself and Vette against any aggressive spirits, but he wasn’t entirely sure what form such an attack would take.

As a precaution, he warned Vette not to touch anything until he’d had a chance to examine it first. Given her background, he expected her to be on the lookout for anything that seemed valuable, and in fact, he was counting on it, since that was at the heart of their task here. But it was all too easy to imagine some holocron or lightsaber hilt or the like, imbued with the Dark Side energies of this place and bound to one of the restless spirits; who knew what would happen if someone were to try to pick up and use such a thing?

That worked well enough for a little while, and the apprentice had already deemed a jeweled trinket and a bizarre little stone figurine too potentially dangerous to bother with. But old habits were hard to break; one moment, Vette was reaching for a gleaming shard of some darkly reflective metal, calling for Eilan to come see—and the next, she was writhing on the stone floor, clutching her head and moaning unintelligibly.

“Vette? If this is your idea of a joke, it lacks style,” Eilan said shortly, his unignited lightsaber in his hand as he cautiously approached her. His Force sight warned him that this was no hoax, however, and he stopped in his tracks as the Twi’lek stilled, then sat up. Her bearing was subtly different, and the aura around her was entirely wrong.

“What are you— How dare you brandish a lightsaber at me, you insolent cur!” not-Vette snapped. Her voice, suddenly older and harsher, rang with the commanding tone of a Sith Lord who expected to be obeyed. “Drop your weapon and grovel at my feet,” she snarled as she stood up, “and perhaps I’ll let you live to crawl away!”

“I think not,” Eilan replied, smiling in a way that he knew infuriated his betters. “I don’t even know who you are.”

“I am Lord Edacis, and you will address me as such, slave!”

A name I shall look into later, Eilan promised himself. At the moment, he was more concerned with freeing his servant from this body-thief. There seemed to be little point in trying to reason with her—the other possessing spirits they’d encountered so far had been firm in their belief that they were alive and in their proper bodies. No, if the ghost was to be driven out, it would have to be done by force somehow, and in such a way that Vette would be left unharmed.

“I am no slave—I am Sith,” he said out loud, pouring arrogance into the words, “and I think it is you who will kneel in the end, Lord Edacis.” As he spoke, he raised his free hand, gathering energy into a nimbus around it. It was an open threat, and “Edacis” reacted as Eilan expected her to, lashing out with her own power to preempt his attack. The bolts of Force lightning were every bit as searingly hot as they would have been from a living Sith. Rather than steeling himself against the agony, however, the apprentice opened himself to it, embraced it, and laughed as he felt himself skirting unconsciousness. Peace is a lie; there is only pain. Pain fuels passion. Passion becomes strength...

He was vaguely aware that he had fallen to one knee, but that would be of no consequence in a moment. “Edacis” was still channeling lightning into him as he slammed his hand to the floor, releasing the power he’d gathered into a shockwave that rocked the ersatz Sith Lord on her feet. As she stumbled for balance, her attack faltered, and Eilan was ready; without a flamboyant warning this time, he surrounded her with Dark Side energy, smothering her with the intensity of his aura. Even as she continued to attack, lightning sparking from her hands, he could feel her recoil in dismay at his sudden show of strength, and that hesitation was the break he needed.

Within the Force, he sought out Vette’s familiar presence, buried beneath Edacis’s venomous spirit. Once he found her, seemingly unconscious of what was happening within her own body, he could begin to see where she left off and Edacis began. The ghost had latched on to Vette like a spiritual leech, but now that Eilan had exposed the connection, he could cut the parasite away.

“What— What are you doing, you fool?” Edacis shrieked as the Sith apprentice pried her away from Vette. His hands pantomimed his purely Force-bound actions, fingers curled into taut hooks as if he could physically grab hold of the spirit and tear her out of Vette’s body.

“You’re trying to steal something that belongs to me,” he said coldly, “and I won’t stand for it.”

The ghostly Sith Lord’s only reply was a wordless cry of defiance, but the more Eilan loosened her connection to Vette, the weaker she seemed to become. The feeble lightning that she summoned as a desperate last resort felt like a mere tickle after her earlier attack, and the Miraluka tsk’ed in disappointment.

“Is that the best you’ve got, my lord?” he asked, his tone making the title of respect into just the opposite. It was an excruciating effort to sound so nonchalantly dismissive, but an insult had to be delivered properly, or not at all, in his book. “Pathetic. Unfortunately for you, I prefer partners with a bit more stamina, so it looks like this is farewell.”

With a final wrench, he pulled Edacis’s consciousness away from Vette and cast it into the temple’s currents, then quickly recentered himself within his body, in case the ghost tried to possess him next. The moment of disorientation that followed left him unable to react in time to catch his companion, who, freed of her unwanted tenant, crumpled to the floor like a discarded toy. Wincing in chagrin, Eilan stooped to pick her up; her slender frame was a light burden in his arms.

As he turned towards the temple’s entryway, he thought he felt a swirl of hot, bitter spite in the darkness around him, but he was dangerously spent now, and it was hard to tell what he was truly sensing versus what he was conjuring from his own imagination. Regardless of whether the spark of ill intent was real or imagined, however, it was time to leave this place, before another ghost could take advantage of his state of weakness.

Carefully hoisting Vette’s small, limp form over his shoulder to leave his sword arm free, Eilan made his way out of the haunted temple, projecting his foul mood as both a warning and a threat to any other opportunistic spirits.

*~*~*

He felt Vette’s return to consciousness, the same way he felt anyone’s: a slow unfolding, much like a flower bud opening. She seemed startled, then confused, at her surroundings: the infirmary tent at the outpost on the outskirts of the temple grounds. Suppressing his amusement, Eilan artfully excused himself from his conversation with one of the Imperial officers stationed here and returned to where he’d left his companion.

