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Vesaniae
08.16.2012 , 09:06 PM | #21
This is what happens when I'm struck with inspiration late at night: I start with an idea, and it morphs into something totally different from what I originally intended. Therefore, I feel that I must note that the following content is kind of disturbing. However, it's disturbing in kind of a funny way, so does that make up for it?

Eight - Unscrupulous
Kaas City, Dromund Kaas
12 ATC


Darth Nox strode through the corridors of the Citadel. The Dark Honor Guards bowed as she passed them, and lesser Sith scrambled to get out of her way. She enjoyed every minute of it.

She paused near the Wrath’s chambers, seeing someone else heading towards that same destination.

This could be interesting, she thought, and approached.

“Captain Quinn,” she said. “How nice to see you.” Literally—the man looks simply delectable in that uniform.

Quinn bowed respectfully. “Lord Nox.”

“I heard about the events at the spaceport a few days ago,” Nox said. A’tro had mentioned it in passing, and she had…obtained…the relevant security footage. “I was glad to hear that the Wrath survived unscathed.”

“Yes, my lord.”

Nox stepped towards him until she was just pushing the boundaries of what most beings considered acceptable personal space, putting a slight sway into her hips as she moved. “That was very courageous of you to stand between your lord and danger,” she breathed, gazing into his eyes; they were almost the same height.

“It was only my duty, my lord,” Quinn said uncomfortably. Nox had maneuvered him so that his back was to a wall, and he couldn’t step away from her without being obvious.

She drew upon the Force and delicately surveyed his mind. To her surprise, her mental touch slid away, as though his mind contained a series of glass walls. She had encountered minds like that before, but where?

Well, the mental probe wasn’t getting anywhere, but she could still have some fun with him.

Nox stepped even closer. “You’re very dedicated,” she purred. “I admire that in a man.” She reached out with a fingertip and traced a line from his collar to his rank insignia before adding in her most seductive voice, “Captain.”

Quinn appeared to be struggling for a way to escape the situation without being rude to a Sith Lord. Nox chuckled inwardly; what was the point of having power if you weren’t going to abuse it every now and then?

She kept her hand on his chest and leaned in until her face was only a few inches away from his. “Perhaps some time you can do some work for me...if the Wrath can spare you, of course…”

Someone cleared their throat loudly behind Nox. She turned her head to see Jaesa Willsaam.

“Pardon me, my lord,” Jaesa said innocently, apparently pretending that the throat clearing had been entirely accidental. “I hope I’m not interrupting something. Are you here to see the Wrath?”

“I was,” Nox said. “Then my attention was…diverted.” She glanced at Quinn, who had taken the opportunity of her distraction to move away from the wall and towards the center of the corridor.

“I’m afraid that the Wrath is not here right now,” Jaesa said apologetically. “I’m sure she’ll be back this evening. Would you like me to tell her that you wished to speak with her, my lord?”

“Please do,” Nox said. “I’ll return later.” She looked over towards Quinn. “Has anyone ever told you that you have lovely eyes?” With that, she swept away, feeling rather pleased with herself.

Jaesa watched her go, frowning.

“Are you all right?” she asked Quinn once the Sith had receded into the distance.

He nodded. “I appreciate what you did there,” he said quietly.

Jaesa shrugged. “Don’t mention it." She shook her head. "Some Sith have no shame.”

Quinn glanced past her at the entrance to A’tro’s chambers. “Is the Wrath really gone?”

Jaesa grinned. “Of course not. Go on in, she’s expecting you.”

Quinn stared at her. “You lied to a Dark Council member?”

“Yes, and quite a thrill it was. I should do this sort of thing more often.”

“That was an incredible risk. You shouldn’t have—“

“You’re not my master; you can’t tell me what I should or should not do,” she said indignantly. “Speaking of which, you shouldn’t keep A’tro waiting.”

“Of course not,” Quinn said, moving towards the door.

As he passed her, Jaesa said in a stage whisper, “You do have nice eyes, though.”

Quinn chose not to dignify that statement with any acknowledgment whatsoever.


This was supposed to be "Nox has a conversation with Quinn and messes with his mind a little", but it somehow turned into "Nox almost molests Quinn in the corridor." I'm...not sure how that happened. I blame Nox for being such an unscrupulous witch.

