Building the Testori Legacy (SWG – Padija Testori, Shar’setta Ky’shan)
The sharp edge of an elbow met Padija’s forearm shaking the thin woman from her light doze. There was no sympathy for the sober insomniacs in these briefing rooms. Didn’t seem to matter much that it’d been a year since she’d touched any spice. In that year she hadn’t heard her name, her true name, until recently. The voice of the one who gave it to her ringing her mind as if she had been drawn back in a Glitterstim induced hallucination. Her flight commander was still droning on. Another recon mission around the Corellia system, mark all Imperial activity and bring it home.
“Another bantha roundup.”
That voice, his voice, sneered inside her head. Though it didn’t matter who’s voice it was, the voice was right. This was yet another run she could do in her sleep. Padija leaned back in the stiff briefing room chair, her long tattooed arms reaching behind her and pulling down her hair, which uncharacteristically remained tied back into tight buns at all times. She had almost forgotten the feel of her shoulder length hair against the back of her neck. It felt foreign, clean, untangled. There was no longer any sand braided into her locks, no more bones, no more gems, no more feathers. All the traces Lok were gone from her.
“Phoenix 3 you’re on Phoenix 5. Phoenix 2…” The commanders voce trailed off, his cold grey eyes looking over Phoenix 2, Padija had gone pale in the length of his lecture. Her usual arrogance seemed to have been replaced by her half bent over herself, trying to stand. “Testori! You gunna get this together? Got nothin’ you can’t handle on the roster today.” He urged, his face betraying him, he knew as she rose to her feet that he was losing a pilot, one of his best.
“An’ you gots nothin’ I wanna handle.” Her rough accented voice replied. She had shed the accent with the sands of Lok and it had returned to her, there wasn’t a conscious choice about it. With long strides and without looking back she made her way to the open blast doors of the briefing room.
“Colonel Sego’Sro will be hearing of this, Lieutenant.” The commander of Crimson Pheonix called after her. His words were met with her middle finger as she stepped through the doors. She didn’t look back, that was against Padija’s philosophies. She didn’t stop, couldn’t stop until she reached the little fighter she had salvaged from a Coruscant wrecking yard almost six years previously, the Bellabub she called, Red Tail. The hatch was already open, she was ready to go thanks to the mission rotation for the day, but Padija no longer felt the desire to sully the cockpit with the war any longer.
She stood looking over the small fighter, remembering the maneuverability she felt around the meteor trails of the Karthakk System. Playing hide and seek around the pirate stations. The thought of being watched, as she removed her rebel uniform never occurred to her. The ground crews were staring at her as she stripped down to her brown camisole tank and black underwear. They didn’t look away until she had settled into her cockpit, pulling down the hatch and locking it safely. There was no need to ask for permission to take off, she merely did.
Bare feet padded down the dimly lit grated floors of the main control room of the Kundali Rising. Each beep and whine of the flight computers forming a quiet protest, they had remained hidden in the nebulas of the Endor System for months. Padija didn’t seem to have any intention of leaving. Her long nails scratched idly at her thigh as she waited by the comm. Despite the chill of space, despite the expected visitor, she hadn’t even had a passing idea of clothing.
It wasn’t like the Kundali minded if she only wore her underwear or not. These months in the nebula were shrouded in a constant spice fugue, her year of sobriety, the lessons taught by the crazy blind man. None of it mattered, they all took her away from Lok. Molded her back into Padija Testori. The idea sent a shudder down her spine, interrupted only by the beeping of her comm. system. “Kundali. This is Swordfish, open your bay doors.” She didn’t need to be prompted a second time; her thin, tapered fingers quickly activated the controls of the hanger bay doors. She had waited too long for this delivery.
Again, the bare feet padded along the grated floor, stepping onto the elevator. Clothing remained optional, but not she had with her a small box filled with credit chits. Five thousand credits for one dose of pure Stim, straight from Kessel; she wanted to touch the face of the Force. Find the reason behind the voice haunting her. She wanted to know her next step.