“So, you’re awake?” he inquired as he drew close to her cot. She propped herself up on her elbows and looked at him with an expression of consternation.

“What happened? Did I get hurt? I mean, I feel okay, and I don’t see any bandages, so...” As the little Twi’lek spoke, she sat all the way up and looked herself over for signs of injury.

“Hurt? Not physically, no.” The qualifier made Vette pause and look up at him in surprise.

“‘Not physically?’ You don’t mean that I... those things in the temple...” She held her hands to the sides of her head, as if shielding herself from the truth—or from further ghostly incursions.

“Yes. For a few minutes, you were a Sith Lord,” Eilan replied with a wry smile. “Not a very competent one, as far as I was concerned, but you were certainly not yourself.”

“Oh.” Vette seemed to chew on that for a while before admitting, “I don’t remember any of it! Did we fight?”

“Of course,” the Miraluka snorted. “How else do Sith solve anything?”

“True,” she agreed with a nervous laugh. “I guess you won, then?”

“Of course,” Eilan repeated, grinning. “Or you wouldn’t be here, would you?”

“Huh. Right. But...” The girl paused for a moment, frowning slightly in thought. “How did you get me, um, un-possessed?”

There was an implicit why alongside her how, although Eilan wasn’t sure that she herself was aware of it. They’d struck down the possessed troopers and slaves and Sith that they’d encountered in the temple; why had he decided to try to save her, and how had he done so?

Unfortunately for her, he had no particular desire to answer either question.

“Oh, simple enough,” the apprentice said with a lazy shrug. “Once I’d stunned her—you, that is—I kissed you.”

What?!” Vette exclaimed, loud enough to draw curious looks from the nearby troopers. Embarrassed at the sudden attention, she continued in a quieter, but vehement, undertone, “Liar, you did not!”

She wasn’t entirely sure he was lying, though, that was the fun of it. Eilan decided to prod her further. “I did. With tongue. I suppose ‘Lord Edacis’ didn’t care much for it.”

“You... you’re such a...” Eilan only smirked at the Twi’lek’s speechlessness, and she threw her hands up in frustration. “I don’t believe you, you know.”

“Believe what you will, my dear,” he said with a coy smile. “Just remember, I could have left you wandering the halls of the temple like those other mindless puppets.”

That seemed to finally drive home for Vette just how much danger she had been in. Eilan felt her mood suddenly shift from exasperation to confused gratitude, but before she could say something awkward and sentimental, he preemptively silenced her, gently pressing his fingers to her lips. Uncharacteristically obedient for the moment, she stared up at him, but Eilan knew she’d learn nothing from the cold, intricately worked metal of his eyemask. Just the way he preferred it.

“Rest tonight,” he said finally, breaking the tension as he stepped back from her cot. “We’re going back tomorrow.”

“Seriously? Ugh.” The Twi’lek sighed dramatically and flopped back down, pulling her pillow over her face. “Do we get hazard pay for this, or what?”

“What? You think we’re getting paid for this?” It was a running joke of sorts between the two of them, and Eilan laughed at the girl’s exaggerated groan of dismay.

Satisfied that Vette seemed none the worse for her brief possession, the apprentice bid her a good evening and made his way out of the infirmary. His blood was still up after the fight with Edacis, and that trooper captain had seemed quite friendly after Eilan had retrieved the archaeological data he’d wanted. Perhaps today wouldn’t be a total loss, after all...
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Jenovan
01.31.2013 , 11:52 AM | #5
Another look into the out-of-game home life of my Sith Warrior This got to be a lot longer than I planned!
Takes place not too long after "Not Herself" -- they're still on Dromund Kaas. Since it's super long, it's hiding behind the cut!


Arrangements

Spoiler
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Jenovan
03.04.2013 , 10:27 AM | #6
A new scribble, now with 100% more Quinn. :P While I know Some Things about him, I'm still learning my way through the details as I play. Here's hoping I'm not going to get things flat-out wrong as I go...


Extraneous Variables


For Imperial Navy Lieutenant Malavai Quinn, the midday meal offered an excellent opportunity to catch up on reading assorted memoranda, mail and other communications, an activity that could be easily and neatly managed while he ate. Today he had one particular piece of correspondence that needed prompt attention, and it was this file he perused on his datapad in between bites of bland insta-cook flangth. If he’d been focused on the food, he might have been able to point out at least half a dozen ways to improve the decidedly inferior meal, but the entire point of an insta-cook pack was to reserve his attention for more important matters.

Like a dossier on Darth Baras’s new apprentice. The ever-unpredictable Sith Lord had informed him that the apprentice was on his way to Balmorra to “clean house”—in other words, he was going to scrub Baras’s embedded agent, and it would be up to Quinn to give him the intel and logistical support to do so.

Why does a Sith apprentice need to be brought in to do this?

The mildly traitorous notion had barely voiced itself before Quinn ruthlessly squashed it. Darth Baras has reasons upon reasons for every move he makes. It is not for me to question his designs, merely to assist them in whatever way I can. And in order to do that, he would be best served by making himself familiar with the apprentice’s capabilities and inclinations. “Inclinations” wouldn’t matter terribly much with an Imperial soldier; they were to follow orders, not whims. When dealing with a Sith, however, they were important variables to keep in mind when making plans, suggestions, and calculations.

Unfortunately for Quinn’s peace of mind, there was relatively little data provided on young Eilan Rukath. Rukath... Sith nobility. What information about a young lord would need to be kept so thoroughly under wraps? He made a mental note to cross-check the name in a moment; more research seemed called for when he had been given so few details.