Also, it's a good thing that Jaesa was the one to stumble upon that scene, because A'tro probably would have flown off the handle and done something...Wrathful. Okay, I'm going to go sleep now before I write anything else that's either weird or a bad pun.
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irishfino
08.16.2012 , 09:34 PM | #22
Quote: Originally Posted by Vesaniae View Post
This was supposed to be "Nox has a conversation with Quinn and messes with his mind a little", but it somehow turned into "Nox almost molests Quinn in the corridor." I'm...not sure how that happened. I blame Nox for being such an unscrupulous witch.
In her defense, Quinn is both molestable and too fun to mess with.
...
I need to get out more...
I'll probably die if you group with me, but I'll go out with both lightsabers drawn stabbing someone in the face. Probably you, but it's cool. Forever Shenanigans!!

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Vesaniae
08.17.2012 , 03:02 PM | #23
There will be a new chapter today, but it still needs a lot of work before I deem it suitable for posting. So in the meantime, let's take a look at who we're dealing with! Spoilertagged because the pictures are pretty big.

Darth A'tro:
Spoiler


Darth Nox:
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Vesaniae
08.18.2012 , 09:41 PM | #24
For once, this chapter takes place immediately during/after the previous chapter. Wow, narrative coherency! Wow, Vesaniae's using fancy words to try to sound like she knows what she's talking about!

Also, my life has taken a turn for the busy, so from now on updates will be much more infrequent.

This chapter contains stuff that I made up, because making up things is fun. Give me an NPC with no background and I will create one. Now, on with the story!


Nine – Unspoken
Kaas City, Dromund Kaas
12 ATC


Ever since returning to Dromund Kaas, A’tro had felt as if she spent all her time behind a desk. She almost wished for another assassination attempt, just to make things interesting.

With a sigh, she tapped on the computer screen in front of her to bring up the latest activity reports from Corellia. She looked over the topics, frowning in sudden confusion. Then she noticed the dates.

“Blasted database,” she muttered. “These are from last year.” In fact, they were from the time when she had been on Corellia, just before her ascension as the Wrath.

I wonder if I’m mentioned? She looked through the reports, feeling curious.

An explosion that took out an entire city block and killed an Intelligence operative…she hadn’t heard about that. A pity. A resistance base stormed…yes, that had been her handiwork.

There were a disturbingly large number of attacks reported as “friendly fire incidents”, which was another way of saying “Imperials fighting one another due to Sith power struggles.” A’tro shook her head as she read. Such a waste.

One entry in particular caught her eye: an entire unit of Imperial Guards ambushed by supposedly friendly forces.

The troops responsible for the attack, part of Darth Baras’ forces, blamed the incident on a communications breakdown. The Guardsmen suffered 92% casualties and four fatalities, including their commanding officer, Colonel Josrik Quinn.

A’tro’s eyes widened in sudden horrified realization.

It could be a coincidence, she thought. It’s probably not that uncommon a surname.

There were detailed records on every member of the Imperial military available to those with the proper clearance. A’tro searched through those records, until at last she found the relevant entry. The file itself was brief, but there was an image, which she accessed.

A’tro swallowed hard as she looked at the screen. Her instincts had been correct; it was not a coincidence. The man in the image had brown eyes, not blue, but apart from that she was looking at an older, battle-scarred version of Malavai Quinn. Judging by the birth date given in the file, this was Quinn’s father.

She closed the file and sat back in her chair. Quinn had never mentioned his family. She supposed that this explained a great deal about his obsession with his career; having a parent in the Imperial Guard was a lot to live up to.

Said parent was dead, now. She had always wondered why Baras had made no mention of Quinn’s failure to kill her. It seemed that he had not let such a failure go unpunished, after all.

A’tro found herself almost feeling sorry for Quinn—Baras had probably had his entire family killed. She quickly suppressed the feeling.

Baras could have picked a better form of retribution, she thought viciously. After all, Quinn doesn’t care about other people.

As if the thought had summoned him, Quinn stepped into the room. He seemed to be on edge for some reason, but he stood at attention in front of her desk with his usual stiff dignity.

