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Before - Legends The Mute: Resignation (Exar Kun War. Concrit requested)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Ninjer-8492, Sep 11, 2012.

  1. Ninjer-8492

    Ninjer-8492 Jedi Youngling

    Sep 5, 2012
    Planet Ojos.

    "A strike?" Darth Kitsun asked, her actual voice masked by the synthetic tones of a vocabulator.

    "Yes, Milady. A strike. In the Verdant Quarter," the Sith trooper replied through the holo-projection. "Complaints about unsafe working conditions and low pay."

    "Have you identified the strike leaders?"

    "Yes. We're standing by to fire."

    Her face, covered by a black veil and a white mask resembling a skull dotted with jewels perked up. "No! Are you trying to start a riot? Hold until I arrive!"

    "Y-you're coming here?" the trooper asked.

    "Yes, and I am most displeased," Kitsun replied, shutting the projector off and starting for her apprentice's chambers, her sheer, black, not-quite-opaque dress that tightened as she moved, hinting at the lithe, athletic figure underneath. Around her waist lay a belt composed of nine tails covered in orange fur with a black and white tip. As she left her private study, a mountain of books and papers cluttered on a cherry wood desk, she grabbed her thin, glossy black cane-saber.
    Proceeding down the lonely halls of her small castle, she went down a flight of stairs before she found the Mute's room.

    She stepped in and found the Mute practicing with his cane. His skill with the exotic method had progressed much and Kitsun had no doubt that he would match her someday. The violet blade of his weapon flashed with surgical accuracy in the fixed motions of his kata. His room, maroon in color, had a simple bed and frame, and a large disk of stone recessed into the floor for meditation.
    A tall, pale man, with a buzz cut of dark hair, his angular, serious face had a classic type of handsomeness. Aesthetically correct. A bloody, wool blindfold covered his head, with a singed hole in the middle, right between the eyes.. His shirt was off, and he was wearing a simple set of dull grey slacks.

    She'd never heard him utter a word, even before his recruitment. The blaster shot that had nailed him in the head should have killed him. Instead, it had only robbed him of his speech and sight.
    "Apprentice," she called out commandingly, knowing not what else to call him. The Sith authorities that had originally arrested him had never found a name or identification of any sort. Kitsun's own considerable abilities at information gathering had failed to uncover anything. Kitsun still knew only what she had learned the day she had rescued him from execution: that he was the one she had been seeking.

    The Mute stopped and dutifully stood at attention, like a loyal dog.

    Kitsun liked this the most about their relationship. There was no banter, no trade of subtle insults as was common in Sith Apprentices and their Masters. No plotting. Kitsun would never have to worry about him trying sneaky methods, such as poisoning, or betraying her from afar. Such things occurred between those who did not respect each other, and should really only be done to enemies, not student and teacher. For her part, Kitsun had no intention of subduing him using such methods either, their confrontation, if either of them ever decided to have it, would be kept simple, like their interactions. There had to be honor 'somewhere'.

    And there were the side benefits...

    "We're going on a little trip today, student. I'm going to teach about problems and solutions. You will pay attention and learn."

    The Mute nodded, bowing and getting his things ready.

    As Kitsun left, the Mute slowly checked under his bed, and retrieved a small object of wood, that he had slowly carved out of wood with a knife he had managed to smuggle in from a mission previous.
    It was rectangular in shape with a soft, brown color to it. On it he had carved out a near perfect image of Kitsun's mask when viewed from the front. on the back he had carved a small, yet no less intricate image of himself walking on a road waving goodbye.

    He had finished it just last night. In two days, he would escape Kitsun and go so deep into hiding that even she couldn't possibly find him. It was not that he disliked her. After the failed attempt to execute him, he had been robbed of his sight by the blasterbolt. Kitsun had brought him back from total helplessness, and for that he was a grateful to her. But he had too much of a history with the Sith to ever truly consider being one of them.

    Her servant girl, Foxe, would no doubt find it when he was gone and bring it to her.

    Until then, the Mute would serve faithfully.

    The Verdant Quarter of the city-planet Ojos was named such because trees of all sort grew on the street-walk, integrated into the buildings, or were painted onto the walls and blacktops. When the Mute first entered the quarter with his master dressed in a set of black robes, his senses picked up the life of the trees, leaves like little clusters of light in his mind's eye. It was a lovely sight to him.
    The shouting snapped him back to reality. The crowd of people gave off angry, distorted waves of emotion, as the mob surrounding the land speeder factory, an ugly mess of brick and exhaust towers jutting over the other buildings of the verdant quarter like a thorn.

    The Factory Manager, a short man in blue work overalls and a red construction helmet was still trying to reason with the angry crowd as they held picket signs and had just started throwing rocks, when everyone backed away in dread of the Sith approaching.

    "Perhaps you would like to explain your grievances to me," Kitsun announced to the crowd, the Mute standing close by.

    "There have been seventeen accidents with the automated welding line in the past month, and we've been working too long!" one person in the crowd shouted.

    "The war effort is running us dry! We need sleep!" another said.

    Kitsun turned to the Manager.

    "Seventeen accidents in such a short time span indicates a serious problem with equipment. Why was this not addressed?" the Sith Lady demanded to know.

    "The workers are exaggerating things-"

    "You're lying. You've been taking bribes from a rival factory. I hate thieves," Kitsun replied blandly, holding up a hand which closed slightly.

    The manager gasped, clutching his throat as he fell to the floor, a look of shock on his face as he died.

    The Mute suppressed a grimace. He respected Kitsun-but seeing this just now reminded him of why he needed to escape her service soon. A life as a Sith was much too treacherous...

    "I have killed this man who wasted both my time and yours!" Kitsun declared to the crowd. "You will disperse. I will send a repair crew and a new manager tomorrow. The request for a pay raise is refused. Good day."

    The crowd began walking away very quickly.

    Kitsun then stared at the Mute.

    "Never attempt a brute force approach, Mute. If you wish to survive and evade your enemies you must create other distractions for them. If I had ordered the troops to fire, there would have been a riot that could have spread across this whole section. By giving them a pariah and displaying my power at the same time, I averted a potentially embarrassing moment. One that my enemies could use to exploit or discredit me. A simple elegant solution is often best when confronting a problem such as this. Do you understand?"

    The Mute nodded, wondering whether or not the manager had actually been guilty, or if Kitsun had simply needed a quick scapegoat. Lady Kitsun's teachings, he had come to discover, were a complex, devious system of exploiting your opponent's weaknesses through distraction, deception, and outright con-artistry. Stealth and subtlety were often paramount to success. Truly great darksider's, according to her, need not resort to brute force to achieve their aims. If a Dark Sider is truly great, she would argue, they could achieve more with slight of hand or a trick of the eye than a lightsaber.

    Yet curiously, the Mute had noted, Kitsun never seemed to enforce such teaching between him and her. She taught him in how she acted and reacted to others, but not once had she attempted such unpleasantries with him.

    Then again, perhaps she was, and he simply didn't realize it yet.

    The Mute's thoughts were refocused instantly as he felt a familiar though unwelcome presence.

    "Well look who's out for a stroll with her weakling apprentice," a grating snide voice muttered.

    Darth Ino, a bald Nagai Sith covered in black tattoos, his nose pointed like a beak and his eyes a putrid yellow. He was wearing the lower half of a set of ash grey robes.

    "Why hello Lord Ino. What brings you to the verdant quarter this day?" Kitsun asked, mirth apparent even with her vocabulator. The Mute realized that there were few things she enjoyed in all the galaxy besides having fun at this particular Sith's expense, even with the fact that he was an agent of the Sith Overlord of this sector. And if the Mute was honest with himself he enjoyed watching the myriad number of ways she had managed to outwit or out maneuver this particular jerk since coming into her tutelage.

    "Oh, I heard of the terrible commotion in this area and thought I would come to watch you make a fool of yourself, Lady Kitsun," Ino answered. Pray tell, where have all the protestors gone?"

    "The matter has been resolved. Some greedy fellow was taking bribes, though I'm inclined to wonder whether it was truly a rival factory paying him or simply you. Again."

    "Me?" Ino took on an insincere expression of hurt. "Continually you accuse me of wronging you. If anything I am YOUR victim..."

    "Still you insist on blaming me for that unfortunate incident with the sausage and the cobra. How many more times must it be explained to you that I was innocent?"

    "You cost me my post! I was supposed to rule Ojos, not you!"

    "Rule is for the worthy. As a Sith, surely you know this...or do you desire simply a comfy spot where you won't have to fight?" Kitsun asked. "Because that's exactly what I have and it just burns you, doesn't it?"

