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  1. #1
    Bits and Pieces (Stories from Outside the Current Timeline)

    Bits and Pieces (Stories from Outside the Current Timeline)

    ((I don't know yet exactly where this will fall in the RP story timeline. This little story is a response to events from the SWTOR game - so my intention is to write it while it's fresh, and then work it in. ))



    Siralai was quiet on the short shuttle flight from the fleet's Carrick Station back to her temporary accomodations. The crew didn't seem to notice her lack of conversation - but when she arrived, her husband certainly did.

    "What's wrong?" Trystan asked.

    She wasn't supposed to tell anyone about the mission... but she trusted him completely, and she needed to talk to someone who would understand, and those people were in short supply. "They want me to lead a team on a mission to Korriban."

    "Korriban?" Trystan repeated. His eyebrows raised so high that Siralai could almost imagine them retreating completely into his hairline. "We've discussed Korriban before - it's a suicide mission."

    Siralai shook her head. "Not this time. When we were talking about going alone - just the two of us, trying to find Rossi - it would have been. But the Republic has found a break in their defenses that coincides with a gap in their patrols. I think it's actually doable. But..."

    "But...?"

    "But I don't want to go." Siralai sighed, and flopped into an armchair. "I don't want to go to Korriban. I'm not afraid... well, no, I shouldn't say that. I'm not afraid that I'll be harmed. I'm afraid of what it will mean. In truth, having Korriban out of reach is easier. It makes the moral issues less complex. If a Sith attacks me on some random planet - I'd do my best to turn them, but if I couldn't, well... it would be clear who the aggressor was. Who is the aggressor if I go to Korriban?"

    Trystan nodded. "I understand what you're saying. If you go to their 'house,' so to speak, it starts to look an awful lot like self-defense on their part."

    "And they'll all be mixed together - the redeemable, the unredeemable, maybe even the innocent. How do I tell? How on earth do I limit casualties?"

    "I don't know," Trystan replied honestly. "You always try. But in this situation I don't know if you can."

    Siralai rubbed her forehead. "I don't think I should do this. I'll just tell them I'm out. There are plenty of Jedi who would jump at the chance for a crack at Korriban. There's no reason it has to be me."

    The former Jedi trailed off into silence as she realized they weren't alone. Their teenage daughter - Rossi, the former Korriban apprentice - had heard everything. The girl looked pale, staring at her parents. Siralai could only imagine what Rossi was thinking. Korriban had been an awful, traumatic place for the girl. But that didn't mean there was no one and nothing there that Rossi cared about.

    "Don't worry," Siralai said. "I'm not going to do it. I won't go to Korriban."

    Rossi shook her head. "No!" she said, her voice tense but determined. "It has to be you. Please. You have to."

    Siralai was caught off balance. "You want me to go? I'm surprised. I thought you would be worried about the people you knew there..."

    "I am!" Rossi took a deep breath trying to steady herself. "I am. And that's why. I know you'll be merciful. I know you won't hurt them if you don't have to. They have a better chance with you than with anyone else. The others from the Republic will want to... mow everyone down, and not even think about it. You won't. You'll spare anyone you can. I... I trust you. Please..."

    Siralai gave her eldest a gentle hug. "Alright," she said. "I'll go to Korriban, because you asked me to - and I will do my best to live up to your hopes. I swear to you that I will make every effort not to take any life that could be spared."

    She would travel to Korriban with a conflict being waged in her own heart, trying not to see her daughter and son in every Pureblood face. Above all, she would do her best to prove worthy of Rossi's trust.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 02-19-2020 at 02:59 PM.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  2. #2
    A pall of smoke hung in the air on Korriban, mixing with the desert sand to make breathing more challenging. Small fires burned everywhere. Stone was toppled and metal was twisted. Craters pockmarked the ground, and the unexploded munitions scattered haphazardly demanded caution.

    Countless Imperial banners had been torn down and tossed aside. Siralai did her best to avoid stepping on them. She had no love for the Imperial system of government, but it seemed wrong to kick an enemy who was already down - even symbolically.

    The fighting was brutal. Close quarters. Personal. But Siralai did her best to honor her promise to her daughter. No life perished by her blade that she could have spared.