It didn’t cross his mind for a moment that he should have been content with the limited information. He hadn’t risen to Lieutenant in such short order by happily accepting blinders, after all. (He chose to overlook the fact that his desire to go above and beyond had ensured he hadn’t risen farther than Lieutenant in a decade.) In order to do his job to the best of his ability, he needed more data, and that was that.

The real question was, why was there so little information? To begin with, there was no holoimage, which was highly unusual for a dossier of this type. How could he have immediate visual recognition of this apprentice without a reference? To be sure, one couldn’t simply impersonate a Sith, but it was well within the realm of possibility that some other Sith Lord would concoct a plot to supplant Darth Baras’s apprentice with his own...

Even worse than the lack of data was the clear suppression of data. Several key pieces of information, such as the apprentice’s homeworld and parentage, were flagged with “INSUFFICIENT CLEARANCE”. For basic information about a mere Sith apprentice to be classified above Quinn’s clearance level was... well, it was thoroughly out of the ordinary. Who or what was this Eilan Rukath?

Forgetting his meal entirely, Quinn rose and went to his Imperial datanet console. A few moments of searching confirmed some of the data in the dossier, and offered just a little more. The Rukaths were a minor noble family on Dromund Kaas, and Quinn recalled some of the scornful talk that had circulated among the upper classes, years ago, when it became increasingly obvious that the daughter of the family had no connection to the Force. Lady Ashalle had died in battle during the War, which Quinn remembered, but during his long quasi-exile on Balmorra, it seemed that the Rukaths’ situation had changed dramatically.

From what he could gather, this “Eilan”, demonstrably powerful in the Force, had been adopted into the family to marry the daughter. It was a very old-fashioned sort of arrangement, but Lord Pavel was an old-fashioned sort of Lord in some ways. The real question was, where had Eilan come from? If he were from a Sith family and displayed enough talent as a child for Lord Pavel to want him, why would his own family have given him up, rather than simply arranging the marriage?

The lack of information about the apprentice’s background suggested to Quinn that it was being withheld to maintain the reputations of the Rukath family and Eilan himself. Perhaps he was an illegitimate child born to another Sith Lord... or perhaps—and Quinn found this more likely—the boy had been a slave, but had displayed such potential that Lord Pavel was willing to take the inevitable black mark for adopting him in order to secure his family’s legacy.

He would have to be exceptional in some way for Darth Baras to take him on, at any rate. The sparse notes of the apprentice’s exploits in Baras’s service underscored that; he had apparently ventured into the Dark Temple on Dromund Kaas—more than once!—and lived to tell the tale, recovering both personnel and valuable artifacts and data in the process. He had also been implicated in the death of the son of the troublesome Lord Grathan, which was interesting... The boy’s very existence had been a secret until his death was publicly announced. He had presumably been killed to bring Grathan into line, but while several sources indicated Eilan’s presence on Grathan’s holdings that day, no formal accusations had been filed. Quinn took that to mean that the apprentice had been involved, but Grathan had (probably wisely) chosen not to seek recourse—not openly, at least.

All in all, the data Quinn had was certainly fascinating, but there was simply too little information for him to plan around. He would have to improvise—a dirty word in his lexicon, no matter how good he was at it. Proper preparation made improvisation simpler in situations that required it, but he’d be nothing like properly prepared for this apprentice. Not by his own standards, at any rate.

But... perhaps that was the point. Was this a challenge handed to him by Darth Baras? To see how well he could plan and adapt to the extraneous variables that were inevitably brought into play while working with Sith? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time he’d had to act as a key contact for a Sith Lord unfamiliar with Balmorra’s state of affairs, but it might have been the most complex mission he’d been told to plan with so little information beforehand. If this were some sort of test...

Well. He’d pass it with top marks by putting forth his utmost effort, as he always did. His certainty was fueled not by overconfidence, but by experience, determination, and sheer force of will. Regardless of the task or the reasons behind it, for Lieutenant Quinn, failure had never been, and never would be, a viable option.
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Jenovan
03.12.2013 , 10:04 AM | #7
Just a little replay of Eilan's first meeting with the esteemed lieutenant, from both sides of the encounter...
As the story starts to intersect with actual scenes in the game, I'll be drawing on dialogue from the game in the attempt to build up context for it, in the characters' thoughts and actions. Trying to explain the how's and why's of what happens in-game is one of the things that draws me to fanfic in the first place.



Defining the Battlefield


Eilan smirked as he heard someone—presumably their contact, Lieutenant Quinn—sharply dressing down a subordinate. Reaching out through the Force, he could tell that the subordinate was shaken and humiliated, as seemed appropriate, but in contrast, he felt nothing at all from the superior officer—not a hint of the irritation that suffused the man’s words.

A block, from a non-Force-sensitive? That was what it felt like: as if the officer’s emotions had been blocked by a screen, or a wall. Someone with a drop of Force sensitivity can’t have risen to lieutenant without it being noticed... It was an interesting little puzzle. Perhaps some people could block naturally, with no other Force talent... or perhaps it was trainable, although if that were true, he might expect every spy from both the Republic and Empire to have the skill. Whatever the case, he could see why this officer would be a useful operative in Baras’s network.

“Well, what do you think? Is he handsome?” Eilan whispered to Vette. It was another of their little games to lighten the inevitable dull moments that came with acting in an official capacity. Being brought up in a noble household had prepared him well for tedious formalities, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t try to alleviate his boredom as he saw fit. In reality, this particular “game” was less frivolous than it might have seemed; Vette had an excellent eye for detail—perhaps not a surprising trait in a treasure hunter—and Eilan frequently found her observations useful.

