And since you can never have enough Torian, here's another Torian filled passage.
Not long yet kind of directly after the last post...
We ride to the Ambassador's office at dawn and make it there just after the suns have set. He is quick in our transaction and almost gives me praise. He does give me bonus credits. That's enough. It's better than praise. I don't care for his approval. I didn't do this for him.
When we return to the ship, everyone comes from there different corners to meet me in the cockpit. Take it as a sign they're all getting along as wonderfully as usual. But I don't acknowledge Gault, Skadge or even Blizz. I give my attention to Mako only in a way I have never done before, even when it was only her and me.
'Mako, I have a new assignment for you. I need you to find everything you can on that General, her four children - yes, Mako, there are four. I have a special interest in the one that will be hardest to find - and her grandchildren. I want it all within three days. If you give it to me in less than three days expect a massive bonus. Though I am aware that to date you owe me two favours and twenty three life debts.'
Mako is slow to respond. She only stares with those gosh darn big brown eyes and processes these new orders. 'So what if my search takes me to confidential places?'
'Then I want you to get into them and get everything you can. Or is that too hard for you?' She shakes her head. 'Good. Any other dumb questions?'
'What if people notice and come knocking?' She replies after thinking about it seriously.
'Then we do what we always do. We kill them.' I pause and place gravity on my next words. 'I want the information, Mako, and I don't care what the gosh darn cost is.'
She nods her head and glances questioningly at Torian. He doesn't move or make any response. She turns her eyes back to me and I raise an eyebrow. She seems to gather some courage from somewhere and raises her slim and unintimidating form to its full height. 'I will get it by the end of tomorrow if you help me in return with a favour.'
I consider her for a moment. Seems she's grown somehow. Hasn't become someone I like but I'm impressed she questioned me instead of shaking and running away. 'It's the favour or the bonus then, Mako. And only if you get everything, and I mean everything, no matter how small and insignificant.'
She nods her head. 'Favour, then.' After she names her price, I don't look at her again for the rest of the night.
I turn to look at Blizz and smile. 'How you going, Blizz? Missed you, little buddy. Got you something.' I pull a cloth out of my pocket and throw it gently to Blizz who catches it easily. Notice Mako's glare at Blizz and Gault's scowl at me. 'Another present for you. One of the crystals from the Shrine of Healing. Thought you might like that.' He nods and says thank you and the walks away looking at it fascination.
'Gault, Skadge, I have nothing to say to either of you.' I pause for a moment, raising a hand to stop them leaving. 'However, in light of our recent success and the Chancellor and Jedi within reach, I have deemed it worthy to have a celebration tonight. Party in the cargo hold in ten minutes.' Gault lets out a mocking and unenthused cheer, Skadge grunts, Mako and Torian smile.
'Anyone have any questions?' I look at everyone with a stern eye that discourages any questions.
Gault steps forward and gives a sarcastic salute. 'What's on the agenda now, Captain? Except for the Mando, that is, and the rest of us drinking ourselves to oblivion.'
Torian doesn't move toward Gault and that surprises me. Thought the comment would finally bring them to blows. I glance at Torian and only see a calculating frown. Gault glances at him to and seems disappointed by the lack of reaction.
When I realise Torian isn't going to say anything, I respond to Gault's question ignoring the second half. 'Don't know. Tormen hasn't contacted us yet so it's free time. Use it play on whatever world you want. Controls are all yours.' Torian shoots me a frown and Gault stares at me incredulously for a moment but it quickly passes. And I in the falter of his mocking grin, I see that he knows something happened down on Voss. And that he sees just how tired and troubled I am.
'Nar Shaddaa it is then, babe.' He declares and saunters over to the controls next to Mako. Mako puts up protest but I shoot her a glare and tell her it's Gault's choice. Glad I hadn't killed her and I won't until she gets me the information I need. I could do it but it would take a lot of time that I don't have.
