Kordath fidgeted fitfully in his seat, attempting to ignore the passing scenery through the view ports of the shuttle. Blinky was smiling happily, ‘staring’ out the windows as they flew, she’d denied upping the tint on the view as she was ‘enjoying the scenery’, much to the Priest’s chagrin. Trying to ignore the flashing foliage as they sped along over the surface of Selen, Kordath squeezed his eyes shut and let his mind wander.
Gwenivere Fistra……Gwen…Gwen the dancer…and Ryn….why does that….oh no…
no no no no no
The Ryn’s eyes snapped open, tail lashing wildly for a moment before he regained his composure, noticing that the Miraluka had turned her blindfolded gaze upon him. Smiling weakly at her, he slowed his breathing, trying to fight down the panic and dread that were filling him. Surely it couldn’t be the same Gwen? The odds were….well not astronomical, there simply weren’t that many Ryn running around the Galaxy.
Closing his eyes again, the Priest tried to enter a calming trance, and felt memories stirring, long left alone…
“No! You can’t…you can’t do that! If dad finds out you girls are raiding the sweets before supper he’ll whip both of you! And probably Gwen to, since she’s helping you!” shouted the exasperated Ryn
“Nuh-uh, you’ll get in trouble too! You’re supposed to be watching us, Kordath, daddy left you in charge,” piped up Karina, a big grin on her face as she rummaged through a sack.
Karo threw a piece of candy at him, her own face a mess of chocolate, a smile underneath as she giggled. Despair was filling the young Ryn, before he felt a tug on his tail, looking down into the upturned, violet eyes of his sisters’ best friend, Gwen.
“We won’t get caught, your dad got held up, he’s going to be late,” she said, her voice far too serious for a child of six.
“What do you mean, how do you know that?” asked Kordath.
Gwen simply shrugged, blinking her eyes at him a few times, before smiling and laughing, running off to join the Ryn’s sisters.
“Bleu!” came a voice, inches from his ear, causing the Priest to jump in his seat and get tangled in the safety restraints, “Heh, we’re here!”
“Great…just…great, Korda, scum hole of the planet,” muttered the Ryn, coughing as the quality of air hit him. Dark clouds filled the sky, at least that’s what he thought they were at first, the greasy nature of them suggested pollution.
Breezing through the small shuttleport, Atyiru simply waving her ident card at the security officers insured safe passage, they ended up on the Korda main thoroughfare. Shops offering gear to purify the air, or rebreathers and the like fronted a good bit of the street before the port, the occasional cafe could be seen further down the way.
“It’s early yet, stop for a caf while we wait for the clubs downtown to open up?” asked the Priest.
Atyiru nodded, her mind seemingly elsewhere now that they were on the ground again. Kordath was worried as to where her thoughts were taking her. If she hadn’t noticed the Ryn’s fit on the shuttle, she’d have to be blind. Blinder. A few minutes later they were sitting in the cool, air conditioned interior of a small tapcaf, Kordath clutching his mug and staring at the swirling smog outside.
Several minutes passed, the two Krath sipping their warm drinks, before Atyiru spoke, “What is it? Something’s been bugging you since nearly Estle City. You’re giving me a headache, the amount of stress being thrown off you.”
With a sigh, Kordath ran a hand over his face, rubbing at his eyes and collecting his thoughts, “I…I’m worried that this Ryn girl we’re being sent to collect might be from my clan. I don’t know about the Fistra part, and I can’t recall, honestly, if her whole name was Gwenivere, but my little sisters had a friend named Gwen. Inseparable, three kids the same age, all that, got into mischief and the like, almost never got caught by the adults for pulling crap that would have gotten me whipped.”
“Anyways,” continued the Ryn, sipping his drink, “The color description for the fur is right, wish they’d gotten an eye listing as well, that would be helpful. If it is her….well she usually is the reason they never got caught as kids.”
