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  1. In Memory of LAJ_FETT: Please share your remembrances and condolences HERE

Beyond - Legends A Sick One With a Smile (AU, 54 ABY, OCs, one-shot, OC Janus Challenge)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by ViariSkywalker, Feb 28, 2023.

  1. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    Title: A Sick One With a Smile
    Author: ViariSkywalker
    Timeframe: 54 ABY, soon after Where the Waves Shatter
    Characters: OCs
    Genre: AU, weirdness, action

    Summary: A serial killer challenges a bounty hunter to a knife fight, and one of them dies.

    Notes: Written in response to the OC Revolution’s Janus / “When a door closes…” Challenge. It actually started life as a response to the OC fight challenge a couple of years ago, but that didn’t pan out, and it remained buried under several other WIPs until this latest OC challenge gave it new life.

    This story takes place very soon after Where the Waves Shatter, probably within a week or so. The title comes from “Stupid Girl” by Cold.

    Disclaimer: The world isn’t mine. The weirdness is.

    ~~

    A Sick One With a Smile


    Bertram Gage is an observant and patient man. He had to be, in order to excel in his preferred extracurricular activities. Those same strengths served him well in prison, and they are what allowed him to eventually escape. They have kept him at least one step ahead of every bounty hunter sent after him. Even after Reiger got himself caught on Kordros, Gage still managed to slip through his latest pursuer’s fingers.

    Maybe that’s why it’s so frustrating to find himself cornered by a kid who probably hasn’t even cut all of his adult teeth.

    At first he thinks the boy is just some delinquent on the run, looking to stow away on the first available transport offworld. He’s of average height, on the thin side, with a fringe of dark hair that nearly obscures a pair of pale eyes. There’s nothing else remarkable about his appearance; he’s wearing the same sort of nondescript clothing as any of the thousands of lifeforms that pass through this spaceport every day, all in black.

    “Bertram Gage?” the boy says from between sly, subtly smirking lips. If he knows his name, he must be a bounty hunter, if a scrawny one.

    “Who’s asking?” Gage replies, discreetly assessing his surroundings. The hangar bay is empty save for the two of them, and the tall stacks of crates and clutter around them mean that no one is likely to see or hear them above the typical clamor of the spaceport.

    The bounty hunter doesn’t answer; instead, he reaches for something at his hip and extends his right arm at his side, and in a flash of crimson, a lightsaber ignites in his hand.

    Oh, great. He should have known.

    “Damn meddlesome Jedi,” Gage grumbles.

    The kid lowers his chin and smiles up at him. “Why does everyone always say that?” The loathing in his voice is completely at odds with the grin on his face. He raises his weapon with one hand and points at the blade with the other. “How many Jedi do you see running around with a red lightsaber? I thought you were supposed to be the smart one?”

    So, a Sith then? There are remnants of the Empire all over the Outer Rim, and plenty of rumors about the surviving Sith Lords. While in prison, he’d heard that some of them had gone deep underground, intent on one day continuing their master’s work. Others had taken to lives of crime, or to bounty hunting, as a means of utilizing their unique talents.

    And now it looks like he’s attracted one of the latter, an overconfident Sith runt with no idea how the real world works. Cocky, too. He can’t wait to wipe the smug smirk right off that face. This kid isn’t his usual type, but after being stuck in that hellhole on Naren for six years, he’s itching for blood, for anyone’s blood. Come to think of it, this boy probably isn’t much older than his other victims, and he’s skinny enough that if Gage squints, he can almost imagine…

    Wait, what did the kid say? The smart one? Damn, Reiger would be pissed if he heard that. Poor, stupid bastard, getting himself caught. Gage smiles a little at that, baring the tips of his sharpened teeth.

    “You have no idea, kid,” he says, pulling his vibroblade from its sheath. “Don’t suppose I could tempt you to fight fair, could I?” He gestures toward the lightsaber with his own weapon.

    The bounty hunter looks down at his saber for a moment, then deactivates it and hooks it to his belt. “Sure,” he says, reaching into his left sleeve to pull out a crude metal blade. “Why the hell not?”

    The boy twirls the knife in his hand, settling on a standard grip as he lunges forward and slashes up diagonally from his hip. Gage bends backward to dodge, reaching out with his free hand to grab the kid’s arm as it sweeps past him. He pulls the boy toward him and makes one precise slashing motion, opening a gash along his opponent’s ribcage. The boy grunts in response, then brings his left hand up to smack Gage square in the chest.

