[+red[center[Orbitron "Look, you either take it or leave it, I ain't giving this stuff away for free, y'know?"]]]
The redhead piped up, a few bangles and necklaces jingling and jangling as she moved as if trying to accentuate her point. She checked over her nails and eyed the rather rude would-be customer who was inspecting her wares. He grumbled about it barely being worth anything and she rolled her eyes, shooing him off, accompanied with her own mutter about not letting the sand get in his eyes on the way out of the dusty tent that offered little shade from the suns above.
It was busy today but it often meant chasing off any riff raff and chancers. Beggars couldn't be choosers but she wasn't about to sell her wares for nothing. She took her seat, a tattered looking sleeping area was tucked at the very back corner beside the stone walls. It wasn't uncommon for street rats to live where they made their money and she did just that. There were holes in the linen that made the stall area and she had been meaning to patch them up but that cost money and she was more focused on feeding herself right then. Her eyes turned back to the metal scraps she was bending and pushing to make a sort of necklace by the looks of it. No one ever wanted the tiny parts of scrap around here so she fashioned them into little keepsakes and trinkets. The locals never seemed interested but the passers through, those coming to learn to pilot on this planet and those stopping over for whatever reason.
Corellia was a somewhat busy planet. It was a centerfield for building ships and if you could do that, you were set but Rika was never really good for that sort of thing. She did want to get off this planet however, see more of the world than her dusty little corner of the marketplace she called home. Life was tough, that was just how it was and no amount of crying or sniffling would assist in that. There were stirrings, she could feel them, she didn't know how or why she felt them but it was the impending feeling that something bad was going to happen, like the breeze before a storm hit.
The woman pulled up her hood, it did wonders in keeping some of the sun off of her for the most part. There were a few jars of water propped up net to her, one for using on her metal works and the other for drinking and sipping at now and then. The more spare change she made, the better she ate and she was a dab hand at fixing things up, slotting metal together and her fingers bore scorch marks and small nicks from her craft now and then. Necessary things.
She didn't look up when she noticed a shadow of someone else looking over her wares.
[+red[center[Orbitron "Small ones are cheaper, the necklaces cost a bit more. If you're looking for the master of the port, he'll be back by sundown."]]]
She took a moment to fix her sleeves and fixed in a little screw to some metal, twisting the thinnest parts to make an almost featherlike affect to the dainty piece she was making, a proper ladylike sort of thing. One day these things would catch on as a fashion trend, she told herself.
[Lora His boots were covered in muck as his jacket was painted a dulled color with the ever graying sky. Without words the helmeted man looked over the vendor’s wares curiously. They were well made, the sorts of things he found less and less of as the empire worked it’s magic on the old and the weak. Though this one was nothing of the sort. Young, pale skinned with hair more vibrant than any of the colors displayed on the tattered markets here in the southern slums. Above imperial fighters came screaming past filling the usual mechanic drone with a reverberating screech.
There was a peculiar piece she had on sale that caught his eye. And as her almost luminescent eyes poured over the man whose face was completely obscured by his chrome helmet that reflected the gray hues of the rest of the market street. There was something off about the amulet farthest to the left, he felt a peculiar feeling about it as if there was something else to it more than the complex working that went into it. His voice came as a tired raven, harshed by dryness and years of addiction to imperial products.
[center [+green “Where’d you find this rock…?”]]
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/kO4EUEP.png?1]]
Before she could so much as give an answer a noise caught his eye, with a glance he caught a glimpse of someone having been knocked over as a familiar face peered back at him with a scared look. A green skinned alien that really wished it hadn’t come to the market today burst through the crowd as it caught sights on Lazarus. And likewise it should have, as lazarus bolted after him. An infernal seething rage coursed through him as he pulled the blaster pistol from the holster on his hip chasing after the man as he burst into Moriarti’s Cantina. As he looked through the surprised crowd trying to catch any hint as to where the cheapskate fiend went he hadn’t even noticed that he’d forgotten to pay for the amulet that now hung from the tightened palm around the handle of his blaster.
She didn't look up until a voice that seemed as dry as the sand asked about a stone. She had many stones that were polished up and enshrined in metalwork. Heterochromatic eyes surveyed him for a moment. Her face was shaded by the hood and she looked to the stone. She searched her memory for a little while,
[center[+red[Orbitron "Mountains out easy. Why, you buying?"]]]
She asked as she set her tooks down and Rika just raised an eyebrow at him although she had lost all attention of the strange figure. He wasn't a local, she didn't think she had seen him before and she gestured to the amulet in his hand with a smirk. He liked it, or so she thought and she was sure she could get a pretty price from him. Before she got the opportunity though, he was off and she scowled, looking to the stall next to her where a small blue man with wisps of hair was catering to his customers.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Igni! Watch the stall! That filthy rat just took my amulet!"]]]
She was on her feet and chasing after him, barely noticing the blaster pistol that was now on show. She ducked under the crowd that were getting out of the way and into the Cantina. She didn't waste anytime, stumbling in behind him and dealing him a hard thwack on the back of his helmet.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Hey! You didn't pay for that you lousy Street Rat! Give it back or pay up!"]]]
Rika demanded not much caring if she was starting a fuss or making a scene. She didn't let people just take from her and it was a nasty move given this place was already a damned wasteland! She glared at him, shorter than him but whatever she lacked in height she made up for in stupidity given she was standing in front of a masked man with a blaster pistol,one hand on hip, the other had her palm upturned expectantly. She didn't much care what business he had to deal with, he wasn't stealing from her.
The bar had gone quiet and she didn't seem to notice as the redhead glared at him. Absolutely not and after a heartbeat she realised that she had indeed made a scene and it wasn't as though any sort of authority was going to believe a little dusty merchant over someone who could spend money.
[Lora A door in the back was left swinging as the cretin slipped away. Those in the Cantina continued on as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Or atleast they were until he felt a tingle up the back of his neck followed by a thud as he whipped around and instinctively shot his blaster into the archway to the entrence. His first thought was one of Jek’s goons came to his aid as the rat slipped away into the alleyways behind the cantina. As the music came to a stop he came to realize just who dared come to do something so horribly stupid given that his helmet bared the empires sigil. And as much was apparent immediately to some of his fellow imperials who simply sat off duty at one of the tables. The redheaded merchant girl from before confused him as the amulet hung from his blaster, Ah… Of course.
[center [+grey “This one bothering you Lazarus?”]]
A familiar voice called out as he turned to see a shit eating grin peering at the girl as she immediately became surrounded by the previously relaxing off duty troopers. Guys from the port he’d known yet didn’t quite consider as friends.
[center [+blue “You know what happens to those who disrespect the empire?”]]
[right [+grey “I’d call it assault. On one of milord’s men no doubt.”]]
They swarmed her with intent to get their rocks off as usual, Looking back at the door Jek the Rat had escaped through he peered back at the woman and his eyes narrowed. It was her fault the rat escaped. And while he’d normally have left the bunch to have their fun, Jek had made a fool of him for the last time.
[center [+green “No, I’ve got my own plans for her.”]]
[right [+grey “Aww, come on Lazzy. Got the hots for this one or somethin? We need our fill you know. And look at how she left a smudge on your brilliant helmet, thats gotta be worth some consequence yeah!?”]]
[center [+green “I said i’ve got my own plans. Back off sargent.”]]
He holstered his gun. The amulet still unpaid for but he’d tend to that later simple taking it and draping it around his neck.
[center [+green “ Sargent, you have any idea where those alleys come out?”]]
[center [+grey “You got me Lazzy, just like you first time on this dump like the rest of us.”]]
[center [+green “Though… You know don’t you.”]]
If she didn’t understand her position the men with blasters in their hands made it apparent as Lazarus gestured towards the door. The smoke filled cantina gave way to tightened ally corridors. The smell of fish sat stale through the air and even through his filtered mask he couldn’t escape the stench. To be done with his business for his lord and to make his way off this rotten heap was his goal before anything else.
[center [+green “Where would a runner go in this heap of rust?”]]
His voice authoritative along with the intimidation of his stance, and like a smart girl, she perked up into her situation. He wasn’t in the business of awaying people like many of his co-workers. But this was a matter of pride, and he wouldn’t let it fall on him that his lords debts werent paid. Jek was to be found. And this woman for all of her spiteful looks and indignation, would be assisting him like a good imperial citizen.
And there she was in trouble again. Rika knew these streets and she glanced around, mind ticking over to try and find an easy escape. Being in trouble with the Empire was not where anyone wanted to be. Her eyes darted around wildly and she realised she was outnumbered and outmatched. She glanced to the amulet on his blaster and clenched her jaw. She'd sooner die than let these Empire following leeches have anything of hers. The man had the gall to out the amulet round his neck as his little cronies whined and begged like a pack of hyenas. She had seen more attractive womp rats in the swamps as a child than those creatures.
He addressed her and she folded her arms. He wanted to know where the alleys went and where someone trying to hide would go. She weighed up her options for a second, she could pretend she had no idea, that she didn't know where his little friend would go but she was a local urchin, if he didn't get what he wanted then his friends sure would. She rolled her eyes and sighed out, moving away from the cluster and eyeing the alleyways.
[center[+red[Orbitron "I know a few places. I suppose you want me to leas you there so you can take some other soul to 'justice'."]]]
Rika remarked and figured her hands were tied. She didn't want to end up a prisoner or slave, or worse. She huffed some and eyed the amulet, typical Empire just coming through and taking what they wanted without any thought for anyone else. Still, better alive than dead.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Alright, fine. But you let me go after and pay me fair for that amulet."]]]
She attempted but figured that was a pointless endeavour but at least she could say she tried having a backbone. It wasn't above the Empire to set out examples and Rika didn't want to be one of them. She eyed the alleyways and sighed out softly, fine, fine. Better to get it over with and she would be lynched in the streets for helping the Empire, she wanted of this stinking planet but she'd prefer not to die on it.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Fine, follow me. I'll take you to a local hangout. You might wanna switch up your look though, news travels fast in this place when the stand up troops are wandering around. Spooks the locals."]]]
She remarked and gestured, slowly inching away from the group with her hands up. She was unarmed, hardly a threat but it wasn't exactly a safety net and any of these guys could easily lose their temper and change their minds. Rika inched closer to the door Lazarus seemed intent on and she didn't move quickly, if these guys thought she was doing a runner she'd be in even more trouble.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora][Lora She was smart, well. Smarter than her brazen decision to strike him over the amulet. And while there was a voice in him that thought about teaching her a lesson for her mistake. He suppressed it, a bigger voice in his mind telling him that it wasn’t him any longer. That pinning her to a wall and showing his dominance was the way that would lead him even deeper into his hatred. Making his problems all the more apparent. No, He couldn’t embrace that side of himself any longer. It was those very thoughts that put him in this position to begin with.
A tightened corridor led to an even tighter squeeze through boxes forcing both of them to shimmy through. Climbing over piping and tungsten plating to get to an opening again. The groaning of metal and robotic moaning of deconstruction ships and warning sirens made even these tight alleys a loud place. Fog blew up into the thigh corridor from the pipes and it wasn’t long before they came to a simple panel door. Refuse and litter covered this place making the entire thing unseemly. Such a cruddy place.
[center [+green “your not free to go just yet. I have to tend to some business, then I’ll need your help with one more thing.”]]
The door was locked leading into the seedy rat den, Naturally he wouldn’t have the code to such a thing. And by the looks of her neither did she. Nomatter. After having her try the door he simply pulled a datapad from his belt and plugged it into the console. That dirty rat Jek was inside, he could feel it now. There was an enraging calm about the area beyond the door. That spelled to him that he had the element of surprise.
[center [+green “Stay close to me, I don't need you losing your head.”]]
With a robotic confirming noise he ran the hacking program that ran a computer spike through the console’s locks. The door opened like a charm and just like that they were inside. This place was more opulent than he gave it credit for on the inside. Music became apparent and the closer they got the more it seemed that there was a revelrous party going on inside. Through a few more doors and closed side rooms where the muffled sounds of moaning all but distracted him. He only slowed as they opened out into a main room that was littered with people. Dancers. Smoke. Music. And above all else. A Hutt. One he didn’t know the name of here on Coralia. How quant.
[+red[center[Orbitron "Look, I brought you here... Can't you just- Let me go?"]]]
Rika huffed some but figured trying to run would only end her in some deeper mud she didn't want to be in and she folded her arms when they reached the place. She hated these places, detested them actually. The streets were bad enough but this was where the lowest of the low came to engage in carnal acts and all the sin the planet could offer. She wrinkled her nose and eyed the door as it opened. A trooper with a knack for breaking in, strange.
Lazarus mentioned the rat and she eyed the establishment. Now, Rika was fortunate she didn't really owe anyone money but that wasn't to say these people wouldn't want a pound of flesh, just because. She glanced to Lazarus.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Hey, guy, just so you know, there's one of you and these places don't tend to take to outsiders."]]]
It wasn't like he was very blended in either given his outfit and she shifted uncomfortably. She was going to be branded a snitch, caught red-handed helping the Empire and she knew she was a dead woman walking after this, she would have to mooch off underground somewhere until the heat died down on her. The singer on the stage stopped, grinning over as the band died down too, a few heads turning.
Rika stopped where she was and looked towards the Hutt, dread filling her. Okay, so maybe she did owe a little to that particular Hutt and by and large, all of them but she gave an innocent smile. If this Lazarus wasn't a member of the Empire she would have tackled him for bringing her into this place. Then again, she hadn't expected Neya the Hutt to be here. Bad luck.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Neya! Oh, aren't you looking grand these days! Much more handsome than your brothers and sisters."]]]
Rika tried but as always the Hutt didn't betray a sense of humour. There was a few women of different races around him where he sat like the King of the castle and Rika eyed Lazarus with a 'thanks for this' look. He had to go and drag her into this and she huffed out. Now she was in trouble.
[+blue[Orbitron[center[b "Neya is asking where his money is, Rika. He has been very patient and waited long enough."]]]]
Rika glanced to the woman who translated and just swallowed slightly. She was in trouble now and it was this idiots fault.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Neya, you know I'm good for it. I'm paying it off!"]]]
