In the end, the Exile was on his knees, prying the dead gizka’s mouth open with his bare fingers. NOT something I see every day. I would’ve been laughing at him behind his back, despite the fact he’s my “master” and all, if I hadn’t been so dead set on proving myself. No, I wasn’t delusional, and no, it wasn’t your average ball of cuteness that nearly tore my face off. The Exile would see those fangs for himself, and then
he’d believe me.
When he stood up, he had an expression on his face that I couldn’t figure out. As usual. I pride myself on being able to read people’s expressions—but noooooo, this Jedi refuses
to be read. Which aggravates the flames out of me.
I shrugged my shoulders, making a point to shrug as prodigiously as the Exile had. “So? Believe me now?”
He put on a pensive expression, one that was deceptively easy to read. “Wellllllllll,” he said, like he was relishing the word, “I believe . . . that you’ve touched more of that Corellian ale than you thought.”
I jabbered and choked to the effect of an age-old ion engine trying to start. By the time I managed to express myself, I’d only further convinced the Exile of my drink-guiltiness. “What
“This gizka”—he nudged it hard with his boot—“is just that. A gizka. It doesn’t have teeth. Must’ve hidden on board after our last trip to Dxun.” Then, chuckling in the most infuriating manner possible, he sauntered back the way he came. “Good act, Atton. I guess I should lock up that ale before you start wrestling purple hssiss in the cargo hold.”
“Yeah, or brainless exiled tachs in the hallway,” I grumbled.
Suddenly, when I wasn’t looking, a Force-propelled hydrospanner clobbered me in the head. With a growl, I took control of it and flung it vengefully at the Exile. He ducked into the passage just in time for the hydrospanner to miss. It hit the wall and fell with a loud clink
Out popped his head, plastered with a hoity-toity, big-brotherly grin. “Nice try. Your next lesson’ll be how to aim.” Then he disappeared.
I considered grabbing the hydrospanner and going after him again. I’ll show you I can aim!
But, at the last second, I remembered there were crates in the starboard dorm. Crates that I couldn’t lift with the Force, but he could lift 'em all right.
I went to retrieve the hydrospanner, rubbing the side of my head where I’d been clobbered by it. A big knot was already forming in my hair. Note to self: think, don’t whisper. Or, at least, call the Exile something in another language. Rodian would be good. Just make sure he doesn’t have that translator on him.
As I was trying to think of a way to tell when he had that translator, my eyes settled on the dead gizka again. And then I remembered the reason for my argument with the Exile.
“This gizka is just that. A gizka. It doesn’t have teeth.”
Not to mention panic.
My heart pounding, I fell on my knees next to the gizka and stuck my fingers in its mouth. For a second, I thought I could feel something, but then . . .
Nothing. Just wet, floppy lips and wet, squishy gums.
The confusion seeped in quickly. I stood to replace the hydrospanner on the workbench, not even paying attention to what I was doing. But . . . how? The Exile wouldn’t lie to me. And I saw what I saw.
“Did you? And what makes you think that?”
I turned abruptly at the sound of her voice, just as my gut twisted in loathing. There, right behind me, stood the one person I hated most on this ship. “Kreia, I didn’t touch that ale. You
should know that, of all people.”
She shrugged off my barbed remark. “Perhaps. But how can you expect the Exile to believe you, of all people? There was a time when drink was your daily companion, and you embraced it, though it only clouded your mind with nightmarish memories. How can the Exile expect you to resist its call now?”
Kreia was too good at fingering my bruises. I cringed inwardly, even as my defense impulse kicked into overdrive. “Because Jedi don’t drink, and I don’t need to. My past has no hold over me now.”
“Ah. You say that with such ease, yet you know it is not true. The guilt remains; I can feel it squirming within you still.”
“Yeah, well, how about we don’t get into that again—and, instead, you tell me why this gizka had fangs one minute and none the next?”
“That would be assuming I believe you.” I stared at her in utter disbelief.
“You’ve got to be joking. You mean you can’t tell I’m dead serious here?”
She favored me with a scowl. “Oh, it is quite obvious to me that you are serious. That you think
you are telling the truth.” Turning away, she moved to the dead gizka and studied it. As she did, though, some change of attitude came over her. Her expression, or what I could see of it, became darker. Then, MUCH to my surprise (note the sarcasm), she lapsed into her usual Jedi-speak. “The power of Korriban runs strong . . . and extends far. Once you are touched by it, it stays with you. And it has a way of bringing your deepest fears to life.”
Okay. Where in space did this witch come from?
“Reeeeeally?” I barked a laugh. “Sorry to contradict, but a fanged gizka isn’t exactly my deepest fear.”
I waited for one of her snarky comebacks. When no response came from under the hood—just cold silence—and the witch didn’t so much as move, I’ll admit I felt pretty awkward. Shifting from one foot to the other, I looked around at the walls, at the workbench, down the passageway to the cargo hold, until I finally thought of something to say. “Well, if Your Majesty does not object, I think I’ll—”
At that moment I happened to glance at her, and I faltered in surprise. Kreia had turned to face me, one pupiless eye visible from beneath the hood. A hungry smile curved her lips, revealing the points of two perfectly sharpened, pearly white fangs.
My mind went blank.
“Kreia . . . ?”
As she responded with a wider smile, unveiling her fangs in all their pointed glory, I took an involuntary step back. My heart pounded in my ears; the air pulsated with terror.
A gizka with fangs. Now the witch. Was the gizka Kreia? Or is Kreia the gizka? Is it some
thing, some Sith ghost from Korriban? No, this is a nightmare, all of it.
Desperately, I slapped myself hard on the face. Nothing. I pinched my cheek. Still nothing. I rubbed my eyes, stomped my feet, and pulled my hair, each in quick succession. But no—the witch was still there, her mouth contorted in a silent laugh at my feeble efforts.
Oh my FORCE, she has fangs!
Then, to my endless horror, she started moving toward me. Like a ghost floating off the ground, her wide, white eyes gleaming coldly in the dim light. I just about lost all of my mental faculties then, but somehow I ended up running. Running, running down the hallway to one of the dorms . . . the port dorm, I think. If I’d been thinking straight, I would’ve high-tailed it to starboard where the Exile was, the only one of us with any sort of leash on the fanged witch.
Oh, well. Maybe Visas and Brianna could protect me.