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The Life that's Left


EverSteam's Avatar


EverSteam
03.10.2013 , 06:07 AM | #81
Quote: Originally Posted by iamthehoyden View Post
Looking forward to seeing where this winding road leads
You are very correct in the winding part and I'm happy about the rest
Quote: Originally Posted by MilaniGrey View Post
*wants to hug Leer, but also wants to live*


-------



Two weeks later...



'Blizz need Boss. Blizz friend's need Boss help. Boss need to be scavenger then pirate for Blizz.' The Jawa looks over his small shoulder and nods his head at a voice I can't make out.

'Please, Boss.' He chitters hastily. The small, grainy figure is gone but the plea echoes in my ears and rattles in my empty chest.

I clench my fists, crushing the edge of the holo panel. I distantly feel the pain of some of my nails breaking and others bending backward. Not my fingers that leave me hissing from a sting. Blizz...

My eyes are wild and needing as I look around the bare room. I let out a growl and clench my fingers further into the metal. Hear HK's footsteps. My fingers worm there way out of their metal cave. Leave six inhabited with a nail.

Slink around the corner of the door to the top of the stairs and see that HK is approaching the bottom from across the cargo bay. I move back to behind the doorway and wait for it. When it begins it's second step into the cargo bay, I attack with a sharp kick to his back that sprawls HK to the ground. Isn't enough. I'm still angry. Words too small for the livid outrage I feel. Think most of it is against myself. For what I'm not doing and what I will continue not doing.

'Need to be better than that, HK,' I taunt as it lifts itself from the floor. 'Droid, initiate training protocol 3.'

HK moves to attack and we begin a dance. Not like training with... I pause the thought for a brief moment which almost allows HK to land a sharp blow to my side. Censoring what I think isn't becoming easier. Wonder if it would be better if I just allowed myself to think or say his name.

Don't have to hold back with HK. It doesn't bruise or break in most places. Doesn't feel pain or take as long as an organic to heal. It's my hard punching bag that fights back. When I cancel the training, my body aches in different places. Worst is my chest. HK had nothing to do with that.

Look my body over and see minimal bruising. Head's a little clearer. Not much room for thinking when sparring with HK. Too even for that. Look HK over and see it's rather fine.

'Continue previous orders.' HK takes it's dismissal in silence and continues his sporadic trek through the ship.

The cockpit is silent when I enter it. Always used to wish it was silent. At this moment, I wouldn't mind any of the people absent being in it. I sit in Mako's chair again and access my account. Money for the politician and his son have been transferred. I send half of it to Blizz with a note.

I pause before sending. The note seems to glare at me. Maybe it's because I feel like glaring at myself.

'Hope this is enough. Leave the planet and start over on a new ship with your friends. That's an order.'

What right do I have to order him? I wipe the message and stare at the blank space. Know what my heart wants to fill it with: news that I will follow the credits; the confession that I miss him; the request for him to join me; the pledge that I will kill the men that betrayed and stole from him. Promises I won't and can't keep. Can't type those anymore than I can think his name without choking on air. When did you become so fracking soft? I know the answer. I know it far too well.

'Hope this is enough to compensate you and your friends.' I hesitate before typing the next words. 'Good luck, Blizz.'

Good luck because I won't be there
, I think bitterly. I shake my head. It's good luck for him that I'm not. He doesn't need me. Liar.

With that word my anger at the men that robbed from and betrayed Blizz is back. My hatred of myself returns like the rising of the second Tatooine sun. Know HK won't be enough. Know I can't repeat Corellia. What I need becomes clear. How many days will I have to spend out there until I'm better?

Even like this, know there's something I have to check first. How can I think so clearly when all I want is to feel enough things die under my hands so this anger becomes something bearable? Until exhaustion takes its toll and this livid, burning feeling is something that isn't tearing me apart from the inside? How do I put the inferno in my chest out again now that he's gone? You go and help the friend you love.

Not an option. Not a fact. Temporary relief. And I know that I don't want to stop hating. I don't want to stop this anger that walks with its hand through mine. After all, if someone took the anger and hatred away, what would be left?

I tap my leg and expect to feel a pocket. I growl in pointless aggravation when I don't feel one. Make my way into the other room to the holo terminal with heavy steps. Bring up the number I want quickly. Within moments of calling, the dark red Devaronian is standing above me in grainy blue.

'Gault.'

'In the holo flesh, babe.' He gives me a distracted leer as he takes a few steps which blurs his figure. 'But as much as I love calls from you I'm kind of busy with work at the moment.' He looks over his shoulder quickly then back at me.

'That's nice, dear,' I satirically reply with a patience and humour I don't feel. Really couldn't give a **** what he's doing. I clench my fingers at my sides. 'So you aren't going to be home for dinner?' I raise an eyebrow and clench my fists a little tighter.

'No, babe. Don't stay up for me,' he replies with an absent grin and another glance over his shoulder. Good, I can leave the ship unguarded.

'Ok. I'll leave your dinner on a plate.' I smirk up at his large figure. I've never cooked my crew dinner. Unless in HK's point, oiling it is classified as a meal.

'No, don't worry, my dear. I won't be home again for a few nights. Will you miss me?' Gault gives me his full attention for the first time and more than a little mockery.

'As much as a Selkath would miss the desert,' I reply with exaggerated pleasantry and sincerity as I look up at him.

Gault begins his usual objections, his work apparently forgotten. I shut off the holo. Small smile begins to crack my mouth open. Clenched, white teeth peek through the gap. I shake my head more at myself then Gault and leap over the banister, landing lightly in the cargo bay. Did Gault always manage to make me smile no matter how angry I felt? Guess that would make someone wonder about their feelings for a while or make anyone else think they need to meet more people. Only makes me think about removing the one I have.

'HK, we're going hunting!' HK separates itself from the shadows and exclaims it's slightly chilling joy. 'I know. Been too long since we went hunting together.'

'Agreement: Three weeks is far too long, master.'

'I said I know, droid.' My impatience to leave is back. I'm a bomb that's ticking and is about to explode. Only hope I can make it out of the city before I do. 'Get whatever you need together. We leave in five minutes.'