    Finally there was an end to it. In the ruined chambers of the Dark Council, a very winded Siralai struggled to draw the dusty, ashy air into her lungs after a fierce duel with a Sith lord. It had been a difficult fight, and at times victory had not been certain, but she had prevailed. Her opponent had yielded. The Sith lord slumped, holding his side, as the Republic forces entered the chamber.

    An unintended frown rose to Siralai's lips when she saw who led the troops. Jensyn. A fellow Jedi... but also a Commander in the Republic military. Siralai found Jensyn unsettling - primarily for the dual role he held. It seemed wrong to Siralai for the Jedi Order to function as essentially an arm of the Republic military and law enforcement. The Jedi were supposed to be fair and impartial; an Imperial citizen should be able to expect equal treatment from a Jedi as their Republic counterpart. Siralai considered it a misapplication of their mandate for the Order to assert the Senate's will.

    Even as these thoughts once again crossed Siralai's mind, things started to happen very fast. The Sith lord stoically foretold his own death. Siralai tried to get enough oxygen into her lungs to assure him that he was mistaken. And a blue lightsaber flared to life. All Siralai could manage was a choked gasp as Jensyn's blade cut the Sith lord down.

    "How could you do that?" Siralai demanded breathlessly. "Why did you kill him? He had surrendered. You could have taken him into custody. There was no need..."

    "He raised his weapon," Jensyn replied without emotion. Without interest. "I don't take chances with Sith."

    "You slaughtered him in cold blood!" Siralai insisted. "What you did was a war crime! I'll report you for this."

    She did. She reported it to anyone who would listen. No one seemed to care. The death of Darth Soverus was met with shrugs at best and approval at worst. He was a member of the Dark Council. He was a Sith. He had undoubtedly done evil things.

    And his skin was red. Siralai suspected that ultimately, Soverus being a Pureblood was seen as the worst crime of all. She couldn't find anyone on the ground on Korriban who would listen, or condemn Jensyn's actions. It seemed she was on her own.

    "You can return to Carrick Station, ma'am!" a young Republic lieutenant assured Siralai. "Our teams can finish securing Korriban."

    "I'm not leaving until everyone else does," Siralai said. It was unsettling, realizing she had to protect Korriban from her own troops rather than vice versa. That she couldn't trust her own people not to commit more war crimes. Those who marched under the banner of the Republic were capable of just as much cruelty as those under the Imperial flags now trampled underfoot.

  3. #3
    Everyone at the makeshift camp - other than Siralai - seemed surprised when there was a counterattack. Siralai was only surprised by their shock.

    The others fumed, cursed, hastily made preparations to launch for Tython... all expressing bafflement and rage that this could have happened. That the other side would have the knowledge and audacity to pull the same gambit. That this time, it was the home of their own Force users being invaded.

    All Siralai could think was, Well, what did you expect?

    Korriban had been an act of aggression. Had it occurred to no one in the Republic leadership that the Empire might retaliate in kind?

    That didn't mean, of course, that Siralai didn't help push the Imperial troops out of Tython. Her ship launched with the others, back to defend the Jedi Order's homeworld. Not because she thought her efforts were particularly deserved - but because Tython was too important to lose, and because most of the people there had no say in the hairbrained scheme to attack their Sith counterpart.

    Stepping back on Tython's soil, it was odd to think that it used to be home. Not because of the wreckage and desolation of a hostile invasion. Not because the Temple had been damaged and desecrated. But because it all felt so... distant, now. So long past. It hadn't been so many years, really. But her life had changed so much. She finally belonged - and it wasn't here.

    Tython was reclaimed by the Republic. Korriban was lost to them. How else could it have been? Siralai had never truly expected any other result.

    The Republic declared victory. But Siralai was sure that back in Imperial space, the Empire had declared victory as well. Countless lives had been lost. Gallons of blood saturated the ground of two planets.

    Not an inch of ground was gained by either side.

    Not an inch.

    Siralai closed her eyes and meditated. There is no death, there is the Force. There is no death, there is the Force...

    It had become harder and harder to believe that as the years wore on and countless lives were spent in a futile and seemingly endless struggle. Would it ever end? Could it ever end?

    Siralai had to believe it could...
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 03-04-2020 at 07:34 AM.

  4. #4
    ((I'm pretty sure this thread doesn't have readers other than me, but just in case, this post contains spoilers for SWTOR regarding the interlude before Knights of the Fallen Empire.))


