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Old 11-29-2007, 09:47 PM   #1
Uilleand
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[Fic] Grey

This is definitely a work in progress, and I plan to work some more with it, when I figure out where I want it to go.

If some of it seems familiar, it might be because you too have seen this beautiful work by Aimo. I couldn't get it out of my mind, so I had to start writing something about it.


Grey

There had been light once.

A flash.

A single sun-drenched moment.

It was lost now, along with the rest of it.

That was good. As it should be. As it had always been.

There was, however, no shadow either.

No dark, no rage, no hatred, no blistering passion.

Nothing.

Even a Jedi might approve.

The thought might have twisted a smile on his lips, if he had been other than what he was now.

Revan had told him. The part of his mind that had once cared about such things spied her Republic boyfriend tensing for action as his own numb fingers had clutched at her robes. That same part of his mind noted with cold efficiency the hot tears that ran down his face, the cold ‘crete floor beneath his knees.

That part of his mind was all that was left of Atton Rand.

The rest of him died in that moment.

He wondered idly whether the others in the room had heard the crack when it happened.

All those things that had been him – no matter what identity he carried – all those things were gone. His hair had been the first to go, the first thing that everyone else had noticed, anyway.

Because she had loved it.

Because she had touched it.

It had to go.

He studied his own face without interest – a dark dusting of stubble over his head, grey-in-grey eyes that peered intently from his pale-grey face, refracted many times over in the cracked mirror.

Yes, it had to go.

Even Pazaak occupied a space in his stomach that twisted with pain. As he hunted his targets, that single, irritating part of his mind felt it necessary to inform him that money would be easier made with a hand of cards than an assassin’s contract. Fortunately ease no longer mattered, so he hunted to live.

He lived to hunt.

There was no other reason. The former Dark Lord Revan had taken his revenge for him, long before she had told him, had broken him.

There was no light. There was no shadow.

There was no guilt, because she had forgiven him.

There was, occasionally, hunger. So, he hunted for money. Money for food.

There was always pain, just nipping at his heels, so he ran. Money to run.

He knew that part of his mind would know which planet he was on now, but he couldn’t be bothered to ask. He was here. The target was here. The target would die. He would get paid. He would run a little farther.

It was in this manner that he had killed his way across the galaxy. Again.

Last edited by Uilleand; 12-31-2007 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 11-29-2007, 10:28 PM   #2
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It's beautiful in its simplicity. Poor Atton! There's some points I disagree with, but it's pretty much just variations between our interpretations, so no biggie. There is an oddly detached feel to it, but it's a pleasing change from overly emotional fics (I'm guilty as charged:P)

As usual, well done!



The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers

-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan

[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
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Old 11-30-2007, 09:59 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bee Hoon
It's beautiful in its simplicity. Poor Atton! There's some points I disagree with, but it's pretty much just variations between our interpretations, so no biggie. There is an oddly detached feel to it, but it's a pleasing change from overly emotional fics (I'm guilty as charged:P)

As usual, well done!
Thank you. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with this...but I had to get it out of my head...
Tell me what your interpretation differences are .. I like hearing about how other people view these characters...and the world...gives me stuff to think about when I write...


"... I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room." - Ray Bradbury
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Old 11-30-2007, 09:52 PM   #4
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Hmmm, on one hand, Atton might have just lived as she would have wanted him too... Being a good little Jedi knight. On the other hand, your version of events is perfectly plausible. That's one of things I love about Atton fics: you'll never know which way he'll go!



The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers

-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan

[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
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Old 12-31-2007, 10:16 PM   #5
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Bowen Jef crossed her booted feet and leaned back in her chair in an effort to quell her own shaky misgivings about the trail she was on. The Devaronian smoothed back the grey fur on her cheeks, but stopped as the cold eyes across from her registered every single move she made.

The bounty hunter was whipcord thin, with smoke-coloured eyes and a skull that looked freshly shaven. His face, what she could see of it in the dim light, was all hard angles and sharp planes – and as devoid of life as any corpse she’d ever laid eyes on.

“Let’s keep this simple, shall we?” Bowen flashed her formidable fangs in a cheerless grin. “You come highly recommended, and I come very well funded. I’m told you don’t have any particular interest in the …erm … political leanings of your marks, nor are you likely to ask inconvenient questions, and that proves useful to me at this point.”

She paused here, waiting for the man across the table to confirm or deny the statement, but her words sank in the dank, humid air, unanswered. Bowen Jef was no fool. She hadn’t clawed her way up the ranks of the Exchange by allowing herself to be intimidated by scruffy, dusty, ill-kept bounty hunters. She knew about negotiation, and knew that silence was, inevitably, her friend.

But not today.

Today, the man who half-melted into the shadows of the dingy little room swam in silence, bathed in it. His grey eyes never left her face, and yet never seemed to actually look at her either. They looked through her.

She cleared her throat and the sound disappeared into him. “Right. Well, I’ve asked for you, because this job’s a little more difficult than most. Your target is rather high up in the emerging Sith order.”

She waited for some sign of shock, fear, even surprise. When none came, she continued. “V’loren Coltro was last seen on Ulicia – scab of a planet, that one is. She’s completely fallen under the radar, but there’s no sign that she’s left the Ulicia’s surface.”

“Now, the difficulty lies not in Coltro’s affiliations, but that we don’t have any images or holos of her – only some varying descriptions. We know, obviously, that we’re dealing with a woman, black hair, brown eyes – but those are things that can change, of course. We do have some intel that suggests she carries some impressive tattoos, deep blue over her head and shoulders. We also have no indication that she is, in any way, Force sensitive.”

The man didn’t move, but, for a spit second, all of Bowen’s fur stood on end. She hurried on.

“We will, of course, pay for your transport to and from Ulicia over and above the agreed-upon fee.”

She felt better here, discussing hard creds and contract details, but irritation was starting to put her off her game. Well, how am I supposed to negotiate with a man who won’t speak? This is ridiculous!

Regardless, she slid a datapad across the rickety table. Finally, the bounty hunters eyes left her face to contemplate the dimly glowing screen between them. Bowen found herself holding her breath and counting her own heartbeats.

If she had so much as blinked, the Devaronian would have missed the split second it took for one lithe hand to reach out and tuck the datapad away in some unseen pocket. A second blink would have left Bowen wondering at the man’s disappearance.

But Bowen Jef didn’t blink if she could help it.

When she was sure he was gone, she slumped in her chair and released a shuddering breath – the same one she’d been holding the whole time, she was sure. Rolling her neck in a futile attempt to ease the tension coiled there, she took a few more deep breaths before standing up to tap gently on the wall behind her.

The panel that shifted sideways revealed the massive inky shadow behind it. At almost 1.9 metres, Bowen was on the tall side for her people, but the newcomer’s cloaked figure towered over her.

“You owe me, friend. That was not pleasant.” Bowen’s fingers gently massaged the place between her horns where a monster of a headache was looming.

<No. I did not expect that it would be.>

Her companion’s voice rumbled low and vibrated through the places where her fur was still on high alert. She hissed at him through her teeth.

“This had better be worth it. If it goes wrong …” She couldn’t even finish the thought.

<We have no guarantees, Bowen. You, of all people, know that. We only know that this is our very last chance. She must be taken care of.>

The woman sank back onto the derelict chair. “If we’re wrong …”

The gloom seemed to deepen, even as the sun was rising.
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Old 12-31-2007, 10:48 PM   #6
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Nooooo, a cliffhanger! Uilleand, you're a cruel woman:P Atton is so strangely attractive in a disturbing way. I'll be eagerly awaiting the next chapter!



The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers

-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan

[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
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Old 01-01-2008, 09:31 AM   #7
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Very intriguing...I like your descriptive writing and wish I was better at it myself This story seems like there is a very distinct dark undertone to it, and I look forward to seeing how it plays out.


