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(L,F&E 78) Chasing Amie


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kalenath
08.11.2012 , 02:35 PM | #1
Cyare Ordo was uncomfortable. This was nothing new. He hadn’t been comfortable in some time. There was a huge bleeding hole in his soul that had been there since the woman he loved had left him behind. He had met Amarath Shades first when she was a prisoner. But even the first time he had seen her, he had been drawn to her. He had not understood what was happening. He had not understood WHY his boss had placed him in such a position. To find out she had been manipulated into falling for him the way that she had… He didn’t blame Amarath for leaving. He blamed himself for letting her go alone, for not finding a way to explain to her what he had been feeling and why.

The Mandaloran smiled a bit wistfully under his helmet. Amarath Shades could be the single most infuriating person he had ever met in his life, but… He had managed to get inside the armor she put up to keep her soft core from being hurt by the cruel universe, and he had let her inside his. It had been… He had no words. There was something about her that clicked with him, something that meshed perfectly with who and what he was. She completed him in a way that no one ever had. And he had helped her to see that not everyone was an evil son of a Hutt. Even Mandalorians.

His smile turned regretful. He hadn’t really ever had a lot of feminine attention. His job had always been what he was. He had known that Maria, his boss and Trava, the Elder of his clan, had both been worried about him, but he hadn’t possessed any idea why. The one and only girl who had ever pursued him had turned out to be a vengeful psycho witch. The fact that he hadn’t wanted anything to do wither had simply made her more aggressive in pursuing him. He sighed. Mandalorian women could be such a pain at times. If they saw something they wanted, they tried to take it and to hell with the cost. This time, the cost had very nearly been Amarath’s life.

He wasn’t sure when he had realized that he had fallen for Amarath. Maybe it had been the fight in the mud filled pit after she had nearly been blown up by a vengeful kid? Maybe it had been after her battle circle fight with the witch whose name had been stripped from the clan memory. No one would ever mention that aruetiise name again, and good riddance, the blue armored form thought with a soft snarl. That witch had caused more hate and discontent than a family of Nexu at a nerf convention.

Seeing Amarath so hurt after the challenge fight she had been pushed into had hurt him. It had hurt so much that it had been almost physical. Cyare was no stranger to physical pain. Life was pain, especially for Mandalorians. But seeing the girl floating in a sea of kolto, her mechanical arm and eye gone again, and her face unguarded from its normal scornful smirk, had pushed him totally over the edge from bodyguard to suitor. It had still taken some time for both of them to realize that their feelings were reciprocated, but in the end, it had been more than worth it. He could still feel the weight of her in his arms, he could still smell her hair. He could hear her voice...
His own voice was soft in his ears. “Amie…”

"Yo." Another voice interrupted his memories. “Ground control to Weasel, come in Weasel…” A soft rap on his arm had him blinking and staring at the red armored from that stood nearby.

"Ah..." Cyare laughed. “Jirina, you keep sneaking up on me, and bad things will happen.”

"Sneak?" His sister laughed softly. “I didn’t sneak up on you. Your situational awareness needs work. You have been standing like a statue for the last five minutes. Any longer and people were going to start going around you. Come on.” Her voice became more serious. “We may have something.”

Cyare tensed and followed his sister to a booth in the back of the cantina where they had been sent to meet an informant. Two Mandalorians in full armor stuck out like sore thumbs in a place like this, and both of them had drawn more than a few glowers, but the fact that both were fully armed as well had kept even the most foolish in their seats. Cyare did not sit, he stood at the end of the booth to discourage any fools from attempting to eavesdrop. The privacy curtain on the booth twitched a little and then slid back, showing a single occupant. Jirina sat across from the other and nodded to her. Cyare activated his suit’s built in jammers and nodded to Jirina. He smiled slightly under his helmet. Being a bodyguard had required him to be able to do all kinds of things that bordered on the illegal. And many things that were way beyond the border as well.

"Lady..." A young woman sat across from Jirina, her attire marking her as a dockworker. She looked strong and hardy, but her face was fearful. “Look, like I told you before. I am not going to cross Will.” Cyare looked at her and yes, the girl was terrified. No wonder, Will’s reputation in some of the seedier places in the galaxy was enough to make hard cases wet themselves, let alone someone who did not fight for a living. Anyone who would nuke a space station filled with civilians because he could

"We are not asking you to." Jirina sighed dramatically. “Look, we are not asking you to. We are not that stupid. Like I told you, we are not after him. We need to find the girl who was with him. He dropped her off on this station, we need to figure out where she went from here. She is in big trouble and we want to help.”

"Right..." The girl could not restrain a sniff of disbelief as she looked from the red armored Mando woman to Cyare. “You… And him… Want to help her…?” She said dubiously. “Sure you do.” She sighed. “Go ahead, shoot me. Cut me, torture me… Whatever you do, it will hurt less that whatever Will would do to me.”

"Osik..." Cyare sighed and leaned close to the girl. “Look, Miss Zottji, the only reason we know where he dropped her off is he told us. We couldn’t care less about him. We have to find Amarath before anything happens to her.”

"What?" The girl stared at the blue armored Mando. “Why? What is so important about this woman?”

Cyare bowed his head and then in two swift moves, closed the privacy curtain on the end of the booth and wrenched off his helmet. His brown eyes met her startled blue ones and his face was earnest when he spoke softly. “She is my mate, she is in trouble. I am going to help her and anyone who gets in my way, I will kill.” His quiet voice was calm, cool and matter of fact.

"I..." Miss Zottji, technician third class for the station’s docks was staring at his eyes, mesmerized. “I don’t know why…” She said in a dazed tone, “…but I believe you…” She shook her head. “You could have just taken me out in the alley and beaten the information out of me. Why didn’t you?”

"Huh?" Jirina snorted in dark laughter. “Because, contrary to popular belief, not all Mandalorians are stupid. We don’t want to tick Will off either.”

"All right..." Jan Zottji shook her head. “Look, all I know is she came through. She had a code from Will, so I hooked her up with a captain I knew, an honest one. She left on a tramp freighter bound for Alderaan. Other people have been asking around about her, scary people. Or I thought they were scary until I met you guys…”

"Ok." Cyare nodded and replaced his helmet. “That is all we needed. Thank you.”

"Well..." Jan slumped. “I am dead now, you know that? As soon as people realize I talked to you… The bounty hunters will come after me now. None of my informants will talk to me, and I have enemies…”

"No." Cyare smiled under his helmet. “You didn’t talk to us.”

Jan stared at him. “What?”

Jirina reached across the table and took the girl’s hands in her own. “You came to the cantina to meet about a tip. You were ambushed by two Mando bounty hunters. You attempted to run, and you were hit by a trank dart. They dragged you out and none of the cantina patrons did a damned thing. You were found an hour later in an alley, beaten badly, but alive. You were taken to the hospital by the local law but you could not remember anything after you were tranked. Does that work for you?”

"What?" Jan swallowed audibly. “You… You won’t kill me?” Jirina shook her head. “I… I owe Will… But…” She broke off as Cyare’s hands enclosed her.

"You have my word." Cyare’s voice was quiet. “I won’t kill you, you won’t hurt until you wake up, and we have your medical costs covered. We even checked to make sure the dart sedative is not one you are allergic to.”

"What?" Jan shook her head again. “You are like no Mandalorians I have ever met.”

Both Jirina and Cyare laughed. “Thanks.” They replied in heartfelt unison. Cyare stepped back and checked his dartgun. Jirina gave the girl’s hands a squeeze. “Ready?”

"Well... Yeah." Jan shrugged. “As ready as I am going to be.” She jerked her hands from Jirina’s and dove from the booth, passing under the privacy curtain. She was on her feet and starting for the door before Cyare could turn. She was halfway to the door when his dartgun hissed. The dart flew true and hit her in the middle of her back. She had the most amazing poleaxed expression on her face as she fell to the floor, instantly unconscious. No one in the cantina moved as Cyare strode towards the unconscious form. Jirina had her rifle in hand as she stepped from the booth and everyone in the cantina found better things to do.

Cyare grabbed the girl roughly by the arms and started dragging her out, Jirina followed, a silent red shadow. They got her into the alley without incident and a bronze armored form stepped out of the shadows. Cyare lad Jan out carefully and the newcomer scanned her with a hand held scanner. “She will be fine. Perfect dose, nice shot.” The female voice was soft, but a bit concerned. “You want me to do it?”

"No." Cyare shook his head. “You two keep an eye out.”

The bronze armored Mando shook her head. “Cyare…”

"I will do it." Cyare shook his head. “I gave her my word, Rina. Just make sure we are not disturbed.” Both women stepped back, one going to one end of the alley, the other watching the other end. Then he started. Contrary to popular belief, most Mandalorians, the sane ones anyway, were not routinely bloodthirsty. He did NOT want to do this, but it was the only way to keep her alive.

A warning came through his com just after he had broken her arm. One click, one hostile. He looked up to find himself alone in the alley. Both Jirina and Rina had activated their stealth systems. Another armored form sauntered into the alley, only to pause as he saw Cyare and the unconscious form at his feet.

"Aw geez..." The bounty hunter spoke sharply. “What is it with you Mandalorians? How are you going to get information from her in that condition?”

Cyare did not have to fake derision. “I got what I wanted. Go away. She wanted to be a pain, she gets pain.”