“She always seemed to know when the adults were on the way, the only person that ever caught them in the act, over and over again, was me. I didn’t even know I was Force Sensitive at the time, but it makes sense, if she could feel trouble coming. And she did like to dance, and make my life harder for whatever reason.”
“Probably thought you were cute, Bleu,” teased the Miraluka, smiling.
Kordath barked out a laugh, drawing the attention of the few patrons in the cafe, lowering his voice back to a respectable level he spoke, “Yeah, she and my sisters tried to shave me one night in my sleep. They also glued my tail to my back, you know hard it is to walk when you rely on a damn thing for balance? Before I was old enough to start working to help the clan, I’d have to help watch my sisters, which was fine, we had fun together. But every time Gwen popped up, they turned into blasted little terrorists.”
“Well, she’ll fit right in then, if she’s kept that kind of attitude,” murmured Atryiru, mug held up to obscure her grin.
This drew silence from the Ryn, who sat staring into the dark depths of his caf, did he want to expose cheerful little Gwen to the Arconan Force users? Some of them, such as his friend sitting at the table with him, were okay, but some of them were….not nice people. Kordath had never been certain how he fell in with a group of people like the Shadow Clan, but he’d done his best to make a home of it. Atyiru had helped a lot with that, Nath had in her own way, even if she’d denied to show her Apprentice to much affection in the wake of her own abusive relationship with her Master.
Then again, it’d been over fifteen years since he saw Gwen, so who knows what she was like now. With another tired sigh, Kordath looked up at the chrono on the wall, setting his mug down, “We better get moving, the clubs downtown will be opening soon. I don’t want to be stuck in this smog hole of a town longer then we have to, know how hard it is to get this smell out of my fur?”
The two Krath made their way down the road on foot, despite the gritty nature of the city, no one bothered them, the robes likely helped just as much as the lightsabers clipped to their belts. Kordath felt out of place, he wasn’t used to advertising his status as a Force user, even when in Arconan space. He could sense fear, and the occasional aspect of respect from the people they passed, and it made his skin crawl.
Bright lights illuminated the creeping dark clouds of smoke as they closed in on downtown, flashes of blue, green, and yellow filling the air. The smog served to magnify it, causing the night to be lit up to the point that anything hidden in the shadows was truly invisible. Trying to ignore the perpetual stench in the air, Kordath spotted the glowing sign of the ‘Korda Special’, nudging Atyiru before heading towards it. Again, the Aedile flashed her card at the bouncer, who ushered them in with a deep bow and murmured ‘My Lady, My Lord.’
As much as the Ryn wished the air within to be cleaner, it was instead filled with the familiar smells of cigarette smoke and stale alcohol. At least those were scents the Priest was comfortable with, inhaling deeply and smiling slightly. A quick survey of the crowd revealed that he was, as ever, the only of his species within the building. His companion made a line for the bar, gliding gently between patrons as if they weren’t there, and he admired not for the first time the easy grace the Miraluka managed doing that. If it was him, he’d have started a fight and spilled at least two drinks doing what she did, that’s why it was her job usually to get the first round.
It was Kordath’s job to get the table, finding one on the lower floor in front of a raised dais. The Priest glanced around, noting that the bar itself was on the portion of the floor that was a step above his own level. Before his small table, another oddity, thought the Ryn, was the dais, running back towards the wall for about a dozen feet, with several poles running vertically through the floor of it. Realization slowly dawned on him as music started up, and Atyiru arrived with a bottle and some glasses, grinning again.
“Oh, right, [I]gentlemen’s club[/I]”, muttered the Ryn, shaking his head as the too loud music started blaring a song that was twenty years out of date, and the token scantily clad Twi’lek came out to dance.
A clink of glass on glass directed his attention back to the table, where a full glass of amber liquid awaited him. Sipping at it, the Ryn felt the warming sensation of Corellian whiskey spreading through his chest, and relaxed a little bit. Decent whiskey, good companionship, and…passable entertainment, the Priest noting why the lights had dimmed so much when the dancer had come out; it was shaping up to be an okay evening.