“Reporting for duty, my lord,” he said.

Some of the anger that she had been directing towards him receded when she looked at him. He was a bit paler than usual, and his movements suggested that his injuries were still bothering him. He probably could have benefitted from another day or two of rest, but Quinn being Quinn, nothing short of complete incapacitation would stop him from reporting in.

“I’m pleased to see that you’ve recovered, Captain,” A’tro said.

Quinn bowed. “I must thank you, my lord. Your actions saved my life.”

“You are one of my people. I stand by all of you, as you have stood by me.”

“Nevertheless, I am grateful,” Quinn said quietly.

“And you should be,” A’tro said tartly. “What in the galaxy were you thinking, taking on an armed assassin when you were already wounded?”

He looked startled. “My lord, I was only trying to protect you—“

“I am a Sith,” she snapped. “I do not need ‘protection’. I could have handled the situation just fine without your help.”

“I apologize if I overstepped my bounds, my lord.”

A’tro glared up at him. “I understand that you feel the need to prove yourself to me, but getting yourself killed is not the way to go about it.”

Quinn met her gaze squarely. “I’m sorry, my lord,” he said in a low voice.

“I know,” she answered quietly.

There was a long moment of silence.

With an effort of will, A’tro tore her eyes away from his. “It’s all in the past now, Quinn. I see no need to discuss this further.”

“As you wish, my lord.”

“In the future, please refrain from putting your life on the line for no good reason.”

“I’ll do my best, my lord.”

If I wanted you dead, you would be. She almost said it, but that thought led to other, dangerous thoughts, thoughts that she did not dare express. So she dismissed him without saying anything more, and wondered, not for the first time, why those thoughts made her so afraid.
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bright_ephemera
08.18.2012 , 10:21 PM | #25
Quote: Originally Posted by Vesaniae View Post
Baras could have picked a better form of retribution, she thought viciously. After all, Quinn doesn’t care about other people.
And thoughts like this come up so very naturally after the incident...um, unless I just have an uncommonly mean-spirited brain. I sympathize, A'tro.
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irishfino
08.19.2012 , 09:47 AM | #26
Quote: Originally Posted by Vesaniae View Post
Quinn met her gaze squarely. “I’m sorry, my lord,” he said in a low voice.

“I know,” she answered quietly.
See, he's caring about people right there! He frequently tries to detach himself from his emotions and attachments, but he fails horribly... he's such a doof.
I'll probably die if you group with me, but I'll go out with both lightsabers drawn stabbing someone in the face. Probably you, but it's cool. Forever Shenanigans!!

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Vesaniae
08.20.2012 , 09:45 AM | #27
Quote: Originally Posted by irishfino View Post
See, he's caring about people right there! He frequently tries to detach himself from his emotions and attachments, but he fails horribly... he's such a doof.
Exactly.

Um, sorry about the title of this one...it popped into my head and I couldn't resist.


Ten – Call of Duty Sci-Fi Warfare III!
Kaas City, Dromund Kaas
12 ATC


A’tro stood in her office, hands clasped behind her back, drawing upon the Force to project a subtle imposing aura. She maintained her most inscrutable facial expression as she regarded her visitor.

Moff Aurelius Drayle bowed deeply. An older man, he had distinguished himself as a commander in the last war. “My lord Wrath,” he said. “Thank you for granting me this audience.”

“You’ve piqued my curiosity, Moff Drayle,” A’tro replied. “I look forward to hearing the details of your plan.”

“And so you shall, my lord,” Drayle assured her.

A’tro looked over at the officer who had accompanied him. “Perhaps if we could speak privately?” she suggested delicately.

“Of course,” Drayle said. “Major Merrik, if you could wait outside, please?”

“Yes, sir,” Merrik said, saluting. She exited the room, closing the door behind her.

A’tro nodded. “Now, then. What exactly are you proposing?”


*****

Merrik stood in the antechamber, admiring the view from the window. She hoped that the Wrath would decide to support Drayle’s plan; it would be nice to be back in the field again.

Hearing movement behind her, she turned around to see another officer. Her eyes went first to the captain’s insignia on his uniform, then moved up to his face. He was handsome in a cold sort of way, with a rather distinctive mole on his left cheek, and judging by the way his eyes widened as he got a good look at her, he recognized her at the same time that she recognized him.