    They fly apart, each of them propelled backward by a burst of kinetic energy. The damned Force, he reminds himself. Pesky, inconvenient skillset. Gage rolls backward, vibroblade sending up sparks as it drags along the ground. The Sith crashes into a cargo container – now that is convenient; you can always count on a public hangar to have an abundance of cargo containers just lying around, waiting to be smashed into. The boy picks himself up without much trouble, still holding on to his little knife. He leaves a spattering of crimson along the ground. A familiar heat simmers in Gage’s gut at the sight of it.

    “You got a death wish, kid?” he says with a grin.

    The Sith shakes his head and laughs darkly under his breath, and he sends his knife flying with a quick flick of his wrist. Gage pivots on one heel, barely dodging the blade, and before he can take another step, the boy is in his space again.

    Gage has never put much stock in mystical Jedi abilities. He accepts that they exist, and that they allow people to do some crazy things every once in a while – but if they were really that amazing, the Jedi wouldn’t keep getting killed off over and over again. So when this Sith runt moves in close, Gage doesn’t panic. In fact, now that the kid has thrown his knife away, he knows just what to do.

    The boy’s hand whips up to strike Gage in the throat, and he lets it happen. Instead of reeling back from the force of the blow, Gage snakes one arm around his opponent’s shoulders and tugs him even closer, smashing his forehead into the boy’s face. It doesn’t matter if you can see things before they happen, if you’re not able to avoid them.

    Fire tears across his back, and he glances back to see the Sith’s knife sticking out of his shoulder. Damn all the gods, he should have seen that coming. It’s hardly fatal, but he’s got to give the runt credit for trying.

    “Almost, kid,” Gage chuckles, refusing to let go. He plunges his vibroblade into the Sith’s side; the kid sucks in a ragged, gasping breath, and Gage forces him down on his knees. He smiles as he looks into the boy’s pale blue eyes. He knew a girl once with eyes sort of like those. He followed her for nine weeks before he made his move. She didn’t make much noise, in the end.

    The bounty hunter goes still as he stares up at him. Gage pulls up on the boy’s hair, forcing his head back to expose his pale, unblemished throat. He’s about to pull the vibroblade from the kid’s side and finish him off, when he gets an idea. He glances down at the weapon resting against his opponent’s hip, and smiles wider.

    “I’ve always been curious,” Gage murmurs as he unclips the lightsaber from the boy’s belt and holds it up where they can both see. “Where do you want it, kid? Right here, you think?” He presses the emitter under the boy’s chin, digging in a little. “It’ll be quick. Burn right through your brain; you won’t feel a thing.”

    Seconds tick by, and the boy continues to stare, and Gage experiences a twinge of disappointment. It isn’t as fun when they don’t struggle, or whimper, or beg. He thinks maybe he’ll just end it now and find more satisfying prey, when the air grows suddenly warm and heavy around him – wait, no, it’s actually squeezing him, what the hell? What the hell is this? It’s pressing, crushing, and he can’t breathe in, he can’t exhale either, he can’t kriffing move.

    A profound and alien horror overtakes him as the boy – the Sith Lord – reaches up to pry Gage’s fingers from his hair, then rises to his feet. He looks down at the vibroblade sticking out of his side.

    “I’m impressed,” the Sith says, his voice absurdly steady. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen my own blood. Too bad you didn’t even manage to hit a single organ. You must really be out of practice.”

    Gage tries to gulp down air, but nothing will move past his throat.

    “I read your file,” the Sith continues, lowering Gage to the ground, still holding every muscle captive to the strange, mysterious power of the damned Force. “You’re a pretty sick bastard, aren’t you?” He plucks his lightsaber from Gage’s frozen grasp and smiles to himself. “Where do you want it? You know what, never mind. I’ll pick.” He buries the emitter of his lightsaber in Gage’s stomach; it activates with a burning hiss.

    Can’t breathe, can’t breathe…

    “You know,” the Sith says as he leans in close, digging the hilt of his saber further into Gage’s gut. “I really should thank you. If it weren’t for you, I never would have gone to Kordros.”