"Whatever." The hunter sighed. “Go ahead, then. When you are done, I need to talk to her. I guess she might be a bit more compliant in a looser condition. Or are you going to kill her?”

"No." Cyare shook his head. “Wasn’t paid to kill. But she will get the message. Next time one of us asks nicely, she might want to reply nicely.” He kicked the unconscious form at his feet hard enough to break a rib. From the snap, more than one went.

“Don’t kill her!” The hunter protested. “Zim wants information.”

"What?" Cyare froze in place. “Who did you say?”

The hunter froze as well. Having not one, but two rifle muzzles appear at arrange of less than ten meters would do that to a being. “I work for Zim, you wouldn’t…” He stiffened as another form appeared nearby. The dark gray armored form seemed to melt out of the shadows. “You…”

Cyare smiled at the hunters tone. From the sound of it, the hunter had just soiled himself. “You know this guy, T’ad?”

"Me?" The mando sniper had his rifle held in a seemingly negligent fashion. “Nope, but I bet Zim’s thugs got a look at me when we hit them on Kiffex. We killed all the ones we saw. Maybe we missed a camera.” T’ad had a wicked smile in his voice was as he walked towards the hunter. “You finish up here, vod. I think my new friend and I need to talk. Isn’t that right, friend?”

The hunter snarled and his hand blurred. A blaster sounded and he clutched his arm over the burn that disabled it. “Zim will kill you all!” The hunter blustered.

"Oh?" Cyare laughed. “He will have to stand in line.” He went back to hurting the girl carefully so as not to leave permanent damage or disfigurement.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
08.11.2012 , 02:41 PM | #2
Cyare shook his head. This was insane. He had done a lot of crazy things in his life, but this… This took the cake. He glared at his adversary and then, with a wild cry, slammed his hands forward. His adversary replied with an equally wild cry and met the palms of his hands with her own tiny ones. Then she smiled widely and gave a loud burp. Cyare grinned, he had been trying to get the little girl to burp for almost ten minutes.

“That’s an adika…There you go, girl. Better?” He smiled and the tiny child in his hands smiled back. He picked the small form up carefully and patted the small form on her back and smiled as she gurgled. She grabbed his hand and pulled it into her mouth, gnawing with no teeth. He grimaced and pulled it out, despite her protests and tapped her nose with a finger. He smiled as her eyes crossed trying to follow the finger. “Whoa there, adika… My hand is not a good or’ilor. Here, you might like this better.” He reached the hand she had tried to swallow down and picked up her lunch in its bottle. Jirina had been careful in her instructions on how to take care of the newest addition to the clan. The little girl grabbed the bottle and immediately started sucking down her lunch. Cyare grinned. “That’s a good little Mando, eat when you can and sleep when you can.”

A soft laugh came from nearby. Cyare looked up to see a very short man in Mandalorian armor looking at him. Robilon Ordo shook his head. “Now I truly have seen everything. You… As a nanny…” The Former armorer of the colony of Nova Ordo smiled at Cyare’s expression, but then paused as the girl finished her meal. “I think…” He began with a grimace.

"Yeah." Cyare shook his head. “Adika needs changing again. You offering?”

"Whoa!" Robilon backed up hastily, his hand sup in a warding gesture. “No way! I do guns, munitions, explosives, things that go bang, boom or crunch. Do not try and get me to help with an ad…”

"Wuss." Cyare snickered and then turned the tiny girl over carefully. He gave a sniff and nodded. “Yep, she needs changing.” The girl protested and Cyare flipped her back upright. “It’s okay, girl…here.” He handed her a favored toy. It was a clinky thing, and padded. It was highly unlikely that anyone would be able to tell that it had started life as set of ten grenade pull pins. The girl gave a giggle and started fiddling with the thing with her chubby fingers while Cyare started to work.

It was the work of moments to get the girl’s diaper undone, and then he did the routine with practiced skill. Robilon stared at him with awe. The armorer’s voice was low so as not to disturb the child. “Where did you learn to do that?”

"Well..." Cyare sighed as he powdered the girl. “Bodyguards have to be ready for just about anything. And actually, once I got a well paying job to guard the daughter of a corporate exec. No one told me when I took the job that she was less than a year old.”

"Huh?" Robilon stared at Cyare, his eyes wide. “They had you guarding a toddler?”

"Infant, not toddler." Cyare shook his head as he tightened the new diaper in place. “And there was an attempt on her.” His eyes and voice were flat. “Kidnapping.”

"I see." Robilon shook his head, bemused. “No wonder Trava had you guarding Sara if you had experience with kids.”

"Sort of." Cyare sighed as he finished wrapping the new diaper around the little girl and gave her bottom a pat. “I failed that girl, Robilon. The mother of the girl didn’t like me around, said I was a ’bad influence’. I was paid and let go…” He bowed his head. “I knew something was coming, something bad. But I had no idea.”

"Cyare?" Robilon sat down near the door. “What happened?” He asked quietly.

"What happened? Nuts happened." Cyare’s eyes turned to him but the bodyguard didn’t see him. “A bunch of environmental extremists snatched her. The guard droids that the mother would allow around her kid were about as useful as an ice machine on Hoth. They shot the mother, snatched the girl…” He shook his head. “The dad called me, desperate. I charged him, but I went. I was too late.” The little girl, sensing his mood, started to whimper. Cyare was apologetic. “Oh adika, I’m sorry…Its okay, adika, it’s okay…” He patted her, caressed her and rocked her in his arms until she settled. Her eyes closed and he picked her up carefully. He set her down in her crib and covered her with a blanket. He set the monitor to the highest level and motioned to Robilon to leave the room.

Cyare followed the armorer out of the nursery and they both sat in chairs in the lounge. The ship was small but fully functional. It was also not a stock model. Cyare was not sure what design it had been originally, but it was Robilon’s baby. It was fast, heavily armed and armored. Comfort, as in all things Mandalorian, took a distinct backseat, although no one would stint on their smallest crewmember.

"Hey." Robilon led the way to the lounge and cracked and ice chest. He tossed Cyare a beer and took one for himself. “What happened, Cyare?” He asked as he sat.

"Ah." Cyare took a long pull from his beer. “They wanted to make a statement about the corporation’s lack of success in being ‘eco-friendly’. They fed her to a Nexu just before I got there.”

"Ugh." Robilon winced and shook his head. “I assume you dealt with them?” Cyare nodded and his smile was evil. Robilon nodded. “Good.”

"Yeah, but..." Cyare shook his head. “Won’t bring Mikalia or her idiot mother back. But that particular group of nutballs won’t bother anyone ever again either.” He shook his head. “I worked with Mikalia for two weeks before I was pulled off, so yes, I know how to deal with things like diapers. You should learn.”

"No." Robilon shook his head. “Cyare, a nanny I am not. Are you okay? They told me what you did to the informant.”

"I hurt her carefully." Cyare shrugged. “It had to be done. Did I enjoy it? No. But we never get easy jobs do we?”

"Nope." Robilon sighed and shook his head. “Why would we want them? We test ourselves every day Cyare. It is who we are. It is what we are.”

Cyare took another pull from his beer before speaking. “Oya Manda.”

Robilon matched his drink with a swig from his own can. “Oya Manda.”

Whatever Cyare was going to say in reply was cut off by a wailing cry that came from the monitor. Cyare was in motion before Robilon had figured out that the cry had come from the nursery. By the time Robilin had risen and taken the four steps to the door, Cyare had the crying infant in hand and was rocking her. Robilon watched as the hard bitten Mando warrior rocked the little girl, crooning.

“It’s okay, adika. It’s okay. Shhh… Shhh… That’s an ad.” The blue armored warrior’s voice was soft and comforting. Robilon stared at him for a minute and then left the room in silence.

"Easy girl..." Cyare held the girl until she quieted. “Did you have a bad dream, ad? I know I have more than my share of them. But that is what ba’vudo are for.”

“That and spoiling them.” Jirina’s soft voice came from the door and Cyare looked up to see his sister staring at him. She wore her kute, her underarmor stocking and nothing else. "You are good with her."

"I try." Cyare shook his head. “You should get some more sleep Jirina. You know you won’t get a lot.” He kept up his rocking and the little wiggling bundle in his arms relaxed slowly.

"Weasel." Jirina shook her head. “You never told me about that girl, Mikalia.” She grinned at his expression. “The monitors are keyed to my quarters to, remember?”

"Ah..." Cyare shook his head, careful to keep his tone calm and the girl in his arms quiet. “Wasn’t important.”

"I disagree." Jirina shook her head. “Here, I am awake, you get something to eat. I will tend Amie for a while.”

Cyare shook his head, but did not argue as Jirina took her daughter from his arms in gentle and practiced hands. The tyke protested for a moment, but then, soothed by something indefinable, snuggled against her mother. “She is a good kid, Jirina. She will be one heck of a warrior someday.”

"I know that." Jirina smiled as she rocked her child. “Why do you think I named her after your mate? Go on Weasel, get something to eat.”

Cyare smiled , gave the little girl’s head a caress and then left the room in search of a lunch for himself.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
08.11.2012 , 02:48 PM | #3
If there was one thing older sisters could do, it was outwait their younger siblings. Jirina had an excuse however. Little Amie had finished the bottle that the woman had provided while she napped, slept a bit and now was hungry again. Cyare was not squeamish by any stretch of the imagination, but even then, he was happy that Jirina covered up the feeding infant with a blanket. Some people might say that formula was better for babies; Cyare knew those people were complete idiots. Even non-Mandalorians should know that mother’s milk was better for any child. It made for stringer, healthier, better children. For Mandalorians, children were the future, it simply made sense to give them every advantage in an uncaring universe.