I run up the stairs and into my room. Leap across the bed and land in a crouch in front of two different crates. Quickly type in the code to unlock one and open the lid eagerly. Inhuman grin pushes the corners of my lips up and apart when I see the shining wood of my crossbow. Lightly trace my fingers along its surface and feel the grooves under a thick lacquer, my need to run and kill momentarily forgotten in the melancholy of a long held off reunion. The wood came from a branch in Kashyyyk. Least that's what the General told me: a fifth year anniversary present.

Feel the same stab of disgust that had kept me from opening it. More stimulant is added to my blazing rage. Take it out roughly and strap it back on. Try not to feel a sad pang at my rough treatment of it. Hate how much I love it. Hate why and by who it was given to me by. But it's craftsmanship, the feel of it on my back and in my hands... don't know how I went the last few years without it.

Open the other crate and pull out the bolts, still in a quiver I attach onto my belt. I stand up and strap it on. Walk through my room. Heading for the door. For a reason I can't define, I stop in front of my mirror. Stare at myself: my eyes moving up and down my body, taking in my torn pants so the legs sit high up my thighs and my cut shirt that is more like a black, shabby vest, before fixing my wandering gaze onto my eye. Look like how I used to in the Organisation only something's off. It will take me months to realise what. When I do, I will wish I had realised a lot sooner.

I meet HK at the exit. I give it a vicious grin and we walk down the exit ramp together. Lock the entry with a new code. Don't want to risk Gault coming back early.

Turn to HK and hitch my crossbow up my back. Give him a fiercely sadistic smile, a chuckle bubbling out of my throat.

'Let's go hunting.'


----
Spoiler

MilaniGrey's Avatar


MilaniGrey
03.10.2013 , 10:03 AM | #82
She's gone bonkers ;D <3
The Islingr LegacyShatter the Darkness
Astaron, Narithia, Xalkory, ┴illeacht
The Ebon Hawk Server
Forever Shenanigans!

Mathemagica's Avatar


Mathemagica
03.12.2013 , 12:33 PM | #83
BLIIIIIIIZZZ!!!

Ok... uhm... yeah. Enjoying as always. It's funny how knowing the answer to her problem doesn't solve the problem yet. I'm looking forward to every rampage-trip she'll have until the end.

EverSteam's Avatar


EverSteam
03.14.2013 , 01:42 AM | #84
Quote: Originally Posted by Mathemagica View Post
BLIIIIIIIZZZ!!!

Ok... uhm... yeah. Enjoying as always. It's funny how knowing the answer to her problem doesn't solve the problem yet. I'm looking forward to every rampage-trip she'll have until the end.
There will be more Blizz to come (maybe )
I'm glad because there will be a lot more. After all, she wouldn't be who she was if she wasn't as unstable as *insert witty and preferably Star Wars related simile.*
Quote: Originally Posted by MilaniGrey View Post
She's gone bonkers ;D <3
I believe you mean she's gone bonkers again


-----


Unknown number of days later...


I pull myself up onto the highest branch that can hold my weight. It isn't the tallest in the jungle and doesn't break through the canopy but the sky can be seen through the leaves. I rest my back against the tree trunk and feel something slimy on my shoulder. I learnt a few days ago that wiping things only makes them spread. My legs and hands are still stained a bright blue that I am hoping will wash off.

I look down below and see HK standing guard at the bottom of the trunk. What else was I going to tell him to do? Everything worth shooting for the next mile is dead and being eaten by scavengers and I spent a day searching for HK after he left to hunt while I slept briefly with no orders to do the contrary.

I can't think of the last time I climbed a tree. Maybe I've never climbed one. I think I like it though. I look around me and all I can see are shades of green amongst twisting brown. There is something liberating about being this high. It's different from being at the top of a tower. There is nothing to stop me falling.

How many days have I been in the jungle? I'm not sure. I know Iziz is now a few hours march away since I turned around yesterday. No matter how long I've been here, it's been over three weeks since Nar Shaddaa though it feels like a lot longer. I don't know why, but Nar Shaddaa seemed to be where things changed. Maybe it is in my head, but I feel things slowly escalating.

As my thoughts wander to Blizz, they become interrupted by a sound I don't understand. I wasn't sure if it was there at first. But then It kept coming, and coming, and coming. I look around the jungle. Three beeps, a pause and then three beeps again. I swing onto lower branches but it doesn't seem to take me closer to the sound. I turn in circles trying to find the location of the noise.

Once I am only ten metres above the jungle floor, I realise what the sound is and stop. I shift my weight and look myself over. I find the pouch that has the noise and pull out my holo. So that's where I left it...

I answer. I'm surprised by the lean man that flickers to grainy blue and grey life in my palm. It had been over two weeks. I didn't expect the call. Though I never let myself think it, I wanted it. It was a dull feeling in my chest, a tugging that never abated.

'You are quite under clad for Iziz.' Damin's eyes narrow and he leans forward slightly. 'Too dirty as well.' His back straightens again and his eyes widen to normal.

Two things occur to me to point out to him. The first is the missed greeting and pleasantry. I think I looked forward to this call most to hear my name. But I feared this call. Everything started to fall apart once Damin entered my life again and said my name. Do you really believe that's where you started to lose it?

I ignore the first point and only express the second. 'In the jungle actually.'

'With no armour.' Was that a small smile? Not sure. Connection is bad out here. Surprised he even got through.

'I don't need it.' The boast of my life.

'There are six puncture wounds on your arm.' The observation isn't even delivered with concern or a movement of the eyes. Instead, the package of his words come wrapped in a smugness and otherwise neutral features.

I look down at the arm holding the holo. 'Bloods not mine.' Retort comes with my own smugness.

Damin doesn't shake his head or take his small holo eyes from mine. He doesn't smile or frown. He's only a flickering, arrogant statue.

'I referred to your right arm.'

I look at my other arm and see he's right. The six punctures making the shape of a crescent are deep and I can see smooth metal where they finish. I peer closer at it and am satisfied to see no damage to my wiring or veins. Lucky.

'Didn't notice. Must have happened yesterday. It will be fine.'