She said with an elaborate smile and took a step back, unintentionally closer to Lazarus because he had a blaster, she didn't.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora][Lora Oh, great. She had a debt did she? Not too much unlike Jek who now had noticed the two in the center as the hutt’s servant gave them some unwanted attention. As she backed up towards him he shot a glance at Jek who now was backing tensely into his seat. The hutt wanted her money, and as they continued their back and forth he strutted towards Jek, the big alien bouncers looking at him waiting for a command from Neya to make a move on the Armed imperial. While he had no intentions of solving his little crafter’s problem, as it wasn’t his own. He wasn’t going to let his little job take up more brother than it needed. Talking was required. And the redhead had no ground to stand on. A mouse in a cat’s den.
[center [+green “Pay me no mind.”]]
[center [+red [b [size20 “And there is an imperial here in my club. Hunting down one of my favored men. On what grounds?”]]]] [center [+red [b [size10 “Um ya sa an d'emperiolo unko noleeya myo clou. Huntino dowet wompa of myo faol. O choy?”]]]]
[center [+green “On the grounds of Darth Kadious. That’s who. This one here, Various Jek. He took out a deal in credits with some people he shouldn’t have. Now he’s gone and forgotten to pay up. You don’t want Kadious down here himself do you?”]]
The hutt paused. A growing tension in the room stood for what seemed like an eternity before the hutt broke out in a booming chuckle. Simply laughing in a great boastful manor waving her hand away. As she did jek’s nervousness fell down to an assurant calm. Behind Lazarus’s helmet his eyes narrowed. Fools... A blaster was drawn from Jek himself and just as fast Lazarus’s left handed blaster shot Jek dead in his chair. The Gammorians in the back rhiled up lunging towards him and just as some of the others around the bar pulled their weapons a red hue poured out from the helmeted man in the center.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/14dQpUJ.jpg?1]]
A gammorian Arm came flying through the air only to be lopped off all in one go. A screaming noise came fizzling out of the brightened blade held in his right arm. Another Gammorian came lunging at him only to be sliced in the stomach and a blaster shot coming for the redhead was deflected back to it’s point of origin before the sound of a thudding body was left in it’s wake.
In a matter of moments three bodies lay on the club floor and the hutt simply watched defiantly yet with a smile on her face.
[center [+red [b [size20 “Ah, well. Jek always was a pain. Consider your debt paid, as i see no reason to waste any more good men dear sith. Good show. Haha”]]]] [center [+red [b [size10 “Ao vah,. Jekys was do paino. Ka tinka do debtyee moolee-rah, as mee stuka noah reasono tah wasit kickee mo golo ven dear sith. Goth shoow. Haha “]]]]]
Reaching into his jacket he pulled a clutch of imperial credits from his jacket.
[center [+green “There’s a thousand credits there Neyo. Consider it payment for letting me settle a debt in blood. And for the Redhead as well.”]]
Looking over to the girl he sheathed the red blade clipping it to his belt before holding a hand out to her. His business was done here.
Everything went to Hell pretty quickly, Rika's smooth talking couldn't quite get her out of trouble but thankfully, Lazarus' business took centre stage and she could have snuck out the back but as it happened, Jek was shot dead in a split second and a Gammorian guard strutted up only to have his arm lopped off. That caught Rika's attention, the death and disaster not so much but the lightsaber Lazarus wielded like it was nothing and she drew back from him slightly. She knew about sabers, everyone told stories about them and the Jedi and the Empire.
Rika wanted to ask but Neya was talking and she frowned a little when Lazarus handed over one thousand credits as though it was chump change and paid her debt. Why? Being in debt to the Hutts was bad enough news, being in debt to a trooper? Even worse. She set her mismatched eyes on him, questioningly but Neya seemed happy, waving them off with a stubby arm and Rika didn't need told twice to leave when the going was good and she stepped outside, not before thanking Neya profusely.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Thank you, your great Huttness, enjoy the rest of your evening!"]]]
She drew herself up and turned about to face him.
[center[+red[Orbitron "What was that? You're a force user, the sword, I've heard stories."]]]
She would even bet she had seen a few, barely a handful of Jedi's making their way through the market now and then but she wasn't to tell this guy that, she planned on keeping some semblance of secrecy.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Also I can't pay that money back all in one, just so you know. Dust bowl planet, I was in dire straits when I took the loan, paid most of it back."]]]
Rika eyed the saber again, it was extinguished and she smiled a little. Better to keep her knowledge as secret as possible, she wasn't born on this planet and she hadn't been a street rat her entire life. She had trained as a Padawan when she was younger, but the growing issues with the Empire and attacks from troopers had forced her master into a fight he had never came back from and her into hiding, just like so many others to keep them safe until the Jedi Council could establish a safe way to convene. Right then, it was too dangerous and her eyes glittered.
[center[+red[Orbitron "You can keep the amulet, call it the debt settled on one condition."]]]
She remarked to him, fixing her clothes and dusting herself off, thinking about her request. Her teachings had lain dormant for so long she wasn't even sure she could speak with the Force anymore, so she knew her mind was safe around him purely because she didn't know half the time how she was surviving day to day.
[center[+red[Orbitron "You take me and Effy off this planet, you can drop us off anywhere green."]]]
Rika remarked to him, she didn't have any leverage to bargain him with and she gestured she would lead him back to the marketplace by the safest routes because his little show back there as a lone trooper might garner a few hopeful attempts on him. She waved to the green skinned man who had been watching her stall and picked her way behind some of the cloths, a whirring and chirping sound greeting her.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Hello, Effy. WHere are the rest of those stones?"]]]
Lazarus had seemed interested in them earlier and she had a couple more she hadn't set in jewellery yet.
Effy whirred and beeped, scuttling about to place it's little red scanner on a pile of chipped metal and rock, Rika dug through and the little thing moved on up and attached to her back, using one of the straps as it booped and beeped at Lazarus warily. Rika gestured to the rocks, shrugging slightly.
[center[+red[Orbitron "I find them all the time, good seller. I seem to be the only one that finds them around here. Guess I'm lucky."]]]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora][Lora With his business done he stood rather baffled for a moment, standing silent and unresponsive to her questioning. Unwanted to remain here he started treading out of the back entrance with her at his back. Beneath his mask a small nearly inaudible hushed murmur slipped his lips.
[center [+green [I “Kadious… Evoked, again like a fool.”]]]
There was a silent frustration in his voice as they broke back out into the streets one more score settled for lord Kadious. Now there was this incessant yammering from the blue bird beside him. Worried about her lack of money and like all the others fearful of what he had in store. He would have told her off sooner but there was indeed something he wanted answers for. The rock he had around his neck held a strange aura about it. He could feel it as if it had its own reactions with the force. He needed to find out its origins as such a thing usually led to more answers. Answers are what he needed more than anything else. And as luck would have it she seemed to be more malleable now that she recognized him as a sith than before. Maybe she was afraid, maybe she was curious.
[center [+green “I didn’t pay off your debt. I hired you.”]]
He watched the droid interact with her only to find some sort of commodore between the two. She treated it like a companion which caused him to stare at the thing for a long while. He was used to Astromech droids from his time in space but these ground variants of protocol or rohdent droids always caught his attention. For a moment it reminded him of the one that he saw every day in his training. His thoughts swirling of how he consciously would talk to the thing in his head as he passed it every day as a boy. Then, as a red haze his hatred flowed. How he’d been robbed, how he saw the thing shot to pieces over a bit of target practice. How he’d been forced to participate, and how he never worked with another droid again. It served as another reason for the rage to seethe. And so it did. Quickly causing him to pull away from the girl and begin walking through towards the Starport north where she alluded to the rocks having been found.
At first she was confused but it wasn’t long as she came back out of her stall before she seemed to be smarter about her situation and used it as a platform to make her own demands. Clever girl.
[center [+green “I want to find the place that those rocks come from. Do that, and I can have you employed under the empire. I have 2 days left on this pit stop before the ship takes off.”]]
He stopped coming to a crossroads as a mass of troops marched through the center of town clad in helmets likewise to his save for their colors being dark and black they bore the same red imperial Sigil on their helmet as the one on his.
[center [+green “I haven't found one like you yet. But you seemed to stand up to Neya just fine, despite knowing we were going in there. Either your incredibly oblivious, or incredibly brave. Do you have a name?”]]
Rika paused for only a moment, hired? She didn't want to work for the Empire, something deeper within her unsettled at the thought and she glanced to him. She tilted her head but said nothing, disagreeing would only land her in trouble and she masked her regret over as best she could as Effy chirped doubtfully and she hushed him before eyeing the rocks. She wasn't sure why the Empire would be so bothered by a bunch of rocks but she knew where they came from and she nodded.
If it got her off this planet, then she would take it. She could always sneak off first chance she got.
[center[+red[Orbitron "I can show you, tomorrow though, it isn't safe to go wandering the desert at night. It's a half a day walking though."]]]
She warned him as she eyed him over. She doubted Troopers of his stature were used to walking and ambling around but if he wanted to know about the flimsy rocks then she would show him. Effy scuttled under her layers when the Empire made a show of arriving in their marching coalition. She watched them, jaw slightly clenched at the sight and she didn't look at Lazarus.
She revealed her name, there wasn't much he could do with a name after all and she supposed he had technically helped her with the other Troopers. It wasn't kindness though, was it? Troopers and members of the Empire lacked kindness, they were basically machines. The Empire was hateful, she knew that. She had been taught that and her mind went back to training with her Master. He had been a respectful man, she had been a rebellious spirit. A match truly made to challenge them both.
He had taught her the ways of the Sith were lead by hatred and to become a true Jedi, she firstly needed to let go of her hate and her anger, to never let it consume her lest she fall on the dark side. She remembered being given her first lightsabre, she had lost it mere days after much to her Master's frustration and dismay. She smiled to herself and quickly guarded her thoughts and feeling, remembering she was beside a Trooper of the Empire.
[center[+red[Orbitron "I would invite you for dinner but no doubt you have much better standards than a tent in the street."]]]
She cleared her throat, she had nothing and frankly, the quicker he cleared out of this place, the better. There was a deep unsettling nature on this planet and the sense that it wouldn't be long before its citizens had enough of being bled dry and Rika glanced over as one of the market stalls was torn apart for some sort of reasoning by a few troopers and she glared, how proud they must be. There was nothing anyone could do and she badly wanted to.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Have a good night, Trooper."]]]
She remarked to him, fixing up her hood and retreating to her stall where she wouldn't turn any heads and she had a lot of packing to do if she was to actually do this. Effy stuck his mechanical self out of her shoulder sleeve and made a whirring noise akin to blowing a raspberry before hiding back under and Rika chuckled some at that before sitting herself down, tugging a flimsy string and watching a dingy lantern come to life in the back, dim but shedding enough light she wouldn't trip up.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora][Lora The troop passed and as it did she pointed out the time of day. The days were so damned short on this planet that it was difficult to get any work by daylight done. As much as he would have protested to try and get the job sorted as fast as possible it wasn’t much longer before he was approached by one of the men across from the Starport.
[center [+grey “Milord!”]]
The girl slinked away from him and what took her place was an older man with a scar leading down his left eye. Grey locks poured out from just under his imperial cap accompanied by a grey imperial uniform. With a salute he spoke quickly.
[center [+grey “Milord A night raid is in progress and Darth Kadious requests your presence at once.”]]
And there it was again. The bells of responsibility came chiming at him. As she made her way back to her stall he was forced to make his way over to the base to listen to kadious’s wretched request. He followed along simply opting to head towards the center console where he raised a hand to the console. The cylindrical pedestal lit up and as if he were standing there in person Kadious stood in place. A blue projection of the man sat in place as he looked over Lazarus. His silhouette projected a hooded man whose face was obscured save for his mask which was mandalorian in nature. Against his will he bowed to the man knowing anything less would warrant his ire. His voice heavy beneath the mask as he greeted the man.
[center [+purple [b [i “I want you there Lazarus. I want you to crush them where they stand. And I want you to make an example of them. Show them the meaning of what the empire does to those who dare try to hide and resist. Smugglers need to be shown a lesson.”]]]]
With a Nod the call was cut brief as it always was with Kadious. And not soon after he found himself wielding both red blades begrudgingly barging into homes and forcing people out of them. Information and cauterized blood flowed from these people. Blaster fire in the streets as the smugglers came running out with their spice trying to load it into their ships only to be met with the 117 waiting for them at the spaceport. A swift and smooth operation save for the blaster shot that ripped his jacket in the process. All of it one haze of anger and rage that he channeled into his blade and kept his mind clouded and tormented. It wasn’t until that night when he stood alone in his room amongst the docked ships that he realized what he’d done. Sitting on the floor at the edge of the bed with a blaster in hand. And soon he’d fallen asleep just like any other night. Armed, ready to fend for his life at any given moment 🍆
Night settled in around her as she packed some of her things and glanced to Effy who was keeping watch like some diligent little canary. She smiled over to him as he beeped now and then and reached out to give him a pat on his dome head. The redhead stifled a yawn and figured she was as organised as could be hoped for and set down her things before making her way to the back of the stall, flimsily covered up by draping material with holes in it. The bed roll was hardly comfortable but she had learned not to scoff as she tugged the rope and the light went out again as she settled down.
Effy made a few whirs and clicks before settling nearby and going into a standby mode. She grinned some and closed her eyes. The only good thing was the ambience at night, it was always quiet save for the muffled voices passing through but she always had to be on her guard, thieves and criminals wandered these places looking to score an easy target and some easy credits. She was asleep easily though, an eventful day not sitting and working jewellery had taken it out of her.
Morning came too soon and she got to her feet, packing her things together and tucking a familiar hilt under some layers so it would be stashed away. Effy was up and about, latching onto her as she fastened a satchel in place.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Alright, fella. We might finally be getting off this heap after all."]]]
An excited few trills came from the small droid as he sought refuge again near her shoulder and she eyed the marketplace as it came to life with new arrivals and departures. The Empire's presence was ever present once more and it reminded her why she rarely meditated anymore with the Force. She missed the connection sometimes, it was nostalgic and a way to remember her Master. She eyed a few other Troopers as they moved past, chatting among themselves and she glanced away anytime they looked her way. She knew better than to pick fights. They would win every time.
Rika figured it would be a long day walking and they'd probably have to camp out there if his Highness didn't want to keep walking. The desert was dangerous at night too, she knew that much, everyone did. He might be handy with that saber but she was defenceless, or so Lazarus needed to keep thinking. She wasn't going to correct him, she valued her life far too much for that sort of thing. exposing herself was death, the last lesson her Master had taught her as a Padawan when she had run into hiding. He had said to wait, to bide her time because a new time was coming and she had been holding out for that time for so long.