    Once again, Siralai stepped over trampled and torn Imperial banners - but this time, there had been no Republic soldiers involved. Seemingly brainwashed Imperial troops had fired on their own on Ziost, fellow soldiers and civilians alike. Siralai had been called upon to help stem the tide of bloodshed, but there was so little she could do. So little anyone could. She couldn't be everywhere at once, blocking every blow and shielding every terrified citizen.

    This hadn't been a mutiny. It had seemed that way on the surface, but it quickly became clear that that the brainwashed troops were following the orders of their Emperor. Their dead Emperor.

    The "dead" part was less surprising to Siralai. She had seen too many strange and impossible things to doubt that someone could feign death - or return from it.

    No, what shocked her was that the devastation was turned against the Emperor's own domain. It was not just unbearably violent... it was counterproductive. How could you hope to win a war if you devastated your own people indiscriminately, without even so much as a military goal?

    There was a goal, though, it turned out. The slaughter wasn't random. The Emperor was powering his own immortality with deaths - and not just the deaths of enemies. The deaths of his own would provide just as much fuel. The Emperor was not just a danger to the Republic. As it turned out, the Empire itself had just as much to fear from its resident megalomaniac as the other side did.

    The fighting slowed, then stopped. Some around Siralai were declaring victory... but Siralai hesitated. There had been no decisive winner. Some ground gained, some regions pacified, but the tides had not turned so far that the upper hand could not be regained - especially since the Emperor would benefit from the deaths on both sides, so dragging out the combat as long as possible should better serve his ends.

    And, as it turned out, the greater horror was yet to come.

    Siralai watched helpless, from orbit, as a massive wave seemed to descend on Ziost in a great, unstoppable rush. The surface of the planet was scoured into lifeless oblivion. Shadows and dust. Every living thing murdered by an enemy that couldn't be fought. It had all been for nothing.

    The Emperor had won. The people of Ziost - his own people - were gone, wiped out in the space of seconds to feed his lust for power.

    What was the point of that power, Siralai wondered? To be immortal, but at the price of being alone in the galaxy. Why would anyone choose such an end? A life without love, without connection to another being, was surely a fate far worse than death. Why would anyone choose it willingly? Why would anyone seek an existence that was not truly... a life?

    Siralai carefully scooped a bud from the charred Ziost soil. The bud was dead. Withered, lifeless. Petrified forever in that state. But she gently planted it in her rooftop terrace garden on Coruscant anyway, as a reminder of Ziost. As a reminder of what had been stolen - and what must yet be protected at all costs.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 03-15-2020 at 05:12 PM.

  5. #5
    ((Something a little different - Visper and Felix's reunion story. ))


    When she heard that he had finally been found, Visper's knees went weak. Her head swam. After all that time. All that searching. And he was finally here. Waiting for her.

    Her legs felt like jelly. This had to be a dream. Her hands shook. She felt like she was in slow motion, putting one foot in front of the other...

    And then she saw him. He was standing by the cliff, staring out across the canyon, drinking in the view. She wouldn't know till later why the sight of the open space so absorbed him - that years of confinement and solitude had made him desperate for the sky. In that moment, seeing his familiar figure brought a burst of clarity. It no longer felt like a dream. She began to run, stumbling, forgetting to pay attention to the terrain.

    Every instinct was to throw herself into his arms... but she forced herself to stop. Five years was a long time. She reminded herself that she didn't know what he wanted anymore. That an embrace from her might not be welcome. She feared that she would feel him tense and pull away, if she latched herself onto him. Be careful. Caution. Using caution around Felix was an unfamiliar concept; they had shared everything. But things were different now. He might disappear again, if she came on too strong.

    "Hello, Felix," she said softly, nervously pushing a strand of hair behind her ear. She had changed her hairstyle since she last saw him - it was softer now, less Jedi-standard. She hoped he liked it. Then she realized how silly it was to worry what he would think of her hair, when they had five years of distance to overcome.

    The conversation was a bit of a blur. The field of yellow flowers. The knot of anger in her gut when he told her what had been done to him, what he had suffered at the hands of his captors. Holding herself back, trying to be normal, to talk like a rational human being instead of throwing herself at him and clinging and demanding that he never let her go.

    How did you ask if someone still loved you?