“How is Rina?” Cyare finally asked when the silence had stretched out long enough.

"Stupid as always." Jirina sighed as she caressed the tiny head of her daughter. “She shouldn’t have come. I know it. You know it. Heck, even T’ad knows it. But she insisted. She won’t be able to fit in her beskargam much longer. She shouldn’t be wearing it now. But…” She shrugged helplessly, inciting a muffled protest from the feeding infant. “Sorry adika… Go on…”

"Ah..." Cyare shook his head. It was Rina’s choice. But most Mandalorian mothers would not put themselves in this situation. Rina however was not most Mandalorian mothers. “Should I talk to her?” He asked slowly.

"I... don't..." Jirina thought about that for a moment and then shook her head. “No. If we push, she will dig her heels in. Damn I wish Maria hadn’t left…” Jirina had an odd catch to her voice, but then again her feelings toward the woman who had helped her give birth to her daughter were mixed to say the least. “She would listen to Maria.” Cyare didn’t respond and Jirina sighed. “Look, Weasel. I know you hate what happened. But is she at fault? She was under orders just the same as us. Trava…” She broke off as a look of pure rage shot across her brother’s face. “Weasel…” Jirina said in a warning tone. “Calm down.”

Cyare shook his head slowly, trying to control his rage. It was hard. The Elder of the colony he had called home was directly responsible for what had happened between him and his mate. She was directly responsible for Amarath leaving. Maria had been complicit in what Trava had done, at least to some extent. He had never LIKED Trava, but he had respected her. Until she hurt the woman he loved so deeply that Shades had very nearly drawn a gun on him.

"I..." Cyare sighed, banishing his rage. “No.” He said finally. “She might have gotten away with telling Trava to flarg off a few times, but for something like this? No. She might have been punished.”

"I..." Jirina bit her lip. “I think she was, Cyare.”

Cyare bit back a strangled oath and stared at his sister. “What?” He moderated his tone when his sister glared at him. It was so unfair, as an older sister, she could do that any time she wanted and now she actually had an excuse. He didn’t want to upset the baby. He of course, could never glare at her to make her shut up, it simply didn’t work. “What do you mean?” He asked when he could finally control his tone.

“I have been thinking…” Jirina said quietly. “There were many times when she disappeared. We all thought she was just doing what she did, right? Being a loner, but… What if… What would she do if she had been whipped?”

Cyare froze. “Haar’chak…”

"Yeah." Jirina nodded. “She wouldn’t show pain or fear. If they did, I highly doubt she cried out at all. And then she could have pulled herself up, doctored herself and gone on with her business. No one would have known. You were called before the Elders weren’t you?? Just before Amarath fought in the battle circle. Can you talk about it?”

"I think so." Cyare shook his head slowly, but in confusion, not negation. “They didn’t say I couldn’t. Now that you mention it, I don’t think they got to our business before the messenger came and told us that Amarath was fighting.” He bowed his head, he had failed Amarath yet again that day.

Quick as the tongue of a dune lizard, Jirina reached out and rapped her brother on the arm where the armor did not cover. “Stop that. She survived, you survived. The aruetiise died. That is a win in my book.”

Cyare snorted. Arguing with his sister usually wound up with him in some kind of pain. “All right, point taken. Maria would not have just stood by. I know she was upset by what happened.”

“Upset?” Jirian asked incredulous. “Cyare… You know I talked to E’hn after we left and before we jumped. Post natal stuff. I wasn’t going to tell you this, but… Maria nearly killed herself drinking. She blames herself for what happened.”

Cyare froze in place. He knew more about Maria’s history than most people, having talked with Sara, having counseled Sara a bit through the girl’s nightmares, and tending both Maria and Sara after Maria had arrived at the colony. “Osi’kyr…”

Jirina sighed. “Ori’haat, vod. She nearly died. She has more hastal than anyone I have every met in my life, even you and that is saying something.” Cyare nodded slowly. Hastal were scars, physical or otherwise. “I think… I think she finally broke, Cyare…”

"Dang it..." Cyare shook his head. “Jirina… I never wanted this. By Mand’lore, I never wanted this. I just… I did my job, I did what I was told. I never expected to fall in love. And Amie completed me, Jirina. We… matched. And that woman, both of them, hurt the woman I love. I can’t not hate them. I can’t.”

"I know." Jirina shook her head again and then she smiled and lowered Amie from her chest. The waif was asleep again. Her smile was fond as she wrapped the child in the blanket. “Ah, my dear… that’s it, sleep…”

Cyare grinned. “Ah not that is just too copikla.”

Jirina glared at him. “Did you just call me ‘cute’?” Her voice held serious threat.

Cyare raised both empty hands in a warding gesture. “No, not you. Her.” Calling a Mando woman that was a good way to get killed in a messy fashion.

"Good." Jirian smiled, a little mollified. “We are meeting Gollen, and I don’t want him to have to clean up the ship after I flay you.”

"Right." Cyare nodded. “Is that going to be a problem for you?” Gollen was her husband.

"No." Jirina shook her head. "Now we can talk about this little girl you say you failed.”

"I..." Cyare shook his head. “Jirina, I know you want to talk about it, but… Not now… Please.” His voice wasn’t begging or pleading, he was almost genetically incapable of either. But he was emotional, and he had to work through the emotions before he felt able to talk about other highly emotional charged things.

Jirina looked her brother over and then sighed. “Fine. We can wait. But not long. You need to talk about it. You know you do.”

Cyare nodded slowly. “Thank you, vod. I just... Let me think about Maria for a while. I don’t know if I will ever love her again, but… If she was punished… for covering for me and Shades…”

Yeah." Jirina bowed her head. “It would make sense, vod. You know how badly a nueral whip hurts. She is not young anymore. She would not have said a thing,s he would have just sucked it up, as always. ”

"Whipped..." Cyare shook his head, black rage welling. “If they did that to her, someone is going to die.”

"Yeah." Jirina nodded soberly. “I know.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
08.11.2012 , 02:58 PM | #4
Cyare knew the moment he saw Jirina’s husband that it would be bad. He had never really liked Gollen. Oh, he respected the man, and the blue armored Mando knew his sister loved him. She never would have agreed to get married otherwise. Mandalorian marriages were not for the faint of heart. Essentially, the groom had to prove that he was capable of defending the bride and a family. It was not unknown for people to die in duels during the marriage ceremony. Gollen had weathered the storm as well as any Mando Cyare knew of, had taken Jirina and started a family with her. Amie was actually Jirina’s second kid; Tarin, the boy who had been Jirina’s first, was almost five years old and staying with Gollen’s family. Cyare respected the fact that Gollen had always done right by Jirina and his family. But the man had all the subtlety of a herd of bull Rancors scenting a cow Rancor in heat, in an antique shop.

"Boy." Gollen was big even for a Mando, he towered over Cyare as he marched up the ramp of the ship, his rifle in hand. “Where is she?” The man asked brusquely. His gray armor was marked with various signs of rank and he had a pair of what looked like scalps dangling from his belt. Trophies of kills, no doubt. Cyare was not sure what creature the scalps had come from, but knowing Gollen, they had been sentient.

Cyare nodded slowly. His hands never left the handles of his blasters. “Which she?” He asked quietly as the man came to a stop.

Gollen snarled and then paused as he took in Cyare’s stance. The gunslinger was ready and willing to draw and there was literally no way he could miss at a range of less than a meter. But he would not back down. “Look, Cyare, I know you don’t like me. I don’t like you much either, I think your time with the aruetiise has dulled you, made you weak. But this is neither the time nor the place. I have instructions to take Jirina, our kid and Rina back to the colony. You shouldn’t have brought Rina out here in her condition.”

"Oh?" Cyare didn’t move. ‘Do you even know your daughter’s name? Or have you been too busy killing unarmed people who can’t run away fast enough?” That was more than a borderline insult. Mandalorians prided themselves on choosing worthy enemies. To say one picked fights that he knew he would win, well… There were all kind of connotations for that.

"Idiot." Gollen stiffened in place, but then slowly relaxed. “Cyare, I am not here to fight you, much as I would love to drag your sorry carcass back and throw it at the Elders’ feet. I am here for my family.”

"Go ahead." Cyare smiled under his helmet. It was not a nice smile. “You are more than welcome to try.”

Gollen had a matching smile in his voice when he spoke. “You are such a pain, Cyare. What the hell happened to you, boy? You were, well, not good, but passable. Now you suddenly think you know better than all the Elders? You di’kut! How the heck were they going to respond?”

"Oh?" Cyare shook his head minutely. “You make it sound as if I should care.” His tone said he didn’t, at all.

"Cyare!" Gollen shook his head slowly. “They are the ELDERS. We follow their orders. That is the way things work.”

"I won't." Cyare didn’t move, it was questionable whether he was breathing at all from the stillness he exuded. “Elders can screw up just like any of the rest of us, Gollen. And guess what? One did. I see Trava again and I am going to put a round through her. And you can quote me on that.”

Gollen shook his head. “Cyare… I heard about you drawing on her. What is it about that brat? She is not even Mando!”