    The Mute felt the hatred in the man rise to a fever pitch. He steeled himself for an attack.

    It didn't come. He felt Ino freeze in place, and sensed the beginnings of actual fear.

    A familiar, lascivious moan put him on maximum alert, He darted to his left and spotted Whips walking up to them, people around her giving her a wide berth as she went forward. The curvy, albino Twi-lek was dressed in a tight fitting, black, opaque mesh suit with a set of black leather boots. A light-whip, disguised as a simple stun rod, hung from a black sash on her hips. Her cold, beautiful features lined by a black headdress. a scar ran diagonally from the top right of her face through the bridge of her nose, terminating at the bottom of her left ear. Her cold icy blue eyes fixed on the Mute and she smiled, licking her lips.

    The Mute felt beads of sweat form on his scalp. Whips was insane, and one night in the early days of his training, he had committed an indiscretion with her in order to get back vital information she had stolen from him, after having been lead on a foot chase first. And nearly killing him in combat.
    Troublingly he had committed other indiscretions with her on other missions they had ended up going on, all the while getting a taste of her unpredictability and violent tendencies. He disliked how the madwoman, against all logic and reason, seemed able to sweep him into the moment and seduce him, her erotic talents like a potent narcotic.

    Involuntarily he recalled the last time he had shared a bed with her. The bite marks on his leg hadn't healed yet.

    If there was one thing he knew Kitsun would take great umbrage at, it would be learning of his mistakes regarding her.

    "Get rid of your attack dog," Ino said with almost a snarl as Whips chuckled and stood next to Kitsun.
    "MY attack dog? Please, Ino. Everyone knows Whips does not truly obey anyone. She simply...goes along with suggestions."

    So did anybody suggest to her to gut my apprentice two days ago?" Ino asked, contempt twisting already hateful features.

    "What makes you think she was the one? Do you have proof?" Kitsun asked, clearly gloating at this point. The Mute maintained a defensive position, ready to defend Kitsun at a moment's notice. From either unwelcome characters. He was slightly less worried about an attack from Whips however. Kitsun seemed to exhibit a curious sort of control over the woman that no one else could.
    The Mute felt Ino get his anger under control.

    "Of course not. There's never any proof where you're involved. But you'll screw up. Eventually. And then I'll have everything I need to move against you. All of you."

    "Why Ino, that sounded like a threat. Perhaps I should suggest to my not-attack-dog to play with you for a while."

    Whips laughed, cracking her knuckles. The Mute almost smiled at this, though he wasn't quite certain how he could feel excitement at the thought of her in combat.

    The Nagai simply turned around and walked away.

    "See that, Student? How easy I was able to provoke him?" she asked when Ino was out of earshot.
    The Mute nodded, not daring to really relax as long as Whips was still around. Troublingly at the same time, he wasn't uncomfortable around her.

    "I learned something from my interaction. I learned he is impatient, and will move against us soon. Such a pathetically easy man to read. What he does not realize is if he ever moves against me, it will only be because I allow it. Much like how you will part from me only when I deem you ready. No offense intended, of course," Kitsun finished.

    The Mute struggled to control his feelings. Did she know of his intent to escape? How could she? He had masked his feelings well from her in the past months.

    "You seem troubled. There's a teahouse not too far from here. Shall we?"

    The teahouse was a quaint place, built using oak and thick transparisteel with a lattice design, the exterior was a simple, glittering wood cube in the tree filled verdant quarter.

    Kitsun turned to Whips. "Wait outside. You know what happened last time," she ordered.

    Whips huffed and plopped down on a nearby bench. near the front entrance. She smiled wickedly at the Mute, who grimaced, yet felt an uncomfortable twinge of...something.

    The Mute followed Kitsun in and tried not to smile as he stared at the layout.

    Thick plush cushions and elaborate glass hookahs were scattered throughout. Tapestries of lakes and flowers hung from the inner walls. It was a place for relaxation.

    Kitsun unceremoniously fell onto a particularly large and curved pillow and signaled a waiter.

    The Mute calmly selected a pillow and sat on it.

    Darth Kitsun took a puff from the hookah straw, sliding it behind an open space in her veil-mask.
    A small tray of tea was brought. The Mute sniffed it. Black. He used the Force to scan for poison, but found none.

    "Relax, this teahouse is owned and staffed by people I personally hand-picked for the job. You're as safe here as you are at my castle. 'Safe' of course, is always a relative term," Kitsun spoke detachedly, pulling out a bizarre metal straw that zigzagged in its design. A sunflower was painted on it. She placed it under her veil and took a sip from the small tea bowl.

    "You ever wonder if this is worth it?" she asked suddenly.

    The Mute stopped in mid-drag from the hookah straw.

    "I know the question is in your mind, student," Kitsun continued casually. "I myself often wonder whether this whole Sith dogma is just a bunch of lies from men being bitter at getting kicked out of the order's church."

    The Mute began to wonder if this was a test. He respected her for her intelligence, but that didn't go on to imply he trusted her. Yet a strange equilibrium had been created between them, and he had yet to figure out how it occurred.

    The Mute decided to go for broke. He nodded.

    "And the people? Watch this," Kitsun went on "Hey, you! Waiter!"

    The Waiter, a Gran, turned around in a grey uniform.

    "Do you like me? Be honest. I command it."

    "" The Gran answered in his growling, slurping language hesitantly after what must have been the most terrifying five seconds of his life.

    "Thank you. You want to relax now and forget I said anything,"

    "I want," the Gran repeated trailing off tonelessly, wandering off.

    "Honesty. Sometimes, it just has to be demanded. But you see my point? His kind have grown to hate ours. Mark my words, Student, one of these days our kind is going to cross one line too many with his."

    The Mute merely shrugged at this. Kitsun didn't realize yet that their kind had already crossed one too many lines. He himself had been a victim of theirs many times over, and it had only been through luck or being ruthless that he had ended up turning the tables on such cretins. But he didn't doubt her assertion. A reckoning was on the horizon. Jedi, Sith, it didn't matter anymore. Maybe not now, maybe not even two decades from now, but sometime after that, he was for some reason absolutely certain the people of the Galaxy were going to let their kind know just what they thought of a fued that had been tearing up the galaxy on and off for the past twenty thousand years.

    And he was also fairly certain that whatever form that response took, it was going to be very, very, severe. And hate-filled.

    Kitsun paused, staring as Whips entered the teahouse.

    "I thought I told you to wait outside," Kitsun said sternly.

    Whips stuck her tongue out and plopped down next to the Mute who was once again on full alert, using the Force to purge the intoxicants from his system. But as his nose got a whiff of her scent, a strange yearning caused momentary disquiet in him.

    Relax, she won't attack us, I can assure that much of an influence," Kitsun spoke as she saw her student tighten his grip on his cane-saber. "Never let your guard down, however. She's quite intelligent and cunning. Isn't that right, Whips?" Kitsun asked.

    Whips rolled her eyes but grinned. The Mute didn't dispute the statement. Despite her madness, She was extremely adept at completing her tasks. He still remembered how she had dispatched Ino's apprentice.

    "Can't always assure that she'll totally follow my orders, but rest assured, there's purpose in that," Kitsun added, taking a sip.

    The Mute gestured to Whips staring at Kitsun with an expression of bewilderment.

    "Wondering where I got her from?" Kitsun asked, "Funny story, that..."

    The Dark Jedi that decloaked in front of them was armed with a double-bladed lightsaber. The Mute was up instantly, blocking the lethal strike aimed for Kitsun's skull, a purple blade shooting out of his cane.

    Whips got up but Kitsun stopped her. "He'll never learn without first hand experience. Continuous combat is the best way to master the cane saber."

    The Mute didn't hear this of course, he was too busy fighting for his life against the Dark Jedi, a strange figure in a tight fitting black and red feather-pattern robe set with armored boots, an image of a peacock was stitched to the front with what looked to be expensive yellow electrum thread. His weapon was of simple stout construction: a solid black bar made of what seemed to be wood engraved with a pheasant on it's surface. The blade was an odd, peach color, and it's blade's began to curve sharply near the middle, forming a bizarre s-shape for the weapon. The face was concealed by a mask made of white wood. It resembled a highly stylized eagle, with elaborate engravings on the beak.

    The Mute drove him back pressing ruthlessly with spear like attacks the cane's length afforded him. He then switched up his attacks and began making vicious swipes at the assassin, who easily turned aside his attacks with the sharply curving blade, at the same time trying to behead the mute by craftily attempting to throw the curving blade past the Mute's guard and simply pulling
    The Assassin, who the Mute later would privately refer to as 'Bird Theme' retreated, spinning the saber staff and furiously twirling his body at the same time to create room after that tactic failed. The Mute backed away, re-assessing his bizarre opponent.