"You'll find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."

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Old 01-05-2008, 01:40 AM   #8
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Two sets of ghostly footsteps echoed like thunder through the ancient temple’s empty corridors, their rhythm erratic and stumbling. One set limped and faltered, while the other cajoled and encouraged.

C’mon Rev, we’re almost there! Please, just a little further…

Fear was a choking presence, shoving dark tentacles into nose and throat, winding around heart and lungs. Breath, blocked and gasping, hitched in soft hiccups.

She couldn’t move! Her limbs dragged through the air as if she were struggling through swamp and sludge. So weak. No strength. No Force. And the blackness that hunted them only grew stronger.

C’mon, Rev. I know it hurts, but you can do this!

Dark eyes sought green in the swirling murk. Strong fingers stroked her hair, and pulled sweat-soaked tendrils from her face.

I didn’t come all this way to lose you now!

Dragged, pushed and shoved with darkness clawing at her from all sides, she progressed step by agonizing step towards the light. Steady hands held her up, propelled her through a hissing portal.

Go!! He’s waiting for you!

She had only time to turn, time to see the hatch slide closed, time to watch dark eyes and a wry grin disappear … and then …

And then …

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A shrill wail snapped Admiral Carth Onasi from the flickering data screen. Two long steps took him to her side. He was never further way than two, good strides. Never.

Why am I always watching her nightmares?

His large hands cradled her face as her eyes flickered open, still unseeing.

“Hey, Beautiful. Come here.”

He lifted her into his arms, despairing yet again at how frail she felt. She didn’t weep, now. She had that first time, though, the first time their eyes had met again after eight years apart. She had clung to him, sobbing quietly in his arms for hours.

To be fair, so had he.

Now, she simply trembled, her fingers clutching at his bare shoulders. He rocked her in silence, as he had done every night since her return. He almost felt guilty for feeling so much joy in being able to comfort her. Almost. But as he buried his face in her deep auburn hair, he was just selfish enough to allow his heart to soar, despite her pain.

Finally, as her breath steadied she turned to him, eyes still filled with horror.

“How could she do it, Carth?”

Her voice startled him in the darkness. In the year since her return, he hadn’t pushed for any details beyond what she had been willing to offer, and she had offered very little.

“Do what, Aniki?”

“Just…just…stand there! Force, I have never felt such pain …” Revan’s throat closed over her words as she struggled with the memory. “It felt … it felt like … being torn apart. She was just on the other side of that door and I couldn’t go back, I couldn’t get through!”

“Aniki …” Carth paused, unsure how to continue. No matter how he put this, it was going to hurt her. “From what I understand from Chodo Habat, Bish was in a lot of pain anyway …”

“Because of me …”

“You can’t keep taking on the consequences of other people’s choices, Beautiful. Bish made her own decisions.”

“Bish was pushed into a corner because of my actions!” Revan extracted herself from Carth’s arms and he shivered as a cold breeze drifted between their bodies. “And there … on Ashas Ree, she was only there because of me…”

“You may as well say she was there because of me, Aniki. I asked her to take a message to you.”

The sound that carried across the room was as much a sob as it was a snort of disbelief.

“She made a difference, though, didn’t she?” The pilot’s voice was soft as he closed the distance between them and wrapped his arms around his wife. “She helped you finish what you had to do.”

“Yes.” Her whisper disappeared into his chest as she turned into his embrace, but her voice strengthened and became cold. “I tore that temple down around their ears. The planet is still laced with darkness, but I don’t think it will be spreading any time soon.”

“That’s what she wanted, Angel. She wanted some way to atone, to ease all that ache inside. She wanted to find some peace.”

“And…and she gave you back to me. I’ll never be sorry for that, Aniki. Never.”

“She told me to run. She told me you were waiting.” The ex-Jedi’s fingers cradled his face as she peered through the gloom. “When … when she was gone, it hurt so bad. I just wanted to curl up and die right there, but I kept hearing her – ‘He’s waiting for you.’ And I couldn’t die without seeing you again.”

“She never told me there was someone waiting for her! She didn’t tell me!”

The memory of what had been left of Atton Rand chilled them both to the bone and they clung to each other for warmth.

Much later, as the solarglobes began to glow, Carth sat before the flickering image of a holo – never once in the last eight years had the pilot been able to sleep the whole night through. The massive, heavily cloaked figure shimmered blue and danced on the tabletop. Carth peered warily over his shoulder at the sleeping figure of the former Sith lord Revan, her cheek pillowed softly on her own auburn hair.

“Did he come?”

<Yes, Admiral. He came. He took the datapad. We believe he means to fill the contract.>

“We’re sure about the intel on this Coltro character?”

<We are not sure of much of anything, Admiral. But we have reason to believe that this is our best chance, indeed, perhaps our only chance.>

“Dammit, I thought we’d have enough of saving the galaxy.”

<This is not about the galaxy, Admiral. It is about saving a single soul.>

Carth nodded and switched off the holo.

“It may be about two souls,” he sighed and gently slid into bed beside his wife.


"... I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room." - Ray Bradbury
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Old 01-05-2008, 10:19 AM   #9
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I can't wait to see how it all comes together! More hints! I love how you described Revan's dream. Good work!



The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers

-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan

[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
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Old 01-11-2008, 09:52 PM   #10
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A place of darkness upon darkness, pain on pain. Slithering fear.

She was not afraid.

Madness.

She was not mad!

Was she?

You are, quite possibly, the craziest bitch it has ever been my misfortune to encounter.

Shut up.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

V’loren’s room was too hot. Sweat dripped from her temples and her belly as she lay, staring at the durasteel ceiling, but she didn’t move to wipe it away. Why waste motion on an exercise in futility?

The weight that pressed down on her chest was … familiar. At least it no longer snapped her from her sleep in unthinking panic. It had manifested a year ago – a thick oppressive presence in her mind that tingled through her neurons. Her first instinct, as always, was to calm her racing heart with brutal efficiency, but she had been trained better than that. Instead, she allowed her own fear to rush through her body, lending itself to energy and hyper-aware senses.

She had seen dark Jedi draw on the Force to aid their perception, but she didn’t feel its absence. Her own senses, fuelled by adrenaline, were more than enough as she pushed her awareness out into the area surround ring her cell-like room.

She heard soft snores from the room to her right – Aret, V’loren’s antithesis in every way. The angular Sith surrounded himself with comfort and luxury. His quarters reflected an obsession with soft velvets in rich, jewelled tones of ruby, emerald and sapphire.

Vice, V’loren sneered.

But, unlike many of her cohorts in the compound, she never made the error of confusing vice with softness. The only thing sharper than Aret’s mind was the cruel streak that ran through his temper. As much as she loathed him, she respected the human’s swift cunning and refused to underestimate him.

Across the narrow corridor was Tremen. V’loren could hear the Twi’lek, lithe and athletic, shuffling across the floor of his empty room in the precise steps of an Echani fighting form. Tremen was, perhaps, the only person in the compound who slept less than V’loren.

She had once heard the dark Jedi whispering about the grey-skinned assassin. They couldn’t read him and they hated that. She allowed herself a cold smile in the darkness. They must despise her.

Sleep was useless now. V’loren slipped from her tiny bed and stepped silently into the hall. She hated sleeping at night. She hated the shadows that folded around her and coaxed her into dreams and memories of things that could never be. She hated the dreams that came with an indefinable sense of loss. Some might accuse her of forgetting what she had been, but they’d be terribly, terribly wrong. She might even take the time to show them why before they died. If she was in a bad mood.

