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Before - Legends A Reunion on Taris {The Old Republic} Update 6/15

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by SabyneAmberle, Feb 21, 2014.

  1. SabyneAmberle

    SabyneAmberle Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2004
    Title: A Reunion On Taris
    Author: SabyneAmberle
    Timeframe: Before the Saga, The Old Republic
    Characters: Torian Cadera, Kybrina (Ky) Gammon, Gault Rennow
    Genre: Drama
    Summary: As he works on Taris to restore his family's honor, Torian once again encounters Gammon, the champion of the Great Hunt. However, not everything with this mysterious individual is as he thought it to be...
    Notes: This was the second plot Gizka from my Bounty Hunter playthrough of 'The Old Republic'. I felt this scene could use a slight reworking (though I plan to skip portions that would just be dialogue copied verbatim).

    ***************

    Torian carefully adjusted the focus on his binocs, a frown slowly crossing his face as he made out the two figures who were leaving the Republic settlement. While he had only seen them a couple times, those times had made the pair quite memorable to him. The Devaronian was recognizable in an instant, mostly due to the fact that there were next to no Devaronians wandering the galaxy with only one horn. This one seemed to be chatting with the figure next to him as they approached the excavation site.

    That figure was the one that grabbed Torian's attention. It was Gammon, a bounty hunter who had somehow risen from relatively unknown gun-for-hire to Grand Champion of the Great Hunt. Gammon was a bit of a mystery, no one knew his true identity. When he was talked about in the cantinas, the attention was on his armor, face-obscuring helmet, and oddly metallic voice. There may have been pockets of speculation about who he was and where he came from, but interest in those topics waned with the lack of clear-cut answers.

    But what was Gammon doing on Taris? Torian pondered this as he set his binocs aside. Did Mandalore doubt his loyalty? Did his leader think he would turn his back on his adopted clan to join Jicoln? Torian did have a knack for making himself scarce; maybe Mandalore sent his champion and newly adopted clan member to track him down.

    “Only one way to find out,” he said to himself. He cast a glance at the sniper rifle sitting next to him, then silently put it away. Sniping at the pair would accomplish nothing, and might even give his hiding spot away if the rounds could be traced back to it visually. No, his best option was to go in at close range with a blaster and hope they weren't there to take him out.

    Quickly, he packed away his meager supplies before slipping inside the giant doorway leading to the excavation site. As long as he remained quiet and in the shadows, the two intruders wouldn't know he was there until he was practically on top of them. Only then could he find out what was really going on.

    He found his way to the main room of the site. Quickly scanning all corners of the room, he discovered the one with the most shadow was just inside and to the right of the doorway, amidst a pile of old excavation scaffolding left behind by the Republic.

    He crouched in his hiding place, blaster pistol at the ready. If he really was the target, he wasn't about to go down without a fight.

    **

    It was quiet. Way too quiet for Ky's tastes.

    From what the Republic captain had told her, this excavation site had been abandoned for a while. While she couldn't pinpoint exactly how long it had been deserted, the condition of the walls and door panels confirmed it to be more than a few months. Still, something wasn't right, a feeling that bothered her as they walked through the facility.

    Gault spoke up. “It's too quiet here,” he said, perfectly echoing her thoughts. “A site abandoned for as long as this one has been should be full of life. This feels more like a tomb.”

    Ky nodded. “It doesn't feel right to me, either,” she replied, shivering at the cold metallic voice her helmet lent her. In a place like this, that metallic rasp seemed especially creepy. “If this place has been empty for as long as that Republic stooge implied, it would be the perfect nesting site for beasts. Asides from the rust on the walls, this place is clean. No beasts, no traps...nothing. Something is keeping this place clean. Or...someone.”

    They entered the facility's final room, still not seeing any signs of life. Ky gritted her teeth, glad her frustration was masked by her helmet. “Damn it. Dead end.” She approached the computers in the center of the room, Gault following closely behind. “We have to have missed something. Let's retrace our steps and look for clues.”

    Gault hesitated. “I don't like...” he began. His statement was cut off by the sound of a blaster being drawn. He turned to see Torian approach Ky, blaster in hand. The kid wore a smirk, clearly satisfied at his deception.

    “Yep, yep...definitely don't like this,” Gault finished his thought. If it weren't for the blaster the kid was pointing at Ky, he would draw his own weapon and open fire. To her credit, Ky stood silently, her back to the young Mandalorian, not saying a word or moving an inch.

    She has to know he's standing there with a blaster pointed at the back of her head. Gault thought to himself. What's she waiting for?

    **

    Torian couldn't believe his luck. He had been bracing himself for a fight, for some kind of heavy resistance from this famed bounty hunter. He had been hearing stories of Gammon's exploits in the Great Hunt, culminating in their face-to-face meeting at the camp on Dromund Kaas. If the stories were to be believed, this was truly a ruthless hunter who was not to be crossed.

    He was admittedly shocked at how wide-open the hunter left himself. If it had been him, he would have kept his eyes up and scanning every corner of the room. He would have walked the room's perimeter until he was satisfied there were no hidden threats. Yet this hunter and his companion strode right into the center of the room; had there been anyone else hidden in the shadows, they would have been easy targets.

    As he stood with the gun pointed at the back of the hunter's helmet, he had the vague feeling that something wasn't right. This felt...too easy, like he was being set up. Gammon might not be a Mandalorian by birth, but he wasn't stupid. Being a stupid bounty hunter was a fast path to getting one's self killed. From an outsider's perspective, this was easily the stupidest, sloppiest mistake anyone could make, and Gammon had to know that.

    So what was going on?


    He had to know. “Thought you'd be harder to get the drop on,” he said, smirking slightly. Setup or no, there was still something satisfying about this whole scenario.
     
  2. mavjade

    mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2005
    I know pretty much nothing about this era, but this was really interesting!
    That was too easy to get a drop on Gammon... I wonder what's going on.


    =D=
     
  3. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Great to see Torian and Ky and friends again
     
  4. SabyneAmberle

    SabyneAmberle Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2004
    Yeah, this is a fun little piece. I just felt there needed to be a bit more depth to that scene. Next part!

    **************************************

    Thought you'd be harder to get the drop on.”

    Ky was grateful for her helmet at that moment, it hid the smile that formed on her lips when she heard that statement. She kept her body still, letting her mind clear so she could think of the best solution to this situation. She knew she would have reacted the same way if she were in his boots, afraid someone was coming after her and all. She could also tell he would be a valuable addition to their team; he seemed like the type who could more than hold his own in a fight. This would prove challenging. She didn't want to anger him and provoke a fight, thus more...delicate relations were needed.

    She owed a great deal to her grandfather. A retired bounty hunter himself, he had taught her everything she knew about being a bounty hunter, from aiming and shooting a blaster to using her wits to escape just about any scrape. The one thing he had not taught her, however, was how to turn the tables on an attractive young man who was aiming a blaster at the back of her head. For that answer, she turned to the one source of advice she had always been reluctant to utilize.

    Her mother.

    Her mother had never approved of her training to be a bounty hunter, she had merely tolerated it. She thought it was a phase her only daughter was going through, so she worked tirelessly to mold her into prime marriage material as well. Ky's knowledge of music and dance, of art, and of language all stemmed from those lessons, as did her admittedly limited knowledge of interacting with men on a personal level.

    Remember, Kybrina dear,” she had told her once before meeting with a potential suitor, “Men can be absolute fools when faced with a beautiful woman. Even the hardest, most stoic man can be reduced to eating out of your hand when he hears flattering words. Pair those words with a slight pout of the lips and a few bats of the eyelashes, and he'll be practically worshiping the ground you walk upon.

    Normally, she would refrain from using such advice. Most men she interacted with were duller than a sleeping bantha, and she saw little need to waste breath and energy trying to flirt with them unless they had something she wanted. This kid was different. He was sharp, a damned good shot...everything she liked in a man. The fact he was easy on the eyes was a bonus.

    You're a cute one, Torian. I'm going to have a little fun with you.

    “You know, you're right,” she said, her back still to him, “Normally it's much harder to get the drop on me than this. But I just couldn't help myself.” She turned to face him, noted the confused expression on his face. “But I was just so eager to see you again after Dromund Kaas that I guess I acted without thinking.”

    “You what...?” She smiled, knowing she had him right where she wanted him. Reaching up behind her left ear, she turned off the voice changer she was using, the switch making a soft 'click' as it was deactivated.

    “You heard me loud and clear,” she said, noting the slight widening of his eyes as he heard her real voice for the first time. “I shouldn't need to repeat myself. But this time, I guess I'll humor you.” She took that moment to remove her helmet, exposing her face to him, and his face betrayed his shock. “I was just so eager to see you again after Dromund Kaas,” she repeated. For added emphasis, she batted her eyelashes in a way she hoped was flirtatious.

