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A Fool's Crime


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miladydeallseaso
08.26.2013 , 09:23 PM | #1
A Sith Warrior fanfiction. Also posted on fanfiction.net and AO3 (AO3 version is not up to date).

Prologue

They tell me I was born a Jedi, or rather, that both of my parents were.

My mother was beautiful. I have her face supposedly: small and delicate, with lips a little too big to be "pretty" in the ordinary sense. A kind face, everyone called it, although I suppose that view might be tainted by the speaker's knowledge of her personality. But I failed to inherit her eyes, brown and doe-like, and her smile, which I'm told was her most extraordinary feature. She was always smiling.

My father rarely smiled, and I suppose I must have inherited that from him. Serious, with a face simultaneously razor-sharp and weathered with years of thinking, always thinking. He had a keen mind and a keener tongue if the stories I'm told are any indication. That must have been what attracted my mother to him, for he wasn't a particularly handsome man apart from his flashing green eyes that frequently lit up with private sarcasm.

I know none of this first-hand, of course. Both of my parents died when I was very young. The Jedi killed them, slaughtered them for daring to love.

It was my birth that gave them away. They could only hide me, a force-sensitive child, for so long.

They didn't put up a fight, so I'm told. They simply stood there, looking into each other's' eyes as the lightsabers tore them to shreds in a blaze of blue and green.

It was a beggar who saved me—an old woman. My parents gave her every material possession they owned in exchange for a single promise: that she protect me. And she did. She stole me away and took me to Korriban, where I was taken in. The moment they saw me, they knew that I was strong with the Force.

They sent me away to be trained, and for nineteen years I have sweated and shed my blood working towards this day. Today I return to Korriban.

I am Ishtaa. I am Sith. I will destroy the Jedi for what they have done.

I will avenge my parents' love.

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miladydeallseaso
08.26.2013 , 09:23 PM | #2
CHAPTER ONE

Dromund Kaas

"You!"

The slave's words stopped her cold. Ishtaa froze, in the midst of carving her path of bloody destruction through the battlefield. Her scarlet blade trembled inches from the slave's throat.

"You? What do you mean you?"

The slave licked his lips, thin parched lines in a withered face. "It's you. You're the child. You're the impossible child."

Ishtaa gritted her teeth. She seized the man by his collar, hoisting him up off the ground by his neck. "Stop talking nonsense, old man. What do you mean I'm the impossible child? What are you talking about? Answer me!"

The slave choked and gagged, struggling to breath against Ishtaa's death grip. She dropped him to the ground unceremoniously, pressing the tip of her lightsaber against his throat.

"This is your last chance, slave," she hissed.

The old man didn't tremble. He simply laughed, a deathly quiet sound.

"I know…your face…You look…just like your mother."

For a moment, she hesitated. Could this man have really known her mother? It would not be unlike the Jedi to fraternize with slaves. If he knew her...if she could know something about her, what she had been like... Longing swelled in her chest, drowning out the rage.

"How did you know her?" she asked in a jerky voice. The old man just laughed again. She shook him angrily, tears welling up in her eyes. "Answer me!

"You...are nothing like her." His breath rattled. "You are lucky...she is not here with you...to see what you've become."

Ishtaa snarled. With a sharp twist, she drove the blade through the old man's throat.

He was dead before her lightsaber even made contact.

She stared down at him for a few seconds, shaking. The man was wrong. Her parents would be proud of her, of what she'd done to avenge their names. She felt a drop rolling off of her chin. She wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand roughly. They would be proud of you. They would be proud of you. But what you've done, not this. Not sniveling in the trenches like a pathetic child.

She swallowed the lump in her throat. Never again. She would prove the old man wrong. She would destroy her enemies, she would avenge her parents' deaths, and she would never be weak again. She would show the world what she could become.

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miladydeallseaso
08.26.2013 , 09:30 PM | #3
CHAPTER TWO

Balmorra

"I apologize, sir. It was the best I could do."

Quinn's lip curled. He lunged forward to grab the corporal by his collar, fury burning in his chest. "If that's your best, you're useless to me," he snarled. The corporal's eyes widened in terror, flitting around helplessly under Quinn's piercing glower. "I can shoot you dead with a clear conscience. Is that what you want?"

The blond man swallowed. "No, sir," he squeaked.

