A read-only archive of discourse.darkjedibrotherhood.com as of Sunday May 01, 2022.

Tales of a Revenant: Atra Ventus Personal Run-On


This thread is a personal Run-On operated primarily by Atra Ventus to feature fictions and events involving Atra Ventus and his characters, as well as invited members that wish to work together on joint character development.

Individual posts may be short, insular stories, or part of a joint effort and will be designated as such. Please do not make posts in this thread without being invited. Thank you.

Atra’s Characters and their relations:

  • Atra Ventus: Player Character
  • Keira Viru: Clone of Atra’s first child, accelerated aging
  • Lux Venia: Atra’s contracted mercenary pilot
  • Adalinde: Inquisitor working directly for Atra

Keira Viru

Unknown Location

The silence of the archives was thick, hanging like a fog without the presence of the public filling its aisles, only broken by the quiet hum of the still active power grid. The lights were dim, save for the lamps held by the few guards stationed near the entrances to the hall to guard it during the midnight hours. The resulting darkness was perfect for Keira’s needs. The once Quaestor lay prone within the ventilation ducts as her blue-gold eyes flit from side to side. She pushed gently and slid the grate to the side before slipping like a serpent into the archives.

The half-breed Umbaran was hyper aware of her surroundings. Her silver and black bodysuit — accented with faint blue strips — clung to her curves like a second skin and left absolutely nothing to the imagination. There was a time where her modesty might have clashed with her choice of attire, but that was before the exhilarating freedom she had felt the first time she wore it. There were so many secrets in the young Viru’s life that the simple choice of outfit became a rebel’s yell. There was nothing hidden about it. The black synthweave midriff jacket Keira wore offered her a semblance of modesty, despite the exposed flesh afforded by her bodysuit v-cut starting just below her navel.

She settled onto the ground almost without a sound. The half-breed kept careful control of her muscles and slinked low and softly through the rows. Each footfall came with a sense of purpose Keira derived from her mission. The knowledge hidden deep in that archive would be hers.

Keira paused and double checked that her long, raven black hair remained wrapped into a tight bun with the tip flaring upward. She had learned the hard way that her free-flowing pony-tail could be a hazard, so she had opted for something more contained. Satisfied that her hair was cooperating, the half-breed glanced quickly around the corner. No one was there. Her Umbaran eyes saw clearly in the dim light of the archives which put her at a distinct advantage over the guards.

The half-breed quickened her pace and dashed across the aisle. Her goal was in sight and she couldn’t afford to waste any time. It didn’t take long for her to arrive at one of the rear atriums. Within it was her prize: a holocron. It sat on a display pedestal in the center. Child-like glee swelled within her and Keira’s first impulse was to dash in and claim it. She restrained herself, however, which was for the best. Though she couldn’t see it, the woman suspected that there was additional security. Otherwise, why would it not be locked up somewhere else?

It was possible, perhaps, that they didn’t know the value of what they held. Maybe it was just a pretty relic as far as they were concerned. Keira knew the truth of the matter. As with other holocrons, within it lay a font of knowledge she couldn’t wait to tap into. The half-breed would have to thank her father later for pointing her in its direction. She took a deep breath and let it out quietly, brushing back her bangs while glancing around. Her eyes scanned the walls and spotted what looked to be a security terminal on the far wall. “Hello there,” she murmured.

Keira tapped into the wellspring of power within her, drawing it up through her core and letting its wild tendrils surged down her arm. Sparks jumped between her fingertips as she focused the raw energy of the Force, fueled by her strongest emotions. The woman flung her arm forward and reached out towards the terminal. A bolt of energy crackled through the air and struck her target. It sparked and surged wildly before sputtering into silence once more, the glow of its panels fading into darkness.

Satisfied with her methods, Keira stepped confidently into the room. The first step was followed by a second. Then a third. Her pace quickened and the half-breed found herself standing at the pedestal in the span of several heartbeats. Retrieving a pouch from her belt, Keira readied herself to claim her prize. She paused for a moment with her fingers flexing open and closed, as if wary the relic would jump up and bite her. Her hand drifted closer slowly before quickly grabbing the holocron. A self-assured smile spread on the young woman’s lips. She rose to her full height while securing the item in her pouch and placing it back at her hip.

The rush of accomplishment was short lived for Keira as she felt a sharp tip press between her shoulder blades. “I’ll be taking that,” a deep voice declared from behind her.

The half-breed’s eyes widened and she put her hands up slowly. A sign of submission while simultaneously buying her time. “What ‘that’ is ‘that’… exactly?” Keira asked. Her lilting accent danced prominently upon her tongue, the excitement robbing her of some of her usual control over it.

“Don’t be cute.” The response was punctuated with a slight jab of the stiletto against her. “Was hoping you’d meet up with that red schutta of yours, but this could be just as good. Hand over the holocron.”

Keira’s smile hadn’t faltered since claiming the holocron, and she still couldn’t do anything to keep it off her face. The thrill was just too much, and the guy just had to go and insult her lover. Not the smartest of moves. “Well, since you asked so sweetly,” she stated with some embellishment.

The half-breed reached out with her abilities. Invisible tendrils of power probed the mental barriers of her would-be attacker and found them… utterly lacking. Perfect. With practiced ease, she pushed her presence into the cracks of the man’s awareness. His senses ceased to be his own, becoming merely instruments for Keira to play. She didn’t need to do much, just a subtle trick of illusion. Just enough to buy her time to make her move.

When Keira first began moving, the man instead saw her reaching for her belt and the holocron she had retrieved. By the time the cracks began to form and the illusion faded away, the half-breed had already pivoted around and was crouched low. She carried the momentum of the pivot into a kick that swung up between the man’s legs with a sickening thud. He doubled over in pain, stopped by the sudden presence of Keira’s fingertips beneath his chin. Her blue-gold eyes seemed to be sparkling as her smile grew wider. She had managed to catch herself an Inquisitor. “I learned that one from Qyreia,” the half-breed declared with pride.