    Stunned silence was his reply to her. Perfect. She thought to herself. I have him on the ropes now.

    **

    Torian felt as though someone had shot him with a stun bolt. He couldn't move, could hardly breathe, could barely even think, he was so shocked. Suddenly, what he thought was so straightforward turned out not to be.

    But I was just so eager to see you again after Dromund Kaas that I guess I acted without thinking.” When he heard that, filtered as is was, he was confused. That didn't sound like something a hunter would say to someone pointing a blaster at him.

    “You what...?” He tried to ask more questions, demand more answers. All he could muster were two words.

    He watched silently as the hunter reached up to the side of his helmet. When 'Gammon' spoke again, it was no longer with the grating, metallic voice he always used. Instead, it was a female voice, slightly muffled by the helmet. Then the helmet was gone, slowly removed by its wearer, and Torian found himself locking gazes with the bluest eyes he had ever seen.

    Mesh'la...

    His arm dropped like it weighed a ton, the blaster dangling in his grip. His mind was jumbled, thoughts incoherent in his confusion. Gammon, famed bounty hunter and champion of the Great Hunt...is a woman? He asked himself. His gaze scanned her features, noted her red hair, the freckles across her cheeks, the trio of scars on the side of her face, the metal hardware in her left jaw...

    Yes, Gammon is a woman. One not much older than me. Did I miss something?

    Looking back, he would later curse himself for a full five minutes in Mando'a about letting his guard down and leaving himself exposed. She moved quicker than anyone he had expected, and the feeling of his blaster arm being seized snapped him out of his stunned state. The world around him inverted itself for a few seconds, followed by the abrupt impact of his armored back into the floor. He lay there for several seconds, struggling to catch his breath; as he recovered his senses he felt a heavily armored boot press onto his chest, impeding any further movement he might try to make.

    “Men,” he heard her mutter as she pointed one of her blasters at his face. “Always fools for flattering words and a pretty face. Time to tell me what you're doing out here.”

    He took several more deep breaths, ignoring the dull ache in his back. He tried to apologize, to say anything, but a slightly-strained “Ow. I deserved that,” was all he could say. And in his mind, he did. Sneaking up on her was easily the worst idea he had ever come up with. Based on how easily she had disarmed him, she could have easily killed him had she decided to.

    He watched her face, noticed a smile form on her lips. She took her boot off his chest, allowing him to stand, though he noted her blaster was still held in her hand. After taking a moment to gather his bearings, he stood up.


    “You must like him,” her Devaronian companion said to her. “If I tried that, I'd be wearing my face on the back wall.”
     
  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Cool! =D= I like this back-story or prequel of sorts. ;) =D= Seems Kybrina has Torian totally flustered [face_laugh] [face_batting]
     
  6. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    great scenes with Ky about her upbringing and Torian and his surprise at discovering that Gammon is a woman
     
  7. SabyneAmberle

    SabyneAmberle Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2004
    And behold! Another update. This took a bit because I wasn't sure how to pace it. In general, this is such a quiet scene that it gives me a bit of grief here and there.
    **********

    That had been easier than she thought. She knew he would likely be a bit stunned at her being a woman, but she had no idea it would floor him that completely. Such a perfect opportunity rarely presented itself, so she seized it as soon as she spotted it.

    The first thought that came to her mind about how to disarm him was to stun him somehow. If they were in a more open space, she would have likely deployed a Concussion missile to knock him out for a minute or two, thus allowing her to disarm him. But shooting missiles in an enclosed space would not only risk hurting all three of them, but would also risk damaging the entire facility. She really didn't need the headache at that moment. So, disarming him by hand it was, then.

    When his armored back hit the floor, it scared her a bit. She had been so focused on disarming him safely that she'd forgotten that armor tended to make a loud noise when it hit something. Like a hard floor, for example. For a fleeting moment, she thought she had hurt him, but adrenaline had kicked in by that point and it drove her forward.

    Once she ascertained he wouldn't be a further threat, she backed off. Mostly. She knew all too well how this worked: target was subdued, pleaded for her to back off, only to draw a weapon when they were loose. She'd lost a few bounties that way, and had had a few that were supposed to be brought in alive wind up dead when they lunged at her. The credits taken off her fee for those errors stung, but it was better than her winding up dead herself.

    You must like him. If I tried that, I'd be wearing my face on the back wall.”

    Her eyes never shifted from Torian. “Don't think the thought hasn't crossed my mind,” she replied, flexing her finger around the trigger of her blaster. “If he tries anything, I'll drop him where he stands.”

    Feeling a bit of panic, Torian held his hands up. “No, no. I won't do anything,” he said quickly, not wanting a repetition of being unceremoniously flipped on his back. “Made your point perfectly.”

    “Good. Glad I made an impression,” she replied. Hearing a small noise from the room's entrance, she spun quickly, blaster pointed in its general direction. Her braid swung wildly with the momentum of her movements, and he noted the glimmer of gold that fastened the tip of it. She stood with her back to him for a minute or two, scanning the room to make sure there were no surprise intruders, then turned back.

    “Not here for me,” he observed.

    She shook her head. “Last I checked, you're not on the Blacklist, kid.”

    So he had been wrong; Mandalore hadn't sent her after him. “Then who...?” he began, trailing off when he noticed the changes in her face. She appeared to bite at the inside of her lip, and the way she averted her eyes told him she was trying to come up with a good response.

    “You're not going to like the answer to that,” she finally said.

    “The traitor,” he said, voice barely above a whisper. He should have known she was after Jicoln as well. He hadn't heard of the Blacklist, but knew there had been many hunters sent after his father. None of them succeeded, otherwise neither of them would be standing there. “I'm looking as well, but not for a reunion. To reclaim my clan's honor.”

    “We'll restore your honor, Torian. You have my word.” Her words surprised him, and judging by the face of her companion, he was just as surprised. She remained quietly resolute, letting the hint of steel in her voice bolster her words. This was a young woman who took promises and honor seriously; if she gave her word on something, he could tell she would do anything in her power to see it through.

    She made a good Mandalorian. He could see why Mandalore was so eager to bring her into his clan.

    “Thanks,” he said finally, and the single word was answered by a gentle smile from her.
     
  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I enjoyed that =D= Definite high point of respect and honesty
     
  9. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Great update. Torian coming to understand what she is after and she willing to talk first
     
  10. SabyneAmberle

    SabyneAmberle Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2004
    Sorry this took a bit, I was unsure how to proceed with it. I kinda painted myself into a corner on a few points, but I managed to figure out what to do. From here, I'm unsure whether I'll continue the storyline with this fic, or shift to a sequel to continue things. I'll have to sleep on it.
    **********

    It seemed as soon as they had arrived, the hunter and her companion were leaving. Torian, knowing their destination would be thick with Rakghouls, had a plan already in place to deal with them. Quickly, he laid out the items he would need the duo to collect, and he could tell from her face that she wasn't too keen on what he was sending her after.

    Not that he blamed her, by any stretch. Trudging through the toxic wastes of Taris in search of Rakghoul filth and fluids was bad enough, but also having to find and carry the corpse of one of those monsters just made things even worse. Had he known he was going to have help tracking Jicoln, he would have already had some of this concoction mixed and ready for action. It was a bit late for that now, and he silently thanked her for not making a huge fuss about the task. The disgusted wrinkle of her nose had been all the hint he had that she found this distasteful. Quite the trooper, he thought.

    With an attitude like that, he could see how 'Gammon' had gotten to her place as Champion. In the time since he had first seen her on Dromund Kaas, he had taken the time to look up the hunter on the Holonet. He found precious little about this particular hunter, mostly bits and pieces about being a small-time gun-for-hire, then a few snippets of jobs and exploits. None of it mentioned her being a young woman; it seemed she had kept that secret very safe. He had found information about a retired hunter by the same name, whose armor in old Holos was nearly-identical to what she wore. He wondered if there was a connection, thought of asking her when they had free time.

    If they had free time, he corrected himself. First thing was first, they had to take out Jicoln.

    A thought suddenly occurred to him. “You know,” he thought aloud to himself. “Never did ask her real name. Not that she would likely give it to me...”

    He trailed off as a faint metallic glint from the floor caught his attention. Kneeling down, he picked up what appeared to be a metal identification tag. He hadn't spotted anything like this when he had entered, so he surmised it must have been hers. Likely fallen from a pouch or chain when she had disarmed him, and it was light enough that it wouldn't be missed for some time.

    He turned it over in his fingers, squinting in the dim light to make out the lettering. Written on it was a name and a planet. Clearly, someone -likely the young woman in question- had tampered with it; heavy scratches all but obliterated the surname on the tag. Still, he could make out the letters making up the first name, as well as the planet name.