'From here, it looks like they have gone to the bone. If you don't want it to get infected, I suggest you return to Iziz and get it treated.'

I could almost laugh at the idea of being treated by a medic. What could they do to help? 'A medical expert, are we?'

'Yes.'

'Well, then, aren't you perfect?' I roll my eye and move to lean against the tree trunk. My cross bow presses uncomfortably into my back but I refuse to wriggle until it is more comfortable.

'I like to think so.' That doesn't surprise me. He pauses and tilts his head to the side a little. 'You are not going to go to a medic.'

'Not in a hundred years,' I affirm with a self satisfied smirk.

'You may then lose the arm,' he warns. Was that a concerned frown?

'No, it's metal, it will keep.' I look up at the sky. I can't see much of it but what I do is dark with rain. I can hear thunder in the distance. 'Though it might rust if it rains.'

Damin silently evaluates me. I can tell he is thinking 'truth or not?' No nod or shake gives away his conclusion and the mask of indifference remains. I know he has placed the information into a file in his mind and will take it into his predictions in the future. I think he would hate having to start them with 'if'.

'I have some information you will be interested in but the connection is getting worse,' he asserts. He isn't wrong. He is flickering more and his voice is now starting to become distorted. But a Cipher never has a single reason for anything. Like this call, it isn't to keep an idle acquaintance or to fulfill a promise. This light banter was bound to end and something like business was destined to be discussed. I don't fool myself into thinking Damin has something near affection for me. Then why did he look, touch and speak to you how he did? I only wish I could fool myself into thinking I have no affection for him.

'Are you asking me to return to my ship? The ship I would have to pass a dozen medics to reach?'

'That would be appreciated, yes.' He enters parade rest and nods his head. I smirk at him quickly before looking to the sky again. You're still your father's little boy.

Rain is getting closer. Rusting was a joke but I don't fancy being here when the forest floor is mud that we will sink ankle or even knee deep into. And I was on my way back anyway.

'Fine. Call you when I get there.'

'Thank you, Leeriah.' Was that a charming smile he gave me before disappearing? I groan and shake my head and refuse to let Damin enter it again until I reach the ship. He is a complication my life cannot afford to have.

I look to the sky again and think of Blizz. Did you get them? I ask the sky as if this one will somehow know what another sky across the galaxy is seeing. Did I disappoint you, Blizz?

I sigh, swing down a few branches and jump the rest of the distance. My feet sink into the leaf litter.

'Come on, HK, it's time to go home.'


-----

Spoiler

MilaniGrey's Avatar


MilaniGrey
03.16.2013 , 02:20 PM | #85
Home bound?
The Islingr LegacyShatter the Darkness
Astaron, Narithia, Xalkory, ┴illeacht
The Ebon Hawk Server
Forever Shenanigans!

EverSteam's Avatar


EverSteam
03.16.2013 , 11:04 PM | #86
Quote: Originally Posted by MilaniGrey View Post
Home bound?
Quite


-----


Six or so hours later...


'You are in your ship.'

'Yes, but I can't talk long.' I glance to the two entrances to the holo room.

The doors are closed but I feel tense. I feel like something is out of place but I'm not sure what yet. The feeling and the dread of Gault waking are something I can't quite connect. It has wiped the memory of a four hour trek through rain and mud and a two hour walk through a sea of conspicuously staring and immaculately dressed people. I lost count of how many times HK offered to liquidate the citizens that called me a 'dirty whore' among other sentiments.

'You are not alone.'

'Interesting statement. Normally pose it to myself as a question though. This case, Gault is on board but sleeping.' I can't hide the frustration from my voice. Don't want Gault here to overhear this discussion. Also annoyed he managed to slice my security.

'You want to keep our communications a secret despite your strong friendship.' His eyebrow slightly raises in amusement at my contradictions.

'Interesting theory. Have any others?'

'Many.' He pauses and his expression softens a little. 'How are you, Leeriah?'

'You mean apart from having a drexl larvae bite on my right forearm?' I frown up at him seriously, my eyebrows almost meeting in a look of serious puzzlement.

'Naturally,' Damin comments with a faint smile but a neutral voice.

'Completely insane.' I grin at him despite the sting of my honest words. 'How about you?'

'Similar.' Damin hesitates, his lips flattening out as he looks around him. 'This call is being monitored,' he informs me in that well practiced, flat voice.

'No, it isn't.' My counter comes with a smirk and I look at my nails with smugness. Only, they aren't long, clean and perfect. They're covered in mud, blood and all but two are broken bellow the skin. I cross my arms and hide them. You can hide anything if you try hide enough. You can hide grief if you try hard enough.

'You put this forward as a fact.'

'As most do when they say a fact.' The calculations being made are clear in his eyes and I smirk as I begin my explanation. 'See, when I left there, Damin, I left it in a better state then you and-'

'You rendered me unconscious and left me on the ship after setting it on course for Dromund Kaas.' The interruption is delivered in that infuriatingly level voice that gives nothing away.

But I can hazard a guess at his feelings. 'Is that anger and bitterness I hear?'

Damin frowns at my holo image and I can tell his teeth are clenched as his forces the next four words out. 'Continue with your explanation.' I know he is thinking a different four: I haven't forgiven you.

I ignore the harsh sting that comes when I think of that parting and continue as he asked. 'I was able to endorse the assistance of Helpers to take some supplies that were not conspicuous and-'

'They were?'

'Do you interrupt your superiors this much?' I growl in irritation. Guess it's what remains of my time with my parents, but a desire for people to follow the codes of civility is ingrained in me. Interruptions and skipping pleasantries are amongst the things that irk me most. But killing people isn't any civility code?

'Never.'

I smile and shake my head. Never thought a man's arrogance in obedience could be endearing. 'A cross bow, some armour, five crates of blasters and a flame thrower among other things.'

I remember the weeks I spent stealing ship after ship, spending hours transporting my crates from one ship to another. Most were weapons. Three contained different armour sets. I dread the day I have no choice but to wear one of them. I unconsciously scratch my forearm, my fingers getting caught in the puncture wounds and taking of the skin around them. I don't notice Damin's concerned look as he watches my hand move up and down, up and down.