    Even though it’s an absurd thought to have as he’s dying, Gage can’t help wondering why anyone would be glad to travel to a tiny backwater planet like Kordros.

    “The hell…?” he rasps, tasting blood, or air, or both. Drowning in it regardless. “Crazy… Sith.”

    “Yeah,” the boy says, suddenly quiet as he tilts his head to the side and stares down at him. “That’s me. Crazy.”

    The last two things Gage sees in this life are the Sith Lord’s eyes, cold and clear as ice.


    ~~


    Darth Festus heaves a sigh as he stops at the top of his ship’s open ramp. “I’m home,” he calls out.

    His brother emerges from the cockpit a moment later, irritation shifting swiftly into outright fury as he looks him over. “What the kriffing hell?”

    Festus releases the body he’s dragging; it falls to the deck with a heavy thud. “Got him.”

    Darth Ferrus clenches both hands into fists and stands there slack-jawed for a second before the power of speech returns. “I can see you got him, dammit. What happened?”

    Festus shrugs one shoulder and laughs airily, and he glances down at the vibroblade still lodged in his side, and the blood soaking his clothes. “Just practicing my knife skills.”

    His brother’s expression is caught somewhere between disbelief and unadulterated rage. “You’re insane.”

    Festus sighs; that movement shifts the blade just enough to catch his breath. “Just get the medkit, would you? And stop freaking out.”

    For once, his twin does as asked without further complaint, although Festus can feel all the bitter retorts simmering in their bond. He leaves the dead man on the deck and sits down along the side of the cargo hold, and he allows Ferrus to remove the vibroblade and stitch him up.

    “What were you thinking?” Ferrus asks once he’s done tending to the wound.

    Festus leans his head back against the hull and closes his eyes. “I don’t know,” he says softly, only half-fighting the smile that tugs at his mouth. “I wanted to see what would happen, I guess.”

    There’s a long pause. He can feel his brother’s unrelenting stare. “Right,” Ferrus says after a few more seconds have passed.

    He hears the judgment implicit in that one word, and he knows what his twin is thinking, but it’s not like that at all. For the first time in a long time, he’d felt… almost invincible, like nothing could touch him. Like it didn’t matter what the hell he did, because there was no way he was going to die. Not yet, anyway.

    Ferrus doesn’t move away from him, and Festus can tell he’s waiting for more, for him to say something, or do something. But Festus keeps his eyes closed, and finally his twin stands and walks away.

    If he blocks everything else out, he can hear the crashing of the waves, and feel them surge around him, and he can see every detail of her appearance, and hear her breathe, and he can imagine saying something, anything, just to hear her answer in return. And he wonders, not for the first time and certainly not for the last, if it’s possible that she’s thinking about him, too.


    Fin

    ~~
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2023
  2. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Mods' Dare 2nd Place & Mods' Choice Dare Winner star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    This review is going to be much shorter than your story deserves because I've fallen so far behind on just about everything, but the short version is that this fic is, as usual, awesome. Between the creepy serial killer and the human dumpster fire that is Festus, I'm not sure which one is the sick one with a smile.
    Heh. Look who's talking.
    If only he knew!
    Well, that shows a level of self-awareness, which is a good sign, but seriously, this man needs counselling.

    =D=
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2023
  3. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    Probably both. [face_whistling] [face_mischief] (And thanks, I'm glad you liked it! [face_blush] I figured this story would be a bit of a harder sell considering the whole "serial killer POV" angle. 8-})

    lol yeah his perspective might be a bit skewed o_O

    oh Festus, you idiot :oops:

    lol, he certainly does. [face_worried] :p

    Thank you for taking a chance on my weird story, I loved reading your feedback! :D [:D]
     
  4. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    What a way to slay a killer who wants to kill a Jedi-runt. And Ferrus commenting. Again the bickering and bantering brother stitching him up
     
  5. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    That truly was one twisty story, Vi! Mr. Bertram Gage really got what he deserved, and there could be no one better to give it to him! I think the “serial killer viewpoint” was very effective here, because he’s someone who, in a way, doesn’t think he can be killed given that he’s so good at killing others—but boy oh boy did he underestimate that “Sith runt.” It’s interesting that Festus himself (of course it’s him!) also has a bit of that “of course I’m not gonna die” feeling; it’s Gage’s attitude in seed form, kind of, but in Festus it goes in a whole different direction. And of course the twins’ repartee is top notch. Awesome work once again and congratulations on your challenge win! =D=
     
  6. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    VIIIIIIIII, THIS WAS SO, SOOO GOOD!!! [face_hypnotized] =D=

    You know, that explains everything right there. [face_whistling]

    Wonderful introduction! I felt like I understood Bertram Gage as a character just that quick (and eugh, what a character [face_bleh]) and his POV on Festus had me snickering - which I wasn't expecting going into this. As always, you're aces at balancing the emotions in any given piece. That bit of dark humor took the edge off of what was otherwise a very, very dark fic.