“Huh. I guess, if you like that type,” the Twi’lek reported. “Dark hair, blue eyes, mid-thirties maybe, clean-cut, ‘cept he’s rocking the 5 o’clock shadow. Not scruffy, though,really, just... well, I guess some guys just have that, yeah?”

Eilan made a sound of agreement as he turned Vette’s description over in his mind. He would never know what “dark” really looked like, nor understand what “blue” was, but he knew that combination was a little unusual. “Striking, would you say?”

Vette “hmm”ed appraisingly. “Not from this far away. Just looks like another stuff-shirt officer.”

“Then focus, Jillins!” the aforementioned officer hissed to his subordinate. The threat in his voice made Eilan grin (admittedly, mostly because of Jillins’s increasing apprehension), but again, it only highlighted the absence of the expected matching emotion in the Force. How thoroughly peculiar.

The apprentice took the dismissal of the cowed soldier as his cue, and crossed the room to introduce himself to his new contact. The unforeseen Force handicap was something to be investigated later, but for now, he remained polite, proper, and on his toes. Judging by the rather messy state of affairs on Balmorra, there would be time enough later for playing games with the lieutenant—after he’d gotten a firmer idea of the house rules...

-----

Lieutenant Quinn cursed inwardly as an imposing figure, armored and caped in black and grey, leaned casually against the distant door frame. He’d gotten too caught up in giving Corporal Jillins a well-deserved reprimand when he should have kept his office clear today in anticipation of the Sith apprentice’s arrival. Now he looked (and felt) unprepared—not the first impression he wanted to make. After a last acidic rebuke, he dismissed the rattled corporal and gave his guest (or guests, since the Twi’lek slave mentioned in earlier communiques was at the Sith’s side) his complete attention as the apprentice crossed the room.

Quinn had just a few seconds to make what visual observations what he could before conversation began. Not as heavy a build as I would expect for a Soresu adept. Light on his feet, and in lighter armor than most of that school, as well. Armor is not designed for intimidation, aside from perhaps its color. Heavy cape is an aristocratic choice, but that makes sense, given his background. No apparent cybernetics. Odd choice for a Sith to wear a visor rather than a full facemask. Concealed scars or cybernetics there? There is scarring on his face, not fresh; may predate training on Korriban? Clean-cut. Confident stance.

And then they were within speaking distance. “Apprentice Eilan, I presume?” At the man’s nod, he bowed respectfully. “I apologize for the delay, my lord. Lieutenant Malavai Quinn—I’m to be your liaison here on Balmorra.”

The Sith’s lips quirked as if in amusement at some private joke, but he simply replied, “A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Lieutenant.” His speech was well-enunciated and his accent was clearly Kaasian; if he were truly non-Imperial, as Quinn suspected, he’d certainly been well-tutored in all the proper mannerisms.

“And to you, my lord,” the officer replied politely. “Lord Baras will brief you personally by holo, but I thought I should take a moment to acquaint you with the climate here on Balmorra first.” He paused before continuing; some Sith had no patience for sitreps, or for non-Sith taking up roles of authority...

“By all means.” Eilan gestured with a wave of his hand for the lieutenant to proceed.

“Thank you, my lord.” Quinn brought up a map of Balmorra on the terminal, then zoomed in to frame the Markaran Plains. Several icons of varying colors dotted the map. “Even though the Empire wrestled control of Balmorra from the Republic during the war, we were never able to completely eradicate their forces. Now we’re facing a rather sizable resistance movement.” With a few keypresses, many of the icons began to blink, indicating previous and current locations of conflicts with resistance forces. “No one wants to admit it, but it's clear that the Republic is backing it.”

The Sith apprentice stroked his chin thoughtfully, but he did not appear to be looking at the display; indeed, his gaze still seemed focused on Quinn—although it was difficult to tell with that visor in place.

Visor... I don’t see any allowance for vision at all—no eye slit, no perforations or screening... It looks like solid metal.

Casually, the lieutenant reset the blinking icons and started a repeating display that showed troop movements in waves of colored dots. The Twi’lek glanced over at the animation instinctively, but her master showed no sign of noticing.

“The Republic is violating the treaty, and we aren’t calling them out on it?” the Sith asked, his tone neutral.

“We need solid evidence, my lord, something damning, and the resistance has been... circumspect, thus far,” Quinn replied, watching Eilan carefully. Could he be blind...? The Force can compensate for much, I understand, but...

And then it all fell into place.

The redactions in his dossier, the lack of personal historical information... He’s not just non-Imperial... He’s not even human!

Coming into his own during the War, Quinn was quite familiar with many of the aliens who fought for the Republic. He’d seen any number of Miraluka among the Jedi, hooded or masked to protect their eyeless, but still vulnerable, sockets, and to avert the discomfort of their allies. In spite of—or more properly, because of—their blindness, they were all Force adepts, and because they did not rely on sight, Miraluka Jedi could be dangerously unpredictable in combat, especially against non-Force users. Their entire species was a grotesque example of the flexibility of human adaptation.

The implications of the apprentice’s true identity were staggering, and it was clear why such information would be left out of official documents. It was exceedingly rare for anyone who was not human or red-skinned Sith to be allowed into the Academy, let alone taken as an apprentice by someone as influential as a Darth. On top of that, Eilan had been raised in a noble household to be married to the daughter of a Sith Lord. It was completely unheard of!

And yet, unless this was some sort of extremely elaborate double-bluff, it was happening. I thought that it would be bad enough if he’d been an uplifted slave, but this is... unprecedented, to say the very least. Where had Eilan come from, and was he truly so powerful, or his potential so great, that traditional Sith values had been set aside on his behalf?