    The wide loop of the blade increased the potential damage of a thrust, also allowing for the very real threat of defeating his guard should the lightsaber be curved inward. All it would tank is a yank and he would die.

    But the curve of the blade also increased the risk of being caught on one's own weapon, so his opponent would have to maintain a specific orientation at all times with his weapon, meaning he was also, in addition to being unorthodox, highly disciplined.

    Nonetheless, the Mute decided, his need to maintain a specific orientation in combat was a fatal flaw, and the extreme curves of the weapon reduced it's reach. The style had the feel of a sort of ceremonial dance. Some ancient style survived only by this remaining adherent. A living fossil.
    The Mute felt a sting of pity for his one-of-a-kind enemy. And then he charged.

    Bird Theme was faster: He even did something that caught even Whips by surprise.

    The Dark Jedi looped the inner curve of the blade around his wrists.

    The Mute barely ducked in time from a strike that would have split him diagonally. He rolled backward across the cushions causing Whips to chuckle.

    No wonder Bird Theme didn't seem worried: he shielded himself with the Force to exploit the full mobility of the weapon. The curve of the blades danced around his arms as he charged the Mute, chopping like a scimitar or slicing like a scythe as it suited the Assassin

    The Mute scrambled out of the way of the lethal sequence, the horizontal attacks using the inner curves threatening to hook him like fish bait.

    "Do not lose focus. Remember your own weapon's abilities," Kitsun instructed sternly.

    The Mute was again too busy parrying or dodging the odd circle-based attacks to hear this.

    Bird Theme grabbed one looping end of his blade and shoved forward, almost cutting the Blind Sith's legs off with a thrust. The Mute backed away, steadily.

    He shut off the light saber, waiting. The cane saber need not be active to achieve a victory. A sword could be a stick. A stick could be a club or lever, or split apart and be two weapons.

    Bird Theme thrust the weapon forward, this time holding the the weapon by the hilt.

    The blind man reacted, dodging to the side, and twisting free the hidden knife from the bottom half of his cane, which he swiped crisply across Bird Theme's ribs,

    The Dark Jedi stumbled, clutching his side.

    Again the Mute felt a sting of pity.

    Bird Theme wheeled around just in time to see the Mute attach the knife back to the cane.

    Bird Theme spun his weapon with it's inner curves clawing for the Mute, who dodged again, diving past his opponent, turning around and jamming the brass tip of the weapon into the base of his opponents spine.

    The Mute suppressed a flinch as he heard an audible crack. Bird Theme collapsed, clutching his back, letting out a muffled yell. His saber flew out of his hand, shutting off as it left his grip.

    The Mute stood over his enemy, Lightsaber again active. He turned to Kitsun. He recalled what she had said about a simple and elegant solution and found himself appreciating it.

    "No need to interrogate. I know who sent him," was Kitsun's reply.

    The Mute nodded, and pierced the back of Bird Theme's head. It was instant and painless.

    Whips giggled.

    The Mute picked up Bird Theme's weapon. He got on one knee and presented it to Kitsun, who rose and took it, admiring it.

    "Definitely going in the collection," she joked. "It would seem Ino is more impatient than I initially believed. So be it. He has forced my hand. I must go. Student, you will go to the safehouse in the canals and wait for me there, Whips, you lead him to the canals. After that, you know what to do."

    Whips chuckled again, rising.

    "Foxe will meet you in two hours there. Don't be late. I will arrive soon after," Kitsun instructed, before departing.
    The Mute never let his guard down for an instant as Whips strode forward confidently through the verdant quarter, the trees bright green leaves influencing the hue of sunlight hitting the ground. The crowd gave the pair a wide space as they went down the white and green streets. But though he never let his guard down a small part seemed almost pleased he was around her again.

    Whips skipped along the ground in a happy go lucky fashion occasionally stopping to wait for the Mute, who struggled to keep up with her fast pace while avoiding anyone getting too close.

    They soon reached the canal, a wide and twisting construct with a number of pleasure yachts on repulsors floating down it, he followed Whips presence down to one of the docks on the canal.

    The Sith Troopers decloaked around them when they had come within meters of the hidden entrance inside the canal wall at the end of the dock.

    "So that's where it was," the leader mumbled gloatingly. "By order of the Sith Overlord, You are under arrest-"

    The crack from the mad Twi-lek's light-whip severed the top half of the trooper from the bottom. The Mute ducked as Whips twirled her weapon expertly around her, hitting multiple opponents. In seconds, all the troopers were dead, and passerby who spotted the commotion ran off in terror.
    However, as one of the of the dead, black armored soldiers fell, he reflexively squeezed a shot off in the direction of her head.

    Whips turned aside too late.

    The bolt completely blew off one of her lekku, and the directed plasma also setting the leather headdress around her face ablaze.

    Whips screamed and dove into the water before the Mute could do anything about the freak accident.
    Steeling his stomach, he then turned his attention to what the post-mortem lucky shot had blown off.
    He had tended blaster wounds before, and he knew enough about Twi-lek physiology to know that some fat storage and brain matter were housed in the distinct head tails of Whips species. If she wasn't dead seconds after diving into the water, she had brain damage

    The smell wasn't normal; there should have been a sickly cooked meat smell, certainly brain matter. There wasn't any of that.

    He smelled something similar to burning plastic, He knelt down to the piece of lekku.

    It wasn't lekku, he realized. It was a cone of high grade synthetic material meant to mimic real skin. Whips was wearing a high grade prosthetic mask. She wasn't Twi-lek at all.

    His stomach turned as he thought of all the unpleasant medical reasons she would need such a thing, and recalled with newfound revulsion the three times he had unwisely gone to bed with her.
    He looked into the water, stretching out his senses. Nothing.

    Fine, he figured. If he never saw the madwoman again, he could live with that.

    Yet even as he thought this, a small part of him began to question this assertion.

    He shivered as he recalled his nights with her before reaching down beneath the dock planks and flipped a hidden switch.

    The entrance slid open and he rushed inside. following the network of tunnels that Kitsun had taught him to memorize.

    The safe house was a simple set of benches, survival gear, and a rack of spare lightsabers and blasters. The place was colored with an antiseptic white. The Mute also saw a refresher and a sonic shower.

    As he explored the large area, he knew this hiding place was compromised. They had not known for certain where the entrance was located, but they would find it eventually, if any passerby hadn't already reported him in, they too eventually would. The tunnels would confuse them at first, however.
    An open room with a draft caught his attention. He felt electricity and light waves coming from it. He stepped forward and his Force senses conjured an all too familiar sight.

    A simple make up room with wigs, lined with other prosthetic faces in different shapes. Head attachments included Togrutan Head Tails, In his mind's eye, he spotted a mask designed to mimic the features of a Cathar. And in a far corner, he also saw in his mind's eye a copy of the mask Whips had just had burned off her, right down to the scar.

    He had encountered this set-up only once before, he realized, way before he had consciously used the Force. It had been just after the invasion of Corellia, and he had suffered the misfortune of getting tangled in the affairs of an assassin called The Hyena. She had tricked him, using him to complete her assignment. She had nearly killed him when he had tracked her to her hideout. A Dark Jedi and master of disguise, she was the only person that had ever come close to killing him, sparing him only on a twisted whim of generosity.

    But it couldn't be the same person. The Hyena could actually string a sentence together. Whips had never uttered a word to him, and hadn't acted like she recognized him when they first met. Had to be a coincidence

    But as Kitsun had said to him once, true coincidences are rare-

    A hammer blow from behind sent the Mute spiraling to the floor.

    The Mute woke up on one of the safe hose benches. He sensed her presence immediately. She was leaning on a wall next to the lightsaber, holding her old burnt and torn mask in her left hand. A fresh replacement of her original mask covered her, mimicking the appearance of real flesh perfectly.
    She giggled, throwing the torn mask onto the Mute's lap, who scrambled out of the way like it was a poisonous snake. She laughed at this and then began slinking slowly closer unzipping the front part of her mesh suit, exposing a small amount of cleavage. He read her body language with his senses and knew instantly what she wanted.

    The Mute grimaced, maneuvering toward the exit, forcing himself to ignore the twinge in his stomach.
    He was unsure whether he could resist Whips' advances. He certainly hadn't the last few times. And that well formed figure hadn't helped matters.