'But if you get me what I want, we'll go where you want to go for a change. But only if I have it in three days.' She beams and I can tell she's already imagining which place on a long list she wants to go to most. Know she won't be tempted to do it half arse with so much at stake.
I leave them with a reminder to be down stairs in ten minutes.
Gault stops me on the stairs at my rooms door. 'You've been gone awhile. Fancy a drink sometime soon, babe? I've got a few things to talk to you about.'
'Not another business proposition, is it?' I manage a smile but I know he doesn't buy it. He saunters up the stairs to stand closer to me.
'Not unless you've got something you're selling.' Only Gault could try mocking me and proposing I become a whore as a way of flirting.
'Yeah, got a Devaronian for sale actually. Can work well when motivated but usually spends more than it earns. Also has a habit of being rude, untrustworthy and manipulative. Don't know how I'm ever going to sell him.' I smirk back at him and move away.
'Really? A Devaronian? Interesting because I remember seeing the body of a really famous and handsome one on the market a few months ago. Made my heart bleed to see such a fine fellow sold to the highest bidder after his death.'
'I'm sure if the sly Devaronian knew he wouldn't be very sad about it. Maybe if I killed mine, I'd be able to sell him.' I extent a blade from my wrist and look at it in consideration. But Gault still moves closer again and I'm intrigued by his pursuit.
'Only sly? He doesn't mean something more to you or deserve kinder words?' Like to think there's nothing under the mocking sneer.
I laugh again and jump up to sit on the railing of the stairs to gain the height advantage over Gault. 'Didn't know him so I couldn't say. Reputation has it that he can escape from any where and no one could resist him, yet I find that very hard to believe since it was a female bounty hunter that brought him down.'
'Maybe that bounty hunter was a little different and a little more persistent then most.'
'Women or bounty hunters?' Gault laughs and says 'both'. Never heard him laugh very much. Really laugh that is. Always seems to be a forced, unhappy thing that sneers at himself as much as it does at the other person.
'You can say what you think of the Devaronian you have in your possession now if you want. I'm not sure he'd want to leave such a beautiful woman, though and feel heart broken if he knew you were thinking of selling him.'
'Not if he was getting a share of the profits,' I retort. 'And I'd be more than happy to get him off my hands.'
I jump down and just walk into my room and close the door, leaving him to call after me. Think that was Gault's way of telling me he missed me and is worried about me. Never know with him though. And it might just be from withdrawal of female company for the month we have been on Voss.
I slide down against the closed door and pull my knees to my chest. I lean my ear and face against the cool steel. I touch the door with my hand and notice how it does feel cool. I must be heating up.
It was only sitting against the door like that that allowed me to hear the conversation that occurred outside it. If I had gone and taken my serum like I new I had to, I would have only heard curious clangs. Not sure if hearing it was the better option.
'Oh, my favourite Mandalorian. How are you? How was trekking the wilds of Voss with our mighty Captain?' I hear Torian's footsteps get louder and assume he's walking to the door. 'I'm so sorry, arue'tal, I must be in your way,' Gault says with exaggerated courtesy.
Noises I hear next are confusing. When they die, I hear Gault's breathless and mocking voice is slightly to the left. 'Most people greet each other with a handshake or a kiss, though to be honest, I prefer you strangling me to the later.'
Torian ignores Gault's comments. 'Over heard the little conversation you just had with her, Lokai. Thought I told you back on Nar Shaddaa last month to keep your thoughts and hands to yourself.'
'And I thought I told you I'll stay and do what I want as long as she wants me. Didn't hear a no just then, did you, kid?' Gault's voice is a little ragged like he's having trouble breathing. I hear a sharp bang and Gault say 'ow'. But when he talks again it's firm and serious. 'I thought I told you not to hurt her, Mandalorian.'
I hear another bang and Gault's feet stumble. 'Didn't hurt her, Devaronian. Not like you. I would never hurt the woman I love.'
