The Alternate Universe Weekly Challenge Thread
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12.13.2012 , 07:46 PM |
Lodestone: Virtues – Courage.
Since 'Harassment' isn't a prompt. Sith Warrior Corellia spoiler setting. 1100 words.
Ruth turned away.
Wynston clamped down on his gut reaction before it could overwhelm him. The reaction to losing her. Enough. She was alive and she had the day's objective; he would contact the crew for further instructions later. For now he was useless. This was a Sith matter, and he was useless.
He turned away from that skin-crawling dark tableau and headed toward the exit. His holo beeped before he had exited the great hall.
Vette, who he knew was standing not more than twenty meters behind him, wrapped one arm across herself while holding her holo with the other hand. "I will kick your *** if you take another step," she said.
"My task here is done," he said flatly.
"I'm a good enough shot to take out both your legs at this range," she informed him.
"Are you really going to force the stress of my presence on her at a time like this?"
"You're really bad at basic instructions. Do I have to start a countdown here?"
"If she says go, I go. That's not negotiable."
The Twi'lek just made a face and hung up. So he turned around and started grimly toward her and the rest of the crew.
Vette pocketed her holo and watched the Chiss approach. "If she says go I'll kick her ***, too," she announced.
When Wynston got close he noted something off in Pierce's stance. "You intact?" he inquired.
"Mostly," said Pierce. "One leg's hit, was going to patch it up when we got back to the ship."
"Let me take a look."
It was a bad saber wound, the product of one of Draahg's spinning strikes. "One moment." He started unpacking his medkit, his movements swift and sure and familiar and therefore soothing. Well, as soothing as looking at lightsaber-slashed flesh could be.
Vowrawn, Ruth, and the strange dark figure had some interaction Wynston couldn't make much sense of. At length the figure…dissipated; Vowrawn took his leave; and Ruth came to face the crew. She avoided eye contact with them.
"Let's go," she said, and walked past.
Wynston stayed a step behind her. She was still radiating something disturbing. "Are you all right, my lord?" he said carefully.
"Yes, thank you," she said distantly.
"With your permission I'll see the lieutenant back to your medbay, make sure he's taken care of."
"That would be most helpful." She scowled at the doorway ahead. "Any further commentary?"
"No. No, that's not what I'm here for."
"Good." She sped up.
Wynston hung back with the crew. Vette kept giving him looks that seemed to indicate any flight attempt would be met with deadly or at least seriously inconvenient force. Jaesa made a couple of quiet attempts to engage Ruth in conversation, but Ruth was having none of it. Pierce stayed silent and alert. Broonmark stayed, at least, silent.
On the ship Wynston took advantage of Ruth's medbay supplies…once he figured out how the hell they were organized…to finish patching Pierce up. The big man grunted thanks and headed back to his quarters.
Ruth was loitering in the holo room when Wynston came in. She tilted her head after Pierce and said, with admirable cool, "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Unfortunately Pierce may be slow in action for a day or two." His mind was either racing too fast to follow or stopped in place, he wasn't sure which. "It's a bad time to be down a fighter. This mission, Baras, it's still to everyone's advantage to see it resolved in your favor."
"Are you offering to help?"
"I'd like to. If there's room on the ship. Quarters. It's a question of professionalism."
"Naturally. I think that's for the best."
"So do I."
This was fake. Their earlier talks hadn't been fake, but this definitely was. How was the wrongness of it not driving her crazy right now?
She had her own problems, he reminded himself.
She left the room; he stayed behind, settling at the console he already had credentials set up on. He could get some work in before bed. Work made sense. It was something he could do.
Jaesa showed up not long afterwards to sit opposite him.
"Good evening," he said. He had a bad feeling about this.
She gave him one of her lovely doe-eyed looks. And said "You're a coward, Wynston."
He smiled blandly. "I've been called worse." It didn't change what was necessary. Nor did it change the limits in place.
"Thank you for helping with Lord Draahg. That was very nice. It's also practically a footnote in the list of what's wrong right now."
"I'm not sure I agree. It was challenging for a footnote," he said, looking significantly over toward the medbay. He didn't know whether Jaesa could read Chiss eye directions – it didn't come naturally to most humans – but he guessed she would figure it out.
"Combat power isn't the point right now. She can get that anywhere."
Not so; reliable staff wasn't that easy to come by. "Disingenuous doesn't suit you, Miss Jaesa," he said coolly.
"You're scared to do the important part."
"I'm not qualified to do the important part. Ruth does need a friend. She trusts you. She hasn't attacked you. You've been here the whole time and I know your intentions are true. More to the point, she knows it. If anyone should be with her right now, it's you."
"So have I," he said, allowing sharpness into his voice.
"She's changed the last few days, you know. It's hard, but until this evening she hasn't…lapsed. If there were a Force signature for stubbornness she'd have it, and it wasn't there before you showed up. You did something."
"I'm glad for that, but I don't think I can do more in any personal capacity. Do you really think she needs more things to be conflicted over right now?"
"She's conflicted over literally everything. Only a few of those things spend any time making her happy."
"Jaesa. In my professional evaluation the probability of improving anything by trying to get closer to her again is low enough that any action beyond field support would be inadvisable."
"And your personal evaluation, Wynston? Or are you going to tell me you don't have one?"
He was tempted to tell the young woman just that, but she was glaring at him in a way that suggested she would inflict some Jedi mind trick if he didn't cooperate. "In my personal evaluation any action beyond field support is the worst idea imaginable." No matter what good it might do, or how much some kind of reassurance might help, or how much he wanted to see her turn back to him, or how much he wanted her to want to, or…he turned his attention back to the console and waited for Jaesa to go away.
Status, for those keeping score: Ruth: Miserable, wishing she could settle into a comfortable illusion of niceness. Wynston: Keeping an eye on the mission, having no idea how to make this anything else, but wishing he could have the chance to make it something else.
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