    Maybe he was simply a sucker for danger and curves. Dangerous curves. Dangerous, crazy, curves.
    How did she manage to keep overriding his better judgment?! he raged inwardly as he felt his attraction to her. It wasn't some Force technique, this was simply his own stupidity manifesting itself.
    Seemingly forgetting that her face prosthetic was in all likelihood hiding some hideous deformity or scars, he suddenly grabbed hold of her, pressing real lips to fake ones. Whips bit down hard on his lower lip, drawing a small amount of blood as she pinned him against the wall

    The Mute continued his ill-advised lip lock, pulling her closer to him for another kiss, which she returned savagely, pulling his head to the side and working her way to his ear, which she began to bite and suck on.

    The alarm klaxon sounded.

    The Mute forced himself to tear away from an already half-naked Darksider, forcing himself to remember that today was a day for business. He was relieved, in a way. Part of him was worried he was beginning to enjoy being around her too much. (The Author would like to note that upon typing this sentence, I thought "Gee, ya think?")

    Whips laughed at him, for her part, slipping back on the top half of her mesh suit, as the Mute bounded out the room to check the entrance.

    He sensed the familiar presence of Foxe on the other side and threw open the entrance.

    Foxe, a lithe, curvy woman with slightly tanned skin, floppy, chocolate brown hair, dull green eyes, a slim nose and a heart shaped face and pair of lips, strode in, in her normal beige dancer costume, a simple top and pair of thin slacks and thin black dancer's shoes. Foxe was the only person here the Mute actually considered a friend.

    "We have a huge problem," she said, her normal, honey-sweet voice, strained by tension. "The Castle just exploded. I can't raise Lady Kitsun on the comm."

    Whips smiled at this news.

    Foxe stared at Whips. "What is she doing here?"

    The Mute reached around his back, gesturing up.

    "Back-up? You're kidding, right? She's just as likely to turn on us. And is that a bite mark on your lip?" Foxe asked with almost matronly disapproval.

    The Mute nodded in embarrassment, face going slightly pink.

    "Again, Mute?" Foxe asked, exasperated. She stared at Whips who folded her hands and whistled, looking away. Foxe wasn't fooled. Whips knew exactly what she was doing at all times. She was mad simply for not giving a damn about consequences, like most garden variety Sith

    "You're messed up, you know that?" she said, angrily, shaking her head in annoyance.

    Whips nodded in agreement, and then gave a rude hand gesture a second later.

    "Sociopath," Foxe muttered, turning her attention back to the Mute. "And you! Didn't we have 'The Talk' last time regarding her?"

    The Mute nodded sheepishly. Whips snickered and he angrily threw out a rude gesture of his own towards her.

    Foxe sighed. "We need an exit strategy. Ino's probably going to come on the holonet any minute now and declare us enemies of the empire.

    The Mute grimaced. Whips laughed and made for the exit.

    to be continued...
  2. Ninjer-8492

    Ninjer-8492 Jedi Youngling

    Sep 5, 2012
    Ojos, verdant quarter.

    Two women and one man walked out of a hidden entrance in the canals of the verdant quarter, which fed the plants and trees that had been integrated into the buildings. The man was tall and pale, with a round, strong chin and angular features. His hair was dark, and had recently been given a buzz cut. His robes were black, cut in the Dantooine style, which was naturally tight fitting. He wore a dark, bloody wool blindfold with a single, singed hole in the middle, right between the eyes. In his right hand he gripped a cane saber, it's design being basically that of a wood stick with a brass tip and a brass-t-shaped handle that parted when the saber blade was active. Next to him strode a lovely young woman wearing a a simple tube top and a thin pair of slacks, both beige in color. Her skin was a healthy tan, and her short cut chocolate brown hair was complimented by a pair of dull green eyes. Her face was heart shaped, like her lips.

    The woman ahead of them both, was a Twi-Lek, or at least that was what the man had thought until discovering she wore an elaborate prosthetic that made her only LOOK like one. Her face and "lekku"-the headtails of the species she imitated-was indistinguishable in appearance and feel from real flesh. The rest of the skin on her body had apparently been altered to mimic the albino color of the mask. She was curvy, with an hourglass shape to her, covered by a black, opaque mesh suit and black leather boots that went past her knees. Her mask made her features cold but beautiful, marred only by a diagonal scar that crossed right through the bridge of her nose and terminated at the bottom of the left lobe, a deliberate design choice for her mask along with the black headdress lining it. Her cold, ice blue eyes barely gave a hint to the madness behind them. A stun rod was attached to a black sash on her waist, which concealed a light-whip in the design.

    The Man, known to friends and enemies as "The Mute" had been having a very bad day. His Master, Darth Kitsun, had seemingly perished not two hours earlier when her castle exploded. Her rival, Darth Ino, would no doubt move in on all of them. The woman in dancer's clothing, Foxe, had been Kitsun's servant girl. The "Twi-Lek", known simply as Whips, had acted unofficially as Kitsun's attack dog against her rivals. Much like the Mute, no one had ever heard her utter anything, at least not something intelligible.

    The three all knew, however, that they now had to escape this planet or they would die. Darth Ino was the agent of this sector's Sith Overlord, and as such could send an entire army after them if he so chose.

    The Mute however, was less concerned about escape than the others were. He was more concerned with avenging his master. Kitsun had not been what one would traditionally describe as a "friend", but The Mute had a deep amount of respect for her: Too much so to let Ino's assassination of her go unavenged. Ino would bleed for this.
    And if he had to cut his way through an army of Ino's minions, then he was just fine with that. He knew that the psychopathic Whips wouldn't mind.

    "I can secure us transport," Foxe began as they walked along the canal's service pathway, her normal honey-sweet tone strained. "But we'll need to be extra careful. Ino's agents are everywhere. We don't get off the streets, they'll swarm us-"

    The Mute took Foxe by the shoulder gently and made a small swinging gesture with his cane.

    Foxe understood immediately.

    "You...want to avenge Kitsun?" she spoke, clearly confused. "But Ino beat us. He's taking control of the planet."

    The Mute made a snatching gesture.

    " back?" Foxe went on. "No. It is too dangerous. He acted with full approval of the Overlord. The only way to deny him Ojos would be to attack him in broad daylight. Humiliate him."

    Whips laughed at the prospect, a dark, seductive chuckle from the bottom of her throat. The laugh sent ripples of lust up the Mute's spine. He and Whips, in the course of their unusual "relationship", if one could call it that, alternated between the two trying to fight each other to the death and sharing a bed, either of which Whips was talented at.

    The Mute frowned. Foxe thought it was a bad idea. He didn't want to listen, but Foxe was the only person here he considered a friend, and he was inclined to listen to a friend's advice.

    A moan from Whips however, clearly indicating she liked his first idea better, made him reconsider.

    If Foxe didn't want to help him, that was fine. It wasn't her fight. But Ino would answer for his treachery, one way or another.

    The trio came across a wide expanse in the artificial waterway, wide enough for a large hover-yacht to pass through.
    With his senses, The Mute detected what appeared to be a simple fishing boat making its way op the artificial river. It was light brown in color, rectangle shaped, with a large square cabin at one end with small round sets of windows surrounding it. The sun was setting, giving the river a light orange color.

    The boat came closer to the concrete walkway, stopping in front of them.

    Before the Mute could wonder what a fishing boat was doing in a river with no fish, the boat's captain stepped out of the cabin. He was an old man, face eroded by time and the scars of battle. He was clad in a simple off-white toga, his feet bare. His skin was tanned leather, his beard took up most of his face and his hair was neatly combed and parted on the left. His hands look worn and rough, and it was clear there had been few days of comfort in this man's life.

    All Foxe said, however, was, "Hello, Ernest."

    "Foxe," the man spoke in an old cracked voice, his dull green eyes glancing at the Mute and Whips. "So, these the two strays you picked up?"

    "Yes. It was Kitsun's wish that you assist us."

    "Kitsun's dead, Foxe. And I'm too old to look after two strays while you scramble for transport. I can put 'em up in that old canal checkpoint I use for about a night before I myself have to flee. Just promise you'll get you and them off this gaudy rock before then," the man replied in a tired tone. "The things I do for you..."

    "I promise, Ernest," Foxe replied easily, turning to the Mute. "No storming any strongholds while I'm gone, okay?"

    The Mute nodded, already debating how best to attack Ino.

    With Whips on the other hand, Foxe did something so out of character the Mute actually froze in surprise.

    Foxe grabbed Whips by the throat, squeezing hard as she pulled Whips closer to her face.

    "Understand me very clearly. I don't care what else you do. But if you lay one finger on that old man..." Foxe growled, "It will be your ass. Understand?"

    Whips merely chuckled, flicking her tongue across Foxe's nose, causing her to let go of the Madwoman and wipe her nose clean.

    "I'll never understand why Kitsun didn't ditch you after your mind got snapped by that Shan fella," the old man grumbled as Whips haughtily strode aboard with the Mute.