[center[+red[Orbitron "You're late. Sun's almost up."]]]
She chastised when Lazarus finally did show face, or mask, or helmet. She cast him a smile to show she was joking and he didn't need to kill her on sight for insubordination of an Empire lord. Sense of humour always tended to be a serious character flaw with the Empire.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora][LorA stinging headache marked his awakening as he heard the singing of a memory in his mind. The tune familiar and clouded by the haze and stinging pain of his awakening. His helmet laying next to him he brushed raven lockes from his face and made his way from the ground to the bathroom where a hot shower and a long look into a broken mirror spelled his dissatisfaction with the world. Painted on his jaded face were neon eyes that had flecks of oranges and greens. His eyes had changed just a bit more in hue, Like a sickness overcoming him he could physically see the changes the dark side of the force had on his complexion. Though, he still looked human. Unlike his master Kadious.
He stepped out some moments later pulling his jacket over his back and onto his arms as the door automatically closed behind him. A service droid dispensed coffee and as before he found himself heading into the city from the imperial base via speeder bike. The engines hummed as he sat momentarily taking what little bits of sunlight that peeked through the ever darkened and clouded skies.
[center [+green “Almost 2 weeks on this planet, and still not a sunny day in sight.”]]
He was well aware of why. Those bright and sunny blue skies were long gone in his life. The serenity and peace they brought to him gone as well. Replaced by skies of red and grey and brown. Pollution was the empires best and most promonent byproduct. Another century or two of rule and this planet will be a barren wasteland unfit for some of the most tough creatures. They all ended up like that eventually. With a few more preparations he took a look back at base, watching his comrades begin the launching prep. Two days left on this rock. Then, back adrift with his fighter ship and the fleet. But before then…
[center [+grey “Eyyy! Lazzy! Where you off to so soon man, You know. Kass wants a rematch, shes got a new arm and everything, wont stop boasting about how she’s going to kill you on sight”]]
A blonde haired imperial with a smile on his face. Corporal Jet. An excitable man with an even more excitable personality. Lazarus tried his best not to pay the guy any mind but that seemed to just encourage his want to get into Lazarus’s face. Luckly though, the speeder was all gassed up and ready to go. Without so much as a word he bolted off down the dirt road before him. A simple wave was all he could suffice as a goodbye to Jet.
[center [+green “I’m not late, you’re early.”]]
His smart remark let him keep an air of flippancy as he pulled his leg from the other side of the speeder and hooked his heel on the left footrest simply sitting on it as it sat floating feet off the ground. His hand moving up to meet the chin of his helmet. He watched the redhead stare at him She’d packed like she was ready to head somewhere and never come back. Can’t say he blamed her. This place was a dump afterall.
[center [+green “Attack your stuff to the saddlebags on the speeder. Then, Get on.”]]
He spoke plainly simply motioning her to the back of the bike where the bag hooks kept blaster ammo and manacles, warm clothes and modules that helped with space walks.
[center [+green “First things first, blue-eyes. Those stones specifically come from a cave, I want you to show me this cave.”]]
She corrected him childishly because she was still determined to be somewhat rebellious. She wasn't his property, she was just doing a job and she figured showing him the cave would be fine. She wasn't going to be here much longer. Rika eyed over the landspeeder, grumbling slightly to herself about fancy mechanics. She had never been on one of these but how scary could it be? She moved forwards and started strapping everything onto the speeder, carefully and tightly. She fixed her sleeves properly and eyed the speeder, now she supposed he would be steering, she could just direct him.
She fixed herself on board and tied her hair back to save it whipping around her face too much as she brought up her hood. She fastened it with a couple of loose strings.
[+red[center[Orbitron "Head East, over towards those mountains."]]]
She pointed in the general direction, they would need travel. She attempted getting comfortable on the speeder, a leg either side and she fixed herself now and then. Hardly the most comfortable ride she had ever dealt with but it was better than the long, hot walk. She eyed Lazarus, unsure of why he wanted the rocks so much and she knew part of her ought to be curious about why anything to do with the Sith would want these rocks. She looked over the barrel desert, getting lost out here was death, slow and agonising no doubt and she shuddered at the thought.
As the sun was highest, when they got closer she gave better directions, remembering the stone formations and which direction to take. Rika called for him to slow it down some and she scanned the familiar area, dismounting when they were up a little and eyeing the cave entrance. Effy made a trilling sound and went skittering down her back and onto the sand. He knew where they were and Rike glanced to Lazarus.
[+red[center[Orbitron "Come on, keep up."]]]
She grinned and approached the cave entrance before pausing. She liked it here it was always so relaxing here for her. It was quiet and calming, she found it easy to clear her mind here. Rika watched Effy topple over a couple of times in his haste to get inside and she laughed a little as she followed, pulling her hood when she was inside the shade. She shook some stray remnants of sand from her hair and clothes and looked around.
[+red[center[Orbitron "I found it when I first came here, I go looking for scrap metal. The weather turned, sandstorm blew in and I ended up sheltering in here. People like the jewellery I make with it."]]]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora She held tightly to his back as the speeder left muddy trails kicking up behind them, and like that they were quickly on their way towards the caves. The ride was short and silent the rocky terrain of the planet not giving either of them enough room to really talk as he dodged rocks going towards the higher hills. Her added weight a little awkward for him as she sat arms wrapped around him on the speeder. These things were not really designed for more than one rider but he was a pretty good pilot and he’d been through much worse than this on Korriban where most of the wildlife tried everything in their power to kill those who encountered them.
The caves were not too far out and somehow despite the sun not peeking through they grey clouds the heat stayed thick and prominent through pockets of rain making the entire planet a humid mess.
[center [+green “These hills… Locals say they’re littered with pests. Never have to deal with em yourself?”]]
His question sharp and inquisitive as he parked the bike and began to follow her down the rocky path to the cave. The fields from here all around looked like as if rain had just settled and nothing had come out save for the worms in the ground at their feet. A carcass of animals sat not too far off from them no doubt from these [i pests] that he was told about days ago. Then came the mouth of the cave, littered with little rocks like the one he held around his neck, he’d almost call it pretty if it wasn’t for the feeling he got from inside. The cave drew deeper than it led on. A shallow cave wall no doubt. As he felt it coming from inside. A feeling a purity, a feeling of peace and tranquility heavily abated with the force… It was as he suspected. A Kiber cave…
[center [+green “You have quite the eye…”]]
He spoke as he entered the shallow cave standing at the wall that presented just 5 meters in from it’s mouth. Pretty rocks all around him that glimmered from the light became overwhelmed as a familiar red hue lit up the inside. He brandished his saber with a screeching sound of anguish followed by its quiet hum. It didn’t take him long before he inserted the blade and began to slowly cut his way through the shallow wall… The crystals… They lied beyond this.. Deeper within… His master would be pleased…
Rika tilted her head, he seemed enthralled with the idea of this cave and she shrugged a little, none the wiser as to where his curiosity stemmed from but she knew with the Sith and their damnable forces, it wasn't good and she had the sinking feeling she had done something wrong, her former Master's words echoing in her ears but she pushed it aside. She was not that person anymore, the Sith had made sure of that.
[+red[center[Orbitron "Why so curious about this place? If you like the jewellery that much I can just make you some bracelets or necklaces... Is it for a lady friend?"]]]
She asked him, she was unsure if the Sith sort ever really had lady friends, then again there was someone for everyone even if the idea made her stomach turn on the spot because the darkness that radiated from some of them was sickening. Not from him though, she realised. It was gentle, pulsing as though barely there but it was there and he was most definitely not a good person.
Rika gestured inwards and started traipsing along, feet careful where she put them and she watched Effy scuttle along before she stooped to pick up the little thing and popped him back in his usual place as he whistled and vibrated some.
[+red[center[Orbitron "So, what's it like then? Working for the Empire? You get good pay is that it?"]]]
She asked conversationally, she supposed she ought to be somewhat pleasant to him given he planned on making her work and she still felt filthy about it. It went against every teaching in her body to work with someone like him, let alone for him. Still, beggars couldn't be choosers and she wanted off this planet as soon as possible. She was sure she could give him the slip somewhere and she was just a lowly jeweller as far as he was concerned, she was of no importance.
Rika moved into the opening and eyed the scene before her. The crystals glimmered and sparkled in an array of sparkles. They were colourless, for now at least and she smiled a little. The sight always did relax her some, this place always felt oddly like home and she had often times spent the night out here in this place. She couldn't shake the feeling she was missing something though, that she shouldn't have brought him here but really, they were rocks, what was he going to do with them?
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora Her questions were ceaseless, almost as if she gained some form of joy by endlessly yammering as repayment for her employment. In the past he might have forced her to shut her mouth… But he wasn’t them, not entirely. Not imperial by birth and he’d eat his own pride before ever stooping to their level. And now he was free residing on his own will and power as he’d carved out for himself. More than they could do. Powerless Cowards.
[center [+green “You stumbled across something interesting for us. This cave, it contains something special.”]]
Her questions persisted echoing through the cave only minorly drowned out by the hum of his lightsaber, So curious that she harbored not an ounce of fear traveling with a sith, an unusual trait from commoners on a backwater planet. They came to a drop that led down further causing him to take a quick hop down some two meters. His boots echoing throughout the cave as he landed he looked up at her and waited for her to drop herself.
[center [+green “This place, it emanates the force… You've heard of it in stories haven't you…? It’s where we find our power. In everyone and everything… This cave… Its in tune with the force. They’re called Kiber caves, and they’re few and far between.”]]
As she unexpectedly landed with very little effort and great dexterity he tilted his head ever so slightly. With every moment she seemed less like the other backwater commoners. They walked silently through the caves with only the sound of wind and dripping water to accompany them. The caves were narrow at times and took a good deal of effort to traverse. The light of his red blade and the crystals to guide them it wasn’t until the cave came to a gap too small to fit through that he spoke up at all.
[center [+green “Depends… The imperials are incompetent but work as a hammer to flatten any rough edges into the ground. Then, there’s me… Sith… ”]]
As he looked about the tunnel for another entrance anywhere there wasn’t any he could see.
[center [+green “The droid, he’d fit… Send him through, if it’s thin enough I can cut through…”]]
Rika looked over at him, he seemed tired of her and she figured she hadn't stopped talking for a while so she let up. She eyed the cave and looked over at him when he spoke. Of course she knew about the force but he didn't need to know that. She was gambling with her life right then and playing a dangerous game, her master had always told her not to play games like this but it was her only way off this rock.
[center[+red[Orbitron "everyone knows about the Force."]]]
She excused herself and eyed Effy who trilled at his idea of going through the hole and she raised an eyebrow. She wasn't quite keen on it herself either, Effy had fast become her little companion and letting the Empire get their hands on these crystals was a bad idea but if she refused now, she would die in this cave. Lazarus wasn't an idiot, in fact he was intelligent. He knew fine well what he was doing and Rika was stuck.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Fine. But he better not end up in pieces."]]]
Rika mumbled and looked to Effy who hesitated for a moment before hopping down and watching the gap for a while. It took Effy some time before he started to inch through. Rika looked to Lazarus,
[center[+red[Orbitron "Don't the Empire know of all the caves? I mean, the Empire is on every planet near enough."]]]
Rika shrugged and figured the less she said the better in this situation.
[i Centering herself, she could hear her Master's voice, telling her how to feel the force, how to become one with the very world around her. When she opened her eyes, he was there, smiling and congratulating her. She had been oh so young back then, he had always looked so rugged and yet gentle. He had been kind, patient with her because most of the time Rika had found herself zoning out and she wished she had paid attention more. Rei-Gon had been a kind man, she was his second Padawan, he had already taught a first a long time before her.]
Rika shook herself from the memory, they came more frequently in these caves for some reason and she blamed the Force for it. She could hear Effy trilling and beeping excitedly on the other side and she looked to Lazarus, it was thin enough for him to cut through at the very least, he wouldn't have to worry to much.
She gestured for him to go ahead and waited patiently as his lightsaber cut through it like butter. She watched the red fizz against the thin wall and wondered what she was doing. He was Sith, he was deadly and could cut her down in moments. She had never been the best at listening to her Master and now was no different.
[center[+red[Orbitron "So... You're going to take back a bunch of these crystals?"]]]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora He peered back at her as she took no surprise to his explanation. How strange it was to hear that she knew. Maybe once upon a time the jedi that were prominent spoke of it to the people around them, maybe she’d heard about it in stories and tales. Maybe she had seen it first hand… Nomatter the explanation he took note of it and further wondered the expanse of her knowledge. It was curious to him but for now he had no patience for further questioning. Instead opting to put his blade to the wall as the droid scurried out from the hole between his legs and back to it’s master.
[center [+green “The empire’s hold is vast. But these caves are rare. Every one of them valuable. Real crystals. Not ones that are broken, chipped or worn dry. Kyber. ”]]
His cutting came half way as he turned to focus on the job entirely. If she was smart she’d have taken her blaster to the back of his helmet right there and then. His guard was occupied by the task at hand mostly. But he couldn’t shake the feeling as if she were glaring with intent to kill… To defend… To hunt… The feeling on it’s own growing more paranoid in him until his left hand dropped to wrap around his second saber. All in one lightning movement he at once turned to kill and shoved his blade back to pin a creature to the wall beside her. The killing intent stopped… It was the creature he was feeling, not her.
[center [+green “Not us. I’ll search said cave and if i after finding what i want I’ll make the empire aware and they’ll strip it dry.”]]
He spoke non-chalantly as he stepped back to look at the creature wriggling on the floor. The centipede had acidic poison that melted the cave floor as it pooled up on the ground around the meter long creature. And with it he reached back and focused on pulling… His bicep contracting to be accompanied by the sound of breaking stone as he broke off the rest of the cave wall he was cutting with the force, Moving it through the air and dropping it on the centipede to stop it’s squirming.
[center [+green “Close call… Good to know you can keep your head on straight… Here i was expecting a scream.”]]
He turned back to her to see her blankly staring at the crystals in the cave wall. Even with all that just happened it was strange to not react… Had it poisoned her…? No… She was calm… Focused even… As if in a trance. He wasn’t even sure she noticed the blade that almost struck her face…
[center [+green “Hey, Eyes up. Found what we were looking for.”]]