    Kybrina. Deralia.

    “So, 'Gammon'. Real name's 'Kybrina', huh?” he muttered. He quickly slipped the tag into a pouch on his belt before exiting the facility himself. He had to finish packing his campsite, then carefully make his way to the transit station he directed the pair to meet him at, all the while making sure he didn't make a meal for a pack of Rakghouls.

    As he reached the camp and began his packing, he caught himself whistling a random tune. That was unusual for him, and he attributed his mood to having help taking down Jicoln. Deep down, however, he knew it was more than that. He knew it was being paired with a lovely, strong fighter like her, with whom he felt he could do just about anything.

    Think things just got much more interesting. He thought to himself. Let's see where this goes.

    **

    As he waited for their arrival, he first heard them. Then smelled them. Then saw them.

    He heard the disgust she showed after every battle with the Rakghouls. Not that he blamed her, Rakghouls were pretty disgusting creatures. After a few short skirmishes, she and her companion had arrived at their meeting spot. She was wearing her helmet again, but he didn't need to see her face to know her feelings at that moment. He was just glad she needed him; judging by how she was flexing her hands, he figured a small part of her was itching to strangle him.

    “Smelled you coming,” he quipped. His joke was answered with a smack to the shoulder of his armor, which made a dull thud.

    “Next time, you're the one digging through sewage,” she replied acidly, dumping the pungent bag on the ground at his feet. He noted her voice was normal, no disguise on it this time.

    “You know Botany, Kybrina? Didn't think so,” he countered, gingerly picking up the bag. “I got the rest of what we needed, so this shouldn't take long.”

    “It better...wait. How did you know my name?” she asked. “I don't remember ever telling you any sort of name beyond 'Gammon'.”

    He shrugged, reaching into the belt pouch and pulling out the tag. “Think you lost this,” he replied. Judging by her body language, he figured she was blushing. “Might want to watch that next time you disarm someone.”

    She quickly snatched the tag out of his hand, likely to cover her embarrassment. “Thank you for returning this,” she said, affixing it back around her neck. “Now, let's get on with this.”

    “Fine by me. Should just take a moment,” Torian tried to hide his amusement at her reaction. So the cold, unflappable 'Gammon' had a soft side after all. Just know her real name, and one could easily fluster her.

    “It's not funny, kid,” she snapped, still seeming embarrassed.

    “Didn't say it was,” he retorted, turning his back to hide his grin.

    He worked quickly on the mixture that would allow them a chance to sneak through the tunnel amongst the Rakghouls. It wasn't a complicated formula, and he was finished before too long. Looking back over his shoulder, he saw Kybrina had removed her helmet -likely to allow herself fresh air while she waited- and he noted her cheeks still seemed slightly red from her embarrassment.

    “All done. Smear it on thick.” he said.

    She seemed hesitant. “What does it do, asides from smell like death?” she asked.

    “Should allow us to calm the Rakghouls -maybe even put a few to sleep- so we can slip by relatively undetected.” She nodded, satisfied with his answer, and he watched her begin to spread the mixture on her armor.

    “Oh, no,” her Devaronian companion protested. “I am not getting that...this is my best shirt!”

    “Nice knowing you,” Torian replied, keeping a completely straight face. Almost instantly, Kybrina brought her clean hand to her mouth to stifle a laugh. He caught her eye, and gave her a small smile, which made her blush a bit and refocus on her armor.

    “Wait, wait. Just...just do it,” the Devaronian finally said. As he spread the mixture on his armor, he let out a disgusted groan. “Now I'm gonna have to burn these.”

    Torian watched Kybrina roll her eyes. “That's what you get for wearing your finery to a fight, isn't it Gault?” she asked him, then turned her focus to him “Kid, I need a favor from you,” she said.

    “What's that?”

    “Keep my real name on the down-low. I have...reasons for not using it. I'd prefer not letting it get around.”

    He nodded. “Sure thing. Won't be a problem.”
     
  11. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Nice update with the banter and finding out who Gammon is
     
  12. SabyneAmberle

    SabyneAmberle Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2004
    Sorry this hasn't been updated in a bit, I got busy and put it aside. But here's the next part.

    ********************

    The next leg of their mission was largely uneventful. Thanks to the salve they had all applied, the majority of the rakghouls either avoided them or ignored them. The few that did cross their path seemed to be smaller, scrawnier ones. Torian surmised they were desperate enough for food that nothing would have deterred them. Their condition was also obvious in how quickly they went down; between the three of them, the small pack was exterminated within a minute or two.

    He noticed Kybrina kept her helmet on, though she didn't use the disguise on her voice. Though he figured her decision was due to the salve's stench, he couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed. His disappointment surprised him, he had never been swayed by a pretty face before. He had seen more than his fair share of them, and the majority of the time they were only vaguely memorable to him. The women who wore them weren't Mandalorian, didn't understand the culture, and really couldn't have cared less about it. Not particularly attractive details, in his opinion.

    But Kybrina was light years' different. She might only be a fledgling Mandalorian -recently adopted into Mandalore's own clan- but she showed a keen interest in the people, their culture, and their ways. She fought on their level, treated them as equals, and generally conducted herself honorably. He admitted, part of him hoped they would have time later to spend together. There was much he wanted to teach her.

    “You know you've been staring at me for a while, right?” her voice jarred him out of his thoughts, and he averted his eyes to hide the blush that tinged his face. How could he have thought she wouldn't have noticed?

    “Uh...” He had to think fast, try to cover the fact he'd been caught. “Was wondering why you would disguise yourself as a man. You're a good fighter, why not show your real face?”

    He heard her muffled laugh. “Do you really think someone like me would be taken seriously as a bounty hunter?” she asked. “A pretty face does not a good hunter make, I was always told. If I showed my face, men would either take my jobs in the name of 'chivalry' or they would put me on a pedestal and worship me. Neither of those seems an ideal outcome, thanks.”

    “Makes sense,” Torian replied. “Many people know your real identity?”

    She shrugged. “A few who matter,” she answered. “Mako and Gault do, obviously. My handler, Crysta, and those associated with the Great Hunt, though it took some doing before I revealed my identity to them. Mandalore and the other Champions, naturally. And now you, of course.”

    He was about to reply when a strange chittering noise distracted him. The vault they had just entered was dimly lit, strewn with rocks and dead vegetation. He stopped in the doorway, shaking his head to clear it of the high-pitched sound.

    “Did you hear that?” he asked Kybrina. When she shook her head to indicate she hadn't, he was surprised. “Nothing?” he pressed, hearing the high-pitched noise again. It was like the sound a rakghoul made, only different somehow...

    Kybrina regarded the dark path ahead of them warily. “I've got a bad feeling about this,” she said, drawing her pistols.

    “You and me both,” her companion said, his blaster rifle at the ready.

    They could hear a low rumble from the path in front of them, punctuated by that high-pitched chittering noise. “Trap!” Torian shouted, drawing his techstaff. A few feet in front of them, rakghouls began digging themselves out from beneath the dirt of the floor, their actions causing the walls to shake slightly.

    “I hate when I'm right!” the Devaronian said, aiming his rifle at the pack.

    **

    As the last irradiated rakghoul fell at her feet, Ky felt the hairs on the back of her neck prick slightly. As she entered the vault, she kept her pistols ready, making a slow sweep of the dim space. Seeing the vault was empty, she holstered them, happy her helmet hid the frown on her face. Something wasn't right here.

    The only difficult part had been locating the device that was attracting the rakghouls. It was an odd little box that emitted a high-pitched sound. It was clearly attuned to a frequency the beasts could hear, and their heightened aggression showed they were less than thrilled with it. Making matters more complicated, the moment she touched the device to disarm it, she was sprayed with a foul-smelling chemical. She surmised it was a pheromone designed to attract the rakghouls' irradiated cousins; when a trio of the brutes emerged from the vault, they instantly zeroed in on her and began attacking. It was thanks to Torian and Gault that she was still left standing after the assault.

    Aside from the mutated monsters, getting into this vault had almost been easy. Too easy. What had they missed?

    “Blast, blast, blast!” Gault's voice interrupted her thoughts. She looked back as he approached her, examining his left arm. “Does this look infected to you?” he asked, thrusting his arm out for her to look at.

    She gave it a cursory glance. “No.” she replied. “Looks fine. Now shut up and pay attention. We don't know what's next.”

    Entering the vault, she expected to find Jicoln waiting with blaster in hand. Or a huge horde of rakghouls. Something other than what she found. What she saw instead was an empty little room, and she muttered a curse. Had he really managed to elude her already?