Keira shifted her attention away from the man while turning to the side. Her hand rose with her and forced the Inquisitor up at the same time. Her head tilted to the side and she glanced towards the ceiling of the atrium while her free hand triggered her commlink in her ear. It had already been tuned to the proper frequency, and it was one few others had access to. “Good evening, father,” she said excitedly when the connection was established.

Keira,” a calm, softly lilting voice answered her. “Did you find it?

The woman giggled a little before feigning an elaborate scoff. “Of course I found it, it’s me!” She let her hand pull back from the Inquisitor’s chin, but kept it raised as she tightened her grip around the man’s neck with the Force. “Seems one of your guys found me though.”

A sigh could be heard through her earpiece. “Probably tracing your connection to Arronen,” Atra remarked. “I trust you dealt with it?

“More or less.”

Keira,” Atra interjected, picking up on her tone and then sighing again. “He said something stupid, didn’t he?

“He said something real stupid.”

Make it quick, you don’t have all night, and Keira,” Atra’s voice paused, “I’ll comm you later to hear all about it.

Keira’s face warmed slightly and her lips parted in an even wider smile. “Looking forward to it, father.” The connection broke off and the half-breed was left alone with her thoughts once more. Well, her thoughts and the quiet gagging of her captive. “I can do quick,” Keira stated loudly, her smile taking on an almost sinister appearance. She twisted her wrist suddenly, the Force mirroring her actions and forcibly twisting the Inquisitor’s neck. The resulting crack seemed to echo in the atrium before being silenced by the solid thud of his body falling limp to the ground.

The half-breed didn’t so much as look at the man’s crumpled form. She merely stepped over him and made her way back through the archives. This hadn’t been the first of her little missions, acting on information provided to her by her father. Normally they didn’t involve the Inquisitorius, nor did she expect that to be the case. The galaxy was full of risks though, and that certainly wasn’t the first body she had left in her wake. This time, for obvious reasons, she found herself satisfied by her actions. Other times she merely felt nothing. It seemed as though the more times she made that choice, the less meaning there was behind it. Numbing her to the act.

Keira made a mental note to perhaps sit down with Qyreia and have a long talk about it when she made it home. But first, she had to get there. Her eyes glanced left and right within the archives once more and, noting the lack of guards, made her way back to the ducts she had used to get in.


Adalinde & Lux

The Sinning Den
The Godless Matron

“I don’t understand zee purpose 'ere,” Adalinde declared, her heavily accented voice fighting to be heard over the percussive ambience of the club. The red-haired woman had adopted a permanent scowl — clearly visible despite her hair hanging like a curtain over half her face — long before ever setting foot in the Sinning Den. Lux Venia had grown more than accustomed to that reaction though. In fact, the pilot had come to expect it from the younger woman. If the Inquisitor hadn’t crossed her arms and pursed her lips together with holier-than-thou indignation, then Lux would have been concerned. Very concerned. What if a Clawdite had swapped places with Adalinde? It could happen!

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case just yet. “Purpose?” Lux exclaimed. The woman’s chin-length, dirty blonde hair shifted from side to side as she shook her head. “How is that not obvious, Red? What we got here is the most sacred of trinities. Food, drink, and music. See this?” She paused only to pick up and place a large bottle of ale between them, its viscous contents sloshing to and fro. “Do I know what it is? Not a kriffing clue. Am I going to drink it? You bet your pale ass I am! Gonna like it too, and so are you, Firebreath.”

Adalinde’s eyes narrowed. Throughout their time working together under the Combat Master — since his time as Praetor — Lux had always made liberal use of nicknames. Didn’t mean the Inquisitor liked it any more than she had in the beginning, but at least it wasn’t a surprise. In typical fashion, the younger woman opted to be difficult. “I see zis drink.” Adalinde paused to gesture vaguely with her left hand. “I 'ear what you must consider music. But where zen is zee food?”

“Mmmh… All around you, deary,” Lux replied as she leaned back in her seat, glass in hand. Her eyes drifted lavishly around the club, tracing over the myriad of patrons like a painter’s brush caressing the canvas.

“I should 'ave stayed on zee ship,” Adalinde muttered.

“You’re not drinking,” Lux pointed out.

“I 'ave no desire—”

“Get to drinking!”


“One, two, three. Down the hatch!” Lux threw her head back and tipped her glass. Man, did it ever burn like the fires of Mustafar, but the pilot showed no signs of it. She swallowed loudly and slammed the glass down, casting an amused stare across the table. “Is the wittle Sith a scaredy cat?”

Adalinde could hardly believe she could get any angrier from the pilot’s actions, and yet there she was turning a few shades redder as her icey blue eyes narrowed. Drinking was something the young woman seldom indulged in since long before joining the Brotherhood. It was a frivolity she had no time for. Adalinde rose up in her seat, taking on a haughtier appearance — if that was even possible — before pouring a shot for herself. She made sure to maintain eye contact with the ever-grinning Lux as she sent the liquor past her lips quickly. It would have been an impressive showing if she didn’t immediately buckle over into a coughing fit.

Lux burst out laughing, a throaty sound that bordered on a cackle. “Oh?! Was the drink of the common folk too much for you?” she questioned between gasps for air.

The younger woman’s answer, upon recovering, was a simple growl. She quickly poured another shot, knowing what to expect this time, and downed it again. Adalinde managed to remain mostly composed while her expression betrayed obvious discomfort with the liquor.

“That there looks like a challenge, Red!” Lux prepared several more shots, lining them up between them. “Let’s see what you got.”

For once, the experienced woman opted for silence from that point onward. The two powered through their shots, casting taunting glances back and forth after each. A wiggled eyebrow there, a small gesture here. They fed off each other’s enthusiasm and reached the bottom of the second bottle far quicker than would be considered healthy. Especially for Adalinde, who it seemed had become quite the lightweight in her time avoiding liquor.

