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Old 12-24-2016, 12:29 AM   #176
Apollo Wilde
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It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Raeth to know how to protect himself - it was just that she had gone into full on “protector” mode. She heard his protests; knew he was getting pissed at her, but she wouldn’t stop moving him the way she wanted him to go. The way she knew he needed to go to not get killed. And under the constant barrage of bright red light, keeping the two of them alive was becoming more and more of a juggling act.

She only spoke once to reprimand him. It came during a brief reprieve from the furious blaster fire, when he snarled at her to worry about herself. She turned to him, and without a moment’s hesitation, snapped back - “You are ALL I worry about!” She quickly turned away; fired off a few more shots, got one more trooper for her trouble. She swore, softly to herself. The damage to her hand was more extensive than she thought. She wasn’t shooting straight - was wasting valuable charge.

“I’m sorry,” she shouted to him, even as they ducked and dodged. “I just…” she cut herself off, forced herself to focus. Stilled her breathing, aimed -ignored the screaming pain in her hand-, and squeezed off a shot. A shout and a muffled thud let her know she’d aimed true. The stray shots from before cost her - that last shot she’d managed was enough to completely drain the power cell of the lifted blaster. Raeth’s timing couldn’t have been better. Tossing the dead blaster at the hail of fire still surrounding them (because why not - a distraction was a distraction, and it was of no use to her now), she caught the rifle in a smooth motion. And instantly dropped it with a bitten off cry. It had landed heavily in her burned hand, and the pain was enough to bring tears to her eyes. She never could handle burns that well.

With shaking hands, she picked the rifle up, and started shooting. With full power cells, she started shooting rapid fire now. She could hear Raeth talking -about time something went well-, and then -

Osik.

Bright white light flooded the jungle. Temporarily blinded, she had enough sense to duck and roll into underlying shrubbery. Squinting, she could only shoot in the vague direction of the bodies dropping down towards them. As to be expected, her shots went wild - close, but not close enough. Blinking the spots from her eyes, she turned to see Raeth with the thermal detonator; heard his request.

“You better be right!”

Five minutes.

Right.

She could do that.

With the added light, she looked down at her hand. Wished that she hadn’t - it looked like raw meat, weeping pale yellow plasma. No time to worry about it now. She shouldered the rifle, took aim. The detonator further illuminated the woods to the south of them, and she threw an arm up to shield her eyes further. It would have been enough to take out the soldiers that dropped down - perhaps even enough to damage the ship carrying them. But it wasn’t enough to keep the onslaught of the soldiers from the north from coming. Ignoring the pain in her hand, she shot - and one solider after another fell. Despite the red energy sizzling around them, she still kept her cool, staying low and aiming carefully. Her back to Raeth, she took a quick assessment of the situation. The dropped soldiers to their south should have been taken care of by the detonator. Better safe than sorry, she shouted to Raeth -

“Keep your fire on the south for any stragglers!”

If anything had survived the explosion, they would have been easy pickings - something she trusted Raeth to handle. “Cover the south; I’ve got the north!” Realistically, she probably didn’t need to say anything, but it gave her an added sense of security. Some semblance of control over the situation. And, truthfully, more were coming from the north. One, two, three, four more soldiers fell under her shots. Firefights were odd things - despite the life and death nature of them, they were very monotonous - and even the most skilled person could end up dying from the “boredom” of having to focus and be in the moment. It was a strange contradiction - one that she’d never thought of until this moment. When they got out of this - and she was going to remain ‘optimistic’-, she’d compare notes with Raeth.

The soldiers seemed to be wising up, though - and their shots came more from her sides instead of head on. And the change happened in a mere matter of seconds, leaving her to scramble from one area of cover to another. Reduced to crawling on her hands and knees to avoid the blaster fire going on right above her, every gained inch brought fresh tears to her eyes. By the time she got to safe cover again, she was panting from the exertion, and her hands were soaked with blood and plasma. Raising the rifle again, she did her best to take control of her breathing and ignore the pain to aim -

She never thought she’d be so happy to hear the Patient Pylat’s engines.

Relief bolstered her resolve, and she took out another two soldiers in rapid fire. The estimate of 20 she’d provided before? There was that and then some. She could almost spit in disgust - there was no strategy; the jetiise just threw bodies at them. That was no way to treat warriors - comrades in arms. And for the first time that night, she felt the smallest twinge of guilt for having killed so many of them.

At least they didn’t suffer.

“Raeth! GO!” she called out again. “I will cover you!” She stood up now out of her hiding space, moving towards the Pylat, firing as she went. Taking up the rear, she followed him towards the gradually lowering ship. Sebastian must have weighed the risk of potentially hitting them with cover fire, and so the two of them were left to provide their own cover. It was a role that Saudaji naturally took, shielding Raeth’s body with her own as they made a mad dash towards the ship.

Pain, sheer and agonizing, shot through her right thigh. She stumbled, but didn’t fall. To her credit, she kept going, though every step was like being on fire. Drawing closer to Raeth, she pressed on harder, forcing herself to keep moving. Her grip on him tightened, before she let go, pushing him forward. Luckily for her, the gesture came at the same time return fire doubled down - turning, she took a few more shots, taking more of a “spray” approach than a careful “one shot at a time,” which was how she’d been fighting so far. With the Pylat in running reach, she wanted to believe they were almost there. It was so close…

But not letting herself buy into any sense of false security, she took a deep breath, gritted her teeth, and put more weight on her leg, forcing herself to run harder than she had been before. Pain exploded behind her eyes, white and insistent. Closing the small distance between her and Raeth, she turned her attention to the Pylat. Sebastian was holding the ship steady, the landing ramp already extended. It wasn’t a long ramp by any means, but it was unprotected and open on the sides. She had to step up her game - they were almost done.

Shoving him forward, she let out a sigh of relief when she heard his feet land on the metal ramp. Her back was to him now, and she was still shooting, in front of them, to the sides. Only when Raeth was half-way up the ramp did she turn to face him, unable to do more than limp rapidly up to him.

Catching movement out of the corner of her eye, she realized, with a sickening sense of horror in her stomach that she couldn’t move fast enough to shoot first. Not this time. And the soldiers, they knew. They knew she was hurt. Doing the only thing that she could, she shoved Raeth hard into the ramp. Agony so intense she couldn’t even gasp ripped through her lower back and side, dulling her senses to the pain in her thigh, her hand. Somehow, she didn’t stumble, didn’t fall. It gave Raeth the time he needed to return fire - and, as the ramp finally closed and the blaster bolts left impotent scorch marks on the metal, she was left with a dull sense of pleasure that whoever shot her was dead.

With the ramp closed, the two of them slumped in the hallway of the Pylat. She hadn’t said anything to Raeth - and it wasn’t like her injuries left her covered in blood. The only good thing about blaster bolts was that they cauterized as they went through. Besides, maybe it wasn’t that bad - maybe the one in her side had just grazed her…In the bright lights of the Pylat’s hall, their injuries came into stark view. The rawness of her hand, the reopened cuts and scratches. The smoldering hole in her right thigh. His black eyes and various cuts.

And, unbelievably, she chuckled, softly. He was alive. He’d make it. She succeeded.
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Old 12-28-2016, 02:04 PM   #177
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Through the chaos of combat, Raeth heard Saudaji tell him that he was all she worried about. That calmed his frustration, immediately. He would have smiled at her if not for the fact that a platoon of troopers was trying to kill them.

Then they got pinned down. Multiple squads advanced on them from the north. An enemy dropship hovered south of them. And as if that wasn't bad enough, blaster fire began to come in from the sides as well. They were getting surrounded.

Raeth's thermal detonator bought them a reprieve from the south. Considerly more powerful than a standard grenade, the detonator exploded in a giant fireball that instantly incinerated the two troopers that stood in the middle of it, and sent the troopers at the edge flying. The jetpack-wearing soldiers really were sloppy, Raeth noted. They shouldn't have clumped up like that.

If we were attacked by more experienced, disciplined soldiers, we'd really be farked, he thought to himself.

The explosion did nothing to the dropship, however, which was too high in the sky to be touched. It glided to a clearing and held that position. Bathing the area in a bright, white spotlight, its pilot waited for someone not in Republic armor to pop out into the open so she could blast them. The Patient Pylat would have to take care of the ship, Raeth realized. And that clearing would have to be the landing zone.

"Sebastian!" He shouted into his comm. "Enemy gunship is south of our position. Use it to find our LZ!"

After his call to the droid, Raeth heard Saudaji's order to kill off any stragglers. Immediately, he ditched his pack - whether they were rescued by Sebastian or were killed on the spot, they wouldn't need those food bars and canteens, anymore.

Dropping to his belly, he crawled through the greenery of the jungle floor, stopped in between two huge tree roots, then popped up to see who needed to be murdered.
The next few minutes were a hectic blur. Saudaji efficiently killed multiple troopers that tried to flank them from the north. Raeth, heavy blaster pistol in hand, kept the few attacking from the south occupied. The fire caused by the thermal detaonator combined with the dropship's search light made it easier to see his targets. He scoffed at the irony - the dropship's light was making it easier for him to find troopers, rather than the other way around.

He spotted a trooper emerge from cover, about to hurl a grenade. In a single moment of calm clarity, Raeth squeezed off two of the best shots he made the entire night. Both blaster bolts hit the trooper in center mass right right as he released the grenade. He fell backwards, the bomb flew forwards, and Raeth dropped down between the two roots he used as cover. Shielding his head with his arms, he hoped this giant tree was a sturdy as it looked. Thankfully, the grenade did not find its mark, but it did explode close enough for him to feel the ground shake and for his ears to ring. That ringing did no favors for his headache.

Raeth got up into a crouching position before peeking above a root. He saw the silhouette of a trooper stumbling around in front of the fire. He was probably injured and dazed from the thermal detonator. Sucks to be him, Raeth noted before he took aim and killed the poor bastard.

After that, he saw no one else from the south. Just as importantly, no one was shooting at him from the south. Thus, he turned to the other direction. Although he could not see Saudaji, he did see and hear blaster fire, meaning she was still alive and slaughtering. He fired a few blind shots in the general direction of her attackers before he crawled to cover closer to her.

He did not have to find Saudaji, because she found him. He was startled when he saw the shadows of her headtails appear seemingly out of nowhere, then he breathed out in relief when he saw her face. In this terrifically shitty situation, he was happy to see her face.

"Raeth! GO! I will cover you!" She heard The Patient Pylat before he did, and she was back to ordering and pushing him around again. There was no time to complain this time, so Raeth immediately turned back towards the direction he came from and ran, rather than crawled, from cover to cover.

He couldn't help but grin when he heard Sebastian in his earpiece. "Here I am, Master. Give me a moment to attend to the gunship." A second later, a barrage of laser fire from above rained down on the Republic vessel. The pilot tried to evade and return fire, but it did no good. The Patient Pylat top-of-the-line cannons had little trouble shredding through the smaller ship's shields. The gunship pulled away, attempted to gain altitude, but Sebastian shot it out of the sky. It crashed a short distance away right as the Pylat landed in the clearing.

Without anymore threats from the south, Raeth and Saudaji went into a mad dash towards the PYLAT'S loading ramp. Raeth was much lighter and faster now that he no longer had to shoulder a bulkly backpack, but he was still huffing and puffing as he ran. Now and then he turned to fire off wild shots in the direction of their pursuers, but Saudaji was right there to keep pushing him forward. His head throbbed, painfully, and breathing started to burn. But with the Twi'lek urging him forward and salvation just a short sprint away, he kept going as fast as he could.

Finally, his boots thudded against the metal ramp of his ship. He let out a whoop of joy, stumbled to a halt, then turned around to provide covering fire for Saudaji. They were almost out of it!

He did not see her get shot, twice. He did, however, see a group of troopers run out into the clearing. One at the head of the pack fired a rapid-fire burst that singed the Pylat's hull. One shot even flew into the ramp's opening to hit a wall within the cargo bay. Raeth killed that lead soldier with a blue bolt that struck him in the sternum. Seconds later, the ramp shut completely, and Raeth put his comm to his lips to yell at Sebastian.

"WE'RE IN! GO! GO!" His scream echoed in the cargo bay.

He felt elation mixed with profound relief when he felt the familiar sensation of The Patient Pylat lifting off. Outside, he could hear the faint sound of handheld blaster fire sizzling off of the ship's reactivated shields. Shortly thereafter, the blaster fire stopped, and a lurching sensation told him that they were speeding off into the jungle planet's atmosphere.

