Never

Never trust an Imp and don’t ever fall in love, kid. In our line of work, it’s the only way to survive.

Kaedric drowned his chuckle into his drink. His old mentor’s words had been haunting him these past few weeks and if they were true, well… he was screwed. He suppressed a shrug and took another sip. Screwed or not, it didn’t really matter, the odds had never been in his favor after all and it had never stopped him before.

Trying to chase the foreboding away by focusing on his upcoming task was no help. He knew he was to fly on some backwater planet to gather intel, and with a bit of luck blew up a thing or two, but that was the all of it. The mission details had been entrusted to Blue, not because Shan didn’t trust him but because they both knew she was better with that kind of stuff than he would ever be.

Never trust an Imp.

Not like he had a choice now. Who would have thought before their first mission that he and Blue would work so well together? She was swift and sharp when he was brash and reckless but she never held that against him or tried to change him. It was more than he could say about anyone else he’d work with.

She had seen the boasting and flirting for what it was from the very beginning, saw through his mask within seconds and still took it all in stride and played along, challenging him to up his own game, to be better yet still himself.

Most of all though, she’d had his back the minute the mission had started, taking full advantage of his skills and working around or using his flaws. That’s what made her a pro. That’s what made her dangerous. And that’s why he’d grown to trust her. A spy. An Imp spy...

But she wasn’t an Imp anymore, no more than he was a Republic privateer. The war had changed that, Zakuul had changed that. At least for him. Somehow he had the feeling it all had changed for her long before that. It was there somewhere, a fleeting shadow in the red of her eyes as her guard briefly faltered, that one moment he remembered all too precisely and regularly for his own comfort.

Kaedric sighed and took another sip. She had joined him in his bunk on the way back from their last mission, with no promises or expectations but forgetting each other’s loneliness for just one night. But he had lost himself in the surprising depth of her vulnerabilities and hadn’t found his way back yet.

Don’t ever fall in love.

It was too late. Hi heart had taken an unexpected path and had no desire to turn back. His odds kept tumbling down. He knew it. He didn’t care. He had never been one to follow the rules anyway.

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An Ocean

Theron let his thoughts wander as he kept a distracted eye on the holo in front of him. Now that he knew the Grand Master was safe he could focus on the recent events and the nagging feeling that he had just been played like a dejarik piece.

Something had felt wrong the moment he had gotten the alert about Tython and the feeling hadn’t faded after the threat had been dealt with.

I don’t know about you but I need a drink.

He hoped she had gotten his meaning. It had seemed an obvious way to let her know he wanted to talk at the time, right after she had expressed her own doubts about the mission, but he wasn’t so sure anymore. If he was honest with himself, he wasn’t sure about anything when it came to the Barsen’thor of the Jedi Order.

Jedi Master Khessya wasn’t what he had expected.

He had heard the stories, seen the holos and read the reports, of course. He knew how she had duelled Malgus, how she had saved the people of Makeb and faced the Dread Masters. How she had scolded the nobles of Alderaan into peace, defied pirates and corporations alike and unveiled one of the Emperor’s best kept secrets. And he knew, even though he didn’t completely understand, all the sacrifices she had willingly made to save others.

He had known all that and yet he hadn’t been prepared.

He hadn’t expected the intensity behind the calm, thoughtful gaze. The cold, unstoppable force intertwined with compassion, confidence and a hint, just a hint, of humor. She was an ocean, tumultuously quiet and peacefully lethal, and he wondered, for a second, how many had drowned at those shores.

He resisted the urge to shake his head and turned off the holo still playing in front of him, forcing himself to focus on more pressing, and potentially dangerous, matters.

“That was Grand Master Satele, wasn’t it?”

The sound of her voice brought him relief, and something else too, something he couldn’t quite figure yet. But he trusted her. Instinctively. He rose his head to meet her gaze and nodded.

She was an ocean and in that moment he realized he was willing to risk drowning.

 

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Music

There was music playing in the distance as Khessya slowly made her way to the cantina, somewhat amazed of how little time it took them to build all of this. It felt like they had just arrived on Odessen and they already had a fully functional base, complete with its own cantina.