"Then focus, Jillins," Quinn snapped, shoving the corporal away from him. "Dismissed."

Quinn seethed silently as the corporal scampered away. Incompetence, that's what it was. Pure, unadulterated incompetence. Even the other officers were for the most part useless, always handing all but the most top secret tasks to him when they became too difficult. How the Empire was still standing with such lazy, stupid, morally flimsy buffoons was a mystery to him. He could only imagine that its ideals, pillars of order and security, were somehow holding it up despite a veritable sea of worthless peons.

He would have liked very much to have said more to Jillins regarding his lack of focus, but his attention was diverted by a figure at the door. His heart swelled with hope. Now here was an individual worth his effort. He had heard much of the new Sith from Lord Baras: strong, skilled with a lightsaber, loyal—yet unafraid to voice dissent to his master on occasion, much to Baras' displeasure—tenacious, observant, cunning. Quinn could hardly wait to meet—

Her.

The Sith was a woman.

Quinn froze in astonishment. Somehow it had not occurred to him that Baras' talented apprentice could be a woman. More than that, he noticed as he sized her up with a once-over glance, she was—and he could hardly believe he was saying this—lovely.

His hopes wilted slightly. It wouldn't be the first time one of his superiors had made an error in judgment over an attractive female, choosing a pretty face over worthy talent. Perhaps this was more of the same.

Then again, he thought as he caught a glimpse of the apprentice's flashing green eyes, maybe not.

------------------------------------------

There was a tap on the door.

Quinn looked up from his datapad. "Enter."

"Sir." A red-haired corporal entered. "Captain Rigel reports that Operation Breaking Point is a success."

Quinn's eyebrows shot up. "Really? So soon?" He blinked several times, shaking his head. "Well," he said, puzzled, "that's excellent news. Send him my regards."

"Yes, sir."

Quinn was still frowning as he returned his attention to the datapad. Operation Breaking Point…a success? It had only been in effect for a few days.

Perhaps, he considered hopefully, the troops were finally becoming competent.

He had just begun to engross himself in his datapad when he heard another tap at the door.

He looked up, expecting the red-haired corporal to be back with some trivial nonsense about Operation Breaking Point. It was with great surprise that he saw a gawky, pink-faced private waiting to be heard.

"Sir." The private stood at attention.

"Yes, what do you want?" Quinn asked impatiently.

"Lieutenant Thorpe reports that his attempt to obtain cyborg technology from the resistance movement has been successful. Technicians are working to reconfigure the technology to the Empire's needs as we speak, sir."

"What?"

The private squirmed. "Lieutenant Thorpe—"

"I heard you the first time, private," Quinn said, holding up his hand for silence. "Tell Lieutenant Thorpe I have been informed of his progress, and I congratulate him on his efforts."

"Yes, sir."

"Dismissed."

Quinn pursed his lips as the private left. Two successes in one day. In theory, he supposed, he ought to be thrilled with news that underlings were finally getting something accomplished. But coming from an Imperial base where one accomplished mission a month was considered a great success…

He was overthinking the matter. He knew he should be pleased that things were going so well.

Chiding himself for being petty, he returned to his datapad.

He was promptly interrupted by another knock at the door.

Looking up, he saw not one but two men standing in the doorway.

He set his datapad down on the table with a thud. "Let me guess," he said sardonically, "you've come to tell me that Cavill Arin's anti-stealth endeavor is a success."

The two men glanced at each other.

"Er…no, sir."

"I've been sent to inform you that the Balmorran Arms Factory's security has been shut down and Defense Minister Vol Argen killed."

"And you?" Quinn gestured to the other man.

"I've just come from Lieutenant Treshoda's office, sir. She's been put in contact with a Balmorran turncoat."

"Turncoat? To our side, you mean?"

"Yes, sir. Lieutenant Treshoda says he could provide valuable information."

Quinn frowned, rising from his desk.

"Wait here," he ordered.

The two men saluted him as he strode across the room. He turned the corner expecting to leave his office, but was caught off-guard by three more soldiers standing in the corridor. As he stood there in shock, a fourth one appeared.

"What the hell is going on?" he demanded.

A fifth soldier, this one a woman, came into view. "Sir," she began.

"Alright, into my office," Quinn snapped. "All of you. Now. And stay put."