They sat through several bad songs, and bad dancers, drinking their drinks, with Kordath scanning the crowd that came and went. Kordath was surprised when the bottle was empty, and even more surprised when a scantily clad human female came and replaced it. A questioning look toward his Aedile was all the answer he needed, grinning widely and mouthing the word ‘vacation’ back at him.
Rank had it’s privilege, he thought, at least when you’re on your home turf. Idle wonderings about how much booze they were actually getting charged for fled as he spotted a light blue tail with gray tones running through it, between several bar patrons. That seemed promising, thought the Priest, craning his neck to spot the owner of said tail. He was interrupted by Atty smacking him on the arm, her other hand gesturing towards the stage with a sloshing glass of whiskey in her hand.
[I]Oh poodoo, how fast is she drinking?[/I], pondered the Priest, looking up at the stage as a pair of Tortuga females with similar enough markings to be sisters, or at least made up to look like, twisted and writhed around a pole.
Kordath shook his head, smiling slightly at the improved quality of entertainment, wondering if that was how the Special worked, as the night went on the dancers got prettier. Or he’d had more to drink then he thought, but he dismissed that idea quickly. Surely they’d only been there for an hour, that was only…four…five…six drinks so far, tops. A rather slim, yet shapely body blocked their view of the dancers for a moment, a woman pressing herself up against the side to speak in low tones to the two women, who smiled at her and waved. The Priest nearly dropped his glass, noting the figure’s tail flicking a bit near her calves.
“Gwenivere!” he blurted out, happy to note that he hadn’t slurred, and worried that he’d been concerned about it.
The woman turned, peering through the dim lights at the pair of Krath sitting together. Kordath’s breath caught in his throat as the lights glittered off the female Ryn’s violet eyes, shining like amethysts in the darkened room. It might be her…it could be…is it?
“I know you two lovely looking folks?” asked the younger Ryn, a bright smile on her face as she eyed the bottle on the table.
“Mmm, not yet, but you find a chair and get a glass and I’m sure we can get to know each other [I]real, real[/I] well,” replied Atyiru, managing to leer at the girl with her blindfold. So far Gwen hadn’t shown any recognition of Kordath, so maybe it wasn’t her….
Gwenivere dragged a chair over from another table, pushing her way between the two Krath as a waitress brought another glass, setting it down with a grin. The Miraluka made a gesture at Kordath, who shook his head and tried to pour without shaking, glad for the obnoxiously loud music drowning out the clinking of glass on glass as he failed miserably.
“So, you two new in town, like the robes, most of your kind don’t bother coming into places like this,” the girl said loudly, picking up the drink and smiling at them, “or if they do, they make grandiose demands and cause trouble.”
“We’re the quieter variety,” said Kordath, barely loud enough to be heard over the music, gesturing the purple trim of his clothing, “we didn’t come out for a good time…well…”
He glanced across the table at Atyiru, “I didn’t , I came out to find somebody. You’re Gwen, Gwen Fistra, yes?”
The girl turned her violet eyes on him, focusing finally as she looked him up and down. Her eyes narrowed down to a glare, before she started to rise, “Oh no, I told them before, I’m not going back, theres no place for me in the clan!’
“We’re not from that clan, Gwen,” said the older Ryn, solemnly, “we are, on the other hand, from the one that controls this world.”
She slowly lowered back into her seat, but suspicion did not leave her eyes, “And what do the Shadesworn want with me? Oh don’t look surprised, you survive Korda for a few months and you learn about you people, ‘don’t anger the Shadesworn, if they decide to hurt you no one will stop them’ and all that garbage. Half the people view you as protectors, the rest as thugs, so I don’t know if you’re just looking for a taste of home, buster, but I’m not putting out for you just because you’ve got pretty robes that say you’re in charge!”
[I]Well that…was unexpected,[/I] thought the Priest, staring back at the girl.