    As it turned out, she didn't have to. Felix broached the subject first. "All those years, the only thing that kept me from giving up... was the thought of seeing your face again. After all this, I'm not the same person you fell for. I'll understand if you'd... rather not deal with that."

    The fog in Visper's mind cleared. Tears rose in her eyes. The dam burst and she could feel again.

    "I love you," she said in a choked whisper. "I never stopped loving you..."

    He was alive. He still loved her. It was going to be okay.


    ***


    Of course, there were still things to figure out. For the first few hours, they were cautious, neither wanting to overstep. Finally, Visper couldn't bear it anymore.

    "Felix, I need to tell you something. I need to be completely honest with you, not think too much about my words, and not hold anything back. Is that alright?"

    "Of course. Always."

    "Okay. Here goes. I love you."

    He didn't respond for a moment - and Visper realized he was still waiting. He thought she wasn't done yet. He expected a 'but.'

    "That was all," she finished lamely. "I just... don't want to.... take time and see how this goes. I don't want to wait and see what happens. It's been too long already. I don't want us to have to be nervous around each other. I love you. I want things to be how they were. I want to pick up where we left off. Can we do that? Just be like we were?"

    The tension had visibly eased from Felix's body. "Yeah," he said. "We can. Absolutely."

    They kissed again, like they had in the meadow, but this time was different. This time, it felt like no time had passed at all. He was finally home.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 06-01-2020 at 02:56 PM.

  6. #6
    Frenka Kolotoi, Agent Recruit

    "The period of your instruction is almost over," Trainer Four told the five recruits who were arrayed in a neat semi-circle in front of him. "Only a few lessons remain. Now we travel to Nar Shaddaa, where we will take part in the war games that will comprise the next phase of your training."

    Four of the recruits were human. The only alien, Frenka Kolotoi, did her best to look alert and prepared. She didn't know exactly what 'war games' entailed - but everyone else seemed to understand, and she didn't want to admit being the only one who had no idea what was about to happen. Surely they would receive instructions? Surely it would all become clear when they got to Nar Shaddaa.

    Frenka had come so far to reach this point. It seemed so long ago that Imperial Intelligence had found her on Belsavis. A Rattataki with no homeworld, Frenka had been born on the prison planet, facing a life sentence for the distant crimes of her grandparents. When the Agents had discovered her, the prison was in meltdown and all hell had broken loose; Frenka was a gawky teenager hiding in the Rattataki ward, improvising weapons to try to fend off the aggression her fellow Rattataki were directing toward her as a younger and weaker member of the species once they were unleashed. The Agents had seen potential in her... but just surviving hadn't been enough. They had required her to prove herself. And the things she'd been forced to do before they agreed to take her away from Belsavis and train her... best not to think about it.

    Since then, she'd been training hard. No longer the skinny child of Belsavis, she had grown into a woman as she had grown into her assigned role in Intelligence. There had been so much to learn. But she was almost there.

    After they arrived on Nar Shaddaa and received a quick briefing, the five recruits set off in search of a tracking beacon that represented their first 'mission objective.' There was no conversation, other than strategic planning. None of them were here to make friends. It was all business... at least until the four human recruits spotted an Evocii girl. They surrounded her efficiently, like a pack of hunting predators, laughing and mocking her, telling her to get off the street and back into the gutter where she belonged. Frenka frowned, troubled.

    Then the largest of the recruits, a male named Davick, made a move to push the Evocii girl with the butt of his blaster rifle... and without thinking, Frenka stepped between them. "Stop it, Recruit Davick!" she said. "We're here for a mission, not to bully the locals. Show some professionalism."

    "As you say, Recruit Kolotoi," Davick replied. His tone was conciliatory - but his eyes held daggers of malice. "I apologize for my poor judgment."

    The group moved on. Only Frenka looked back, to make sure the Evocii girl was alright.

    About a quarter of a mile on, Davick gestured down an alley, staring at his tracking device as he searched for the marker's coordinates. At his motion, the other four went ahead... and all of a sudden Frenka felt a blinding pain in the back of her skull, and collapsed to the ground. It took her a moment to realize that Davick had hit her with his rifle butt. Apparently they were acting in some unspoken agreement, because now it was Frenka the other recruits were encircling. She tried to get to her feet, but a rain of kicks and blows prevented it.