    Her head hurt, it seemed this whole job was getting worse by the minute. She stopped next to a holoterminal seated in the middle of the room and removed her helmet, pinching the bridge of her nose as she struggled to think. She was so focused on clearing her head that the low hum of the terminal activating caught her off-guard. She jumped back, hand resting on her holster briefly before she forced herself to relax.

    It flickered on, revealing the armor-clad form of a man. “So, is Artus finally sending children to do his dirty work?” he asked in a mocking tone.

    Jicoln. Ky felt her spine stiffen, could hear Torian suck in a sharp, hissing breath behind her.

    Run home now, and tell 'Mandalore' if he wants my head, he should come and take it himself,” Jicoln's tone continued to mock, an acidic edge tingeing it. Ky knew that tone, and knew not to underestimate it. He had home advantage here, she could only hope to goad him into making a mistake.

    “You know, that's pretty bold talk coming from a man too cowardly to do more than mock me from a distance,” Ky retorted, noting the stiffening of her foe's jaw and the quirk of an eyebrow. Oh, she had hit a nerve, she could tell. “Are you gonna face me like a warrior, or make me chase you all over Taris?” It was a slight movement, but she noticed him clenching his fist at his side. Oh, pushed a button, did I? She thought to herself. Good. The angrier men like you get, the sloppier you get.

    Think real hard, girl, before you go issuing challenges you might regret,” Jicoln spat back.

    “You think I'm regretting any of this?” Ky asked. “Hardly. Now why don't you stop playing these little mockery games of yours and get to the point, Jicoln?”

    If I were you, I would be real careful who I mouth off to, girl. It might be the last thing you do in this existence.” Jicoln cracked his knuckles, though it was unclear if he was relieving tension or trying to be menacing. “I will tell you what I told all the others. You've survived, so you have earned the right to the Geroya be Haran. If you lose, however, I will kill you.

    “Promises, promises.” It was Ky's turn to be mocking. “Didn't anyone ever teach you not to make promises you have no hope of keeping?” She saw she scored another point; judging from the rigidity of his jaw and the slight widening of his eyes, he was barely constraining his fury.

    Very well,” he spat, pulling a datapad from his belt and punching a few buttons. “I will be waiting at these coordinates. Then we'll see who hunts whom.” As soon as Ky heard the beep from her own datapad signaling receipt of the coordinates, Jicoln's image faded out.

    Gault was clearly trying to lighten the mood. “Real nice guy, your dad,” he joked, turning to where Torian stood behind them. “He must be a real hit at parties.”

    “He's toying with us.” Torian replied, seeming a bit troubled.

    “Brilliant deduction,” Kybrina spun to face him, arms folded across her chest. “How about providing some information we didn't already figure out? Like, what is this 'Geroya' thing?”

    Geroya be Haran,” Torian corrected her flatly.

    “Ge...Geroya be H...Har...an,” she repeated shakily, cursing herself for how ridiculous she sounded. “What is it?”

    “It's a Mandalorian death game, and it gives us an opening,” Torian explained. “Could be just the opening we need.”

    **

    Though he knew admitting it out loud would likely get him punched, after Kybrina's near-miss at the vault entrance, Torian felt more than a little protective of her. Those irradiated rakghouls had seemingly come out of nowhere, and thanks to the pheromones she had accidentally doused herself in, they had the perfect target. It had taken all their combined effort to kill the creatures, and he fought harder than he had in a long time. Rakghouls in general were risky to take on in a small group, but those irradiated ones were a special breed of nasty. He wasn't surprised it took Kybrina a good hour to recover after the fight.

    When they entered the vault, he felt a surge of disappointment course through him. He had hoped to find the traitor there, had hoped to make this task easier on all of them. But it was not to be. Instead, Jicoln taunted them through a holocommunicator. Typical behavior from a traitorous coward, he thought.

    He did have to admit, he was impressed by Kybrina. She took the abuse hurled at her by Jicoln and threw it right back at him. Was she overconfident, even a bit cocky about this? Maybe. But that cocky streak did do some damage. By watching the traitor's body language, Torian could tell she was pushing the right buttons, goading his temper in whatever ways she could.

    She asked about the Geroya be Haran, and he explained it briefly. He outlined the four components of the game, told her what had to be done. As he talked, he noted the boredom her companion showed, which was contrasted by the interest reflected in her bright blue eyes. She was clearly listening to every word and archiving it mentally for future reference. Smart girl.

    “This is a lot of trouble for a duel,” she said, shaking her head slightly.

    “It's a war game, Mandalorian tradition,” he replied. “And it gets us close to him.”

    Having finished his explanation and outlining of their plan, he turned to leave, but stopped in place. “By the way,” he said. “Why taunt Jicoln the way you did? Just ups the danger for you.”

    “Angry, paranoid people do not necessarily act rationally,” she replied. “The angrier I can get them, the less rational they'll behave. Soon, they're reduced to raging, flailing messes, which makes cleanup that much easier.”

    “Fair enough,” he answered. “I'll scout for Jicoln's honors, while you go to face him. Then while you run the game, I'll find his home.” He walked to the vault doorway, pausing briefly. “Call me when you've made your challenge.”

    Though his back was to her, he imagined she gave an understanding nod. “Will do,” she said. “Be careful out there.”

    He tried to reply, but felt his voice falter. Instead, he gave a nod and left the vault. Finding the shattered remnants of a building, he climbed to the top of the ruins. Setting down his pack, he reached in for his binocs. As he pulled them out, he paused when he saw his hands shaking slightly. He tightened his grip on them in the hopes of dispelling the tremor, but that only seemed to marginally remedy it.

    Am I nervous? He asked himself. Why? Is it because I'm finally close to confronting the traitor after so many years? He held the binocs to his eyes, scanning the area in search of either Jicoln or his honors.

    Or maybe...maybe I'm worried about how this will end, especially for Kybrina.
     
    earlybird-obi-wan likes this.
  13. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    interesting update with the rakghouls and the war game.
     
  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Very intriguing developments and prudent strategy from Kybrina, goading your opponent into recklessness.
     
  15. SabyneAmberle

    SabyneAmberle Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2004
    And next part is up. I really wanted to get into the head of Ky's target with this one, since the game really doesn't flesh him out particularly well.

    *****************************

    The speeder slowed to a gentle stop next to the beacon, and Ky and her companions made their way over to it. Once again, that trademark frown creased her features, the one that always appeared when something was amiss. She also had this vague sense they were being watched, but there was no sign of another person in their vicinity.

    Mako was clearly puzzled. “Did he give the right coordinates, Ky?” she asked. “Or is there something else going on here?”

    “I'm betting on the latter, personally,” Gault stood with his arms crossed, leaning against one of the speeders. “Nothing else on this planet has gone our way, why should this little challenge be any different?”

    “One way to know for sure.” Ky pulled out her holocom and activated it. “Torian? It's me,” she began as his image appeared. “I'm at the coordinates, but no sign of Jicoln. Just some sort of marker.”

    Not good...” Before he could say anything more, Ky heard the faint sound of a distant blaster shot. She tried to dodge, but the bolt was traveling too rapidly. It struck her holocom, the force of the impact caused her to lose her balance and hit the ground hard. She lay there for several moments, struggling to catch her breath.

    “Holy...!” Gault ducked as though trying to dodge additional incoming shots as he hurried to stand next to Ky behind the marker.

    “Hey! Are you all right?” Mako was at her hip in an instant, looking over her right hand. “Can you stand? Anything hurt?” Ky sat up and shook her head, still clearly trying to regain her breath after having the wind knocked out of her.

    “Ky, if you want me to steal your ship and run, then just lie still and don't move,” Gault interjected. He took an abrupt step backward, dodging as she swung one fist in a rapidly-moving arc toward his shins.

    “Not funny, Gault,” she said, standing slowly. She kept her back to the dilapidated marker, hearing more shots strike it. Some bounced off harmlessly, others burrowed deep into its metallic surface, sending out showers of sparks.

    At that moment, her holocom beeped. She pressed the button to activate it, feeling a sense of relief that the rogue shot hadn't damaged it too badly.

    You okay? What happ-” Torian's image was cut off before he could finish his question, replaced instead by Jicoln's.

    Challenge accepted,” he said, his tone almost sinister.

    Ky narrowed her eyes. “That was a cheap shot, Jicoln,” she snapped back. “Shows you still aren't man enough to face me head-to-head.”

    He simply glared at her for a brief moment before his image was gone, again replaced with Torian's. “Transmission cut out,” he said. Ky thought about making a sarcastic quip in reply, but restrained herself. He might not know what had just happened. “Transmitting coordinates. Should be all of the traitor's honors. Contact you when I've found his bolt hole. Torian out.

    Ky put away her holocom, listening carefully for any more approaching blaster shots. When she didn't hear any, she gestured for her companions to follow her back to the speeder bikes. As she did, Mako let out a surprised sound.