Raeth slumped against the closest wall and slid down onto his ass. He was suddenly reminded about how much he hurt in various places, and how utterly exhausted he was. Saudaji stayed on her feet, though, which he admired so much that he smiled at her.

"Fine, I'll admit it. You're far better at this jungle stuff than I am. If I never see another frond again, I'll be a happy man." Finally, he took a good look at her under the lights. She was more of a mess than he was. Blood dripped from one of her hands, which was a worrisome color other than jade. There was a blaster burn on one of her thighs. And more horrifying was blaster burn on her side.

Forgetting about his exhaustion, Raeth shot back to his feet. "Daji?!" It was then that she finally slumped down against a wall. He crouched at her side to get a closer look at her injuries, as well as to look at her eyes. Even then, he had to look into her eyes.

"Pylat!" With that single, shouted word, Raeth got the attention of his ship's computer. "Send Wellspring here, NOW! And prep the sick bay. Saudaji is injured: Multiple blaster wounds, one to the torso, one to the leg, one to the hand."

Within seconds, Miss Wellspring - the ship's multi-limbed medical droid - floated into the cargo bay, pushing a hovering stretcher. Saudaji was helped onto the stretcher and brought to the medical bay.

"We'll fix you right up, Daji. I promise." Raeth assured her. He already looked like shit because of what happened on Tzan. The worry he could not hide from his face made him look even worse.
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Old 12-28-2016, 08:07 PM   #178
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She’d been standing, standing strong, ironically, not that long ago. Once it registered to her that he was safe, they were safe, adrenaline fled her, and she was acutely aware of how tired she was, let alone how much pain she was in. But her upbringing wouldn’t let her whine or cry. If she could just…just sit down for a minute, catch her breath, she’d be okay…

Raeth’s voice came to her from a distance. She struggled to focus on him - tried her damndest. Tried to tell him that she was all right - just needed a breather. To him, her eyes were glassy, the pupils dilated, a tell-tale sign that she was going into shock. Still, though, she mustered a wavering smile for him, before she closed her eyes.

Just five minutes…

_______

On the stretcher, the smell of charred flesh couldn’t be avoided.

Her left hand, the one that’d suffered the burn, was raw, weeping flesh, too badly burned to even bleed. It would be difficult at this point to tell if the hand could be saved. Her mouth was still bloody from the earlier crash, the missing molar still tucked away within a pouch in her suit. Black eye, several cuts, including, as if adding insult to injury, a deep gash in the top of her left hand. Good luck within bad - the wound had been partially cauterized when the blaster was shot out of her hand earlier.

Once her suit was off, the full extent of the blaster shots could be seen. Her right thigh had been shot clean through - thankfully, missing the bone and tendons, passing cleanly through muscle. The blast wound to her lower back merged with the wound in her side in an ugly, burned mess. The edges of the wound were black, charred by the energy of the blaster bolt. From there, the jade of her skin gave way to deep red muscle and tissue. From moving her onto the stretcher, Miss Wellspring’s appendages would be covered in blood.

How she managed to keep them going, with all of her injuries, was a mystery.

Bare in the medical bay, her body was an epic of scars - some needle fine, like the one across her face, others thicker and raised. Scars he’d all traced with his fingertips. Even wounded, bleeding, broken, unconscious, she possessed an air of quiet strength. And perhaps testament to her upbringing, there were no dramatic crashes in blood pressure, no shock deepening into cardiac arrest. It was as if passing out in the hallway had helped her “reset” - kept her from going further over the edge. It didn’t take long to get her stabilized - which would be a good thing. Raeth needed to tend to his wounds as well. If she had been conscious, she would have been hovering over him like a nuna over her chicks, making sure that he got the aid that he needed.

After all, she was made of much sterner stuff.
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Old 12-28-2016, 10:41 PM   #179
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The last time Raeth saw Saudaji naked was in a hotel room. They were in one of Tzan's largest cities on the day before they began tailing Senator Hoplitz-Morgan. Knowing they would need to be focused once their mission formally began, they allowed themselves one last day of leisure in an upscale resort. One more day of decadence and love making before they got back to the killing.

It was late morning. Raeth asked Saudaji to strip and lie down on the huge, white bed. The curtains were drawn, which caused bright, summer light to fill the room. More importantly, it bathed the Twi'lek of his dreams in warm sunlight. It was rare to see her under natural light, and he wanted to soak in the sight of her for as long as he could.

For long, self-indulgent minutes, Raeth sat in a chair by the huge window, and watched her, lovingly. If Saudaji lay still, that would've been fine. If she stretched, seductively, or posed like the subject of an erotic painting, that would've been even better. Sometimes he licked his lips or sighed as he sat there. Little by little, he'd remove articles of his own clothing. The important thing is that he would not take his eyes off of her.

Eventually, after he was naked, too, he got up off of his seat and joined her in bed. He put his hands on her, gently. Those precise, attentive fingers of his wandered over her jade flesh, as well as over the mosaic of scars that covered it. When he was done touching her from head to toe, he turned her over so he could touch her all over her back, too. Then, sometime later, his lips joined in on the pampering of her finely-toned body. Not an inch of her was missed.

"I could do this forever, you know," he whispered to her from behind. He lay on top of her. She could feel his erection against the small of her back, and she could hear his smile, his levity in his voice.

They made love, then. Their gentle love making turned into hard fucking. Their hard fucking turned into a messy, loud, exhausting frenzy within a room that wasn't theirs. And when they left the room the next morning to start their mission, they left fully sated, more than a little sore, and under the mistaken impression that their lives together would be sunshine and giggles every day for the rest of their lives.

That daydream was shattered within the Tzani jungle less than a week later.

-----

In the medical bay ofThe Patient Pylat, Raeth saw Saudaji naked, but in an entirely different circumstance. That day and night in the hotel room was a dream; this was a nightmare.

Raeth watched the many, mechanical appendages of Miss Wellspring attend to the unconscious warrior. He knew better to get in the medical droid's way, so he stood several paces away. So that he had something to do, he preppred the ship's bacta tank. Due to space limitations, it wasn't like the giant tanks one would find in a planetside hospital or a medical frigate - the kind where a patient would bob around in like a pickle in a jar. Instead, the sickbay's bacta tank was more like a bacta bed.

Or a bacta coffin, Raeth thought, morbidly. He banished those thoughts from his head before checking on the tank's readout.

The tank was big enough for a patient to lie in. Once closed, it filled with bacta that soaked the patient from head to toe and healed. He got the bed ready to receive Saudaji while Miss Wellspring got her ready for what could potentially be days of immobile treatment.

"Don't you worry, dearie, she is impressively strong," Miss Wellspring said. Raeth programmed the droid to act and sound matronly, a trait that he really appreciated at that moment. Her voice was slow, calm, and even a little sing-songy. The tone did not match the life-threatening situation she worked on, at all.

"Look at her vitals. You can see how much she's fighting. She's just been through war, but her vitals are as steady as someone enjoying a light nap. A couple of days in the bacta, and she'll be right as rain.

"Although she'll likely have some more scars to add to her collection. And we may need to take her to a hospital to ensure she keeps full use of her hand."

Raeth, uncharacteristically quiet, only nodded. The interior of the bacta tank was already clean, but he felt compelled to give it another wipe down for no logical reason. Wellspring, in the meantime, used one of her needle-tipped limbs to inject chemicals into Saudaji. One would help her sleep through the treatment. Another dulled the pain. The droid also sprayed another chemical directly onto her injured hand to stop the bleeding.

When Saudaji was set, Raeth and Wellspring both lifted her into the tank. Together, they hooked her up to an IV that would supply her with nutrients during her treatment. Raeth fastened a breathing apparatus to her face. He also slipped what looked like oversized underwear connected to a thick tube onto her lower body, for her waste.

"That'll do, dearie. Please step back. The treatment will take care of the rest." Miss Wellspring sought to reassure him. Raeth complied by taking a step back so that the top portion of the tank could be lowered into place. Feeling useless and afraid - two things he almost never, ever felt - he watched the sealed tank gradually fill with healing liquid until Saudaji was completely submerged.

"Now, let's have a look at you, hm?" Wellspring floated around the bacta tank to get a closer look at him. Its ocular modules extended, and he knew it was inspecting his two black eyes. He also knew she would want to look at his head wound. Before she asked, he began to remove the bandage that was wrapped around his head.

"I'm fine. Just a little dizzy, is all," he said as he slumped down onto one of the medical beds. "Also have a bit of a headache. Give me something for the dizziness and the headaches, then focus on her, all right?"

"Of course," Wellspring responded, sympathetically. As she conducted a thorough examination on her new patient, Raeth turned his head to keep an eye on Saudaji's vitals, or to watch her sleep within her healing bath.

-----

For the duration of Saudaji's treatment, Raeth refused to leave the medical bay. He ate there; he slept there; he used his comm to give orders to Sebastian or the Baron, who were each piloting a different vessel. The only times he left Saudaji's side were to use the restroom or to use a computer capable of doing something his datapad could not.

When he wasn't watching Saudaji, he looked for something - anything - that could explain who sabotaged the RV. He knew from the start that this wasn't an unlucky, catostrophic error. He programmed and maintained his machines far too well for something like that to happen. Not only that, but he was convinced someone was out to get them by the way the Republic troopers locked onto their position so quickly and so well.

Someone made them crash, and that same someone sent the soldiers after them. But who?

It was possible, but not probable, that whoever was working against them was part of the Republic. It couldn't have been someone from the Empire. The work that he and Saudaji did was far too important, and up until that point they had done too well, for someone within the Empire to screw them over for the sake of jealousy or ambition.

It could have been that bitch Caethia, Raeth thought. The voice in his head referred to the apprentice of Darth Azamin. She's hated you for years. If there's anyone who wants to see you fail, it's her.

Again, this was possible, but not that probable. Still, Raeth filed that possibility in the back of his mind, to be investigated later. First and foremost, he needed to inspect the diagonistics history taken from the RV's hard drive. Maybe he could find out what methods their mystery attacker used to take down the speeder van, and from there get a better idea of who they were dealing with. At the very least, he could use the info to work on countermeasures against future attacks.

After inspecting the RV's data logs, he would pour over security footage he stole from the parking facility where he left the RV during their stay at a Tzani resort. That was the only time someone could have gotten to the RV to sabotage it.

Finally, Raeth could watch security footage he pilfered from the spaceport where they left The Patient Pylat and the Splendid Place during their failed mission. Someone must have positioned a signal jammer near the ships, which was the most likely explanation as to why they could not call for help for a full day following their crash.

Between all of these leads, there must have been something that would reveal who did this to them. Raeth searched for that something while Saudaji recuperated.
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Old 12-28-2016, 11:54 PM   #180
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Consciousness slowly returned. Disoriented, she blinked, several times, trying to figure out if her vision was gone. Shifting, she felt that she was in liquid - and for a moment, she panicked. Despite the overwhelming urge to thrash, her body instantly kicked in before the rest of her mind could spiral into panic. Visibly, she stilled within the tank. Stretched her arms, her legs. Winced in pain. She’d been hurt. Badly. That she remembered all too well. It wasn’t the worst she’d been hurt, but it would be something for the record books. A new set of scars, that was for sure.

She took in a deep breath. Even with the breathing apparatus over her nose and mouth, she could taste the distinct bite of bacta. That was enough to further confirm what she’d thought, once logic had kicked in. They had made it back safely; or at least in one piece. She wasn’t dead yet.

Thankfully, the top of the tank was automated - designed to respond to the consciousness of the patient within. As she began to stir more, the lid slid open. Mildly disoriented by the change in light, she blinked a few times until the ceiling was less of a dimly lit blurry gray blob and more of a collection of skillfully welded plates. Wincing, she slowly inched her way to a sitting position. Pressing her hands down to help steady herself, she very quickly realized that her left hand was still gravely injured - and she instantly took her weight from it. Cradling it closer to her chest, she looked down at it. It still looked like raw meat - but instead of freshly slaughtered, it looked more along the lines of meat that’d been frozen. Eh. That she could take. She didn’t bother trying to flex her fingers, and did her best to keep it immobilized. It went without saying that she was ambidextrous - so much so that it was difficult to tell if she even had a dominant hand or side.