'Ooo, you're going to cut someone with that tongue if you're not careful, arue'tal.' Find it interesting that Gault has adopted the Mandalorian insult. Never heard him use it before but by the way Torian doesn't challenge it, I assume this isn't the first time. Wonder how many of these conversations have taken place before. 'Or maybe you have already and that's why she doesn't seem like the same person that left the ship a week ago all smiles and ease or like the gorgeous, crazy thing I met on Tatooine.'
'Why do you care, Lokai?' Even through a steel door, I can hear the anger in Torian's voice.
Gault doesn't reply. Think it's the first time he hasn't had an easy answer for something. So the silence lengthens and I wish I could see the two men on the other side of the door. Conversation's very enlightening.
'I think you're confused, kid, because my name isn't Lokai - it's Gault.'
'Do you love her, Devaronian?' Torian ignores the comment but I notice the name change. Gault only laughs and Torian continues. 'Seen how you look at her when she isn't looking. Seen the way you wrapped blankets around her when she was sleeping. Seen the way you pretend to not care and disobey but go and follow her orders when no one is looking. Seen how when you fight with her, you're quick to cover her and protect her. Seen how you try to impress her.'
'You see a lot for someone pretty blind, Mandalorian.'
'You're one to talk. She doesn't like you, Gault. Never will. Told me herself.' Can hear the victory and satisfaction in Torian's voice and the strength of his suspicions now make a lot more sense.
Gault only laughs. 'You know, victorious Mandalorian, you have hurt her: you just couldn't see it because you were off playing the brave soldier. Do you want to know what she was like after you walked out?'
I hear a bang and Gault's sharp intake of breath along with Torian footsteps. 'Didn't walk out. Came back for her.'
'Do you think that makes a difference, kid? You left, arue'tal, and you seem blind to the fact that when you left, you took the best part of her with you. In those weeks, when she wasn't slaughtering everything in sight, she trained for hours or locked herself in her room doing god knows what. Except for the nights when being alone was too much and you know who she went to for comfort? She came to good old Uncle Gault.'
Torian doesn't speak but he must tighten his grip on Gault because the next words come out of a strained throat. 'I was the one who watched her work herself to near death. I was the one who watched her waste away as she starved herself. So don't think, kid, that you have never hurt her; don't think that you're the one protecting her.'
'Guess you'd know everything on failing to protect people, Lokai.' Torian must turn and walk away because his footsteps before pausing on Gault's reply become a little quieter.
'Ouch, Mandalorian, that one really hurt.' Gault's voice oozes sarcasm and it makes me smile. 'Don't you wonder what is in those datapads she reads or the locked chest?' Gault pauses and then continues after taking a step closer to Torian. 'Don't you wonder, little Mandalorian, what she thinks about and what she does behind closed doors? What she is doing right now?' Gault pauses and takes a step. 'Don't you wonder about what she clearly isn't telling you?' I hear him take another two steps. 'Don't you wonder what she really is?'
'No? I find that hard to believe, arue'tal. Or maybe you're so busy watching me that you don't notice anything about her.' Gault pauses again and Torian continues to walk away. By the sounds of it, they are almost at the holoterminal. 'Or maybe the brave, little Mandalorian is scared of what he might see.'
I hear Torian's footsteps moving quickly to where Gault must be standing. And then I hear what must Gault's lighter body hitting the ground. I hear the same jumble of movements and the bang of something hitting the ships wall.
'No is because I trust her.' I hear another bang and Gault's snicker.
'You know, if you keep getting so close to me like this every time we have these pleasant little chats, Cadera, I'm going to start thinking you have a little thing for me.'
I hear what I think is Torian pushing Gault away because something bangs against the door and when Gault calls to Torian, his voice seems louder and closer.
'If you trust her so much then, Torian, you won't mind if her and I go to a nice cantina tomorrow night on the Promenade and have a few drinks together in a dark, empty corner.'