Rika started slightly and looked to him, and then the mess left behind from the creature. She raised an eyebrow, curious when that happened then realised she had spaced out, fallen into fond memories miles away from here. She had never finished her training, she wasn't stoic like the Master's had been, it still pained her. She didn't hate, she knew where hate led her and if she hated the Sith and Empire for what they had done, she would become one of them.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Right. Hey you're pretty good with that thing. How'd you get one?"]]]
She asked him, playing the fool for now. She knew fine well but he didn't know that. She would be lying though if she said he wasn't damn good with it. It made her a little nervous, stuck in a cave of wonderous crystals with a man who could end her life with a flick of his wrist. Effy was scurrying around, even he seemed to enjoy the crystals. Rika bathed in their light, the blues, purples and greens reminded her fondly of home. They hadn't been desecrated yet by the dark side. There was no hate poured into them yet, there would be soon though. This cave would be ripped apart and bled dry. It would be bathed in hatred and rage soon enough and her chest pulled at the idea.
[center[+red[Orbitron "There's no red ones."]]]
She breathed out, quietly, keeping up her facade of being nothing but a merchant. She reached out and touched a crystal, fingers brushing against the cool surface as she sighed out. The Empire were murderous and the Sith even more so, like foxes in a chicken house. They knew only destruction and Rika had led them right to this small sanctuary, this small light in the darkness.
[center[+red[Orbitron "I'm going to regret showing you this, aren't I? This was the one place I liked visiting on this rock, it's peaceful, it's out of the sand and the desert..."]]]
She murmured softly and looked around, she remembered fondly mining the crystals to make her own lightsaber, such was their way when they were younglings. The crystals never decided on one colour for her. Her master called it a dualsaber, said it was a sign, just like her eyes. It had done her little good but she had trained so hard to prove herself worthy. Now she was stuck in a kyber cave with a Sith. She missed wielding the force, wielding her dualsaber.
Memories flashed into his mind of the last time his eyes laid sight on something so pure. So serene. For a moment he stopped mid stride as the light from the crystals met his eyes. For but a moment, he let the line shine on him exposing the horrid darkness that was his aura. Tuned into the force like this felt as if he were in a pool of gentle waters. Swimming and wading his way through heavy thickened air with every step. Things slowed down for him as he too fell into an almost trancelike state. They proceeded slowly. The crystals now in front and behind them as they followed the walls of the cave to one spot in particular.
[center [+mediumseagreen “Through years of surviving horrible odds.”]]
His mind fell into memories as his words echoed throughout the cave. The memories of tainting the kyber in his blades. The bloodfilled rituals and hymns that went into adorning him into the Sith he was. Hate was what you poured into these crystals. Hate, unfiltered seething rage was enough. He remembered clutching the crystal in his hand so hard that he bled. Thinking of every injustice and terror that had bent him into this life. He remembered the color and in that time he was reminded that red, was indeed the color of hate. Red, burned into his mind. His sight and his heart. He knew what it took here as well… But that… Destruction like that…
[center [+mediumseagreen “Not necessary…”]]
He spoke silently as the blues and greens reflected off of his helmet perfectly as they progressed making the metal he wore look more like a pile of stars in the nights sky as they walked. It wasn’t necessary; pulling up these stoic conduits of light and beauty. To destroy the light here and watch them all fall dark. His hand reached out to trail across a green one as they walked. Silently admiring it as ahead the light of a different hue broke up the greens and blues in the current room. Then he felt it. The call. Something was… Calling…
[center [+mediumseagreen “Ahead there… ”]]
Mindlessly he walked ahead ducking his head just slightly careful not the break or even disturb the conduits. His Master wasn’t here to burn the hatred into him. Wasn’t here to keep tabs on him and keep his curiosity under lock and key. And as if under the eyes of someone or something else he proceeded with respect. If there was anything that had been beaten into him, it was that… Respect those you cannot hope to destroy. He almost heard it in his mind in his masters condescending voice. If only he could have hung onto that moment. That thought.. If only this light wasn’t blinding him. His eyes locked to his right where crystal gather in an astounding formation reflecting the glow along the walls of the cave in patterns so strange he could have sworn there was a picture projected made just for him there along the cavern walls.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/sur0OLi.png]]
[center [+mediumseagreen “Just that… That’ll be enough for him..”]
Just one crystal. One of worth and rarity. He’d be happy with such a thing in his hands. He’d pervert and twist it. Make it bleed red like all the others. Lazarus stood at a choice… Give him one crystal… Save the others… Or follow his orders.]]
Rika followed, bit bewildered by his stance and how it changed so much. She followed in silence as he was lead by some unseen force forwards. She narrowed her eyes, still wary he might turn on her in an instant. Effy was oddly quiet too, mapping out everything and Rika hadn't ever been this far in. She hadn't even known of this spot with the grander crystals, they felt purer somehow.
Rika watched him touch one of the crystals and it almost made her stomach turn but she kept her resolve. Then he spoke which caused her to perk up. He might only take one, maybe that would mean mercy for the rest of this place.
[center[+red[Orbitron "If one's enough then he can leave the rest, right? This place can just... be forgotten about."]]]
It may well have been false hope, but hope nonetheless. She didn't want this place to be twisted and destroyed, like everything else the Sith and Empire touched. They wanted death and destruction, it was like they thrived off of it as opposed to the peace and harmony. She clenched her jaw and stifled whatever words she truly wanted to speak. She didn't know his orders, she had no idea what exactly he was supposed to do but she was adamant she didn't want this place perverted by the Empire.
Rika chewed her bottom lip and drew in a breath. She needed to remember her lessons, as best as she could. [center[+red[Orbitron "You should take one, maybe even two... then we're square, right? We can get off this rock and everyone's happy."]]]
It was a lame attempt at an offer but now Rika had no leverage left. She had shown him the cave and now he could leave her high and dry, she hadn't thought about that. It wasn't as though Sith were renowned for their honesty or ability to keep their word. They were power hungry gangsters, thugs of the galaxy with no care for the loss if life or suffering. And yet... Lazarus seemed undecided almost. She couldn't place him, not properly and she was usually in tune enough to know what was going on.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora There was a part of him that knew such a call would be risky. Lying to his master, and for what? His altruistic view of this pure place? As he came forward and broke off the crystal he stashed it in his bag alone with one more of an off green hue that emanated from the wall. Turning from them for a moment he saw the girl’s pitiful look as she pleaded for him to simply take what he needed. To not report this place to the empire. Why was that? Was she some environmentalist? Might have made sense if this was an animal nest or something along those lines.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/uVSn13J.jpg?1]]
No, this cave was vast, and as her eyes glinted off the various crystals in the dark he felt it. Maybe it had been there all along. Hiding. Or perhaps this was her first time. She was attuned to the caves crystals. She was feeling through them as was he. Both of their normal attitudes abated by the rock beneath their feet and in that instance as he stepped closer to her. He could feel it as well. She was force sensitive. Maybe the depths of this place awoke her
[center [+green “Deals a deal. Your too useful to let waste away on this backwater planet. Do not ordain to tell me what is enough for the empire. Thats not how this works. Now… ”]]
After putting the gems away his lightsaber was raised as he quickly approached her backing her into the cavewall behind her. He got close to her. Inches from her face taking in the look in her eyes as his blade seemed near enough that it’d be simple to end her with a slight movement. The two of them sat illuminated by the red glow there for a moment as he felt her aura. There was something there… Something long since beaten. Only embers left… Or was it that she awoke here finally as a catalyst was introduced as he had so many painful years ago.
[center [+green “You follow. Keep your mouth shut. Clear your mind.”]]
Those moments sat quietly for just a bit longer. Him staring into her eyes from beneath his helmet before breaking off and letting up. There was definitely something there with her. But now wasn’t the time to think on it. He needed to be out of this cave quickly. Time was almost up after all. And so with his words hanging in the air they departed from the Kyber cave. Even the time back on the speeder sat silently and not a word was spoken between the two until they returned to the starport. Her things were tied down to the speeder. Looking over them they seemed to be some of her belongings. There was too much of it. Blankets and clothing. Trinkets and items. Bags. He looked over to them then to her after they parked the speeder. She traveled like a gypsy. Likely everything in those bags were all she owned. More than he had when he left Korriban. The silent tension between them broke when he was approached by a droid.
[center [+grey “Excuse me sir. I’m terribly sorry but it seems all personnel are to report to the shuttle bay to prepare for departure.”]]
[center [+green “How long.”] His words short and sharp as he looked out to the rest of the port.]
[center [+grey “About an hour sir. Lord Kadious asked for your whereabouts as well. He seems to need you for something milord.”]]
The droid bid him a good day and trotted off as he was left with the girl. Rika. Looking back now to see her carrying multiple bags around each arm with a scrunched up look on her face. She could carry her own weight. He gestured for her to follow as they headed inside the starport.
Rika watched his every movement, she would be foolish not to be wary of him and when he approached, she backed up. She gazed at him, keeping her gaze to his, a small murmur of refusing to back down. She wouldn't disrespect her master that much, to back down in the face of a Sith. She needed him though, as much as he believed she served a purpose, he did too and she would use him to meet her own goals. The first opportunity she got, she would shake him off if she could. She was wary almost immediately though, as if he might know but he couldn't possibly. It was easier to play the obedient dog, to give in to whatever orders he barked at her and play the cute peasant girl who sold her wares for scraps.
The droid shook her out of her thoughts and she watched it trot off. Her belongings didn't amount to much, she had been raised to know that physical things held little meaning but she would still need a few things. Her own dual-sabre was tucked away, easily overlooked and she had no plans to expose it anytime soon. Effy was quiet, eerily so. Usually he would chirp and do his trills but even he seemed nervous of the moment. She eyed Lazarus and followed, clearing her mind and focusing only on the task at hand. Her gaze moved around, her heart rate upped as she approached the ship.
[+red[center[Orbitron "I should leave you to accommodate his wishes."]]]
She remarked and looked around the busy area. She had to be on her guard, these were not her people and they would kill her where she stood if they even got a sniff of it. She doubted she would ever become a fully fledged Jedi but she had her morals, she had been so close before her Master had fallen. She looked to Effy and smiled a little. She looked horribly out place, her clothes were light, colourful, her eyes and hair matched but around her was stark dark colours, the Empire's calling card.
[+red[center[Orbitron "Just tell me where to put my things, you'll barely even notice I'm here."]]]
Rika moved out of the way of some troopers and one chuckled, clapping Lazarus on the back.
[b[center "Tamed the desert fox then? Good man."]]
Rika cast him and look and rolled her eyes, heading after Lazarus and following directions. She couldn't explain the overwhelming sense of darkness emanating from this place, it was crushing to her and she knew to keep her wits about her as she juggled her bags and satchel, carefully coaxing Effy into the satchel at her hip to keep him out of sight.
If Lazarus knew, if he even thought for a moment she might be a padawan, then this could be a trap and she didn't have the means to fight an entire aircraft worth of enemies, she would die and never know if there were others out there.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora Eyes. Too many eyes were on them. He wasn’t the only sith on base. As they passed the halls eventually coming to his quarters he entered the code and stepped inside. The room was barren aside from the few things he had in his possession there. A bag and a few more memento’s from the planet. The bed was perfect as if it hadn’t been used. He signaled for her to wait outside as he went in to grab what little he had here on the planet. Back to the ship. The imperial Navy sure had their way with colossal machines. And the Fury was no different. People moved from place to place in a hurry as it seemed their takeoff was coming to a head.
[center [+green “Star destroyers are what they’re called. Her name is The Fury. Headed by my master, Darth Kadious. Lets see to it that you and him don’t meet.”] He turned to her, stopping their stride as they approached the boarding dock. [+green “I said clear your mind. Listen to me Girl.”]]
He spoke with a quieted authority as they let the mass of Droids move massive refueling tanks to and fro. This place was busy and extremely hazardous if one didn’t follow its rules. And there she went again. He could feel her nervousness, her fear. Surely the others would too if they came across the two of them.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/aIx2XYg.jpg?1]]
His master was calling on him again. A dreadful well in his stomach called forth but he tried his best to keep that feeling suppressed. He could be killed each and every time he entered the Master’s presence. Which meant this one would need to be settled in before anything else happened. And so they walked fourth. The loading bay while busy gave them plenty of room to slip onboard. No one questioned him anymore. Which was good considering what he had to go through to obtain his position. No, not even the other Sith onboard.
[center [+green “There are 5 others. Like me, that is. Kadious ever has the pension to take on new proteges. All of them my enemy. All hoping to gain his favor through their own means. Thanks to you, I have mine. ”]]
They entered the narrowed white corridors that lined the interior of the ship. Now only being passed by the Navy staff or droids here and there.
[center [+green “I tell you to be wary of them. If they find you, they will likely find ways to take advantage. So, the sooner you're positioned the better. Right here.”]]
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/tKXWEit.jpg?1]
As the door opened to his room aboard the ship they were met with various lights of a strange color. The light reflected off the walls in the room and blanketed them in slow moving ripples of light like the reflection of water. No furniture save for a small pad in the center of the room that the sith used for meditation. He tossed his bag inside before walking through the room to a door that led off to the side. It opened before him revealing a light that poured into his meditation room.
[center [+green “Get washed up. When your out a more imperial suited outfit will be waiting for you. Need to draw less attention. Don’t leave this room until I return.”]]
As she joined him he looked into his restroom, immaculate and white. He missed the ship’s showers and wanted for them during his entire leave on the planet. Unfortunately Kadious wouldn’t wait. He quickly left. Taking the crystals with him.
Lazarus' words earned him a glare, she was trying. Rika had never been in this situation before but she listened to him, she obeyed if only to protect herself for now and see this to some sort of end, it wasn't always possible though. She was playing a dangerous game and loathe to admit he was her only guidance in this. A curt nod was all she spared as looked around. Although the place vibrated with darkness, she couldn't quite fault the craftmanship of the place.
And then came the view. She stopped for a moment, Lazarus' words falling on deaf ears it seemed as she gazed out. She was his leverage, lovely. She was going to help him become higher ranking, a better status and she detested the thought. An imperial outfit? She didn't object, it would keep her safe and right then she knew to put aside emotions and disgruntlement for the sake of what she was doing. It was important, this wasn't just about her, it was about finding others.
Rika glanced over to watch Lazarus leave and she watched the doors for a few moments, poking her head in the restroom and eyeing it over. She hadn't washed up properly in a long time, she had fallen into the lifestyle of a street rat.