“And 'e — hic — 'e wouldn’t… wouldn’t even let me kill zem,” the redhead exclaimed with a mournful flourish before leaning against the table, her arms crossed with her chin resting against them. Her face was completely flush.

“That’s the boss for you,” Lux replied while steadying her subtle swaying. The Sinning Den’s insistence on spinning around her wasn’t helping. “Sounds—” The pilot stopped and pressed her lips together tightly as she contained a belch, her cheeks puffing out in the process. “Sounds like you need to release some pent up aggression! You think I didn’t notice the way you’ve been staring at tall-dark-and-broody lately?”

“'e is a — hic — stupidface. 'as no right being attractive,” Adalinde whined.

“Nah, you just need to get yourself somethin’ somethin’. You know what I’m saying, Firebreath?!”

“I — hic — don’t — hiiiic — understand zese nicknames of yours.”

“Not the point! You just snagged yourself the best wingman this side of the Stygian Caldera!” Lux rose to her feet and slammed her hands against the table, sending several glasses skittering across the surface. Admittedly, that was a mistake which became immediately apparent as Lux was nearly overcome by her lightheadedness. “Oh, whoa there… standing’s hard.”

“Why did you do zat?” Adalinde whimpered and buried her head against her arms, the sudden vibration in the table not doing her any favors.

“Frack, sorry… sorry! Stay right here, okay. Have some water! I’ll be right back,” Lux declared.

A groan came as the other woman’s reply. Nonetheless, Lux was emboldened and steadied herself with deep breaths before stalking away from the table and into the throng of patrons. If Lux were to tell the story herself, she would reminisce about how she strode boldly into the masses with her head held high. With skill and purpose she found the perfect match for her companion and brought her prey to Adalinde forthwith. Nary a problem to be had! If that were to be the case — which it’s not — she would have been an utter liar.

Lux stumbled between the dancing masses like a wrecking ball. Between stepping on feet and tripping over her own, it was a miracle that the pilot didn’t start a brawl or, at the very least, a mosh pit! Somehow they maintained order; the passing semblance of it that can only be found in the chaos of the dance floor. Through either an act of fate or the divine prerogative beholden to the sacred role of ‘wingman’, Lux quite literally stumbled upon the perfect target.

“Schutta!” she exclaimed as a particularly nasty twist brought Lux spinning about and falling promptly towards the floor. A strong arm whipped out and saved her from the repercussions of her clumsiness. She blinked several times, straining to bring her green eyes into focus. When they did, Lux found herself looking up at the man who caught her. “Well — oh my — hello, muscles,” Lux’s words seemed to step over one another as her attention jumped from his pleasant facial features to his toned abs she suddenly found herself in close proximity to.

The man grinned and brushed back his long, blonde hair, which was pulled into a ponytail and had fallen forward when he caught her. “Hello to you too.” His voice was warm and seemed perfectly matched to his frame.

Lux couldn’t keep from biting her lip just looking at him. She had to focus, though. The role of the wingman took priority! “My hero,” she intoned with mock innocence. “How could I ever repay you? Oh wait, I know exactly how! See my friend back there? The one that may or may not be dying.”

The man followed her direction as she pointed, shifting his lips side to side curiously. Adalinde looked almost adorable in how pitiful she was, with her chin propped up and one finger tracing circles on the rim of her water glass. Lux snapped her fingers several times next to his ear, breaking his focus. “Keep it together here, Muscles. We’ve had one hell of a time of late… which is probably utterly obvious given the number of glasses on our table — frack, how many did we drink? Anyway! Can you do me a solid, pwetty pwease?”

He looked back with an amused smirk. “‘Muscles’ is named Jaune,” he answered, “and that would very much depend on what that ‘solid’ is.” Jaune seemed to suddenly be aware he was still holding Lux by the waist and eased his arm away from her. Lux practically pouted but kept in control.

“Why don’t you show her a good time for me, eh? Get to know one another… in the primal way,” Lux explained. Jaune stared at her for a moment, either taking pause due to questioning his own fortunes or the fact that Lux was overselling the innuendo by wiggling her eyebrows.

“Um,” Jaune began but was interrupted by Lux’s sudden tut-tutting.

“Move it, hot-stuff!”

The pair made their way back to the table, though Lux practically pushed her captive along the way. “Adalinde! I come bringing a toy! Try not to break him,” she shouted while hopping from foot to foot with a grin.

The young Inquisitor blinked several times before slowly looking Jaune over from head to toe. She sat up slowly, visibly perking up. “Is zat so?” Adalinde asked before tapping her lips. “Are you my toy?”

Jaune’s grin returned. “For you? Whatever you want.”

“I can work wiz zat.” The redhead’s cheeks remained flushed, but she was already well on her way to recovery. As if forgetting Lux was even there, Adalinde put out her hand for Jaune to grasp as she rose to her feet. The pair walked off, leaving Lux alone at the table and unsure if she should feel accomplished or upset that she didn’t snag anyone for herself. The indecision didn’t last long.

“Woohoo! Best wingman ever! Drinks on me,” the Ace exclaimed while throwing her arms in the air. She paused for a moment, holding the pose before dropping her arms and glancing around sheepishly with a cough and a chuckle. “Right, it’s just me now… Of course they’re on me…”

The woman sighed and sank back into the chair, smiling to herself as she glanced around the Sinning Den. Perhaps she might find herself someone after all.


Atra, Adalinde, Lux

The Combat Master waited patiently in the dark corridor, leaning against the durasteel wall with his arms crossed and one leg propped up. His segmented cloak shrouded the majority of his features from the neck down, but his lowered hood left his pale face exposed. He seemed to be resting with his eyes closed and his head tilted down. Regardless, his companion didn’t care to allow him any reprieve.