The lift door slid open with a fine hiss. A man she had once called friend back on Coruscant stood before her. His wide with the surprise of her state of undress, he had never imagined this rough woman to be attractive. Her collection of tattoos, her arrogance. She grew impatient with his stare quickly and tossed the box at him, unexpectedly, but what spice dealer allowed his credits to fall on the floor. “Hand it to me and turn right back around.” She stated obstinately. He tossed it to her as lazily as she tossed him the box. Upon catching it she closed the lift doors. There was no statement of gratification. Now, she merely wished to be alone.
Peace again. The momentary intrusion on her hermitage among the stars rattled her. It wasn’t hard for Padija to find minor things to soothe her mind. She was seasoned enough to know going into a Glitterstim induced hallucination with even a minor bit of stress and everything she was hoping to accomplish with this one dose would leave her. There was nothing but the familiar hum and vibrations of the Kundali as she settled upon the pillows in her scattered quarters. They’d once been a kitchen meant for a full crew. A scattered dream.
The soft peko peko feather pillows, covered in rough Lokian cloth formed a bed of comfort underneath her sprawled form. Her feet hung off the edge of the pillows, and her arms were raised above, slowly opening the package she had awaited. The duroplast casing gave way to a sticky green substance. It almost glowed in her dark olive hands. It was less than she had desired, but enough to do the job. Padija dropped the small green nugget into her mouth and let her hands drop to her sides. Her heavy lidded eyes closed as she sucked on the sticky collection of spice, feeling its size slowly decrease under her tongue.
It was the nebulas she felt first, pulsing on her arms, creating dances for the arabesh scriptures she had tattooed there. Words would come together, forming new statements then drift away. Her husky, off tuned voice rose with the electricity in her skin, the power of the nebulas. Eyelids danced with the same patterns as the writhing of her body. She was moving like a rawl, her naked form drifting and snaking against the pillows.
The voice called to her again, it was so close. She could feel his breath against the back of her neck. Padija’s blue eyes opened lazily, his arms were around her, holding her form against him. She remembered the room, her spice lounge. Her disjointed paintings hung on the walls and scent of Santherian Ten-ho hung in the air. She shifted on his lap and they both shuddered. He was holding her to him as they were joined. “Lok has given you that name.”
Padija leaned back against him, biting his cheek as she plucked the small bone of an avian skull from his dreads. Reaching behind them she pulled a strand of her hair not yet braided and worked the skull into it. “Are you ready to accept it?” He whispered into her ear as he pushed her forward. Her breath caught in her throat as he pulled a small icon made from the metal of this planet and pressed it to the delicate skin of her shoulder blade. Through a power inside her lover that she barely understood he heated the metal without flame. Her skin burned, forcing her body to rebel against his in the pain. He only held her tighter, the heat of the icon continued to grow. Her skin melted under it.
“Ky’Shan!” She cried out as the fire of the icon began to feel like a blaster bolt. He tossed the icon aside, the brand was complete, “Sei’talla.” He whispered against her skin as he pulled her back to the floor once they had both spent themselves. “It’s time to come home.”
With his words the spice lounge faded, his touch faded. There was nothing but the cold dingy durosteel walls of her ship, the constant humming and sporadic beeps. She shivered in the cold of space as she pulled her hand away from between her legs. Outside the windows, the nebula looked less green, shades of blue and pink taking over. Her mind felt too clear to have just awoken from a spice fugue.
As the meteors passed by her view she knew where she was. The idea didn’t startle her, only soothed. She knew her next move. And the move after that. The time had come to leave behind Padija Testori. The tall Jiann woman sat up and crawled towards a large crate, she didn’t want the crate but the small box that sat atop it.
The box was ornately carved in Lokian script, “Hanette’sa Ky’Shan,” along the edges of the lid. Her long fingers easily remembered how to open it, and clearly remembered the contents that greeted her. Old trinkets taken from her hair when she joined the Rebellion, bones and gems stolen from her equal. Feathers gathered for each time they had come together. Each a memory, a conversation. Her cheeks flared red as she braided each one of those memories back into her hair. The skull from the night he branded her, the pearl from his acostment of her on the ramp of the Twisted Spanner. Her mind relived each of the memories as her fingers worked, each taking her closer to home.