    “Ky, your hand! Look what happened to it!”

    That was the moment Ky felt the slight sting from her right hand. Taking Mako's suggestion, she looked at her hand, and almost regretted the decision. Her gauntlet now bore a large hole, cracks of varying sizes and lengths snaking away from the opening. The newly exposed skin beneath the gauntlet was discolored, blood slowly trickling from a collection of wounds near her wrist. Stifling a curse, she removed the gauntlet and threw it aside before looking over the skin of her hand and forearm. She was relieved to see the wounds were shallow, more than likely caused by the edges of the impact site digging into her skin.

    Mako was already digging out her medkit. “Let me see...” she began, only to be cut off when Ky turned her back to her.

    “Mako, this isn't the time to play nursemaid,” she said, picking up the discarded gauntlet. “It's not a serious wound, it just stings like hell.” She looked over the gauntlet carefully, taking note of the damage. “It's still usable, but only just. I'll have to improvise until we get back to the ship and can fully repair it.” Pulling off her other gauntlet, she switched it out for the damaged one, putting the undamaged one on her right hand.

    She looked over her shoulder at her companions. “Gault, head back to the ship and stand by, in case we run into trouble,” she said.

    “Best news I've heard all day,” he said, mounting his speeder. “You girls have fun. Don't do anything I wouldn't do.”

    After he left, Ky quickly jumped onto her speeder, with Mako following suit.

    “Let's get moving,” she said. “The longer we wait, the more chance we give our target to gear up.”

    **

    As he watched her speed away, a malicious smile curled his lip.

    “Stupid girl. You don't even think you're being watched, do you?”

    From his hidden perch high atop a mountain of wreckage, Jicoln Cadera watched his target carefully. His sniper rifle was held in his large hands, finger resting just off the trigger. He was itching to shoot it again, itching to hold the sights up to his eye, center that impudent hunter in them, and pull the trigger. Nothing else would give him more pleasure at that moment.

    He supposed he should yet again try to feel flattered. Artus had once again deigned to remember his existence in his own way, by sending yet another of his little stooges to try and kill him. He had faced several of them since his arrival on Taris nearly two decades ago; most were unlucky enough to meet their deaths. Pathetic, the entire lot of them were. They were barely worth the title 'hunter', let alone 'Mandalorian'.

    But this girl? She was nothing like them. He had been watching her from this perch for some time, watching as she fought scavengers, pirates, the wildlife...whatever crossed her path. Superficially, she didn't look like much, but judging by the kills she made she was a good shot with a blaster. Coupled with her smart mouth and general attitude, she had succeeded where no other hunter had before. She had gotten under his skin, goaded his temper, until he threw out his challenge. Even when he had, it didn't appear to faze her, but her verbal dodges and barbs were as sharp as before.

    His thoughts flicked back to their initial meeting via holoterminal. He stood there issuing his challenge, she stood there challenging him in turn. In spite of his growing anger, he did have to admire her courage, though he didn't know how well it would serve her when this all ended. Though he chalked it up to his being alone on this ruin of a planet for so long, he couldn't help but think of his Liska. Though this girl's hair was the color of blood as opposed to sunlight, so much about her mannerisms and attitude reminded him of his riduur. From the defiant tilt of chin, to the narrowing of eyes that some would mistake for arrogance or cockiness, even the tone of her voice reminded him of his former love. He had forced himself to stop thinking of her, forced her memory to the furthest fringes of his thoughts, lest it return and drive him further into madness. Now this insolent little upstart dared to intrude on his exile and brought that memory to the fore. She would pay for that.

    His thoughts shifted to the boy who had accompanied her, and his brow furrowed in puzzlement. He had never seen this boy in his life, yet there was something very familiar about him. Something he couldn't quite put his finger on. His mind briefly replayed another painful memory, the last time he had seen Artus. This mysterious boy reminded him of his own son, whom Artus swore he would kill long before he grew into a man.

    Could he have lied? No, that sort of speculation was dangerous. He knew his former friend all too well; when he made a vow, he kept it no matter what. Nothing would sway him. Because he dared not risk leaving Taris to seek out his family, he forced himself to give them up for dead. He had to, for the sake of his own sanity.

    Haar'chak!” He cursed himself angrily. Thinking about the dead wouldn't help him deal with the living, especially one particularly annoying specimen who was needling at him. He pulled out a set of binocs from his bag and carefully watched his opponent mount her speeder and leave the meeting place. Evidently his little warning hadn't scared her off, she was still going through with this challenge. She truly was a stubborn little thing, a trait he would use to end her as he had those who came before her.

    As he watched her travel across the terrain, a frown crossed his features. In previous challenges, his opponents flailed and floundered all across the planet searching for his honors, reminding him of a pack of bomas who has stumbled into a grove of fermented fruits. But this girl was doing no searching, was not stopping to check her scenery or search the myriad of crevices and holes that pocked the planet. Instead, she traveled directly toward the first of his honors, only stopping once or twice to thin out packs of beasts blocking the trail. Once they were down, she resumed her journey, her posture showing her determination.

    As she closed in on the first of his honors, Jicoln stood up abruptly and grabbed his rifle again. Time to make this challenge more interesting, he thought. Raising the rifle sights to his eye, he aimed carefully, then pulled the trigger.
     
  16. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Absolutely riveting and compelling ... We see more into Jicoln's motives & character and also Ky's mettle as well. :D
     
  17. SabyneAmberle

    SabyneAmberle Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2004
    Once again, I left this one fallow while I worked on other pieces and decided how to proceed with this fic. Sorry for the long-ish update, I figured letting it go a few months deserved a longer one. :)

    *****

    “I gotta hand it to the kid. He's good,” Ky remarked as she stopped her bike. A few feet away lay the first of Jicon's honors, a rock that held his oath of loyalty to clan Ordo. The clan name seemed familiar to her, as though she had come across it in some reading or other she had done in years past. But now wasn't really the time to wax on about history and names. There was work to do.

    She glanced around, making sure there weren't any hostile creatures or scavengers nearby to cause her trouble. Seeing the area was clear, she approached the rock and picked up the item. It featured a strange sigil stamped in gold, along with words written in a script she could not decipher. Beneath the words was a strange scrawl of writing she took as a signature; the ink it was written in was such a strange hue of reddish-brown that she vaguely suspected it was not ink at all. The speculation weighed on her mind as she placed the item in her pack.

    “Okay. One down, three to go,” she murmured.

    Suddenly, her ears picked up the faint sound of a rifle shot. Before she could react in any fashion, she felt an impact strike her back. Though its force had been mitigated by the distance it had traveled, it was still powerful enough to knock her to her knees and steal her breath. Letting out a gasp of mingled shock and pain, she reached behind her to the impact site. Her fingertips traced the small spiderweb of thin cracks that had formed from the shot; gentle pressure applied to the area caused the skin underneath to twinge angrily with a promised bruise. She was used to bruises, but that didn't mean she liked them.

    Mako had knelt next to her, kolto pack in hand to patch her up. Ky waved her off, indicating the damage was negligible. There was no blood or other outward sign of serious injury, so she preferred holding out on the kolto until it was absolutely necessary. They were far enough away from supplies that there was a real risk of running out if she used it for every little scratch and bruise she received.

    She heard the distant sound of another shot, this time able to easily dodge it. Jumping to her feet, she hurried back to her bike, mounting it and aiming it for the next set of coordinates. It wasn't far from her current location, and within a few minutes, she was approaching the next honor.

    **

    The frown Jicoln was wearing only increased as he watched her pick up his oath. But he wasn't ready to give up yet.

    “Not bad. It's usually over by now,” he muttered, settling down with his rifle and lining up the sights. “Let's see how far you get.” He pulled the trigger, watching through the scope as she dropped to her knees and felt the damage to her back. He stifled a curse as he watched her stand up and fired off a second shot in frustration. His irritation only grew as she easily dodged that shot and made for her bike. He would need to move in order to follow.

    Silently making his way along the wreckage, he again found himself within shooting range of her. He silently watched through the scope as she approached his next honor: the skull of Darth Shattra. This was a particularly high honor for him, as he had acquired it on a mission most had labeled suicide. What only further stoked his ire was the speed at which she had found this trophy. Even if some of his foes had found the first honor, they fumbled about blindly searching for the second.

    “Finding one that quickly could have been dumb luck,” he though aloud. “Two, you're getting help.”

    But from where? How was she finding these so easily? Who was guiding her to them? Was it the boy with her? He shook his head; whatever her source of help was, it was irrelevant beside the need to stop her.