    The cabin was cramped, and the Mute and Whips were forced to sit next to each other on a wood bench as the old man worked the ships navigation wheel.

    Whips gently ran a hand across the Mute's leg, unable to stop touching him. Occasionally she would elicit a bigger reaction by just biting him hard on the shoulder, until the Mute had to outright threaten her with his cane saber to stop messing with him.

    Threatening her only seemed to make Whips enjoy herself more. She had merely laughed and continued, knowing instinctively that he would not attack. She was crazy, but she definitely wasn't stupid. The Mute sighed in frustration before hitting her square in the nose with his elbow.

    Her head snapped back, nose drawing a tiny river of red blood. She recovered, clearly angry, yet also clearly enjoying the confrontation, and head butted him in turn.

    The Mute clenched his teeth as his mouth developed a coppery taste. Blood started flowing out of his nose also. He grabbed her by the throat, unsure of his next action. Whips simply licked her lips and went for her weapon...

    A bolt of lightning struck a space in the wall above them.

    "That's enough! You can kill each other once you're off my boat, not before!" the old man spoke, stern and loud, electricity arcing up his right hand.

    Whips slinked away from the Mute, intrigued by the power she felt from the old man. "Mmmm..." she moaned, laughing as she felt an unexpected spike of hatred and jealousy from the Mute, who himself was surprised by what he was feeling.

    "Don't try your tricks on me, schutta. I have some sense, unlike this poor boy you've drawn to you," the man proclaimed. He turned to the Mute, now regarding the old man with a new intensity. "Just what is it you see in her anyway, boy? You DO know what's under that mask, don't you?"

    Whips shifted uncomfortably at this but never stopped grinning.

    The Mute shrugged. There was no point in caring what was underneath the mask when she seemed able to seduce him at will, especially when he was more than prepared to continue their dysfunctional association even after finding out. Foxe's arrival at the canal earlier was all that had prevented him from bedding the psychopath a fourth time...mask or no mask.

    "I swear, you bastards get weirder with each generation," the man again grumbled before turning back to the wheel. "I'm Ernest. Most folks just call me The Fisherman. Used to work with your boss."

    The Mute nodded, trying to maintain a semblance of dignity despite a bleeding nose. Whips continued her games by slithering up next to him and biting his shoulder. He no longer bothered trying to stop her.

    "I always told her, 'Stop toying with Ino and just off the little prick'. Does she listen? Ha!" the Fisherman snapped in derision. "Taught her everything she anyway. Makes me look bad, Ino blowing her sky high."

    The Mute struggled to pay attention as Whips started licking the drying blood off his mouth.

    "So, what's yer' story?" The Fisherman asked as he piloted the craft.

    The Mute grunted in pain as Whips bit him on the shoulder hard, feeling the skin break underneath the robes.

    "Pain, huh? I been there, trust me," the old man went on, oblivious.

    The Mute discreetly and silently slammed his fist into Whips abdomen, making her double over. The Madwoman giggled.

    "You two better not be fighting again," the Fisherman rumbled. "Never mind. We're here. Feel free to kill each other...or whatever."

    Whips moaned, laughing at the Mute as she rose and left the dingy cabin, still bleeding.

    The Mute rose but the Fisherman stopped him, putting a hand on the shoulder Whips had bitten.

    "She's poison, boy. There's no future on the road she walks. Get away from her while you still can," he said sternly before handing the Mute a simple lightsaber, seemingly constructed of an amber-like material. The internal mechanisms were clearly visible along with the cyan crystal at the center, and at the back of the hilt's beveled emitter shroud was a silver nautical star.

    "An insurance policy," the old man explained before letting him go.

    The Mute's Force-Sight, upon stepping off the boat, spotted the office of a cube shaped checkpoint station on the river that had been boarded up. The docking area was falling apart-this place was not often visited. A clothes line holding old rags shifted listlessly in the evening wind. He watched as the boat departed, going further down the channel.

    The Mute was suddenly on alert, looking for Whips. He couldn't sense her presence, but given how often she had played this game before, he was willing to bet she wasn't too far off.

    He gripped his cane-saber, clipping the spare the Fisherman had given him to his belt. He ventured into the run down shack...

    ...and was pleasantly surprised to find that the interior was clean and lavishly maintained. A bear-skin rug was draped over the marble floor and there was a number of diagrams of various species of cod lining the walls. A fishing reed was mounted over the fireplace, the base of which was clearly displaying a lightsaber emitter.
    Whips decloaked in front of him with a vicious left hook. He reeled back in surprise before rebounding from the blow and striking her back.

    She tumbled to the floor as the Mute activated the purple blade in his cane.

    Whips rubbed her jaw, moaned, and reached into her the insides of her suit seductively, pulling out a photo of the bald, scrawny Nagai Sith that had decided to make both their lives a living hell. Darth Ino. His chalk white body lined with dark tattoos, and draped by a ragged set of black and grey robes.

    Whips wiped fresh blood from her nose and smeared it onto the photo. The message was clear: She was suggesting they defy Foxe and kill Ino anyway

    The Mute, in spite of himself, gave a dark, toothy, bloody grin and nodded. For once the two were on the same page, at least in this regard.

    Whips threw her head back and laughed as the Mute then crawled down next to her and began unzipping her suit...
    The Mute woke in bed about an hour later. Whips wasn't with him, but her mask was, discarded carelessly on his bare stomach, cold blue eyes no longer behind its sockets, dried blood still on the nose of the mask. Her suit still lay on the area of the floor where he had peeled it off her.

    He quickly picked the mask up and tossed it to the side of the bed and got up, back peeling away from the sheet due to the scratches she had given him there, the blood having finally dried.

    He grunted a bit in pain as he spotted her, the bright light from the fireplace obscuring her face and head as she lay in front of it on the rug, going over some datapad.

    For a second, The Mute debated going over to her, just to finally get a glimpse of what was under the mask and sate his curiosity, but he instinctively knew that, as bizarre and unnerving as their dalliances were, seeing her up close without her mask was a boundary she wasn't willing to cross. She was too secretive in that regard, (Though he knew also that a great deal of that was simple vanity.) much like how he never answered any questions about his past, or even gave his real name. Lady Kitsun herself knew practically nothing about him, and he had respected her as mentor. Whips knew nothing of him either, and he had let her closer than he had ever dare let anyone. Her, of all people.

    Wait, the Mute remembered, heart aching with guilt. That wasn't quite true. There had been another. Ana. The first person he had dared to love in years had been cruelly snatched away from him by the Sith, and left to hang on a platform with thirty other people in a hot midday sun on an outer rim colony. Her death had caused him to snap, years of unfortunate run-ins with Sith and Dark Jedi finally taking their toll. He had gone on a rampage, brutally killing The Sith who had authorized the action and killing more than fifteen sith troops who had been sent to arrest him, including four other Sith Lords. He had survived the firing squad, and had gone in to Darth Kitsun's service simply because he was out of options. He had grown too comfortable in this world, and Whips was evidence of that. The wrongness of their continued interaction plagued him. He wasn't sure if this was all a game to her or if she had her own reasons for carrying on with him as she did.

    The Mute whistled, turning his head away as he tossed Whips her mask. He felt her catch it and heard a stretching sound as she put it back on, hiding the mystery once more.

    "Mmmm..." he heard her moan. He had permission to his own risk. Always at his own risk where she was concerned.

    He strode up to her and got on both knees next to her, both still in the nude as she tossed him the datapad.

    His Force Sight gave him a vague definition of the patterns on the data screen. It was architectural blueprints. Ino's headquarters, designed as a pyramid, a docking bay near the top.

    The Mute ran a finger across a part of the diagram showing a small maintenance tunnel. Ino's stronghold was being refurbished, and it was the perfect place to slip in unnoticed.

    Whips shook her head, pointing to the docking port. She wanted maximum violence.

    The Mute stared at her. Whips grinned evilly, and for the first time his senses perceived the almost imperceptible line on her neck that divided real flesh from false.

    The Mute thought about it for a moment and sighed, nodding. He was coming to Ino's place for payback. To defecate on his front lawn, with all the galaxy watching as he burned the place to the ground. Not slip a dagger in his back and flee like some cretin. Kitsun deserved better than cowardice.

    Whips chuckled, summoning her suit back to her with telekinesis.

    Ojos, Imperial District.