"She was." Cyare shook his head as well. “She would have been clan, if that pitiful excuse for an Elder hadn’t driven her away. She is Mandokarla. She has it, more than some I know who were born to the clan.”

Gollen sighed and then he straightened. “Cyare, my orders are clear. I am to take Rina, Jirina and the little one back to the colony. And just for you, if I see that girl, I will put her out of her…” He froze as both of Cyare’s pistols materialized in his hands.

Cyare’s voice could have frozen liquid hydrogen. “You threaten my mate, shabirr. Bad idea.”

Gollen froze in place, but it wasn’t the insult or the threat of Cyare’s pistols that had him stop raising his blaster. “Your… What?”

"My mate. My other half." Cyare did not move and his voice was still that soft, cold thing that skittered around the ramp of the ship as if on claws. “Amarath Shades is my mate, by our clan’s rituals and by her people’s. You threaten her. She is not here to take your head off, so I will do it.”

Gollen laughed coldly. “If you actually had the guts to shoot, you would have. You are soft, boy.”

"Soft?" Cyare laughed just as coldly. “No, I love my sister. And I don’t want her flaying me an inch at a time. You want to be a butt kisser, a sheb'urcyin, to the Elders, be my guest. Go ahead, clean their boots with your tongue. I won’t. Not now, not ever again.”

Gollen looked at Cyare for along moment and then he laughed sourly. “I guess I was wrong. You would shoot me if I threatened her for real.” It wasn’t a question. He slung his rifle slowly. He shook his head. “Cyare…” The blue armored man had not put his blasters away. “I want to protect my family. But duty…” His voice was slightly sick now.

"I..." Cyare’s pistols vanished back into their holsters. “I understand. You can’t come with us. You have your orders. That is why Jirina did. Amarath would probably shoot on seeing me, or T’ad. She won’t shoot Jirina.”

"Cyare." Gollen shook his head slowly. “You are putting my mate and daughter in danger, vod.” That was a first, Gollen had never called him that. The older Mando had always called Cyare ad, or adiik, ‘boy’ in Standard. A minor insult, all told.

“It wasn’t his choice,” Jirina’s cold voice came from further into the ship and she came around a corner, her rifle held steady. “Hello Gollen.” Her armor was sealed, but her helmet was off and her eyes were flashing with annoyance.

"Hello, Jirina." Gollen sighed and nodded to his wife. “I might have known. You didn’t give him a chance to object did you? Just showed up aboard. Before or after he took off?”

Cyare snickered at the man’s long suffering tone. “After.” He sobered. “I have tried to get her to leave several times Gollen. I agree, this is not a place for a less than year old ad. Maybe you can get her to see reason.” Gollen actually winced at that and Cyare sighed. Probably not.

Jirina snarled, a sound that might have backed off an Aklay, a sane one anyway. “It was my choice, not yours Weasel. And it is not yours either Gollen.” She shook her head and her rifle muzzle left moved from covering the gray armored Mando. When she spoke again, it was almost kind. “Come on, Gollen, Come meet your adika.”

Jirina led the way into the common room where Rina was sitting with a wriggling bundle on her lap. Rina shook her head as Jirina entered. “She ate and slept and now she seems agitated.”

"Oh?" Jirina snorted in sour amusement, amusement both Gollen and Cyare shared. “And the rest of us are not? Hand her here, Rina.” The younger Mando woman did as instructed and Jirina opened the blanket to show a small face to her husband. “Gollen, meet Amie, your daughter.”

Gollen stiffened and then slowly, so slowly, reached up and undid his helmet. The face that appeared was scarred, beaten from battle in a lifetime’s worth of soldiering. But the smile he wore was tender. “Amie, huh…?” He took the bundle from Jirina and looked at the girl. The girl wailed and Gollen smiled. “Strong lungs on this one. Be strong ad, we are Mando, we persevere. We bow to no one.” The words were harsh, but the tone was gentle and Amie quieted.

“Mando’ad draar digu.” Cyare said quietly and Gollen nodded to him. ‘A Mandalorian never forgets’.

“No, we do not forget. Sometimes though… we get confused as to what is important. We see our trophies, our victories, or our scars as the most important things. But we are wrong. Pride can blind any of us.” Gollen said quietly. He slumped. “Even Elders…” He said with a soft, resigned voice. “I didn’t know.” He said quietly.

Jirina spoke softly, hesitantly. “Gollen… I…” She broke off as he shook his head.

"Jirina, Cyare..." Gollen sighed and when he spoke it was worried. “I don’t know where this is going to end. I had the reports from the rest of the Council. The Elder who hurt you, Cyare…” He did not speak the name. “…was quite blunt in condemning the actions she had taken. We are agreed that she was over the line. The lies that she told this Amarath… And no matter if they were by omission or not, they were lies. These lies have divided us. We cannot have that, Cyare.” Cyare slumped and then in a a slow move, undid his helmet and sat on the floor, obviously awaiting judgment in silence. Gollen laughed sourly and rocked his daughter. “Get up, boy. You are right.”

Cyare stared at the older Mando as he rose slowly. “What?”

"A mate is not just a lover." Gollen rocked Amie in his arms but his eyes were far away. “A mate is more than a lover, more than a partner. Trava may have forgotten this, but the rest of us have not. Find her and bring her home, Cyare Ordo, vod of Clan Ordo.”

Cyare swallowed audibly. “Elder…I…”

"Cyare..." Gollen sighed and tweaked his daughter’s nose gently, prompting a delighted squeal from the girl. “You had cause for what you did. I would have done the exact same thing. But Jirina…” His gaze turned to his wife and worry shone in his eyes.

"I know, but..." Jirina slumped. “I have to go, Gollen. She will not trust Cyare, or T’ad or even Robilon. Heck she might not even trust Rina. And if she runs…”

"Ah Jirina..." Gollen lowered his head slightly. “What has happened has stained the honor of our entire clan.” He shook his head. “But your point is taken, Jirina. There are no others that she would trust, are there?”

"Me." Rina spoke up softly from where she sat. “She would trust me, Elder.”

"Oh?" Gollen leveled an icy glare at her and she winced. “You are going back to the colony, Rina. You should know better. Gallivanting around the cosmos in your condition, really…” The scorn in his voice could have cut durasteel and Rina stiffened. Gollen stared at her for a moment and then relented. “Rina… Please…?”

"I..." Rina sighed, but her voice was resigned. “She is my friend, Elder…”

"Oh?" Gollen shook his head and grinned. “From what I understand, you wanted to punch her in the head.”

A soft laugh echoed around the room as RIna flushed. She had tried to out drink Amarath, only to have Amarath outwit her and knock her out. Good thing, since heavy drinking would hurt her unborn child. Rina sighed. “I was angry. I said things I should not have. Amarath was thinking of me and my child. I… I understand what she did and why. Although I will not pretend I am not angry.”

"Well, duh." Gollen smiled. “Of course you are angry. Are Mando women ever any other way?”

"Oh?" Jirina looked at her mate and there was a lilt in her voice and a fire in her eyes when she replied. “Is that… a challenge, Elder?”

Gollen looked at her and then slowly extended the bundle in his arms to Cyare, who took Amie carefully. “Take care of my adika, vod. I think my wife and I need to get reacquainted…”

Cyare watched with no small amusement as Jirina led Gollen from the room. Rina stared after them, her face crestfallen. “I want to come, I want to help…” She said plaintively when the two mates had left.

"You will." Cyare rocked the bundle in his arms. “You can help us by not having to worry about you, Rina. You know we worry about you.”

Rina smiled a bit sadly. “Yes. I know. I just…” She shook her head. “Find Amarath and bring her home, Cyare. And… um...” She grinned sourly as Cyare winced.

“Yeah, Amie needs changing again…” He started for the room where his diaper changing kit was. “All the headaches of parenthood, minus the fun.” Rina rose and walked with him, laughing softly as they went to care for the youngest member of their crew.
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kalenath
08.11.2012 , 03:03 PM | #5
“We have a problem.”

Cyare didn’t sigh although it was hard. It was certainly the day for it. Alderaan was a warzone, but parts of it were relatively peaceful. But the security types had not been happy about a team of Mandos, even friendly ones, landing. However, their cover was solid. Gollen had taken Rina and had left a couple of other people. The group was still feeling things out, getting to know each other. It helped that Jirina was a lot more relaxed now than she had been in a while. The very satisfied look that she and Gollen had worn when they had emerged from Jirina’s quarters had left no room for imagination about what had gone on. And when Gollen had told him the compromise that Jirina and he had worked out…Well, Cyare had been speechless. It made sense. After all, what kind of crazy bounty hunter brought a baby with him or her? He shook his head again. Good cover or not, it would explain why they had so many people now. Jiriad, Illia and a couple of other s had filled out the team. Jiriad he knew had a crush on Shades. Illia, he wasn’t sure why the tanner had come along. She stood waiting for his reply.

“This is the day for it.” He said in a quiet voice. “Give.”

Illia was a small, almost mousy woman, with friendly face and smile. One he knew as totally feigned. The woman was one of the best hunters, or animals and other things, that he had ever met. Her dark hair glistened as she sighed. “The informant we were sent for has vanished.” He looked at her and she nodded. ‘Yeah, it was the Exchange. One of the goons, a Wookiee, was known.”