    Slowly, he focused his sights on her back and squeezed the trigger. “Let's slow you down,” he muttered menacingly. He felt a smirk cross his face as he watched her drop to her knees again. That bit of emotion quickly vanished when he watched her stand again and mount her bike. Growling angrily, he quickly made to follow her to the next location.

    **

    When she was shot the first time, Ky was able to mostly shrug it off as a very sore annoyance. When she was shot a second time, the pain seemed multiplied by ten. Somehow, the second shot had hit in the exact same spot the first one had; she could hear the crackling sounds the outer shell of her armor was making as it further buckled under the pressure. Beneath that plating, the bruise that had threatened to surface after the first shot throbbed with a new burst of pain.

    She would survive this, but she knew she would be incredibly sore for some time afterward. While Mako had again suggested using kolto to treat the injury, Ky yet again declined it. Out here, she was already exposed enough as it was. In order to reach the injury, she would have to remove her armor, which would only heighten the danger for her. No, it was better to soldier through the pain for a bit longer, then treat the resultant injury when their surroundings were safer.

    “Two down...” she whispered, making her way back to the bike. “I just have to hang in there a bit longer, then I can finish this farce.”

    Approaching the third honor, Ky had an idea. Instead of taking a direct route toward it, she swung her speeder in a slow loop around it, approaching it from the opposite side of where she normally would have. She walked over to where the object -which appeared to be some sort of medal- was hanging. As she wrapped her hand around it to remove it from its place, she heard yet another shot, then felt herself knocked back several steps by the impact of a bolt hitting her torso. She looked down, noted the small cracks where her armor absorbed the hit, and felt a rush of anger surge through her.

    “Jicoln...” She looked up in the direction she thought the shot originated from. She knew perfectly well what he was doing. He wasn't trying to kill her necessarily; if that had been his plan he could have pulled off a fatal shot at any time during this chase. No, he was trying to intimidate her, trying to scare her into quitting, or making a fatal mistake. But clearly he hadn't figured out that attempting to intimidate her only made her that much more stubborn.

    Straightening her spine, she held her hands up in the rudest gesture she knew how to make. And she knew some incredibly insulting ones for just about any race she encountered, thanks to years spent training with individuals from those various races. Almost immediately, her gesture was answered by a volley of blaster fire, which she dodged with a laugh. It really was too easy to goad him.

    Hearing her holocom beep, she pulled it from her belt and activated it. Torian appeared immediately, his expression showing concern. “Hey. How you holding up?” he asked.

    “Considering I'm being stalked by a crazy man with a sniper rifle, I'm just dandy,” she replied sarcastically. “How the hell do you think I am?”

    Sorry. Stupid question.” Immediately, she felt a twinge of guilt for snapping at him. “Found the traitor's bolt-hole. Wreckage. Crashed ship. The Endar Spire.”

    She managed a weak smile. When had she started feeling so tired? “Good work, Torian,” she replied. “I'll let you know when I've got Jicoln on the run.”

    He nodded. “Keep the pressure on. I'll start laying a trap,” he replied. “I'll call when everything's in position.

    After disconnecting the call, Ky turned and walked back to the speeder, with Mako right behind her. As they sped toward the last set of coordinates, she found herself dodging another hail of blaster fire. Most of the shots were easily avoided, a few hit the bikes' chassis, leaving small scorch marks and dents.

    “Looks like he's getting bolder,” Mako said.

    “Or more desperate,” Ky answered. “Either way, this is getting more dangerous. Let's get that last honor and meet up with Torian.”

    **

    The smirk returned to Jicoln's face, but it was an ironic one. His amusement with this hunt was lessening by the minute, and her insulting little stunt did little to stem its ebb. He had fired off an angry volley of shots when he saw that gesture, then cursed at himself for several seconds. He had done exactly what she apparently had wanted him to do, he had lost his head.

    The anger out of his system, he watched as the hunter and her companion departed, likely heading for the final honor. He let out a low, harsh laugh. “You're a real spitfire,” he said, lining up his rifle sights and squeezing the trigger. “If I were young again, I might take you as a bride, girl.” He scowled as he watched her evade his shots, no one had ever been able to thwart his aim as easily as she just had.

    Just like Liska. When he had first met the feisty woman he would eventually marry, she hadn't given him an easy time, either. Her parents had both been highly skilled warriors, and they had trained her and her sisters well. During their first meeting, she had stared him down with those flinty dark eyes of hers, challenging him to try and best her. When they sparred, she was able to defeat him as often as he did her. She tackled every challenge he threw in her way with the same steely determination that had made him fall in love with her. The fact that this insolent upstart of a hunter reminded him so much of his lost wife caused the bitterness to churn heavily within his gut.

    He fired off a couple more shots, then stopped himself from firing again. This was getting him nowhere; even when his shots did connect she just picked herself up and continued onward. He needed to change up his tactics, adjust his strategy so as to catch her off-guard. Standing up, he holstered his rifle and left his hiding place in the wreckage, hurrying to return to his base and regroup.

    **

    Torian lowered the binocs he was holding and frowned. From his perch on yet another shattered building, he had a good view of both the Endar Spire's wreckage and Jicoln's position. He had watched the traitor stalk Kybrina, had flinched himself every time he saw him fire a shot. It took everything he had not to interfere more than he already had, but he didn't want to blow this. Revealing himself too soon might cause the traitor to panic and entrench himself deeper in the shattered planet, making all their efforts worthless. Patience was key, even if it made him edgy.

    As he watched the traitor abruptly quit his hiding place, he knew he needed to update Kybrina. Figuring she had just found the last honor, he pulled out his holo and contacted her.

    She looked pretty banged up when she appeared, but she seemed mostly intact. “Torian, that trap ready?” she asked.

    “No, and the traitor's on his way back,” he replied, a tinge of anxiety edging his words.

    Though he couldn't see her face behind her helmet, he judged from the sound of her voice that she had an eyebrow raised in surprise. “Jicoln's still got one cache left. You think he's onto us?” she asked.

    He shook his head. “He's just changing strategy,” he replied. “You're winning; he's coming to fortify his stronghold.” He pulled his datapad from his belt and tapped a few buttons. “Transmitting location. I'll do what I can. Hurry.”

    She nodded. Just be careful, Torian,” she replied. “Jicoln's more dangerous than he seems. Don't underestimate him.

    Once their conversation ended, Torian jumped down from his hiding place and made his way to the ship wreckage. He looked around to make sure he didn't draw any unnecessary attention from either scavengers or the Cathar who had settled nearby, then entered the remains of the ship.

    He kept to the shadows, slowly working his way from one room to the next while avoiding the droids that wandered its halls. He didn't know where these droids came from; he theorized Jicoln had taken them from the military bases and scavenger camps that dotted the planet and reprogrammed them. Wherever they came from, they looked dangerous enough that he kept his distance.

    Finally, he reached the large room at the center of the wreckage. Judging from the equipment and tools scattered across the floor, this was what Jicoln used as living space. In spite of his overwhelming curiosity, he didn't dare rifle through the scattered belongings and weapons there in the room. The last thing he needed was to trigger a trap, or to be in plain sight when the traitor walked in. Instead, he continued to stay hidden in the shadows, waiting for Jicoln to appear.

    After several minutes that felt like hours, Torian could barely make out the traitor's silhouette in the dim light. He crept closer, observing the man as best as he could. He appeared to be rummaging through the various bags and cases strewn about one section of the floor, his motions frantic and rushed. Torian couldn't make out the cache's contents, but could tell Jicoln was looking for something in particular. In that moment, he seemed less like the boogeyman he had been painted as and more like a fragile, fallible being like any other.

    Doesn't seem so tough. Torian thought. I can challenge him, end this here and now.

    Aiming one of his gauntlets at the kneeling man, he pressed a button on the side of it. Instantly, an electrified net burst out, flying through the gloom until it had wrapped itself around the traitor. Torian suppressed a triumphant yell and grabbed his weapon, intending to close the gap and finish the fight before the traitor could free himself and escape. The Electro-net would keep him mostly immobilized, making the fight much easier.

    As he leaped from his hiding place, it started to occur to him that Jicoln really wasn't struggling against his bonds. Every so often, he would make a motion of pushing against the net, but he wasn't violently trying to free himself. Torian had used this net against prior opponents, and most of them fought aggressively to escape the net even as it restricted their movements. Something wasn't adding up.

    “So, you think you're clever, boy?” The question from the traitor surprised him; when Jicoln abruptly stood up, Torian belatedly realized his error. The traitor was not completely helpless, he had been kneeling in front of a cache of munitions. His feeble, halfhearted movements had been less about struggling to free himself and more about better positioning the net to set off the cache. Rather than catching him by surprise, he had blundered into a trap himself!

    'Jicoln's more dangerous than he seems. Don't underestimate him.'