“Well, look what the sleen dragged in,” Merrik said, smiling broadly. “Malavai Quinn, you’re still breathing.”

“Hello, Shari,” Quinn said.

“That’s Major Merrik to you, Captain,” she said with mock sternness. She grinned. “You have no idea how long I’ve been looking forward to outranking you.”

“Since the academy, I believe. I assume you’re here with Moff Drayle?” He paused for a long moment before adding, “Sir.”

“Yes, I’m under Drayle’s command, these days. I see you finally escaped Balmorra.”

“It took long enough,” Quinn said grumpily. “I serve the Emperor’s Wrath, now.”

Merrik’s eyes widened. “That’s quite a posting, Malavai. I’m impressed.”

Quinn raised an eyebrow. “Are we on a first-name basis, Major?”

“As long as no one’s looking.” She frowned. “It’s been over ten years since I last saw you. You never answered any of my messages.”

“I was busy.”

“Yes, because Balmorra was such a hotbed of activity. Or were you just jealous of my successful career?”

“Jealous of you? I should think not.”

“Now, now. Our commanders are in the next room; let’s be civil.”

“I have never been anything but.”

Merrik smirked. “Of course. Say, are you doing anything tonight?”

*****

“Your strategy seems sound,” A’tro said slowly, looking at the array of holos in front of her. “My only concern is that this will turn into another Taris.”

Drayle nodded. “That is understandable, my lord. However, I assure you that the situation here is very different. The Republic’s restoration efforts have being going on for three hundred years. We’ll be fighting on an intact planet, rather than a toxic wasteland.”

A’tro paused for a long moment, considering. Then she made up her mind. “Very well, Moff Drayle,” she said. “You have my support.”

The Moff bowed deeply. “I am most grateful, my lord,” he said. “My forces are assembling at Vaiken even as we speak; once you join us, we will launch the attack.”

“I will depart tomorrow.” She smiled. “This will be a symbolic gesture that the Republic can’t possibly ignore. The campaign on Taris was nothing more than reburying a moldering corpse. Telos, however…”

Drayle nodded. “Telos will learn to fear the might of the Sith once again.”

*****

“So, Moff Drayle wants to invade Telos,” Darth Nox said thoughtfully. “An interesting plan.”

“He seems to know what he’s doing,” A’tro said. “And it will give me something to do.”

“Ah, nothing like pounding a planet into the ground to brighten one’s day,” Nox mused. “And a Jedi Civil War target, no less. I hope you’re not setting yourself up as another Darth Revan.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Turning to the light side or some such nonsense. I’m rather fond of you, A’tro, but I warn you, if you decide to become a Jedi I will have to kill you.”

“Don’t worry,” A’tro said, “I’m the last Sith in the Empire who would do that.” There’s only room for one heretic in a family, and the spot’s already taken.

Nox smiled. “Lovely. Perhaps I shall come and join your little war effort. It could be entertaining.”

“You, doing something productive? That’ll be the day.”

“My dear Wrath, I help the Empire in my own way—from the shadows. Just because you can’t see what I do doesn’t mean it isn’t there.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” A’tro said skeptically.

“So nice to see that you have faith in me.” Nox winked at her. “Good luck on Telos. The Republic will fight hard to keep that place.”

“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” A’tro said coolly. She turned to go, then paused, giving Nox a threatening look. “Oh, and one more thing. Keep your hands off Quinn, or I will take your hands off you.”

Nox raised an eyebrow. “I see your apprentice been gossiping about me. Is he yours, then?”

“Not in the sense you mean,” A’tro glowered, “but he is one of my people. Do not trespass on my property again.”

Nox held out her hands in a placating gesture. “No need to be upset. I know when to take a hint.”

“You’d better,” A’tro said, and left.

Arrogant woman, she thought as she walked through the Citadel. How dare she try to take advantage of Quinn like that? No wonder he seemed so unsettled. Funny, though, I didn’t think he was Nox’s type…it must be the uniform. Poor man, he’s probably had enough of Sith women to last a lifetime.

She frowned inwardly. Stop feeling sorry for him, damn it! He betrayed you, for crying out loud!

