On Ship bound to Korriban, 2-3 Days after Harvest Moon Mission
Drey walked with purpose across the metal grates. His eyes locked on his datapad, his report checked for grammar and clarity. He spread his awareness out to note the others floating past him and avoid collision courses. He noted an error on his report then abruptly corrected it. His eyes looked up to see the mess hall coming into view, his lips curled into a smile. With a small tug at his tunic, he straightened out the wrinkles in his uniform and maintained his neat appearance. He placed the datapad into the nook of his arm while he slipped into the line. Several other officers seemed to have thought this was the best time to take a lunch break because he spotted the larger than normal number waiting to be served.
He sighed, feeling his stomach claw at him. A regret at failing to eat before the mission washed over him. All he could do was patiently wait until his turn came around. Sith were allowed to cut the line and be served first or given in their onboard quarters. Few ever decided to dine with the soldiers in their own area.
Drey couldn’t help thinking of Xid. The young Apprentice would’ve enjoyed chatting and mingling with the troopers. It had only been a bit of time, but he rolled his eyes at how much he missed the kid. Purely ridiculous.
Tishombra walked into the mess hall flipping her hair over her bare shoulder. She’d decided to wear the white leather. It had one sleeve and clung like a second skin. Her right arm was proudly displayed from the tips of her fingers to her smooth shoulder. The white on white leather looked as if it was once piece from farther off but on closer inspection it was at least two pieces. She flashed a bit of skin, just above her hip, as she flicked her hair over her shoulder.
She knew that she could jump ahead of everyone but she rarely did so. Troopers were the backbone of the Empire and she was no better than they were. Truthfully, the only thing that set her away from any of the others was the difference in her wardrobe. Or so she thought. She had the confident air of a woman who knew she was in charge but didn’t take advantage of it till someone pushed her to it or she needed to.
She raised her hands to her temples as she thought about that damned mark, Selene. Massaging her temples and ran a hand through her hair. She’d left it down after she had showered and wished she’d actually put it back into the customary high ponytail. She felt the ends tickle her sides as she shifted her hands. She had one vanity it was the pin straight, waist length, firey red hair. Well maybe her gold eyes with thick dark lashes too. And the scar. Okay maybe more than one.
Tishombra raised her arms over head and stretched out her arms and stood on tiptoes. She knew just how much skin she flashed and rolled her shoulders. She was bored and this would get her attention. Likely not conversation but at least this would take her mind off Selene. Conversation was too much to ask for sometimes.
Drey’s eyes caught the woman’s image pass him. The same flirtatious Sith who offered him a view of her ass during the mission. His eyes shifted and his peripheral caught the flash of skin. His lip twitched with a smile, enjoying the view. Noting she didn’t push forward, he shifted around to face her.
“A lovely creature like yourself doesn’t have to wait.” His voice was smooth and calm, confident in what he said. Most Sith were vain creatures, in some fashion or another. The higher ones often felt they were superior to soldiers like him, but the occasional ones learned the pleasure of his company.
Tishombra smirked at the man who called her lovely. “Thank you but I prefer to actually let the others before me take the last of this morning’s cooking so that they put out the fresher items. Besides I don’t mind waiting it allows me time to think. You look much hungrier...than myself.”
Her eyes sparkled with mischief and she bit her lip to keep from laughing. She didn’t quite succeed her shoulders shook with mirth and the silent laugh was evident in her breathing as well. She watched him from under her lashes to see his reaction to her flirting.
“Depends on the definition of hunger.” Drey fought hard not to tease too much.
He took a breath, adjusting his datapad in his arm and took a step back when the line moved. With years of training one could learn to be aware of their surroundings while never being force sensitive. It helped one survive to a ripe old age and prevent injury. He licked his lips a bit, eyeing her up without being obvious. Inside his head, he debated on how wise his next action would be.
“But yes, if I had a higher rank I would skip the line and have my meal delivered. The privacy is much better than soldiers chatting or trays thumping around. It makes you appreciate the small things in life.” He didn’t want to be too forward because a force slap hurt.
Tishombra’s eyes widened in shock just before she caught herself. He was actually daring enough to flirt back. Most people took one look at her and didn’t flirt but treated it like an interrogation. They focused on the fact that she had the scar and showed it off. He was actually reaching out. Normally she had to poke and prod the other apprentices of her master to even really get a conversation out of them. She’d actually gone in disguise once and had a decent conversation with a merchant. Honestly she couldn’t call Daymon each time she wanted a halfway decent conversation.