Is this really where I want to be right now? she wondered. She knew the answer to that question. Cantinas had never been her kind of places; too many people, too much noise. But tonight? Tonight was different.

She needed a break, she needed something to put her mind away from it all. From the five years she had missed. From all the friends she had lost. From war and destruction plaguing the galaxy once more. From Valkorion’s voice in her head. And if she was to lead these people, they needed to know she was one of them.

But it’s not the real reason, isn’t it? Lana had said they would all be there and she was hoping, with all her heart, that it meant Theron would be there too. He had promised they would have a chance to talk earlier that day, a chance she did not want to miss.

The sound of music and loud voices assaulted her as she took the first steps down the stairs. The party had begun already and everyone was celebrating exhuberantly. They all needed a break. She caught a glimpse of Lana, Koth and Theron in the crowd and headed their way, relieved.

“Isn’t it why you talked me into coming here?” Theron was asking. “To lighten your load?”
Lana sighed. “I brought you here because you’re good-”
“Hey look who it is!” Theron interrupted as he noticed her. “Don’t worry! We didn’t really start without you.”
Lana turned around. “Yes, we’ve only just begun. I wasn’t sure you’d attend!”
Khessya shrugged. “A chance to unwind after what we’ve been through is exactly what we need.”
“You,” said Koth “are exactly correct!” Then turning his gaze towards Theron. “Now get this guy to cheer up!”
Theron sighed. “I’m reasonably cheery. I’m joining in. And now,” he said looking at her, “you are too!”
Khessya took the hint and didn’t hesitate. She returned Theron’s look. “I was hoping to have a talk with one of you, first.”
Theron frowned. “Yeah? Who did you have in mind.”
She barely managed to hide her smile. “Come on, Theron. Let’s catch up.”
He simply nodded. “You got it.”

They headed to the other side of the cantina, somewhere quieter where they could talk without interruption. Theron filled her in into what he had been doing those past five years. To fight Zakuul. And to help Lana free her.

“And I guess Lana filled you in on the rest,” he said as a door closed behind them. “I want you to know. I’ll do everything I can to keep things running smoothly around here.”
Khessya took a step towards him, a frown on her forehead but a smile on her lips. “So you’ll take care of anyone who needs you?”
He shrugged. “Not just anyone.” He sighed. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to thaw you out. Look at all you’ve accomplished… Everyone who chose to rally behind you. I haven’t been one of those destiny people in a long time but this…” he sighed again “sure feels like it…” Peace, relief, and a love so deep it was beyond her understanding still.

There was music playing in the distance as she spoke the words she had died to tell him ever since she had woken up.

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Home

Jynthar tapped his fingers on his thigh at a random rhythm as his sister tried talking the two young people in front of them out of reclaiming their estate on Taris. Of all the places in the galaxy, those brats wanted to build their home on Rackghoul Central!? He barely managed to stop himself from rolling his eyes. Letting Elhy do the talking had definitely been a good idea, she had more patience than he would ever have, she always had, even before she left with the Jedi.

Still the kids were more than insistant and he was getting restless to the point he was ready to do as they asked, for a price of course. He nodded as Elhynor tried to make them understand how wrong it is to risk other’s lives for a property sitting in the middle of nowhere.

The young woman lowered her head. “Jedi, I know you are just kids when you leave to train but… Isn’t there a place that you miss? A place that you will forever feel in your heart as home? Is there any way I can move you to help us?”

Jynthar exchanged a look with his baby sister. There was no place for him to call home but there was someone. Someone who was back in his life after sixteen long years. And he could see in her eyes that no matter how far apart their paths had gone before joining again, it was the same for her.

He sighed. “Alright, kids. We’ll help you…”

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The Dance

Khessya focused, preparing for another unavoidable fight, and grounded her resolved into the silent and loyal presence of Zenith and into the frightened yet solid confidence of the sovereigns of Sarkhai.

She could feel the hatred and impatience of her opponent. Blaesus who had fooled her and everyone else. Blaesus who had been working in the shadows to sabotage the peace. Blaesus who wanted her dead.