With her right hand, she removed the breathing mask, and took in a deep breath of the med bay air. It smelled stale - disinfectants, steel, recycled air. There was a slight feeling of humidity wafting from the bacta tank. If circumstances had been different, it may have even been pleasant. She touched her tongue to her lips. They were whole again - coated with the disgusting taste of bacta, but whole. Her tongue moved the way she wanted it to. Idly, she probed where her molar had been knocked out. That was still missing, but nothing some dental work couldn’t fix.

Her eyes now adjusted to the dim light of the med bay, she spied Raeth, going over some sort of data. She smiled, though the expression pulled on newly healing skin.

“You look like hell,” she rasped, her voice rough after days of disuse. “Please get me out of this,” she grasped the edge of the tank with her good hand, and looked at it. “thing,” she finally said, unable to think of something more descriptive.
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Old 12-29-2016, 12:28 PM   #181
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For the past few days, Raeth's investigation had been his obsession. Saudaji's injuries fueled that obsession. He would find whoever did this to her - whoever did this to them - and make them pay.

When the sensors of the bacta tanked beeped, indicating she had regained consciousness, he didn't notice at first, because he was so focused on the video footage playing on his datapad. However, when the tank's lid opened, its loud, mechanical hum caught his attention right away. His gaze snapped to her, and his heart skipped a beat when he saw her starting to sit up on her own. An instant later, he was standing at the edge of the tank, greeting her with that smile. Relief and excitement were expressed on his face as clear as the data on the tank's readout.

Saudaji's first words in days were playful insult. That was a good sign. It made his smile widen.

"And you smell like you've just crawled out of a bog," he chuckled. He had been thinking about touching her ever since she went under. Specifically, he could not help but think how much he missed the feel of her. His investigation helped distract him from the emptiness.

Now, finally, he could touch her again. Raeth pressed his forehead to hers, gently. Eyes closed, he sighed, gratefully, at the familiar feel of her warmth. Her forehead felt slimy, but he didn't care. All he cared about was that he had her back.
"But you're still the most beautiful woman in the galaxy." He whispered after opening his eyes to look into hers. A moment later Miss Wellspring - who was activated by the change in Saudaji's vitals - emerged from the closet where she recharged.

Raeth held his forehead to Saudaji's for several moments before he carefully disconnected her from the tank. As he did so, Wellspring inspected various parts of her body.

"How are you feeling, sweetie?" The droid asked as one of her ocular modules zoomed in on her injured side, then her thigh, then her hand, then finally her face. "Stiff I imagine, hm? Don't worry, that will go away in time. Let's get you out of the tub and see how well you walk."

Raeth jogged to a closet to fetch a towel and a medical gown. Both items were placed nearby before he helped Saudaji out of the tank. He was careful to hold onto her good hand and to ease her right arm around his shoulders. Rather than trying to lift her out, he was there for her to lean on while she climbed out on her own.
"All that time in the soup has made you wrinkly like a raisin," he joked, helping her to the nearest bed. Saudaji's green feet - which were, indeed, wrinkly - left wet footprints on the cold, metal floor. "But knowing how much you love your baths, I bet you liked it in there."

She was eased into a high, narrow bed with adjustable metal bars on either side. Those bars were down for the time being. Once she sat on the edge, Raeth retrieved the towel and gown. He handed her the towel first so she could dry off. When she was done, he helped ease her back onto the bed so that Wellspring could conduct a more thorough examination. He was especially gentle with her lekku, which he draped over the front of her shoulders so that they would not get squished between her body and the rather hard mattress beneath her. Finally, he draped the medical gown over the front of her body. They had seen each other naked numerous times in the past, of course, yet he still felt compelled to cover her up a little.

He did not leave her side while Wellspring did her job. Sometimes he had to move to make way for the hovering droid, but he remained within easy reach of her at all times.

"You fought like a battle droid out there," he said at one point. He cupped one of her now-dry cheeks in his hand while giving her a little smile. "Always moving, always on your feet. I didn't even realize you'd been hit until we were airborne."
His eyes were right on hers. In his gaze, she could see his loving fascination with her. That fascination was not new. He had shown it to her many times in the past, particularly when they made love, or during those soft, quiet moments afterwards when they stared, touched, and whispered.

This time, he was particularly intrigued by how she embodied certain characteristics that contradicted each other. How could she be so feminine, so gentle, so caring one moment, but then be so deadly and so hard the next? She was velvet, and at the same time she was titanium. Her dual nature thrilled him. So much about her thrilled him.

Miss Wellspring used a pronged appendage to lift the medical gown draped over the front of Saudaji's body a bit so it could examine the blaster wound on her side. "Lift up a little, dearie, so I can see how well your back has healed. There we go... Well, that's turned out nicely."

Despite Wellspring's reassuring bedside manner, Raeth's smile went away as he watched. The bacta treatment worked wonders. The only visible evidence of the blaster wound were two new scars - one on her back, one on her front - and some discolored skin. But in an instant he remembered the horror he saw on her body during their escape. The healthy jade of her skin was replaced by ugly, charred black. Some of the muscle underneath was exposed. He recalled how the wound smelled of overly-cooked meat. It wasn't often that Raeth regretted having an eidetic memory, but that was one of those times.

Saudaji may have been hard like titanium, but even titanium can break. And for the first time, Raeth considered what would happen to him if she broke. Would he break, too? Somewhere in the back of his mind, a voice told him, Yes, you would.

Raeth also considered how wise it was to continue leading this life with her. What if they ran away together? He recalled something he told her months ago: About how he imagined the two of them as explorers, soaring through uncharted space. They could go beyond the Outer Rim to discover new planets, perhaps discover a new hyperspace lane. More importantly, they could go where the Sith couldn't reach them.

He went quiet all of a sudden, and he didn't realize he was frowning. Both were signs that he had become lost in troubled thoughts.
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Old 12-29-2016, 11:38 PM   #182
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“Don’t remind me,” she rasped, in response to her smell. She hated - absolutely hated the smell of bacta. But she couldn’t argue with the life-saving results. Perhaps she hated it because it reminded her of the times that she’d been close to death, and those were never fun to reminisce over.

He was a sight for sore eyes. Yes, he looked haggard - like he hadn’t bathed, or shaved in a few days. His eyes were healing - jaundiced from the bruises of his black eyes, but improving. In that stage of, “Not as bad as it was before, but somehow, inexplicably looks worse.” He was on his knees in front of her, leaning over the edge of the tank. Her first instinct was to kiss him - and, then, reminded by the taste and the smell of bacta, she decided against it. When he touched his forehead to hers, she was startled, so much so that she was perfectly still until it registered. Not trusting herself to move much more, she let her forehead rest against his own. It was a slight gesture, without the fierce passion that typically characterized her actions with him. It was no less sincere because of it.

When he called her beautiful, she actually blushed. It was slight - and the shifting of her eyes was flat out charming. She’d been called a lot of things in her lifetime, and was no stranger to being called “beautiful.” But, somehow, with him saying it, the words carried much more weight. He sounded like he legitimately believed them. Under the realization of such truth, she couldn’t help but to wilt a little. To help mask her embarrassment, she cleared her throat, and looked down. She was clearly dodging, but rather than being insulting, it was charming - a bashful girl in the place of a hardened warrior.

Thankfully for her, Miss Wellspring “bustled” in, insomuch as droids could. Though Miss Wellspring was…terrifying in the very least to look at, there was something about her voice / programmed personality that set her instantly at ease. Miss Wellspring was a bizarre, metal murder bot grandma. For someone that didn’t like droids, it was a testament to Raeth’s abilities that Saudaji was so comfortable with her.

She bent a knee, flexed an arm there. “A little stiff, yes, but what I expected. Glad to still be breathing,” she said, amiably, to the droid. “If I still wasn’t doped up, I bet I’d be screaming bloody murder,” she added, keeping her tone upbeat. With as much Mandalorian resolve that she had, out of battle, there was no need to keep her focus on dodging blaster fire, and without the painkillers, she knew there was no way she could ignore the severity of her wounds. At Miss Wellspring’s mention of getting out of the tub, there wasn’t a hint of concern on Saudaji’s face. She glanced to Raeth, noting fondly how he was dashing about, preparing himself. And how quickly he came to her side - and rather than lift her out of the tank, he simply offered his assistance. If she thought she couldn’t fall any further for him, he just proved her wrong.

Grasping onto him with her good hand, she swung her legs, one by one, over the side of the tank, and stood up. Only the slightest tightening of her grip on his shoulder was evidence that she was using him to help steady herself. Standing, her legs shook, the “bad” leg quaking a bit harder than the other. She frowned to herself. She would need to build it back up; it wouldn’t do to have one leg stronger than the other. The same would need to happen for her hand. One step, then two, clearly favoring her right leg. However, by the time she was half-way to the bed, she had begun to walk “normally” - or as normally as one could expect.

“I’m not sure if my breasts are wrinkling or just starting to show their age,” she quipped, at his comment of her being wrinkly. She was, after all - her fingers and toes were as wizened as an Ithorian’s neck. “And don’t mention water to me. I think I’ll be sticking to showers for the time being.” She began to towel herself off, as delicately as a rich old woman. Though she was dry, she could still feel bacta residue on her, and she had to stop herself from grimacing. At some point, once she could move better, she knew a shower was in order. Of course, as soon as she was dry, Raeth was there again, helping her get settled. Rather than give into the urge to swat him away, she indulged in his hyper attentiveness, allowing herself to be moved.

At his comment about her fighting, she burst into laughter, before she doubled over in pain. The bacta had helped immensely, but there was still some healing to do. Waving him away, she shook her head, grimacing now as she resettled herself on the bed. Note to self - laughing hurt. A lot.

“I’d imagine that’s why I was hired, yes,” she said, smiling through the slight tears of pain. “I had to get you out of there. Me, I’m replaceable. I knew that coming into the job. Best case scenario was that we’d both make it. Worse case, I would buy you time so you could get out. So, overall, I’d say this was a success. I didn’t realize it was this bad until we got back to the ship. I knew I’d been hit, but there was still a job to do. Had to keep moving.” While her gaze wasn’t as reverent as his, the love she felt for him was clear. There was a certain firmness in her eyes that spoke volumes. There wasn’t as much sentiment there as there was a recognition of an undeniable truth - she was going to protect him. That was how she showed her love.

At Miss Wellspring’s gentle prodding, she shifted, letting the droid examine her. “I suppose so,” she answered. “I didn’t know how bad I was hurt. I don’t want to know either, so please don’t explain,” she added quickly, noting Raeth’s pensive face. “That goes for you, too,” and she pointed at him. “All I know is that I was shot, and I have new scars for it. As far as I’m concerned, it’s done. Let me heal and keep looking after you. Everything else, we can figure out.”

There was her typically refreshing, “the simplest answer is the correct one,” candor that, for the longest time, she felt Raeth mistook for stupidity on her behalf. Now, though, it was meant to soothe him. So she’d gotten shot. She wasn’t dead. He wasn’t dead. Healing needed to happen, yes, but ultimately, getting hurt was part of the hazards of the job. Unless…

Rae’ika, is this the first time you’ve been hurt on a mission?” She shifted in the bed. It would be a tight squeeze, but she patted the space beside her all the same, inviting him to sit with her. She’d been away from him too long as it was.
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Old 12-30-2016, 03:24 AM   #183
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Hearing Saudaji use her pet name for him snapped him out of his train of thought. Seeing her pat the bed, inviting him to join her, made him beam like a boy opening his birthday presents. If not for her current state, he would have launched himself into the bed with her. Instead, he sat on the edge, carefully.

"No, Cyare, I've been hurt before." He tried lying in bed with her, but could only fit half his body and one leg onto the mattress. Deciding that looked stupid, he sat back up. "But this was the worst, without a doubt. We could have died in the crash. I would've been killed by those soldiers if you weren't such a death machine. We could have been eaten by something big and scaley in the jungle."

His smile wavered. Looking away, he paused to consider some of the things she had just said, like how matter-of-factly she treated their near death experience, or how she claimed to be replaceable. He realized she was referring to how the Empire saw her - those guys treated everybody as replaceable, even those with Force abilities. Yet he still felt an urge to tell her that no one could replace her in his life.
He had trouble figuring out how to tell her without sounding foolish, though.

"I, ehm...I'm here because of you." Damnit, that still sounded corny. Oh well. "Soooo...thank you."

Because he was sitting closest to Saudaji's good hand, he was able to reach for her hand without worrying about hurting her. His fingers entwined with hers. The warmth of her skin was cherished. The contrast between her green fingers and his white ones was admired. Sighing, happily, he sat in silence with her for a few moments while Miss Wellspring finished her examination.