“Well that is something I had not thought of. But then who do I talk to? Who would you talk to? You were buried in-” She stepped closer and her hair shifted over his arm as she looked at the data pad. “Your mission report. Ah you were on the ship that Vaughn was flying.” She reached over and scrolled up. “Corporal you’re not very observant are you? You would have recognized me from that ship. Or maybe I just didn’t make that big of an impression.” She noticed the email that looked official and looked right into his eyes and smirked. They were the same height so they were eye level and she was invading his personal space. Seeing how far she could push him
“To be fair, our paths didn’t cross until we were heading back to the ship. I couldn’t afford to be distracted by your assets or I might’ve never survived to have this lovely conversation. It’s hard to keep from being trampled when your attention is admiring someone.”
His feet planted themselves, knowing she could easily toss him like a rag doll. Some Sith didn’t care about assaulting a soldier if it was ‘justified’. His eyes locked with hers, unafraid and ready for any aggression. He allowed her to invade his personal space for now. A minor offense and too petty to pick a fight over.
“If you wanted to see my datapad, you could ask. I would be willing to hand it over, My Lord.” He left the sentence shorter than he wanted, unsure of her title or her name. Sith weren’t clearly marked like himself so he used the default greeting. He hoped she wouldn’t call his bluff.
Tishombra kept her features in a smirk that really wanted to pull into a grin. He was giving as good as he got. Well up to the line and not crossing it. She’d have to see if he’d cross it at some point. He was interesting. He was different. Refreshing. “If I wanted the datapad in my hands I’d have it wouldn’t I Corporal? And as far as I know I have yet to make that title. No simply an Apprentice. For now. You’re interesting. Grab us some lunch and lets go Corporal. Let’s talk...for now. The datapad please?”
She nodded her head at the fact that the line now started with them. She smiled genuinely which brought out her dimples and made her seem less threatening. She held out her hand passively as she waited for him to hand the datapad over.
Drey wanted to curse, but he couldn’t. He set himself up for this and would face the results. Besides, his stubbornness refused to let him leave something unfinished. With a smile, he took the datapad from his arm and passed it over to her. It held everything he downloaded recently. That included the report and his personal files, including a few that went back as far as Feena. His busy duty had prevented him from copying them into datasticks then deleting the remaining ones during that time.
“As you wish, but a name would be helpful. My Apprentice doesn’t sound as formal as it does when accompanied by a name.” He passed her the datapad, careful to keep his calm and polite demeanor.
Tishombra took the datapad gently. “It would be helpful wouldn’t it my Corporal? But we’ll get to all that. Go ahead and get us something to eat.” She didn’t care if he noticed that she was being irritating or that she was actually not pissed and truly interested. She frowned as she turned away from him reading the datapad.
Drey couldn’t help but admire the view. She had a nice shape, from her bust to her hips, giving him plenty to enjoy. His attention turned back to the tray ordering the daily special. The perk about the mess hall on a ship, options were limited.
Drey Rumen. He had been married. Widowed. Young boy offspring. She wondered if he looked more like his mother or father. Tishombra pulled up some photos. The boy had much of his father in him. The boy’s hair was a touch lighter and his eyes were blue not green that his father’s were. Like jade.
She shook her head and closed the photos. His parents were still alive and probably kept the boy while Drey was away. Interesting. Where was that line? How far could she push him. How soon would he catch on that she wasn’t really serious about being overly pushy? How soon would he defuse the trap? Could he if she played with him? Or would he be too focused on the possibility of a threat?
Oh he has worked under not only Collem but Blayse Corvinian as well. He was interesting. She scanned his service record and noticed he’d been in twelve years and up for a promotion about four other times. This was the fifth.
She lead them out of the mess hall as she read and filed the information away. Her hips swayed unconsciously. She started off leading him to her quarters but soon slowed to fall into step with him as she skimmed his service record. She gave him the option of following or standing with her. The hallways became less and less crowded. “So. Corporal what did you think of the way your last assignment was handled?” Tishombra turned to him and gave him a smirk waiting for his answer.
Drey juggled two trays, his eyes watching her hips sway until she fell back. He shifted over to allow room rather than drift back. His lips frowned in thought for a moment, recalling how he hid with the mercs and the end result.
“Messy as it was, we managed to complete it. I say it was a success for the most part.” He gave his honest opinion based on his thoughts.