With a chorus of "yes, sirs," four of the soldiers obediently went into his office.

Quinn stormed out to find Imperial intelligence. It was a Republic plot, he was sure of it. A trap, to lure them into a false sense of security. There was no other explanation. The day's success rate defied statistical and common sense.

"Sir." The fifth soldier was at his heels, attempting to keep up.

"My office, corporal, that's an order."

"Sir," the woman persisted, "it's important."

Quinn crossed his arms. "This had best be urgent. Name?"

"Corporal Sharpe, sir. Captain Hooper wished to convey to you that he has seen your new colleague in action, and is very impressed."

"My what? New colleague? What are you—"

All at once, the pieces fell into place. The sudden successes, the wave of positive reports all across Balmorra. It was her.

He swallowed. "I see," he said grudgingly. "Dismissed."

He pressed his lips together in a thin line as he slowly returned to his office. This Sith was even greater than he had expected.

What was he saying? She had shattered his expectations. Utterly obliterated them.

He allowed himself a private smile. He supposed he would have to adjust his calculations. He had never been more pleased to be wrong.

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miladydeallseaso
08.26.2013 , 09:31 PM | #4
CHAPTER THREE
Balmorra

As she left the house, it was all she could do not to turn around, lightsaber blazing, and kill the man inside.

Fool, she thought to herself. Fool.

For what other word could there be to describe someone who would marry a traitor?

Love. She scoffed. If the man honestly didn't know his wife would betray him, then he never loved her to begin with. And if he did…

Well, then, his love made him a traitor, if you could call feelings for someone so unworthy love.

Either way, it was a crime.

A fool's crime.

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miladydeallseaso
08.26.2013 , 09:31 PM | #5
CHAPTER FOUR
Dromund Kaas

Baras clasped his hands behind his back as he paced his quarters in thought.

Things were going better than even he could have planned. True, it had been his intent all along that Quinn should join his apprentice's crew, but he had anticipated that some persuasion might be involved. Instead, Quinn had practically leapt at the chance to join the apprentice's company.

Perhaps he had foreseen his master's plans. Baras frequently employed his followers as spies; the lieutenant might have recognized Ishtaa as a valuable target. Such initiative would be a first, but within the realm of possibility. Quinn was a bright fellow—certainly he was much brighter than most of his Imperial comrades—and he was unfailingly loyal to Baras and the Empire.

Baras reached out with the Force curiously, searching for the signature that marked Quinn's mind. He sifted through the others—the Twi'lek's flittering, chattering bundle of emotion; the steady, pulsing halo of his apprentice.

There. He found it: a tightly wound sphere of focused energy. In another world, Baras mused, Quinn would have been at home among the Jedi. His emotions were skillfully veiled and suppressed; a lesser Sith might not have detected them at all.

But then, out of nowhere, they surged. Respect, admiration, dedication, attraction. Quinn's feelings exploded outwards like a shockwave.

Baras smirked. Of course. The man was smitten with Ishtaa.

This was better than Baras could have dreamed. It threw his previous plans out the window in the short term, but in the end, it would be the girl's destruction.

It was moments like these that Baras almost understood the Jedi code. Those light-sided fools might be naïve, but they were right to prohibit love. Love was dangerous. Love was a weapon, as easy to use for destruction as it was for creation.

After all, it was love that brought his apprentice here.

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Adwynyth
08.27.2013 , 12:26 AM | #6
Oh...I'm liking this. *imports popcorn from other thread*
Horrendously bad fan fiction: Sith in a Pretty Dress

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miladydeallseaso
08.27.2013 , 11:35 AM | #7
AN: Quinn's actions after the battle might seem a little out of character. But I wanted to portray him as being a little less one-dimensional, not completely stoic all the time, and I thought that his comment to the Jedi (the snarky one) provided an interesting potential insight into his character.

CHAPTER FIVE

Fury

"Come on," Vette whined, "let me shoot."

"Not yet," Ishtaa snapped. "I want the element of surprise."

The ship shuddered violently.

2V staggered into the compartment. "Master, I believe we are under attack."

"I've noticed," she replied acidly. She pressed her lips together in a thin line and eyed the battle for an opening.

The ship rattled as it took another hit.