Hot jets of water cascaded down and it felt like bliss, she couldn't recall the last time she had felt so clean and fresh. She shifted as she dried off, draped in material as she fixed her hair. She didn't change the style, still content with the half up and half down. Unless she was told it wasn't imperial enough then she wouldn't change it. She stared absently at her reflection, she had lost weight back on the planet, bargaining for scraps of food hadn't done her any favours and the constant moving around and want to stay safe. She huffed slightly, she had no intention to meet Lazarus' Master, Darth Kadious. If he was as powerful as Lazarus claimed then he would likely sniff out her Jedi training in an instant and although Lazarus would climb his little status ladder, she would likely be made an example of.
She stuck her head out the restroom and eyed the outfit that had been dropped off for her, plucking it up and changing. It was most definitely not what she was used to. She was used to her layers, loosely hanging off her but these hugged her in specific areas and they were darker than what she was used to. At least she looked like an imposter as opposed to some common scavenger plucked up from the dust.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora As soon as he left he was swiftly swept up with the others of the outfit. The Fury housed over 40 thousand troops, most of which were staff to keep the archaic colossus of a ship running. The skydock was being cleared rapidly as he made his way through and soon to the bridge where he saw the other sith in his unit. There were many that made themselves home to the ship but the few he had laid eyes on now were those of his unit. Same as the night prior he worked alongside these few. Three others in total, With him that made four. Reluctantly, and obediently he made his way fourth.
[center [+purple [b “Two weeks on this insipid planet. And my task for you, my four fingers was simple. Two weeks and I expected results from each of you.”]]
A presence filled his mind. One tied with a voice that emanated death. His voice rasped by the years and technology that kept his body together. His steps were heavy and metallic as he approached from the side wing of the bridge. Imperial officers stiffened up as he made his stride forward.
[right [+grey “Milord!?”]]
He took them by surprise, barely giving them room to assume their dogged positions. Oh how he hated Kadious’s hubris. How he hated his jackboot steps, how he hated his breathing, his voice. Lazarus’s hatred served him here as it always had. Hate, flowing through each and every nerve of his body all at once as the vile king approached. Any less and he’d become a target. But no, it wasn’t as if he had a problem in that department. Hate was natural. Especially when looking at the one that caused it in the mask…
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/IyU9aqt.jpg]]
[center [+purple [b “You two have served your due, two hundred souls and a message sent.”]]]
He approached slowly. His presence was as a weight on the shoulders of everyone who stood there on the bridge. A fear began to work its way through those who he regarded. Lazarus was no different. Stifling the thoughts of his impending demise as Kadious began to look over them. Pardoning the two farthest from Lazarus who stood on the left end. Those two, the twins that he twisted together. Had he really gotten them to kill that many in the last two weeks?
[center [+purple [b “Ahh hahaha. How you entertain me with your endeavors-...”]] He approached the woman standing beside Lazarus, stroking her chin as she cooed under him like a pet Cat. [+purple [b “What you did… Tell me, did you enjoy watching her face as she saw you end her boy in front of her?”]]]
A wicked smile and an over eager nod came from the pet wearing black. He didn’t regard the other fingers as people. Not even bothering to learn their names. No, just the Twins, and the Pet.
[center [+purple [b “And you, my black sheep. While i’ve been away I wonder. What creative idea did you come up with this time, surely. You knew better then to simply do nothing in my absence…”]]]
Lazarus waited as he was approached. Kadious’s shadow enveloping him as he could feel the killing intent. Lazarus was already a man of few words. Even less in the presence of his Master. When every word counted against you. No. He simply reached into his bag and revealed the crystal.
[center [+purple [b “Now… Isn’t this something… Interesting.”]]]
He took up the crystal quickly holding it’s luminescent features up as his robotic laugh filled the room.
[center [+purple [b “Ahh… Its purity is… So welcoming… So inviting… So… Vulnerable. You do know how to make yourself useful… Lazarus.”]]]
Outside his room steps could be heard. A couple of imperial troops passing by as the ship began it’s liftoff. Then, a humming sound followed by the door opening. A droid made itself apparent at the door to his room. Slowly floating inside he simply began to scan, for something or someone…. All the while the sith stood silently as his Master coveted the gem. His gaze only averted slightly to see the faces of jealousy and killing intent from the others. In mere seconds they’d be back in the void, bound for another world to either take. Or take from.
Rika glanced out the window, whatever sounds went on outside she didn't really hear save for any close footsteps that came a little too close in proximity. She smoothed down the outfit, twisting slightly to try and get a feel for what was going on. Effy was watching with keen interest and trilled when the droid entered, the tell-tale sounds of a scan in progress making her freeze. Lazarus hadn't exactly been clear in what to do in this situation. She stared, wondering if there was some way this droid might know what she was and alert the troopers nearby. Rika had been handy with a saber but she couldn't take on the industrial size army residing on this ship. It beeped, the little droid did a peculiar beep and she cocked her head a little. Effy quivered in his spot and Rika figured this thing had no idea what or who she was as she approached, a soft spot for droids it seemed.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Hey, little guy."]]]
She greeted, the moment her hand touched the cold metal, it jittered and made a popping sound as a slot opened and out poured a hologram. Rika backed up a little as the recording played.
[center[i[+red[Orbitron "If you are seeing this, then all of our defences fell and you are one of the few left of us. Journey to Ahch-To, there you will find us. Be sure you are not followed, may the force be with you."]]]]
The static image that had been crackling now and then flickered off. Rika hadn't recognised the man even slightly and she raised an eyebrow. Imperial trick, or real truth? She watched the droid back up and out of the room. She couldn't speak a word of this to anyone and had no intention of doing so, she had to make it to Ahch-To though, that was no small thing. The planet was mostly water, rough waters at that and barren rocky shores, or so she had always thought. She fixed her now dry hair and set her mismatched eyes to the stars around about the ship as she looked down on the planet she had called home for the longest time. It would no longer be a prison, she had swapped them for a different cell entirely.
[b[center "Ah, he really did bring back his plaything, that slimy bastard!"]]
Rika spun around to see two stormtroopers watching her and she gazed at them, backing up slightly. She couldn't do anything here, not on this ship. She rolled her eyes some and turned away from them, that was what she was to be then, Lazarus' plaything, a doll he could do as he wished with and she would gratefully oblige each time and wait until he was finished or until she had served her purpose. Then what? The daunting fear of what would happen after lurked in her mind. He was not her friend, more of a viper in common clothes.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora [center [+blue “You two, back to your posts.”]]
A female voice came from behind the two troopers that quickly got their acts together resuming their rounds as she made her visage apparent in the doorway. Slender, dark hair with the intense look of a predator in her eyes she looked the redhead up and down before a smile came onto her face.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/tOjwfVX.jpg?1]]
[center [+blue “Haven’t seen your face before… New recruit…?”]]
The brunette looked her up and down then to the meditation room as the ship began to leave the atmosphere.
[center [+blue “...Well, if you're here I’m assuming one of the fingers took interest in you. The quiet one…”]]
Her look was one of concern and a slight amusement as she stepped in to take Rika’s hand quickly leading her out of the room and into the main halls of the ship walking with a confidence to her step her boots echoed on the corridor hall with each stride as she turned to lead Rika into one of the personnel bays.
[center [+blue “Come on, I know you’re shook up but you need to lock that up. They feel it, you know? This place ends up taking all kinds, don't worry. Names Kestra. Nice to meet you weird girl from Corellia.”]]
She met Rika with a smile as she took a seat. Troopers passed in mass as she pulled a datapad to begin looking over something…
[center [+blue “Weird… You haven’t been registered yet. Guessing that Finger didn’t bother so much as follow the most basic of rules huh. Don’t worry. I can get that sorted for you, have you stationed in the barracks in no time!”]]
Back on the bridge the sith watched as his master reveled over something that could only be found once in a lifetime. He knew of the idea of pure kyber, how rare it was and yet. Something in him cringed as he thought of the idea of that bastard tainting it. But… This would spare the cave…
[center [+purple [b “This ought to do well. All of you have sufficed. Now. Get out of my sight. You disgust me.”]]]
He could feel the ire on his back as the others left quickly. Kadious took the helm as the Fury took to orbit.
[center [+purple [b “You know where we’re headed moth. Republic resistance needs to be taught a lesson. So when we arrive. I expect you to be ready to fire.”]]]
Lazarus’s eyes narrowed beneath the mask as his Master’s back was turned. They found some republic in space. Which meant he’d be expected to do the man’s dirty work soon enough. Again. With a deep breath he felt that he was dismissed and turned to leave.
[center [+purple [b “Oh, and Lazarus. Why only one?”]] His spine felt a chill as the question was directed at him. He didn’t turn to face his master only turning his head as he stood towards the exit of the bridge.]
[center [+green “The rest were broken. Destroyed…”]]
His response was met with silence. Letting his words hang in the air for a moment he left back to the halls of the ship.
Rika eyed the woman but she didn't object, any protest could be met with suspicion and she wasn't even sure if this was what Lazarus had really planned but she was sure he would set it right if it wasn't. Her mind was on something different anyways, Ahch-To. She needed to get there, as soon as possible before the Imperial forces did and wiped them out a second time. She glanced to Kestra, raising an eyebrow. Registered as what? She sat down in the bay and let her do as she pleased, a bunch of scans and fingerprints, she knew full well there would be little record of her, most records had been wiped out.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Rika Loststar."]]
She murmured out her name and offered a half-smile. She knew it wasn't the most becoming name, simple and easy but she shrugged her shoulders. She glanced around, wait, in accommodation? She wasn't sure if Lazarus would like that but realistically, he had left her alone and expected trouble not to find her so this was his fault, by proxy of course. Rika then felt her heart stop, her bag was in Lazarus' room with Effy. With any luck the little droid would have the sense to hide it away so Lazarus couldn't go poking around in it and find her history. That Dualsaber was everything she had left.
[center[+red[Orbitron "The uh, the quiet one, he told me to stay put."]]]
She pointed out but the woman just scoffed, something about protocol as she went skimming through everything and registered Rika as part of the ship. She had no idea what duty she was put on, or what she was expected to do. She huffed a little and Kestra only smiled, explaining about her starting work tomorrow once they found a position for her. She looked dainty, barely able to hold her weight, maybe a Trooper wouldn't be a terrible idea if they could get her up to speed, or maybe an assistant to one of the Fingers but Kestra knew those girls never did last long.
Rika was left alone after a while and she eyed the cramped little space she had been abandoned in before getting to her feet and fixing one of her boots that had rubbed her the wrong way. She needed her bag and she started along the corridors, avoiding as many passers-by as she could before recognising Lazarus' door. She knocked, as loud as she could and it echoed along the corridors.
[center[+red[Orbitron "Oi, I need my bag! I got registered or something, and now I have to live in a square so could I at least get my bag and Effy."]]]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora The halls were especially busy as the ship began to pull away from Correlia’s Orbit heading for deep space. There was a tinge of guilt that stagnated in his heart over the crystal being handed over but he’d done worse for his master before. And probably would still. The day that he’d ben made a murderer flashed into his mind. The blood stained mirror that reflected a scared child’s face looking back at him. It was a haunting memory that he shook off quickly as the corridor turned left. There were things that needed taking care of. Firstly the girl. She’d have to have a position aboard the ship. An ID and be processed into imperial databases else he’d have to take someone’s head at some point for gunning her down thinking she was a republic spy. For this he simply made his way to the security wing and used his sway to get such things made up.
[center [+grey [i “Did you want tracking hypo too? Here’s the codegun. You know the drill, burn it into the left wrist. She’ll be boarding like you. I’ll get her a locker with the gear and all that once she comes down here.”]]]
He’d have it no other way. If she wanted a hands free laid back stow to the nearest planet he had no intention of giving her so… There was something there. Back in the cave something caught his attention about her eyes. Something about her aura that he felt if only barely, if only briefly. He needed to make sure. What better way than to drag her into the jaws of the void with him. If she was sensitive, she’d jog with stress. If not then, he supposed she’d die. Or learn what it was to fight for her life. Things were taken care of with Kadious, he just needed to get himself sorted with the girl and actually take some form of rest while aboard if any relaxation time was allowed to cross his path. Though even turning the corner to his room he found there would be no such thing. Pressing the pad to then watch the door slide open his eyes narrowed as he spotted
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/k3vsLKG.jpg?1]]
[center [+red “Oh, I’m not who you were expecting?”]]
His teeth gritted sharply as his eyes locked onto the man in front of him casually leaned up against the glass looking into the starry black abyss behind him. The ship was now in motion. Stars drove past the window like streaks of light, and the only thing the Sith could think about were the red eyes staring back at him with a devilish grin on his face and the girl’s bag in hand. One of the twins, the boy…
[center [+red “Don’t worry Lazzy, I didn’t hurt your little pet. Just, wondering what all the hubbub is about, but sadly she’s nowhere to be seen.”]]
A small beeping noise came from the bag muffled but audible all the same. She wasn’t here…? Where the hell did she- [center [+red “Catch..!”]] her bag was tossed at him and caught with his left hand as the Twin leaned fourth and began a slow stride from one end of the room to the door. It wasn’t long before the red eye’d sith was inches away from lazarus that he spoke another word. All the while Lazarus’s hand was firmly held above his belt where his saber was just inches away from being pulled.
[center [+red “Oh its not like no one saw you coming aboard with her. Can you imagine? [i you made such a big deal of quickly heading to your room with the girl I just had to come and see what sort of deprived things you were doing to her. The thought of it entertained me. Thought I might watch.”]]
His smiling face now away again as he walked past and into the corridor.
[center [+red “I’ll be keeping an eye out for her, don’t worry lazzy!”]]
His horrible chuckle leaving an ounce of hate in the boy’s mind he simply watched as the man vanished deeper into the halls of the Fury. The furious beeping got louder as the robot climbed its way out of the bag and onto his shoulder. What did she call this thing…? It didn’t matter. He needed to find her… Now.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/tOjwfVX.jpg?2 ]]
[center [+blue “Hey, Green finger, She’s in the 3rd operations room. Probably getting into all sorts of trouble now that i’ve left her to the wolves.”]]
He shirked at the thought. That woman still had her issues with him even now. No doubt she was telling the truth considering the look on her face. He let out a sigh beneath the mask before entering his room and slinging the bag to the left side of the room before crashing in the center onto his back and closing his eyes. His meditation… Finally some rest… Finally a brief reprieve from the world. Silence, nothing but him and the void beyond his window… Until the banging… And the shouting… This girl…
[center [+green “What are you on about woman?”]]