It’s your own fault, whispered her conscience. After what you said to him, it’s no wonder… You’re the heartless one.

A’tro stopped, feeling flustered. It was looking to be another one of those nights, where she sat alone in her rooms agonizing over Quinn and feeling generally sorry for herself.

Not tonight, she told herself firmly. She pulled out her comm and entered Savadar Ekari’s frequency.


Quinn has a friend? Impossible! Well, we'll see more about their relationship next chapter. And bring on the KOTOR references! <3 that game, so much...
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bright_ephemera
08.20.2012 , 10:02 AM | #28
SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Forgive me. Telos! I got more and more excited as I read through your third subsection there. I didn't even play KOTOR II, but I have such fond memories of KOTOR, sitting under the Kashyyyk stars (well, forest canopy), drawing Carth out with questions about his old planet. And, well, mocking his pain, but I have very fond memories of the whole thing.


Quote: Originally Posted by Vesaniae View Post
“You’ve piqued my curiosity, Moff Drayle,” A’tro replied.
+10,000 English language points for not peaking curiosity. <3


Quote: Originally Posted by Vesaniae View Post
It was looking to be another one of those nights, where she sat alone in her rooms agonizing over Quinn and feeling generally sorry for herself.
I sympathize. A lot.
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Arator
08.20.2012 , 01:16 PM | #29
Please, please, please destroy Telos. I hated the planet in KotOR 2 even more then I hated Taris.
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Vesaniae
08.20.2012 , 01:40 PM | #30
This is a long one. Also, there are some massive Agent spoilers in the middle concealed with a handy spoiler tag. Said spoilers are just part of the conversation and aren't relevant to the plot, so if you're trying to avoid Agent spoilers go ahead and skip them. That part is just there for flavor.

Eleven – Perspective
Kaas City, Dromund Kaas
12 ATC


Despite Quinn’s protestations of having work to do, Merrik had all but dragged him to the Nexus Room to “catch up”, as she put it. Now he was sitting at a table in the far corner of the second floor, an untouched drink in front of him, listening to Merrik’s descriptions of the various people she had served under over the past twelve years.

“Lord Tyvinian was a nasty piece of work,” Merrik said nostalgically. “He was one of those types who would rave for hours about the injustice of the Treaty of Coruscant while burning villages and executing prisoners, just to prove how much of a hardliner he was. He was hopeless at strategy, though—this one time, he wanted to…”

Quinn listened with half an ear, giving the rest of his attention to a discrete survey of his surroundings. The room was not very crowded compared to what he had seen on the first floor. The clientele looked mostly civilian, with a few uniformed figures thrown into the mix, as well as a number of individuals who were clearly Sith.

“…so I told him that the plan was suicide, and I’d be damned if I sent good men to their deaths on the orders of a vengeance-crazed lunatic,” Merrik finished.

Quinn turned to stare at her. “You said that to a Sith?”

She nodded. “He carried out the attack anyway, of course. He died, along with half the soldiers in his command, and I spent three months in a medcenter having my trachea reconstructed. That was when Moff Drayle picked me up.”

Quinn shook his head. “You were lucky he didn’t kill you, Shari.”

“Oh, I know,” Merrik sighed. “Normally, I wouldn’t have said anything, but by then I was fed up with his deranged notions of warfare, and I just couldn’t take anymore. So, what’s the Wrath like?”

Quinn started at the abrupt change of subject. “She’s…not like most Sith,” he said slowly. “She treats her crew like people, as opposed to minions.”

“That must be nice.”

It was. “Yes, she’s always willing to listen to others’ opinions, even if they contradict her own.” Quinn stared off into the distance, not noticing how Merrik’s face acquired a calculating expression as he continued, “Her actions are driven not out of a desire for personal gain, but out of dedication to the well-being of the Empire. She is ruthless towards the Empire’s enemies, but never eliminates a potential resource. She’s a gifted leader, and serving her has been the highlight of my career.”

Merrik raised an eyebrow. “My goodness. That’s rather high praise coming from you, Malavai.”

“The Wrath is…exceptional,” Quinn said softly.

“So you say—wait, isn’t that her over there?”