She tightened her grip on her lightsaber as Blaesus took a step towards her, the first step of a dance as old as the galaxy itself.

To the King and Queen of Sarkhai everything that followed was nothing but a blur of colors and light. To Zenith’s better trained eye, it was an intense ballet of blows, parries and purple and red blades clashing with one another.

A dance as old as all of eternity, performed at a very precise and intense rhythm. A violent waltz of light and darkness as the Force paused to observe two of its servants perform the dance of life and death.

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[Fanfic: SWTOR] The Masks We Wear

Khessya made her way into the temple ruins, letting her fingers brush the mossy stones eaten by age and her thoughts roam freely.

She had found her way to Yavin 4 once more. Another trip down memory lane and introspection, merely weeks after the events of Umbara.

She sighed as she reached the spot she knew her feet would lead her to, the spot where they were always leading her to. The long forgotten ruin that had sheltered a stolen peaceful moment she had shared with Theron all those years ago.

Theron…

Theron whom she had finally found only to lose him again in a moment. Theron who had become a stranger, who hadn’t even blinked at the sight of her on Copero, who hadn’t even said a word to her. His indifference had lit an insatiable fire in her heart, a voracious pain running through her veins.

She let her forehead rest on the cold stone in an attempt to soothe her sorrow, clenching her fists to stop her hands from shaking. Tears ran on her cheeks as she remembered the moment she had woken up here, her head on his shoulder, his arms wrapped around her, offering a safety and comfort she had never known she craved.

She let herself slid down to the ground as a new wave of pain engulfed her, giving in to her grief for as long as she would need to. In the solitude of the jungle moon she could afford to drop the mask, to appear as wounded and broken as she felt. She was nothing here; not the Alliance Commander, not a Jedi, barely even Khessya, just a woman with a broken heart and too many tears to hold.

***

Theron put his shuttle on auto-pilot and finally allowed himself to relive the events that had happened on Copero.

It had hurt to see her again, much more than he had prepared himself for. She hadn’t changed at all; the same quiet determination, the same unassailable will, the same angry yet adorable frown on her face. But he knew better. He could see it in her eyes as they briefly met his. An ocean of pain, anger and confusion behind the serene mask. And it was all because of him.

He clenched his teeth, funneling his guilt into a stubborn anger. The Order of Zildrog had given him no choice but to hurt her and they were going to regret it. And one day maybe, she would be able to forgive him.

***

Only when the last of her tears had dried did she managed to put a semblance of order in her thoughts and focus on that one little stray of hope she was holding on to without even realizing it.

No, you’ll never win! His voice had broken then, tainting his words with both hope and despair. And she couldn’t help but wonder…

What if he hadn’t been wearing a mask for all those years but was wearing one now? What if all this was nothing but the ruse of a spy pretending to betray her to better protect her? I’d do anything to protect you. It was a long shot, and more than probably wishful thinking but she couldn’t help but hope.

A beep from her holo-communicator signaling an incoming written transmission from Hylo Visz interrupted her train of thoughts. She got up and headed back to her shuttle. Hylo knew better than to disturb her for anything less than an emergency right now, it had to be important.

She took a deep breath and opened the message.

Don’t know how they pulled it off but my contacts managed to intercept a fragment of a transmission sent to Theron’s shuttle. Thought you’d want to see the transcript.
BEGIN TRANSCRIPT:
>> I held up my end of the bargain. Now it’s your turn. Will this really work?
>> You have no need to worry. The Eternal Alliance and its Commander will be destroyed.
>> The Order of Zildrog will prevail.
END TRANSCRIPT.
That’s all they could grab before the transmission cut out. But at least we have a name. Just wish we knew what it meant.

Khessya allowed herself to hope, to believe. Too many things felt off for this to be a coincidence. So she would fight through the pain and trust her feelings one last time. For better or worse.

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Khessya

DQNFfsGXkAEQhDy

You were born a light in the darkness
A beacon of hope for the lost and aching souls
They all flutter to you like moths to a flame
So take great care of this gift
For it might blind you
And set the whole world on fire.

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