With ease of familiarity Sei’talla piloted the Red Tail down to the planet’s surface. Her hair clattered with an old song that she knew all the words to, the bones clicking against the gems, the gems teasing the feathers and the feathers instigating the bones. Everything was a circle. Her brand burned as painfully as the day she got it once she entered the atmosphere.
“I’m home, Ky’Shan.”
I finally made my way back to the Sands, it took the dreams to drag me, it took things you never wanted me to touch again. But you knew I would. The Sands can’t get rid of me, I was born of them. Not literally, but maybe spiritually? This is home.
I stood staring at my warehouse the first few hours. Or what was left of it. You did a job on it, the tents surrounding it are charred from the flames of the explosion. In my mind I can see it still smoldering even though I know too much time has passed by. Nothing’s smoldering anymore. Except maybe my jealousy.
Neither of us can wait for one another. We never could. We’d never be just two. I don’t know if I got my wandering heart from you or mom, but loving a wondering heart as well… that’s a test. I could never tell him, he knows, words don’t need to pass between us. I know you never liked Jazz, but you respected that he was my equal. I didn’t need to be in town long before I met his gathering of women, all small, pale, thin. Young. I’m none of those things and I’d never wish to be.
He told me he could never begrudge me, that I only need to ask. All I want to ask is what doesn’t need to be. I know the answer. Our souls don’t wander.
And it’s all distraction in the end, side line material for a Corellian soap opera of two vagrants too frakkin’ stupid to toss down their idiocy and say, “This is it.”
A distraction. There’s work to be done, I knew that much when I made my way back here. The town is falling into something we fought against. Eisley spicers making their way into town, trying to take territory. Imperials wadering about without restriction. Wasn’t like this before. And I’m told there’s been trouble with the Dosh. I’ve never been good for more than a bar brawl, but I think it’s time to gear up.
An idea that makes me regret your offers to train me. Then again, you never did take me fishing.
So, Pops, I don’t know if it’s time to make you proud or if I’m going to shame us. But I’m following my heart. I’m doing what I need to.
Could use you and Uncle Ikus right now…
Your baby girl.
Stones were thrown into the fire. Be it by divination or the guidance of the Sands. It’s time to get into the family business.
Have you ever met someone and known that rather than being your equal that they will be your nemesis? I met that man tonight in Mos Eisley. He introduced himself as Amaraq Destraga and I gave him the name my adoptive parents had given me. He’ll have no reason to disbelieve it if I hadn’t stumbled.
That jealous again. One of the girls Jazzix has been seeing approached me while we were speaking. She wanted to talk as she had seen my in Red Sands. I looked up and flippantly called her one of the his toys. I revealed my ties to both the Sands and a familiarity with Jazzix Ona. I should regret it as I keep seeing this image of a line in the sand.
But I don’t. I want this man as my nemesis. He approached the girl again, asking if she would be interested in putting a price on his head. Should she, then this Amaraq will become the hunted. I’m learning our trade well. But I think a hunter of his skill would take training. More training.
I’ve been on Naboo learning the tactics of criminal persuit and investigation from the Royal Security Force. They don’t seem too wary of having a woman with my reputation in my midst. But they may become that way quickly if I keep refusing to take their spice test.
I think I may toss my hat into the ring with CorSec soon. We’ll see. I do need to head back to Red Sands at some point. There are things that need taking care of. And I need to hold myself up to the consequences of my words. Though Jazzix knows where to find me. As do you.
The Kundali isn’t hard to track if you know how.
Out of the Black for now.
Maybe his eyes were right. A line in the sand.
I lost my Kundali last night. My love. I was jivin’ on Pixie, too high in the stars to consider flying in the Black. But I did. I opened fire on a vessel without checking the Identification. And this ship had a bite. I’m lucky to have reached the escape pod before my Kundali blew. But she and the Red Tail are gone. Salvage for Nym’s Pirates and anyone else who wishes her.