She ran her fingers over the soft stubble that covered her skull. When she had first arrived at the Sith compound, one of the young hopefuls had pulled at her long, black hair during a training match – only moments before she had emptied the contents of his abdomen onto the floor. She had sliced the braid from her head the next morning.

It was the very first step of shedding everything she had been.

She paced aimlessly through the winding corridors of the facility. Her footsteps alerted neither guard nor dark Jedi as she passed. Oh, yes. They must despise her.

She hoped they did.

The urge to sink a knife into someone’s – anyone’s – flesh was overwhelming. That crackling energy drove her forward, rage barely contained within her body, but did not manifest in the smooth glide of her progress, nor the calm swing of her relaxed hands.

Time is not my enemy. The more of it I have, the more I can kill.

It’s easier to kill a person than it is to kill time.

Shut up!

Crazy bitch.


Looking up, she found herself at the library. Of course. A monolith of history was stacked precisely from floor to ceiling and lit only by flickering yellow emitters placed at each bare table. A single trainee, sickly looking in the wan light, sat hunched over a pile of holocrons. V’loren’s face twisted into a scowl as she realized what the young human was studying.

“She’s a waste of your time.”

The Sithling leapt at the sound of her voice that echoed from the rows of shelves. Twisting to his feet, he pulled a vibroblade from a hidden pocket and brandished it at the shadows. As a figure pulled itself from the murk, he sat back in his chair, head cocked in scorn. Hardly an imposing site, the woman who approached him would have barely reached his chin. She was solidly built, but soft and curved. Her thickly lashed brown eyes met his in the dim light and he could feel fear roll off of her.

He grinned sharply, suddenly eager. “What would you know? She was a general to Lord Revan herself. She was responsible for killing more Jedi than anyone else in the last thousand years.”

“She wasn’t worthy to lick my boots then, and she sure isn’t now.”

The Sithling rose to his feet with easy confidence, towering over her. He reached forward with the Force and probed her fear, stirred it. “You seem awfully brave for such a little girl. Maybe you should be more careful.”

“Maybe you should shut the hell up. I don’t have time for a ballsless youngling, so sit back down or be ready to dance.”

Before the words were even out of her mouth, V’loren’s small form had closed the space between the youth and herself. Her own knife, glinting sourly in the yellow light, rested gently at his groin.

Heedless, the man continued to smile. He could sense rage, now, but her terror stroked him. And he had a few tricks of his own. His hand flashed down and his fingers dug into the tender part of her wrist, forcing her to drop her knife.

Before his ears had a chance to register the dull clunk of durasteel on stone, they were ringing with the sound of her boot on the side of his skull. The woman had reversed his grip on her wrist and pulled him toward the floor, using the motion to launch her foot at his head. He spun with the momentum of the first kick and dropped low to the ground, barely avoiding the second. He scrambled to his feet, less gracefully than he would have liked, and noticed her blade was back in her hand.

She was smiling at him now, and he could feel pride mixed in with her fear. She was enjoying his humiliation! Snarling, the young Sith leaped forward again, this time drawing his own knife. She caught his downward swing, forearm to forearm, and hooked his knife with her own, swinging it wide. Instead of retreating, she stepped in closer, driving her head into his sternum.

The Sithling staggered back, gasping, and she followed. Her knife, still trapping his own, dug into the base of his thumb, through muscle and tendon. Her free fist struck three times into his nose, his mouth and his throat. His knife fell to the floor, followed closely by his thumb, and then he himself dropped to his knees. He had barely enough time to understand that the next swipe of her blade would sever something more important than his thumb. Desperately, he reached for the Force to give him an edge, and pushed out towards her with all the violence in his heart.

She didn’t move.

In fact, the young Sith felt as if he was being drawn toward her, sucked downward into her terror, her pain, into a black cesspool. Sickness and filth swirled around his brain, made him retch and sucked the vitality from his soul. Confused and gagging, he huddled at her feet and waited for her killing stroke. It never came.

“You’re a sensitive, huh?” Her voice seemed to come from a very long distance away. “Lucky you. You don’t get to die today.”

The young man sobbed, as air finally came crashing into his lungs.

He watched her booted feet as they approached, soundlessly. She crouched down before him, and rested her ancient, nicked blade under his chin.

“What’s your name, boy?”

“D…Derxa…”

Her brown eyes met his blue, and bored into his skull. “Understand this, Derxa. I am V’Loren and from this moment, you are my creature. Your loyalty is to me alone.”

He tried to nod, but the tip of her knife pricked his skin.

“Say it!” His head rocked sideways from her blow, and blood trickled from the line her blade scored across his throat.

“I am yours.”

Crazy bitch…


"... I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room." - Ray Bradbury
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Old 01-12-2008, 11:03 PM   #11
Bee Hoon
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Whoa, very creepy! V'Loren was portrayed flawlessly... And she is absolutely insane. Wonder what's her connection with the exile...:P



The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers

-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan

[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
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Old 02-04-2008, 09:50 PM   #12
Uilleand
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Grey [FIC]

Was it Dantooine?

He didn’t think so, but his mind couldn’t place the way the light slanted over them from a warm, yellow sun. There was grass. He could smell it, a rich, earthy scent that comforted in ways he couldn’t even begin to think about.

His eyes were closed against the afternoon light, but he could sense her hovering over him – serious, yet full of mischief. It startled him, this sense of fun that he’d never guessed lurked within her.

“Can I help you?” He opened one eye and squinted up at her, adopting an air of mild annoyance.

“Are you just going to sleep here all day?”

“I just might, you know. Can’t think of any good reason to move just now …”

“No? Not one good reason?”

How she managed to arch that single brow so high was a trick he’d never learned.

“Why? You got somewhere pressing to be at the moment?”

Her smile was brilliant.

“No. There’s absolutely nowhere else I have to be at the moment.”

He reached for her and wondered at the little jolt of surprise when his hands touched her sun-warmed flesh. She didn’t resist as he pulled her down to him, and his chest locked tight around his heart as her mouth met his.

Her black hair tumbled down around his face and he closed his eyes, his breath locked tight in his chest as his heart thundered. He explored the soft pressure of her mouth. She tasted like exotic citrus yellow – bright and tart and sweet. Eyes closed, his hands followed her body’s solid curves, memorizing everything – how her hip moulded into his belly, just so. How her leg slid between his, perfectly. How the low growl in her throat rumbled against his chest. How she panted for breath between kisses.

He moved to push midnight tendrils away from her face, but his long fingers tangled in it, clutched at it. Soft, black strands wrapped around his hands and wrists, grabbing, burrowing under his skin. He writhed beneath her, suddenly desperate to see her face, lost in the shadow of her hair. But, as he plunged deeper, he only found more darkness.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

His body shook as he opened his eyes to the leaden morning. His hands clutched at the edges of the bed beneath him. A few gulping breaths and he began to steady his heart and ease the pain that lanced through his chest. Morning was the worst time, with fluttering edges of memory pulling on his mind. He counted the cracks on the stained ceiling until the last flashes of sunlight dimmed and went out.

He sat on the edge of the bed, fully dressed, and splashed tepid water from his canister over his head.

He had a job.

That’s why he was here. That’s why he was awake. That’s why he was alive.

He knew next to nothing about his mark. Only a name. Names can change. A gender. Rumour about appearance, tattoos. And a planet on the very edge of known space.

Ulicia.

He had touched down yesterday. His mind registered everything of importance. Run-down mining community. Low socio-economic demography. They might be easy to bribe. Mixed population. Some Twi’lek, some Rodian, some Duros. They were immaterial. He was hunting a human. He was hunting a Sith.

They would be here. They fed on the disaffected. Which means the cantina. Of course.

Atton waited in a dark corner of the smelly little dive. In a community like this, the lowest of the low would always end up here, to drink and gamble and fight – or to kick others while they were down.