"That's it for now," the medical droid announced. "You won't need another dip in bacta anytime soon, provided you stay out of trouble." She tittered at her own little joke, the sound digital yet strangely alive. "Both your side and your leg will be sore for the next week or so, but they're healing nicely.

"However, you really should go to a hospital to get surgery for that hand. I could perform the operation myself, but biological fingers would be in this instance, you understand." She flexed the prongs at the end of one of her appendages to emphasize her point.

"Understood, Miss Wellspring. Thanks." The medical droid hovered away.

"Comms!" With that one, emphasized word, Raeth activated the ship's internal communication system so he could talk to Sebastian-v2.

"V2: Set a course for Derra IV. And relay the coordinates to the Baron."

"Yes, Master," Sebastian replied over the intercom. "Is Mistress Saudaji awake?"

"Yes, she is," Raeth, smiling at her, gave her hand a squeeze.

"I assume you two are back to being all touchy-feely?"

"Shut up and fly the ship, V2."

"Yes, Master." The comms cut out, then, and the two of them were left alone in the bright, white, sterile medical bay.

After several minutes hand-holding and easy banter, Raeth decided it was time to address the elephant in the room.

"You know, although this wasn't the first time I've been injured on the job, this is the first time I've failed." He frowned at the word 'fail'. It wasn't a word he spoke often. He didn't like the sound of it, nor did he like the feel of it on his tongue.

"I haven't sent the report to Azamin yet. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to present it...how to assure him that the situation is salvageable."

Raeth looked at her with a smile that he hoped was reassuring. "We've done so well thus far, so I'm sure that'll buy us some slack."

The Patient Pylat soared through hyperspace towards the planet Derra IV, with Splendid Place following close behind. There, they would dock with a medical frigate in order for Saudaji to receive surgery on her burn-damaged hand.
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Old 12-30-2016, 08:24 PM   #184
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She’d have to be blind not to notice the concern on his face, in his voice.

“The first time I went after a bounty, I was pretty fresh off the farm,” she started, with an impish grin. “Couldn’t have been older than, oh, maybe fourteen. This was a big deal, you know. I’d gotten into a fight with one of my older brothers, and I just had to go out there and prove how Mandolorian I really was. So, I stole his friend’s speeder - which was a huge deal, because it was pretty much the only working one in the village. What made things worse was that I instantly crashed it after making a mess of the wiring trying to hot-wire it. I would have been paddled back into oblivion if I’d been caught, but it just so happened that the crash got the attention of some out of towners. They thought the whole thing was hilarious, that I had balls as big as a rancor.”

Feeling his fingers thread through those of her good hand, she squeezed back, softly. “I made it out of the crash all right, and you’d think, a 14 year old Twi’lek accepting a ride from two male strangers? Recipe for disaster, right? Turns out, these guys were old bounty hunters themselves. Told me about who they were going after, and I guess they felt bad for me. Thought I was a hard luck case. Or thought it was funny that I was doing this just because of a fight with my brother. Anyway, they took me along.”

Her face grew a little less humorous, more severe. “The bounty head was more than they reckoned for. Age doesn’t always bring wisdom. One of the guys is out cold, the other is severely injured. I’m losing my nerve, because, hey, I’m just a kid and this is my first time really seeing a fight. Stuff on Mandalore has a certain…I don’t know, order, I guess, to it, if you’ve grown up around it. But this was the first time I’d really seen a fight. I mean, life or death fight. So it’s just me, a blaster, and a rampaging Togorian that’s about four times my size and just teeth and claws.” She pointed to super fine lines across her left hip, uncovered by the gown. “You’d never guess now, but that bastard laid me open to the bone with his claws. My blaster’s gone, the old men only have bombs left. I’m not really looking to die and take this Togorian with me. So I’m laying there, thinking I’m bleeding to death - which, in retrospect, I really was. I’d never been that badly hurt. It was about two years before this,” and she pointed to the scar across her face, “and I’d never seen that much blood. I’m down to my knife and whatever left of my wits. I thought I was going to die, right then and there, and the only thing that went across my mind was how stupid all of this really was. How it wasn’t befitting a proper Mandolorian.”

Pausing, she chuckled softly to herself, shaking her head. “Here’s the part of the story where I say, ‘And my brothers suddenly turned up to put down the Togorian and take me home where I was scolded but everyone hugged me and told me how much they loved me.’ That’s not how it happened. No one came to the rescue. I guess it was adrenaline or this burning desire to live. Whatever it was, I guess I blacked out. Next thing I know, I’m in a puddle of blood - and the Togorian is dead. Turns out the other old man wasn’t knocked out; he was dead. The other guy? Wasn’t too charitable after his friend died. In retrospect, I can’t say that I blame him. He gave me enough of the bounty to get home, and that was it. It was only because my brother said I was missing that my family started looking - when I got back planet side, I was pretty much at death’s doorstep.” She stopped - and started laughing. “I have no idea where I was going with any of this. I guess the point is, I made it out alive. We made it out alive. And ‘failure’ is subjective.”

She laid down on the bed again, careful not to bump him off. It was, indeed, a very tight fit, but she wanted him close. “Think of it this way - we caused quite a bit of chaos. Security may be tighter now, but people will be overly cautious, and bound to make a mistake. There’s still an opportunity to salvage this. I’ll get this surgery and be back out on the field with you in no time. And,” she curled up closer to him, “it isn’t we haven’t killed Jedi before. Jedi or Sith, no difference to me. Might be fun, going after him before he gets us.”
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Old 12-31-2016, 04:56 PM   #185
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Raeth watched her face and snuggled closer when he realized Saudaji was going into a story. He liked her stories. She probably noticed that on the occasions when she did offer a glimpse into her past, he rarely ever interrupted.

He listened to what she had to say with rapt attention. When she gestured towards subtle scars on her left hip, he instinctively reached over to caress them. That was as close as he came to interrupting her.

Once she was done, he laughed at her comment about how fun it might be to try killing Darth Azamin if his opinion of them soured. It wasn't a mean laugh. Slowly but surely, he was getting out of the habit of being condescending, at least towards her. "Although I appreciate how much faith you have in our combined abilities, targeting a member of the Council would be...challenging, to say the least. Even if we did succeed, we'd earn the ire of the entire Empire."

Saudaji had just finished repositioning herself on the bed, so he snuggled into her side once more. He thought about how close he had gotten to losing her, and that was after they escaped 20-30 Republic soldiers and a single gunship. What would happen if they had an entire capital ship filled with troopers after them? How about a whole fleet? What if they had to worry about Imperial assassins lurking within every shadow, or bounty hunters in every dive looking to collect the hefty sums on both their heads?

Raeth had never felt this uneasy before. As he pressed his face to the side of hers, he realized that he felt this way because of her. He wasn't sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing. Despite the fact that he kept these thoughts to himself, for now, his continued silence and contemplation spoke volumes.

While the two of them enjoyed each other's closeness, The Patient Pylat made its way through a cosmic tunnel of bright lights.

-----

A few days later, Raeth and Saudaji were aboard the Saint Altras, a hospital frigate currently orbiting Derra IV. Many of the frigate's staff were planetside, aiding the survivors of an earthquake and subsequent tsumani. But, thankfully, one of the Altras' most gifted, experienced musculoskeletal surgeons was still onboard, since her specialty was not immediately needed at the disaster site. It took a hefty sum of credits to convince her to take the Twi'lek as a patient before anyone else. But with their recent string of successful, lucrative missions, that sum barely made a dent in their collective savings.

As far as the doctor and admission staff were concerned, Saudaji was named Aliyan Ruus, a speeder and small spacecraft mechanic who got injured when an engine part exploded in her hand. Raeth was Zacksam Krelli, a computer systems engineer who was Aliyan's business partner and boyfriend. Raeth supplied the fake IDs and computer records to back up their claims.

Saudaji's surgery took several hours, but it went without a hitch. The doctor assured her that she would regain full functionality within a few weeks, and the worst case scenario would be occasional finger stiffness that wasn't there before. During her in-patient recovery period, she had to wear a bacta glove - a thick, plastic, liquid-filled cast that covered her hand and part of her forearm.

"I've never seen a Jeneti doctor before," Raeth commented to her when they were alone in Saudaji's hospital room. He referred to her surgeon, who belonged to a rat-like humanoid species who had a stereotype of being scavengers and junkers, not healers. "It makes sense, now that I think about it. Her exceptional eyesight must surely help her do such fine work." Smiling playfully, he tapped her plastic cast. Raeth's spirits lifted, visibly, once they both found out her hand would make a full recovery in time.

"Take a look at this," he said, excitedly, handing her his datapad. On it, video footage that looked like it was taken from inside a parking garage was paused. "I think I found our saboteur. Or, more accurately, I've found a lead that will lead us to him, her, them, whatever." He tapped the screen to get the video playing.

The recording was taken from one of the RV's external cameras. It must have been on the hard drive that they saved before Raeth blew the speeder up. There was a time stamp on the corner of the corner. Saudaji would remember that during that date and time, the two of them were having a grand old time inside of a Tzani resort, which means this occurred while the RV was parked in a nearby structure on the day before their crash.

The only thing of note that happened in the clip was another speeder van parked adjacent to the RV. The other van had the words VANDELAY IMPORT & EXPORT printed on the side. Nobody got out to tamper with their vehicle. Nothing weird happened at all.

Raeth reached over her chest to tap the datapad, pausing it again. "I know; boring, right? But that's not all." A couple more taps brought up a different video. This one appeared to be security footage from a spaceport. She saw The Patient Pylat on a landing pad, and unsuspicious activity typically seen within a spaceport happening just on the edges of the screen. The time stamp here showed this was taken on the day of the crash. Again, there wasn't anything weird in this clip, either.

"Here's where it gets interesting." Using his forefinger and thumb on the screen, he zoomed in on a stack of crates that were placed near The Pylat. On the side of the crates was the word, VANDELAY. Raeth had told her about how he suspected a jamming device was planted near The Pylat that prevented them from calling for help. The jammer must have been in those crates.

Raeth felt like a nightscowl hot on the trail of its next meal. He bared his teeth in a predatory grin. "I'll admit that our saboteur is good. I'm still not entirely certain what he did to shut down all the RV's systems at once. But he farked up!" Triumphantly, he patted the datapad still in Saudaji's good hand.

"While you were in surgery, I did a search for 'Vandelay Import & Export'. There were multiple hits, but only one had the same logo as the speeder and the crates. Vandelay has only one, registered office, in the Bright Jewel system. We know where to go after you get that thing off your hand."

They didn't have long to celebrate. About 30 minutes after Raeth showed her his lead, they received an encrypted message. Earlier, Raeth sent a short message to the Empire explaining that their last target was escaped, and they suspected someone sabotaged their vessel. That report had been received.

Raeth was seated in a chair next to Saudaji's bed. The bed, like almost everything else in the hospital room, was white or gray, but the chair's cusions were a dull blue. It was comfy; so comfy, in fact, that Raeth was about to fall asleep on it.

Once his datapad beeped, howver, he perked up, fully awake. When he read the message, the corners of his lips dipped down into a frown.

He looked up at Saudaji. "He's sending Caethia to meet us. We've been instructed to meet her on the surface of Derra IV tomorrow." Saudaji had never met Darth Azamin's apprentice. She didn't need Raeth to explain that meeting her or any other Sith in person was not a good sign.
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Old 01-08-2017, 12:02 PM   #186
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Today

The common perception of Sith Lords and their apprentices were that they were dark, brooding figures. And over time, that did become the reality.

Caethia wasn’t there, quite this yet, and that was what made her so dangerous. For starters, she actually wasn’t very tall - she was considerably short for a humanoid, giving her the illusion of being a teenager, or a particularly tall and gangly Jawa, under her Sith robes. What she lacked in sheer physical intimidation, she more than made up for with her “aura.” She left those that she walked past with a deep sense of unease - it made mothers bring their children closer and men give her a broad berth. She moved silently and swiftly, her head ducked low.

Every day, it was getting harder and harder for her to recall her life before her apprenticeship. It didn’t bother her. She did know that this wretched curiosity that she had was a part of that old life; something that defined her. Perhaps there was a time when that curiosity was a good thing. Now, it twisted her guts, disrupted her meditation, and kept her up at night.

She was infinitely curious about Raeth.