    "A little scrawny for a bounty hunter." :leia: (Yes, I make myself laugh. :p)

    Hee. :p A sick one with a smile, indeed. [face_worried] Again, though, I felt amusement along with that overwhelming sense of impending doom, and I was drawn in and riveted, even when I knew this wasn't going to be a pretty confrontation as it played out. [face_plain]

    VIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!! IF YOU'RE DROPPING SEQUEL HINTS THEN IT'S MY TURN TO PESTER YOU FOR MORE SEQUEL SOON!!! [face_batting] [face_batting] [face_batting]

    *pester, pester, pester*

    Never mind. Gut him, Festus. :mad: (I meant to type get, but that typo works too. [face_devil])

    Because Festus might be sick and twisted in his own way, but he's not sick and twisted like this truly demonic excuse of a sentient being is. Festus still has a code of his own (mostly), even at his worst, and if he had the ability to choose from the beginning - like Gage clearly did - then his life would be another story entirely. [face_waiting]

    Somewhere, Ferrus is having an aneurysm. :p But this was perfectly IC and a great way to ramp up the tension even more! [face_hypnotized] I didn't necessarily want to read any further . . . but I had to.

    The phrasing of this made me chuckle. :p

    *shivers* I could feel that look through the screen. If Gage wasn't a dead man walking before, he is now - and good riddance. Everything about their encounter from here on out was both awful and fitting and yet . . . strangely satisfying in its symmetry? Just . . . excellent job with delving into a really tricky subject matter. I don't think that I could have tackled this - or would have even thought to try - with even half the aplomb you did. =D=

    Here I am, smiling at inappropriate moments again . . . [face_whistling]

    Because he would. That's one way to interpret the Janus prompt. [face_mischief]

    FAIR!! [face_rofl] :oops:

    You know, I can't blame Ferrus one bit. And again, I'm snickering at things that aren't really funny (but yet still are).

    Aw yeah, but that's the good Festus/Allana stuff right there - and this put me in mind of Where the Black Sand Meets the Raging Sea in the best of ways. [face_love]


    This was an excellent character study from start to finish! Really, truly well done - as always, my friend! =D=

    [:D]
     
    Kahara, ViariSkywalker and Gabri_Jade like this.
  7. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    @earlybird-obi-wan
    lol, that’s how you’ll know things have gotten really bad, when the bickering and bantering stops completely. Although I’m not sure it would stop even then. [face_thinking] :p Thanks so much for reading my weird fic! :D




    @Findswoman
    Thanks, I'm glad you thought so! :D And I can't at all disagree about Gage's fate! [face_whistling] :p

    In all honesty, the main reason I wrote from Gage's POV (when I was starting out, at least) was because I enjoy using an outside viewpoint to show Festus and Ferrus doing what they do (kind of like when I wrote about that one child witnessing them killing slavers); but it ended up stretching my comfort zone quite a bit, trying to write from the perspective of a serial killer, so I guess it worked out. :p And it did provide an interesting contrast between the two men and their mindsets, as you noted. Gage's confidence in his own survival comes from being such a successful and elusive killer, whereas Festus - whose attitude is usually more of a nihilistic "I've already been to hell, what can the universe throw at me that I haven't already dealt with?" - is experiencing something more akin to adolescent foolhardiness, perhaps brought on by his very recent encounter with a certain girl he can't stop thinking about... [face_whistling]

    I always have a lot of fun writing them. [face_mischief]

    Thank you so much! I didn't really expect anyone to like this fic, so it was a pleasant surprise! [face_blush] And of course, thank you for the awesome feedback! :D




    @Mira_Jade
    [face_blush] Considering the awful subject matter, I take that as a great compliment! ;) :p

    It’s such a Festus song, especially for this particular stage of his denial. [face_mischief] [face_batting]

    Yeah, it was all sorts of uncomfortable getting into his head, and I didn’t want to stay there all that long… but I did get some enjoyment out of writing Festus from an outsider bad guy’s POV, who has no idea what he’s dealing with. [face_mischief] (And I’m glad you felt I struck the right balance with the humor!)