Either way, they were his best chance.

The dimly lit cantina was awash in dust and grime that settled on his skin like mist.

He was sure the place had to reek of Dark presence, but he didn’t reach for it. The Force held only pain for him. It threatened his very control, threatened to overwhelm him in memory. Sometimes he could feel it banging on the grey shields … very far away. But those incidents were becoming more infrequent. Even here, so close to a Sith base that was rumoured to be as vile a crucible as had ever been created, it barely rippled across the surface of his awareness.

As it should be.

As it must be.

Atton took stock of the small space. A rounded counter in the middle housed a bartender and an ever-changing mass of serving girls – human and Twi’lek. A ramp extended out into the bar’s patrons and dancers moved cautiously across the rickety stage, in perpetual danger of tripping over a loose plank or plunging through the corroded material altogether.

Nearby, one almost skeletal human dancer was busily prying a man’s blunt-fingered hand from her thigh while he propositioned her in a voice that sounded like rocks rolling over each other.

“Aw c’mon, babe. Dun be like that.”

When the woman kept moving past him, the miner’s hand snaked out, catching her ankle and sending her crashing onto the stage with a shriek.

“Bitch! Think yer worth sumthin’, do ya?”

The scuffle faded in Atton’s consciousness as the cantina door swung open. Even without the Force, he would have known the instant Tremen stepped into the room. As he watched the grey Twi’lek cross to the bar, Atton weighed the pros and cons of approaching his old … friend.

On one hand, if anyone was going to know about the upper echelons of the Sith academy, it would be Tremen. On the other hand, the Twi’lek would probably be very interested in killing him.

Well then, a win-win situation.

With that in mind, Atton pulled a vibroblade from his boot and hurled it at the back of Tremen’s head in one smooth motion. The Sith spun, plucking the blade out of the air, launched himself backwards and slid across a nearby table, upending drinks and patrons alike.

Atton was struck by the sudden silence that fell over the cantina. Nobody screamed. Nobody bemoaned the loss of their beverage. They simply fell to the floor, found what shelter they could and held their breath. Three serving girls and the bartender were huddled behind the bar. One more waitress was slowly inching towards the door. Most of the dancers had taken shelter behind the stage, except for the one who had been accosted by the man next to him. Tears poured down her face – and not because of the ankle that was twisted at an unnatural angle.

Tremen was shielded by the table he had recently turned over. Almost casually, Atton rolled to his side and to his feet, reaching out with his right arm.

Stunned by the blur of motion around him and throat nestled in the crook of Atton’s arm, the gravelly voiced patron sputtered and choked as the assassin’s elbow held him tighter than an iron collar. “P…please…no!” the man rasped through a windpipe that was slowly constricting.

In the end, however, breathing didn’t really matter. As his body spun, propelled by the assassin’s momentum, a dozen razor-sharp – and poisoned – darts ripped through the man’s chest. He was dead before Atton released him.

In the heartbeats that it took for his shield to slump to the ground, Atton dove sideways behind a stray table as a dozen more darts clattered against the wall where he had just been. He rolled over on his shoulder and used on arm to launch himself in a graceful arc and back onto his feet. His other hand produced a small, fragile vial, seemingly out of nowhere. Another dive, and the glass container sailed towards Tremen only to be snatched by a gloved hand.

That glove saved the Twi’lek’s life, as the glass shattered releasing a contact toxin known for its ability to stop a charging rancor – dead – in its tracks.

Even so, Tremen had to waste precious seconds peeling the glove off before the poison managed to saturate the thick leather. Precious seconds that his foe used to disappear.

Tremen’s body stilled as he reached out with all of his senses, desperate for some sign of where the next attack would come from. His agile mind tried to take stock of his opponent – fast, merciless, treacherous, possible Force sensitive. He pushed out with his rage and hatred, and his fear, aiming his thoughts toward the door.

Then, as he took his first step towards that escape, a dark blur of motion emerged from behind the dancers’ stage, cutting off his route. Tremen couldn’t help but smile a little as he spun neatly on his left foot and rolled his right shoulder in to absorb the blow. One deft turn of his wrist and the shadowy form was drawn into the Sith assassin’s rotation and thrown hard against the stage. Tremen’s knee lifted the man again, driving up into his solar plexus, as his elbow drove down onto the back of an unprotected neck.

With his opponent limp and gasping, Tremen lifted the man up by his jaw and pinned the ragged form, forcing it backwards over the stage. The Twi’lek stared at the human face, skin as grey as his own and blood flowing freely from nose and mouth.

Jaq?”

The man’s thin lips twisted into a bloody smile. “Hey, Tremen. Long time no see.”

Tremen’s blow rocked Atton’s head to the left, but the human caught the next one, managing to partially block the lethal force. The Sith merely allowed the swing to go wide and followed through by planting his forearm on Atton’s throat.

“You’re getting soft in your old age, Jaq.”

Tremen’s grin was easy, familiar. Atton’s smile felt alien as it crawled across his face, but he nurtured it and convinced it to stay as he spread his hands wide.

“What can I say? I thought for sure the poison had ya. You’ve gotten quicker … maybe smarter, huh?”

“You look like ****.”

“The universe isn’t a kind place, Trem. A man’s gotta work for his creds out here.”

Tremen’s forearm tightened across his throat. “Creds? Someone put a price on me?”

Atton choked as the pressure on his trachea increased. He tried for a casual shrug, but it was hampered somewhat by the hard corner of the stage digging between his shoulder blades.

“You? Hey, no. You’re just … um … part of a package. The real target’s just a little harder to get to at the moment.”

Atton heard his own voice from a long way off, heard his jibes and arguments, insinuations. It all flowed so freely, without effort. A reflex. An echo of a dead man.

“Fact is, Trem, I don’t know much about the real target … but I figured if I could show some results, I could keep the client off my back, y’know?”

Tremen’s skin, a pale shade of charcoal next to his captive’s pallid jaw, flushed. “Your bad luck to cross my path first, then, isn’t it?” Atton’s own vibroblade appeared in the Twi’lek’s hand. The blade hummed quietly, placed as it was under his ear. A few layers of skin parted effortlessly and blood began to pool on the stage beneath his head.

“C’mon, there’s no reason for this. Work is work, right?”

Another slice and he could feel the warmth caking and sticking to the day’s growth of stubble on his scalp.

“Knowledge is power, Trem, and you never could resist power, right? Now, we both know I’m not giving anything up with a knife to my throat. I talk, I die – bad bet on my part… and I might be getting soft, but we both know that pain isn’t going to work.”

Tremen’s grin grew a little wider.

“Hey, there’s nothing to say that you even need to prevent me from getting to my target. I might be doing you a favour. You’re no-one’s guardian angel…”

The pressure on his throat eased by the barest of increments. The knife disappeared.

“Talk, then,” Tremen said as he pushed himself off the battered man beneath him, pleased at the way his eyes closed briefly with relief.

“I don’t know a lot, really. I was offered an obscene amount of credits to kill someone they didn’t even really have a lot of information on. Doesn’t make much sense, but I’m not often in a position to look too closely at the intricacies of where the next meal is coming from, you know?” His eyes wandered over the Twi’lek’s muscled, well-kept body. “Well, umm, maybe you don’t know, now. But you remember what it was like, don’t you?”

“I remember because it keeps me strong, Jaq.”

“Eh, you always were one to hold a grudge, Trem.” He aimed a friendly punch at the other’s shoulder, but his wrist was trapped in an iron grip. “Yeah, well, so, this mark…the only info I have is that it’s a woman, with some funky tattoos. Dark hair, dark eyes, but those things can change.”

“A name, Jaq?”