She loathed him, for a myriad of reasons that shifted depending on the day. Sometimes it was because Darth Azamin had use for him to begin with. Other times, it was simply because he existed. And sometimes it was because she itched to take him apart, limb by limb, to see how he worked, and she couldn’t.

But today? It was because he failed - and she couldn’t destroy him.

She had given herself the pleasure of walking through a city that had been devastated by the earthquake and tsunami. The locals had cleaned up the best that they could, and aside from a few weeping stragglers desperately tossing rocks and debris aside, the area was eerily quiet. The Force was twisted here - undulating and curling in on itself, trying to escape the agony of destruction. Allowing herself the smallest of smiles, she inhaled deeply, pulling the warped Force deep within her. It was only when destruction was wide-spread that she felt the most…joy.

Any minute now, she would await the arrival of Raeth and his partner. She’d simply told them to meet her where the destruction was the worst.
_______

Yesterday

Saudaji wiggled her fingers in the bacta cast. It was a nuisance, but well worth wearing if it meant she’d keep her hand. Apparently her good luck held - as extensive as the damage was, it was with minimum loss of mobility. She’d be steadily testing the range of motion in her fingers while he talked about the saboteur. Before she could ask a question, his face was grim, and he announced that they needed to meet Caethia.

“Well,” she sighed, “I suppose that you have solid evidence is a good thing. But what makes you think it’ll do us any good?” Her voice was half-there; her mind already weighing the possibilities of taking out Caethia if need be. It could be a fool’s errand, but she wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
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Old 01-10-2017, 12:38 PM   #187
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"It'll buy us time," Raeth said in response to Saudaji's question about what good their lead could do. "They'll want to know who went after us, and how much of a threat they pose to the overall operation. Once I convince them to let you and me handle this investigation - which shouldn't difficult - that'll get us at least a few weeks."

The Imperial agent paced in front of Saudaji's hospital bed, thinking. He was doing the same thing that she was doing - formulating plans on how to kill Caethia if their meeting went poorly. He also considered where in the galaxy they could go to hide from the inevitable wrath of Darth Azamin and the Sith Empire.

I wonder if she'd mind a desert planet? A voice in his head tried to be helpful. Or maybe we can hide inside of an asteroid, someplace in Wild Space. We could build a nice, cozy home, nestled within a rock, then spend the rest of our days fucking, cuddling, and making ice cream sundaes.

Although Raeth had to admit that last idea had its appeal, his top priority was to figure out how to prevent their employer from wanting them dead.

"If we can find the saboteur and take care of him, well, then the slate will be wiped clean. We'd go back to being paid an obscene amount of money to do what we do." The unflappable confidence and his smile both seemed genuine. Saudaji knew that he was quite confident, if not downright arrogant, about his ability to kill Force Sensitives.

"What do you say? Are you ready to check out of this place?" If Saudaji said 'yes', then Raeth would collect his things, and they'd get out of there. The Patient Pylat was docked an easy walk away. They had a little less than a day until the scheduled meeting, so they could use that time to devise a 'Kill Caethia' plan, together.

"Are you going to wear your armor during the meeting?" Raeth asked her with a sideways smile as they walked towards the airlock. "I like how you look in your armor."

-----

The following day, The Patient Pylat soared towards the ruined city of Yenet. Initially, Raeth was annoyed when Caethia refused to give them coordinates for their meeting, and instead gave them a puzzle to solve. He thought that was her way of acting cute, and he didn't like the idea of her acting playful. He didn't like much about her at all, as a matter of fact.

However, Raeth did love puzzles. He always had. This puzzle was really easy to solve, unfortunately. All it took was a quick holonet search to discover that the earthquake in Yenet caused a chemical factory to explode. The devastation around the facility was practically absolute. There were no survivors, and almost nothing was left standing within a 1-kilometer radius. With the rescue efforts taking place everywhere but here, they were sure not to have an audience.

Scanners confirmed that Caethia stood in the center of an enormous, debris-filled crater where the factory used to be. The ground was charred black within the crater, as well as all around it. The scanners didn't show any sign of armed ships nearby, but Raeth suspected the Sith had reinforcements hidden somewhere close. That's what he and Saudaji had planned, because it'd be stupid not to have backup.
He eased the Pylat down towards the crater, then he set his ship to hover several meters above the debris. With the cargo bay ramp lowered, he and Saudaji would have an easy hop down to the blackened earth.

Raeth wore a thick, thigh-length, brown jacket. Underneath the jacket, he had a variety of weapons and gadgets, most of which were designed to be anti-Force-User. Many were tucked inside of the jacket's inner pockets. Some were hidden in his sleeves or pants legs. The only visible weapon he wore was a heavy blaster, which was strapped to his right thigh.

Once he and Saudaji were off the Pylat, Sebastian-v2 took control of the vessel and raised it several dozen meters higher into the air. He turned it around so that the cockpit faced Caethia. Very deliberately, he also aimed the ship's forward turrets at her. Caethia shouldn't have been surprised by this; this was basically how colleagues greeted each other in the Empire.

Meanwhile, over a click away, the Baron was in control of Splendid Place, ready to fly over at a moment's notice. Between Sebastian-v2 and the Baron, they had two heavily-armed starships and plenty of other goodies to unleash if this meeting became uncivilized.

What Raeth expected was for Caethia to be the bearer of a holo-communications device, through which Darth Azamin's image would be projected. That's what he hoped for, too: to talk to Azamin, with Caethia merely listening and looking angry. Raeth knew he could reason with the Dark Councilor.

If, however, Caethia possessed no holo-comm, and she was the one to decide the punishment for their failed mission...well, then that would make him especially glad that he had Saudaji and two gunships backing him up.

"Hello, Caethia," Raeth said, cheerfully. It was obvious, to Saudaji at least, that his amicable tone and his smile were both fabrications. "You're looking well. Lose some weight?"
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Old 01-18-2017, 09:55 PM   #188
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Yesterday....

Since they’d…consummated on a deeper level, Saudaji didn’t have many secrets from Raeth. There were things that she opted not to elaborate on, but it was of an assumption of his lack of interest, rather than malicious secret keeping. Plus, she figured, with the way he was, whatever she did on her own time and under her own reconnaissance, he’d suss out. As it became clear that the possibility of going up their employer wasn’t entirely off the table, the minute Saudaji had gotten back on the ship, she went about updating her “will” - if it could be called that. It was simply a coded message, that, filtered through the appropriate channels, would give Saboten all of her money with the additional note of, “Share it, shabuir.” There wasn’t any doubt in Saudaji’s mind that her ship would be destroyed, so she never accounted it as part of her “goods.” And she sent money home (both literally to home, Mandalore, and to Saboten) regularly.

As much as it had pained her, she’d cut ties (as much as she could) with the bulk of her family, Saboten being the only one that didn’t have children or dependents. It kept things…safe. As safe as they could be. Thinking back on them, in quiet moments to herself in the hospital, Saudaji realized, with a small pang, that she hadn’t seen her brothers, sisters, or their respective broods in years.

“That’s a fairly large ‘if,’” she said, finally, with a bit of a sigh. She could be very well going to her death tomorrow. “Well,” she added, with a noticeably uptick in her pitch, “If we die tomorrow, I intend on us having plenty of fun tonight.”

She was good on her word.

Today....

She was sore, sleepy, and hungover.

They’d fucked until they’d practically fallen asleep in the middle of the act. Copious amounts of booze was drunk, and she was quite sure that they had absolutely destroyed the bedding - ripped sheets, torn pillows, the whole nine.

Quite the way to spend a potential last night on earth.

Yawning mightily beneath her helmet, none of her quibbles showed. Indeed, to an outsider, she appeared ever inch a Mandalorian male, from the primitive armor to the t-slit helmet. Though Raeth had offered (cajoled, whined, and she was quite sure secretly tinkered with) to upgrade her armor, she’d kept it the way as it was. It had been her pride and joy when she was deemed worthy enough to have her own suit, and it was something that she kept and modified as she grew. It was a patchwork quilt armor, though it was clear that there was a considerable amount of effort put into smoothing out the more jarring elements.

She was armed with her traditional knife, hanging at her waist, and a blaster slung low on her hips. Compared to Raeth, she seemed imposing - despite being shorter than him -, cool and calm, even in the face of a Sith. Some of it was careful posturing - most of it was focusing on not vomiting in her helmet. If she hadn’t grown up hearing so many stories that featured heroes that were pretty much the same spot she was in, she would be horrifically embarrassed.

Still, hung over or not, she knew that Raeth knew her and her craft well enough that a hangover wouldn’t be enough to stop her. Even with her hand still in its bacta cast - nearly covered by a gauntlet.

She would, however, let him do the talking.

If Caethia was annoyed by Raeth’s irreverence, she gave no indication of it. The small hooded figure didn’t so much as budge.

“Why have you failed?”

Though there was no movement behind him, Saudaji was struggling desperately not to laugh. She’d expected some melodious, resonant voice. What she got was the particularly high nasal tone of a woman with the voice of a child. That squeaky, teeny little voice, she thought, was going to be the death of her before the Sith could even draw a weapon.

Caethia’s orders were simple - find out what happened. It was a task in addition to training. Azamin was well aware of Caethia’s dislike of Raeth. He was also quite aware of Catheia’s curiosity towards the man, something that he encouraged, in his own way. Catheia was to perform the first round of questioning while Azamin listened remotely. The Sith Lord also took a perverse delight in knowing how much it annoyed Catheia that she would only be able to ask questions - not pass judgement, not react, no matter how much Raeth goaded her. As not to push his student too far, however, Azamin wouldn’t tell her what she needed to say. She was free to conduct the “interrogation” however she saw fit.
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Old 01-26-2017, 07:06 PM   #189
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On the morning before their meeting on Derra IV, Raeth gave Saudaji plenty of alone time. Not because he wanted to be apart from her, but because it took him a long time to get out of bed. She practically fucked him into a coma during their night of drunken debauchery.

Earlier in the morning, when Saudaji slipped out of the bed they had destroyed, he was barely able to summon the strength to open his eyes, turn his head, and admire her tight, naked, beautiful green ass, as well as her muscular back, which was partially covered by her dangling lekku. He croaked out something to her right before her bare feet took her through the door.

"I really wrecked that pussy, didn't I?" If his little joke got her to turn around and give him one of those smiles that he loved, it would have made him feel like a billion credits.

But once that euphoria passed, he went right back to feeling as though Saudaji just whooped his ass through 10 straight rounds of no-holds-barred sparring. It was a condition with which he was beginning to grow familiar. A condition where his entire body - especially his dick - hurt after he and Saudaji went crazy on each other. But it was a good hurt. And so, while Saudaji cleaned up, sobered up, and geared up, Raeth lay in bed recuperating. For over an hour, the only time he moved was to get some painkillers from his nightstand and wash it down with a swig of cometduster left over from last night.

Eventually, he managed to drag himself out of bed. He left his room looking like a crime scene. Cleaning it up could wait, because the most important thing was preparing for the meeting, and then getting out of it alive.

When Saudaji saw him next, he was fully geared and looking relaxed, as though they were off to a pleasant afternoon in the countryside rather than to their possible execution. He greeted her with a smile, followed by a brief, loving kiss to her cheek. He didn't bother to ask her if she was ready, because she looked ready.

"I've got something for you," he told her before leading her to the cargo bay. "Two 'somethings,' actually." There, he opened up a storage locker that contained two gift boxes. One of the boxes was big - big enough to contain one of the smaller astromech models. That box had a red bow on it. The other box was much smaller, rectangular, and placed upon a shelf above the first. It had a silver bow on it, and it looked like it might contain a dagger.

Raeth grinned at her. "I don't want you to open either one until after we come back from the meeting. Agreed?"

He patted the top of the bigger box. "I've been working on this one for a while now. I finally finished it while you were getting surgery." He then pointed at the box on the shelf. "That one I finished in no time at all, really. I worked on it yesterday, while you were in your room."

His eyes lit up, which was something that she may have noticed happened much more often ever since they had admitted - to themselves as well as to each other - that they loved one another.

"I can't wait to see you open them up. Buuuuut," he closed the locker door. "Like I said, not until after the meeting." He was visibly excited, like a young Wookie on the eve of Life Day. Raeth did not say this to Saudaji outloud, but his behavior said it for him: the reason he acted this way was because he felt like he could do anything as long as she was with him.