Tishombra tilted her head bridlike and blinked. “How would you have done it?” She wanted him to answer honestly but she had a feeling that she’d have to dig a little deeper to get him to. She reached out and her door opened for her. She walked in and sat down in one of the two chairs.
Her room was small sitting room and the bedroom separated by a half wall. She’d thought it was huge for the fact that she was an Apprentice. She wasn’t one for decorating anything so the only indication that the room was lived in was the twin sabers and twin lightsaber hilts that were on a desk attached to the half wall. She took a tray from Drey and indicated he sit.
Drey noticed the emptiness of the room, feeling it reminded him of his own. Practical and shortly lived in. A soldier’s life to its fullest. Seeing her sit, he brought the tray over to the nearby table and took a seat himself. He had been thinking the whole time over what she asked.
“Truthful? Nothing much different than Captain Corvinian. He’s bright and has a tactical head on shoulders, even when facing unknown odds. Our target was a force user which made her unpredictable and dangerous. Normal troopers have no chance in close combat at subduing her without harm. They would’ve been slaughtered.”
He paused for a breath then continued.
“The only hairy part was when we made a tactical retreat. One ship down caused numerous losses that could’ve been avoided if we left a small group behind. Mercs were also not military trained which quickly dissolved into chaos. The ending would be my only change and that is to leave a small group to secure each ship.” Drey’s eyes met herself, studying her intently.
“Yes well the end wasn’t...planned that way.” She looked up at him pausing as she took a bite. It was a normal bite. She wasn’t one to take those stupid tiny bites that a lady was supposed to unless she was at a function that she was expected to. Sometimes not even then. She swallowed and licked her bottom lip. “So leaving a group behind to be killed by the target? Make no mistake Corporal she would have. Someone that can make the dead rise and turn into walking torches? She’d have no problem dispatching a squad of troopers. Back to the point, you could make that call? Because from where I’m sitting I think you wouldn’t have.” She took another bite and eagerly awaited his answer.
She really wanted to know what he thought. How his mind worked. The more data the better and deeper she could dig to see how he ticked.
“You’re right. I would’ve likely been with them when it happened.” After seeing the woman take a bit, he began to eat his own meal. He stabbed the meat cutlet then sliced off a chunk, slipping it into his mouth. He chewed a bit then swallowed.
“Despite that, they could’ve rigged the ship to not work without the pilot. If you train someone well enough, they can resist the effects of both torture and mind manipulation. Making the ship dead in space for her as well as us if he was killed. Not perfect, but one option.” Drey didn’t mention he would’ve been laying in wait to take out Selene the moment she showed.
Tishombra smiled. “So by your logic, as brilliant as Collem is he was not as through as he should have been. I imagine that little tidbit would make someone want to hunt you down Drey. But the problem is you’ve been such a good citizen that you know for a fact that they wouldn’t go after you. You know who they’d go after don’t you? Who’d they’d send?”
“No, Collem did the best he could in a situation he had little to no information about. I’m using information after the fact which alters my tactics. You asked what I would do differently, but that is vague enough to assume it could be based on my current knowledge. Not before.” He pointed out, taking another bite.
Tishombra laughed softly. “Semantics. You know it.”
“Knowledge is important. Being a Sith, you also are aware of this and often times value the advantage it gives you.” He had only partly finished his meal, still fixed on the conversation.
Tishombra finished pushed her tray to the side and leaned toward him. “I also know that some knowledge is dangerous and makes you a target. Do you play Sabacc Drey?”
“Only if you prove you’re someone dangerous.” He countered, knowing full well what some Sith thought little of troopers or their abilities. Few would ever expect him to have the knowledge to kill one of their own.
“Non-force sensitives aren’t much threat against the Sith. And I’ve played Sabacc a few times, but not often. It’s been a while since I last played.” He finished off his meal before gently sliding the tray toward hers.
Tishombra took his hand in hers. “How do you know your not playing right now? As for dangerous.” She stood and moved to between his legs looking down at him. “Some danger is worth it.” She caressed his face.
While she caressed Drey’s face she pushed on his perception of her. She had seen a picture of his wife. It was a matter of pushing his perceptions around, tricking his mind. She knew it wasn’t going to be easy. She ran her fingers through his hair and kept pushing. A little here. A little there.
Drey’s mind felt the pushes. Immediately his body tensed and his eyes snapped to her, his jawline tensed.
“Not this danger.” He blamed himself. He should’ve been more cautious as he rose upright, his mind trying to fight the shift in image. It hurt his heart more than he wanted to admit.
“I think we’re done here and it was nice meeting you.”