“Zim.”’ The name came out flat and hard. What little he had been able to find out about the crimeboss who wanted Amarath was not good news. One did not become a crime boss without being hard, ruthless and capable of just about anything. But everything he had found out about THIS crimeboss made him want to shoot something. Preferably a nice fat crimeboss. The whole bit about ‘live capture only’ and ‘as undamaged as possible’ was not altruism. What little Amarath had said about the man told him that Zim wanted Amarath in the worst possible way and for very bad things. The only way the crimeboss was going to get her was over Cyare’s dead body of course.

“We don’t know for sure. It might be one of his rivals, making a play.” Illia didn’t flinch as Cyare cursed. She grimaced slightly. “Yeah, I don’t think so either.”

“Trap?” Cyare wasn’t sure what to expect. This crimeboss could not be as stupid as he had acted. Sending bounty hunters after Amarath… sure. But ticking off an entire clan of Mandos was kind of foolhardy, even for a crimeboss. That of course was ignoring the fact that the Ordo clan had some very odd allies these days. Some of what Gollen had told them was incredibly hard to believe, but it did make sense.

“More than likely.” Illia had a sweet smile on her face and Cyare shuddered. This woman was vicious.

“Only one thing to do then.” Cyare said as he checked his blasters. “I assume you found where they took the guy.”

“Please. Who are you talking to?” Illia affected hurt pride, but then grinned as she unslung her rifle and started checking it. “I will tell the others.”

Cyare smiled grimly as Illia left the room. He started checking his gear, and paid particular attention to his weapons. He would need them all for this, more than likely.

***

Cyare walked up to the entrance of the warehouse alone. It was a bit unnerving, to tell the truth. He knew that eyes, both friendly and not, were on him. But his posture gave no sign as he opened the door and stepped into the wide open space. His face, as always when he was in field, was covered by his helmet, and his hands were not on his blasters. They were not far from his blasters, mind, but they were not on them.

As he stepped into the warehouse, his eyes were moving fast. The light amplification systems built into his helmet rivaled anything the Republic or Sith Empire could boast and he could make out a number of forms around a single huddled form on the floor. Infrared imaging showed two other spots where things were warm, probably whoever was going to spring the trap that he had just boldly stepped into. He did not lower his guard however. Some races did not show up on infrared scans. He started towards the group as if he hadn’t a care in the world.

They were sloppy. It was another sign that this was a trap. Anyone who did not expect a Mandalorian to come walking in in the middle of an interrogation would be a bit surprised, maybe a bit worried. These guys had their focus on their prisoner, although he could see a couple of them looking at him furtively.

A voice sounded in his ears. “Two snipers. Positions marked.” He smiled grimly under his helmet as T’ad’s voice clicked off. The sniper was a bit of a handful at times, especially when Rina was around, but he did know how to shoot and sneak. Tow icons appeared on his HUD, in the rafters of the warehouse. There had to be more. Two snipers would not… Tad’s voice came again. “Haar’chak, they are vode.”

Cyare felt his guts clench. If Zim had hired Mandalorians of his own… This would get ugly fast. They could have the same gear he did. Admittedly, it was unlikely they would be able to tap his communications, but still… “Let me talk. If it goes down, take them out fast.”

Most of the group turned from the sodden mass on the floor as Cyare approached. He sized up his opposition. The Wookiee was probably the greatest threat, even if not for the madness that Cyare could see even from where he was in the dark eyes of the brown furred form. The Wookiee’s paws were stained with blood and Cyare knew without seeing that the Wookiee’s climbing claws had been used on their prisoner. That made this Wookiee a madclaw, dangerous beyond belief. Just looking at the postures of the Wookiee’s companions, they knew what she was. Cyare’s mind flagged her as the primary target.

Aside from the Wookiee, there was a Quarren and three humans, one of the humans was female. The female looked scared, she was wearing a medical tunic and wore the badge of a senior healer. Maybe the Exchange had snatched her to keep their prisoner alive while they interrogated him? It didn’t matter. She was a potential threat, so Cyare’s mind filed her under ‘shoot if needed’. The other two humans were muscle, big strong and from the looks of them, about as smart as a box of rocks. Both hefted blaster rifles, but from their stances, probably would have better luck hitting people with them rather than shooting. Cyare filed them under ‘secondary targets. Shoot after primaries.’

The Quarren however…seemed to be in charge. So Cyare stepped towards it, stopping well out of reach, even for a Wookiee. When it spoke, it’s voice was the same raspy mess that Quarrens always seemed to make of Basic.”Well, here it falls out nicely. We were going to come looking for you.”

"Yeah." Cyare’s voice was calm, cool and matter of fact. “You are after Amarath Shades. You should go back and tell your boss she is off the market.”

"This is..." The Quarren made a soft laugh. “Reckless Mandaloran, even for one of you. We can all profit by this. The bounty has been raised to 250k. Lots to go around.”

“I said… She is off the market.” His lack of emotion seemed to baffle the Quarren.

"Well..." The Quarren shook his head as the Wookiee growled. “What Zim wants, Zim gets. We can all profit by this.”

Everything seemed to stop as Cyare laughed. His posture was relaxed. “Yeah, sure. You take her, and then you try and take me. What is the bounty on me now? I know your boss has one on me. It will be a bit hard to collect though when you are dead.”

The Quarren made a noise that it took Cyare a moment to recognize as a laugh. “We don’t get paid for easy, Mandalorian. Who paid you to do this? You are a professional, so are we. There is no need to be uncivilized about this.”

“Uncivilized? Oh, yeah. You people are so civilized aren’t you? You do know what Zim wants her for, right?” Cyare’s hands hadn’t moved but when one of the goons moved a step, Cyare’s visor tracked that person and he froze in place.

"Oh?" The Quarren gave another of those raspy laughs. “And what for you want her for, Mandalorian? Money is all your people understand. How much do you want for her?”

"Money?" The voice of the blue armored form could have frozen a sun. “You don’t have enough.”

"What?" The Quarren seemed baffled by that and then it shook it’s head. “So be it. Kill this fool.”

The Wookiee was moving, both the goons were as well. Cyare’s blasters were in hand and he was aware of warnings on his com as his snipers prepared to take out the enemy ones. But none of them expected what happened next. Everything stopped as the wall blew in.
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kalenath
08.11.2012 , 03:06 PM | #6
“Who the fu-…?”

Cyare heard the strangled oath that overrode com discipline as he dove to the side, blaster fire chewing through the area where he had been. There wasn’t any cover, so he activated his armor’s built in stealth systems. They would not hide him forever, or against strong sensors, but they would…

His world suddenly spun as something slammed into him. He had a moment to see brown fur and then his world dissolved into pain as the Wookiee that held him applied pressure. His armor would not hold out for long. He could hear someone shouting. Then, just as suddenly as the pain had come, it vanished. He found himself lying on the floor, staring up at the largest Trandoshan he had ever seen in his life. The Trandosahn was actually large enough that the insane female Wookiee was evenly matched. The Wookiee yowled and the Trandoshan replied in Dosh, words that sounded rude. Of course, Cyare didn’t speak Dosh, so the Tandoshan could have been discussing the weather for all he knew.

Training kicked in and Cyare rolled to where one of his pistols was on the floor, but when he came up with it, the battle was over. He stared as a dull snap was heard and the Trandoshan lowered the still form of the Wookiee to the floor. He decided right then that he did not want to fight this lizard. Ever. He looked around and the other Exchange goons were down. The medic was… What the…?

The medic had a blaster -one of Cyare’s- in hand and was checking the still form of the prisoner. She sighed and turned to the Trandoshan.

“You took your sweet time.” She looked at Cyare and shook her head. “And you, sir… Are nuts.”

Cyare did not move. He was aware of other Trandoshan forms around the blasted open wall, four of them. From their stances, none of them were rookies and all were heavily armed. He shook his head slowly. “Who are you?” He asked slowly. He heard clicks in his com as his people checked in. But only three. He stiffened slightly. Who hadn’t checked in? He focused, he would worry about that later.

Illia’s voice came over his com. “Jiriad is down. I’m checking on him.” Cyare felt his guts clench, but kept his eyes on the medic who was examining the Trandsohan now. The huge lizard smiled widely at him.

The erstwhile medic sighed and his blaster came twirling at him. He caught it reflexively and put it away. All of the Trandoshans wore heavy armor; his pistol probably wouldn’t do any good. His other one followed and the medic smiled as she turned to face him. “To answer your question, my name is Helen. We had a bounty on this piece of insane garbage.” She kicked the still form of the Wookiee. “We had no idea you were coming to the party. You are lucky we didn’t shoot any of your people.”

A trap that had been about to be ambushed sprung by him and his people. Cyare’s head was spinning a bit. He much preferred simple. “So…What now?”

The woman who called herself Helen shrugged. “You do your business, I do mine. We go our separate ways. And this never happened.” Cyare glanced at the destroyed wall and Helen smirked. “Well, sort of.”

“I take it the guy they snatched is dead.” It wasn’t really a question.

A jerk of Helen’s head and the Wookiee’s body was carried out the hole they had blown to get in. She nodded. “That Wookiee was thorough. You are welcome to go through his pockets.” There was subtle undercurrent of anger to her words.

"Drat." The Mandalorian stiffened in place and then rose slowly to his full height. “I am not a thief. Not today anyway.” He corrected himself with a grin. “But he was my contact.”

“He was?” The woman’s voice held a measure of disbelief and worry.