And he has me. A man you might know, Sileo Dadet. Jazzix told him to train me, to do something with me. I’d cry and shout about how he has turned his back on me, but he hasn’t.
I’m not a smuggler, daddy. I’m not a spicer. I’m a Testori. I’m the rawl that’s shedding her skin. And yet, all I can think about is that I need a new ship even though Sileo has had me begin my training tonight in a high grav atmosphere on the ship. A full routine. I don’t quite understand, but I know that my body has never hurt like this before.
It doesn’t want to let me go. It’s feeding off my fear, off my weakness. It wants to embrace me again to give me the false ideal that I am cortosis. It wants to destroy me to remind of its presence. Yet each day I continue to live with its absence my mind seems more clear, if only for a moment before my body screams for its sweet escape again. The scream silences all other thought.
I was deafened by it today and halfway blinded by it. I’d claim a reason for defense but the guilty have no defense.
You’d like this Sileo despite his ideas on the war. He offers me no mercy regardless of my pain. Through the sweats, spasms, vomit and cramps – he pushes me. Sit ups, pull ups, laps around the ship, he never ceases to bark his orders nor does he lessen the gravity. Today he tells me we’re in a double grav environment as I’m pushing myself out of a puddle of my own piss.
My subconscious need for the substance that put me in this exact situation took over, screaming so loudly that all I could do was react. I must’ve flown at him like an out of control meteor because all I can remember, daddy, is flying across the corridor only to slam against the bulkhead. The force of his cybernetic arm against my chest is still felt through the rainbow of colors blossoming across my skin. I don’t remember getting up from that, nor do I remember charging him again. I only remember the pain of his fist meeting my face and the sensation of going blind. Under the force, my left eye decided it was leaving the fight in an explosion of blood and an odd white substance that didn’t look much different than a Kaadu egg. I think I crumbled in pain, but there was no reprieve. Only a quick bandage and a new string of orders. We would continue now that a lesson was learned.
I’ll not give him the satisfaction of giving up. I’ll not fail Ky’Shan again.
I will emerge from this skin, daddy.
I know what it’s like to be hunted. I have been the prey since we arrived on Ryloth. Sileo warned me that we were only here to care for some business and gone in four days time. He told me his plan of departure as if I would need to know and not be attached to his side and in his line of sight.
Within an hour of our excursion he disappeared and I became the hunted. I remember what it’s like to be stalked from Coruscant. Remember when I pissed off half the Undercity and the Black Sun? Yeah, I remember it from those days. This yellow twi’lek was following me, wait… not following me. Waiting.
Every turn, every building, every door he was waiting for me on the other side. The first few times I saw him I nearly ran into him. I didn’t see his carbine until I saw him the third time. He fired at me that time and began this game of vesp versus pharple. I barely survived the Undercity with perfect vision, now, I had been forced to survive with one eye.
Running, Daddy, I wished I could run but how do you run when you’re not being followed but anticipated. How do you hide when they’re in the closet with you? How Daddy?
I dodged into crates, hid in bars and ‘freshers. Through my spasms and hallucinations, I survived. I made it back to the Fallen Grace. He was waiting for me, speaking with Sileo. Sileo had paid him to stalk me.
Sileo paid him to force me to learn how to survive without fear. I’ve never been so scared in my life, but that fear drove me to live.
I woke up this morning to a strange language onboard, an odd voice. A woman was sitting with Sileo, she seemed unhappy and calm. Oddly calm. They spoke quietly of things I didn’t quite understand.
My excerises make a good distraction in these situations. I’m up to thirty six laps of five hundred meters each in the double grav environment. I will get to fifty. I’m told I can reintroduce meat into my body once I make it to that goal. But this is a tangent, isn’t it?
This woman has asked me to find a man. Joron. That’s all she told me of him. I have your contacts and the remaining Rogues, but daddy, I don’t know the faintest about tracking someone. Seems I’m about to learn. I was given access to a comm and the holonet for this task.