“Oh, yeah, a name … V’loren something or other … I’ve got it on a datapad here somewhere…”

V’loren? You think you can take her? Jaq, she’s one of us.”

Atton’s head came up like a hound’s. “What? Not possible. The only women in our squad were Jrelia and Odona and they both died before Revan fell into the Jedi’s hands.”

Tremen’s lip curled. “She says she was trained on Korriban, with a separate unit, while we were on Malachor. They were trained in case any of us decided to step out of line.” He grabbed Atton’s thin shirt by the collar. “Now, I wonder why they’d be worried about that?”

“Hey, I … wait…you mean she’s here? On Ulicia?”

Tremen spat. “She bunks across the hall from me.”

Atton’s mouth curved into a slow smile. “You don’t like her much, do you? Look, just forget you ever saw me, and I’ll return the favour by removing a thorn in your side…”

In a heartbeat he was pressed back against the decrepit stage.

“I deal with my own debts, Jaq. All of them.” The knife was back in Tremen’s hand. “Despite what you may have heard, the Sith are still strong … and we haven’t softened our policy on traitors and deserters.” The blade was descending faster than the eye could follow.

“Never figured you for this stupid, Jaq.”

But he wasn’t there.

Had he still possessed the ability to move, Tremen would have cursed himself. Only a Force-sensitive could have fallen for his trap earlier, could have felt the blast of emotions thrown out for the feint. As it was, the Twi’lek could only stare as the affable, cajoling Jaq melted away, leaving a grey, gaunt face, without any trace of the man he’d grown up with.

“You can warn her, or not, Tremen. Makes no difference to me. She’s going to die. If you stand in my way, you die too. It’s what I do.”


"... I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room." - Ray Bradbury
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Old 02-05-2008, 04:20 AM   #13
Bee Hoon
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Very nice! I love the way you described the fight between them... It flows very well and is completely believable Keep writing!



The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers

-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan

[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
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Old 05-02-2008, 10:38 PM   #14
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A fading shadow flitted through the hallways of the citadel station, hovering over the wounded planet, Telos. A multitude of souls filled the air around it, but all found a reason to look elsewhere, to see nothing, as it passed.

There were some perks to being the former Dark Lord of the Sith.

Aniki’s sharp grin didn’t hold any mirth. This was all too familiar. Why do we all stay in the ruts we’ve dug for ourselves?

She had not wept the last time. She was too sure. To stay meant the destruction of everything. She had been doing the right thing.

She didn’t weep now, either. Tears could not push past the dead weight lodged in her chest. She knew, beyond any question, that there would be no forgiveness this time. A man could only be pushed so far. A heart could only be broken into so many pieces. And she had already been offered more forgiveness that she had ever deserved.

This path – this rut – laid down before her and tamped down by her own footsteps, this was her last farewell to Telos. To Carth.

And, it seemed, there was room for a tear after all.

She was sweating by the time she finally sat down in the pilot’s chair. She had spent the last year recovering from devastating injuries – of mind and body. Things that had once been simple now pushed her to the point of exhaustion. She gritted her teeth and willed herself to focus as she escaped the pull of Citadel Station's gravity

The Hawk shuddered when the hyperdrive kicked in. The old girl’s not so new anymore. She’s been through some hard rides.

Aniki absently patted the ship’s main console as the blue swirl of hyperspace danced through the viewport. I know how she feels.

She grimaced down at her own slender frame, devoid of the lean, solid muscle that had made her such an imposing figure … then. She knew the planes and angles of her face were sharper than they had ever been when she had carried the name Revan, hollows carved in the flesh of her cheeks from fear, pain and sorrow.

Carth would be awake by now, but perhaps still unaware of how far she had gone. There had been no note this time. There were no pleas, no promises to extract. How many times can I walk away from one life?

Aniki glanced around the tiny cockpit. As many years as she’d spent in this ship by herself, this space never felt right without him.

She leaned back in the hard captain’s chair.

He belonged here.

She closed her eyes and remembered the one – and only – time she’d thought to try and pilot the Hawk with Carth onboard. They’d been fleeing a distinctly hostile Korriban. Ordo had been forced to lay their pilot out with an exceptional right hook when said pilot seemed determined to stay on the planet to search for his son.

If the mercenary had enjoyed the encounter a little too much, no one commented on it.

With the help of T3, Aniki had managed to get the little ship in the air, but when the Sith flyers had appeared on the radar, she’d started making peace with their imminent demise.

Liar. The thought of dying there had you so furious you couldn’t see straight.

Bruised jaw notwithstanding, Carth had all but thrown her bodily from the chair. “Make yourself useful and man the guns!”

He’d yelled at her later, for the attempt. She’d yelled right back … for a lot of reasons. But mostly just ‘cause it felt so damned good.

Aniki rolled her neck as she watched the stars flash by, the blue-green light flashing on the fiery tips of her cropped hair. Before, when she’d been gone, she’d often pondered cutting off the heavy auburn braid, but would remember what his fingers felt like wrapped around her hair, and left it alone.

This time … this time, she had left the braid coiled neatly on her pillow.

She bit her lip and ran her fingers through the short, dishevelled strands she was left with, pulling hard enough to bring tears to her eyes.

“Looking for this?”

Aniki whirled in the captain’s chair, her throat clamped down on fear. There, dressed in the familiar, hated beloved! orange jacket, stood the Republic’s top soldier. Dangling from his right hand, which was clenched so tightly it shook, was a long rope of mahogany hair.

Yeah. He looks pissed.

“Carth! What are you doing here?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Did I ruin your dramatic exit?” His voice was low and dangerous, his brown eyes were hard, locked onto her pale face.

Well, how d’ya like that?

“Turn the Hawk around.”

“Who the ever-lovin’ hell do you think you are? This is my ship …”

“I’ll tell you who I am. I’m Admiral fracking Onasi, and it’ll will take me less than a heartbeat to have half of the Republic fleet on your ass to escort this ship back to Telos.”

“How did you…”

“Do you think I’m an idiot? Do you think I don’t remember?” His body was rigid, spine straight in his soldier’s stance and his jaw locked. But his eyes. His eyes. The pain in them cut her to the bone.

“Stop this ship, Aniki.” Barely a whisper.

“No,” she growled.

A muscle in his cheek twitched. “T3!”

The little droid hummed into the cockpit. “Unlock the console and stop the Hawk … somewhere safe, please.”

“Override that, T3,” Aniki snapped, and then gasped as it ignored her order. “T3! Dammit, you little bucket of bolts! Stop that!”

But it was too late, and the Hawk’s engines powered down, the vibrant light of hyperspace swirling into the black nothing of space. Her jaw hung open as the traitorous droid whirred back out into the ship’s corridors.

“What? … how??”

“I may not be good with droids, but these days I can hire the best.”

“Mission!” she muttered, comprehending. She turned her mutinous green eyes back to Carth. “So, what are we going to do now?”

“I told you. We’re going to head back to Telos, where you’re going to go home and rest. And whatever it is that’s got you so worked up, we’ll send someone to deal with it … Dustil maybe, or that nice Mical fellow…”

“I beg your pardon?” Her voice dropped icicles on the Hawk’s durasteel floor.

“Oh, we’ll figure something out.” Carth waved a negligent hand, seemingly oblivious of the gathering storm before him. “But it’s out of your hands now, really. Just tell me what you wanted done, and we’ll have it taken care of…”

Much of the galaxy’s population had the idea that the Dark Lord Revan had been somewhat short. It wasn’t true. It was just that, in the holos, she was always standing next to Malak, who was built a bit like a rancor. While that distortion had been helpful to Aniki as she tried to rebuild her life in the last year – no-one connected her tall frame with that diminutive-looking image – she used her full height now to stare her husband in the eye.