“So, 'ow does it feel knowing zat you are not calling ze shots anymore?”

His eyelids parted slowly, revealing his cold, grey-gold eyes while he angled his head to look over towards Adalinde. Her aristocratic accent held as much of a punch as the mocking smirk spread across her crimson lips. “My autonomy remains unchanged,” Atra replied. His voice remained even, despite the soft lilt of his accent.

“And zis new Voice is okay wiz zat?” the Inquisitor questioned further.

The Umbaran had to pause before he answered. He had been working with Marick for some time, though their initial meeting was even older than that. Alliegiances were often fickle things and Marick’s had seemed so clear. Yet, then he became the Voice and his ties to Arcona had become… blurred. The Hapan had been hard to read before his ascension to the Dark Council and in that way not much had changed. In fact, it had grown worse. “It remains the logical course of action. I expect he sees that as well,” Atra declared. “Why the concern, Ada? Don’t tell me you’ve grown attached.”

The woman’s icy blue eye — only the one visible due to the long curtain provided by her rich, red hair — flared dangerously for a moment before she raised her chin haughtily and turned her gaze away. “It is a big change, no? My concern is for our missions only, and your ability to complete zem.”

A smirk pulled at the corner of Atra’s lips. “I’m touched. Really. You’re not gonna pull out a ring, are you?”

That one did it. Adalinde’s head swiveled back around with a snarl as she pulled her lightsaber from its clip at her waist. She was already mid lunge towards the Combat Master when he raised his hand suddenly and his gaze snapped to the side. “Lux, eyes on target?”

Damnit, things were just getting to the juicy part!” the pilot responded through their commlinks. “Listening to you two go at it is the best part of my day. Why pay for holonovels, am I right?!

“The target, Lux,” Atra repeated flatly.

Yeah, yeah, I’m counting 'em now. Cool your jets, Snowy.

A slow sigh passed between the Combat Master’s lips before he pushed away from the wall and began walking towards the end of the corridor. Of course, he didn’t miss the grin of amusement on his companion’s face. Adalinde was clearly enjoying Lux’s ribbing. At least she had calmed down somewhat. That is to say, until something else set her off… which could have been just about anything at that point. She wasn’t exactly known for keeping her cool.

Lux’s sudden exclamation broke through the growing silence. “Oh kriff, the balls on this guy.

“If you’d be so kind, context for those listening in at home?” Atra asked.

No need to count anymore. He dismissed his retinue and is on route to your position.

“Keep an eye out for any stragglers.”

Sure thing, tall-dark-and-bossy. By the by, I’m getting hazard pay for this. That’s a statement, not a question. I do the flying. You guys do the vrow-vrow business. Not this gal.

Atra’s right hand rose to his lips and curled into a half-fist while he cocked his head to the side, listening to the merc enthusiastically imitate the distinctive sound of a lightsaber in motion. “I’m certainly not paying you for your talents in mimicry, just pay attention.”

Aye-aye, boss man.

The click in their ears denoted to the pair on the ground that Lux had gone back into radio silence. Thank the Force for small blessings. “If you intend on 'urting 'er upon our return,” Adalinde declared, “I intend to watch.”

“You would,” the Combat Master muttered in reply. He rolled his neck from side to side, loud pops and cracks resounding from the Umbaran’s joints as he did so. The pale woman grimaced and turned her attention to the end of the corridor where they were waiting. In the silence they could hear the approaching foot falls before they saw their target. The man wore what could be considered typical trader’s clothes, consisting of an orange trenchcoat with black trim, a dark shirt underneath, cargo pants and sturdy boots. The various belts and straps were used for his personal weapons and a myriad of pouches. His hair was buzzed short, but still recognizably brown, and he was clean shaven save for a thin strip below his lip. His eyes were green and wide, as if he were taking in every small detail.

“Ah ha! Welcome, friends! I see my message being received,” the man declared boisterously upon spotting them.

Atra and Adalinde exchanged a tired glance, merely a flick of their eyes without every moving their heads. The Combat Master’s arms folded across his chest before he spoke. “You said you had information. Specifically, in regards to the Lotus.”

“Much information I am having! Information you could hear, if credits right.” The trader grinned and there was more than a slight glint of greed in his eyes.

“Zat would depend on ze information, no?” Adalinde interjected.

“Ah! The pretty one speaks. Yes, yes. Information being good, credits good. Tanek Krull bring only best!”

“You tell us what you know, and we’ll tell you if it’s good,” Atra stated. His expression and tone were mirrored in their flat calm, but his grey-gold eyes were locked on Tanek.

The trader had to stop himself from taking a step back, wringing his hands together as his weight shifted from side to side. “Hm… Yes, well. Being as I’m good trader, be meeting halfway, eh? I tell you some,” Tanek offered. His eyes shifted between Atra and Adalinde, trying to gauge their reactions.

“Well,” Atra said with a raise of his brow, “we’re waiting.”

Again, the man look nervous before answering. “These ‘Lotus’, aye? My sources — good sources — say that a cult of Jedi being among them. Truly being rare these days. Rare and expensive?” He held his hand out, clearly expecting credits.

Instead, Adalinde’s head lowered and a smile spread on her face. Atra merely looked bored. “Try something we don’t already know, then you’ll have earned a payment.”

“Oh… um, well…”

The female Inquisitor leapt forward and grabbed Tanek by the collar. The trader’s eyes widened further as the unexpected strength held within the woman’s frame, fueled by the Dark Side of the Force, easily overpowered him and he found himself pinned against the wall. A solid thud rippled through his body with the impact. Before Tanek could get a word out he was interrupted by a snap-hiss and became very still with the thrumming red blade inches from his throat.

“You’re wasting our time, why?” Atra questioned the trader with the barest hint of a threat in his icy tone.