'I'm sure you found the ten crates of blasters that were always kept on the shuttles?'

'Continue,' is the only cold answer I receive.

'Guess you didn't.' I leer at him before continuing but I want to know what he's thinking. Why put up with my insolent teasing? I begin to scratch harder. 'A device is also kept on all the shuttles that stops third party intrusions on calls. Don't know how it works. Only know how to install and uninstall it.'

'Interesting.' Damin suddenly becomes engrossed in his thoughts and I wait with a raised eyebrow. 'I would like to examine the device one day.'

I raise my eyebrow higher at the deferential order. I cross my arms across my chest again and feel a slight smooth wetness where they touch. But all I can notice is Damin: this room has no dirty, dented walls; no discarded and stained blankets or bottles; no new seats that boast a wealth that doesn't show in anything else; no doors that keep out the world and one of the closest people to me: it has nothing but us.

'I'm sure you would. Maybe on that day you will also realise that almost three weeks is not two weeks.' Where did the anger in my voice come from?

'I apologise, Leeriah. I was detained with work.' He looks around again and takes a step closer to his holo terminal. When he speaks, it is in a low, earnest voice. 'I pray you do not hold the boldness of telling you I have missed you against me.'

'Depends on the honesty of the sentiment.'

'It is honest,' Damin assures me with an Imperial accent around his plea. Never thought that sound and action could go together.

'Because Cipher's are known for their truthfulness.' He winces at my cynical scoff.

'Leeriah...' Damin's eyes beg an understanding I refuse to submit to and his gentle call make my arms tighten around my stomach. He composes himself and looks over his shoulder. 'I am sorry to hear you feel so. Would I be intruding on you to call you once a week?'

'Miss me that much?' I sneer in return. I don't see him in grainy, blue grey holo: I see him as he is. And what is he?

'Yes. I have been missing you for ten years.' The earnest confession falls flat on me.

'Smooth lie, Damin, but I don't think our situation warranted any feelings of reminiscence.'

'It does for me.' Do I imagine the crackle in his voice as it rises in anger? I know I don't but I can't believe it. His words and the emotion don't fit: two pieces of a puzzle that will never be compatible no matter how much you force them together or cut them to fit.

'Your hidden eye calls your lie.'

Damin's shoulders stiffen and a hand breaks free of the others grasp behind his back. It never reaches right his eye. He regains control of himself and joins it again with the other. Was that such a low shot?

'You still do not allow anyone to get close to you. I must confess to wonder at how someone worked their way close enough to you for you to agree to marriage.'

'Seems everyone thinks that,' I reply with a careless shrug I don't feel. Damin isn't the only one that can hide what they feel when it suits them. But it is harder, so very much harder, to hide emotions than to hide the physical scars. What clothes can you put over your heart to hide it's scars? 'Don't think I know a single being that hasn't.'

'Including yourself.'

'Undoubtedly.'

'Did he?'

I look away from Damin's eyes but don't let mine wander so far as to the door that hides the view of my quarters. I am not quite all on the ship again. My memory has drifted to Corellia.

'Makes me wonder how you got her to marry you,' Corridan comments casually.

'Ask myself that every day. Surprised I'm alive.'
Never wanted to recall those words again. Think in everything he ever said, those and those that follow, hurt the most. Scrunch my eye tightly shut in a useless attempt to stop the next words from coming.

'But worth it. Do anything for her or to protect her. Not that she would ever need it.'


How could I not see the resolve in him? How could I not see anything after all that he said on Voss? After the vision I received on Voss? How could I be so incredibly blind and foolish? I should have known. I should of watched my own back.

'Yes,' I whisper. The weakness of my voice recollects me to where I am and who I'm talking to. I clear my throat and look back up at Damin with defiant eyes: they challenge him to call me out on my unshed tears and to do his worst.

Damin only gives a sharp nod and a glance over his shoulder. 'None the less, I would like to call you every week.'

'Do what you like,' I apathetically reply.

Damin takes in a breath as if to let it out in a sigh but with strains himself. 'If only.'

Damin straightens and takes a step back. He runs a hand through his hair. His fringe stays back even when his hands become clasped behind his back and I can see his black eye clearly. I unconsciously rub the implant above my left eye in remembrance of that day. I didn't mean for it to happen like that.

'This isn't just a... social call. I know something you might be interested in.' Ah, the real point of his call. How could I have been swept away by him and forgotten where I really stand? Where I need to stand.

'Thrill me,' I reply with a challenging smirk.

'Maybe if I live through the next few weeks, I will.' He smiles in that sad way and shakes his head. His fringe falls back into place; his black eye hidden once more. I dig my teeth into my tongue to stop any reply or change of expression. He's still taking me apart with every word.

'Leeriah.'

It's all I hear. The rest is static, white noise that's deafening yet everything is silent all at once. I see his lips move more and his business air crumble into concern as I begin to shake. I take steps back but soon run into the couch. I sit down on it, out of the holo range.

I watch but don't register Damin pressing controls, trying to see if there was a cut in the line. Either he gives up and hangs up or we really do cut out because the light in the room leaves with his holo image.

So soon... why?


-----
Spoiler

MilaniGrey's Avatar


MilaniGrey
03.17.2013 , 01:19 AM | #87
Don't mind me I'm just sort of shipping Damin and Leeriah... Don't do anything that feels like too much work. You can just post his PoV entries in this thread, appropriately marked. Don't have to start up a whole new one. And, as always, I enjoyed reading.
The Islingr LegacyShatter the Darkness
Astaron, Narithia, Xalkory, ┴illeacht
The Ebon Hawk Server
Forever Shenanigans!

EverSteam's Avatar


EverSteam
04.05.2013 , 09:56 PM | #88
Quote: Originally Posted by MilaniGrey View Post
Don't mind me I'm just sort of shipping Damin and Leeriah... Don't do anything that feels like too much work. You can just post his PoV entries in this thread, appropriately marked. Don't have to start up a whole new one. And, as always, I enjoyed reading.
I have no comment on the Damin/Leeriah front
I'm glad you're liking it

My subscription ran out but I've been writing like crazy and the ideas are coming but then I'm having problem phrasing them and argh! Anyway, here's a few posts.