Torian's footwork is light and quick as he sprints to Gault. I hear what I assume is Torian punching Gault.
'Nice swing, Mandalorian. Did she teach you that?'
I hear Gault's horns create the bang sound against the door. 'Touch her, hurt her or upset her in any way and I will make you pay.'
'Pay? How much? I was thinking first base might be around eighty credits.' I hear another sharp bang and Gault's mocking laughter. 'Do you really think, kid, that anything you could do would hurt more than anything she could do?'
'No. But I'm willing to try, Lokai.'
'Hey, what are you two doing?' Mako's voice is high and grating as she enquires and I feel like a spell that had kept me in place is broken. I shake my head and head to the cupboard, quickly injecting some serum.
Mako knocks on the door and I pack everything away, locking it before leaving.
Mako has news to tell me about. And she wants me to be there when she messages this Isak fellow. He's caught up in the Project 32 that involves her and her family. The call goes rather well. I think I was 'imposing' enough. He is going to go take Coral out. Apparently Coral had set us up, back on Drumond Kaas. And she was killing everyone involved in Mako's Project 32.
At least Mako got one answer.
No one looked for her because they believed her dead for twenty years. Makes me wonder if I have parents thinking I'm dead. I doubt they would have recognised me from my wanted pictures. I doubt they would care if they did. Suppose I wouldn't be something to be proud of. And I can't remember their faces. Could pass them in the street every day and I really wouldn't know. So I doubt they would recognise what is left of mine.
But Mako wants more answers. She isn't someone to sit and wait for a call. She wants us to go to Nar Shaddaa and confront Coral. I shrug but don't make a promise. Just because I stood around while she talked to some guy doesn't make us friends. And I don't owe her any favours. Just because we'll be there by morning, doesn't mean we're going to find and kill her sister. And it seems I have a date tomorrow night with Gault.
Gault, Torian and Blizz are already downstairs drinking. Torian only looks and talks to Blizz as Gault sits a distance away, genuinely seeming to be in his own thoughts. I smirk when I see the large dark purple bruise on Gault's jaw.
I take a place next to Torian and Mako sits even further away from us than Gault. But, like usual, a conversation is found. But Torian and I are silent after a while. We just listen and I laugh with others. But Torian seems silent and I wonder if he's thinking of what Gault said. Resolved to not think about it till later. Conversation was interesting but disturbing.
Eventually, he is the first to talk. He leans in to my ear a little and whispers clearly, 'didn't I promise to teach you Mando'a?' He looks away in mock consideration, thinking of the last time we had private lessons. It has been a while. A week I think. Not many opportunities when out on the field. Well, there are. It's just you don't want the native wildlife to catch you with your pants down. It's not how I want to die, at least.
'Seems I've been neglecting you,' he continues.
The others generally ignore us and continue talking, not quite hearing but feeling more than enough to know. And I'm aware that Torian's eyes are out of my sight and I think I know who they are watching. 'Oh really? I thought I could already speak Mando'a, nayc vor'e bah gar.' No thanks to you.
He leans back a little so we can see each other's faces. 'You call that Mando'a? I've heard ade speak Mando'a better.' He grins. He is teasing though it might be true. Doubt it, though. 'I ought to remedy that.'
'Well, then, why don't you make it up to me now? Since you have been neglecting me pretty badly.' I move my hand to his thigh, leaning closer.
'I think I will. Let's go somewhere more private. It's pretty urgent.'
I smile and nod. We slip away. We don't say anything. And they don't ask. I don't think they want to know.
After, we lie awake awhile. I am happy curled in his arms; a mess of limbs and sheets.
'You really are beautiful. Ori'haat.' He lifts my face up to meet his. He never lies. Never thought I'd meet an honest man. It's still a strange thing to me. 'You know that?' I don't say anything. I don't want to lie. So I distract him.
In between kisses he mumbles, 'I could get used to this.' I smile against his lips.
'K'uur, ner verd.'