“What? No, that’s not why I’m here, Gwen, gods…I’ll admit, you’re the first of our kind I’ve seen in over a decade, but I would never….,” he tapered off, trying to regain control of himself. Taking a long pull from his glass of whiskey to buy time, he felt his buzz increasing, “I’m here, because the powers that be believe you could be a valuable…asset.”
Before the younger Ryn could respond, the Miraluka piped up, “I can tell she’s got some amazing assets, Kord, heheheh,” in a drunkenly mischievous voice.
“Oh gods save me from drunken blind women,” muttered the Priest, “Wait, is she…Atty are you groping her, stop that!”
“Umm, her hands are kind of cold,” said Gwen, not sure what to make of the whole situation, ”but they are really soft, so…umm, what do you mean asset?”
“You know trouble when you see it, you can feel it coming…just like you know when somebody is going to try and flark you over on a deal or something,” said the Priest, quietly.
Gwen felt herself nodding as he finished speaking, “And? Your point? I’ve always had a good sense of what people around me are doing, it’s called being aware of your surroundings, you think I’d have made it out here in the dark on my own if I wasn’t?”
“It’s called being Force Sensitive, sweety,” spoke the Aedile to her right, “it’s where your feelings come from, you can become a Jedi, or…well, something less stuffy.”
The woman looked back and forth between the two Krath, “You can’t be serious, I’m pretty sure I’d know if I could move things around with my mind and all that silly crap.”
“You can, with training,” said Kordath, “how long do you think you can keep surviving on wits alone, Gwen? I mean, you’ve been trying to size us up as marks as soon as you sat down, hoping the two Force users were getting too drunk to notice when you make off with our wallets. Trust me, I know, I used to have to do that sort of thing to survive as well. And don’t bother with mine anyways, Blinky is bankrolling most of this little adventure, it’s her vacation.”
Gwen licked her lips, nervous for the first time since sitting down with the Krath, her violet eyes darting around, marking the various exits, “Please don’t run, Gwen, just hear us out, we can offer you a place to be, a place to call home. You don’t have to keep running away from things, if you don’t want too.”
“Now,” finished Kordath, standing from his seat, “I’m hitting the ‘fresher, I’ll be right back ladies, Gwen, think about it, you don’t have to run away.”
Gwenivere sat in thought, watching the older Ryn drunkenly maneuver through the crowd, nearly tripping over people, “He always was so serious,” murmured the girl.
“Ah-ha! It is you then!”
“What?” she said, startled, turning to face the leering grin on the Arch Priestess’ face inches away from her, the scent of alcohol strong on the woman’s breath.
“Bleu was all worried about already knowing you, guess he was right, he usually is when he starts worrying about things,” said the Miraluka, leaning in closer, “[I]The Force[/I]” she whispered, before falling back in her chair laughing.
“You know,” said Gwen, a sadness entering her tone as she picked up her glass, “he never wrote, never commed home after he left the clan. His sisters, my best friends! They wouldn’t talk about it for years, not until we were all older. When they did, I…I didn’t understand why he left, it didn’t make sense to me that the elders all ran off the [I]one flarking person[/I] to ever stand up for the clan!”
“Then you got older,” said the Krath, her tone growing more emphatic, “and you understood more, didn’t you? Bleu told me about his life before, about how you all moved around, having somebody who knows how to commit the ultimate violence, of being able to end lives, would have made life harder for your whole clan, yes?”
Gwen nodded, sipping her drink and staring up at the girls dancing, “That’s why he left, he was afraid he’d hurt others. But it didn’t really matter, rumors started up in the clan almost right away, and all the boys…all the boys started to think they should protect us. They thought it was their job to keep people from hurting the rest of us, just like Kordath had protected his sisters. If they got caught fighting by the adults, they’d get whipped, and told that violence as a reaction to violence would only fuel our own destruction.”
Her face brightened a bit, suddenly, as her mind shifted gears, “I remember him being taller, but I was just a kid when he left. He used to get so flustered when I’d mess with him, pulling his tail and stuff, I was sad when he left. It’s good to know he’s still alive, that makes me happy, is…is he happy?”