I took full advantage of both, first sending out a holotransmission to any of the Rogues that remained and the second, a comm to Jazzix.
I said the words Daddy. I was proud to tell him I was sober, proud to tell him of the purpose and drive I’ve found with myself. And I was proud to say it. I am in love with Jazzix Ona. I always have been and he’s always known. But giving that emotion a voice…
He says I’m to be marked again.
I’m forever marked by these sands already. I’m forever marked as Elish’Inama Sei’talla.
When the conversation ended, the bad news came. Sileo is taking us to Coruscant for some personal business of his. Ironically, I feel no temption nor do I fear.
Coruscant is merely a planet now.
I am Lokian.
-Your baby girl
We’ve been in orbit around Coruscant for five days now. Sileo has been on the planets surface for the past three. He says he has business there, and he also told me he was on his way back to the ship only an hour after the holonews reported the death of some corporate head. I’m not naive enough to think these incidents are unrelated. I think I’m coming to understand exactly what Jazzix wished for me to learn. What he needs of me.
I stained the sands red. Kaspie and I. Because he wished it.
Is this knowledge the trade off though? Did he comm me to tell me of his impending arrival so I’d put it all together. Such a thing would insinuate that he cares. Maybe he does…
When we arrived in the system we were hailed immediatly. A small syck wished for us to allow it to dock. They had recieved intel that the Grace was carrying transport that might interest the Black Sun. I don’t know why Sileo allowed the dock. I don’t know why he allowed the search, daddy. But he did and I found myself staring into the face of Etterik. My partner. My fix. Once even my lover, the same who betrayed me and sold me out to the Black Sun.
I had no fear. You would’ve been proud. I looked up at him and merely smiled. There was too much familiarity between us to believe even for a microsecond that we didn’t recognize one another. Sileo picked up on it and remained back, listening to us as we spoke.
I told him everything. He had no recording devices – something Sileo made sure of. Nor would he be leaving this ship alive. Not when I was his mark. Sileo is an attentive man. Good at listening. He knew when I was done speaking. He knew when I was ready to be rid of Etterik.
The silly man kissed me. A hard kiss, long, empassioned with no consolation. It was a goodbye kiss. A fool believing he would be taking my head back to whatever Vigo ordered my death. Sileo tossed me his blaster. No words passed. There was not even a flinch. Just the thud of Etterik’s body on the grated floor.
He left for the planets surface the next day. I went with him. He had a job for me and arranged my transport back, an old retired trooper he served with and trusted. I still didn’t trust the man. Not if he knew what I’d be bringing back to the Grace. Neuronium. Sileo was impressed I knew where to find it, but the underground has its secrets and the market is easy to navigate into. We didn’t need much and I barely found enough.
That was two days ago. The Black is lonely when you’ve fallen out of love with it, daddy. I have enough credits to buy a new ship and a home. An actual home. That is presuming if I get out of this.
I hope Sileo hurries. I need him to arrange to pick up the mandolorian woman. I found Joron as she asked and for a price I arranged a meeting.
I miss you Pops.
I can see again through both eyes with a sight that is clear of the haze of spice. Not only can I see daddy…but my eyes are keen. They show me a bigger picture complete with sound and a constant holonet feed. I love this feeling. I’m no longer entirely human. Or am I still?
Sileo has left me in Kor Vella. A test he says to see if I can get off a rock with nothing but the knowledge he has taught me thus far. He has agreed that I can only learn from experience here on out.
I am no longer afraid to die, daddy. Nor do I fear the pain of an ugly death. Sileo says that makes me sub-human. But what is the point of fearing inevitability? We don’t choose this career to die of old age.
My first task on Corellia is not to die and to track a job, someone to work with and a means to get off the planet. I found Vesp and Viper, the name of the registered owner ringing in my head with your voice. Antross. I’ve heard you say the name before. I don’t know what I hope to accomplish by going there, but I will not be finding you or Ikus.