    The Imperial district was in rare form, throwing a ticker-tape parade in Ino's honor as he was to assume rule over Ojos. The buildings were glamorous, cone shaped and built from a specially reinforced quartz, with red banners hanging off all of them. The streets were packed in front of the massive electrum-plated pyramid that towered many stories over them as civil police kept watch over bystanders as Ino prepared to give his speech on the failures of Darth Kitsun's rule. Enthusiasm for this was at an all time low. Everybody knew what sort of person Darth Ino was, just as they knew that Kitsun's rule over Ojos had been one of the most stable and fair in all of Exar Kun's fledgling empire. Sure, she had used secret police, and did not tolerate rebellion, but compared to most Sith she was quite restrained. Even a former apprentice, Anton Shan, who despised her initially for forcing him to choose between life as a Sith or death, would remark to his daughter Bastila many years later that she "wasn't a total *******".

    Whips had killed a policeman, much to the Mute's chagrin, and they had taken his sleek blue and white air speeder to the district scouting for the perfect opportunity to strike. And so they waited, making a pass near the temple, just beyond the security perimeter.

    Whips piloted, giggling as she saw Darth Ino come out to the landing platform in a severe black set of flowing robes which seemingly absorbed the light around it as he stepped to the podium that had been set up. The Mute gritted his teeth in hate. Ino had decided to use a bomb, rather than challenge her honorably. Granted, there was little room for honor amongst Sith, but there had always been a certain stigma attached to betraying those much more skilled than the betrayer from afar. It cheated them of the chance to prove their superiority and only proved the betrayers inherent inferiority. This stigma would even come back to haunt Darth Malak in the Civil War over forty years later, compelling him to face the failed Dark Lord of The Sith, Revan, in single combat aboard his capitol ship.

    Ino cleared his voice, his sulfur eyes raking the silent, downtrodden crowds just steeling themselves for the worst.
    "Today, the corrupt and inefficient rule of Kitsun comes to a close!" he bellowed in what seemed to be a constantly snide whine. "The Sith will bring order back to this planet and rule it as it was meant to be ruled! And I, Lord Ino, will be leading the charge!"

    The Mute struggled to contain his rage at Ino's lies as he watched from the speeder as it hovered in mid-air above the parades and balloons. He knew just how to wreck Ino's moment in the sun.

    He called on his power, bolstered by his anger and hate, and wrenched the speeder towards the direction of the podium. Whips stared at him in surprise, then began moaning in glee as she realized what he was about to do, taking her hands off the piloting controls.

    Still in control, The Mute revved the speeders engine and telekinetically switched the speed setting to maximum on the control dial. Then he activated the thrusters with his mind.

    The vehicle rocketed forward at deadly speed, the other cruisers too late to stop them as the penetrated the police perimeter and got within meters of the landing platform before Ino saw them. He dodged the impromptu missile just Whips and the Mute leapt out of the craft, barely avoiding the massive explosion that consumed the deck and killed most of his security detail with flaming fuel from the vehicle. The crowd below busted out in cheers as they watched Ino flee back into the compound on the giant holographic screen that had been set, up, various minions dressed in dark robes filing out to oppose his attackers, along with a full squad of heavily armed troops.

    The Mute roared, drawing on his full power as he crushed the squads weapons, flinging them backward with telekinetically boosted arcs of purple lightning. Whips swooned from the power he rarely displayed but laughed insanely a second later indiscriminately flicking her red light-whip at either the Sith minions who charged her with their own lightsabers or at the blue suited police in the area foolish enough to land. Her weapon viciously worked around their defenses, striking from odd angles, bisecting some, dismembering others as they got too close, Or simply causing them to combust into flames from her own mastery over the dark arts, laughing as she watched them scream, stealing their life energies in the chaos to continue fueling her attacks.

    The Mute telepathically reached into the mind of one Sith minion and broke it, making the man go berzerk and attack his own compatriots. He countered a thrust of red lightsaber from another Sith and pulled out the hidden knife in his cane, slashing the minion across the throat and flinging him into more reinforcements that poured out of the stronghold entrance. His Dark Rage propelled him across the air, cutting deeply into Sith ranks, dodging their blows expertly even as he hammered away at two or three at once with vicious swipes from his own blade.

    Whips cracked her weapon into the face of a full fledged master, another Nagai from the looks of it, who had at last come out to stop them himself. He blocked it at first, only for the flexible weapons tip to cut the top half of his head off. She giggled as he fell to the ground, frying his body with lightning out of spite and then flinging him into a group that had surrounded the Mute, the dark energy she had flooded his body with exploding in a flash, electrocuting most of the minions.

    The slaughter continued until no minions came to the platform anymore, packed as it was with corpses. Whips moaned gratuitously at the grisly sight. The Mute grimaced. For him, it was about avenging his master. For her, she simply got a kick out of the violence.

    The Mute paused for a moment, trying to catch his breath. These had only been the minions. The stronger ones would be waiting inside.

    His ears perked at the sound of a fast approaching speeder. More enemies?

    He tried not to smile as he felt the familiar presence of Foxe and the old power that was the Fisherman dock at the flaming, destroyed platform.

    "What were you thinking!?" Foxe cried as she bounded out of the speeder, rushed toward the Mute and slapped him hard across the face. This caused Whips to laugh so hard she fell over onto a body, chortling.

    "You could have died!" Foxe shouted at him before staring hatefully at Whips. "You," she snarled. "You pushed him to this."

    Whips stopped laughing on top of a dead body long enough to nod, and then stick her tongue out. Then she resumed her laughter. On top of the body. Again.

    Foxe turned back to the Mute, who was rubbing his face from the slap. "Whips NEVER has good ideas, Mute. NEVER listen to her. EVER. Now c'mon, we're leaving."

    The Mute shook his head violently. He wasn't leaving until he had avenged his master like a good, proper student.

    Foxe regarded him with exasperation.

    "You're really serious," she said, face deadpan. "Kitsun must have done something to make you respect her that much."

    "Eh, at least she chose a boy with honor. Unlike that rabid dog next to him," the Fisherman grunted, finally speaking up. He was dressed differently. He now wore all black clothes, with the sleeves on the black turtleneck rolled up, exposing nautical star tattoos on both his arms. On his head was a floppy, black beanie with a small fishing lure dangling from the side. In his hand was the fishing rod-lightsaber the Mute had seen mounted over his fireplace earlier. The rod curved gently at the tip, the fishing line having been detached, though the reel mechanism was still present. It was a dark red in color, and seemed to be constructed from some sort of bamboo.

    "Ernest, would you be a dear and make sure he doesn't get himself killed?" Foxe asked the Fisherman.

    "Eh, sure. I been on that damn boat too long. Needed to flex my muscles anyway," the old man replied, drawing the Dark Side into his body as his lightsaber activated, a deep solid red core with a white aura, whose tip curved at a sharp angle after a few seconds, giving his blade the appearance of a harpoon. "You two go on ahead. I gotta make a game plan with ol' Foxe here."

    The Mute nodded and was joined by Whips a second later as he rushed into the entrance.

    "Sweetie," the Fisherman said to Foxe in a softer voice. "Didn't I tell you this would happen?"

    "Yes, Daddy," Foxe answered with a sigh. "I knew he'd be loyal, but I had no idea he'd be THIS loyal..."

    "No, not that! I accept that he's your boy toy, but come on! Ino? You let Ino blow your castle up?! I got you that castle for your birthday!"

    "Yes, Daddy. I know, Daddy," Foxe/Darth Kitsun replied wistfully, surveying the carnage her student had caused as her dull green eyes went sulfurous with the Dark Side.

    "How many times? How many times have I told you?" the Fisherman pressed, continuing his lecture. "Always take care of the upstarts before they're a problem. Its what kept your old man alive so long."

    "Ino was my personal little maze-rat, Daddy. It was fun to toy with him."

    "But you let the rat blow up the maze! For Force's sake, why?"

    "Ino didn't blow up the maze, Daddy. I just let him think he escaped. His usefulness is at an end. Perhaps it's just as well my student ends him here. I was going to dispose of Ino eventually in any case."

    "And speaking of your boy toy," the Fisherman added, "Why are you letting him pal around with that animal, Whips?"
    "I indulge them both. The Mute keeps Whips manageable. She's drawn to him, obsessed with him for some reason I have yet to discern. And the Mute...well...sometimes you have to realize something is bad for you on your own."
    "He didn't seem to care when I warned him."

    "He's never had a normal relationship, Daddy. At least not for many years. This way of life is not predisposed to 'normal' or 'sane'."

    "Explain your mother then, Sweetie."

    "Daddy," she said, stroking his face lovingly. "Mommy was a con-artist."

    "She was a sexy con-artist," the Fisherman corrected. "I better go. I hope you know what you're doing, dear."

    "I always know what I'm doing, Daddy," she replied sweetly, batting her lashes.

    "Oh, the things I do for those puppy eyes you give," the Fisherman grumbled, kissing his daughter on the forehead. "Don't waste the boy's potential."