“Most of the time, I think, he tends to bury himself in reading and research to avoid dealing with the world, or he drinks so he can interact with it.”
“Oh…I know how that is,” whispered the girl, before glancing sideways at the Miraluka, “and you two?” she asked, her tone turning playful.
“Hah, Bleuboy might wish that, but no, his former Master and I have something of an understanding when it comes to our playthings,” replied the Aedile, not missing a beat in the conversation.
“Get that question a lot huh?” said the Ryn, grinning.
“Oh you know, just about everytime we go out together and drink, I try to wingman for him, but he’s just so awkward.”
Gwen laughed a little, “Yes, he was never good around girls when we were growing up either, especially not ones his own age….I remember…”
“You two talking about me? My tail keeps itching and I can’t figure out why, so it must be you all,” said a voice behind them, the Priest having crept up on the two chatting females.
“Funny you should mention your tail, Bleuy, we were talking about what it was attached to!” proclaimed the Aedile, holding her glass up proudly.
The two women fell into giggles together as Kordath’s ears turned a lovely shade of red, coughing a few times as he sat down.
“So, Gwen, have any thoughts?” asked the Priest, turning to serious, pushing his glass to the side.
“I, I don’t think……oh, umm, I need to get out of here,” said the younger Ryn, standing suddenly and pushing her way past Atyiru, making a dash for a door at the back of the club. Kordath felt a chill run down his spine, looking around the bar quickly to locate the source of his unease, and for Gwen’s flight. A trio of Gran were pushing their way through the crowd, heading for the same door the younger Ryn had used. They screamed ‘paid thugs’ to Kordath’s street senses, and violence and ill intent to his Force related ones.
“I’ll be back, Atty, don’t go anywhere, okay?” said the Priest in a rush, knocking his chair over as he stood and ran towards the door.
“Huh? Oh, okay…,” said Atyiru, not bothering to hide the smile on her face as she watched the dancers go into a new routine.
Pounding out the back door of the club, Kordath’s spun in a circle in the alleyway, trying to catch sight of the Gran. Spotting them turning the corner at the end, he slowed his pace and crept up to the corner, trying to push through the alcoholic haze to cloak himself in the Force, and failing pretty miserably. Instead he inched his way to the edge, peering around it to spot the three Gran talking low in Huttese to Gwen, who was pinned to a dirty wall.
An old and familiar anger was rising inside the Priest, he used it to fuel his resolve, burning the alcohol off with the aid of the Force, slowing his breathing as he stepped around the corner. One of the Gran spotted him, and started towards him, raising a hand threateningly and garbling out something that probably meant ‘you go now.’ Kordath stared the three eyed alien right in the face, and spat at him, causing the Gran to bellow out in rage and take a swing. The Ryn went with it, stepping inside the punch and driving his knee up into the man’s midsection, then slamming both forearms down on his back as he doubled over. A quick stomp on the back of the head, accompanied by a squelching noise that may have been from the mud, or may have been from the Gran’s face.
The other two turned to face him, one pulling a knife out from inside his coat, the other allowing a truncheon of some make slide out of his sleeve and into his hand. He’d been right, thugs. Gwen stood paralyzed, eyes darting between Kordath, the two Gran standing, and the one on the ground, no longer moving. The one with the truncheon came at him first, a vicious and powerful over the shoulder arc speeding towards his head. With a flick of his hand, the Ryn sent a blast of telekinetic energy at into the thug’s chest, sending him sprawling to the dirty alleyway surface.
Watching this, the one with the knife finally registered the robes the Ryn was wearing, and realization filled his triple eyes.Tossing the knife down, the Gran raised his hands into the air, saying something in his native tongue that Kordath didn’t understand, but that didn’t matter. These thugs had threatened someone he’d watched over when she was a child, they were a problem and likely harmed others in Korda city as it was. Shaking his head, Kordath stepped in, spinning on his left heel suddenly and launching his right foot up, kicking the Gran right under the chin, lifting the alien off the ground.