    Hearing Kybrina's warning in the back of his mind, Torian tried to reroute his charge to escape the blast, but he was still hit by its shockwave. The force of the blast had knocked Jicoln into a shadowy corner of the room, while Torian was thrown into a large pile of rubble that lay in its center. He clutched his side, feeling the searing pain of the large gash that had opened along his ribs. He took a few deep breaths, struggling to tell if any ribs had been fractured in the impact; after nearly passing out several times from the pain, he was still uncertain, but didn't want to test any further. Mentally, he checked his other extremities, surprised they had all escaped serious injury in the explosion.

    In his dimming state of consciousness, Torian could hear the scraping sound of boots and armor along the floor on the far end of the room. He could barely make out the dim figure of the traitor as he emerged from the pile of rubble he was buried beneath. The figure cast a cursory glance around the room at the ruins of his stockpiles, then seemed to cast a glare on Torian himself. Torian felt a prick of fear as Jicoln took a few menacing steps toward him, progress that was halted by his collapsing to his hands and knees. He loudly coughed several times, and Torian could just make out the sound of some sort of liquid hitting the hard floor.

    After a few minutes, Jicoln managed to stagger to his feet. He cast another glare at Torian before limping slowly out of the room through the door he came in. Torian struggled to stand up and pursue him, but only made it a couple steps before collapsing. He then tried to drag himself to the door, but felt all the strength leave his limbs. His vision blurry, he fought against the unconsciousness that kept trying to claim him. He was a Mandalorian, dammit! He wasn't going down this easily.

    In his weakened state, he was barely able to push himself onto his back before he heard a pair of familiar voices rapidly approaching.

    Kybrina...
     
  18. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb and riveting =D= Kybrina arrived just in time to help Torian. She is one fierce warrior and shrewd.

    Wondering if Jicoln will be able to slither free after all? :eek:
     
  19. SabyneAmberle

    SabyneAmberle Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2004
    All right, time to get this rolling again! I'm getting close to the end, so I hope to finish this in full very soon. Also, I restarted a Bounty Hunter and have been playing through these very quests, so even better!

    *****

    Even though she wasn't a Jedi, Ky swore there was something warning her about the shattered wreckage of the old ship. Whatever it was, it made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end, and she felt her hands reach lower on her belt until they were comfortably wrapped around the grips of her blasters. There was something off about this ship, and it wasn't just the numerous scavengers and creatures that surrounded it.

    “There's something weird going on with that ship,” Mako said, her words an eerie echo of Ky's thoughts. “I get the feeling something bad's just happened inside.”

    Ky nodded. “I agree,” she replied shortly. She would have elaborated, but her eyes kept scanning their surroundings, keeping tabs on the nearby wildlife in case it turned hostile. With all the other problems they'd been having, an angry beast was the last thing they needed.

    “Hey, Ky. Do you smell that?” Mako's voice cut into her awareness. “It smells like something inside the ship is burning. And a lot of it.”

    It was on the tip of her tongue to remind Mako there were a lot of fires burning on Taris, but Ky decided to humor her instead. Removing her helmet, she held it under her arm as she inhaled deeply several times. Instantly, she could see what Mako meant; there was a smell of smoke that clung to the air around the downed ship.

    “You're right, Mako,” she replied. “Something in that ship must be on fire.” Inhaling again, Ky could catch another faint scent. “There must have been an explosion inside the wreckage recently. I can pick up the faintest traces of explosive powder in the air....”

    She trailed off as she and Mako shared a horrified look. “Torian!” she said suddenly.

    “You don't think he's in trouble, do you?” Mako asked. “I mean, he can take care of himself. Do you think something really happened in there?”

    “I don't know. But I'm not wasting any more time out here speculating,” Ky said grimly, replacing her helmet. “I'm going inside to look for myself.”

    “Right behind you, boss,” Mako replied.

    As soon as the pair set foot within the wreckage, Ky began scanning their surroundings. She had heard this ship was centuries old, a remnant from the Jedi Civil War that had caused so many problems in the galaxy. But its emergency subsystems appeared to still be functional; Ky could make out the dim lights that glowed eerily from the walls. Every so often, there would be a power fluctuation and the lights would flicker, which only added to her worried paranoia.

    Silently, she hugged the walls of the shattered ship, indicating that Mako should follow her route. There were droids still active inside the remains, likely stolen from the Republic and reprogrammed. Though their definite origins were a mystery, Ky could tell by the weapons mounted on their chassis that they were anything but docile. Better to avoid a fight as much as possible.

    The smoky scent grew thicker and heavier as they moved through the ship, the powder hanging even more thickly in the air until Ky swore she could taste it. Eventually, they reached a large empty room at the center of the wreckage; Ky debated if the room had been the engine room, or even some sort of large hangar space. The walls and ceiling disappeared into the gloom that engulfed the ship, making it impossible for her to estimate the size of the space.

    Slowly, they picked their way through the room. A few times, Ky held out a protective arm, keeping Mako from walking any further in that particular direction. Mako quickly saw why; someone had set mines along strategic parts of the floor. In the dim light, the mines would be nearly impossible to spot, which could lead to injury or death for some unlucky trespasser. Better to play things cautiously and keep themselves as intact as possible, she had decided.

    In the gloom ahead, Ky spotted something; as they got closer she could see it was a human form. When they got even closer, she was able to make out more details. What she saw made her pause.

    “Torian!” The shout from behind her had surprised Ky, and she involuntarily stepped to the side as Mako rushed to him. Ky took her time, her gaze taking in his condition. He was a mess; his armor was pretty heavily damaged, and she was sure that glossy sheen on his armor and the ground beneath him was blood. Hearing their approach, he manage to prop himself up on one elbow, his breathing clearly showing the pain he was in.

    “Torian, what happened? Where's Jicoln?” she asked briskly, trying to use her professional demeanor to tamp down her worry. Though Mako had been much more upfront with her concern, Ky had been worried about him as well. Even if he wasn't part of their crew, even if they would part ways and never see one another again after Taris, she liked him.

    “Got cocky. He's...tricky,” Torian replied brokenly as Ky knelt next to him and removed her helmet. His voice was weak, shaking at times as he struggled against the pain and weakness he felt. “Electro Net put him down, but...used it to cook off his munition cache.” He looked up, and his gaze met Ky's. “He's running, don't let the trail go cold.”

    Ky reached into a pouch on her belt, pulling out the medpacks she was carrying with her. “Better the trail go cold than you,” she replied. Without another word, she began applying kolto to the superficial wounds on his face and arms, silently thankful he didn't appear to be more critically hurt. Had his wounds been worse, he might have died before she could get him to a facility with a kolto tank.

    With a pained hiss, he jerked his face back. Instantly, he regretted the action, as it caused pain to flare along the gash in his ribs. “I'll be fine. Just get him!” he protested. Feeling the edges of his consciousness fraying, he spoke more quickly. He didn't care if he rambled, or sounded disjointed. He had to tell her more, give her as much help as he could. “He hurt, bleeding, running. Deep tracks, bloody mud, straight lines...even you could follow.”

    He felt her hand still where it was applying kolto to a particularly nasty scrape, and he thought for a moment she would take his advice. Instead, she resumed treating his injuries, her voice never changing.

    “We're finishing this together, Torian,” she replied, her steady gaze holding his. “It's not up for discussion.”

    He wanted to rage at her. They were so close to nabbing the traitor and ending all of this! Why was she so focused on him now? She should be focused on taking down Jicoln, not playing nurse. Especially not to him, of all people. In all his time growing up, he had had to largely rely on himself to get out of these scrapes. Being a traitor's son, he was used to the looks, the whispered scorn, the offers of help that were barely adequate. So why was she acting like this?

    He wanted to ask her everything, but his energy was rapidly failing him. Instead, all he could muster was a raggedly whispered “So close...” before the blackness retook him.

    **

    Mako looked at Ky as she stood again, noted the thin line her friend's lips were pressed into. She was worried, there was no mistaking that expression. “Ky, what do we do?” she asked.

    Ky didn't even look at her, her full focus was on Torian. “Mako, check those storage containers we passed when we entered this room,” she replied, her tone eerily calm. “See if there are any medical supplies we can use in them.”

    “Will do. What about you?”

    Finally, Ky looked at her, her expression its usual one of grim determination. “I'm getting him out of here, one way or another,” she answered. “It's too dark to really do much good in here, and those droids scattered all over the ship are making me nervous. I'd prefer treating him somewhere a bit safer. And brighter.”

    As soon as Mako left, Ky knelt next to Torian again. She slung one of his arms over her shoulders and stood up, but when she attempted to lift him higher onto her back, she found he was too heavy for her to budge more than a few inches. Sighing in frustrated resignation, she half-dragged, half-carried him as best as she could from the dim room. Several times, her path took her dangerously close to the droids that were still idly milling about the wreckage, and Ky sucked in her breath and waited for them to attack. But none of them did for whatever reason, and she was slowly able to exit the ship's remnants without incident.