“I waste nothing—”

“Why are you stalling?” The Combat Master asked again, but this time the compelling presence of the Force swelled within Tanek’s awareness. It seeped between the cracks of his resolve like slithering tendrils, constricting around his mind and suffocating the trader’s free will. Atra’s words were no longer a question, but a demand; one that Tanek found himself unable to resist.

“There is no information,” he answered with fear replacing the greed in his eyes. “It is being bait.”

Atra let out a quick breath through his nose. “Well, that’s unfortunate for you.”

A shower of sparks and molten metal erupted in a line as Adalinde pushed her saber forward and to the side in a quick swipe that removed Tanek’s head from his shoulders. It hit the ground solidly, nary a bounce, followed by the rest of his body as the woman released her hold upon it. She paused for a moment, licking her lips in appreciation of the kill.

“Guess we’re leaving,” Atra pointed out before activating his commlink. “I trust you caught that?”

Mmmyup! Also, looks like I’m getting a show after all, ‘cause you guys got company comin’ in.

“Get the ship ready.”

On it. Try not to have too much fun down there, dearies.

Neither responded to the pilot. Adalinde’s blade was still active, and Atra’s soon joined as he grasped its slender hilt and activated the lightsaber. Crackling, cerulean energy cascaded along its length and his cold expression remained unchanged. “You heard the lady,” the Combat Master intoned.

“I did,” Adalinde replied, “but when 'ave I listened to 'er.”

The pair proceeded down the corridor in silence. Each foot fall echoed seemingly into infinity until they finally found themselves at the entrance. Their gazes passed over the assembled company of mercs, Atra’s moving from left to right while Adalinde’s mirrored his. “They didn’t bring enough,” he pointed out.

“Do zey ever?”

“Inquisitors,” a soft yet commanding voice called out from the middle of their would-be attackers. A trio of lightsabers, two green and one yellow, revealed their exact location as the lithe woman in the front continued speaking. “We do not wish your end here. Stand down, surrender your weapons, and submit to questioning. No one needs to be harmed.”

The Sentinel held her saber high and confidently, blonde hair pulled into a tight ponytail that hung between her shoulder blades. Her green eyes did not waver as her oval face turned to focus on Atra. “Your methods seem awfully inefficient,” he responded. “Shouldn’t you spring the trap before we discover it?”

A slight waver broke through the woman’s resolve, a flash of regret. “Yes, Tanek is… overconfident.”

“Ah yes, I see. Is that what they call ‘dead’ these days?”


“No, I didn’t,” Atra smirked. “She did.”

At that moment, two things happened simultaneously. First, Adalinde lashed out with a roar, her fingers surging with the destructive power of the Force. It lashed out towards the Jedi, lightning dancing unpredictably through the air in a blink of an eye and forking out between all three. The second was Atra reaching out with both hands and pulling hard, his unseen power curled around the nearby comm tower and wrenched hard against its thin supports. The whine of metal under stress caught some of the mercs off guard, buying just enough time for the supports to give way and the structure collapsed between the Inquisitors and their attackers.

Chaos quickly ensued. Blaster fire brought forth a percussive symphony as it pounded against their cover. Cries of pain could be heard as at least one of the Jedi had been less than successful in grounding Adalinde’s attack. No doubt still feeling the surging pain causing them to twitch violently. Atra ducked low, looking through the rising dust plume in order to gauge their situation. His blade rose suddenly to deflect a bolt of plasma high and away. The Combat Master managed to catch Adalinde’s attention and gestured towards the corner of the building they had just come out of. The woman grimaced, her nostrils flaring at the prospect of fleeing a battle, but nodded in understanding. To be fair, Atra didn’t like it either. He prefered not to exert himself.

They used the Force to strengthen the muscles in their legs and dashed as fast as they could from their makeshift cover. A few shots nearly struck their intended targets but the pair managed to get clear in time. “I hope the ship is ready,” Atra yelled into his comm between deep breaths.

Isn’t it always, iceman?” Lux answered before the sound of thrusters could be heard overhead. “No room to get you where you’re at, even for me. Get to the edge of the outpost and hop on there.

The Combat Master would have responded but the hairs at the back of his neck stood on end, a whispered warning through the Force. He dropped into a roll and barely hit the dirt before a whirling lightsaber passed overhead. Atra came back to his feet and spun around to watch the green blade finish its arc and return to the blonde Sentinel and one of the other Jedi following behind.

“I zink she likes you,” Adalinde remarked with a grin.

“Right? And look, she brought you a toy,” Atra said with a gesture towards the male Jedi readying his yellow blade. Generic was the best word that could be used to describe the man. Nothing stood out to memory, as if he had been rolled fresh off the ‘Jedi minion’ assembly line.

Adalinde’s grin broke out into a malicious smile and she straightened her back, rising to her full height. She held her lightsaber losely in her right hand and held it pointing skyward in front of her. At the same time, her left arm folded across the small of her back with her fist closed. No matter how much time had passed, there were parts of her upbringing the Inquisitor just couldn’t shake. As a result, the formalities of her youth had been a natural fit for Makashi.

Meanwhile, Atra stalked ahead with his saber hanging lazily to the side. Its crackling tip bit into the dirt and carved a line in his wake as he approached the Sentinel. “Sorry about all this,” he called out with a vague gesture of his free hand. “Surrender just sounds dreadful.”

“Know that I take no pleasure in this,” she stated and gripped her saber tight in both hands.

“What’s the point of life without the little pleasures?”

The Sentinel took two quick, bounding strides forward and tried to bring her saber down hard on Atra. The Combat Master pivoted on his right foot and leaned to the side, letting it pass by harmlessly. He caught a glimpse of Adalinde delivering a quick riposte. Her opponent’s yellow blade was caught against the crimson tip of her own and she was easily able to control the positioning of his weapon.