Before they left the cargo bay, Raeth drew her in to hold her and kiss her, deeply. Much of his body still ached from last night, and the painkillers hadn't completely dulled his headache. But his lips didn't hurt, and he hungered for her.

Eventually, reluctantly, their kiss ended. Catching his breath, he rested his forehead against hers, then smiled at her. "We may as well get this over with." Minutes later, they were on their cockpit. Saudaji had her Mandalorian armor on. Raeth was at the helm. And the Pylat was making its way to a place of death.

-----

In the ruins of Yenet, Caethia went straight for the jugular and asked why their last mission was a failure. No holo device, Raeth noted. Which means we won't be talking to Azamin, at least not yet. He wasn't surprised, but he did start to take this a little bit more seriously. Azamin was likely listening in, but Caethia was in charge of the questioning for now, which meant additional caution was required.

Raeth's smile diminished without disappearing from his face completely. "You never waste any time time, Caethia. I can respect that. In fact, it's a trait I might need to emulate.

"The last target still lives because someone interfered in our mission. Someone is onto me. Which means that someone is onto us." He waggled a finger between Caethia and himself, indicating that the entire Sith operation was in jeopardy.

"The good news is that I already have a lead on this 'someone.'

"I am now going to take something out of my pocket and toss it to you, okay? If you please, don't try to cut me in half with your glow stick." Very slowly, Raeth reached into one of the inside pockets of his jacket to retrieve a holo emitter. He tossed it towards Caethia, who would catch it, easily.

"This is a summary of my findings thus far."

When the holo emitter was activated, a carefully-prepared, holographic presentation of Raeth's current investigation was displayed in the air above the Sith apprentice's palm. It included things like a summary of how, in the middle of their mission, their airspeeder experienced catastrophic internal failure due to sabotage; evidence of the sabotage itself; and recordings of Republic comms chatter taken during their jungle escape. In the recordings, Republic soldiers referenced someone warning them of assassins and telling them where to search.

What Raeth's holo briefing left out was any mention of Vandelay Import & Export, his best lead. After all, he did not want to include any information that would allow Caethia to handle the investigation without him.

He gave the Sith time to review the holo briefing on her own. An uncomfortable silence lasted for a few minutes between Raeth, Saudaji, and Caethia. The only sounds that interrupted the silence were that of The Patient Pylat's thrusters as it hovered nearby, its guns trained on the robed woman. Now and then, a cold wind would howl over the crater within which they stood. After Caethia listened to the recordings of Republic soldiers, Raeth spoke up again.

"I am all but certain that the saboteur is not a part of the Republic. Since escaping Tzan with our lives, I've been digging, and I have no evidence that indicates the Republic is aware of the plan. They still don't realize the Empire exists."

Raeth waited a few beats before continuing. He watched Caethia carefully; in fact, he had been watching her carefully this entire time. Her master, Darth Azamin, was in charge of the Sphere of Imperial Intelligence. If the Republic ever found out about the Sith Empire's existence, he would be the first one to know. And if the discovery was somehow caused by Raeth, this conversation in a crater wouldn't be this cordial. Caethia would have simply attacked him immediately, and Imperial soldiers and fighter craft with kill orders would've dropped in from the sky.

What Raeth was looking for was any indication of surprise or confusion. If Caethia did not know about the saboteur before this meeting, then that likely meant Azamin did not know, either. And if the Dark Councilor who oversaw Imperial Intelligence didn't know, that meant this saboteur, for whatever reason, did not make the Republic aware of the Sith. Perhaps this new enemy represented a 3rd, unknown faction.

Raeth knew that the Sith, particularly Azamin, hated unknowns. The plot to undermine the Republic infrastructure before open warfare began had been going on, successfully, for centuries. An inconceivable amount of preparation and resources were poured into this operation. To let a single unknown jeopardize the entire thing was simply unacceptable. He was counting on Azamin to consider finding this new, unknown enemy far more important than punishing him and Saudaji for 1 failed mission. One failed mission among 5 that were undeniable successes.

"I know where to find the saboteur," Raeth announced, confidently. "Whoever he is, he's very careful and clever. But he made one mistake. I used that mistake to pinpoint his location. With your leave, Saudaji and I will consider the elimination of this saboteur as our new mission."

Another chilling wind blew into the crater while Raeth waited for the Sith to respond.
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Old 01-30-2017, 09:20 PM   #190
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Caethia listened to Raeth’s explanation without a change of expression or body posture. She was just as ominous now as she was when she first arrived - completely unfazed by the weaponry aimed at her.

Indeed, she skimmed through the information that Raeth had tossed her. Once she was done, she pocketed it. Undoubtably, Azamin would want to see it. Admittedly, she was at a slight disadvantage. Though the information posed on the holo emitter seemed legitimate, she couldn’t read into his feelings to see if it was true -

Ah.

She was not thinking entirely clear. While she may not be able to read Raeth, she could test the waters with his partner. Without raising her head or changing her body language, she reached out into the Force. Waded into the cool ribbon of it, careful not to get too lost in savoring sorrow.

Behind him, Saudaji staggered, only ever so slightly. The burn of Caethia’s skill in the Force raked across her already painful head, and in her helmet, she let out a low hiss of pain. It was only good luck within bad that Caethia mentally withdrew as soon as she had started searching, having found the confirmation that she wanted. Saudaji blinked rapidly watering eyes behind her helmet, thankful for the protection it provided. Protection, at the very least, from having to be seen with watering eyes.

Though she was mentally strong enough not to be influenced by a hand-wave and calm repetition, Saudaji still had a connection to the Force, just like any other living creature. Rather than feeling horribly violated, Saudaji fought back a wave of nausea.

“…Darth Azamin will be in touch,” and, it was possible that there was the slightest hint of smugness in her voice. She’d confirmed Raeth’s story - and, to boot, messed with someone that he apparently cared about. Even though she’d spent mere moments within Saudaji’s head, only skimming through memories, it was more than enough time for her to see the nature of their relationship. And, most enlightening, the depth of the Twi’lek’s feelings for Raeth.

Very, very interesting.

Darth Azamin would be intrigued to know more. Of course, it could simply be one-sided. In front of them now, Raeth gave no indication of his emotions, save his piddling desire to stay alive and save face. The Twi’lek’s attitude had, frankly, been disgusting. Nothing in there but base desires and twisted coils of the flesh.

But why had it been so interesting?

The thought gave Catheia pause. She should be better than this. Beyond what the crude matter of the body had to offer. Swallowing hard, she lifted her head, the gesture keeping her face still in shadow. From here, neither one of them would be able to discern what she looked like.

She had said her piece - there was not much more to be added. With an unseen smirk, glutted on her new knowledge, Catheia took her leave of them.
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Old 02-19-2017, 03:54 PM   #191
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Raeth and Saudaji stood in silence for several minutes, watching Caethia leave the crater. When she reached the edge, the Sith apprentice didn't climb out, she leapt out, thus showing off her Force-amplified strength with a nonchalance that Raeth found annoying. It wasn't until after he was sure she was out of earshot that Raeth turned to Saudaji and shrugged.

"That wasn't good. But, hey, at least we aren't dead." A cheerful smile spread across his face. "What do you say we start making our way to the Bright Jewel sector, hm?" Raeth walked towards The Patient Pylat, which was already touching down and lowering its ramp.

As he walked up the ramp, the agent reached into one of his jacket pockets to feel for a device contained therein. He pressed a button, which deactivated the bomb he had concealed in the holo emitter that Caethia pocketed. He did not care if Caethia or Azamin discovered the now inert explosive later, since the threat of murder between high-ranking Imperial operatives was common. She should have expected it. And she should have known that Raeth liked to booby trap things.

Smiling to himself, Raeth considered how fortunate Caethia was to have a talent for the Force. Without it, she wouldn't have gone far at all in the Empire. At the same time, he did not suspect that she had used her powers on his Twi'lek lover, whose distress was hidden by her Mandalorian helm.

-----

The Patient Pylat was speeding through hyperspace minutes later, with Splendid Place following somewhere behind. Their destination: Sator Station, a deep space station in the Bright Jewel sector. Sator Station was situated at a hyper point between two frequently-used hyperspace lanes, which kept it busy. If Raeth's research was correct, the person(s) responsible for screwing up their last mission was somewhere on that station.

Raeth and Saudaji were in the cockpit. He was lounging in the pilot seat, his jacket hanging carelessly off the back of the chair as though it wasn't full of weapons, explosives, and other dangerous implements. He was multitasking - looking up information about Sator Station while simultaneously talking to his partner in crime about why he was troubled Caethia's behavior.

"I almost never have an encounter with Caethia that doesn't end with her threatning to kill me, maim me, humiliate me...you get the picture. And she's never seen me fail a mission before. I fully expected our meeting to be rough, to say the very least. But she made it easy."

Raeth looked up from his datapad and turned to her. "I don't like it. She's up to something. Or Azamin has put her up to something. Either way, her behavior's got me a little concerned, and you know that I don't get concerned about much."

Behind them, Sebastian-v2 walked around the cockpit, scanning with a handheld device in one of his bulky hands. Ever since the RV was sabotaged, Raeth had become more paranoid than usual. He instructed Sebastian and three of his battle droids - Seven, Eight, and Nine - to conduct regular scanner sweeps of the Pylat's interior in order to locate anything suspicious. They'd have to do the same to the Splendid Place sometime soon, too.

In addition to that, he intended to make improvements to the ship's computer security. He should've started the process already. But when Saudaji was injured, he was so busy worrying about her, and finishing her presents.

Raeth perked up suddenly. Her presents! Forgotting about Caethia and the research on his datapad for the time being, he shot up to his feet, headed for the door, and waved for her to come join him.

"I nearly forgot about your gifts. C'mon, I can't wait to see what you think." He was smiling and as energetic as a pupply eager to please his owner. Whatever these gifts were, they waited for them in the cargo bay.
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Old 02-19-2017, 08:58 PM   #192
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“Safely” back in the ship, her helmet was off, though she had yet to remove the rest of her armor. She sat down heavily in the chair next to him, her armor clanking quietly with her movements. And, while he talked, she sat in silence, focusing on the long lines of white and blue in front of them. It wasn’t that she wasn’t listening to him; she was. She was still trying to get her head straight. Though she’d only been close to Force-users a handful of times in her life, she knew when her mind was being probed. After all, Jedi weren’t the only creatures that had a monopoly on mind-scanning abilities.

“You’ve got more reason to be afraid of her,” and she tapped the side of her temple. “She knows about us.” Her tone was flat - carefully scrubbed of emotion. She was still attempting to figure out if she should be afraid or not. With a heavy sigh, she decided that it would make less sense to constantly be afraid. In for a penny, in for a pound. “I think. No way that she couldn’t - she was in my head. I was a di’kut for not taking into consideration that she’d do so.”

She leaned back, putting her booted feet up on the console. “If I focus, I can protect some things. Not all, but some. I’m sure she thinks she’s got an edge on you because of it. But assuming you’ve had relationships with previous partners, not sure how much of an edge that is.” Her returning smile was wry. One thing was for sure - the only thing that Caethia would know for sure would be the depth of Saudaji’s feelings for Raeth, not the other way around.

It seemed that just as she got comfortable, he was on his feet, inviting her to join him. Shabla; she’d forgotten about his presents just that quickly. However, she assumed that she’d be forgiven; extenuating circumstances and all. Still, she got up, her armor protesting with the whine of metal on metal, and trailed after him. “If it’s your dick, I’ve seen that before,” she snipped, her voice full of good humor.
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Old 02-21-2017, 10:54 AM   #193
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Raeth didn't frown very often; at least not around Saudaji. But he frowned when she told him that Caethia read her mind. It wasn't the act itself that bothered him. After all, if he had the ability to read other people's minds, he'd use it constantly. No, the reason he was upset was because Saudaji looked upset.

As someone who had never had his mind probed, he wondered if it hurt. He was about to ask her if it did, but decided against it.

"I should've thought of that, as well. I'm sorry." He studied her face, his expression one of worry. He relaxed when he saw her smile, however. He couldn't help but smile in return.

"Tell you what. If she tries that again, we can kill her. Deal?" It was after that joke that he got up to lead her to the cargo bay. That's when Saudaji made that quip about his dick, which made him laugh. The sound of his laughter echoed down the cooridor, which Sebastian kept clean as a whistle.

"No, Cyare, it isn't my dick. If it was, I would've needed a bigger box."