His door slid open as he laid there simply inputting the command into the datapad inches from his spot in the center.He’d didn’t stand choosing to lay there in a sprawled out position on the floor. Her bag in his hand he used the force to let it float above him feet into the air. Slowly turning as it did he enjoyed the amusement it gave him. That was at least… Until a cylindrical and familiar hilt the floor clacking as it did…
Rika raised an eyebrow at him sprawled out like that and folded her arms impatiently. She could hear Efft fumbling around in there and she shot a glare at Lazarus, about to tell him to cut it out and stop being a toddler because Effy was in there but she was stopped dead in her tracks when her dualsaber clattered onto the floor and she was frozen in place for a mere few seconds. Her eyes moved to Lazarus, heart racing in her chest.
She muttered, Effy scrambling out of the back and trilling, in an attempt to be intimidating. He booped a few times from her shoulder as Rika knelt to pick up the precious artifact. She closed her fingers around it and stuffed it back in her bag, thinking up an excuse. He was Sith, he was pervertedly adept at lying and he would know. This was no small coincidence. Her eyes flickered over him, glad of the distance between them right then. Then again, where was she going to go on a ship travelling in the galaxy with a pack of enemies aboard?
[+red[center[Orbitron "It was a gift."]]]
It wasn't a lie, it sort of had been if she twisted it enough in her mind. He was likely going to turn her over to Kadious and she would die screaming without a doubt. Her eyes however held a challenging look as Effy zapped slightly from one of his legs, ready to give him a nasty shock if he got too close. She reached up and placed a hand on his metal head, urging him to be calm.
Rika moved back slightly, the saber held in her hands in case she needed to move and use it. He knew what it was, he gad his own, corrupted and vile as it was with its red stain. She'd die silent if it qas to go this way and she stared at him, wondering what he would do. She knew what he was required to do, what he was warranted to do by his master, lest his master pull the chain of his leash. She narrowed her eyes and held fast to the only thing tying her to her past. She was not like him, nor did she want to be. She did wonder what he had once been before this, before the dark side had mangled him into something awful.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora A glint of horror flashed in her eyes and in that instant it all made sense to him. Through a flurry of wandering thoughts and emotions at once he wondered if she was mad. To follow a man like him to a place like this. He stared at her from beneath the helmet as her little droid attempted to defend her. Or, at least try to defend her. In truth there was nothing that could save her now in the belly of the beast. One word, one press of a button and she'd be imprisoned. Cuffed into the torturer contraptions the inquisitors oh so favorited. No, she was no Republic spy. Nor was she any threat in her current state. But… there was still a threat to be had.
[center [+green “The twin… he knows…”]]
His mind flashed back to minutes earlier when the man walked out with the smile of a fiend painted on his face. The twin. He knew. Something that Lazarus was trying to ignore up until now. Something he was hesitant to act on. He suspected her from the very beginning, wasn’t that the reason why he approached the stall? Because he felt something? Reaching up to fiddle with the rock hanging from his necklace he leaned forward to drape his arm over his knee. Helmet focused on the droid then the girl as she picked up the saber. [i Her saber.] The twin would go back to Kadious, he’d jump at a chance to get one over on his adversary.
[center [+green “The other fingers are a problem. If you want to end up not in a dungeon. Then you’ll help me…”]]
His words soft and zealous. He stood a head taller than the girl looking down at her. Drop off at the next planet was still days away. If he wanted to see her not be consumed by this place as it had consumed him. He needed to act. If not for her sake. Than his own. This was his choice. His freedom. His will to not die a dog underling. What he needed to do was assured in every motion he took at that moment. From his standing at the doorway to the room getting up passed her. To him signaling for her to follow.
[center [+green “We need to kill him. Else we both die. Move it. We don't have much time.”]]
Like that he was out of the room and into the corridor, the silent footsteps of the unsure girl behind him as the droid jumped up onto her back his head turned only slightly to glance at her before slowing a little. Pointing to an open room that overlooked the planet they were leaving.
[center [+green “Take one last look at Corellia. Might be the last you see of it...”]]
Rika expected everything to fall apart then and there, her eyes glittering as she watched him, waiting for him to make his move and she tucked the saber away on her person. He didn't do anything though, he just sort of... went with it? She narrowed her eyes and watched him, it wouldn't be out of character for a Sith to stab her in the back, so she kept herself facing him. He had probably had more training than her with those sabers of his and she would be rusty. She watched him, not apologetic to look like a scared lamb, any sensible person would be. The Twin?
Rika had no idea what he was yammering on about until he elaborated. He was going to kill another of his force, for what? She didn't trust him, kill him so he could hand her over to Kadious himself? She frankly didn't mind who handed her over, death would be death. She wasn't enjoying this game but she went with it, the ore time she would have to actually come up with a plan.
Corellia, as much of a dustbowl that it was, it had been home for the longest time and she gazed at the planet. At least they hadn't destroyed it and she followed Lazarus.
[+red[center[Orbitron "I won't be coming back."]]]
There was a determination behind her voice, not sadness or elation, just flicker of determination. She tore her eyes away from the sight and focused on what Lazarus was doing. Her new outfit meant she blended in a little easier and probably looked like some sort of assistant to him. Effy chirped and notified Rika of a passing patrol of troopers. She followed Lazarus and rounded the corner to be met with the Twin who was glowering down at her and she took a step back. He had a maniacal grin painted on his face, something smug about it and Rika glanced around. There was no one around and it seemed the Twin was just as happy with that.
[b[center[Orbitron "Taking your pet for a walk? You ought to keep her on a leash, Lazzy. Accidents can happen so quickly."]]]
Rika moved back, knowing full well there would be no accident and she didn't dare move for her saber. Her eyes flitted around and noticed a room just behind him. They couldn't do it in a hallway and she ducked behind him, kicking the door open and thankfully, it was empty. It looked like some sort of storage. She reached up and yanked part of his clothing so he stumbled and she closed the door on them, making sure Lazarus was in with them. She rounded on him and exposed her saber, opening it and it felt good to have it open again. The mixture of green and blue glowed on her face and the Twin smirked.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora She struck first, strange for a jedi but the twin saw them coming guarding her blow and smiling at her with that shit eating grin of his. Lazarus quickly switched to her aid dodging into combat with him as the halls began to spark with plasma cuts from their sabers. Those coming down the hall's troopers and the like were pushed back trying not to intervene. Without thought the two of them began to synergize as the twin blocked, dodged and retreated back into a droid loading room where the fight took them up onto machinery in motion through the room. The bastard was on par with Lazarus’s bladework managing to handle not getting anything amputated as their blades clashed. The smug twin backed up onto a conveyor that pulled him out of range laughing and calling out to the two of them.
[center [+purple [i “Close one Lazzy! Come on! You can’t imagine just how long i’ve been waiting to put you down!”]]]
The helmeted sith stepped out onto the droid floor looking up at the twin as he leaped from the conveyor to a droid hanger where he stood amongst deactivated droids that were lined up for use on the ship. Hearing Rika’s steps behind him he pushed forward into the massive bay looking for any sign of the man who’d vanished amongst the deactivated statue like figures all lined parallel and perfect. His eyes squinted as he tried to glimpse movement through rows and columns that stretched the entire bay.
He couldn’t see his opponent, so he looked inward. Waiting patiently until he felt the movement. Like wind blowing leaves on the ground he could see the subtle shifts. Feel them like a sixth sense and then, just barely he felt a twinge. Like a pin or a sting in his mind. His left! The red blade cried out as he dodged back just barely dodging the twins blade as he went for the kill. Droids cut down from their top half as Lazarus reached his hand up lightning arcing out in a screaming torment as they shot through riddling the twin with lashes of electricity in return.
He felt something else as well as the man retreated back amongst the droids to try to hide for the upper hand. Amongst the running imperials trying to get out of the way of their aggressive fight there was another. A hunter. Stalking… Not him… Rika. He glanced back to see she wasn’t behind him. Something pulled her away. Kicking back up to his feet he rushed back to her tackling her to the ground as a flying saber came barreling over them both. Cutting through multiple droids that blew up in a rain of sparks that illuminated the room before returning back to her hand.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/NElJToO.jpg?1 ]]
[center [+blue “Another spat with Lazzy brother? Oh, and his little bitch too. Let me lend a hand. Maybe we’ll be able to enjoy their heads tonight.]]
A soft feminine voice spoke up as he stared at her briefly. A determination in her eyes he pulled off of her to sit crouched down the womans red blade being held out as she held the same smile as her brother.
Rika hung back, watching how the Twin and Lazarus moved in tandem like some great dance. Their steps seemed matched and she held the saber in her hands, lifting it slightly to deflect any passing blows. Lazarus was impressive with his skills, dual wielding was no small feat but the Twin seemed just as talented. They were an even matched, although the Twin felt angrier and Rika followed, moving along and ducking here and there. Lazarus had it handled, or so it seemed for the moment. She took care of any droids that got too close.
Her red hair lit up with the faint tinge of blue and green, her eyes reflecting the very same.
Out of nowhere, she was tackled to the ground and for a split second she thought he had turned on her until she saw the close brush with death above and turned her head to see the other Twin. Of course there were two, why wouldn't there be? Twins came in pairs, that was usually how it worked. She pushed herself up, not sparing Lazarus a glance as she heard his words. She wouldn't take pleasure in battling, the Jedi were the path to peace but her life hung in the balance. She faced the other woman and gripped her saber, she was rusty but not someone to be underestimated.
[center[Orbitron[+orange "Same can be said to you. You take him, I'll take her."]]]
Rika remarked, eyes not leaving her target. These were Sith, they didn't play fairly and she knew full well not to turn her back as she kicked off the ground to gain some vantage point, slightly above on an old control panel, keeping steady and being all too calm. The woman laughed, it was guttural and trapped in her throat. Rika waited, waited for the other to make their move. Anger could not guide her in this, she closed off her mind, opening it only to the force and the teachings of her Master.
The woman lunged and Rika moved immediately, her movements fluid akin to a cat as she ducked and wove, expertly dodging and blocking her fury filled blows. She was talking but Rika didn't hear it as their sabers connected and she wound the dual-saber in patterns, a blue or blue, green and red clashing together. Sparks flew and red, hot lines were etched on the area around as Rika wisely used her space to her advantage. She pushed herself up, jumping over the woman and flicking her wrist and the Twin's saber was knocked from her hand and Rykier held her free hand and drew the corrupted saber to her hand. She looked down at the Twin and narrowed her eyes. She didn't kill her though, jumping down and the woman toppled backwards, glaring at her. Rika realised the look in her eyes was a challenge, to kill her.
It wasn't the way and she had disarmed her, it was not the way to kill her through anger. She kept her dual-saber up and ready to strike.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora Sparks flew as imperial troopers barrelled in the room guns drawn and aimed at the two of them as they broke through the deactivated droids onto a catwalk above the droid bay. Heavy breathing was met with the perceptive eye of a man on edge. Wasn’t long as he scanned the room for his twin that he caught the two of them below.
[center [+green “Still here…”]]
He spoke to her under his breath as he focused on his surroundings. Those ones below would get in the way. Complicate things. He threw his saber, sending it spinning into one of the supports that hung above the entrance to the bay causing the entire thing to collapse, not letting the bay door open. As soon as they saw her blades they’d assume she was the enemy. He couldn’t have that. Though his distraction was short lived as the Twin leaped up from beside him. Cutting into the catwalk he was standing on causing the ground to become unstable and sending them both down. What followed as soon as he hit the ground was a flurry of blows between the two of them as he was pushed back towards Rika and the other twin who was struggling to fight Rika off. Admittedly she had some promise with those twinblades of hers.
[center [+green “Wound her. He will relent.”]]
He’d been backed up to her as the twins began to circle them with the two of them now back to back a moment of tension passed as his grip tightened. The calls of soldiers and workers shouting in the background as they tried to pry the door open only for the female twin closed it with the wave of her hand and a smile on her face.
[center [+blue [i “She’s a pretty one. Just looking at those wide blue eyes makes me thirsty.”]]]
Then at once the four of them moved for each other. Closing his eyes he knew the twins had been trained as he had. They knew his swordplay as he did theirs. In the past he’d managed to take on the both of them and hold his ground but their synergy had always won out. It was their strength. Wound one and that faltered. Wound both and somehow they managed to keep pace with each other. Covering the weaknesses of the other. As they lunged at each other he devised a plan mid stride. Changing his stance at the final moment to lean into an attack making himself vulnerable. The twins blade came down on his head cutting through the helmet just enough that he felt the heat from the twins blade on his cheek as he dived in to catch him in the stomach with his right blade sending him to the ground.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/fkP8Wq3.png?1]]
The boy was left clutching his face not knowing the extent of the damage as he was sent to the ground himself by the twins attack. Ripping off his helmet he recoiled through the pain to see Rika looking him dead in the face. Raising his blade he motioned towards the two.
[center [+green “Finish them… Before they finish us…”]]
Lazarus removed his helmet and Rika was actually surprised to see a real person beneath the mask. Part of her had expected a druid, a hollow husk but he was quite flesh and bone. She looked to the woman, she wasn't begging and her brother circled her like a vulture. She realised they were counting on the fact she was a Jedi. It was not in her practicing to kill like this, however the male twin was armed and she could feel him moving around her. She hesitated and it was her folly as the man moved to strike and she immediately lashed out. Without meaning to, the man crumpled, impaled by her saber and she jerked as the female grappled her by the neck, screeching out in fury as her brother fell. Rika shifted and kicked her back, hitting her with the saber across the chest.
The smell of burnt flesh made her turn her nose away and she caught her breath. She was breathing heavily, her light saber still glowing and humming. She had killed two people, one armed and the other not. This was not the Jedi way and she would not slip into the Sith or the Dark side. She clicked and the lights went out. She shivered and hid awway the preciius item on her person. She didnt know what to do and she swallowed whatever trepidation was going on. Sith and their murderous ways, it didn't stand with the Jedi but surely it would be forgiven. She wasn't even sure if there was a Council to answer to anymore.
[+orange[Orbitron[center "Still alive?"]]]