The blue armored Mando stiffened suddenly. Helen. Where did he know that name from? Oh wait… Suddenly he laughed as he made the mental connection, the hair was wrong, and she was wearing makeup, but the face was the same. “Helen Regina? What are you doing here?”

The former princess of Naboo looked at him, her face unreadable. “Have we met?” Three of the Trandoshans were still in the warehouse and all had weapons ready. None were the size of the one who had carried the Wookiee out, but all were armored and well armed.

“We have.” The blue armored Mando chuckled sourly as he relaxed. “Of course, a lot of things were happening, but having a Basalisk nearly destroy the Naboo spaceport at the behest of a 14 year old is hard to forget.”

“You were one of Maria and Sara’s guards when they came looking for that Jedi.” Helen smiled. “No, you were one of the guards who held the Special Branch off of Sara and me while she called in her ‘pet’. I remember you now, you were hit.” She looked him over.

“Not badly. It is none of my business why you are here.” He looked at the still form of the informant and shook his head. “But I needed information. Oh well, back to the hunt.” He started to turn, but paused as Helen shook her head.

"Wait..." There was something odd in her voice. “If I may ask… Who are you hunting?”

“My mate.” Cyare said quietly as he started off. “I will find her.” No scream could have been more final than his quiet words.

"You are Cyare..." Helen’s stared at him for a long moment and then nodded slowly. “Will told me about you and Amarath. ‘Tragic’ he called it. And that is saying something coming from him. What do you need?”

“She was heading to Sith space from here." Cyare said with a shrug. "I need to know where to start looking.”

“Let me poke around. I’ll see what I can find.” She held out a card and he took it. “I will be in touch.” Just like that, she was gone, the only traces of her the two very dead Exchange goons and the very surprised looking Quarren with a shiv stuck in his back. It seemed that the ‘medic’ had not been unarmed after all.

Cyare shook his head and started cleaning up the mess. Every time he thought he had the galaxy figured out, it banked hard to port, throwing him back to square one. You never knew WHO you were going to run into out here.
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kalenath
08.11.2012 , 03:13 PM | #7
It was very quiet as they gathered at the spot where one of their own lay still. Mandalorians knew death; Cyare didn’t need to see the front of Jiriad’s armor to know the young man would not be moving again. He stopped just outside the group and sighed. “Dumb kid…”

Illia looked at him and then back at the body. T’ad however was not so restrained. “We were all young and dumb once, Cyare. Are you happy that he is gone?” Those should have been angry and provocative words, but somehow they were not. They were sad.

The blue armored Mando thought about that for a second. Had he been jealous of the younger male’s crush on his mate? He was human, much as he strove to be perfect much of the time, he knew he wasn’t. It was the testing that proved he had what it took to be Mandalorian, however. He would never stop trying to improve himself until the day he finally died. He shook his head slowly, trying to work through his feelings. Finally he sighed.

“No." Cyare said slowly. "He might have been a possible rival, but in the end, he was a clan mate, a vod. We are all lessened by his loss. He was young and strong, and asset to the clan. He will be missed.”

The other three looked at him and nodded. Their helmets did not show anything, but from their postures, all of them relaxed a little. Illia shook her head slowly. “He had a sister, Olians. We should take his beskargam and weapons back to her.”

"Olians?" Cyare thought about that for a moment before nodding. “She hasn’t taken her verd’goten yet, but she is capable. We will need to tell her how it happened. What happened? I was… busy…” He flushed under his helmet, but was sure the others could tell he was embarrassed. He had messed up, made assumptions, and it had very nearly gotten him killed. It might have gotten all of them killed. He knew better, he would have to remain focused.

“He was slow getting to cover. Both of the snipers targeted him at the same time. One hit him low, he might have survived that. The other got a clean shot through the visor, no chance. He looked for a target instead of ducking. Typical rookie mistake.” T’ad’s voice was clinical, as if he were talking about meat on a slab, not someone he had laughed and sung with the night before.

“He was good.” Cyare mused. “But not experienced. You are right, T’ad. I did him a disservice.”

“Bull.” The last member of the team looked up from where he was stowing his weapon. Robilon could not carry his preferred weapon by himself. He was simply too short to carry a heavy repeater without some kind of mechanical assistance. It was no weakness that he needed a droid to help carry his weapon. Or if it was, no one dared say it to his face when his blaster cannon was powerful enough to punch a hole in starships, let alone personal armor. “Vod knew the risks when he came. He volunteered, di’kut that he was. Silly stupid quest we are engaged in. Not a place for amateurs. He wasn’t good enough, but he wanted to come, maybe impress a girl. Maybe just prove himself. He knew better, he just didn’t follow his training. Tell me I am wrong.”

Cyare bristled a bit at that, but then relaxed. Robilon as always, spoke his mind. Most Mandalorians did. And what was worse, he was right. The only one at fault, besides Trava for forcing Amie to flee in the first place, was Cyare. He was in charge after all. It was supposed to be his responsibility to see that his vode did not die stupidly. Both of the others looked at Cyare and he nodded slowly.

“You are right, Robilon." Cyare said with a shrug. "I should have kept a closer eye on him. It was my mistake that nearly got my arms torn off. And it was my mistake thinking he was good enough to handle taking two vode. Do we know who they were?”

"Not yet." Illia walked over to where one of the bodies had fallen from its rafter perch and scrutinized the armor. Then she hissed. “Vode, you need to see this.” The others came over to where she stood and paused. The markings were familiar. Almost every Mandalorian had heard the tale.

“That can’t be right…” For once Robilon’s voice was not certain. “They don’t exist anymore. Do they?”

Illia knelt down and gently removed the buy’ce from the head of the slain Mandalorian. The body had a hole directly center mass. Either T’ad or Illia had managed a perfect kill shot, taking out the heart and spine with one blast. The face that was revealed was young maybe twenty years old, but the markings on it were clear. Cyare cursed softly.

"Holy..." The blue armored Mando’s voice was calm on the surface, but underneath lay astonishment. “No one has seen Clan Luko for nine hundred years. They are all dead. Why would someone impersonate them?” 

“I have a better question.” Came the voice of the other sniper. T’ad had pried the blasted helmet off the other head. This one had taken a blaster round through the cranium and the sight was enough that Cyare was glad his armor was sealed. “Why are they working for the Exchange? Money talks, I know, but…” He broke off, unsure.

“Mandalore the Preserver himself worked for the Exchange, remember T’ad?" Robilon said soberly. "Remember how he met Revan on Taris? He was working for that scumbag named Davist. Wasn’t he?” Robilon’s voice was a bit shaken now. Something was off here. Something was wrong.

“Davik.” Cyare corrected absently. This was bad, very bad. A slaughtered clan suddenly back from the dead? Something stank and it wasn’t the bodies. He shook his head. “Bring Jiriad. Leave them.”

Illia looked up from where she had been going through the one she had shot’s armor pouches. “Cyare?”

Cyare shook his head. “Something is wrong here. Something is off. Let’s get out of here. Now.” He put words to action and started for the door. Illia started to pocket something and Cyare stopped her. “No. Leave it. Something is wrong here. Very wrong. Let’s go.”

Illia’s body language was insulted, but she rose and left the corpse where it lay. Robilon, always prepared, had a cargo speeder just outside that they backed up to the huge hole in the wall. They loaded the body in and were gone in minutes.

Behind them, the warehouse was silent for a moment. Then a sigh echoed through the silence. A small form stepped from the shadows far from the door and sighed. The small green form shook his head and spoke softly.

“Well, that didn’t work. Pity. If we had gotten some tracking nanites on their ship, we might have been able to find the Enclave quickly.”

Jedi Master Tokare Vandar walked to the closest corpse that wore armor and shook his head as he looked it over. When he spoke it was biting, and not directed at the corpse. “I told you it wouldn’t work. Of all the clan colors you could have picked, why those? If it had been any other clan, they wouldn’t; have been so on guard. You just had to twit the Bladeborn, didn’t you?”

Another shadow uncoiled from behind a set of durasteel ingots. “More fun this way.” He laughed as he strode towards the second body. “Besides, we can have them any time. Why wait?”

“Do you want to die, Ravishaw? You don’t have the Force right now, remember? Maybe the master can fake it, but the only way you can feed it is this way. Go ahead… do it.” The Jedi said with distaste that bordered on outright horror.

The insane Sith giggled as he touched the cooling body and it disintegrated under his touch. “Ah, that tastes… fine…” He moved towards the other bodies. “Nothing quite like the taste of recent death. Nothing at all.”

“Remember the plan, Ravishaw. If you mess it up again, I am betting the Master will not be happy.” Ravishaw stopped laughing for a moment and then nodded curtly to Vandar. Then his laughter started again as he touched the second corpse and it too vanished. He seemed to swell a bit, as if he were eating it somehow. “If we tip either Helen or the Mandalorians off, they will vanish and we will have nothing to show for it, except your hunger sated for a little while.”

“Good enough for me.” Ravishaw said as he started towards the dead Quarren. “Ooo…Seafood.”
My stories in order:
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kalenath
08.11.2012 , 03:16 PM | #8
It was a somber group that stood in the cockpit of Robilon’s small transport, the ‘Inconceivable’. They ad returned without incident and left the planet without incident. But now, they had to take care of something. None of them wanted to share the confined space with a corpse for who knew how long. Luckily, there was precedent for this kind of thing. Mandalorians had been killed far from home a lot over the centuries. Actually, it was pretty much normal for Mandalorians to die far from where they had been born. Death was their constant companion and ally. But they all knew that Death would come for each of them one day. Warriors had no illusions about that.