    [face_laugh] :p

    He really doesn’t like being mistaken for a Jedi. :p (In all seriousness though, it’s that mask of his, the unhinged, chaotic persona he hides behind. :()

    Aaaand, this made realize how behind I am on these replies… 8-} [face_whistling]

    lollll

    That was the balance I was trying to find with this story, how to portray those degrees of evil, and the differences between them, and the differences in how each man perceives himself and his crimes… and I suppose that’s why I ended the story the way I did, because for all that we’re basically cheering Festus on to put an end to this murderer, our dear trash lord is in a very dark place himself, and his obsession with Allana could still easily have had lethal results, especially with this being so soon after WtWS, when he’s still grappling with what those feelings mean and how to reconcile them with the narrative he’s built up for himself over the years. Even so, I think Festus recognizes on an instinctive, gut level that he isn’t like Gage, but because of who he is, he can’t acknowledge those differences consciously. They’re both sick, twisted monsters, and if Festus is disgusted by him, that’s irrelevant, because what right does he have to be disgusted by anyone else? But he does have a job to do – bring this guy in dead or alive – and like he told Ferrus in WtWS, he’s got dibs on the dead man. [face_plain]

    (Or maybe I was just indulging my id. But, you know, with nuance. [face_whistling])

    It’s great when your Force-wielding character is enough of a disaster to make it believable that he would fight a non-Force-sensitive opponent using conventional weapons and maybe even have a bit of trouble with it. :p

    (And I'm glad you kept reading! [face_laugh] ;))

    I think that was actually one of the first lines I wrote for this fic. :p

    I had a very clear image in my head of what Festus would look like in this moment, when he flips the switch from casually reckless chaos gremlin to coldly efficient monster killer, so it's good to know that all of that came across. I knew this would be a difficult story to engage with as a reader, and I'm glad you think I struck the right notes and the right balance throughout. [face_blush]

    [face_mischief]

    The prompt called for something in the character’s life coming to an end or beginning, so I decided to do both… just not for the same character… [face_mischief] [face_whistling]

    Seriously though, imagine Ferrus’s face. [face_tee_hee]

    Yeah, I don’t blame him either. :p

    He almost sounds like a regular guy here, doesn't he? :p [face_mischief] And I went back to check and realized I posted this story five days before I posted Where the Black Sand Meets the Raging Seas (where has this year gone??), so I guess it makes sense that there might be some similar elements, especially since this takes place so soon after WtWS, and the other story is very much the coda to WtWS that I didn't even realize I was writing. [face_thinking] [face_love]

    Aw, I'm honored that you think so! [face_blush] Thank you so much for the lovely and insightful feedback; I've been back to read it more than once, and it's always a treat. [face_love] [:D]
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2023
  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent seeing Festus as a bounty hunter snarking with his brother and ending up thinking of the girl he cannot stop thinking about :p =D= He is so multi-faceted it's ridiculous. @};-

    =D=
     
  9. ConservativeJedi321

    ConservativeJedi321 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 19, 2016
    I know next to nothing of the greater context of this story but goodness gracious is your narrative riveting.
    Bertram Gage really should have known better than to toy with a Sith of any kind but there's just that creepy instinct in some killers to want to toy with someone before they kill.
     
  10. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha
    Thank you! I'm always glad to hear that his complexity comes through, especially with a story like this. :p The twins' bounty hunter years have been a lot of fun to write, even when they're a little weird. Thanks so much for reading! :D




    @ConservativeJedi321
    lol, it probably helps a little now that you've read Enter the Foreign - this takes place about three years after the epilogue. :p Festus and Ferrus have been working as bounty hunters, and Festus has very recently had an illuminating run-in (and rematch) with Allana. I'm really glad to hear that the narrative was riveting even though you didn't know anything else about these characters at the time! I'll be the first to admit this was kind of a weird story, so it's good to know that others enjoyed it. Thanks for reading! :D