"Can the element of surprise hurry up?" asked Vette, her voice rising in panic.

"Wait for her signal." Quinn glanced at Ishtaa in his peripheral vision. "Your master knows what she's doing."

Ishtaa smiled faintly. Quinn acknowledged the gesture with an almost imperceptible nod.

"There," he finally said to Vette, pointing. "Those turrets up ahead are doing the most damage. They must think we're no threat. They're focusing all of their fire on other targets."

"Their mistake, our victory. The plan is working." Ishtaa stood up and stepped down from the small podium where she sat, her eyes never leaving the battle as she moved to stand behind Vette. "Fire on the turrets. On my signal. Three…two…" She could almost read the text embossed on the side of the turret. "Now, Vette!"

Vette responded with a volley of blasts, leaving a trail of smoldering crater's in the Fury's wake. The strength of the explosions rocked the entire ship.

"That should cripple them."

"My lord, fighters coming in!"

His words were met with a flurry of incoming red blasts.

Ishtaa's eyes hardened. "Dance around them if you can," she ordered. "Vette, fire at will."

One by one, the fighters went up in flames.

"Damn," hissed Vette. "One got away."

"Pursue him."

Quinn looked up. "My lord, might I suggest a different tactic?"

"If you do so quickly."

"Tailing the pilot may, depending on his skill, take a long time and leave us open to attack. It would be much more efficient to go around and intercept him from the front."

She paused to consider. "Belay my last order. Steer to intercept."

"Yes, my lord."

Furrowing his brow in concentration, Quinn piloted the ship off-course to turn about and meet the fighter another way. Ishtaa crossed the cockpit and stood behind him, monitoring his progress.

A moment later, the Republic fighter reappeared in the Fury's view.

"Prepare a missile," Ishtaa ordered. "I want this skirmish to end with a bang."

"Yes, sir!"

The fighter made no attempt to flee.

Ishtaa frowned. "Why isn't he moving?"

"I calculated our angle of approach so that we would be in his blind spot, my lord. He doesn't see us."

"And he never will. Fire."

Vette gleefully pushed the red button. There was a short pause and then…

"By the Maker!"

The entire ship shook with the strength of the shockwaves. Ishtaa, caught off-guard by the intensity of the blast, stumbled forward. She might have fallen over if not for her quick reflexes and the chair in front of her. She braced herself against the chair back, digging her fingers in to compensate for the instability of her feet. It was only after she regained her balance that she noticed she was grabbing something warm.

"Sorry, Captain," she said, removing her hands from Quinn's shoulders immediately. She brushed off the front of her robes.

"No apology necessary." His voice sounded strained, Ishtaa thought. Probably he was trying to be polite, or else not let on that her grip had hurt. No matter; she hadn't grabbed him nearly hard enough to actually injure him.

"Vette, would you please go deal with 2V? He sounds like he's on the verge of a circuit breakdown."

"Yeah, sure." Rolling her eyes, Vette slouched off to the galley. Just before she left, she muttered under her breath: "Stupid droid."

Ishtaa sighed and, stretching, stumbled into the seat Vette had vacated. "Get us out of here, Captain."

"Right away, my lord." He pushed a few buttons and then, returning to the steering wheel, said, "You may want to hold on. With all the wreckage floating around, this could be a rough exit."

"Noted."

With a tiny lurch, the Fury began to move forward under Quinn's control.

Ishtaa breathed deeply and closed her eyes. Despite all the things Vette said about him whenever he was out of earshot (and, quite often, when he could hear her perfectly well) Ishtaa liked having Quinn in her crew. As much as she enjoyed the sisterly banter she shared with Vette, it was nice to have someone calm and stable on board. Sometimes, when the Twi'lek's chatter started pounding at her temples, she would retreat to the oasis of the bridge and do her work there. Quinn never disturbed her or commented on the matter. He did his work, and she did hers.

Opening her eyes slightly, she studied him in her peripheral vision. He was doing it again, she mentally noted with a smile. It was the face he made whenever he was concentrating on something. She had first picked up on it during one of her bridge work sessions, but as time went on she noticed that he often did it when he had to patch her up in the field. It wasn't an angry face, quite, or just a furrowed brow. It was a thinking face, and that was the only proper name she could conceive for it.