Jirina stood, her little girl held against her unarmored body to give what comfort she could. The girl could sense the atmosphere in the small ship and was agitated, so Jirina was having her hands full keeping the girl quiet. Ta’d and Illia stood at the back of the compartment, silent shadows. Robilon of course, sat at the controls. He wouldn’t let anyone else handle his baby. Cyare stood behind his seat, head bowed. Waiting.

“Done.” Robilon said quietly as he worked the controls. “You want to say anything Cyare?”

Cyare didn’t want to. That was patently obvious. But he was the leader of the team and that brought responsibilities as well as perks. All of the others turned to look at him and even Amie ceased her feeding for a moment to stare wide eyed at him.

“I did not know Jiriad well. I was always aloof, apart. After being a bodyguard for so long, it was second nature. I didn’t want to know anyone. I didn’t want to get involved. I thought it would hurt less. I was a fool.” He smiled a little. “It wasn’t until Amarath pulled me up, that day on the range, that I realized just exactly how foolish I had been. Jiriad was simply being nice. Sure he had a crush on her, but he wasn’t going to press. He wasn’t stupid, just young. We were all young once. Mando’ad draar digu.” Cyare bowed his head and waited.

Another voice spoke up from behind him. Illia had her helmet sealed, but her voice was strong. “I knew Jiriad from the time he passed his verd’goten. He ran into a whole pack of Maalraas near my hide. But he managed to get away from it, to get his kill and return triumphant. He always thought of family first, of himself second. It was not weakness, no matter what some may say, it was more a sense of wanting to be something greater than himself. To be focused on being Mandalorian as opposed to being just himself. ‘The tribe, the clan, comes first’, he always said.” The woman wasn’t crying. Cyare wasn’t sure Illia could cry. “Mando’ad draar digu.”

“He cheated at Dejarik.” Came an unexpected voice. T’ad hadn’t spoken since the group had returned. The sniper shook his head and his voice contained rueful admiration. “Crazy fool was always trying to better himself, always testing himself in the oddest ways. I know he cheated at Dejarik, but I have never been able to figure out how. Mando’ad draar digu.”

For a long moment, silence reigned in the cockpit. Finally the pilot broke the silence. “Jiriad was a good vod. Tough, bold and devoted to the clan. He wanted to do the right thing, for the clan, for his friends. And even for you, Cyare.” Cyare nodded at the stinging rebuke. Cyare had not been kind to the younger man when Jiriad had pressed Amarath a bit. “He was always willing to pitch in, to get the job done, no matter how dirty it turned out to be, he never complained, never whined, never quit. Mando’ad draar digu.”

“That boy could not cook to save his life. Kill it? Sure. Cook it? Never. He is the only person I ever met who could literally burn water.” Jirina was holding her daughter tight and Amie protested a bit, as confused by all this odd emotion as the others likely were. Mandalorians did not normally show emotion. Emotions were a weakness that others could exploit. But here and now, with just members of the clan around them, they could let things out that would never be shown to outsiders. “He was always trying, but he could never get it right. Mando’ad draar digu.”

Cyare nodded to Robilon who keyed a control. A soft thump echoed through the ship and an object shot out into view in front of it. The bundle was Jiriad’s body, minus his armor and weapons, which would go to his family, wrapped in a sheet and stuffed into a launch tube. “Range?”

Robilon looked at his controls and spoke softly. “Now.”

Cyare nodded again. “Fire.” Robilon hit a control with a little more force than was needed. A hum was heard. Two bright green bursts of light shot from the sides of the cockpit. The laser cannon shots hit the body, reduced it to spacedust and, barely diminished, continued on into nothingness. A funeral worthy of any warrior.

“We are born from water. We die in fire. We seed the stars. Mando’ad draar digu.” Cyare’s quiet voice stopped and then he turned and walked form the cockpit. The others, minus the pilot, followed in silence.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
08.11.2012 , 03:20 PM | #9
It was not completely unknown for Mandalorians to be able to hold their tempers. After all, a hasty temper could be a weakness for an enemy to exploit. That said, it was not easy for such hot tempered beings at the best of times. Luckily, Cyare Ordo had much more practice than most Mandos in holding his temper and remaining polite when people were rude. Bodyguards were required to be able to shrug things off that would have had daggers drawn at the very least around most Mando settings. This was not the time to lose his temper. The guards all around had their weapons in hand as Cyare took a deep breath and spoke again.

“We have clearance. We have filled out all of your forms, even the idiotic ones. So what is the problem?”

The functionary behind the desk puffed up in self importance. The desk was part of a kiosk like system that bordered the entry portal for this spaceport. Even without the various insignia everywhere, anyone with eyes would know that this was a Sith spaceport. The dozen guards that stood nervously with weapons in hand and the two assault droids that waited impassive were obvious. What was less obvious were the omnipresent security cameras and the hidden weapons that went along with them. Cyare had spent most of the time he and his people had been stuck her, over four hours, counting the weapons he could see and the slots that concealed others. As a spaceport entry, it was an obvious point of contact, and thus was fortified fairly thoroughly, although Cyare could see weak spots.

“The problem. Mandalorian, is that we do not need your kind here.” The desk flunky replied in the same snotty voice that he had used throughout. For the life of him, Cyare could not remember the scum’s name. “Your forms are invalid. You should leave.”

Cyare raised a brow under his helmet. This was new. The guy had been spouting gibberish at him for most of the time. They had waited patiently. Mandos could be patient. It was a requirement for hunting after all. It was especially helpful when dealing with Sith bureaucracy. Now the guy actually seemed to be getting nervous.

“Why?” He asked in a reasonable tone. “We have clearance, we have the proper forms, we have even paid for our fuel. And now… You want us gone. Why?”

“I don’t have to explain myself to some hired thug…” The functionary’s voice broke off as Cyare leaned across his table. “Back off, Mandalorian!”

“Make me.” The voice from under the helmet could have frozen a supernova in its tracks. Cyare was quietly proud of that tone, he had spent time working on it until he could literally scare himself.

Guards!” The man screamed and then he scrambled back as Cyare moved even closer. None of the guards move. All of them stared at Jirina who had a kid in one hand and a small blinking silver sphere in the other. He turned to the droids, but they…shut down?

A chuckle came from where Robilon stood. “Idiot soldiers never change their encryptions. You might want to work on that.” He didn’t have a weapon in hand, instead, he had a remote. The droids came alive again and all their weapons turned to point at the guards, who wisely froze in place. Illia and T’ad were standing nearby, their postures somewhere between annoyance and amusement.

The flunky’s face turned a sick pale color as Cyare grabbed him by the front of his tailored suit. The Mandalorian’s voice was almost polite. Almost. “Your stupidity has cost me time. If it has cost me my quarry I will have it out of your hide.” He pulled the man across his desk and held the flunky off the ground easily despite the man’s struggles. “I will ask one more time. Do not make me ask a third time or I might get angry. Why have you been delaying us?”

The man’s eyes went wide at a scarping sound behind Cyare and the Mando knew one of the other s had drawn a knife, likely to test the edge. “I…” The front of his pants showed a dark brown stain that Cyare ignored.

"Gah!" Cyare was halfway tempted to slap the man. Instead, he threw the fool to the floor near T’ad. “He won’t talk to me, vod. Maybe he will talk to you.”

“Oh…” The gray armored sniper had a soft and evil smile in his voice as he strode forward. “I think he will…” Cyare looked and yes, Ta’s had a knife in hand, a small, almost delicate looking thing. A filleting knife, or a skinning one. It touched the man in the arm and he screamed. “Oh for goodness sakes, don’t be like that. I haven’t begun to hurt you yet…”

The flunky stared at form one Mando to the others, his eyes beseeching. Then they lit on the woman who held the ticking bomb. “You bring a bomb with a kid?”

Jirina had an evil smile in her voice when she replied. “Where do you think I hid it?” The guards stared at her and she sighed. “Weapons on the floor, people. Now.” Her tone was polite, but the clatter of blasters hitting the floor was louder than the flunky’s whimpers as T’ad’s knife traced his cheek. “I need to feed the adika, Cyare will you…” She made a gesture and the blue armored Mando nodded. He walked to where she stood and took the bomb from her. She sat down right on the floor, pulled a bottle out of a pouch and started to feed her daughter right there in the middle of everything.

The guards stared at her and then at Cyare. Cyare shrugged and when he spoke, rueful admiration was in his tone.

“Where does a Mandalorian mother sit? Anywhere she kriffing wants.” He turned back to the sobbing mass at T’ad’s feet. Blood traced both of the man’s cheeks now and he was babbling, trying crawl away. He screamed again as Illia stepped on his right hand with her armored boot. “One more time pal, and then we get nasty. Why have you been delaying us?”

“Because I told him to.” Came an answer from the door and Cyare turned to see a black robed form at the door. The Sith was chuckling sourly. “I see Mandalorians are as polite as ever.”

“I assume you have a reason for angering us, darjettii.” Cyare did not move, but both T’ad and illia moved to support positions. He also knew that both Robilon and jirina had hideout weapons ready to use.