    "It won't be wasted if you keep him alive, Daddy. I have to maintain this subterfuge. It's part of his training. And his destiny."

    "Oh, come on, Jenny. You know you've been lookin' forward to havin' him all to yourself," the Fisherman grumbled as he strode to the entrance. "You better not forget my birthday, darlin'."

    "Daddy, you know I don't forget anything," Foxe/Kitsun replied with a smile. "Have fun, Daddy!" she yelled with a wave before retreating to the speeder. "Just signal me when you're done!"

    The Mute extended his senses outward as he crept down the entrance staircase made of creamy nephrite jade with Whips, who alternated between looking for danger and attempting to scare him from behind, causing the Mute to brandish his weapon threateningly. She chuckled darkly and gave him a rude hand gesture.

    The Force screamed a warning and he suddenly dove for her, knocking her down as a missile went flying up from the bottom of the stairs hitting the elaborately painted ceiling above them. They barely avoided the shockwave and heat.

    They both sensed the fissures spread across the ceiling, a rough grinding coming seconds before the inevitable collapse. The Mute wondered if the ceiling had specifically designed for just this type of situation.

    Before he could shield himself or Whips with a Force bubble, the ceiling gave. Though he knew Whips would not appreciate it, he decided to shield her from impact with his own body, clasping her tightly around him to protect as much of her as possible, hearing her laugh as the rubble rushed toward them.

    It never hit. Wondering why his spine wasn't broken, The Mute let go of his death grip on Whips and turned around.
    "I gotta say boy, yer' lookin' awfully silly right now. Especially since you just experienced the old 'last minute save'," the Fisherman drawled, holding up the ceiling with his power, and turning another missile the troopers at the bottom of the stairs had fired back on them. The explosion killed all of them instantly. "Well, you just gonna lay there all day? Up!"

    The Mute rose, dusting himself off as he pulled Whips up, who ran a finger up his spine, moaning, "Awwww..."

    "Weirdos," the Fisherman grumbled, striding forward. "These Sith today...too damn opulent for their own good. How much you think the stairs cost?"

    The Mute shrugged. He was no merchant.

    "Just you watch, boy. The Sith are gonna lose this one just like last time. And they'll have only themselves to blame for it, following that incompetant Exar," he snapped as a masked Sith Warrior in severe black robes like Ino's decloaked in front of him on the stairs with a lightsaber. The Fisherman's harpoon-like lightsaber blocked a lethal vertical chop, turning it aside effortlessly. The Fisherman shut the lightsaber off suddenly and pulled out the hidden sword attached to it and hidden in the rest of the rod, it's wicked curve gleaming as it beheaded the Sith. The Mute whistled, impressed. Now he understood where some of his own techniques came from. Whips snickered as she watched the head roll down the steps.

    "Dumbass whippersnappers in their fancy shmancy robes. In my day, a Dark Sider didn't need all this crap," the Fisherman mumbled as he led the group to the bottom of the stair case and what appeared to be a reception chamber packed with antique weapons and expensive paintings on the walls. Like the staircase, the walls, ceiling, and floor appeared to be constructed of milky nephrite. The chamber was a perfect circle, with two floors.

    "Oh, come on!" the Fisherman exclaimed, disgusted by the sight. "Does he really need all of this? Bet you ten creds that pale faced little prick is compensating immensely for an extremely tiny-"

    Dozens of Sith and Dark Jedi decloaked around them, lightsabers active, wearing the same severe black robes. The Mute could feel great skill and experience from them. Whips cracked her weapon at them, beckoning with a finger.

    "Okay, okay, classic set-up. Getting better," the Fisherman spoke approvingly, giving a flourish of his weapon. He turned to the Mute as their enemies got into an attack position. "Feel like playing a game?"

    The Mute cocked his head to one side in curiosity.

    "It's real easy. You just gotta remember this one rule," the old man chuckled. "First one to die's a rotten egg."

    "Heh," the Mute grunted, giving a rare chuckle of his own.

    The pair then bore down on one relatively isolated group of Sith, weapons slicing ferociously into their ranks. The Fisherman parried attacks expertly, always following up with a blindingly fast strike from the sword attached to his lightsaber. Four were dead in the first ten seconds, then twelve in the next eight. The Mute was the more patient fighter, blocking attacks and slowly using a technique Darth Kitsun had taught him to drain his enemies of energy without them noticing, watching as they quickly exhausted themselves against him, and allowing him to strike through weak guards. Whips flung her weapon this way and that, twirling it through their ranks in elaborate, though inherently chaotic patterns. Five Sith met their end when the red light-whip defeated their guards, slicing them into large chunks of diagonally cut pieces. She moaned, evading arcs of lightning from several desperate attackers bearing down on her. She cackled, casting hideous illusions that sent them screaming, pulling back-unwisely into the direction of the Mute, who cut them down from behind in the confusion.

    The Fisherman sent out a push so powerful it crushed the organs of three Sith in front of him, cracking the ground below them.

    Soon, all but a dozen Sith remained, all masters, all smarting at the loss of their apprentices. "Death Field!" one of them roared, and they all stretched out their hands.

    The Fisherman, the Mute, and Whips all concentrated.

    The floor underneath the Sith was torn out from under them, flinging five aside and sending the rest screaming toward the roof, where they were squashed between the ceiling and chunk of floor that had brought them up there. The survivors drew their lightsabers again and attacked viciously, giving into to their rage and driving the three back temporarily before Whips thinned out the group by cracking her weapon around the guard of two of them, severing their torso's from behind. She laughed again as they dropped.

    The Mute was caught between two of them, deflecting attacks from the front and behind, relying solely on the Force to direct his defense, He parried one of his attackers blades, twisting to the side and allowing the blade to graze the shoulder of his other attacker, who yelped in pain under his mask. The two pressed their attack against, him, forcing him to use the hidden knife in his cane to surprise one by slashing him across the chest after blocking another strike. The man clutched his chest backing away and gasping in pain from the deep cut. He couldn't seem to stop the bleeding. Whips rendered his plight null a second later, using her power to set him ablaze. The man ran, a walking matchstick, screaming until he simply dropped at the other end of the massive chamber.

    The Mute's remaining attacker tried to restrain him telekinetically, but the Mute's own rage was greater, allowing him to break the hold and grasp the Sith, holding him in mid-air as he crushed him with the Force, flinging him into a wall.
    The Fisherman had merely been toying with the final Master, lazily parrying desperate, angry attacks, until the Mute whistled.

    The Fisherman grunted and used the barbed tip of his weapon to catch his opponent's blade, yanking it out of his enemy's hands and then blasting the Sith with lightning not a second after.

    "Rotten eggs, the lot of ya'," he joked, surveying the aftermath of the battle.

    Whips moaned, pleased with the destruction. The Mute leaned against a nearby support column to catch his breath.
    "Ino's gotta be somewhere close. I think he's exhausted his supply of Sith. Probably still has soldiers though, so watch it," the Fisherman grunted, staring admiringly at the Mute. "You did good, kid. I reckon you might just make it in this business yet."

    The Mute didn't bother to react to the praise.

    As the three proceeded deeper into the stronghold. They started noticing more administrative areas and office cubicles with holoprojectors installed at each of them. The Fisherman split off, desiring to scout ahead.

    The Mute sensed life in one of the offices. He tensed, slowly approaching the turbo-door and waved it open.

    He spotted what appeared to be a news crew and six admirals, from the Krath faction, their brown uniforms black due to the lack of light. All of them were human. All of them shrank back in fear. Hiding behind desks and other furniture.

    The Mute stepped back. He wasn't interested in non-combatants.

    Whips had other ideas, however.

    The psychopath sauntered into the room, cold eyes scanning them all.

    She threw her head back, laughed, and held out her hand in a fist, causing all the admirals to drop, clutching their throats. "Oooo," she mumbled, chuckling as she heard their necks break. The reporters screamed, all drawing back into a single corner of the office.

    She spotted them and decided to turn her power on them, only for the Mute to deck her, enraged. He flung her out of the office with the Force, away from the reporters. She crashed into a cubicle, a heavy projector landing on her face.

    The Mute guarded with his lightsaber. He'd thrown down the gauntlet with her, and there was no way to tell how it would end. But she had gone too far attacking civilains, and that was something the Mute did not tolerate.

    Whips got up. "Mmmm..." she moaned, activating her weapon, cracking it playfully. The projector had damaged the mask, peeling part of her left cheek away, exposing flaking, dark scar tissue underneath.

    The Mute grimaced, trying to understand what had drawn him to her in the first place. It hadn't been her body, (Though it had certainly not helped matters.) but rather the wildness. He had allowed her primal nature to corrupt him.