Could it be that he was a Padawan, taken on Coruscant? There had been an effort to capture Jedi apprentices after the destruction of the Jedi Temple, the lieutenant knew, and Eilan seemed to be of an appropriate age. Some degree of previous training, and the chance to turn a Jedi to the Dark Side—something many Sith would find irresistible—might have made the boy seem worth the trouble to whoever had found him. If he proved useless or intractable, he’d be one more dead Jedi, but if he was converted and trained as Sith... Yes, it was easy enough to imagine such a circumstance. Perhaps if he attacked the mystery from that angle, he’d have more luck than he’d had previously in finding any information about the young Sith’s origins...

“Hm. Well, perhaps I'll have time to do something about that while I’m here,” the apprentice was saying. Quinn realized he’d been staring at the other man a little too long, and he fervently hoped that his agitation hadn’t been obvious. There was nothing in Eilan’s tone to indicate such a thing, but the lieutenant certainly didn’t know him well enough to be sure.

“Something tells me your presence here will leave an indelible impression on the state of things,” he said carefully. That was only the truth, both in terms of Balmorra and in the greater sphere of the Empire. Removing Commander Rylon would certainly be a blow to the resistance, and exposing the Republic’s involvement would prove to the Galaxy at large that the Republic’s hands were no cleaner than the Empire’s.

If the Empire could then make significant progress in breaking the back of the resistance, Quinn might finally be recalled to more important, and more visible, assignments. Helping Darth Baras’s apprentice was his sworn duty, but if, in doing so, he could earn Eilan’s favor, such that the Sith would praise him to the proper ears...

Unless Darth Baras had greatly overestimated the abilities of his apprentice—which was highly unlikely, in Quinn’s experience—pinning his hopes on the young Sith’s success seemed like a winning bet.

“...And I look forward to it.”

The apprentice tilted his head slightly in a quizzical expression, a hint of a smile on his lips. Before he could speak, however, the terminal behind Quinn beeped with an incoming transmission.

“Darth Baras on a secure line,” he confirmed after a quick glance. “I'll patch him through immediately, my lord.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant.”

Quinn bowed again and excused himself to his private quarters until the briefing was over. He had far too much to process and absorb at the moment, and a few minutes’ time wouldn’t put much of a dent in it, but he could at least attempt to regain his composure.

An alien Sith, a hammer to crush the resistance, a disgrace for the Republic, a way off this planet. Is this a windfall set before me, or a land mine?
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Jenovan
04.17.2013 , 07:37 PM | #8
Exit Strategy


"So... Do you get any special apprentice merit badges or Sith points or anything for that? 'Bonked a Darth', 500 points?"

Eilan chuckled at Vette's question, although he could tell she was honestly curious beneath the flippancy, even if she’d never admit it.

“Of course there are no tangible rewards—other than the extremely obvious.” He smirked at the Twi’lek’s comedic sound of disgust. “I can hope, though, that Darth Lachris will remember me fondly.” Balmorra’s new Imperial authority had certainly left an impression on him, but he was a fairly green apprentice and she was a Darth, beholden to a master who served on the Dark Council. Perhaps she went through lovers like cheap holonovels—read once and never again. He preferred to flatter himself with the thought, though, that he had earned her attentions through his particular blend of battle prowess and charisma, and not simply because she’d been bored and he’d been fresh meat.

I was the one to initiate the dance, the apprentice thought, but I suppose time will tell. “Some Sith like to burn things down,” he continued his explanation to Vette as the two of them walked through the Sobrik spaceport to his waiting ship. “That has its appeal, I’ll be the first to admit... but I also like to build things.”

“You mean like alliances,” Vette mused.

“Precisely. ‘Alliance’ might be too formal a term, but that’s the gist of it. I am quite good at making friends, if I want to.”

“Is that what they’re calling it now?”

Eilan grinned at his companion’s wry tone. “Unfortunately, that brand of diplomacy won’t work on everyone.”

“Ugh. With some of these Sith Lords you’ve been running errands for, I wouldn’t call it unfortunate at all.”

“How judgmental of you, Vette,” the Miraluka said in a mock-chiding tone, not quite suppressing a smirk.

“Look, I know you can’t see them, but... ugh,” Vette repeated for emphasis.

Eilan simply snorted in amusement as something else caught his attention. He slowed his pace slightly, prompting Vette to match his strides. “Speaking of people who are easy on the eyes... We seem to have a send-off committee.”

“Who, Captain Cardboard?” They’d not yet crossed onto the floor of the hangar proper, but the Twi’lek followed her “master’s” drift well enough to know who he meant. She had been less than impressed with their liaison’s stiff, by-the-book professionalism.

“Mm, the very same.” Eilan greatly appreciated Vette’s ability to keep up with his unspoken thoughts. It shouldn’t have surprised him; she’d made her living for a while as a treasure hunter, and that must have demanded quick wits, but it continually delighted him when she could follow his line of thought without him having to spell it out.

“What’s he want, a recommendation letter?”

“Ha. Possibly.” He still found it frustratingly difficult to get an impression of the newly promoted captain’s emotions, and that left him less prepared for unexpected turns like this. “I suppose we’ll find out in a moment. If he kills me, shoot him in the face for me, hmm?”

“Sure thing, boss.”

The officer stood at parade rest near the boarding ramp of Eilan’s Fury-class Interceptor, Katarr’s Curse, but quickly snapped to attention as soon as the Sith entered the hangar. Although Eilan could make nothing of Quinn’s emotions, he could feel the physical signs of tension in the man’s bearing. Tension over what, though?

“My lord, I hope you don't find my appearance here obtrusive,” the captain said apologetically once Eilan drew within speaking distance. “I beg an audience.”

“Begging does not become an officer,” Eilan admonished him, a hint of amusement in his voice.