I wonder what Jazzix would say. He wants me to come home and I long to be home in my Sands. But I’ll not venture there until I am of use. Until I am complete. I’ll send the information of a rented room in Doaba Guerfal for him. He will find me there if he wishes. After all of his women, the little insecurity I have questions his desire for me, his Sei’talla. His rawl. Espicially since I said those words.
I know the way, Daddy. I just have alot of roads to take.
I’ve spent a few days in a town called Riva Dorata now. Waiting. Waiting for the man who calls himself a Vesp. What sort of Vesp lives on Corellia when the very creature he has named himself after cannot be tied to any planet other than Lok. Is this Antross Lokian?
I presume I’ll find out when there are no more chubas to shoot outside of his office.
My time here has not been uneventful. Though I believe the most intriguing moment was walking into the “bar” here. It looked like it belonged in the Imperial Hotel on Coruscant. So far against everthing I am. Inside I saw him again, Amaraq. Destraga. He’s different now. More curious. Even offered me work, which I denied. His work was of little interest and too reminescent of my old skin. I don’t doubt my experiences with him are about to become much more common.
Before I returned back to my perch here on the patio of Viper and Vesp, I met a man by the name of Valyn. He’s not so different than I. We are both creatures of addiction. Both having moved from spice to cybernetics. He intrigued me, spoke of words that warned me to remain away from Jazzix. I can never walk away from him, but my heart may wander if my jealousy rears her head again. He also knew of you and your distrust of Colonel Sro.
Why had you never told me, daddy?
He ran from me. Talking as if he were reading off passages from something.
The Corellian Vesp has given me five days to take out three marks. Simple ones to prove my worth. I’ll have them found in four.
My reputation as a hunter doesn’t exist, now is the time to build it. A strong reputation has its uses as you well know.
And I will brand my marks so they will be known.
I’m coming of age, daddy. I wish you could watch me.
Evoree Afoshee. A Corellian man who tossed his credits in with the Rebellion. The Empire offered twenty thousand credits for his life and I took up the call. Three shots.
Three shots and twenty thousand credits. He was easy to track, at least easier than I expected. My first mark. I have the credits to return home, but I have two more marks before I have done the Vesps bidding. When it is done, I shall have a few days to return to Lok.
I took the rifle he carried. It bears a mark – a statement. A rare rifle bearing words that would fall from Ky’Shan’s lips. When I return home, it shall be given to its rightful owner, after all these years in the hands of ths spy.
Will the seeds planted in my head by Valyn prove correct with this gift?
My path lies somewhere between the Vesp and the Cyborg.
Talus. In the center of the city I found him, dining on the sensuality of some twi’leks flesh in the back of the cantina. As their bodies writhed and forgot any ideas of paranoia, I took them both. Ithoutchef Vo’tah was the name of my mark. A human from Tralus who disobeyed the Black Sun.
An odd turn of events for me to be taking the credits of the same people who want me dead. Maybe this will all come full circle in the end. For now, that is two. I walked back to the Starport. I had no reason to run. The marks I carved onto the their skin would be recognized by no one other than those who understood the life in the Sands.
Naboo. Just outside the gates of Keren a Bothan looking like nothing more than a drowned gubber. She had stolen a crystal from Borvo, I know better than to ask questions. I took his credits and brought him her ears. Opteub. I don’t think I’ve ever taken so much pleasure out of killing someone. I took my time with her, took her out to the swamps. Where’d I get this hatred of Bothans?
I’m anxious to be home daddy, I’m anxious to be in his arms again. If that is what’s coming to me. I’m anxious to give him this rifle. And I’m anxious to hear what the Vesp has to say. I told him four days. It’s been done in three.
I will be in the Sands tonight.
The Vesp gave me enough work to get home and now I have been asked only to train. Something I will be happy enough to do once my business in Red Sands is complete. I arrived last night to a bustle of transmissions in my ear and longed for my silence again. This place has gone so far from the original mirage that it was.
I couldn’t find him. Then again for once I didn’t look. I was drawn to walking the perimeter of the town, over the hills, out past the Rebel camp. There’s a deserted building out that way. I marked it as my own. For the time being I have a purpose. Moving in.