-------

Damin's POV
Set at the end of part one of Leer/Damin holo call


Her figure disappears and my fingers linger for a moment of the controls. The hardest part is yet to come...

I take a deep breath. It is not the time to think of it now. I have company.

'Master Hyllus, you can approach now.'

I turn around and lean against the holo terminal, resting my hands on the terminals edge. I smile at the Joiner as he walks out of the doorway to stand before me.

'I am sorry, agent. We did not mean to pry. We only felt strong emotions that sung so loudly to us we could not stay away.'

'It's alright, Vector,' I assure him with a smile. If I did not want any listeners I would have bought a new holo. If Intelligence wasn't listening, what would be the point in our conversations?

'Would you mind if I call you 'Vector'?'

'Not all, agent,' the Joiner replies with a small bow.

'I would request you also call me by my first name but given our occupation and the difficulty of speaking Cheunh among others, I think we will have to settle with 'agent', 'cipher' or whatever else current missions dictate.'

I keep my smile gentle and friendly. I mean it as much as I can. I don't relish in the news I will have to give Leeriah and I would rather keep my thoughts away from it. There is only one person in the galaxy who calls me 'Damin' and her memory is the only record of that name left. My own parents call me by full name or only 'son'. I think that latter is grossly ironic when it resounds from their cold lips.

'We understand, agent.' An interesting statement. What exactly does he really understand? The Joiner sees more but doesn't the hive impair his understanding of emotions and expressions?

'We did not think Cipher's kept a single mate,' the Joiner suddenly states.

'She isn't and has never been anything like that.' Indifference, agent, where did it go? You need some in your voice at the moment.

Vector returns my frown and a weak mimicry of apology colours and shifts his features. I tighten my hands on the terminal edge and attempt to control myself. It is always hardest when it concerns her.

'We are sorry, agent. We did not mean to offend or misunderstand.' The sincerity in the Joiners voice seems to come from large distance away or down the end of a dark cave: it is only a faint noise or echo of a humans emotion.

'I believe 'it's alright, Vector' is going to quickly become all I say to you.' I force a small laugh and another smile. Fooling the Joiner will prove a personal challenge I look forward to and relish in. It only seems I am off to a stumbling start and a handicap.

He gives me the smile of someone on a spice trip and I am pleased he didn't fail to misunderstand such a small joke.

'We hope not, agent. But before you are occupied with other... people, we would like to take a moment of your time to discuss our position upon your vessel.'

Maybe I have been in the coarse company of Kaliyo for too long but the Joiner's company is soothing and at present, a welcome distraction from less favourable problems and thoughts, and an idle amusement to pass my wait with.

'Please, sit, Vector. We have plenty of time. I have hopes that we will become very close.'

I usher him over to the closest lounge in the room and sit down with a crossed leg and an arm over the back. Vector takes the space I face and sits strangely stiffly, turning his torso so he can face me and keep his feet firmly on the ground. I take this frigidity to note and place it away so I will be able to remember it for future operations. I do not want to be in a cantina and have Vector speak like a man on a spice trip about auras while he sits with an inhuman rigidity.

'So do we, agent. We have finished finalising everything with the diplomatic service. We are now yours entirely.'

'Mine and the hives,' I correct with a faint smile. It doesn't come with malice or suspicion. It is merely a realistic analysis of the situation. I feel I will have as close to trust in Vector as my nature, history and occupation will allow and though I will be playing him like a conductor leads an orchestra, I will enjoy every moment with as much friendly warmth as I can allow.

'Our loyalties are not divided by two opposing forces. We are hoping for an alliance in time between the killiks and the Empire.'

My cynicism is stronger than my training for a moment. I am a Chiss-Human. My existence is not a symbol of the Empire's tolerance only my parents ambitions. I removed outward displays of xenophobia in the Academy by blackmail and when there was no real evidence to incriminate another, I would create some so flawlessly that no one could find it's fraudulence. Such a thing earned my mother's respect for a time though my father preferred brute force. I learnt early on it was impossible to appease two entirely opposite people who only share a common love of the Empire and themselves.

There is a two second pause that is two seconds too long before I can continue civilly.

'You are a very welcome asset to our small team, Vector, and I do not question your loyalty to myself or the Empire.' Not out loud, at least. 'I am sure your actions will only further prove that my confidence is not misplaced.'

The Joiner bows slightly and I appreciate his civility and formality that is very lacking when speaking to the Ratattaki.

'We thank you, agent. We ensure that our duties as Dawn Herald do not interfere with our duties as an Imperial.'

'I would appreciate it if you removed my ignorance around the duties and meaning of Dawn Herald.' I loathe ignorance and I am not a stranger or blind to the Empire's faults: when it comes to alien cultures, the Empire is an expert in wilful ignorance.

'The Dawn Herlad is a warrior and emissary for the nest - one who confronts the unknown. We retain a sense of individuality and it is also why we are useful to you. We honour the killiks gift and we are content.'

Content? What is such a feeling really? Does it just mean you are not restless or unsatisfied? Whatever it is, I have never felt it and Damin feels a squirm of jealousy the agent will not allow.

'Interesting,' the agent says through gritted teeth. There must be something in the way I say it because the Joiner tilts his head and gazes with what I think could be perplexity.

'Surely everyone carries over rituals and habits from their life before Intelligence?'

'No. Having a history makes a person vulnerable. Habits should be forgotten: connections severed.'

The answer is automatic as if it comes from a brain washed reflex. I have severed the connection to my parents but they refuse to do the same to me. It is not out of any form of parental attachment or concern. They do not want their possibly spy son to slip through their fingers and fall out of reach.

'We cannot believe that you feel this way when you keep in contact with a woman who you care so much about.'

'I do not care for her. She is an assignment like any other.'

Vector nods like bird giving a testing peck to a strange seed. 'We are sorry to make you angry, agent. We will not mention her again though we would be interested in hearing of your past.'

I sit straight and move my leg down the black silk of the sofa. 'This conversation is over, Vector.'

'As you wish, agent.'