She started as the ship rolled to one side and turned upside down. Before she had time to properly process this fact, the ship had righted itself and Quinn made the jump into hyperspace.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw that Quinn's thinking face had disappeared and the corners of his mouth turned up slightly.

"Quinn?" she asked, bemused. "Was that…a barrel roll?"

He turned pink and his smile dropped. "Apologies, my lord. That was not entirely necessary."

"No, no. It's alright. Relax," she said, seeing the mixture of embarrassment and anxiety still written on his face. "I'm not going to force-choke you." She smiled, not mockingly, but with a hint of amused sarcasm. "It's just somewhat unusual, that's all. I didn't take you for one to do tricks."

"Of course, my lord." And then, as if the words were spilling forth of their own volition: "I sometimes like to revel in the aftermath of a victory." He clamped his mouth shut, reasserting control over the unbidden word vomit.

Ishtaa's smile softened, her sarcasm fading in favor of an understanding sympathy.

"I daresay you earned it," she said. "That was some of the finest piloting I've ever seen."

Quinn's blush deepened. It was a marvel his skin didn't catch fire. "Thank you, my lord."

"No need. I'm merely stating fact. You're an excellent pilot."

He made no reply.

They said nothing for several moments, but it was not the comfortable silence that usually inhabited the bridge. It was a strange, stiff silence full of uncertainty and impulse to speak, mingled with hesitance to go out on a limb.

It was Ishtaa who finally spoke.

"Why were you never promoted?"

Quinn grimaced. For the first time in the weeks she had known him, she sensed feelings radiating from him. They rolled out in waves, battering her with a sense of hatred and disgust.

"I'm sorry," she said. "Forget I said anything."

"No," he said hurriedly. "I must."

"That wasn't an order, Quinn," she said; from the look on his face, she knew that the intentional use of his surname was not lost on him. "It was an overly personal question. One you shouldn't feel obligated to answer if you do not wish to do so."

"Respectfully, my lord, I believe I am fully obligated to answer. Not," he added, sensing that she was about to disagree, "because you are my superior officer, but because you have put a great deal of faith in me. You deserve to know."

Ishtaa hesitated.

"Very well."

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miladydeallseaso
08.27.2013 , 11:38 AM | #8
CHAPTER SIX

Tatooine

Her heart stopped. It had been twenty-two years since she had seen such green eyes, and she had hoped never to see them again.

For a horrible moment, she panicked, thinking the Sith recognized her face. No, she thought. That would be impossible. The girl had been merely a baby when Sharack had taken her to Korriban.

She tried to push the thought from her mind. It was unlikely that the girl knew the truth. Ruminating would only stir her emotions, make the Sith more likely to sense her fear.

Yet she couldn't shake the feeling that there was recognition in the girl's face.

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miladydeallseaso
08.27.2013 , 11:40 AM | #9
Quinn

Tatooine

With a growl, Ishtaa drove her lightsabers into the beast's belly. The thing gave a long, disgustingly moist dying sound as the Sith deluminated her sabers.

"I expected that to be a difficult fight."

She raised an eyebrow. "Against womp rats?" she scoffed. "Your lack of faith disturbs me." Her last comment might have been terrifying coming from the mouth of an ordinary Sith. But Quinn knew the face she put on too well to be concerned. She was teasing him again, that was all. Not terribly surprising, seeing as he had meant his initial comment to be taken with a hint of sarcasm—in compliance with her orders, of course; she had told him to loosen up.

He was about to make a pithy reply when a gash on Ishtaa's stomach stole his attention.

"You're injured."

"What?" She glanced down. "Oh, that's nothing," she said, brushing her fingers against the wound to heal it. "Just a minor flesh wound."

Quinn wasn't convinced. It wasn't deep, and the skin wove itself back together normally under Ishtaa's glowing red fingertips, but he caught the split second flinch that crossed her face as she made contact with the raw skin.

She glared at him when he began to pull out a medical probe. "I said I'm fine, Captain. No need to waste supplies."

"With all due respect, my lord, I don't believe ensuring your good health is a waste of anything."

"Forget it," she snapped. "That's an order."

"I—" He saw the steel in her eyes and knew that it was no use arguing. "Yes, my lord."

"Good. Now press on. We have a lot of ground to cover if we're to return to the ship before dark."