“Look, you filth-ridden Hutt’s ass…” One hand clenched and unclenched at her side, while the other poked Carth directly in the centre of his chest. “You may be ‘Admiral fracking Onasi’ but I don’t know who you think you’re dealing with. This is still my ship! If you think for one second that you can even set foot on her without my leave, let alone take the helm, you’ve got another think coming.”

His face was remote as he arched a brow at her. “Really? What exactly are you going to do about it?”

“[Statement:] If droids dreamed, Master, this day could quite possibly be the culmination of all my hopes and desires.”

Carth stiffened as the cold prod of a disrupter rifle materialized between his shoulder blades. He turned his gaze to Aniki, frigid and proud, as she opened her hand to display the tiny comm. unit hidden there. “My ship, Onasi. My life.”

“Your life, huh? Yours to throw away? It’s been a year and you’re still barely able to get through a whole day without collapsing from exhaustion!”

Just because it was the truth didn’t mean she was eager to accept it. She drew her shoulders up as she erased any trace of weariness from her stance. “HK, is the cargo hold clear enough to use as a brig?”

“[Smug statement:] Of course, Master. I…”

Whatever the droid had been about to say was lost in a flash of white-blue sparks. Aniki was fast enough to cover her eyes, but by the time she opened them again, her husband had gone. She reached out with the Force, but it was too late. His body was pressed to her back, one hard arm wrapped around her throat, the other relieving her of her ‘sabre.

She pulled at the energy around them to trap him in stasis, but it fizzled and died at her fingertips as a cold sweat beaded on the back of her neck. One glance at HK-47 made it obvious that it was going to take at least a day of work to repair the damage done by the ion grenade. “Son of a bitch!”

“This how you were going to face the big bad evil out there, Aniki? You can’t even take on one Republic soldier.”

Caught between despair and fury, she kicked back at him, but he dodged it easily. When she realized that his arms were holding her up more than they were holding her back, she slumped in defeat.

“You ready to go home now, Beautiful?”

“No! I’m sorry, Carth, but no. I didn’t leave on a whim. I didn’t leave out of some mad desire to end my own existence. These … dreams of Bish, they’re something more. I don’t know what, but I have to find out. This isn’t duty, it’s … friendship.”

She turned in his arms, leaning on him more than she wanted to admit to herself. “I need to know what happened to her, Carth. Even if it’s only to lay a flower for her.”

Pushing herself away from his steadying hands, she pulled herself up to her full height. “I’m going to do this. I have to.”

“Why didn’t you say all this back on Telos, Aniki?”

“Because you would have stopped me. Because you could have stopped me.” Her green eyes met his, frank and unafraid. “Because you’re right, but I have to do it anyway. Carth, I can’t live the rest of my life hiding away, afraid of shadows. It … it’s been wonderful being sheltered and protected, but I can’t exist like that!”

There she is…”

She stared, confused, as his mouth lift in a slow, joyous grin. Then, when he wrapped his arms around her, she wondered if, perhaps, he’d lost his mind.

“I…what? What are you talking about?”

He released his hold on her only long enough to press his lips to her forehead and smile into her eyes again. “Ah, Aniki. My wife. I’ve missed you.”

Now she knew he’d lost his mind. “What the hell are you talking about, Onasi?”

He sat carelessly in the pilot’s chair, like it was home, dragged her down onto his lap and murmured into the back of her neck. “We’ve all been watching you spiral downward for the last year, Aniki, afraid to lose you. Afraid you’d walk away or, even if you walked beside us, you’d be lost anyway.”

He took a deep, shaking breath and she was astounded to realize that the fear in his voice was very real.

“I fell in love with you,” he continued, “knowing that you were Revan, Aniki. Knowing everything, remember? I fell in love with you knowing that you were strong enough to … to do anything. But it’s like I’ve been watching you die slowly since you’ve come home, and I didn’t know how to save you.”

His hands skimmed her body gently, as if he was afraid to break her. She shook her head wordlessly, barely comprehending what he was saying.

“It became clear that you were going to leave again and … and I needed to know why. To leave us behind so you could die alone?”

“Carth … I …”

“Eight years, Aniki. Eight fracking years. There’s one thing that became very clear to me in that time and it’s that I was a fool to let you go alone. The Republic has countless soldiers. It only has one of you. I only have one of you.”

She turned in his lap to look him in the eye, her lips twitching upwards. She smoothed his hair back from his forehead. “You been workin’ on that speech, flyboy?”

He let out a sharp bark of laughter and pulled her to him again. “You know it, Beautiful.”

She leaned her head on his shoulder and was content for a moment to listen to his heart beat as they drifted silently through space. Then she lifted her head to stare at him.

“An ion grenade. You planned this whole thing! You knew!”

“I didn’t know. I guessed. I prepared. I’m good at that y’know,” he intoned seriously. “Some people have even called me paranoid.”

She snorted and swatted him in the chest. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Because if I had, my highly intelligent and brilliant tactician of a wife would have been a hundred times sneakier when she left.”

“Damn right…Brilliant, huh?”

“Yeah, she’s a real handful…”

“Intelligent?”

“Very…”

“Pretty?”

“Beautiful …”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The trip was short, all things considered

It had felt like an eternity limping home, only a year ago. Ashas Ree was uninhabited now, and Aniki knew – could not forget – the black menace that waited for them there. It was what pulled her forward, the knowledge that she had left Bish there without so much as a memorial, a single word spoken in prayer.

During her waking hours, she pushed her body, prodding muscles to recall the ancient lightsabre forms. She sweated and demanded perfection from her own trembling muscles. Carth watched her closely, but didn’t interfere – even if he frowned at the way she limped after a hard workout, or the stiff manner in which she rolled out of bed every morning.

When she slept, she dreamed. The murky swirl of hatred bound her friend, blocked her from peace. When she woke, thrashing, she was selfish enough to rejoice in the arms that wrapped around her in the dark.

Soon, though, the leanness of her frame was due to corded muscle instead of frailty. And when the Hawk landed on the surface of Ashas Ree, Carth’s dark eyes shone as he watched his wife stride down the gangplank with all of the power and authority renewed in each step. He smothered his grin lest she sense his approval … he’d never hear the end of it.

She paused before stepping down onto the grass moss that was already beginning to reclaim the broken stone blocks and durasteel frame of the Sith temple. A warm breeze ruffled through her hair, making the cropped ends dance like fire. Carth took two paces – never more than two – and so was at her side when she foot hit the planet’s surface and she staggered.

“What is it, Aniki?” His voice was pitched low, and his hands cradled her elbows, supporting.

She shook him off and took two, three more steps before falling to her knees with a strange moan. Her fingers ruffled through the long grass as if searching for something lost in the dancing green blades. “This … it doesn’t…”

“Aniki!” Carth’s voice sharpened with worry, but remained softer than the cacophony of chirping and squawking life around them. “What’s the matter, do we need to get out of here, Beautiful?”

When she didn’t respond, but only placed her palms against the dark, rich soil, he called to her again. Louder now. “Aniki!”

Finally, hearing the panic – the love – that wrapped around her name, she turned her head up to stare at him with wide, unfocused eyes. “It … it’s gone, Carth. It’s all gone.”

“What’s gone, Aniki?” He paused, running both hands through his unruly hair, choosing his words carefully. “You… you didn’t think that Bish would …”

“No.” Her harsh whisper cut through his words. “No. She was…destroyed. I felt her being torn apart, Carth. It … it hurt …”

She saw the concern that flashed across his face, saw that he was holding back, waiting for her to … to be ready. Loving him so much, she forced herself to continue.

“I … I don’t know how long I stayed here, afterwards, but the air seemed to pull at my skin. It was filthy, Carth. The taint on this planet was so thick, I could feel it calling to me for days after I left.”