    "Nothing personal," Davick said. "Well... maybe a little. There are too many of us. This class is going to get thinned - and it's not gonna be me that gets canned, so I'm going to get a head start on clearing out the dead weight. I hadn't decided who yet, but you made my decision really easy with that stunt with the gutter trash back there."

    Frenka tried to curl into a ball and cover her head as all four of her fellow recruits attacked her, beating her mercilessly until everything went black.


    ***


    The streets were quiet, nearly deserted as the four Evocii made their way down the alley. There, a Rattataki woman lay in a pool of her own blood, her pallid skin reflecting the dim light even as her black clothing concealed her form in the shadows. Three of the Evocii looked questioningly at the fourth; the girl nodded. The four of them heaved the Rattataki up from the ground, and carried her away.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 06-13-2020 at 09:13 PM.

  7. #7
    Frenka Kolotoi, Agent Recruit

    Frenka woke up with a splitting headache and no idea where she was. For a moment she panicked - but then she forced herself to calm down and think logically. She was still in one piece. In fact, despite the throbbing in her head, she was in much better shape than she should have been, indicating she'd received some sort of medical care. She wasn't tied up or bound, and didn't appear to be imprisoned. As her sensitive Rattataki eyes adjusted to the darkness and she became more aware of her immediate surroundings, she realized she was lying on a sleeping mat in some sort of open indoor area, like a warehouse. Other shapes on similar mats surrounded her, all apparently asleep. It must be night, then? She peered at the others, and realized they were all Evocii - she was the only one not of their kind. She saw no indication of any imminent threat... which was good, because her vision was swimming as she blacked out again.


    ***


    Frenka didn't know how long she slept. When she woke again, it was light, but whether it was the next morning or days had passed, she couldn't say. She hadn't realized how hungry and thirsty she was until an elderly woman brought her water and a bowl of boiled grains, and she ate and drank gratefully.

    "What's your name?" the woman asked.

    "Frenka."

    "Good. That's a good name. Sounds like it could be an Evocii name."

    As she regained her strength, Frenka began helping the tribe with various tasks around the warehouse that had been their home since they had been forced to leave Nal Hutta - which they all called Evocar. The Evocii were physically weakened by generations of poor nutrition and harsh conditions, and they appreciated the strong arms and back that their Rattataki guest could provide, making repairs they had been unable to complete. She found out their clan name was Ivarj. She grew accustomed to their ways, their routines, the pace of their days. Three weeks passed... and Frenka began to imagine that this was her life now. That she could stay.

    But then Imperial Intelligence arrived.

    The door of the warehouse burst open, and Trainer Four, Davick, and another of the recruits from her class were silhouetted in the opening, weapons drawn and demanding Frenka be released to them. The Evocii were understandably terrified, a group of unarmed civilians with guns suddenly pointed at them. Frenka was just angry. How dare her old existence intrude on the lives of her new friends?

    "What are you doing here?" Frenka demanded of Trainer Four. "I failed my trials. Can't you just leave me alone?"

    "On the contrary, Recruit Kolotoi. You did not fail your trials. The object of this particular war game was to survive. You were one of the three who did so. How you were to survive was not specified by the rules. Your use of these lower creatures was an acceptable method. But now it's time to return home."

    Frenka wished she could feel something about the deaths of two of her classmates, but she didn't. Not when she remembered them circling an innocent Evocii girl, or how they had surrounded Frenka herself and beaten her nearly to death.

    She did feel things about the Ivarj clan, though. She felt attachment, and pride, and gratitude, and... and love.

    That love was why she was going to have to leave, she realized with sadness. Imperial Intelligence would think nothing of slaughtering everyone present to retrieve their property - and Frenka couldn't let that happen. She couldn't let the tribe fight a battle for her that they were doomed to lose. It was time for her to go.

    "Thank you for everything," she said softly to the Evocii of Clan Ivarj as she turned to go. As long as she lived, no matter what else she gained or lost, she would never forget them.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 06-14-2020 at 11:44 AM.

  8. #8
    Agent Frenka Kolotoi

    Weeks passed. She finished her training. She became an Agent of the Empire, officially. It was what Frenka had been working for so long... but she felt empty. She missed her life with the Ivarj clan. It had only lasted a few weeks, but it had meant more to her than any other connection she'd ever had.