Picking up the knife the thug had dropped, he heard Gwen cry out as the other Gran, who’d regained his feet, rushed at him with his stick. Side stepping with deceptive ease, the Ryn slipped the knife into the thug’s side, twisting the blade as he withdrew it, before turning it in his grip, blade down, and driving it into the Gran’s back. It let out a loud cry of pain, putting it’s hand out on to the wall to support itself, and screamed as Kordath pinned the hand in place with the knife, driving it into the brickwork.
Gwen’s violet eyes were wide, and the Priest had a moment to worry that he was frightening the girl before he felt movement to his side. The one he’d kicked was stumbling back up to his feet, hand reaching into his coat again, another knife? No, a blaster, Kordath let out a hiss of anger as his lightsaber came into his hand, the blade snapping to life as he cut the gun in half, before twirling the hilt and removing the Gran’s head. A step back and a backwards stab put the blue blade into the last thug’s midsection, still trying to remove the knife in his hand, he slumped against the wall and quit moving.
Kordath let out a long, shuddering breath, clipping his saber back to his belt and turning to check on his prospective recruit.
“I won’t ask what that was about, Gwen, it’s not my business but they were looking to hurt you, come with me so you can learn…look I’m not going to hurt you, please don’t look at me like that,” he finished lamely, noting the wide eyes again.
Gwen was shaking, leaning against the wall, licking her lips and trying to breath, the Gran had been ready to kill her. Bleu had saved her, Bleu who’d watched over her as a child, when playing with his little sisters. He’d killed them. It was so…visceral, he’d not taunted them, like the men she saw fight so often in the bars, no talking, just….quick, calculated and efficient actions. He stepped forward, placing a hand cautiously on her shoulder, asking her if she’d been hurt. Something inside of her snapped a little, lifting her hands from her sides finally, grabbing the Priest by his robes. The older Ryn barely had a moment, he was so utterly surprised when Gwen grabbed him, spinning him around and slamming him against the wall.
“Wha-?” he started to say, before the girl pushed her mouth against his, tongue pushing it’s way in. He felt her hands running up his back, underneath his robes, fingers trying to dig into his flesh through his shirt.
He pushed her back, gasping for air, “Gwen, what, why, what the hells are you doing? Are you okay? Did they hurt you?”
“Shut. Up.” she growled knocking his hands aside and pushing herself against him again, kissing him again. Kordath had seen the look in those amethyst eyes, and something in him melted. Possibly his self control.
Sometime later the two came walking back towards the table they’d left Atyiru at, Kordath feeling light in the head, Gwen holding his arm possessively. The Aedile wasn’t at the table, which worried the Priest on some level, but he the warm presence pressing against his side was…distracting. Comforting as well, but he found himself almost unable to worry about his friend’s whereabouts. A waitress came by, swapping out old glasses for fresh, clean ones, smirking at them.
“You’re friend might be a Jedi, but you might want to get her out of here soon, she’s had a bit much to drink,” said the girl. Kordath and Gwen turned as one to look at the stage, seeing the Miraluka had shed her robes, and was drunkenly spinning around a pole, laughing and kicking at anyone who got to close to her.
Kordath shook his head, smiling despite the situation, knowing that he should take some holos for blackmail purposes, but really not caring. He was finding it hard to care about anything much at the moment, so he was thrown when Gwen leaned in and spoke in his ear.
“So…if I go, to do this training and stuff…will I learn to do what you did back there? I’ll be able to protect myself?” she whispered the question.
He turned, holding her hands and looked her right in the eyes, noting the glittering, fractured quality again before shaking it off, “You’ll learn to use your talents, yes, and…if you choose too stay with Arcona, well…I’m not saying I can always protect you, but I’ll be around, at least. You’ll have family here, people who will care about you.”
Gwen nodded, a smile creeping out as she leaned against the Krath, watching Atyiru spin about on her pole. Maybe it was time to stop running about. Maybe it was time to settle, she thought, hand reaching down to grasp one of Kordath’s.