She turned and sat on the moist ground. Grass stalks, a shade lighter than her eyes and heavy with seed, brushed against her cheek as they swayed in the gentle wind.

“Ashas Ree is clean. It’s completely clean.”

Last edited by Uilleand; 05-02-2008 at 10:52 PM.
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Old 05-02-2008, 11:37 PM   #15
Bee Hoon
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Okay, I have finally decided to write a comment that contains more than "zomg amazing!!" Though I'm sure that sentiment will appear in there somewhere:P

I really love your style of writing, your unusual descriptions are very evocative, and you give Atton and Revan/Aniki a beautiful sense of tragedy. The fact that every chapter deals with different characters is somewhat frustrating, given the cliffhangers, but I suspect that it will be worth it when all the threads come together.

Carth is obviously a believer in 'tough love' It's a bit strange, how it took Revan a year to recover to the point where she wanted to leave, and then build up her strength with relative speed once on the way to Ashas Ree. The parallels between Atton, V'Loren and Aniki cutting their hair was interesting as well; how they all used it to shed parts of themselves.

Anyway, the story's progress thus far has been wonderful, so keep up the great work!



The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers

-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan

[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
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Old 05-03-2008, 02:05 AM   #16
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I'm too lazy to read all of it right now but it seems interesting enough' I'm intrigued, so I'll catch up on the rest later good job so far.


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Old 06-05-2008, 01:41 AM   #17
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There was nothing to be afraid of.

And it was terrifying.

But she’d faced nothing before; had stood on the precipice of a yawning void of absence and leaped in.

Her nightmares were always about nothing. But something skittered in the empty, bumped and scuffled with an uneven step, injured but not weak. It slithered between her ears, waiting … waiting…


V’loren rested her bare foot on the shoulder of the young man kneeling in front of her. What was his name? She could reach for it … or ask … but it didn’t matter. He was hers. As were all the young Sithlings scattered around the cavernous hall, reading, sparring, fighting, fawning.

Ah, such a pretty picture. How bucolic. How domestic!

All mine.


She could have hidden these daily gatherings from her ‘superiors.’ Sooner or later, someone was bound to get nervous. Sooner or later someone was going to take steps to remove her.

Oh, sooner! Please, let it be sooner…

Crazy bitch!


Ah, what will you do, huh? Will you fight to stay alive, I wonder? Will you rip and shred and tear to keep this heart beating?

She kept her body slack, relaxed. Her teeth, however, ground against each other until she could taste a fine powder in her mouth. She resisted the urge to spit and peeled her lips back into a fierce grin.

Shut up!

She threw her head back and laughed. The trainees closest to her shivered and others paused in their sabre forms.

She didn’t think the empty sound phased Tremen, who had been stalking past the room’s arched doorway, but he halted and turned to face her. The Twi’lek was in a foul mood. The black rage swirling around him was no assassin’s trick. It burned and belched, sputtering from his skin. The Sithlings had felt his approach almost 20 minutes before he crossed the compound’s threshold.

That could be cause for some concern.

She kept her toothy grin plastered to her face as he glared at her, knowing she was only making him that much more furious.

Counting on it.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Crazy bitch!

Tremen glared at the small human. Indigo tattoos were visible even beneath the dark stubble of her head, slicing and twisting down the curve of her neck and disappearing under the shoulders of her training robe. She sat, indolent and self-satisfied, surrounded by all of the Force sensitives recruits who had come to the compound in recent months.

One of these days I’m going to rip you apart.

If Jaq didn’t do it first.

His mind skittered away from the fresh memory of dead grey eyes. Instead he glanced down at the sopping wet cloth wrapped around his right hand. It did little to soothe his pride, or the broken and blistered skin – a mild side effect, all things considered – from the poison thrown at him by the deserter. Traitor!

Jaq had been the best of them, even then. But he had been driven by a crackling white rage, a sense of single-minded purpose that bordered on fervour.

Tremen – indeed, the entire unit – had been taken to task after Jaq’s disappearing trick. Many had died.

The pain had only served to cement Tremen’s hatred of his former friend.
But even then, for all Jaq’s skill and passion, Tremen had never been frightened of him.

Those grey eyes had turned his knees to water today. As much as he’d like to descend into posturing, the Twi’lek’s greatest strength was his tactician’s mind. He knew he’d need reinforcements if he ever met up with Jaq again.
The very thought of it pissed him off. He allowed the anger to roll off his body in waves.

V’loren’s smile widened as she watched his face, her full lips parting into a sneer.

With a succinct curse, Tremen threw the sodden cloth at her. If he was lucky there might even be enough of the toxin left on it to give her a good rash – maybe blind her if his aim was true.

But the balled-up wad halted just centimetres from her nose and hovered there. The unified glare of more than a dozen young, Force-sensitive Sith hopefuls crawled over Tremen’s skin. And that stupid woman wouldn’t stop smiling at him.

He bit down on a sigh of relief as her eyes turned from him to contemplate the poisoned scrap before her.

“Playing with koutoxin, Tremen? Not terribly clever of you.”

With that, she reached out and wrapped her small hand around the rag, squeezing until dirty water and poison trickled through her fingers. Even as diluted as it was, the miniscule amount of the toxin left pulled bright blisters from her skin.

Tremen watched, riveted, as each and every Sithling tensed silently. V’loren ignored them – and him – and watched her fingers redden and split with a still fascination. One of the recruits – a new one, Tremen thought – broke into a sweat.

The silence filled the Twi’lek and the air seemed to wobble and tilt around V’loren.

Dark-lashed, brown eyes fluttered closed and she held out her damaged hand. The nearest Sithling, the new one, dropped to his knees beside her, clasping her fingers between his. The young man whose shoulder was supporting her foot openly scowled at the newcomer.

“Go ahead, Derxa.”

Tremen barely heard her sigh, although he did hear the young human male’s grateful whimper as he closed his eyes and poured his attention over her wounds. As the skin paled and mended, minute amounts of tension leached from the air, leaving him feeling oddly weak.

“Thank you, Derxa.” V’loren flexed her fingers, watching sinew glide across bone as she made a fist.


Snake-fast, her arm whipped out sideways, catching her healer in the throat. As the man dropped to the floor, choking, his rival at her feet couldn’t suppress a chuckle.

“Oh, shut up!” V’loren snapped crossly, slamming her bare heel into the base of his skull. The second Sithling slithered bonelessly to the floor.

A single muscle twitched under her eye and the world slammed back into place. V’loren dropped the now-dry cloth to the floor and sighed, the sound almost … disappointed?

Tremen scowled at the bright smile she aimed at him, as the room shifted to life. Lightsabres snapped on and the familiar, measured shuffle of feet engaged in ritual forms resumed.

He pushed his mouth into a smile, thinking of the contract that had been placed on this arrogant schutta. Maybe he should step back and let his two problems sort each other out. Of course, that wasn’t to say he couldn’t push them both in the right direction.

“There’s a price on your head V’loren. I’ll enjoy watching you die.”

If he had expected a reaction, he was doomed to frustration. Her idiot grin only solidified.

Crazy bitch!

This time, the laugh that poured from her throat did make Tremen pause. The sound, light and pure, rose up around the hall’s stone pillars and pierced the miasma of the air.

“Oh, Tremen, is that where the kou came from? It was meant for me?”

Tremen had never understood his kin who dallied with human females.
Without lekku, their expression was obvious and awkward, without grace. But he’d never seen a smile like the one V’loren aimed at him now. Genuine, warm and inviting, the crooked grin promised acceptance, safety and joy. Heedless, he took a step towards her …

And it was gone.

She rose from her seat, stepping lightly across the unconscious form of the Sith, pausing only to kick at it once.