Quinn nodded mutely. He forced himself to push the conversation from his thoughts and focus on his duties. Intuition or not, his master was in all likelihood fine. What's the worst that could happen?

Ishtaa went out alone the next day to join a team of bounty hunters and imperial agents on an errand in the Dune Sea. Since there was no telling how long it would be until she finished the job, Quinn, Vette, and 2V settled in for a day off.

Anxious to take advantage of the peace and quiet (Vette was mercifully absent, amusing herself in the galley by attempting to teach 2V to cheat at Sabaac), Quinn dove into his private work the moment Ishtaa left. Apart from the momentary break he took to sneak past Vette (whose original lesson had branched out into Twi'lek and Huttese curse words) and get some food from the galley, he scarcely raised his eyes from his datapad all day—until his holo started beeping.

He immediately recognized the signature as his master's. He answered. "I take it your mission was successful, my lord."

It was then that he realized he was not speaking to Ishtaa, but to a helmet-clad bounty hunter.

"My name is Arewal Sim," the bounty hunter said, the vocal distortion of his helmet amplified by the holo. "Who is this?"

Quinn's voice hardened. "That's not important. The holo you're using belongs to a Sith apprentice. Where did you get it?"

The bounty hunter's image flickered before coming back into view. "I know who it belongs to, Imperial. We were working together until she fell—"

The bounty hunter kept speaking, but Quinn wasn't listening. It felt like all the air was being sucked from his lungs. He could hear it rushing, almost pounding in his eardrums.

"Is she alive?"

"Barely." The bounty hunter glanced at something Quinn couldn't see. Through the static, he could hear two other voices. "She's hanging on somehow, but if she doesn't get medical attention soon—"

"She will," Quinn said briskly. "Stay put."

"Roger that. You'd better hurry."

Quinn turned off the holo and bolted from the room.

Vette poked her head into the hall as he hurried past her. "What's going on?"

He paused in the doorway. "When I depart, set up the medical bay as well as you can. Get 2V to help you."

"What?"

He turned without answering and proceeded to gather up the various medical supplies strewn about his quarters, cramming them unceremoniously into the small box he usually carried.

"Quinn!" Vette scurried into his room, her lekku swishing about behind her. "What's going on?"

"Your master collapsed in the middle of her mission. She needs proper medical help."

Vette's eyes widened. "Ishtaa's hurt?! Oh my gods, is she okay?"

"Well, if she was, she wouldn't exactly need my help, would she?"

Vette ignored his sarcasm. She crossed her arms. "I'm going with you," she said stubbornly.

"No."

"Yes." She positioned herself in the doorway so Quinn could not get out.

"Absolutely not. Let me through."

"Let me go with you."

His scowl deepened. "I've already told you," he snapped, "no. You'll only get in my way if you come along—much like you are right now, I might point out. Now get out of my way or I will make you get out of the way."

"Not happening. If Ishtaa's in trouble, I'm coming with you."

Quinn gritted his teeth, weighing his options. Finally, he sighed.

"Alright. Don't make me regret this."

Vette grinned. "Atta boy—sir," she added hurriedly, seeing the look on his face. "Atta sir."

He tried not to roll his eyes. "2V!" he shouted.

"Yes, Captain?"

"Execute Special Order 46."

2V's eyes glowed orange. "Emergency healing protocols activated. Preparing to--"

Without waiting to hear the droid's programmed speech, Quinn strode from the room, with Vette close behind him.

He only hoped he was not too late.

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miladydeallseaso
08.27.2013 , 11:46 AM | #10
CHAPTER EIGHT
Tatooine

A blur of light.

A flash of color.

A voice, distant through her foggy mind.

"My lord—"

"Ishtaa! Ishtaa!"

Her head lolled to one side. She groaned indistinctly.

A hand on her forehead, cool and reassuring.

"Vette?" she mumbled. "Vette, is that you?"

A feminine sigh of relief replied.

The hand brushed down the side of her face, fingertips pushing her messy hair away.

"She's alive."

"She'll recover."

Too big to be Vette's hand.

A wave of pain in her head, pounding. A lash across her stomach.

She cried out.

The hand left her body.

Green lights flickering behind her eyelids.

Words in and out of hearing.

Pain. Shock. Sedatives. Take effect.

Nothing.