Lucine froze, her shock reflected on her face for the briefest of moments. It vanished as quickly as it appeared, replaced with a coquettish smile that did not touch her eyes. “Well, this is a surprise. Of all of the people in the galaxy, I never expected to see you here,” she murmured.
As the band began to play the opening notes of a Chandrilan waltz, she hastily considered her options. After their last encounter, she had decided the safest place to be with regard to Rhylance was outside of arm’s reach; so dancing with him was far from ideal. Furthermore, years of lessons with a detestable dancing master had left her with a firm dislike for ballroom dancing.
Unfortunately, there was no socially acceptable reason to decline his invitation. The people who attended events like these could smell intrigue from a mile away; any odd behavior would be noted and commented upon. For her plan to get the holocron to succeed required her to be as inconspicuous as possible. There was nothing for it; refusal simply was not an option.
“Well, who could refuse a… charming invitation such as that?” she said after a slight pause, as she tamped down her fear and anger and lightly rested her hand on his shoulder.
She had not expected much more than a simple box step from Rhylance. So she was quite surprised when he lead her from a natural spin turn to a promenade chasse to a double reverse spin. Each move was expertly performed and timed to the music. “You are quite the dark horse, it seems,” she said as they whirled around the dance floor. “Where did you learn to dance?”
“It is merely something I picked up while at the Academy,” he said in reply, clearly enjoying himself. “But I am more interested in knowing what you are doing here.”
“Obviously, I am dancing,” Lucine said lightly. A flat look from the Chiss made it clear that her non-answer would not be enough. “Really, darling. This is the social event of the season for this system. Where else would I be?”
“Any one of a number of places, I’d imagine,” Rhylance remarked dryly. “So you are not here on some sort of mission?”
“Of course not! Even I am entitled to a night off every once in awhile. No, my reasons for being here are entirely personal,” Lucine said. The last sentence she spoke caused her to pause; she had not intended to say that out loud.
“And what would those personal reasons be?” the Chiss asked sweetly.
“Oh, the usual. Making friends, building business relationships. Stealing a priceless holocron,” Lucine said. When she realized just what she had said, she very nearly froze in place. Fortunately, years of training kicked in, allowing her to keep up with the promenade that the Consul lead her on.
Just what in the hell is going on here? Lucine inwardly seethed, as a series of complicated turns created a momentary pause in the conversation. She was giving way too much information and being entirely too truthful.
“A holocron, you say? Just what is on it that makes it so priceless?”
Do not say a word. Not one word. Just keep silent. Do not say a single—
“Some of the lost works of Darth Plagueis the Wise. I know a collector who dearly wants to get his hands on it,” she replied, as if oblivious to her own inner monologue.
Argh! Amid a stream of creative and very unladylike profanity, a realization dawned on her. She recognized a compulsion when she saw one, although she was typically on the other end of such mind tricks. But Rhylance was not a Force-user, was he? How was he doing it? And more importantly, how could she put a stop to it?
The idea that someone had so easily bypassed her mental defenses caused rage to burn within her. But, much as she wanted to commit violence against the Chiss to get him out of her head, she still needed to maintain a low profile.
One thing was obvious: she had to extricate herself from this situation immediately. Retreat and regroup, so to speak. Out of the corner of her eye, she noted a Zeltron server bearing a heavily laden tray of wine glasses. Perfect!
Before Rhylance could question her further, she drew upon her anger, weaving dark tendrils of the Force within the server’s mind. The Zeltron gasped in surprise when he saw an overly large rat dart between his feet and instinctively jerked away from the vermin, losing his grip on the tray in the process. Lucine saw the tray sail toward them and darted backward. A moment later it impacted against the Chiss with a deafening crash, covering him in broken glass and drenching him with wine.
“Oh no, how awful! All over that pristine coat of yours too,” she said in a horrified tone. She covered her mouth as if in shock, though it was more to hide the smile that threatened to ruin her show of concern.