    The first time she was given leave, she traveled back to Nar Shaddaa. She was hesitant - would they remember her, as she remembered them? Would they want her back? Or were they glad to be rid of her, after the trouble she'd caused them?

    When she arrived at the warehouse, she wasn't empty-handed. She came bearing supplies. Food, medicine, clothing, battery packs - everything she'd been able to gather for them. The clan was pleased with the supplies, certainly. But Frenka got the impression that they were happy to see her, too. That she'd been missed. It wasn't a sensation she could ever remember experiencing before.

    That night, they risked a campfire, despite the unwanted attention it might draw. "To celebrate your homecoming," they said. Frenka had never had a homecoming before. She'd never had a home. That night they stayed up to the wee hours, telling stories around the fireside and singing songs of Evocar.


    ***


    Her time with the Ivarj clan was sweet, but all too short. She knew better than to make the same mistake she'd made the first time; she could visit, but Intelligence wouldn't allow her to stay. What she did on her own time was (within reason) her own business, but when the time for an assignment came, she had no choice but to report to Dromund Kaas. Frenka owned her own life only partially. But partially was better than nothing.

    "Can I come back sometime?" Frenka nervously asked Iyella - the clan leader, matriarch, and the one who had given her water and food that first morning. "I'll bring you more supplies."

    Iyella gave her a motherly kiss on the cheek. "You can always come back," the elderly Evocii said. "Whether or not you bring supplies. You are one of us now. You are a daughter of Ivarj. You are always welcome to come home."

    Frenka looked no different when she returned to Dromund Kaas. She acted no different. But the emptiness was gone. She had a home. She had a family. For the first time in her life, she had somewhere to belong.

  9. #9
    Frenka Ivarj

    When the mercenaries descended, it was utterly without warning. The brutes sent by the Hutts kicked in windows and doors in the middle of the night, weapons in hand, ready to snuff out the tribe of Evocii who had the audacity to exist as anything other than forced labor on the planet that had been stolen from them.

    Frenka was ready. One of the things she'd learned from her earliest childhood on Belsavis was that you always had to be ready, because you never knew when the attack would come.

    Her retaliation was swift and bloody. Within moments, most of the mercenaries lay dead at her feet. Only one remained - clutching at his head where he'd lost an ear. Frenka couldn't remember exactly when or how she'd done that, but she wasn't sorry.

    "Get out of here," she told him in a low, dangerous voice. "Go back to your boss, and tell him what happens to people who mess with Clan Ivarj."

    Without a second glance, the mercenary turned and ran.

    Hesitantly, Frenka turned to face her clan. Now they would know what she really was. That she was a monster, just like all of the Rattataki species. Surely such peaceful people would never be able to look at her the same way again. But it was worth it, because not a single Evocii had died.

    Looking back at them, she saw... admiration? Respect? Hope? Gratitude? How was that possible? How could they still love her after what they had seen her do... even if it had been to protect them?

    One of the older men of the tribe, Mikyek, met her eyes and smiled. "We are very fortunate to have a Rattataki Evocii on our side," he said.


    ***


    Rumors spread, and it helped. The story grew bigger and bigger. The Ivarj clan had a protector. It was not wise to mess with them. The clan was elated, after so many years of abuse.

    Frenka knew it wasn't going to be enough, though. It might warn away the cautious for now, but eventually someone would want to try their luck. The clan couldn't stay on Nar Shaddaa. They needed someplace safer, far from the Hutts.

    Opportunity soon presented itself in the form of an abandoned pirate village for sale on Rishi. Demand for such a place was low. Almost no one wanted a whole village - and the place was terribly rundown. The price was right, though, and for Frenka's purposes, it would work perfectly. The warm, moist tropical air even reminded her a bit of Evocar.

    "I'll take it!" she said, and transferred the credits to a very surprised land speculator.


    ***


    The Ivarj clan moved in, and started the slow process of rebuilding and patching up the town. It would be awhile before it looked like more than a ruin - but it was better than nothing. It was better than Nar Shaddaa. It was a real home.

    To support themselves, the clan opened a market on the outskirts of their compound, and with their low prices they got a slow but increasingly steady stream of customers.

    One of the regulars was a bounty hunter named Kismet Dineen, a Twi'lek that Frenka had developed a cordial acquaintance with. Still, it surprised her when one day Kismet asked for a favor.