The Sith nodded as she stepped into the room. “I did not intend to anger you, Mandalorian.” She swept her cowl off her head and her eyes speared Cyare. “My name is Nira, Nira Auralai and I need some special assistance. Assistance that I believe your company could provide.”

“You could have simply asked.” Cyare wasn’t sure what to make of this woman. A SIth asking for help? That made no sense at all.

“Our goals may coincide, Mandalorian. But not here, unless you really do want to flay secretary Palin there.” Nira’s smile was absolutely pure Sith. She didn’t care, or… Cyare wasn’t sure. There was something very odd about this woman. Something off. “If you want to kill him, feel free.”

“If he doesn’t learn to keep his mouth shut, he won’t live much longer. As a sacrificial nerf, he might be useful, but if he keeps spouting off to the wrong people, he will get plugged and do your Empire no good at all.” Cyare slammed his boot into the man, eliciting a scream that turned into a bubbling cough. At least one rib had been broken, and at least two more broke when Cyare kicked him again. “But he is not worth my time. You may have a job offer, but I am on a hunt already.”

"I know." Nira nodded, her face impassive. “Your hunt and mine may not be mutually exclusive.” Cyare froze at that and she nodded. “Not here. You will be compensated even if you do not accept my offer.”

Cyare looked at the others and they all nodded. He nodded to Nira, turned his back on the bleeding form at his feet and walked to stand near the Sith. Sith lied, he knew that, but… Something was off about this woman. He did not need to see them to know his people moved to follow. “Lead on.” The bomb clicked off in his hand and he pocketed it. But his other hand was on his blaster.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
08.11.2012 , 03:26 PM | #10
Cyare had never dealt with a lot of Sith. Well, he had, but it was always from the barrels of his pistols. He had heard a lot of stories however, and his own family history with Sith was less than pleasant. But he had to remain in cover, no matter how his gut was telling him to draw, to shoot this witch before she could harm his family. They were vulnerable now. Back at the customs checkpoint, they had possessed the element of surprise. They had managed, even with no preparation, to take the guards and agent there completely off guard. After all, who brings an infant into a firefight? But the Sith had insisted that EVERYONE leave the ship, probably so they could search it for contraband and/or bug it. Not that there was any contraband, and any bugs that were put in, he gave a very limited life expectancy to. Robilon seemed to take it as a personal challenge when people did things like that. As he watched Jirina get settled with Amie in her lap, he watched the Sith who had brought them to this room and he did not move from his place. Illia, T’ad and Robilon had all moved to quarter the room, if the Sith turned hostile, there was a chance they could shoot her before she could kill more than one of them. Sith died when you shot them enough and even the most powerful Sith had trouble dodging streams of blaster fire from four different directions. Cyare waited until his people were all in position before speaking.

“You wanted to talk, so…talk.”

"A moment." The woman who called herself Nira Auralai nodded slowly. Her posture was relaxed as she stood in the front of the room. “I assume your jammers are fully capable. But I must be sure.” Cyare gave her a minute nod and the woman produced a small device from a pocket. A hum and a small wisp of smoke rose from the table centerpiece. Nira sighed and spoke derisively. “Right in the middle of everything… How… typically Sith.” Cyare raised a brow at her tone, that was not like any Sith he had ever… She spoke again. “That is a strong and brave child, Ma’am. What is her name?”

That could have had threat in the tone, but it didn’t. Jirina looked at Cyare and he shrugged. The woman held her daughter tight. “Her name is Amie.”

“Good name.” The Sith sagged a bit. “Let me blunt. We don’t have a lot of time before my superiors start questioning why and how I am talking to you without their oversight. Helen was in touch.” All the Mandos stiffened at that. “Amarath came through here, was hassled by the goons at the checkpoint briefly and went on her way. I don’t know what her ultimate goal was, but she took ship for Korriban. According to the records I have managed to ‘acquire’, she hasn’t left as of this morning. That is why I was delayed. I had to come up with a good explanation for what I needed. Imperial Intelligence is very suspicious. They have to be, it’s their job.”

Cyare was sure his that if his jaw had not been secured by the chinstrap of his helmet, it would have fallen off his face and hit the floor. Then his eyes narrowed. “Why should we believe you?”

"Believe me?" He was not expecting the Sith to laugh. He stiffened, but she was not laughing sarcastically, or bitterly. No, she was honestly amused. “You shouldn’t. Sith lie, that is what we do.” There was bitterness in her words now. “But some of us, very few of us, actually do want to see the Empire made stronger, not torn apart by infighting among idiots who cannot see beyond their own lusts for power.” All of the Mandos were staring at her now and she shrugged. “Like I said, we share goals. I am investigating the probable abuse of power by a very powerful Sith. I am not expected to survive. If I do, I will probably have an ‘accident’ after. One does not lightly investigate members of the Dark Council after all.” A low whistle came from Illia. The Dark Council were the de facto rulers of the Sith Empire, very powerful and very bad news bad guys.

“Why involve us then? You have power and authority if you can get that fool at the gate to hold us so long.” T’ad’s voice was quite. He was calm, cool and ready.

"Authority?" Nira nodded to the gray armored Mando. “Not very much. I am good at making the weak willed see what I need them to, but this…? Like I said, we share an interest. The Sith I am hunting is tracking someone who has been hacking into his networks.” Cyare froze at that and Nira nodded. “Every single hack has been on a planet Amarath has been on. He has her picture from an automated camera she missed in one of the sites, but does not have her IDed, yet. He will soon, I am sure. I need information she has on his activities. Our goals are not dissimilar. You want her alive and I need her alive.”

“And after?” Cyare could have been discussing the weather for all the emotion his voice held, but the tension in the room ramped up a few notches.

The Sith seemed to deflate a bit, actually, she slumped little. “After…? Well… First of all, we would have to find her, keep her alive. There is more going on here than you know.”

“I asked you a question, darjetii.” Impossibly, Cyare sounded almost friendly now. Almost.

The woman shook her head with a grimace. “Look, I don’t know. She has been hacking into secure servers. That is against the law in the Empire, in case you didn’t know. But…” She raised a hand as all of the Mandos tensed even more. “The person she has been investigating is involved in treason so monumental it boggles the mind. This is all moot however if she gets caught by his agents.”

“You have not given us any reason to trust anything you have said.” Cyare said in a mild tone that fooled no one. His fingers were tapping on his blaster handles now.

“I know. I couldn’t actually bring anything with me. I get searched thoroughly every time I go in and out of my barracks. I won’t betray my Master.” There was something in her words now, something far, far beyond anything Cyare had ever expected to hear from a Sith. “He is not just my master, he is my friend. I won’t betray him…” She paused in mid word. “Wait…” She shook her head slowly. “Oh that sneaky man…”

“What?” Cyare was losing patience with this male nerf osik.

All the Mandos stared as the woman’s expression changed. Nira was smiling sadly. “I should have known he would cover his bases. He does that. It’s the only way he has survived.” She looked Cyare full in the visor. “Someone I met once in passing told me something I could use in just this situation. I am going to say something in someone else’s voice. It will startle you and I don’t want to get shot.” Cyare stared at her and then nodded slowly. Her mouth opened and all the Mandos flinched as they heard Will Kalenath’s voice come from her lips.

“Matters of the heart are never easy, Cyare. They are never clear cut, or simple.”

Cyare actually recoiled slightly, backing up against the wall. He remembered those words clearly, too clearly. He had confronted Will on Nova Ordo, after Will had employed Amarath, giving her away off planet. It had taken the Mando a while to see Will had done the only thing possible. Getting her away before she could do anything she would regret. Cyare’s voice was awed. “How do you… the Empire hates Will…” He froze as he realized that he had just acknowledged that he knew one of the men the Empire wanted very, very badly. His hands darted for his blasters, but Nira hadn’t moved.

"Well..." The Sith didn’t move at all and her voice changed back to her own. “Yes, the Empire does. Some of us within the Empire know a bit more about who and what he is than others. Some of us realize that while the man has done horrible things to the Empire, he had reason. I am not his enemy, or yours, Cyare Ordo. I need the information Amarath has, and to get it, I need your help. We don’t have to work at cross purposes here.”

This was just too much. “You could be lying. Even now. Manipulating our minds.” Part of Cyare wanted to draw his blaster, shoot the woman. Another part wanted to slap her until she gave him a straight answer as to how she knew who he was. Finally he spoke softly. “No.”

"Very well." Nira slumped. “I see. Well, I wish you luck on your hunt, then. Your ship is fueled by now, and any bugs on it are not official. For what it is worth, good luck.” She smiled at Amie tenderly and then left the room.

“Let’s get off this mudhole.” Cyare said as the others moved to follow.

***

Two cloaked figures watched while the ‘Inconceivable’ took off. Finally one spoke.

“You didn’t expect them to act any other way, did you?” This voice was old and male.

“No, not really, Master. It would have made things easier for everyone, but no, hate and distrust of Sith are too ingrained in them.” This one was Nira, and her voice was pensive.

“Well, you gave them the information they needed, and corroboration as well." Her master said gently. "Have you thought on the lesson?”

Nira nodded. “Yes, Master Dargon I have. ‘To see is not to see’ always seemed a bit odd to me, when I read it looking from the perspective as a darksider. Now, with a different look, I can see other points of view…”

The older Sith nodded. “Good, you have taken your first step into a larger world, my apprentice.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here