Quinn either didn’t see the teasing for what it was, or decided to address it at face value, perhaps to prove his own sincerity. “Pardon my word choice, my lord,” he acknowledged with a slight bow. “I will speak plainly. As you know, Lord Baras enabled my reassignment anywhere I choose. It is an evolution I've longed for and assumed would never come.”

The Miraluka nodded in understanding. He could only imagine how much it pained someone of Quinn’s obvious intelligence and competence to be sidelined, with no real hope for promotion. Getting a free ticket off of Balmorra to posting of his own choosing must have seemed like nothing short of a miracle.

It was, in fact, so miraculous that it made Eilan wonder at Darth Baras’s motives. Ten years on Balmorra, and it had taken this particular mission to finally repay whatever debt Quinn owed? It seemed more likely that Baras was moving Quinn at this moment for some other purpose; the captain was very good at what he did, and could surely be an asset elsewhere. But that still left the question of why he was here at this moment.

“Aiding your mission on this planet has reawakened the ambition that I began my career with,” the captain continued in quiet fervor, “to make the most profound impact possible for the Empire.”

Hmm. A true patriot, it would seem. Does one really enter the military with that sort of goal in mind? Eilan wondered idly. I’d expect such lofty dreams from a Sith, of course, but an Imperial? How interesting. Still, I suppose ambition is the lifeblood of the realm, whether one wields the Force or not. “Then welcome back to life, Quinn,” he said, coalescing some of his thoughts into words.

“That is how it feels, my lord.” Quinn smiled briefly, and for a moment, Eilan felt a flicker of simple pleasure through the Force. Ha. He’s so happy that it’s showing through this... shield, whatever it is. That’s almost endearing. “I cannot think of a more glorious and honorable way to make a difference in the galaxy than to serve you,” the man continued before gracefully dropping to one knee. “I'm here to pledge myself to you. I'm ready and willing to serve in whatever capacity you see fit.”

Aha. And suddenly all is explained. Eilan looked down at the man kneeling before him, holding in the cynical laugh that threatened to burst forth. As I set out into the galaxy cleaning up Baras’s spies, he sics one on me. Delightful. It was, the apprentice thought, something of a waste on Baras’s part. He remained faithful, and had no plans to the contrary in the near-term. On the other hand, Quinn was very useful, and if he helped Eilan achieve Baras’s directives faster and more effectively, that was a win for both apprentice and master.

I suppose the old man knows that even if I guess at Quinn’s true purpose, he’s too valuable for me to cast aside. It was a neat little trap. Of course, he could refuse outright, but it was hard to know how Baras would react to that. Most likely, he’d find another agent further down the line. Better the devil you know, hmm? At least this spy has manners and a nice voice to listen to. Speaking of which...

“Whatever capacity I see fit? how exciting,” the Sith drawled, the implication in his tone difficult to miss.

Vette grimaced and held her hand to her forehead in exasperation. Quinn, on the other hand, looked up at him quickly in apparent surprise. After an awkward beat of silence, he gathered his composure and continued his pitch, apparently judging the apprentice’s comment safer to ignore than engage.

“My lord, if given the chance, I know I will prove myself to you. I'm a top-notch pilot, military strategist and a deadly shot. I can fly this ship, plan your battles, assess your enemies, and kill them.” The captain said all of this matter-of-factly, without a hint of arrogance. “You won't find a more tireless and loyal subject. I offer my military prowess and dedicate every ounce of my strength to your cause.”

My cause, or Darth Baras’s? This wasn’t the time to call him on it, however. That could wait until Eilan had figured out how to get a better read on the Captain—there was little point trying to pull out a confession if he couldn’t be satisfied with its veracity. “You needn’t market yourself like a new model of factotum droid, Quinn,” he said with a slight smile. “I will be pleased to have you.”

“The pleasure will be mine.” There was a note of relief in the captain’s voice as he rose to his feet. “Thank you, my lord,” he said with a brief, respectful bow of his head. “I will submit my reassignment papers as we depart.”

“Then let us waste no further time on Balmorran soil.” Without waiting for a reply, Eilan strode past Quinn towards the Curse’s loading ramp. Behind him, Vette was silent, but he could pick up on her feelings of doubt. Interesting—I don’t think she trusts him either, but I’m not sure her reasons are the same as mine. We shall have to compare notes... somewhere where we won’t be overheard.

That was something he would need to be mindful of; he didn’t find it at all unlikely that Quinn might bug the ship, and if he simply tried to neutralize the bugs, it would be an immediate signal that he was aware of the surveillance. No... he’d play along for as long as it remained harmless. There would be time later, he was sure, to reassess the situation.

Until then... well, the game is on. Eilan casually leaned in the doorway leading to the bridge as he heard the sounds of the hatch closing and an unfamiliar tread in the corridor. “Welcome aboard, Captain,” he said with his most disarming smile.


---
I know "cardboard" doesn't really make any sense in the setting, but the connotation was just too perfect. XD; Feel free to mentally replace with a more Star-Warsy material, as long as you know what I meant!
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Jenovan
06.04.2013 , 08:31 AM | #9
After-Action Report


“So, Captain,” Eilan began, his voice barely loud enough to carry over the bustle and din of the casino, “care to try your hand at the games?”

Quinn shook his head. He still wasn’t entirely sure why the unpredictable Sith had insisted on coming here, since he was apparently uninterested in the games himself. Surely, if he’d only wanted a drink to celebrate his incredible victory today, there were any number of other, quieter establishments he might have chosen. It was Nar Shaddaa, after all, and there were vendors for every vice.