Tishombra let go. “Drey. I would give you an apology. I believe that is what it is called. I crossed a line.”
Drey considered some choice words to fling at her, but just inhaled then exhaled. Losing his temper in an enclosed room with a woman whole could fry him at any moment was a very bad idea. Especially since he got himself into it. Was Xid the only Sith he could honestly trust in this damn place?
“Look I know you’re mad. Furious. I got really pushy and oh nevermind.”
“You’re force sensitive, I’m sure you can tell mad isn’t the accurate word.” Drey’s voice fought not to harden.
“I don’t have to be sensitive in the Force to know how utterly livid you are. I wish it included time travel in my less than desirable traits at present.” She snapped and moved around him blocking the door. She’d get this apology out and see if she couldn’t at least be his friend. Wanting to be looked at the way she imagined he might have his wife just once would have been nice. She didn’t want to push too much and hurt him. She’d seen that happen before. Damned if she was going to admit that unless it was a last resort.
“If I didn’t find you appealing, I wouldn’t have been so easily lured here.” He shot back.
His hand rose to his face where he pinched his nose bridge. He continued to inhale then exhaled before speaking again.
“My wife died serving the Empire. Left to die by a Jedi during a mission. I’m a soldier who survived and was strengthened by that pain, but seeing it again won’t make me stronger now.” Drey wanted to leave as he grabbed the datapad from the bed, then moved to the door.
“I did not show you something painful to make you stronger. That was not my intention.”
“It’s better than the other options. Which is to draw out my pain, make yourself feel better or get some sense of power over me. So which is it?” Drey couldn’t pass her so he risked taking a few lumps if he could just escape this room.
“Oh yes because it’s always one of those.” She could feel something building. Something different than anger. It was like a ball of hurt, sadness, and rage deep within her. Her eyes flashed with her temper rising to match his. “You wouldn’t understand anyway” She didn’t move. Couldn’t. If she did she was afraid that she’d hurt him or that he’d walk away and she couldn’t decide which was worse.
“Then explain it. How is being my dead wife helpful? I assume you didn’t read my service record completely or you would know force tricks are less effective on me.” He crossed his arms over his chest, planting his feet into place. He wasn’t moving from the spot unless the woman threw him.
“Yes and I was arrogant enough to think I could get past those without hurting you. Needless to say, I couldn’t and I stopped. Had I been successful you wouldn’t be livid with me right now.” She paused to try and control the foreign emotion. [color=orangered]“You wouldn’t have even remembered it.”/color]
Tishombra moved away from the door so he could leave. She wrapped her arms around her stomach and turned away from him. Her voice was a whisper and sounded like she was crying. “I’m sorry Drey. Truly.”
“Frick me.” Drey growled under his breath, not enjoying a Sith breaking down.
“I would’ve been more angry if you succeed. I didn’t love my Elera because of her looks, but her personality. So the moment you opened your mouth, I would’ve known.”
He inhaled again.
“I came up here because I was curious. Where that curiosity would lead, I don’t know. Would it be a one night stand, something more, or just a conversation? I had no idea. If I wanted to be with my wife again, I would’ve let myself die back on that ship and let my parents raise my son.” He let the words sink in.
Tishombra didn’t know what was going on but the pressure only got worse as he spoke. He was right. Each word was like twisting the knife. The pain fed the rage and sadness. Something was building and she had to get him out of the room.
She nodded she was turned away holding on, pushing down the feelings as best she could. “I…” Groaning she fell to her knees. “Drey… I… something is…”
Drey tossed his datapad on the bed as he kneeled down next to her. His hand touched her back gently and his anger faded into concern. Her arms were wrapped about her stomach causing him to immediately consider poisoning. Promptly he shifted to examine her tray, noting any discoloration or odd scent. Nothing.
“All right,” he snatched the water bottle from his tray and once more lowered down to her, popping the top open. He passed it to her.
“Drink that. Inhale and exhale. See if it passes. If not, I’ll get the medical team.” Drey observed her as he tried his best to determine what was wrong.
Tiishombra nodded and took the bottle from him took a sip. Inhaled and then lost it. Her eyes going wide a look of apology. On the exhale a scream pulled from so deep within her that it was inhuman. It was as if a hand reached down and pulled out emotions of the past few minutes.
The rage, wrenching despair and pain echoed in it. It was as if the part of her that had been so filled with rage, despair at never having even a taste of what Elera had, hurt and jealousy all ripped lose in that scream and manifested itself with the Force.