Vector stands to leave but when he does, the rational agent returns again and I realise I cannot leave things like this. Vector is not Kaliyo or a trained operative. The probability of being betrayed by him intentionally or otherwise is slim on both fronts. But I have not made it to 'Cipher' by playing it unsafe.

'I have met an agent, though,' I begin with a grin. Vector turns back around to me and retakes his seat. 'Who still claps their hands twice after anyone sneezes because their mother always told them a sneeze is how evil spreads. You should see what they have to do when they sneeze.' I force a perfectly practiced and neat laugh that is an exact copy of a genuine laugh.

'You're habits and rituals are still strange as these things go though, Vector,' I gently tease.

'You cannot blame us for trying, agent,' Vector replies with that same spice trip smile.

'I don't, Vector,' I reassure him. I don't blame him because if I had something that made me content, I would damn my training and damn my job. I give him a rare grin and unknowingly begin the basis of a friendship that would become closer and more important than I could have ever thought it would be.

'Now,Vector, did anyone ever introduce you to the composer...'


--------


Damin POV cross post from short fanfiction thread.
Takes place at the end of their second call.


The last loud note is struck before it fades to strings and wind. The calming and hopeful flute makes me remember the hope of escape. The strings leave me feeling the fear of years past. My finger worms its way into my hair and twists my fringe around and around it, unwinds and then twists again. With each note and each instrument, the memories take on different hues. With each change in tempo so did the memory I watch.

I see her come to my cell that night. I see the Guard dead outside the door with his or her blood eagerly running through the open doorway as if it was tired of being trapped in skin and wanted escape. I remember thinking it was heading in the wrong direction.

As the flute draws longer notes, my memory shifts to her as she moves toward me. Each step seems long and her footfalls match the winds ending notes.

What was it I felt when I saw her? I can't remember. I remember her unlocking my chains and letting me go. Her cold hands held my arm too tightly as she helped me stand and left bruises that would last for weeks. I never noticed how average her height was until I was looking down into her eye. I remember my free arm raising a hand to touch her cheek in what I was thinking was a moment.

She flinches away then and lets my arm go. She takes hurried steps away and leaves the room. I ran to follow with stiff legs that ungainly limped. But there was no need. Her chest was heaving then with laboured, heavy breaths as she stood just around the corner of the door. I didn't need to see more of her than her straight, shaking back to know she was crying.

Her head shakes slightly and she calls to me. 'The Guard is changed only five times every twenty six hours. I've made a clear way from here to the elevator but we need to go to the first floor. Undress the Guard and put his clothes on. No one will question us.'

I do as she says. She never turned around and I was slow and anxious to follow her orders from anxiety about anyone coming by despite her reassurance. The left shoulder and collar was wet with blood but it didn't show. In my relative innocence or sense of prudence, the clammy touch of it on my skin made me shiver.

She turned to me once I was finished despite my lips remaining closed. She smirked at me with a perfect raised brow.

'You look just as piss weak as any new fish around here. No one will know.'

I smiled despite my disgust at my disguise and the fear of getting caught. Her smirk became a smile that's gentle and sad. I remember her white skin blending in with the seamless white walls, leaving only her tight, small black clothes to give her definition and physicality.

I clear my throat and look up and around my clean white surroundings. The door to my room had closed shut and only the small rectangle window let me know there is a room there at all.

'Aren't there camera's around here?' I ask.

I remember that look of contempt for my question and the way she turned on her heel. 'Mask down, 329.'

I move my mask down and walk behind her. My knees don't shake and my back is straight. A General's son knows how to march without fear even when pee drips unseen down his leg. She was correct: no one challenged us. I notice the salutes she receives and the stares of fear. I wonder what it would be like to look at her and feel fear.

'I have attained clearance for you,' she begins as she types her code into the hanger security door. I follow her through and feel tiny and vulnerable in the large open space. I feel I should stick to a wall and find somewhere smaller. How many months was I here? Over a year or less? I lost track despite my most sincere efforts.

'I signed your papers for service leave due to an ailing spouse this morning,' she explained with an amused smirk. Her nose twitched and it made me wonder if she could smell fear.

'I do not have a spouse.' Was your voice smooth and flirtatious or did you have no emotion? Did you make that connection at the time that she killed a man who she knew well enough to know he had a wife and feel sad at his death? When was it later that cynicism took over the memory and you saw that she had waited until it was that Guard on duty because no other would have worked?

'Don't tell them that. 329 had a wife. Aren't you 329?' I slowly nod my head. It is the first alias I had ever undertaken: the first time I stole another's identity. I watch her and stand there not knowing what to do now that freedom is twenty paces and few buttons away. How was this so easy?

'Get on it or die: either way you have to hurry.' Her voice was gruff and annoyed. I now wonder if she still uses anger and apathy to hide her true feelings. I find no condolence in knowing that I may have been the first to see through her.

'General is expecting me in half an hour.' She looks over her shoulder to the door. Do I now imagine the flinch around her eye?

'You don't have to go to him.' Did my voice sound so level and reasonable then or have I changed the plea to what would make it easier to live with?

'And the sun doesn't have to rise.' I never new in those months that she could be so wistful, but I knew she could be that bitter. 'Get out of my sight. I hate the colour blue.' She turns her back on me and I know if she isn't crying now, she soon will be. If I leave, I will never be able to take her tears away again.

I lift my mask up and take a small step to her. 'Leeriah.'

She stiffens and looks up to the hanger ceiling. From here, the night sky can be seen though it is tinted pink by the force field.

The music I only dimly hear reaches its crescendo. The voice of my memory has taken me away and I am there in the place I think of most, with a timidity so un-Imperial stopping me from taking another step forward toward her. What did she look like in that moment? What was her expression? I wish she had turned around.

And then the question comes.

'I want you to leave with me, Leeriah. Will you?'

I draw in my breath and wait for her response. But it never comes. A different woman and a different voice speak from a different time.

'What's with the music, agent?'

I don't bother to look at her as she leans in my doorway. I keep my eyes on the ceiling where the memories I had been watching no longer dance slowly across the metal in time to the music that now sounds only loud and vulgar.

'It helps facilitate my thoughts,' I reply after a lengthily silence.