She asked after a moment of quiet. She couldn't display weakness nor remorse, it wasn't the way but she looked shaken up. She had never taken a life before, droids sure but never a living or breathing soul. She glanced around, Kadious would probably know his Twins had been felled and with any luck it wouldn't come back on them, maybe just Lazarus and from what Rika knew, it wasn't a terrible thing to kill the competition in the Sith. Her chest was rising and falling with rapid breaths to accommodate her multitude of thoughts.
[+orange[center[Orbitron "We should go."]]]
She muttered to him, if they were caught then Rika would surely die and her cause would be lost. She wanted to go somewhere, not so steeped in darkness and grudge nature. She needed the light and on this ship, the Fury, it was suffocating.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora He caught his breath. She did as he had asked. Even through the hesitation that she felt she knew what she needed to do to survive. Looking down at the twins he caught their injuries. They wouldn’t live much longer, their hands reached out to each other as they lay on the floor. His attention was caught by the look on her face against the flickering light of droids cutting through the door to try to get some semblance of order.
[center [+green “They’d have killed you if you hadn’t. Nowhere to go from here. Eyes up.”]]
Her troubled look spelled fear to him. Of course she’d feel so. She was in the belly of the beast dining with those who’d kill her in an instant. When she turned to look, the catwalk itself came floating away from the door as Kadious and his pet strode in his arms placed militantly behind his back as he entered the room. As if a light was going dark he felt the pressure of Kadious’s appearance as always. Like a weighted net keeping you locked in and weighted down, his sheer aura was oppressive. No doubt to do with some horrible trickery in the force. As he entered Lazarus reached a hand out to place on Rika’s shoulder.
[center [+green “Follow my lead. We can’t run from this. Running is a weakness. Weakness, is death.”]]
Kadious’s echoed steps were accompanied by a troop of soldiers holding blasters along with the clicking heels of the pet beside him.
[center [+purple [b “Did away with the twins have you? And brought along your little gem as well Lazarus.”]]]
His eyes watched medical droids haul off the two twins as kadious approached. Blades still drawn; he stood in front of Rika, a look of anger in his eyes at his master. He didn’t care. Not one bit about the death of those two. He never did. Even when there were ten of them. No. This wasn’t a show of vengeance that became immediately clear.
[center [+green “They wanted her. So she put them down...”]]
[center [+purple [b “She..? Put them down…? And tell me… Who is she? This woman who stares at me with the same fear in here eyes as a newborn babe.”]]]
[center [+green “Rika…”]]
[center [+purple [b “And this one did away with two of my fingers… Oh, Lazarus. You offer me purity in the form of a crystal. But you keep away this one for yourself? I feel her. Tarnished but there. I wonder… Is she something to break to take after your master? Or is she some form of futile resistance.”]]]
[center [+green “...”]]
[center [+purple [b “Girl. Come here.”]]]
She was hesitant as Lazarus stood staring the one he hated the most in the face. His blade motioning to stop her from taking a single step forward. Blocking her path and causing Kadious to bring his hands down by his sides.
[center [+purple [b “You defy me boy!? I; Who has brought you up from the mud and muck you wriggled in like the worms beneath the dirt. How brazen you’ve become. To think you can hide things from, then keep them from me! “]]]
As Kadious rose his hand Lazarus felt a grip tightening around his throat. At first he tried to power through it only to find himself grasping at his throat moments later as he was lifted a meter in the air. He was choking…
Lazarus didn't even look remorseful, he looked as if it was a regular day for him. Her mismatched eyes stared at him, she had killed them. She figured that would keep her shield up about being a Jedi for at least some time but it did nothing to purge the guilt for her conscience. She had so easily gone against her own teachings, like it was nothing. Her red hair clashed with the colours she was wearing and she drew herself up and stared at Lazarus. His hand on her shoulder brought no comfort, it may as well have been ice cold. She barely seemed to notice the droids trying to cut in and everything was a haze, like a great cloud had descended upon her. What was she to do? Run, run where? Hide, not an option.
She did follow him though, what other choice did she have? She forced her feet to move and when they stopped, she realised she was in the presence of his Master. A deep darkness surrounded him and she felt her breath trap in her lungs. Lazarus put her out there, gave all the 'credit' to her for killing his Twins. She glanced to Lazarus, accusing because he ought to take credit. Kadious beckoned her forth and Lazarus stopped her, not that she had moved an inch.
Her eyes narrowed, Kadious would so willingly destroy Lazarus. She knew it made no emotional difference to her right then but she needed him alive, she needed his help and he had kept her alive. She thought quickly and moved forward, placing herself in between him and Lazarus, like some ferocious lion ready to protect a cub.
[+orange[Orbitron[center "I would offer my apologies."]]]
She spoke up, looking to the armed troopers around him and she lifted her gaze to Kadious.
[+orange[Orbitron[center "They set upon us, left us with no option but to fight."]]]
She was attempting to distract him, if she could take his attention then he would release Lazarus. She couldn't use her own prowess with the Force without being discovered.
[+orange[Orbitron[center "You have trained your apprentices well, they fought with great passion and vigour. Lazarus and the Twins."]]]
She explained, there was no lie there, they were all ruthless and her green and blue eyes stayed trained on Kadious, desperate to bury the fear she felt right then. She was a child to Kadious, most likely, in many ways she still was.
[+orange[Orbitron[center "You've lost two good apprentices, and whilst I am too old to become an apprentice to you and would never be befitting of such an honour, I ask you let me repay the debt by working on the Fury, in exchange for a life off of Corellia and its dust."]]]
She was already deep in the void on this ship and it would be more fitting to try and keep her nerve and give Kadious a reason to keep her around right then. She might not raise much suspicion that way and she looked over her shoulder at Lazarus briefly. She was floundering and didn't know what she was getting herself into but with any good amount of fortune, this would work out. She drew herself up in front of Kadious and held her head high.
[+orange[Orbitron[center "Your apprentice here, can hold responsibility for me."]]]
She finished. Lazarus had desperately wanted her in his back pocket, now if anything happened to her then it would be on him too. They were in this together.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora At the cusp of suffocation Lazarus continued to struggle in the air. His sabers dropping to the floor and shutting down as his feet kicked helplessly above the ground. This bastard. Would he end it like this? For simply exercising his freedoms? Of course he would. Lazarus knew it was always like that with him. But, the girl spoke. Not that he could hear too many of her words, on the account of trying to keep himself alive feeling as if he was hung by a rope. The grip lessened and soon enough, the boy came crashing down to the floor. Whatever she was saying spared him… He only wondered if it would spare her.
[center [+purple [b “A proposition she makes. As if i shouldn’t strike her down where she stands.”]]]
His words were muffled but becoming more clear to him now… She brokered a deal. Spoke with the devil himself and made a contract. He wanted to tell her no. To tell her that she didn’t know what she was getting herself into. That he was watching what happened to him happen all over again. He could see it now. How after all this time his will to stay good and pure was corroded. He could see how the very same thing could and would happen to her were she to accept his offer. He wanted to stop her. He wanted to fight and break away from this, but… There wasn’t any way… There never was.
[center [+green “Rika… Don’t… Just run…”]]
His voice rasped by injury, his muscles heavy from the strain of breathing. He was just barely gasping for air yet he compelled himself to his knees again. He spotted his blade there on the floor. He could end it, he could Kill that man and save Rika the suffering he endured. He just needed to reach-... His blade… So close. As he held his hand out to it he watched it go flying into the hands of the Pet who looked down at him
[center [+blue [i “I think you need a nap dog. Don’t bare fangs to the hand that feeds.”]]]
The last thing he saw thereafter was her boot as she knocked him unconscious.
[center [+purple [b “That boy never learns his place. Do see to it that you don’t pick up his habits.”]] The Sith Lord began to circle her. Looking her up and down and measuring her. [+purple [b “Rika, from Corellia was it. I’m more than curious. Where oh where does one get the blade of a Jedi? Where oh where does one obtain the skill to face off battle hardened trained sith Acolytes…? Rika, You perplex me. But… You interest me… You killed them… Two of my fingers. You save yourself. And injure me… Such things need repayment… You say you will work, so you will… Take her down for interrogation. See what she sees, Know what she knows…”]]]
As the sith lord made his proclamation the soldiers and the Pet moved to detain her. Surrounding her with guns and the business end of the pet’s red saber.
Rika fell silent, she knew better than to truly speak uo. She didn't turn around, some part of her didn't want to see Lazarus being knocked out but she also didn't obey his pleads. Run where? She kept her eyes on the Sith. This wasn't going well and she bit her lip, interrogation. If course he would want to know everything and she knew that it wasn't going to go well. She wouldn't say a word, if she did then she really would be dead.
[+orange[center[Orbitron "As you wish."]]]
She remarked, the deal was the closest thing to safety that she had right then. If she could withstand the interrogation, surely he would take notice. She turned when the Pet addressed her. Somehow she was more afraid of her than Kadious. She glanced to Lazarus on the floor, eyes softening for a second. Why would a Sith try to save her? It had to be a trick. Or he was trying to save his own hide. It didn't matter, Lazarus would wake up and Rika wasn't sure she would.
She was lead down halls, into the bowels of the ship and she kept quiet the entire way. It was eerily quiet as they moved and she stared ahead. She was met with a man in formal attire, he looked smart and he ushered her to a chair.
[b[center[Orbitron "Right, my dear. Now there's some questions for you. You'd do well to answer them, we wouldn't want to hurt that pretty face of yours. Number one; Where are you from?"]]]
The man remarked with his rat like features and Rika sat in the chair, watching him. She didn't say a word, she closed off her mind and simply focused.
Electricity felt like fire and she didn't even cry out, her body tightened and contracted as she grut her teeth. It didn't last for long but it felt like an eternity. She caught her breath when it was done and she raised her head, slowly. With one deep breath she readied herself. There was another question, this time, who she was raised by and again it was met with staunch silence. It wasn't worth the words, it would give her a death sentence.
The man sighed and nodded to one man who had been hovering outside the cage, Rika hadn't realised and she eyed the box he had on his person. Something was scurrying in the box.
[b[center[Orbitron "I suppose you're familiar with Kohun."]]]
The man said and Rika narrowed her eyes. Kohun venom would kill her. She had heard of them, seen one once before and she knew they were deadly.
[b[center[Orbitron "Oh don't look so worried! I have the serum, but it will hurt horribly."]]]
He said with a smile that made her feel sick to her stomach. The man with the box opened it and out scurried the pale centipede, scuttling and making guttural squeaks. Rika closed her eyes her chest heaving with the effort to remain calm. He asked the question again and she didn't respond, even the jolt of electricity didn't stir her and finally she felt legs on her own, crawling up her slowly, towards her and she didn't say a word.
The moment the venom entered her system through a sharp sting, it was as though everything within her contracted. Rika writhed in the chair, this time she did scream, she screeched until a red haze descended upon her. She didn't say a word though, not one intelligible word left her lips. Sweat beaded on her flesh and she felt her lungs stifling. The Kohun was shoved back into the box and another sharp stab, the pain fizzled but her muscles ached.
[b[center[Orbitron "Tell Kadious she won't relent."]]]
The man said finally as Rika shuddered, spasming almost as she Hamilton looked around. Was she a prisoner? Where was Lazarus? She felt pulses of pain still ricocheting around her body, causing a twitch now and then. She wanted to sleep, to give into the blackness creeping in at her peripherals and beckoning her to simply go unconscious but she didn't want to give them the satisfaction. No more, she couldn't take anymore.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora When his eyes opened again he found himself on a different floor. Looking up to see his master standing on the opposite side of the room looking out a window. Slowly he pulled himself up from the floor and to a knee. The events of what happened running through his mind. He was thirsty… Meaning he’d been out for hours at least. As he shifted his position to stand his master spoke without turning to face him.
[center [+purple [b “You’re Brazen. I’ve always liked that about you… This one. Were you trying to protect her?”]]]
It was a trick question. And as the tension in the room set itself his mind began to run through all the things he could possibly say to defend himself for his actions. Just what was he trying to do? Keep her from Kadious? Maybe hold onto her like a rope or ladder in hopes that he found some way out…? His own reasons for his actions eluded him. So was there anything he could say…?
[center [+green “What will happen to her…?”]]
[center [+purple [b “You really can’t figure it out? Oh Lazarus my child. Don’t worry. I wont kill your new muse… ”]]]
His tainted eyes met eye level with his master as he stood in the presence of Kadious. Just pulling himself up felt like he was fighting to lift a mountain. Kadious’s powers were heavy with the force. Something the men came to calling the Cloak. It was something he was familiar with but Kadious carried this [i ”Cloak”] around with him passively it seemed. Suffocating the very air from the room on most occasions leaving one struggling for breath just from coming into the same room as him. Then, there was the weight. As if carrying a person on your back there was this added weight that came with being in his presence. His own soldiers and the fingers, himself included; Trained to withstand this Cloak. And his enemies… They had little to no chance.
[center [+purple [b “She shows promise in the force. Such an aptitude is valuable to me, you know that. She will take the place of those she helped to slay.”]]]
His fists tightened along with his chest at every word that left that devil’s mouth. To be a finger was a death sentence for most. A funnel applied to all deemed worthy, just as he’d been plucked from his service as a trooper, so too would Rika. He joined his master. Anger in his eyes as he spotted what had taken his masters attention through the window. A room below. A room he was all too familiar with, only, he never thought to be on the other side of the one-way glass. Below he lay limp in a cage. Worn and exhausted from pain and duress. The mere sight of it drove his heart into his chest. She would break, or die. There was no inbeteween. Trying to save her was futile and his worst fears had come to pass. He stared at her limp body below knowing that this was to be her fate. Silently he placed a hand on the glass. Wishing to himself that she pulled through this torture, this pain. That she rose above it and survived. He found himself wanting her to live… Why…?
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/pMsChDP.jpg?1]]
He was sent on another mission. Then another after that. Then another. Back to back with no sign on slowing he was pulled away from rika on an ice so thin that he knew that further insubordination wouldn’t only mean consequences for him. But for her too. And so weeks passed on that ship, floating adrift in space.
Each day was something new, something exotic and each time she gave them silence. She didn't have the information they wanted and she would sooner die than give it up. The last week of her isolation was spent in a medical bay, waiting for bruises to heal over, toxins to leave her body, burns to fade. Whatever there was, it had been done to her and several times had thought she might die and she had welcomed it. Kadious had visited now and then, to witness his handiwork no doubt. Everything had halted and Kadious had made a rather nice show of announcing she now worked for him, if she wanted to live that was.