The momentary lapse of attention was almost costly as the blonde woman’s emerald blade came arcing back up towards him. Atra brought his own blade up and the cerulean streak coupled with the strength of his arm pushed hard against her momentum, effectively halting it. He took a step forward, into her guard, and the Sentinel quickly hopped back to open up the space once more. Not bad, Atra thought to himself as he observed her. She at least knew enough to recognize the threat. Still, they couldn’t linger too long or the other mercs would catch up.

“Meela,” a male voice broke the uneasy silence between Atra and the Sentinel. It was thick with panic and desperation. They turned at the same time to see Adalinde easily disarming her opponent, and quite literally at that. He wailed in pain, falling to his knees as his saber arm fell harmlessly to the ground.

“Jek!” Meela’s eyes widened and she momentarily forgot about her own looming threat. She sprinted forward, seeking to get between Adalinde and her prey, only to find her momentum suddenly halted. The Sentinel felt a pressure around her, pulling her back with ever more force before she was violently lifted from her feet and flung through the air towards the Combat Master. He caught her neck from behind in his tight grasp, leaving her helpless as Adalinde’s blade claimed its second head of the evening. The Sentinel didn’t have any chance to feel grief for her fallen comrade as the sudden shock of a saber piercing her from behind stole her focus. The world seemed to fall away, all her senses focusing in upon that single moment. Meela had always expected it to feel… hot. Instead, she just felt cold. Her body was going into shock.

Atra’s blade deactivated, the sound of the shrinking blade echoing in the Sentinel’s ears. He released his hold on her neck and the world spun in her vision, except she was the one moving. Meela hit the ground hard, but didn’t feel it. The world was growing darker and she could do little more than watch as the Inquisitors returned to making their escape in the waiting shuttle.

That wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. Those were the last thoughts drifting through the void of the Sentinel’s dimming mind. They were the good guys weren’t they? They had the numbers and the plan… but Tanek had chosen to go it alone. The trader changed the plan and they were left to change with it.

That wasn’t how it was supposed to happen…


Keira’s Mark: Keira, Leeadra, Qyreia

Usually, without Qyreia’s presence, a calm quiet sat like a fog within the confines of the homely apartment. That wasn’t to say it couldn’t be calm otherwise, just that there was a stillness to it not usually associated with the energetic Zeltron. ‘Usually’ was the point to focus on, because that calm was replaced with a palpable nervous tension.

“Oh, come on! What’s wrong with me?” Keira exclaimed from the bedroom. Her pale, blue-gold eyes focused on her shaking hands as she raised them carefully in front of herself. She sat at the foot of her bed, a grimace forming as she worked her mouth from side to side. “I want to do this. I’m going to do this. That’s final!”

She made her declaration with conviction and a nod of her head, as if the sheer power of her words would halt the shaking. It didn’t. A sigh escaped Keira’s lips in a rush as the half-breed Umbaran flopped back onto the bed. “What’s taking so long?” the once-Quaestor whined and rolled onto her stomach, resting her chin on the fabric of her sheets while glaring at the nearby chronometer. I need a distraction, she thought absently. Her gaze flicked to the nearby closet and the full-length mirror next to it, her lips forming a soundless ‘oh’ as she noticed her attire — or lack thereof. “Getting dressed is probably an important step… whoops.”

The half-breed crossed the distance between the bed and the closet with bounding steps before sifting through the contents. “When did I buy this… or is it Qyreia’s? The better question is: does it fit?!” The Umbaran hummed to herself as she worked the sleeveless shirt over her head, then she slid her fingers under the hem of the shirt to quickly adjust it. The pale blue fabric hugged her curves tightly, yet didn’t feel constricting — a fact no doubt helped due to it only reaching her midriff, and the lack of sleeves. A slight v-cut at the middle of the neck allowed the collar to sit comfortably, black trim lining the shoulders and collar. Next, she slipped into a set of black leggings, a similar shade of pale blue providing accents through stripes running along the outer edge of her legs and angling towards the back near the top. Finally, she clipped the silver clasp together on the buckle of the pants before sliding on her knee-high black boots and tightening their straps.

“There we are, nice and presentable,” Keira murmured as she ran her fingers through her long raven-black hair. The lilt to her words seemed to grow thicker in correlation to her increasing impatience. She paused and smiled at herself in the mirror, having always been fond of the faint blue tone provided by the highlights shifting through her hair. The half-breed’s mood suddenly shifted as her eyes narrowed into a glare. “She’s still not here,” the woman pointed out to thin air.

Another exasperated sigh escaped the impatient Umbaran before her fingers worked through one of the pouches hanging from her belt. Gripping onto the holo-disc, she keyed in the necessary frequency before tossing the disc towards the bed. Keira’s focus changed yet again as she began pulling her hair into a high ponytail, working the long strands through the loop as she waited.

Is something wrong?” Atra’s small, holographic effigy inquired as it flickered into existence. The flowing lilt of his accent stood at odds with the quiet cold of his tone.

“Nope, just getting ready. How are you, Father?” Keira replied.

A pause hung for a moment as the Combat Master shifted his weight to one side and folded his arms across his chest. “Did you call… just to talk?” the Umbaran asked.

The woman paused, her eyes flitting about in confusion before she turned towards the holo-disc with an incredulous expression and a raised eyebrow. “Yup. That’s what family does. Methyas and Naomi did it all the time while I was with them!”

The silence was Atra’s response to that one.

“Okay,” the half-breed said, stretching the word out far too long. “Are you sayin’ you’re too busy for chit-chat, then?”

Yes,” the Combat Master responded succinctly. Another pause hung in the air before the man sighed. “Listen, Keira. I’ll give you a call when things here are less… well, busy.

“Fine, be boring then!” the woman stated loudly while throwing her hands up in exasperation. “How’s your lady-friend doing, though?” she continued with a grin. That one brought a narrowing of Atra’s eyes that was unmistakable, even in tiny, blue, micro-Atra form. Keira giggled mischievously and made a pulling gesture with her hand, the Force responding to her command and summoning the holo-disc to her waiting grasp. “I-want-a-sister-'kay-thanks-bye!” she shouted quickly.