“Well, you’re still alive,” she laughed, disdain clear in her tone. “Can’t have been that dangerous, then, could it? Or did you bargain for your life? Promise to hand me over?”

She snatched a lightsabre from one of the practising Sithlings. It shuddered and dimmed in her hand, but remained lit. Tremen could hear it hum as she walked toward him. Disgust nearly overwhelmed him as she approached.
Her wide, overhand sweep was clumsy, easily – if carefully – deflected. He danced sideways and in, pushing her arm across her body, the deadly blade of light away from him. She switched her grip to her left hand and brought the sabre up in a low arc, again simple to dodge.

Tremen backed up three paces, just enough to draw his own vibroblade – for all the good it would do against the lightsabre. But all he had to do was wait. Without a Jedi’s energy to keep the beam focused, it would dissipate soon enough, leaving her unarmed. He could already see the beam cracking and distorting.

If only she would just stop smiling!

Gritting his teeth, Tremen forced himself to focus on her sword arm. The sabre was back in her right hand, and he watched the pivot of her shoulder and elbow to predict the blade’s path and easily moved from her reach. She was awkward with the unfamiliar weapon, but attacked with strength and aggression.

It didn’t matter in the end, though. As he arched back, allowing one final sweep of the humming beam to slice the air above his face, the blade sputtered and died. With a shout, he dove in with his own weapon before she could realize that hers had failed her. His swing came in from a hard angle, faster than the eye could see, aimed to kill.

But she wasn’t there. She had ducked low, rolling sideways and past him, and rose again shoulder to shoulder with him. The discarded lightsabre hilt rolled noisily across the marble floor. When he felt the cold edge of a knife under his chin, he realized what had happened and seethed.

“A name, Tremen. What sorry excuse for a bounty hunter left you alive and thinks to take me on?”

And there, at least, would be his consolation. He thought, for the first time in a very long time, about the young man who had been his friend. Before the Mandalorians. Before Revan.

The blade pressed a little harder.

Say it!”

“His name’s Jaq. He will kill you.”

“Never heard of him.”

But the words were lost to him in an explosion of pain as her knife left his throat and slashed downward, neatly severing his lekku where it rested on his shoulder.

None of the young recruits had paused in their training as V’loren attacked one of their own. And not one of them so much as glanced in the direction of the agonized howls, as Tremen smeared his own blood across the cold, white floor with his writhing.

All mine.

Her bare feet trailed crimson as she walked back to her seat, giggling softly.


"... I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room." - Ray Bradbury
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Old 06-06-2008, 04:36 AM   #18
Bee Hoon
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Oooh, ouch! That was really intense! Poor Tremen... hoodwinked twice in a single day?:/ To be fair, his opponents in both cases were formidable, to say the least. I love the way that you write V'Loren; she's completely, utterly insane. As usual, all the descriptions are marvelous, especially how the trainees react to her. I didn't realise that she wasn't a Force-user:P Looks like I'll have to re-read the entire fic when I have time.

Excellent work!



The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers

-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan

[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
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Old 06-15-2008, 04:35 AM   #19
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Breathing in the red dust of the tiny settlement’s streets, Atton wondered if his old friend would warn his mark. Doubted it. Didn’t matter anyway. They would both die.

She’s one of us.

He pondered that thought from a distance. If V’loren Coltro was one of Revan’s elite assassins, she’d be … difficult. If she and Tremen joined forces they might actually be dangerous.

His pulse accelerated with anticipation.

She would know poisons. She would most certainly know pain. Her mind would be a tangled mess of emotion, distraction and lies.

Had he been capable of it, Atton might have actually enjoyed the prospect.

As it was, he merely flipped one of the local coins to the ragged child who was selling skewers of unidentifiable meat. Too distracted to wait for his change, he chewed the stringy mess as he walked, grease dripping unheeded onto his chest.

He paid no attention to the child’s gasp of joy, but only allowed the exhausted masses to swirl past him, jostling him, directing his footsteps as he sorted through his plans.

The urge to simply charge in and take down as many of the vipers as he could before being cut down was nearly overwhelming. But he had a job to do. He had a purpose. At least until it was over.

None of it would mean anything unless the heart was cut out of the place, unless they were made to bleed until the sands of Ulicia were wet, packed hard and red.

He wanted to kill tonight, though.

His skin was beginning to itch with memory. It was unacceptable.

Atton lifted his eyes at last to survey where the ebb and flow of the crowd had taken him. He registered the hopeless, dull stares of women and children who stood listlessly in the shadows of makeshift shelters, the soft melody of weeping that wove its way through the air. A man’s drunken growl, followed by the skin-on-skin crack of violence, raised a single sharp cry that echoed between rows of tumbledown shanties. He turned toward it.

It would be easy to forget, tonight. For a while.

He settled into a low, relaxed stance, centring his weight over his hips and the balls of his feet. He pushed out with a predator’s senses, taking in the swell of humanity around him, the dry smoke-filled air. Garbage piled high against tin and ferrocrete walls, the smell making his eyes water.

“Ah, the beautiful stench of decay and desperate living.”

He spun and stumbled, nearly fell. He knew that voice. Barely recognized it as his own.

A slow chill crept up his spine, but he shook it off with a curse, clamping down on his mind, on his memory.

“That’s a lesson I refuse to learn! If I can help them, I will.”

It could all be washed way in blood.

It had to be.

He scanned the dirty roadways, the alleys, for any sign of someone who could die for him today. He was starting to feel frantic, hunted. He was starting to feel. It had to stop.

It had to.

There. Huddled between to ramshackle shelters, a bundle of rotting cloth and torn flesh. A woman. Old? Ill. The bundle shuddered with each wracking cough. She would do. Pale hands twisted around themselves in the cooling night air, scarred with red scabs and dark lesions that criss-crossed her skin. She was the lucky one, to die today.

Atton moved closer, light on the balls of his feet.

The woman didn’t even sense him as he got closer. Didn’t sense death at all.

He studied her in her suffering.

“If someone suffers, then they are worth our time!”

Atton’s breath caught in his throat. No.

The old woman turned at the sound, and he saw that she wasn’t so old after all. Sick, but not so bad. Just hungry. And weak. And cold.

She had looked up at him with those dark eyes, the familiar half-grin that made him feel she was sharing a joke with him. Only him.

“Oh, you don’t look so bad,” she’d said, turning back to the man who believed he was breathing his last in the squalor of Nar Shaddaa. “Here, why don’t you let me take a look? Maybe I can help.”


The pain that lanced through his chest drove him to his knees, eyes wide, seeing nothing but a soft, sensual smile that lit up the night sky. He reached for the woman, who screamed and shrank away from him, trapped in her alley.

If he could just reach her. If he could just …

“There’s a lot of people in the galaxy who need help, Bish. Maybe we should just focus on what we’re here to do, huh?”

She’d laid a hand on his arm as he moved to walk away, to turn his back on the things she was doing.

“Anyone in trouble deserves our help, if we are capable of it.”

He watched her hand on his jacket, willing himself not to tremble at the touch. He met her eyes.


The woman was weeping now, scrabbling backwards across piles of garbage, stagnant water and rot. The man who crawled towards her snarled and spat, pounded the ground until the skin on his knuckles split and bled into the filth.

Even on his knees he was faster than she. He reached for her. Touched her. Sobbed as white heat burned through his core, scalding his veins.

Nononono! Not this! I can’t …

The woman closed her eyes and waited for the pain, for death. Waited to die, cowering in the garbage of Ulicia.

By the time her breath settled into steady, high-pitched gasps, the air around her was silent. Shaking and gagging on her own fear, she managed to open her eyes, even if she preferred not to see the face of death before it took her down.

But he was gone.

She lowered her face into her perfect, unblemished hands and sobbed.
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