Her first steps out if the Infirmary was met with sneers from others. The only thing keeping her alive was that she was Kadious' latest interest. She was quieter, less sparky and kept her head down. The smallest thing would get her back in that room and she couldn't do it again. She wouldn't.
Rika moved down the corridors, Kadious had given her a rather nice outfit, he couldn't risk her fighting and raising arms but she was a pretty face in black and gold. She was to go down, be a relatable face, earn the trust and sweet talk. Her hair was done up in a way unlike her and there was a dark cloak around her shoulders. Her saber was strapped to her hip but she was under instruction not to dare undo it on the ship or she would be killed outright. She moved towards the landing bay and stared at the planet below. She didn't want to do this, she felt unnatural, out of place and suffocated.
[+orange[center[Orbitron "Sorry, I wasn't looking."]]]
She said as she moved and bumped into someone. She lifted her eyes and was greeted with none other than Lazarus, ready to hit the ground and she swallowed, her mouth dry as she looked away. She felt humiliated and ashamed of herself. Kadious had mentioned Lazarus seeing her so weakened and she couldn't look him in the eye. She would get out of this, she would have to.
Kadious came striding down, flanked woth guards as he turned and addressed Lazarus and Rika.
[+red[center[Orbitron "Kashyyk, the wookies are still roaming, we need the last of them rounded up. The troopers will take care of the wookies but I need you-"]]
He looked to Lazarus,
[+red[center[Orbitron "To be a driving force, no disobedience on the ground. And yiu, my sweet desert viper."]]]
Kadious reached out and ran a gnarled finger over her lips and Rika just stood there.
[+red[center[Orbitron "You need to be a pretty petal, inviting, wonderful. People trust a pretty face, isn't that right?"]]]
Kadious grinned at Lazarus and Rika only nodded. It was easier to oblige at least for now. Kashyyk, she had heard of it but never been on the ground and she straightened up as the ship began it's descent into the thick rainforest like humidity. The doors opened, the ramp levered out and troopers began to make their way out.
Rike paused before Kadious firecrest them out and she moved out and down the plane, greeted by some general who had been here dealing with everything and saw to it they had drinks and some cool area.
[+orange[Orbitron[center "Did he do anything to you?"]]]
Tika finally spoke up as she watched the troopers moving out in cut down areas of the rainforest. She knew damn well she was fortunate to be alive, albeit it scarred mentally and physically. The dress did a good job of covering the marks left behind from the weeks of torment and toll on her body and mind.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora Kashyyyk, an overgrown forest of a planet known best for its Savage smell, and it’s smelly savages. As they touched down on the planet he found himself leaned over his speeder bike when he saw her. Simply studying down the landing bay as if she’d come from another world. His attention was enraptured. Kadious walked alongside her and he simply sat there, stunned. Her figure, her dress. She’d been made into a new pet of pets. Owned and put to use by Kadious, not unlike himself. His reddened eyes were taken by the crowd of enforcers, imperial soldiers and the flow of people that took up the starport. He reached for the spot on the bike where his helmet usually sat only to find himself reaching for nothing. It was gone. He needed a new one to cover his face. Cover his eyes from those who would misunderstand him. Then as the screaming of imperial speeders gilded overhead he heard familiar beeping from the bag attached to his bike. Her droid was at it again. Even after he took it upon himself to keep it safe away from any scrappers that would throw it in the onboard junk compactor. It was beeping about being low on energy as always and he still hadn’t found himself a replacement battery for little thing.
[center [+green “Effy, i told you. Just conserve your batteries for now… They’ve got a droid bay here. I won't leave you out to-”]] His hushed words to it cut off as Rika backed into him. Swiftly with slight of hand he stuffed the droid away. His eyes locking onto her darkened dress. Behind her... Kadious, the pet. The dozen or so troops behind him and more than a few of the imperial outpost’s men.
Kadious gave out his orders and quickly made way for his lounge no doubt. Their mission being to help finalize the Empire’s grasp and influence over Kashyyyk and it’s people. To strike a final blow to it’s few remaining unassimilated tribes, or at the very least. The ones the empire knew about in this region. All over there had been efforts to take this dank rainforested planet. And all over the empire stood unabated. There were most undoubtedly Jedi somewhere lurking in the depths here. But going down there… It wasn’t something he wanted to go through, let alone lead Rika through. Kadious’s presence was demanding and suffocating as always and as they met with their imperial contact atop the tree villages thereafter he found himself simply staring at her silently now. It had been weeks. He thought her dead, or worse. But here she stood. Her aura in the force now brought out to be as clear as day. The torture she undoubtedly faced having brought her abilities to the surface, as they had for him.
[center [+green “He did as he always does. He uses me as his blade. Makes me kill those he deems unworthy…”]]
He wanted to say more to her. He wanted to tell her how sorry he was for what she went through. What kadious had done to her. He wanted to make it right somehow but something had changed in those weeks. Something quietly shifted between the two of them and now, here atop the tree platforms he knew she’d been shifted ever so slightly. He could feel it. Here and now in this moment with her he felt more of a stranger to her than the day they met at her shop a month ago.
[center [+green “Rika… are you…?- Come on, we should report to the barracks and settle in. This little campaign of his is going to take a little while.“]]
He swallowed his words for now. Snatching up the bag with Effy inside he departed from his speeder and towards the barracks.
Rika didn't look at him, still. She eyed the view from the platforms. Kashyyyk was pretty, a tropical haven and she might have appreciated it more had she been feeling more like herself. Something had been taken from her though, she wasn't sure what it was, exactly. She glanced to him when he began to ask if she was okay, she wasn't but what did it matter? Wasn't this what he and everything else wanted, for anything unlike them to be tainted? She turned away and followed him down to the barracks, fixing a smile in place.
[Orbitron[center[+red "Ah! A pleasure to meet you both, rest assured we have established the very best quarters for you both, only the best for Kadious' nearest and dearest."]]]
Rika eyed the General over, perplexed. Nearest and dearest, what a joke that was. She didn't speak, only nodded.
[+orange[Orbitron[center "Thank you, General Marxon. Kadious will be pleased to hear of your treatment towards us."]]]
Rika followed him as they were personally escorted to quarters. Rika's was first and it came with a view, a beautiful one and she stepped inside.
[+red[Orbitron[center "Please, join me and my companions for dinner, we would be more than honoured to have you both with us."]]]
Rika knew better than to decline an invitation, even if she didn't want to. This was politics and Kadious would no doubt hear of any disobedience or defiance. She closed the door and breathed out. She didn't want to be here like this, the culling of the wookies wasn't something she wanted to witness, let alone be apart of. She looked to Effy who had latched onto her at some point and she hadn't even realised. Lazarus had kept the little droid safe and she smiled at it, relieved.
[+orange[center[Orbitron "He did a good job keeping you out of trouble."]]]
She remarked and Effy gave a cheerful few beeps before going off and scanning some of the new sights. Rika moved to the balcony and looked over the forest. It was a relief, the fresh air and soft breeze that trickled through the forest branches. She had to suck this up and she glanced around, part of her wanted to explore alone but knew it was out of the question, maybe wander some of the trails. She could ask, perhaps at dinner. An escort wouldn't be out of the question.
She realised then what she was missing, the hollowness in her chest that hurt worse than the pain she had endured, the loneliness and the sheer spite to remain alive and not utter a word.
Dinner it was, and she would play the part they had so desperately put out for her.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora Heat and stink rose up from below in the form of a thick fog. Alien faces came accompanied with alien smells and beyond all of it all he'd had on his mind for the first time in a long time, was his lack of a helmet. Nothing to hide his expressions from those around him. Nothing to hide his corrupted eyes that continued to torment him. He considered simply acousting one of the troopers nearby for theirs and taking it for himself only, he was invited to dinner. A pompous imperial general that made bed with kadious now seeked to renew his groveling through the recommendations of Kadious’s fingers. But before he could decline as dinner with scum was quite possibly the last thing he wanted to do, Rika accepted.
His eyes shot over to her as she went on without a hitch and followed the room to a tee. Had kadious really broken her that efficiently? Or was she just simply accepting her new role in life as he had. His eyes narrowed at her but without words he followed. Soon enough he found himself sitting at a grand round table made of a strange bamboo-esk wood with unusual foods in front of both himself and Rika. No other fingers. Just the two of them. The general and a few wookie slaves bringing them their food.
Well, he called them slaves, but in truth they were the most well groomed wookies he’d ever seen. Their wild nature was taken from them. Clipped, snipped and combed right out of their persons. What was left was a docile servant that stood heads above them. It was somehow both nice, yet disgusting to him. All he could see were the shackles around their necks and hands. Although they had none. He felt they were there. That these servants were domesticated in spirit mind and body. Such thoughts sickened him, but the empire would have nothing less than servitude. Passion was what was truly beaten from them. Passion bred power. Through power shackles would be freed. And these animals, as noble as they once were. Nolonger possessed the passion needed to earn their freedom.
[center [+green “I’m assuming your going to be overseeing our directives here. Am i correct?”]]
[center [+red “Precisely, over the next few weeks I have been given the privilege of directing milords fingers. Not- That i’ll be telling you what to do and what not to do. But for the purposes of your mission here, and to fill you in on what we need here, I’m the one with the know how. Milord.”]]
His words fell in line with most of these imperial jobs. This was now their lot. Peering over to Rika he spotted her picking at her food with a fork as she tried her best to suit the dress they put her in. Not that she was doing a bad job looking the way that she did, but he wondered. How would she bring herself to do what they were being asked to do? He felt that this would become complicated…
[center [+green “So, What is it then, that you need from us. Why cant your men take care of a few wookies?”]]
The general shifted in his chair a bit adjusting himself before meeting them with a smile.
[center [+red “Well, We’ve been having trouble not only with the tribals themselves that refuse to go peaceably. But my men have been coming back with peculiar wounds. Not just lacerations. But cauterized stab wounds, the sort made by lightsabers, milord…”]]
Rika joined them at the table and everything about her screamed an eerie perfection, not a hair out of place, not a smudge on her face and not a crinkle in her outfit. It was remarkably unlike her, she was messy, untidy and wild, this was prim and proper. She eyed the food, her appetite was non-existent but she didn't want to risk any bad report getting back to Kadious, and she couldn't trust anyone. Not even the one sitting opposite her with his cursed eyes and unbecomingly kind nature. Why would she?
Rika remained silent, expressionless even when he mentioned the lightsaber injuries.
[+orange[Orbitron[center "I highly doubt the wookies have found a way to wield sabers."]]]
She remarked to the General who scoffed and brought on an entirely fake laugh and she lifted her gaze to him, the sharp look only intensified by the dark makeup adorning her features. He quietened after that.
[+orange[Orbitron[center "It would seem you have a Jedi problem on Kashyyyk."]]]
She said as she wiped her hands, even her nails were painted a dark red.
[+orange[Orbitron[center "Very well, at dawn my companion and I will look into it, see what we can do about your problem."]]]
She said as she pushed herself up from the table and nodded to them both, sweeping off in the fluid dress, heels clicking on the floor as she moved to the hallway and looked around, half expectantly. Jedi's on Kashyyyk, it was a slim chance and she didn't dare hope right then because she knew fine well it would get her nowhere and what if it was a test from Kadious to see if she would go scampering off looking for a lost companion? She didn't want to risk it.
Rika spent a little time meandering the corridors and halls, finding an opening that looked out onto the rainforest canopy and she peered down, only barely able to see the lights below and she looked over her shoulder as a few pristinely kept wookies were walked down the hall. Their collars clinked and she felt a pang of empathy for them, kept against their will like that. She sighed out and turned back to the rainforest canvas.
She wasn't so far gone, not yet at least. She may well end up like it, like Lazarus but not yet. She had to play this part and she paused. It was strange, despite everything that she had been subjected to, the torture, the cold cruelty, she had never felt closer to her Master. Kadious had failed to detach her from that, at the very least and she watched the trees shift now and then with the humid breeze trickling through.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lora] [Lora There was a small technical talk. Details about the complex and location. Things he needed to know to get the job done. Though his attention wasn’t quite focused on the commander, It was on the redhead who walked away in all but a storm. His eyes locked on her figure and more so, how the dress hugged her silhouette giving off an attractive lure. His eyes wandered back to find the commander with a raised brow, a smile on his face.
[center [+red [i “I must say kadious’s new finger is quite the looker, I’m glad you agree.”]]] The Commander leaned forward before sliding a memory drive over to him.
[center [+green “She’s just passing through. Don’t get used to her.”]]
[center [+red “Oh Lazarus, you know better than that, don’t you? Tell me, how did your last little attempt to keep someone away from all this go..?”]] He said nothing, opting to silently slip the drive away before standing and motioning to leave.
[center [+red “Excuse my cantour. Please, i'm sure you’ve had a long voyage, Come. Lets meet with… Rika…? Was it? I’ll show you to your rooms.”]]
The Commander picked up the pace to lead in front of the Sith. Meeting Rika outside his eyes met hers for but a glance as heavy rainfall began to downpour on all of them.
[center [+red “Come, rain like this only gets worse milord!”]]
He wasn’t given much time to take in the smell of petrichor from the rain on the mossy tree ropes that held up the platforms. Nor was he able to get a read on Rika’s face while she pondered out here alone. He wondered to himself if she really was okay with all of this given her expediency in agreeing to solve the Commander’s problems. And soon the downpour became a typhoon of rain. The Commander’s words became shouts as he tried to tell them how wonderful their tropic rainforest accommodations were.
[+red [i “Milord Lazarus will be staying in this hut. A C3 droid will be dispatched at your leisure! ”]] A gust of cool wind broke the dank hot mugginess of the rainforest as the door opened in front of them. A small hut that was more than enough to house a family opened in front of them. Cool air felt refreshing and cool on his skin as his wet clothes changed temperature.
[+red [i “Wonderful, isn’t it! Now, if you’d kindly! Lord Rika, This way!. Your room Lord Rika is on the eastern platfor-!]] He turned to take the bridge out to the connecting platform but as he did they were stopped. Lazarus watched as the rain caused a shift in the platforms nearby. The eastern bridge snapped and with it the eastern hut that was to be Rika’s room went with it. The three of them stood in silence for a moment before he spoke up.
[center [+green “Well, my room has a spare bed…”]]
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/FDVdtLM.jpg?1]]
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