Inside the cargo bay, they returned to the storage locker that contained the two presents: one in a big box on the floor, and one in a small box on a shelf. Raeth picked up the big box first. After placing it on his workbench, he stepped to the side, then gestured for her to open it. The expression on his face was one of excitement, as well as an eagerness to please her.

Inside the box, Saudaji would find a jetpack. The pack shined underneath the ceiling lights, since the reflective metal it was made out of was was not yet painted. It looked bulky, yet when she lifted it out of the box she would find that it was deceptively light. Raeth insisted that she try it on right away. After all, she was already in her armor, so now was as good a time as any to see how well she moved with more weight added to her battle garb.

"I made it out of duralium and lanthanide alloy, which makes it both sturdy and lightweight," he said as he watched her put it on. "I know how much you value your on-foot mobility, so I kept that in mind in the design. It's durable enough to shield you from blaster fire, but that would wreck the engine. So if you're ever in a situation where you need to turn a state-of-the art jetpack into a fancy shield, go right ahead. Worse comes to worse, I can build you another.

"This baby is capable of up to 10 minutes of sustained flight before needing a refuel. Top speed: 76 kilometers an hour." Raeth paused to give Saudaji a chance to tell him that she already knew how jetpacks worked. If she indulged him and let him continue, he gladly would.

"You likely already know this, but it's important enough to repeat: jetpacks like these aren't really meant for lengthy, sustained flight. Use it to get to to a hard-to-reach sniping position, to evade incoming fire, to leap down from an otherwise lethal height, to escape from a sarlacc pitt...you get the drill. It's also really handy when you've got to catch a fleeing target.

"Don't use its flight capabilities to replace your own mobility. Instead, use it to enhance your own mobility."

As he spoke, Raeth moved his face close to her body in order to inspect the jetpack's fit. He took a step back to watch her move, to see how much it restricted her actions, if at all.

"The two empty slots at the top of the pack are for weapons or devices you feel could be useful for you on missions. For example, I can add an over-the-shoulder rocket launcher, or a lifesign scanner. Or why not one of each? I'll give you a list of modifications to choose from; just let me know what you want, and I'll make it for you in a jiff."

Raeth stepped out from behind her in order to see her face. "Well? What do you think? Don't you just love it?"

This jetpack was Raeth's idea of romance. It was something from the heart, something he built with his own hands that could be used to keep her out of harm's way. It was obvious that he would be crushed if she did not like it, and elated if she told him that she would cherish it, forever.

Raeth waited for Saudaji's answer. At the same time, his second present for her waited to be opened.
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Old 02-26-2017, 04:12 PM   #194
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“I think I’ll be a bit better prepared the next time,” she exhaled. “I can’t be influenced, no jetiise hand-waving mind tricks here, but it doesn’t mean that she can’t see in.” She stopped in her steps, her brows raising as something clearly crossed her mind. “You’re a scientific type of man. Have you ever considered scanning brainwaves to see how the jetiise affect them? If one could figure out how they change things around, it’d be the first step in blocking them. See if the range is limited, if some sort of material blocks it. And then go from there.”

It was a thought she’d humored before - dealing with Jedi as she had in the past, it would only make sense -, but knew that she lacked the skill, and, frankly, the creativity, to figure out how to convert her thoughts into reality. But with him…maybe it wasn’t so outlandish.

She let the comment about him needing a bigger box slide - but she did have a small chuckle about it. He was doing his best. Funny - not that long ago, she would have assumed that he didn’t care about her or her welfare. Now, it was all too clear that he was concerned. The chuckle turned into a small smile as she followed him, the headache of having her thoughts gone through quickly fading.

The air in the cargo bay was slightly cooler than the rest of the ship - a norm for any cargo bay, really-, and she inhaled deeply. More to clear her head than to steel her nerves. The only good thing about having her mind probed was that it quickly cleared up whatever ill effects she was suffering from her hang over. As Raeth gestured to the box, she strode over, raising an eyebrow initially. She honestly had no idea what could have potentially been in it - Raeth didn’t strike her as the type who would wine, dine, and present with fancy jewelry. Maybe if he was conning a mark?

She wasn’t sure what she expected, but the jet pack definitely was a surprise. Her eyes grew wide as saucers, and his voice turned into a mild drone. With fingers shaking in excitement, she reached forward, stopping for a moment - then, caressing the mental. An orgasmic look stole across her face. It was truly a thing of beauty. It was something that she’d never honestly spent much time thinking about, and now that it was in front of her, she felt that she could never do her job without it.

Raeth would find himself cut off mid-sentence as she launched herself at him, capturing his lips with her own. If he tried to speak, she would take the opportunity to ungracefully shove her tongue into his mouth.
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Old 03-19-2017, 04:19 PM   #195
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When Saudaji asked him if he had ever studied the Force, scientificatlly, he went quiet, thinking, remembering. Years ago, he did conduct scans and some experiments on himself to try understanding what made him tick as a Force Void. He also ran some tests on the Force Sensitive. But he abandoned that research long before meeting her.

He hadn't considered using science to devise new methods of blocking a Force User's abilities. After all, he was already immune to their mumbo jumbo, so why bother? But now that Saudaji was part of his picture, he would have to reconsider. He might just have to open up those abandoned research files, too.

"That's something worth looking into," he told her as they made their way to the cargo hold. "But for now, don't distract me from your presents." They would talk more about this, later.

Minutes later, when they were inside the cargo bay with a custom-built jetpack sitting on the workbench beside them, Saudaji shocked Raeth with a fierce embrace and a delicious kiss. Neither were unwelcome. Raeth murmured something out of surprise, then that sound changed into something sensual as he was washed away in her gratitude.

Immediately, his eyes rolled back, his eyelids fluttered, and he reveled in what she did to him. Her tongue tasted sweeter than anything he had ever eaten. He sucked on her tongue, greedily. When he remembered that he had two hands, he latched them onto her ass cheeks, gripping her, lifting her until her feet left the floor. Before either of them knew what was going on, he slammed her back against the nearest wall. He became breathless because of the emotion in her kiss, as well as the promise of what was to come.

Frantically, clumsily, they shed themselves of clothes. When they were fully naked, Raeth grabbed her ass, lifted her up, and slammed her against the wall again, this time so he could fuck her against it. He sucked on her tongue and drank deeply from her lips as he pounded her against the wall. All that extra martial arts training they did together had paid off in the form of physical strength he never before had. He used that newfound strength to hold her up and fuck the living daylights out of her.

Raeth stuck his tongue inside of her mouth the first chance he could. He tasted the inside of her cheeks; he studied the ridges of her gums. After a desperate gasp for air took his mouth away from hers - for now - he found her neck with his lips, then suckled upon the skin there. He could not help but bite on her neck just a little bit as he filled her.

"Huungh! Mmmph! Ungh!" Saudaji felt too good. Her insides were so hot, and she squeezed him so strongly. On top of all that, loving her like this was exhausting. It did not take long for Raeth to explode and to empty himself inside of her, screaming into her mouth as he did so. By the time he came, his whole body was a shaky, sweat-covered mess. His hair stuck to his forehead. His ropey muscles ached, especially those of his thighs, arms, and midsection, even though they hadn't gone at it for that long. Unable to hold both of their body weight up any longer, he collapsed backwards, taking her along with him. The landed on the floor in a pile. Sometime during, or perhaps after, their fall, their sexes separated. Their mixed fluids made a mess that Sebastian would have to clean up later.

Chest heaving, vision blurry, Raeth lay underneath her. In the aftermath of their coupling, he needed several minutes to regain the ability to think. Once he got it back, he started laughing.

"Does that mean you liked it?" Gently, he lifted her head so he could see her eyes. In his eyes, she could see a twinkle he showed no one else. "You still have one more present to open."
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Old 07-31-2017, 10:41 PM   #196
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Somehow, she’d managed to twist herself just so, so that when they fell, she landed a bit to the side of him.

At his comment, she pursed her lips, and gave him a mighty eye-roll. It was an affectionate expression, with no malicious intent behind it. Lifting herself up, she rubbed the back of her neck, trailing a hand down her left lekku.

“So,” her eyes sparkled, “what’s in the other box?”
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Old 09-20-2017, 12:47 PM   #197
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Raeth's face lit up. "I'll go get it." Naked and giddy, he sprung to his feet and retrieved the second box. It acted as though he was the one getting a present. Smiling ear-to-ear, he handed the second, smaller box to her.

"It isn't likely to save your life, but I bet you'll like it, anyway."

Inside the rectangular gift box, Saudaji would find a smooth, cylindrical object. It was at least half a foot long, slender, and made of a shiny metal. She could see distorted reflections on the object's polished surface.

The thin cylinder had a handle that she would recognize immediately: it was the hilt of a vibroblade.

"Turn it on," Raeth urged. If Saudaji flipped the switch located where she knew most vibroblades had them, the metal cylinder would vibrate imperceptibly. A soft, almost inaudible hum could be heard as long as both of them were silent for a few moments. If anything, she could feel it hum in her hand.

Saudaji would have no trouble recognizing what the gift was: it was a custom-built vibrator. Raeth had removed the blade from a vibroblade and replaced it with a metal dildo.

"I turned down the motor so that it won't vibrate quite so fast. I wouldn't want you to get hurt while playing with it, after all," he said, a hint of laughter in his eyes. "I can replace the shaft with something longer or thicker, if you want. I decided to start with something modest, see if you liked it before I went crazy.
But say the word, and I can make you something with more 'Raeth-like' dimensions." His smile broadened. She could tell he was having a hard time keeping himself from cackling.

"What do you say, Cyare? Shall we give it a test run?"

If Saudaji said 'yes', Raeth would take her by the hand, help her to her feet, and together they'd run to his bedroom or hers to give her new vibrator a whirl. Their discarded clothing was left in the cargo hold for Sebastian to clean up, as usual.

*****

The voyage to the Bright Jewel system was much more pleasant than it had a right to be, considering their situation. Despite being in hot water with their employers, Raeth and Saudaji more or less behaved as though things were a-okay.

When they had the energy - which was often - they made love, which usually resulted in a mess that Sebastian-v2 was responsible for cleaning. The two of them took turns using Saudaji's newest gift on each other. They had so much fun with the toy and with each other, they burned through maybe half of their lube supply in only a couple of days.

"When we're at the station, see if you can find that berry-flavored lube that Saudaji likes," Raeth instructed Sebastian one evening. "And this time, buy five bottles. We've been using it up faster than a black hole sucks in light, if you catch my meaning." He actually jabbed the droid's side with his elbow a couple of times, as though they were a couple of buddies exchanging lewd jokes.

Sebastian was having none of it. "Duly noted, Master." It stomped away so it could do something other than listen to its owner, who was somehow more insufferable when he was a good mood.

Other than sex, their favorite physical activity was combat training. Raeth wouldn't admit it, but he was a little annoyed by how much better at martial arts and marksmanship Saudaji was. He was beginning to accept that he likely would never be as deadly as her in hand-to-hand. She was so talented, he sometimes wondered if she was somehow assisted by the Force.

What he had a more difficult time accepting was the skill gap with blasters. He'd always fancied himself an expert marksman. But during accuracy drills, she outperformed him maybe 8 times out of 10. He wasn't entirely convinced that she let him win the other 2 times to spare his feelings.

So for several hours each day, the pair would spar or take turns shooting at target droids. During their sparring sessions, Saudaji would regularly knock Raeth to the ground or got in solid hits that left him dazed on his feet. He was getting better, but not quickly enough in his estimation, which left him grumpy after most sessions. But it would only take a kiss or a tender touch from his beloved to make him forget about his new bruises or his bruised ego. He needed only a little loving from her to make everything feel right.

At night, they enjoyed big dinners prepared by Sebastian. Even though Raeth usually did little more than season the meats and prepare the dining table, he always took credit for the meals. Sure, Sebastian did most of the cooking, but Raeth was the one who programmed it. Why shouldn't he take the credit for that?

While Sebastian was responsible for their dinners and relatively light lunches, Saudaji was typically the one who prepared breakfast. Raeth loved entering the kitchen in the morning to find Saudaji wearing nothing but a t-shirt and panties or short shorts, something he insisted that she do whenever she could. He rapidly discovered that he loved watching her do anything, really. Well, except for beating the shit out of him during training, or yelling at him. The rest he enjoyed.

Speaking of short shorts, Raeth occasionally reminded her - or begged her - to wear her Lula-Lee costume around the ship.