I’m grounded now.
My shipments were delivered today, random equipment, furniture, any goods. I’ve never hired an odd little man to assist me in setting it all up. He knows enough about what I’m doing out here to realize that should he speak of it, his life will be the first I take on Lok to protect my interests.
There’s been no sign or word from Ky’shan. I don’t know what part of me hurts more over this fact. Maybe none of it, in all reality and my mind is playing a fools game.
I need to reach a woman who once worked with us, Tisiphone. I have work for her. I’ve spoken to Nym about obtaining a few relics left over from the war. He’s agreed and the the price was right, but I no longer have the means to do the transportation myself. I wonder if she’ll remember me.
Sileo has maintained his silence though I have sent out a transmission informing him that I’ve passsed his test. I wonder if he, like the Vesp will make me wait for the next.
The winds seems to be changing, daddy.
I love you.
I met the man Selenite had sought. Odd how the daily functions lead you to the people you need to find in the end. Joron Darkdust. I had three impressions of him in this thing called flesh. I want to work for this man, daddy. That thing you called the Force and I call intuition tells me, do it! This is the way! The second, he will be the one to bring me my droid army.
The third is one you’d rather not hear from your daughter.
I see pieces that are beginning to fit together. Now if only I could find Sileo.
I don’t understand certain aspects of what we do. I’m a hunter and today I was taught to seduce my prey. To use my body as a weapon. I don’t know how comfortable I am with this, nor am I surehow I truly feel about the Vesp having taught me this lesson. Something inside of me has become enraged and in that rage I’ve given birth. I’ve learned my lesson well. My body is a tool and nothing more. My heart, my mind, and my soul are what I must protect.
I hope the keeper of my soul guards it well.
I need to contact Tisiphone.
Tactics. Even in the act of waking up we work off of tactics. I said before that I understood why I had returned but seeing the importantance has opened my mind.
There is never anthing unsual about how Ky’shan and I find each other It has remained unchanged since we gave birth to this place. Espicially when we seek one another.
Last night we found ourselves staring into our own souls, exchanged long ago. And as if we needed the reassurance of fate we both came into this with things meant for one another. Ky’Shan knew the words on the stock of the rifle, it seemed weightless and perfect in his grasp. I knew when I had found it that it was meant to be his, long before he’d even been born. The gift he had awaiting me told a tale no different. It is a helmet, mandolorian by the looks of it that he found in a shipment on its way to Fathers. The face plate is covered in the etchings of a serpent.
Why has this Force thrown us together and tied us here?
It can’t only be that I am the spear that will throw herself at any who comes to do us harm. It can’t only be that alongside these Gida he speaks of that I will lead our expansion even while keeping a watchful gaze behind us. Could it be so, daddy?
Or are these questions I should ignore and take myself back to the fur covered floor with this man that I love and savor this moment of peace and completion I find in his arms?
I dream of every morning beginning such as this. I’m done wandering daddy. My heart nor my body will belong to anyone other than this man.
I love Hanette’sa Ky’Shan. May I be his partner in all things one day.
I miss you Daddy.
Your daughter was apprehended and interrogated by the Empire. I do not know the circumstances surrounding the arrest, or whether or not it was lawful. What I can tell you is that she only barely survived custody. The man who had been training her as a head-hunter found her and is going to see that she receives the necessary procedure. This will involve cybernetic replacements.
Her odds of survival are nominally better than fifty percent, medically speaking. But she’s strong.
The procedure will likely take several days. You’ll hear from her as soon as she’s able to send a note. If the worst happens, it’ll be me you hear from. For the sake of someone we both love dearly, let’s hope this is the last message between us for a long time.
I’ve lived. I’m not sure how. I don’t know why I was arrested, the Imperials believed I had something to do with the salvage of a ship they had an interest in. Asked if I knew anyone aboard. There was nothing I could tell them, nothing I knew. For their mistake I was punished. I don’t know if I can call myself human anymore, daddy. My voice is gone from me. I have almost as much metal inside of me as I do flesh. Yet, my heart beats, my lungs breathe and once a month I still bleed. Never will I say hello to you again, never will I tell my Ky’Shan I love him again. Never will I be able to give anyone my attitude again.