Kaliyo walks across my room to the screen displaying the song. The impertinence annoys me as much as it did the first time she did seven months ago. Commenting on it will only increase the behaviour from a daily behaviour to an hourly behaviour.

She laughs at me and reads the song title aloud as a belittling question. 'The Force of Destiny?'

'Quite,' I passively reply.

'Are you still mooning over her?'

'Specifics would be helpful in my deduction of who 'her' is, Kaliyo.'

'You know who. I wouldn't say that tracking someone is exactly 'destiny' at work, Damin.'

'The conclusions you spring to!' I marvel in sarcastic amazement. I hate how Kailyo says my name. She says it was the same mocking as 'agent' only that does not bother me. I only want one woman to ever say my name.

'So, what's the play, agent?' She reminds me of a hunting beast that once on a trail of one prey, cannot be taken of it by the scent of another.

'My play in what, Kaliyo?' I know from experience that not responding to her only leads to the opposite desired effect: it makes her stay longer. I desire to be back with my memories. There are things I need to analyse and a future I need to predict from them.

'You're play with her. You've been tracking her since before I met you, you finally meet her where you knew exactly where she'd be, don't sleep with her, keep in contact and seem to have no financial benefit. So what's the end game, agent? She betrayed you and now you want to kill her in some twisted way?'

'We don't all travel the galaxy killing our exes.' I rebuke myself for the hint of accusation that enters my voice. This is one of the few times since I refused to follow such an unorthodox and time wasting scheme that she has spoken to me without a glare. I don't miss it. The only benefit is not half waiting for a knife to be pulled behind my back.

'You want her back?' Kaliyo asks. She hasn't even erred to rebuke me for that.

'Kaliyo-' I alter my heavy reproach before it begins. There is no gain for me to illustrate to Kaliyo her short comings in human understanding and begin a hostile lecture on the complexities and subtleties of emotions, duty and human relations.

'Let's go for a drink.' I continue with no pause and sit up, swinging my legs over the edge of the bed. 'I think we need to celebrate our new crew members arrival.'

I look over at her and see her glare. My eyes wander to the point under her left eye where there is a slight hitch in her tattoo. The lack of symmetry in it offends me and makes looking at the Ratattaki that little bit more irritating. I continue to silently question the Keeper's decision to assign such a companion to my ship and crew. I would prefer another agent, Cipher, or at least an Imperial Academy graduate.

'We will talk about this again, agent. It isn't over.'

She slips away, walking warily backward in a way I don't think she even thinks about anymore. Things are never over until one side is dead and I am determined to make sure that is never me.

Kaliyo was right. I did know Leeriah was in the warehouse that day. But it isn't the first time in a decade I had seen her or we had shared the same planet. But things were never as dire as they are now. She is angering the wrong people on both sides. I know why I approached her and my reasons are more selfish then love.

I know my play is why I can never thank her for saving me. My only unrecognised thank you was keeping her and her location a secret. I can't tell her she's the only woman I've ever loved. I remember her then: young, hurt, angry, passionate, torn, righteous and so beautiful. I loved her as soon as she walked through the cell door and glared at me with so much hostility in that blood shot, arrogant and challenging eye as if she was the one in the chair and was challenging me to do my worst.

I wasn't wrong when I told her she hasn't changed. She's still that girl only I know she's crying over a different man. Why were agent's never trained against jealousy? Because they are trained not to love and not regret. That training was too little and two years too late.

I look up to my ceiling and see too many things there that still cut. My hand fixes my fringe, making sure it covers my eye. I never thought I was insane until I found myself loving her. I have heard wives say to their husbands and husbands to their wives before I kill either or both of them that they still love them no matter what they did to bring this to their house. I wonder if their testaments are as strong or true as mine.

I run my hands and fingers quickly up and down my scalp, gripping and pulling at my hair as I throw myself back onto my bed. My head hit's the hard edge of the frame and I groan and roll over. You're a Cipher. Start thinking like it or you know what happens. Are you ready to die?

No. I'm not.

I take a deep breath and roll off the bed. I switch the music off and walk to join my crew of two with refreshed resolve. Force of Destiny disappears with the touch of a button. I only don't know that changing fate isn't as easy as flicking a switch.


-----

Force of Destiny is a 1862 Overture by Verdi

EverSteam's Avatar


EverSteam
04.05.2013 , 10:12 PM | #89
Well, I wrote this for the prompt 'Hide and Seek' but got nervous so I'm only going to post it here instead. I also thought at least here everyone knows the situation and Gault/Leer complicated, bizarre relationship where boundries are very flexible. But I do not know, I may post it there later...

-----


He doesn't hear her approach. His thoughts are absorbed in cracking the code before she notices. She can walk silently when she chooses even though the underside of her feet are plated in metal. It isn't until she speaks that he realises her.

'It's a little late to be making repairs in the engine room, isn't it?'

Her voice is loud when she asks though there is now only a hands width between them, her chest almost brushing against his back when she silently inhales. He curses in his mind and wonders how she knew when he had been so careful and so silent. He takes a step back and then to the side, as far away from her as he can be in the narrow corridor. He feels the metal walls on the side of his shoulders. They reassure him he's in a corner with nowhere to run.

'This is the engine room? I thought it was my room. All doors look the same, babe, when you've had too much Tarisian ale,' he pointlessly justifies.

She looks him over solemnly and nods her head. She can't smell ale on his steady breath. He only looks into her eye nonchalantly. It's colour reminds him of ice in vodka and he refuses to get intoxicated by her from staring into its crystal depths.

She holds her arm crookedly out to him. 'I'll escort you to your room then,' she offers with a smile that shows her perfect white front teeth a little.

It's stiff gentleness makes the Devaronian uneasy though he refuses to shift his feet or flex his fingers. Only his eyes can't help but shift around looking for an escape that only his tongue can make and he notices the upward flicker of her lips, the open and alert watch of her eye as she catches ad waits for a movement. He can't remove the feeling that she can smell fear on her targets like a clawbird smells death and putrid meat.