On the last night before they arrived in the Bright Jewel system, the pair were in bed, watching a concert on the big screen built into a wall of Raeth's bedroom.
Raeth found out that the Vrelt Pack - the musicians that Saudaji befriended when she was undercover as the singer, Dian'La - were part of a jazz concert broadcast on the holonet. So for much of that evening, they cuddled in bed, ate from the same bowl of popcorn, and watched the Vrelt Pack and other bands perform from a different part of the galaxy.

Raeth was mostly quiet while they watched. He wasn't into music as much as Saudaji was, but he enjoyed it when she was happy. Now and then, he'd take his eyes off the screen, turn to her, see the contentment on her face or in her eyes, and smile. The rest of the time he lay there, mostly motionless and quiet, with his head gently pressed against hers.

The next day, they would arrive at Sator Station and get back to work. For now, they relaxed and reveled in each other's company.
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Old 09-21-2017, 10:09 PM   #198
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What Raeth would quickly come to learn was that Saudaji possessed a particular affinity for tying him up - and the vibroblade vibrator would be solely to blame for that discovery. The moment he’d be open to her using it on him, a look crossed her face that he’d never seen before.

It was a mix of sheer deviltry, joy, and plotting.

Saudaji was, for the most part, a simple woman. Good food, good music, good booze, great sex - that’s all it took for her to be happy, when she wasn’t “on the clock.” However, her imagination when it came to the bedroom, Raeth would be pleased to discover, knew no bounds. Of course, no matter what she tried, well before she did it, she’d talk him through it, as patient as teacher of younglings. Safe words, boundaries - all of it. But once the discussion was over, Raeth would typically find himself bound to the bed in varying degrees of intricacy (the Twi’lek had an uncanny skill for rope work), but most often in her favorites for him - simple leather wrist and ankle cuffs. When he was under her control, he found himself awash in a delicious combination of pleasure and pain, sweetness and iron control.

Once their first “session” was done and his cum was cooling across her stomach and his chest, she’d cuddled up next to him, nearly purring in contentment. Come to find out, Saudaji could be quite the cuddler - the more intense the fucking, the more cuddly she got. And it wasn’t just “cuddly” - she got downright over the top demonstrative; touchy-feely. Resting her chin on the top of his head, wrapping her arms around his waist, playfully blowing in his ear before kissing his earlobe.

When she’d felt comfortable enough with the new toy, she indeed suggested a few modifications - allowing for hands free fun, something she clearly took immense, thigh-shakingly, pussy dampening pleasure in. And dress up? That, she was actually quite fond of. Now, without their lives on the line, she enjoyed playing the role. As for him? Well, at some point, she figured, they could get him an officer’s uniform for an interrogation scene…

When the haze of lust cleared, she was the one that insisted on the training. She still figured that he might be a bit too “new” to be held to the schedule she typically had for herself (which had been hopelessly disrupted since she moved in with him), she started small. How to throw a punch that had twice the power and used less the effort. Effective blocking. Grappling, then throws. But even before that, much to his surprise, she’d taught him the best lesson she ever learned:

“Gotta know when to run away, and when to fight,” she said, tapping the tip of her nose with a sly grin. It was probably a distinctly unwarrior thing to say, what, with the reputation of Mandalorians, but she grinned wider at his incredulous expression. “Some things are worth dying for. Other things, you have to buy yourself some time. If you start a fight and then run, then you’re a hut’uun,” she spat, with no small amount of disgust. “But not everyone plays fair. So you gotta learn how to deal with those odds. In a hand to hand fight, I can only take five to six guys. Maybe seven, if one’s small.” She added the last part with a chuckle. “I don’t want to find out what I can’t handle.”

However, as they trained, she realized that she was giving more than his body a bruising. And while her upbringing didn’t exactly do “praise” well, she made sure to stop whenever he’d done something well, and compliment on him. Constantly remind him that he may not have been as physically adept as her, but, to be fair, this was all she’d ever done. And, since they were both sharing, she’d often revisit how she was daunted by his intelligence. After a few drinks, she’d be more forthcoming - “You make me feel like a complete di'kut,” she’d lament. Even after all of this time, with his confession, the initial barbs hadn’t gotten any softer. “Like some big muscle bound or’dinii.” That, honestly, she wasn’t used to. She was crafty enough - couldn’t be an idiot and stay alive in this line of work- but Raeth was on a completely different level. And with that natural arrogance of his, the way those green eyes of his sparkled when he thought he had the upper hand, and that posh accent…

She’d usually end up forgetting her train of thought in the process of tackling him for a make out session, which usually ended up with them fucking each other senseless.

But, alas, all good things must come to an end, and no matter how much they loved each other, or found out how flexible they were, it didn’t change the fact that they were in hot water. In a quiet moment between the two of them, her eyes looking past the white streaks of hyperspace, her face would go pensive, her mouth firming in its downward curve. Failure wasn’t something she was familiar with. Excuses, even less so. She realized, with some surprise, that she was putting an obscene amount of faith in Raeth and his assumptions. It was in her nature to come up with a plan B whenever possible, but realistically, that had fallen by the wayside as well. And rather than spend the time beating herself up for once again proving herself to be a lust-addled idiot, she resolved that she could only do what was within her own power. Anything past that, well, that was a gamble as it was.

However - she did actually bring it up. Just once. “But what if you’re wrong about this?” Her voice was soft, chastened. There was no accusations there, just a quiet probe to see what he had on his mind. “We could die, you know,” the latter statement was added with some levity, as she leaned over and kissed his forehead. “I’m taking you with me if I go down,” and she wrapped her arms tighter around him. Of course, she was lying. She’d take whatever they threw at the two of them, take everything, if it meant keeping him alive.
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Old 09-22-2017, 03:14 PM   #199
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Bondage was something that Raeth had tried only a few times in the past. He experimented with it more out of curiosity rather than arousal, because it was never a kink he felt strongly about.

That changed once Saudaji got involved. Once again, she made him feel as though a whole new world of erotic bliss had been opened up for him. When she bound him to a bed or to a wall and subjected him to her wicked creativity, his normally hyperactive mind went completely blank, all thought washed away in a tsunami of pleasure.

The first time Saudaji restrained him and had her way with him - using her lovely body as well as the new toy that was originally built with her in mind - Raeth was rendered speechless. Gasping for air, covered in sweat that glistened off his lean, toned form, and sticky from the cum that splashed on his chest, he trembled while she wrapped herself around him for after-sex snuggling. He loved how she snuggled with him at least as much as the fucking, because now she did both with such intensity.

He shivered some more when she blew into his ear. When he got his voice back, he croaked out a request. "Please show me more."

Thus, under the tutelage of his jade mistress, Raeth learned to explore a kink he had mostly ignored for all this time. Ever the apt pupil, he absorbed what she had to say about limits, safe words, and patience.

And, of course, he had to take his turn binding her up, too, to begin practicing what she taught him. It didn't take long to make some modifications to the cargo hold to begin turning it into a sex dungeon. There, he used leather cuffs connected to chains to secure her arms over her head and her feet to the floor, leaving her as a living, naked 'X' in the middle of the hold. Then he was all over her.

Raeth ate Saudaji's pussy from below and behind while using the tip of the vibrator to stimulate her clit, or the shaft to stimulate her malachite labia. He tongued her crack and her asshole while he fucked her with the slender, silver rod. And when he entered her to pump her from behind, he used the humming dildo - now sticky with her juices - to tease her nipples.

Finally, he inserted himself into her ass. Before he did, he discarded the vibrator, for now, so he could touch her with his bare hands. Her body felt too good to let the vibrator have all the fun. He emptied himself into her asshole as he tugged and tweaked both of her tits.

Once they were both spent, he untied her. Together, they staggered to the closest bedroom, where they cuddled the exchanged butterfly kisses. Those fluttery kisses lead to them making out with a fatigued sort of loving. And finally they fell asleep, wrapped up around each other.

*****

The next night, after they finished watching the holonet concert, they went to the kitchen for one last snack before bed. Raeth popped open a couple of beers, handed one to her, then took a seat beside her. Saudaji was quiet, he noticed. At first, he thought she just wanted to hold hands and drink in comfortable silence, which would've been fine by him. But when he saw the frown on her beautiful face, he suspected she must've been thinking about their predicament.

The question she asked him confirmed where her train of thought was headed. Raeth took a sip of his beer, set the bottle down, then lifted her free hand up to his lips for a loving kiss.

He laughed when she joked about their deaths. His eyelids closed, for a moment, and he sighed when she kissed him on the forehead. Then he sat up, meeting her gaze with his. "Oh, come now. We've survivors. If this turns out to be a wild worrmp chase, then we'll run. Someone very wise recently taught me that you gotta know when to fight and when to run away. If we don't find anything, we'll definitely be in a 'run like hell' scenario."

Mimicking what she did to him moments before, he pressed a tender kiss to her forehead. "I really should thank my teacher next time I see her. I owe her a lot." Another kiss followed, this one to her lips.

He drew back, despite how badly he wanted the kiss to linger. His expression was serious. "I'm not kidding about running. If things go south, we'll have to.

"It wouldn't be bad as long as we're together, right?" The smile that was never far away returned to his face. "Frankly, I think the idea is rather appealing. Imagine: you and me, soaring through the furthest reaches of he galaxy. Hopping from one unknown world to another, never staying in one sector for too long. We'd go places where no one could find us.

"As long as you're with me, I could go anywhere." Saudaji could tell that this was one of the sincerest things Raeth had ever said to her.
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Old 09-24-2017, 03:36 AM   #200
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The funny thing about mortality was that while it was always on her mind, it was never what one would call actually “present.” On a purely technical front, her affairs were in order - the funds she squirreled away through several untraceable channels (things that would appear to go somewhere, then loop back in and out of themselves in a hellish Mobius strip) would go straight to Saboten and to the rest of her family on Mandalore.

Sometimes, when she had a quiet moment (usually when Raeth was beside her sleeping), she would fold her arms behind her head and stare into the darkness. Not that it was ever entirely pitch black on the ship - but enough so that there was a difference between “night” and “day” - something integral to keeping humanoid bodies functioning properly. In those moments, memories fluttered through her head. How she got a particular scar. The taste of her adopted mother’s cooking. The smell of her birth mother’s perfume and the deep dark scent of Mandalore, rich earth and blood. Slipping between the spaces in memories came conscious thoughts - something resembling regrets, second guessing. Had she made the right choice when she took this job? Jobs before, she could come and go as she pleased; work at her own pace, handle things as she saw fit.

When she thought critically about it, she couldn’t remember why she’d honestly taken this job. No; that was a lie. She knew precisely why. Anything to kill jetiise - but to understand that impulse took a little deeper looking. These moments were gradually wiping dust away, tiptoeing closer to that reason. With the recent turn of events, the sedate pace stepped up - she had to know why she’d wanted to kill jetiise, to the point that her own life was forfeit. As much as she had thought about death before, it’d never come at the end of a futile quest. In her sunniest imaginings, it was back home, of old age, surrounded by friends and relatives, what could have been her own children, a fantasy made all the sweeter by how fantastic it actually was.

It was with a rueful smile that she’d finally come to the conclusion (again, she thought, with a wry twist of her lips), that she still nursed the grudge of the loss of Mahoroba. What made it all the more ironic was that she’d come to the conclusion, after her time with Raeth, that she never actually loved Mahoroba - more of what she thought he was, what he could have been, that bit of “normalcy” that her life could have been. However - as much as this could have been leading to an inglorious death, taking the job had lead her to Raeth. That, she’d eventually come to the conclusion, would be worth the indignity of a death due to a “failed job.”

All of this gently rose to the surface of her mind as he spoke now. She could only chuckle warmly as he talked about roaming the galaxy - a dream, waiting to be blown away with a whisper. As beautiful as it was, it wasn’t something that she could allow herself to believe in.

“…I would rather die,” she bluntly said. “I don’t want to spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder. What life would it honestly be, Raeth? There is no hiding from their kind - only potentially distracting until some other fancy catches their mind. I would rather live a short, happy life with you than a long one, never having the chance to enjoy each other.” She took his hand in hers, kissed the back of his knuckles. Then she sighed, her breath hot. “I’ve imagined death so many times that I might as well be living with her attached to my side. However….I can also say that I never imagined dying like this. Seems…like a let down,” she shrugged nonchalantly. “So I’m going to take that as a sign that you’re on to something,” she tapped his temple.
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