    Once outside the ship, she laid him on the ground as gently as she could. Deftly, she removed the remains of his armor, sucking in a breath she she looked over the injuries it hid. She let out that breath just as quickly; the armor had done its job and protected him from critical injuries. His wounds were still pretty serious, but nothing a massive dosage of kolto couldn't fix. She picked up each piece of his armor, letting out a sigh as she noted its condition. It was almost a complete loss, he would be asking for death if he confronted Jicoln in armor this badly mangled. She refused to go through the trouble of patching him up only to have him drop again the first time he got into a skirmish.

    An idea suddenly occurred to her, and she pulled out her comm. “Gault? I need a favor from you,” she began.

    What's up, Ky?” Gault asked.

    “I need you to go into the ship's cargo hold and bring some of my spare armor pieces. Chestplate, gauntlets, gloves...the whole deal,” she replied. “Bring them to the coordinates I'm sending you.”

    All right, but you owe me a few drinks for this.

    “Fair deal, just hurry.” She terminated the transmission as Mako approached her, arms laden with medpacks.

    “Jackpot, Ky! Look at all of these,” Mako said. “Plus, there was a trauma kit at the very bottom of one of the containers.”

    “Perfect,” Ky replied. She stood up and took the trauma kit and several medpacks from Mako. “Let's get started. The quicker we get him patched up, the sooner we can get back to the job.”
     
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  20. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Glad Torian's injuries were not more serious and they seem to have enough med supplies on hand. Like very much that Kybri's main concern was not taking care or eliminating Jicoln but Tor's well-being. :)
     
  21. SabyneAmberle

    SabyneAmberle Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2004
    OK, so real life kept me from wanting to write much. But I finally found an opportunity, so here goes.

    ******

    Pain.

    Of all his memories of confronting Jicoln, the pain was the most vivid. He could still feel the shock of the impact as it struck him, could still feel the hard ground beneath him where his blood was pooling. There were some of his last bitter memories as he fell unconscious.

    Pain made him black out, now pain woke him again. Abruptly, with a sharp stinging sensation that caused him to wake with a start. With a hoarse yelp, he sat up abruptly, eyes wide from the shock of that pain. He winced, his hand hovering over his sore ribs as he mentally recounted his prior confrontation with the traitor.

    Quietly, he looked around, his eyes widening a bit as he gradually got his bearings. When he had blacked out, he distinctly remembered being inside the Endar Spire, where the traitor had left him to die. Now, he was outside the ship, resting on the cool grass beneath a small canopy. During the day, it likely served as a rest point for scavengers; at night, it was little more than a makeshift wind screen.

    Torian took in a deep breath, feeling a cool breeze mingle with the blood and sweat on his forehead. Turning his head, he saw Kybrina sitting next to him, her gaze averted as she packed away the remnants of a trauma kit. Empty kolto packages were scattered on the ground around her knees; Torian had to force himself to stop looking at them. If he looked at them, he might start counting them, and if he did that he might realize just how close to death he came. Better not to think about it.

    “Okay, kid. Kolto's taken care of most of the major damage,” she said. He gave a small nod, feeling his head spin a bit. She seemed to notice his distress as well. Reaching into the pouch on her belt, she pulled out a small green flask and handed it to him. “Drink that. It'll help you get your stamina back.”

    He took the flask from her and downed its contents in a few swallows. As he drank, he noted the faint taste of mint that lingered long after he swallowed. Within a few minutes of emptying the flask, he started to feel his head clear. His ribs still ached, but they would heal in time.

    She stood, leaning down to offer him a hand. “How do you feel? Can you stand?” she asked.

    He nodded, taking her outstretched hand and slowly moving to his feet. “Should have left me. You've given the traitor too much time,” he said, his tone showing his annoyance. Not at her, but at himself. How had he been so careless, so sloppy? Had Kybrina not been there to pull him out, he might be dead inside the wreckage.

    She rested her hands on her hips, raising an eyebrow in a slightly annoyed fashion. “You're welcome, by the way,” she replied. “I've never abandoned anyone I've gone out on a hunt with, and I'm not about to start now.”

    “Sorry. Was more annoyed at myself for being so stupid,” he answered, feeling a bit sheepish. “Thanks.”

    She smiled the half-smile he saw her use sometimes; he theorized it was an expression that kept her from laughing. Even that bit of amusement brought a different sort of light to her features, softening her eyes and making her look slightly mischievous.

    “So what do we do now?” she asked, leaning back against a large piece of debris.

    He thought for a moment. “The traitor sacrificed his stockpile to escape,” he replied. “He'll be scavenging now. Most likely, he'll steal from nearby outposts.”

    She frowned, her brow furrowed a bit in thought. “That doesn't really narrow things down, you know,” she said. “This is a battlefield, who knows how many outposts have been thrown up and torn down around here.”

    He shrugged. “We'll make do,” he said. “To be safe, we should update our tactical maps at an Imperial outpost. Then search for the traitor at any outposts nearby.”

    “Sounds good.” Before she could say more, they both heard the sound of an approaching speeder. Her head turned in the direction it was coming from, she narrowed her eyes as she scanned their surroundings. Torian knelt behind a large rock that sat next to him, his fingers itching for the sniper rifle he had left behind.

    After several moments, he heard the speeder land, then heard Kybrina speaking to its pilot. A few seconds later, he heard her call his name.

    “Torian, it's all clear. I had Gault bring me some spare armor from the ship. You know, replace the mess you're currently wearing.”

    Looking down at his armor, Torian let out a heavy sigh. This armor had served him well for several years, only to be torn to shreds when Jicoln set off his munitions. He hated the thought of trading in this armor -it was like letting go of a close friend- but his protection trumped sentimentality at a time like this.

    Emerging from behind the rock, Torian took the bundle the Devaronian handed to him. It was heavy, though not unbearably so, and when he opened it he found replacements for all his damaged gear. Smiling like a little kid on his life day, he swapped out the damaged pieces for the whole ones, adjusting the pieces to fit him more comfortably. Judging by the size and tightness of a few pieces, they were likely castoffs that Kybrina had worn herself. The thought of her wearing these same pieces made his ears go a bit red.

    When he had finished, Kybrina gave him a once-over. “Looks like that armor was made just as much for you as it was for me,” she said, laughing a bit as his ears reddened even more. “You'll do.”

    **

    As soon as his tent was in sight, Jicoln collapsed, the majority of his strength leaving his body as he sighted familiar territory. He winced, his hand touching the large gash on his left side even as he mentally cursed himself for his stupidity. He used that anger to re-energize his limbs, and he slowly made his way to the tent, ducking inside as fast as he could manage.

    Once inside, he stripped away his shattered armor and probed his fingers into the myriad of wounds that marred his skin. When he was satisfied they weren't life-threatening, he cleaned them and applied generous amounts of kolto before bandaging the largest ones. As he worked, he mentally replayed the scene inside the hull of the wreckage. He knew someone would be there, knew that someone might try to subdue him. He had thought it would be the woman, cocky little thing that she was, and he had been silently preparing for an all-our gunfight with her. Never had he imagined the boy would be his challenger, though it didn't surprise him in hindsight. Jicoln had only seen a few fleeting glimpses of the boy, but he saw enough to know he was a major thorn in his side. The boy possessed superior tracking skills, and could figure out puzzles that had most soldiers scratching their heads in bewilderment. That he hadn't found this camp already was a small miracle.

    Hate darkening his narrowed eyes, Jicoln grabbed his sniper rifle. After making sure there was no damage that would prevent it from functioning, he began to reload it, his breath coming out in an angry hiss. He didn't know who was worse, that boy or the equally-irritating woman he was working with. Individually, he would have long since dealt with them and left their bodies for scavengers to loot. But working together, they were proving more than a match for him. He would have to be ready.

    As he turned to leave the tent, his eye was caught by a small item that glittered in the light. Turning toward it, his eyes misted a bit as he picked it up. Pushing the button on its base, he stared at the holo image of Liska. It had been her gift to him when he had left to challenge Artus, and he had kept it with him ever since. Even though he told himself she was dead. Even though he told himself his son was dead. On some strange level, he couldn't bear to part with the holo, the last item that was most precious to him.

    Roughly, he set the small projector back in its resting place and grabbed his rifle. If they were coming for him, he would be ready. And they would see how a true Mandalorian fought.
     
  22. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I enjoyed the Kybrina/Torian exchange. Candid and warm. Final scene with Jicoln: :oops: Definitely a confrontation coming. [face_nail_biting]