Wait, wha—” Atra managed before the holo-disc was deactivated by his daughter, who then proceeded to laugh hysterically in the resulting silence.

“So worth it,” she managed, holding her stomach as the laughter subsided. Keira didn’t have long to dwell though. A tell-tale jingle announced that her waiting was finally at an end. The half-breed quickly brushed her bangs to the side with her fingers as she half-skipped down the stairs and into the main landing. She pressed the appropriate switch on the door panel and smiled. The door slid apart and revealed the waiting form of Qyreia’s apprentice — though that was always such an odd word to say, considering Keira’s partner was a mercenary. But, those were Sadowan semantics that Keira didn’t bother paying any attention to.

The Pantoran woman’s eyes widened slightly for but a moment as her stance stiffened. Her blue skin and pale lips were complimented by both the yellow crescent moon just beneath her right eye and her pale lavender hair, which was styled into a messy part with a long braid on one side. “Um, Quaes—erm—Ms. Viru,” Leeadra began in greeting. Her choice of words was almost as stiff as her spine at that point.

“Leeadra! Took your time, now didn’t you?” Keira said excitedly.

“Oh, yes. I’m sorry about that.”

“No ‘sorry’ needed!” The half-breed grabbed Leeadra by the shoulders and spun her about, which caused the charcoal robes to flutter around her. “Also, it’s Keira. No formalities. Learn it, use it, love it. We’re burning time here!”

The Pantoran nearly tripped over her own feet as Keira ushered her away from the door and triggered the lock behind them. When Leeadra had received the request from her master’s girlfriend she wasn’t sure what to make of it. She knew Qyreia well enough, but her experiences with Keira were limited to the short time the woman had served as Quaestor of Shar Dakhan. As a result, Leeadra wasn’t sure what to make of the whole situation. Nor was she able to accurately pick up on the extent of Keira’s nervousness.

“If I may, can we just hold on a second?” Leeadra asked quietly, sticking to her formalities. “What’s the rush?”

“We’ll talk in the cab. Rear in gear!”

“No, Ms. Viru—” The Umbaran’s sudden glare startled Leeadra before she recovered. “—Keira, I mean. You said it was urgent but not what ‘it’ was. I’m not moving another inch until you tell me.”

The Pantoran’s arms folded across her chest, giving her a stern appearance as she waited expectantly. Keira, on the other hand, seemed to shrink back and tap her index fingers together nervously. “Yes, right… I suppose that’s fair,” Keira remarked. “Um, well, I’m…” Her voice trailed off into mumbles that Leeadra couldn’t quite make out.

Leeadra sighed and pressed two fingers against her forehead. She didn’t quite know what she had expected. The sudden call coupled with the lack of knowledge about who exactly she was dealing with should have scared her off. It was an unknown that left her unclear how she should act, or how she would be perceived. But, standing there, the Pantoran was hit with just how child-like Keira could be. She hadn’t expected that.

“Wanna try that one again?” Leeadra asked, closing her eyes for a moment.

“I want to get a tattoo!” the half-breed shouted quickly.

That elicited a slight tilt of Leeadra’s head as she interpretted the statement. “A tattoo… so you called me?”

“Well,” Keira began, quickening the pace of her words as she spoke until they were tripping over one another, “I’ve been thinking about it a while and it seems really cool and Qyreia got that Black Guard tattoo for me and I just wanted to experience it too — surprise her — and I don’t exactly have ‘friends’ so I called her apprentice 'cause I couldn’t think of anyone else and—”

“Stop!” Leeadra managed in the middle of the rapid-fire explanation, holding her hand aloft to emphasise the point. Keira blinked several times before shrinking back inward, not quite sure if she had done something wrong. Until Leeadra started to laugh, that is. “We got a cab waiting, don’t we? Let’s go!”

The pair smiled, opening up slightly — both emotionally and physically. Leeadra, now armed with what she felt was a better understanding of the half-breed Umbaran, allowed herself to relax somewhat. Keira, on the other hand, stood up straight again and nodded. “Sweet, also gonna need your help 'cause I have no idea what I’m doing,” the half-breed declared.

“Sounds like fun,” Leeadra added. “Just, promise me no Clan emblems.”

“Ow, ow, ow, ow.” Keira muttered to herself as she worked her way back down the hall towards the apartment.

“Stop touching it,” Leeadra chided her.

You stop touching it!”

“I’m not even near it!”

Keira whimpered and took a deep swig of the bottle in her hand, hoping it would make her feel better and restore some of her chemical balance. The upper portion of her left arm was covered in a bandage, protecting her freshly acquired markings. “Your ideas suck,” the half-breed pointed out and paused for a moment with her forehead pressed against the durasteel wall.

“Oh, I don’t think so,” the Pantoran managed between laughs. “You called me with this brilliant excursion. That makes the responsibility, and the repercussions, all on you, Keira!”

“Terrible, terrible friend,” Keira whined.

“Ah, but she admits I am a friend! Thus, she has declared defeat and I am victorious!”

Keira groaned and pivoted slowly, planting her back against the wall. “Could the victor do me a solid and help me the rest of the way?”

“I suppose I can help the baby out,” Leeadra said. Keira stuck her tongue out dramatically at the blue-skinned woman who merely smirked before taking the Umbaran’s arm and guiding it over her shoulders. The half-breed leaned into Leeadra as they made their way down the final leg of their journey, only for them both to freeze as the door snapped open to reveal Qyreia standing there. Her jacket was already off, which meant she had been home long enough to get both comfortable and worried about where Keira was.

“What the frack did you do?!” the Zeltron exclaimed upon seeing the bandage.