Quinn turned to look in the direction indicated. It was A’tro, sitting on the other side of the room with another Pureblood Sith whom he did not recognize. What was she doing there?


*****


“Thank you for coming here on such short notice,” A’tro said.

Savadar smiled. “It was no trouble.”

“Yes, well, I’m leaving tomorrow, and I wasn’t sure when I would get another chance to talk to you.”

“Where are you headed, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“Telos,” A’tro said, swirling the contents of her glass. “Moff Drayle is going to invade, and I told him I’d help.”

“So you’re off to war, then.” Savadar looked down at the tabletop. “I wish I could go with you. I cannot act without Darth Andrael’s orders, however.”

“I remember the days when I was similarly constrained.” A’tro grimaced. “I don’t miss them.”

“I imagine not.”

“At least Evendre taught me things,” A’tro grumbled. “With Baras, I felt more like an errand girl than an apprentice. For instance, this one time, he sent me to Hoth…”


*****


“You didn’t hear a word I just said, did you?”

Quinn blinked, tearing his attention back towards Merrik. “I…sorry, what?”

She smirked at him. “The Wrath. I wasn’t expecting her to be so young.”

She’s almost thirty. Aloud, he said, “You never know with Sith."

Merrik nodded. “I suppose that’s true.” She gave him a sidelong glance. “She’s rather pretty, isn’t she?”

“I—I hadn’t noticed,” Quinn muttered awkwardly.

Merrik smiled predatorily. “Really.”

“I don’t know what you’re implying, Shari.”


*****


“Still, your life seems to have been far more exciting than mine,” Savadar sighed. “Andrael keeps me dealing with internal affairs, for the most part.
Spoiler
Look, can we talk about something else?”

“Of course. Have you found an apprentice yet?” A’tro asked.

Savadar shook his head. “Not yet. There’s an acolyte I’ve seen during my past few trips to Korriban who looks promising, but I’m not completely sure about her.”

“Well, if that doesn’t work out, you can always find yourself a Jedi, like I did,” A’tro said dryly.

Savadar smiled. “I’m afraid I don’t have your talents of persuasion.”

“You have too little faith in yourself. So, tell me about this acolyte.”

As Savadar talked, A’tro looked around. The Force presences of the beings around her were dim lights to her weak perception. One of the presences seemed slightly familiar, however. Her eyes drifted across the room until she spotted her quarry.

What’s Quinn doing here, of all places? she wondered. And who’s that with him? That looks like one of Drayle’s officers. They must know each other…


*****


“You’re doing it again,” Merrik informed him.

Quinn started. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Merrik rolled her eyes. “You’re staring at the Wrath like a love-struck puppy.”

“I am not love-struck,” Quinn said indignantly. “And I was most certainly not staring.”

“Yes, you were,” Merrik sighed. “This is like our second year at the academy all over again, only in reverse.”

“Don’t remind me,” Quinn said darkly.

She chuckled. “You practically had to ward the girls off with a stun baton.”

“While you stood by and were amused at my expense.”

“I told you, ignoring them only makes them more desperate, and glowering only encourages them.”

“Hardly helpful advice,” Quinn said disdainfully.

“It’s your own fault for not just picking one and letting the rest turn on each other.”

“I did! And look how that turned out.”

Merrik grimaced. “Ah, yes. How could I possibly forget? Really, Malavai, what in the galaxy were you thinking?”

“It seemed logical at the time,” Quinn said defensively.

“I fail to see the logic in pretending to date a girl who practically stalked you for months on end. She also had the intellectual capacity of a senile gundark, her family was upper middle class at best, and she was not even very attractive.”

“If I didn’t know you better, I’d think you were jealous, Shari.”

Merrik shuddered. “Emperor, no! I’d sooner shoot myself than get involved with you! No offense,” she added hastily.

“Yes, ours was always an alliance of convenience,” Quinn mused. “You used me for my intellect, I took advantage of your family’s connections.”

“And my money,” Merrik grumbled. “I haven’t forgotten that time in our third year.”

Quinn gave a small smile. “You’re never going to let me live that down, are you?”

Merrik grinned at him. “Absolutely not.”


*****


A’tro saw Quinn smile, and fought back a sudden surge of anger. Don’t be irrational, she told herself. You have no reason to be jealous, none whatsoever.