    She cracked her weapon again, grinning. Troublingly, the Mute realized his snarl had turned to a grin somehow, and wiped the expression off his face, cold sweat beading on his scalp as he realized he was enjoying this.

    She flicked her weapon toward his torso, making him roll forward and trying to stab her. She cart wheeled backward, laughing as she twirled her weapon, it's tip wrapping around his. She yanked him forward roughly, pulling his weapon out of his hands completely.

    The Mute tried to roll out of the way, only to be obstructed mid-roll by another cubicle as the light-whip smacked the ground centimeters from his spine. He leapt back up, remembering the light saber the Fisherman had given him earlier. He pulled it out, its rough, yet slick hilt gripped firmly in his hands. He pressed the activation stud.

    The cyan blade shot out-and curved significantly at the tip, mimicking the appearance of the fishing rod the old man used. Whips moaned at the sight and playfully cracked her weapon through a cubicle, severing the arm of an unfortunate Bith civilian who happened to be hiding in it. The alien man screamed a curse in his language and soon passed out from shock. The Mute wrenched the man out of her reach telekinetically, charging.

    Whips charged also, cracking her weapon at his legs, making him flip over her, trying to run his blade across her spine, she ducked and swung her legs against his as he landed, making him hit the ground at an odd angle and smack the back of his head into the floor. She climbed on top of him, placing both hands around his throat, laughing as he choked. He slammed his fist into her jaw, kicking her off him and sending a bolt of lightning her way, which she deflected, ripping the wall off of a cubicle next to him, smacking his head with it.

    He grunted in pain and scrambled up, summoning the Fisherman's lightsaber back to him and ruthlessly swiping at her with it, his frustration and confusion driving him onward. Whips tried to wrap her weapon around his and yank it away again, but he used her own trick against her, telekinetically ripping up a cubicle next to her and hitting her with the debris.

    Whips huffed, angry-yet still clearly enjoying herself. She beckoned him with a crooked finger, whistling.

    The Mute tossed his lightsaber at her, giving it a hard spin as he threw it.

    Whips elegantly evaded the weapon, catching its blade with her flexible one and flinging it back at him.

    Dodging his own weapon, the Mute caught it and flung it back at her.

    The weapon struck hers at an odd angle near the emitter, causing her to lose her grip. It tumbled out of her hands, burning a hole into the floor, along with his, disappearing into them soon after as they continued melting their way to the floors below.

    Whips clicked her tongue, unconcerned as she summoned the Mute's own cane saber into her hand. The Mute was about ten meters away from her at this point. It would be too dangerous to charge, but he had one trick left...

    The Mute pulled the hidden knife away from the bottom half of the cane with the Force and let its tip hover just under her jugular. She froze, but then smiled, tossing his lightsaber away and approached him.

    The Mute froze, he pressed the tip closer into her neck, drawing a small drop of blood, but she continued her approach, chuckling. She got closer, The Mute merely keeping the knife pressed to her neck, unable to drive it in, and not understanding why he couldn't.

    And then they were face to face. The Mute just kept the knife hovering against her neck, frozen by indecision.

    Whips took the knife from under her neck, licking her own blood off its tip. She slammed it into the wall, a centimeter from the Mute's right ear.

    Snarling, he grabbed her, pressing his mouth against hers. She returned the kiss, clasping the back of his head, as he slipped his arm around her waist.

    Impulsively, during the kiss, he transmitted his actual name to her telepathically. She blinked at him in surprise, before biting his ear as he turned them around, pinning her against the wall as he pressed his lips to her neck. She laughed.

    He shoved her away suddenly, confused and angry with himself. He backed away, pulling his knife out of the wall and guarding with it. She chuckled, and lightning arced up her fingers before they heard another lightsaber activate.

    "That's enough! Both of you need a time-out!" the Fisherman bellowed. "I was nearly killed when your weapons melted the damn ceiling over my head! What the hell is wrong with you two?! And did I really just say 'time-out'? Because it sounds kind of odd now," he finished, clearly embarrassed.

    The Mute shrugged at the first question and nodded at the second. Whips stuck out her tongue.

    The Fisherman tossed her weapon back to her. "Beat it, you. You've done enough."

    Whips moaned and clipped her weapon to her sash. She headed for the turbo-lift a floor up. She stopped however, turned around, and crooked a finger at the Mute with a knowing expression.

    He understood suddenly: She wanted him to join her. Two strays.

    "Mmmm..." she moaned at him.

    The Mute took a step back. The old man had been right. The woman was poison. He needed to be away from her.
    Unconcerned with the rejection, Whips simply gave him a two-finger salute, cackled, and skipped away.

    The Fisherman approached him, handing him the upper half of his weapon, which the Mute then rejoined to form his cane.

    "You don't exactly use the big brain when she's around, do you?" he asked.

    The Mute recalled the feel of her bare body twisting and writhing at his touch, and his own twisting and writhing at hers, and shook his head.

    "C'mon, I found Ino," the Fisherman grumbled. "You're gonna love this next bit."

    Darth Ino sat in disbelief in his gaudily decorated personal quarters, watching the disaster unfold on the holonet screen, watching his entire career go down the drain as the news played the shot of the speeder crashing into his headquarters during his acceptance speech. He had watched the security feed as the three intruders-one of them being Kitsun's own weakling apprentice-carve their way through his elite troops and warriors, killing six admirals crucial to Exar's war effort in the process.

    He'd be lucky to just be demoted. Now was a time to escape.

    He got up, ambling through the expensive porcelain decorations and statues, a ten-thousand credit chandelier hanging over head, made of durasteel and diamond, gilded with electrum.

    The door was locked. He tried to bash it open with a Force push before remembering he had installed kinetic diffusers to prevent just that from happening.

    "Going somewhere, Darth Ino?" a familiar male voice with a corellian accent blared on the office intercom.

    "Overlord Vizkous!" Ino stammered. "I can explain..."

    "I'm sure you can. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, Ino. Isn't that what I told you before letting you move forward with your silly bomb attack?"

    "Overlord, this is only a minor setback. I can regain control if you send reinforcements-"

    "Ah, so you finally admit to your own weakness," Vizkous interrupted dismissively. "Ino, may I be frank with you?"

    "I...I don't see why not," Ino answered in a weak voice, slumping back into his seat.

    "Very well. The truth is Ino, I never wanted to betray Darth Kitsun. I played Pazaak with her on the weekends. I even had her over at a barbeque for all the really powerful Sith."

    " never invited me to any of that!" Ino said, becoming angry for the first time. "Why did you continually waste attention on such an unworthy-"

    "HOLD YOUR TONGUE!" Vizkous snapped. "I've had to listen to you blather on about her supposed unworthiness for months! Do you know how frakking annoying it was? But the truth was, you were becoming too powerful and ambitious for your own good. Its Sith like you who make it so difficult to get anything done. Kitsun was stable and reliable. I never had to worry about a rebellion. If you had been in power more than a day, I would have had resistance groups springing up on Ojos within a week. You'd run the place into the ground with all that torture and butchery you would no doubt inflict on the populace to stay in power. I never expected your attempt to kill her would be successful. You got lucky, that's all."

    " set me up to fail!" Ino raged, standing up, fists clenched.

    "You set yourself up to fail, Ino. Grasping and trifling. I'm going to enjoy watching whatever her student does to you. If you survive, I might consider making you my house-schutta and re-assigning you. So long, Ino."

    The intercom cut and the doors opened.

    The Fisherman stepped through, immediately immobilizing Darth Ino with multiple arcs of lightning, making the Sith jerk and twist on the floor. The Mute stepped in afterward, smirking.

    "Go on," Ino rasped weakly. "Do it. I'm dead already. You would have had a million credit bounty on your head whether you had done this or not."

    The Mute grimaced, unsheathing his knife. He had something worse planned for this proud coward. His grimace then turned into a grin that was not too dissimilar from the one Whips usually had plastered on her face.

    The Fisherman realized the Mute's intention and blanched. "Aw, dude, gross with a capital G."

    The Mute knelt down next to the Sith. Ino went wide-eyed and began to shriek at the top of his lungs as the Mute set to his grisly task...

    There was no doubt that the Mute, Foxe, and the old man had long since fled the system when the authorities finally found Ino hanging upside down, naked, from his own chandelier. He was bleeding badly, his rage the only thing keeping him alive after the Mute had castrated him.

    "I'll find them," he moaned as he was lifted down from the chandelier by the medics, delirious from the pain. He could just imagine his hands around the Mute's throat, squeezing until there was no life in his sightless, granite colored eyes. "Whatever it takes. I'll find the bastard."

    He blacked out as the Medics injected him with painkillers.