Leeadra all but dropped Keira as she shuffled to the side and created distance. “She did it. I’m innocent. I’ve been framed!”

“Traitor!” Keira declared as she positioned herself so only her right side was visible.

“Do I have to ask again?” Qyreia intoned, a mixture of worry and frustration turning her cheeks a deeper shade of crimson.

“I did a thing,” the half-breed said quietly. The three of them stood in silence outside the door for a little while longer, the awkwardness of the scenario becoming almost palpable.

“I was… I thought… Damnit, Keira,” the Zeltron managed after a moment. Her grip tightened around the doorframe, visibly straining before she calmed herself. “Get inside, let’s talk there,” she finished with a quieter voice.

Keira and Leeadra glanced at each other before complying, but they didn’t fuss over the matter. Once inside, Qyreia waited at the door while the guilty parties moved into the living room. Keira headed for the couch, plopping herself down and sitting with her knees raised towards her chest. The Pantoran opted for one of the lounge chairs and sat down, nursing her own bottle as she chewed on her bottom lip. They waited like inmates on death row, in utter silence, before Qyreia finally came into the room.

“I’m sorry, Q… I didn’t think we’d be gone that long,” Keira started the second she saw her lover.

For her part, Leeadra stayed very quiet while sipping from a bottle of her own. Her gold eyes jumped from face to face as she watched the conversation from across the room. “You should have told me or left a note, Keira! With the Inquisitors and all this nonsense going on I thought… I was scared some Hutt-humping, no-good sleemo had taken you from me,” Qyreia managed as she closed the distance between herself and the half-breed. “No offense, Lee,” the Zeltron added.

“None taken,” the Pantoran offered before taking another sip and getting cozy.

Keira raised her chin and leaned forward somewhat, meeting Qyreia’s advance as the other woman dropped her head and kissed her softly. “I wasn’t thinking, again… I’m sorry, Q,” she said solemnly.

The Zeltron rested there for several breaths, her forehead pressed against Keira’s as she let relief replace the other emotions she had been struggling with so far. Her fingers danced along the half-breed’s shoulders before her placing more weight against her. “I don’t remember my shirt coming up that short when I wore it,” Qyreia muttered.

Keira chuckled a little before responding. “Genetics and what not.”

“Uh huh,” the Zeltron answered with more than a little humor. She let her hands slide down Keira’s arms only to tense up when the other woman flinched away from her touch with a yelp. Qyreia’s eyelids snapped open and she immediately took a step back, remembering the bandage on her lover’s arm.

“Fess up, ladies,” the mercenary stated flatly. “What’s the ‘thing’ that was ‘did’?”

Keira eyed the ground sheepishly and then let her legs slide down the couch and onto the ground. She worked her jaw back and forth before taking a deep breath and slowly peeling back the bandage from her arm. “I, um, got this,” the half-breed declared between winces.

The ink was still fresh, glistening on her inflamed skin as it was exposed to the light. The tattoo itself was broken up into separate, curving marks that created a disjointed overall shape. Like puzzle pieces that never touched. Two marks came together, almost touching, before one shot further up into a point towards the top of her arm. Further down, towards her bicep, were two more curving marks looping up towards the back of her arm. All the marks were blue, save for one of the two main marks on her shoulder which was red.

The Zeltron tilted her head to the side. “Why couldn’t you tell me you were doing this?”

“I wanted to surprise you,” Keira elaborated.

“I mean, kriff, I’m surprised all right.”

“And it frackin’ hurt, for the record. How could you just sit there when I literally seared ink into your flesh!” the half-breed’s voice broke as she gestured towards Qyreia’s Black Guard mark on her forearm.

“Are you kidding me? I had half a mind to think I was gonna lose the arm, love!”

Keira bit her lip and glanced down towards the ground, circling her knee with her index finger while waiting for Qyreia to take in the entire tattoo. “Can I cover it back up now?” she asked.

The mercenary nodded and helped ease the bandage back over the tattoo. She knew better than to ask why a bacta patch wasn’t on it instead. The healing would happen too fast, and the ink wouldn’t take. The damage was part of what made the tattoo stick, though the ink would fade over time. “So, what brought this on? What does it represent?” Qyreia questioned as she sat down next to Keira.

“Well, Leeadra can probably explain it better. She helped me pick it.”

The Pantoran perked up in her seat, leaning forward excitedly with a sparkle in her eyes. Keira made an acquiescing gesture towards the lavender-haired woman. “They’re her bonds,” Leeadra explained with a smile. “It’s a tattoo that can grow, but never shrink. Each mark is a strong bond she has formed in her life and represents that permanent connection. For good or bad, that connection makes her who she is. As new bonds form, more marks can be added!”

Qyreia blinked a couple times, the gears in her head working it over before she suddenly snapped her gaze back towards Keira. “The red mark—”

“—is you,” Keira finished for her partner. She smiled and glanced away, not quite able to hold eye contact until the Zeltron’s fingers slid across her cheeks and gently pulled her back. “This is my surprise for you,” she stated.

Qyreia kissed the half-breed, breathing in through her nose as she held that connection. Finally, she broke free and pulled back just enough to whisper, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Keira stated with a smile, but winced again as her arm rubbed against the side of the couch.

“You two need a room?” Leeadra asked from her seat.

“Oh, Blue… this is our room,” the Zeltron replied with a laugh. It was warm and genuine, thankfully devoid of the worry that had colored so much of her mood when they had arrived. Keira, for her part, would try to be a little more careful with her flights of fancy going forward. Causing worry was far from what she had wanted, but she hadn’t paid any attention to preventing it either. She had to be better than that. For herself, and for Qyreia.

“Keira,” Qyreia started with a bit of sternness to her voice. “If you decide to ‘surprise’ me with a cybernetic arm or something… I might beat you over the head with it.”

The half-breed laughed, despite the pain it caused her. “If I do, I just might let you!”