“As a student of statistics, I can simply say that I’d prefer to keep my credits, my lord,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Not even a hand or two of sabacc? That’s as much tactics as luck, after all, and you do have such an excellent sabacc face.” Eilan smirked at him over his glass of Arkanian sweet-milk.

Quinn wasn’t entirely sure if the apprentice was mocking him, although that seemed like a safe thing to bet on. Aside from battle, Eilan took very little seriously, it seemed. Perhaps it was a deflection technique to disguise his true feelings on matters? Darth Baras asked that I learn how his apprentice thinks—that’s clearly going to be harder than I anticipated.

“While I suspect I would fare better at sabacc than at a slot machine, my lord, I still see little reason to risk one’s money so frivolously,” he said out loud, wondering where the Sith was going with this line of conversation.

Eilan grinned and leaned in closer. “There are always other things to wager besides money, Captain.”

Quinn swallowed hard and hoped, probably in vain, that the other man hadn’t noticed. He should have predicted this angle of attack; Darth Baras’s apprentice was, he’d discovered very quickly, one of those Sith who frequently pursued the ideal of “passion” in its physical interpretation, and he hadn’t hesitated to make that very clear to Quinn. In the captain’s experience, that wasn’t all that unusual a state of mind for a Sith, but after being stuck on Balmorra for years, he was somewhat out of practice with politely fending off amorous lords and apprentices. Further complicating the issue was the fact that Eilan was his commander, as well as the apprentice of his ultimate master, Darth Baras. He had the right to refuse, to protest, but would doing so endanger his place on Eilan’s crew, or in Baras’s plans?

For that matter, even if he wished to accede to the apprentice’s persistent and pervasive importuning, it would be a terrible breach of protocol. He was Eilan’s immediate subordinate, and fraternization within the direct chain of command was so heavily discouraged that it was all but forbidden. Why isn’t it forbidden? Quinn thought in the back of his mind. The lack of a written rule simply encourages offenders to see themselves as a justified exception. Then again, perhaps it was because of the tendencies of Sith like Eilan that no formal rule had been created...

Well. If he had no recourse within Imperial regulations, he would have to draw the line himself.

“Lord Eilan.” The Miraluka was only an apprentice in the eyes of the Sith, but from mere Imperials, he rated a title of respect. “While I have no desire to curb your... fun”—the word did not often fall from Quinn’s lips—”the sort of dalliance you’re hinting at goes against established protocol.”

Against established protocol,” Eilan echoed, his tone droll. “Since when have I struck you as a slave to protocol, Quinn?”

When he put it that way, Quinn did feel a little foolish for taking that particular approach. As an alien, Eilan’s entire existence as a Sith was “against established protocol”, and yet, here he was, thriving. Still, the apprentice generally didn’t flout rules simply because he could get away with it; if Quinn could get him to treat his incessant flirtation the same way...

“With all due respect, my lord... it simply isn’t—”

“Enough,” the younger man interrupted with a dismissive wave of his hand. “You’ve made yourself clear on the matter, Captain.” His teeth flashed in a quick, foxish grin. “Pity.”

Before Quinn could find a reply, Eilan rose from his seat, gazing towards the bar. “I’m going to go see what kinds of ‘good stuff’ the bartender has hidden under the counter,” he said with a knowing smirk. “Any requests?”

“Ah... no, but thank you for asking, my lord.”

With a nod of acknowledgement, the apprentice turned and made his way to the bar, taking a circuitous route past some of the busier game tables and across the path of several of the scantily-clad serving girls.

Did he leave because of my refusal? Quinn had to wonder. It was the logical conclusion, but the younger man didn’t seem angry—and Sith, in general, seldom felt the need to restrain their anger. Somehow, Eilan’s sudden concession made Quinn almost as uncomfortable as his flirting. Was it really that simple? All he’d had to do was ask?

He wondered if Darth Baras had had any inkling, when he tasked Quinn with joining Eilan’s crew, that he would constantly have to deflect the young Sith’s advances. Or... No, he couldn’t have assumed that I would try to ingratiate myself to Eilan that way, in order to earn his trust... Could he?

Quinn didn’t like any of the directions that line of thought was apt to travel. Perhaps that’s overthinking it. I doubt Baras is too concerned with how I study Eilan... only that I complete the task. If he had a specific plan, he would have laid it out. Probably. Darth Baras knew far too many things and used his pawns ruthlessly; delivering one of his agents as bait didn’t seem too far-fetched, when Quinn considered the idea objectively. It was not a reassuring thought.

And speaking of Baras... He knew he would have to write up his report of the incident with Lord Rathari soon. Unexpectedly, he found himself somewhat torn as to how much he should disclose. Eilan had made some fascinating, clever choices. Bargaining with the besieged Republic troopers had been a stroke of genius, and the captain wondered if Eilan had anticipated the need to call in that favor—there seemed little reason to make such a deal otherwise. As for letting them walk away freely in the end... Quinn was of two minds about that, but perhaps the apprentice had a reason—besides his promise—to let them go. I wonder if he’d actually tell me if I asked. The Sith could be maddeningly evasive when he wished to be.

But Darth Baras would care little about the manipulation of a few Republic grunts. No, it was the disposition of Lord Rathari and Agent Dellocon he would be concerned with. Dellocon was dead, as ordered, but he’d been cut down not by Eilan, but by Lord Rathari himself, who had begged to serve the young apprentice who’d just defeated him with little difficulty.

It had been a remarkable fight. Rathari had half a head’s height and probably twenty or twenty-five kilos on the younger Sith, but Eilan withstood the onslaught like a crag of rock being splashed by the tide. On the other hand, the apprentice was able to slice through Rathari’s defenses with powerful, well-timed strikes, and it wasn’t long before Eilan had his opponent at his mercy.