Savadar saw her expression turn thunderous. “Are you all right?” he asked.

A’tro forced herself to smile. “Yes, everything’s fine.”

“It’s getting late,” Savadar noted. “You should probably be getting back. You ought to be well-rested before you go charging into a war zone.”

A’tro glanced over at Quinn. “I suppose you’re right,” she said, looking down at the table.

She noticed Savadar’s hand resting casually beside his glass. On sudden impulse, she reached out to cover it with her own.

She met his eyes and smiled sweetly. That smile had always disarmed Savadar as surely as a lightsaber strike to the wrist. It had even thawed Quinn, but she wasn’t thinking about him right now. She could almost see Savadar’s heart melting. Some things had obviously not changed since she had known him before. Perhaps it was wrong of her to take advantage of how he felt about her, but…

“Perhaps you could escort me back to my chambers?” she asked slyly.

“I believe I can do that,” he answered, keeping his gaze on her face.

She rose to her feet and rounded the table. Savadar offered her his arm. She took it, and they exited the room together.

She did not look at Quinn, but she could feel his eyes on her.


*****


Merrik reached across the table and grabbed him by the shoulder. “Malavai,” she said urgently. “Calm down. You look ready for murder.”

Quinn shook his head. “It’s nothing. I’m fine.”

“No, you’re not,” she said. “I know you too well.”

Quinn dislodged her grip and stood up. “I really should be going. Good night, Shari.” He turned and walked out.

Merrik stood hastily and followed him, catching him by the arm as he departed the Nexus Room.

“Where are you going?” she demanded.

He sighed. “I’m not about to do anything foolish.”

“You’d better not be.”

“Shari, you know me—”

“Yes, I do know you,” she snapped. “I know you well enough to tell that you’re crazy about that Sith you serve, and that is not a good thing.”

“You’re insane.”

“Am I? So the Wrath means nothing to you, then?”

“No,” Quinn said coldly. “She does not.”

Merrik shook her head. “You are a damned liar—“

A young woman in Sith robes started to walk by them, then stopped short. “Oh! Hello, Quinn,” she said.

Quinn inclined his head. “Jaesa.”

Jaesa smiled. “Who’s your friend?”

“This is Major Sharinet Merrik, one of Moff Drayle’s officers, and an old friend of mine,” Quinn explained. “Shari, this is Jaesa Willsaam, the Wrath’s apprentice.”

Merrik bowed. “It’s an honor to meet you, my lord.”

Jaesa winced. “Please, no need for the title. I’m not a Lord—yet.” She turned to Quinn. “I just passed the Wrath. She says to be at the Alecto tomorrow morning. We’re all leaving for Telos.”

Quinn nodded. “Very well.” He paused, then asked carefully, “Do you happen to know who she was with, by any chance?”

Jaesa nodded. “She introduced us. Lord Savadar Ekari. Apparently he and the Wrath go way back.”

“I see,” Quinn said tonelessly. “I won’t keep you any further, Jaesa. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Jaesa dipped her head in acknowledgement and headed into the cantina.

“So,” Merrik said after a moment. “A Lord. That’s impressive competition.”

“There is no competition,” Quinn said heatedly. “The Wrath is a Sith, Shari. A Sith. Furthermore, she has made her lack of interest in me quite clear. Not that I cared in the first place.”

Merrik patted him on the shoulder. “If it makes you feel better to lie to yourself, go ahead,” she said comfortingly.

“You’re delusional.”

“Of course, of course. Listen, if you need a one-night stand, I can probably set you up with Moff Drayle’s daughter—she’s twenty-eight, blonde, green eyes, about my height—“

“No, thank you.”

“You sure? I know Verity would like you—“

“Quite sure.”

“If you say so,” Merrik sighed. “I suppose if we’re leaving tomorrow, I ought to go and see my mother. She’ll never let me hear the end of it if she finds out I was on Dromund Kaas and didn’t visit.”

“Good luck.”

“Thanks, I’ll probably need it.” Merrik strode off into the night.

Quinn remained where he was for a long time, watching the lights of the Citadel.
Serence Legacy Ebon Hawk
There's always lightning.