She wants to get him away from the door as quickly as she can and she wants to get away from the door. Carbonite, metal and a high tech alarm system can't make security encase her mind or lock out the fear and hatred of what's on the other side from entering her heart. It's presence is an odour that stops her ship having the comfort and safety of a home.

'No, my dear, I think I can manage the three steps without your help,' he replies with pseudo calm and an easy smile.

Gault begins to take the steady steps easily to his door to prove his point. He enters his room and begins to get undressed as if she wasn't standing there and as if this conversation is over. Inside, he is entirely aware of the gaze of her cold, crystal eye. He doesn't let his hands shake as they begin to untie his black boots. He's never been scared to take his clothes off in front of a woman before. He's never felt so vulnerable or desirous of their approval. All the women in the galaxy... why does it have to be that one? he thinks exasperatedly.

'Taking off your clothes pretty easily for someone that should be seeing pink banthas or passed out on the floor.'

Gault puts his now removed boots at the end of his bed and begins to take off his jacket. He has to move slowly to keep his body steady.

'And you're very patient considering you have blue-boy on hold up there,' he retorts with a smirk.

She doesn't make a biting reply or even return his smirk. He frowns a little at the edges of his lips but though she notices this, she doesn't think of it. She notices everything that passes across his face and every change in his body's rhythms. But seeing isn't always understanding and when it matters most, she is blind.

He frowned because he hates it when he fails to make her smile with dark, amused cynicism or chuckle with pessimistic scorn in the way that always unsettled her husband. He hates the laugh she always had for him: the breezy laugh of indulgent, happy delight that was like the tinkling of metal in the wind or of a gentle stream falling into a pool. Gault likes her harsh view of the world, her ready, sharp and pessimistic wit and their banter that makes her just as happy. He isn't mistaken, is he, in thinking that she is happy with him?

He walks to his wardrobe and hangs his jacket up. She feels the heavy tension between them (though it is as far as her understanding can extend when others emotions concern her) as each wait for the other's accusations to begin. Only Gault has the power here. And she hates that. Three options are before him:

1. Stay silent about his suspicions and a) forget them, b) ignore them or c) wait until she tells him
2. Stay silent and continue to attempt to break into the engine room
3. Come out and blatantly ask what is in there.

She can't do anything about the first. Second, she can only continue to stop him. Third, she can kill him or leave him. If he doesn't leave first. It's a fear she has in the unexplored region of her hearts: the fear of abandonment and the fear of being alone with herself. When it comes down to it, she's scared of herself and her grief and waiting alone for her death.

'You know how this works: you mind your business and I mind mine.' How is my voice so level? she wonders to herself. Her stubbornness to deny her feelings comes in waves and right now, it's current has a strong grip on her. She won't acknowledge that she is just as terrified of what's in the engine room as she is of Gault finding it. She's desperate but resolute to ensure he never enters that room.

Gault hardly even glances at her as he walks to sit on his bed again. He feels curiosity chew on his mind and stomach and make his fingers twitch. His imagination gets the better of him when he imagines what's behind that door but he can't shift the feeling that it is something dangerous and best left on the floor of the Shadowlands or in the depths of Manaan's oceans. But despite this, all he wants to do is know.

'Don't see me dabbling in your accounts or territory,' she ends her friendly warning with. There is no need for a charade. She is a horrible liar.

'I wasn't aware that you had secretive business in the engine room, babe.' Gault begins to unbutton his grey shirt as he speaks. It seems to attract his entire concentration but she knows his mind is as much in the conversation as hers is. However, if she could hear his thoughts, she would know that it was only entirely in the conversation half of the time.

She could never have stood so firm if it was... not Gault who she was hiding It from. How can you still recoil from his name? You're weak, she accuses herself. How can you deny the accusation of your heart?

'I don't. We're talking about Damin.' She leans against the door way as she speaks and her eye takes in his slim, crimson body with critical evaluation. She doesn't miss the slight tremble in his hands that is now shown. She can think of no explanation for it. Nervousness couldn't account for it, nor fear or anger. In less than a month, she will be forced into the realisation of how little she knew of Gault and what he feels.

'So you won't mind if tomorrow morning I make some repairs in there?' Gault asks her as he throws his shirt into a pile in the corner of his otherwise neat room. She wonders if he ever plans to wash them or only continually buy replacements.

'I would. It's my ship. I make the repairs.'

He knows her well enough to know when to back off. This is one of those times for tonight. He reminds himself tomorrow is a new day and he will be at the lock again. Or if not tomorrow, then maybe another tomorrow or on a new week.

He stands up but doesn't entirely face her. He faces the corner with the clothes next to the door way, ready to throw his pants on top of the pile as he takes off his belt.

'Sure, babe. Never been good at fixing things anyway.' Gault stops his hands at his hips to take off his pants. He turns his head to face her and gives her an evocative and amused smirk that shows his sharp, white teeth. 'What were you saying about minding each other's business?'

She returns the smirk and raises a perfect eyebrow, her implants rising with it. 'I wasn't aware watching you strip was a business. You never told me about that.'

He chuckles and in the pause that follows he begins to feel uncomfortable. It isn't his place to stand like this before her.

'Well, maybe I will some other time, babe,' he avoids. 'You better get back to blue-boy.' She misses the bitterness in his voice and hears only the scorn. She's come to understand that he only likes people as sleazy, self-serving and underhanded as himself.

'Well, since you've drunk so much ale tonight already I'm sure you won't want to join me for some Corellian whiskey in half an hour.'

'Well, if you're begging I guess I can't refuse.'

She only laughs in the way he likes and leaves him alone to finish getting changed. He releases a breath he always seems to be holding when she's around and then his mind turns to the engine room again. Maybe it was a fancy, but he feels like he can feel malice coming from the engine room and through his open door. He takes the two steps to the doorway warily and shuts and locks the door before taking his pants off.

She walks upstairs and sees the hold button is still glowing in the murky light. She wonders what will happen if she never presses it. If he waits for her answer that never comes. Will he keep calling her in the way her husband would have? All she can do is mistrust and question the Cipher. All she can do is press the button and find out.

If only things out of sight were out of mind.

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MilaniGrey
04.06.2013 , 12:42 AM | #90
omg yay @_@
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