    "Hey, I have a bit of a problem," the Twi'lek admitted. "I have a bounty I just couldn't bring myself to kill. Poor guy didn't deserve it. All he was doing was fighting for the survival of his people, trying to win their freedom - but he crossed the damn Hutts too many times, and they put a price on his head. Don't let it get around, I have a reputation to maintain, but I helped him escape. He needs somewhere to go, somewhere to lie low so the Hutts don't figure out that he's still alive. I was hoping he could come here. Can you help?"

    Frenka tilted her head in confusion. "I wish I could, but..." she gestured around. "As you can see, it's all Evocii. This isn't an easy place to blend in. Your man will stand out like a sore thumb."

    Kismet smiled faintly. "I know who lives here," she said. "That was kinda the point. The freedom fighter who needs to hide is an Evocii."

    Frenka's interest was piqued. "Very well, then. We're happy to welcome a guest."

  10. #10
    Agent Frenka Ivarj

    The feeling was an unfamiliar one. She had never experienced it growing up among the convicts on Belsavis, or in the tense, rarefied atmosphere of agent training. She didn't know, at first, why her heart would race, her palms grew sweaty, and she got nervous butterflies in her stomach even as she craved more time in his presence, not less...

    She had a crush. Frenka had a crush. The object of which was Huttsbane, the Evocii revolutionary she had agreed to shelter. She had only expected to do a good turn for her Mandalorian acquaintance. But from the moment she met him, admiration turned to more.

    But what were you supposed to do about it? Frenka had no idea how to flirt. Odd for an agent - but she had never bothered with those lessons. She had assumed amorous advances from a Rattataki would be more unsettling than appealing to potential targets, so she had always used other skills. Now that she needed them in her personal life, she didn't know how to proceed.

    Her opening line had been a success. "Tell me about what you did on Evocar." Huttsbane had been pleased - both by her interest in his deeds, and by her use of their ancestral name for his planet. They formed a friendship... but Frenka didn't know how to move beyond that.

    She told herself he probably wasn't interested, anyway. Not like that. Surely he would see her as a freak. Not truly one of them, but just some Rattataki oddball playing dress-up as an Evocii. He wouldn't see her as a worthy partner. Surely.

    Frenka tried to act as normal as possible. It seemed to be working. Huttsbane seemed to have no idea he made her knees weak. That was good... wasn't it? It must be good.


    ***


    Political marriages to the Voss seemed to be the thing, that season. Frenka was a little surprised when she seemed to be getting embroiled in one.... but she found herself softening to the idea. She didn't lust after the man from Voss - not like the Evocii man she couldn't have - but he was good and kind. Surely that was enough. Love would come in time, wouldn't it? The marriage would cement their respective political needs, and affection would grow.

    She was wrong. She tried - but she quickly realized he didn't see it the same way, when she asked about a honeymoon and he turned her down with a polite but brusque reminder that such things weren't what their marriage was about. The mission ended. And he made clear that their sham of matrimony had too. A letter sealed the deal in no uncertain terms.

    He had never lied to her. Devastated her, yes. But if she was fair, she had to admit that he had never told any falsehoods. She had misread the situation. She had assumed more than was offered. And it had broken her heart.


    ***


    All she wanted to do was go home. Go back to her village and hide among her clan. Cry. Home was the only safe place to cry.

    Her family all regarded her with long faces when her shuttle landed. But apparently Huttsbane was the only one who hadn't heard about the demise of her brief union.

    "I hear congratulations are in order!" he said breezily, with a slightly forced wide grin.

    He was absolutely mystified when Frenka burst into tears and ran off to her hut without a word.


    ***


    Huttsbane found her by the campfire later. "Sorry," he said. "I didn't know."

    "It's alright," Frenka said. "You were trying to be kind. No need to apologize for that."

    "Well, for the record? I think that guy is an idiot!"

    That managed to draw a small smile to Frenka's lips - the first since her fledgling marriage collapsed.

    Huttsbane said nothing more about it. Not that night. But Frenka deserved better. Perhaps he could be that man. He'd been harboring feelings about her since his arrival, but had no idea if they were reciprocated. When he heard she'd gotten married, he assumed his chances were dashed, and resolved to wish her well as a friend. He would never wish a broken heart on her. But a broken heart she had, through none of his doing... and perhaps he could help her mend it.

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