...And despite what Baras might have wished, that mercy was granted. Rathari had been seemingly awestruck by Eilan’s power, and had opted to throw in with the apprentice, in the belief that Eilan would eventually defeat Baras. Eilan accepted Rathari’s pledge without hesitation; perhaps after using one alliance of convenience so successfully, he was keen on setting up another.

Which brought Quinn to his current dilemma. Eilan had circumvented Baras’s orders, to some extent. The captain had sworn to serve Eilan, of course, but his debt to Baras was older, deeper. Eilan showed no signs of rebellion against his master now, but wasn’t that was most Sith came to, eventually? The conflict between master and apprentice? And when that day came, who would prevail?

Two days ago, Quinn’s answer would have easily been “Baras”, without a doubt. Watching Eilan’s duel with Rathari had left his conviction a little shaken, however—and Rathari’s immediate submission, even more so. He was no Sith to be able to feel someone’s strength; he couldn’t sense whatever Rathari had. But the Sith lord was a canny veteran, and surely wouldn’t have been easy to impress. Was he right? Would Eilan be Baras’s end?

Fortunately, cool pragmatism spared Quinn from his indecision, for now. Darth Baras would surely learn of Rathari’s survival from other channels; if the captain didn’t report such basic, and vital, information, he’d immediately place himself under suspicion. For his own sake, he had little choice in the matter. He’d make a full report, then, and let Baras use the information as he wished. He doubted Baras would act against his apprentice immediately, if he chose to do so at all, but this could be a useful tactical footnote whenever the time came.

If Baras saw Eilan as a threat, that reckoning would come sooner than later, and when it did...

That uncomfortable train of thought was broken as Eilan returned to their table with a triumphant grin, a bottle of vividly blue liquor, and a pair of tumblers rattling with ice. With exaggerated flourish, he set the two glasses down, unstoppered the bottle, and poured out a cautious measure of the alarmingly blue liquid into each. The drinks immediately began to fizz, producing a fine mist that hovered in the top half of the glasses like captive clouds.

Quinn didn’t know what to expect from a drink that produced such a show, but he imagined it had to be potent. “A successful expedition, my lord?”

“Well, I think so, at any rate,” Eilan replied as he sat down. “Martovliian sky-nectar. I’m afraid the special effects are mostly lost on me, but the buxom young Twi’lek who described it for me seemed quite fascinated by it.” He raised his glass to his face, as if taking in the aroma. “I can feel the vapor, though, and the taste is certainly not to be scoffed at.” He gestured with his glass for Quinn to try it.

Generally speaking, Quinn would never imbibe in a work situation, and in his mind, sitting with a Sith apprentice in a casino where he’d rather not be definitely qualified as work—it certainly wasn’t pleasure. He had no doubt, however, that Eilan would pester him until he gave in and drank. Conceding defeat before the battle could begin, he raised his glass in a semi-formal salute.

“To your health, my lord,” he murmured.

“And to yours, Captain.” Eilan’s tone was wry, as it so often was; again, he seemed to be laughing privately at something, or everything. He returned Quinn’s toasting gesture, and the two of them drank, setting their glasses down with simultaneous clinks.

The liquor was sweet and aromatic, and oddly spicy; it took a moment for the alcohol to catch up with the intense flavor, and when it did, it came on rather suddenly, and with force. Quinn was glad they’d already eaten—this was not a drink for an empty stomach.

“Interesting,” he managed to say in a neutral tone.

Eilan laughed, seeing through the captain’s attempt to downplay the drink’s strength. “Isn’t it just? I bought the bottle; we can give Vette a glass, enjoy the show and all that, and save the rest for a suitable occasion.”

“Does that mean we’re leaving, my lord?” Quinn winced inwardly at the plaintive note in his voice, but he was more than ready to quit the casino—and Nar Shaddaa, for that matter.

“Why the rush?” The apprentice grinned teasingly. “Hmm... Perhaps you’d simply prefer Vette’s company to mine?”

The insolent Twi’lek was little more than a nuisance to Quinn, and he knew Eilan was well aware of his feelings toward the girl. “I won’t dignify that with a response,” he replied with quiet aplomb, unwilling to give the younger man fuel for his mockery.

Eilan simply chuckled quietly as he rose from his seat. “As you like, Captain. ‘Come, let us rest for a time, ‘til that higher power calls us again to serve.’”

It wasn’t until they’d reached the taxi stand that Quinn recognized the quote; it was from a classic Zeltron epic, highly regarded as a masterpiece of erotic literature. Eilan had left off the last part of the sentence:

Come, let us rest for a time, ‘til that higher power calls us again to serve; then we shall strive with one another again, skin against skin, to deliver that most glorious end—to see each other utterly unmade.

“Unmade” was one of the most common euphemisms in Zeltron literature; knowing that made the intent of the rest of the passage quite clear. It was, Quinn thought with a silent sigh, thoroughly inappropriate.

And when it comes to Lord Eilan, he thought, resigned to the inevitable, I suppose 'inappropriate' is only to be expected.
Ebon Hawk * The Thirteenth Legion * RP/Social/Casual
Kjara | Avidior | Mizret | Ysmena
Forging Fortune * Aviditas

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imperialmerc
08.01.2013 , 04:54 PM | #10
Excuse me. *steps outside* BWAHAHAHHAHAHAHHA *steps back inside* I loved your take on the Warrior and found Quinn's reactions hilarious. Subbing for more, keep up the good work.
Lagro level 55 Mercenary Sezzid level 55 Vanguard
Cezzid level 55 Operative Tuckeer level 30 Gunslinger
Snefru level 55 Sith Juggernaut Kell'ia level 23 Jedi Sage
Liadra level 14 Sith Assassin You're going down