I go back to him, his side is where I belong. But I have been changed. I know how fragile my life is. As fragile as his kisses. As fragile as the secrets we keep. All of us. Everyone in this galaxy.
Where do I go now, daddy?
I’m tempted to return to Jiann and raise baby Ikus. But then I would leave the side of Ky’Shan and our fates lay here…if not here then together. Somehow. What’s my next step daddy?
I need you now…
You told Uncle Ikus once that you wanted grandchildren. I laughed when he told me. I laughed and told him that you were wanting a nova in oblivion.
My heart, my soul, my body, my being, they all belong to Hanette’Sa Ky’Shan. He has never taken a legal vow to me, but an emotional one. A spiritual one. Hanette’sa Ky’Shan is your son by my heart. I beg you to recognize that. To bless that. Because Daddy…
I am to be the mother of Ky’Shan’s child. This galaxy has ripped me apart, trained me to hunt, made sure I will never break and now it has given me this gift. I will be a mother and you a grandfather.
We stared at each other for time untold when we heard. His belief that his heritage would only be material and my belief that I would die a blazing blaster at his side have taken on a new life. We are to continue this legacy we created in the Sands. He has asked I protect myself and this child inside of me.
Baby Ikus needs me, Nema Testori cannot continue to raise him. At six he is sure to be taxing. Considering this, Ky’Shan and I have decided that I shall return to Jiann. Lok is not a place for me to birth this child. I will take this childs safety over a place at its fathers side without a second thought. Baby Ikus and this creation inside of me…
Daddy, I’m pregnant. There is nothing in the Black that will keep me from protecting this child. It will know its father, it will know its heritage.
My fate is to continue the legacy of the Testori’s and the legacy of Hanette’Sa Ky’Shan. May it be blessed with you ability and the abilities of its father.
Force be damned if I won’t be a good mother.
Daddy, you’re going to be a grandfather.
I’m going home to Jiann.
I love you. I love Ky’Shan. I love this child stirring inside me.
I dream of Sands, I can no longer return to them but they live on in my dreams. The winds blow each bit of sulphuric granule into wisps of images of people I remember. I heard my leaf has floated into the stains again. I wonder how she is faring, our paths have separated so gravely that I doubt that I will see her again. Yet her presence is not the one I crave, or the one I will continue to crave. Nema does her best to remind me that this is all for the best and it’s not that I don’t believe her words they are just hard to accept. My freedom is what I’ve given this child I carry. For his safety. For now. He, I say it freely. I’ve carried him into the Sands. His father has braided the ornaments I once wore into his newly growing hair.
I have little fear that we will return to take our places at his fathers side. But that in turn may only be a dream in of itself.
I’m not used to these dreams, not in this sobriety, not with my grandmother as close to me as I keep my carbine. Even on Jiann there is the fear of being found be it by the Empire, who I never feared before, the Black Sun or those who seek to find vengance on Ky’Shan. Too many in Red Sands knew of our liasons, I wonder how many more know of the reasons behind my disappearance.
I shouldn’t worry, daddy. Nema is going to the city tomorrow to bring a doctor back to the compound. Yes, the small house you grew up is now a compound. I think I almost gave Nema a heart attack when I brought in the droids. Not to mention the artillaries I’ve grown used to having nearby.
I did, however, leave the dock… for that day when you come home to take me fishing as you’ve always promised.
His name is Shar’setta Ky’Shan. I will call him Ona, for his father and for my heart. Giving birth to him was one of the hardest things I have ever lived through. It took more time than my interrogation at the hands of the Empire. It drained more out of me than my training with Sileo. But I brought him into the universe. His hair is black like the space I crave and eyes as blue as the water only a few yards away. He sleeps restlessly, his mind already buzzing with things I cannot imagine. His hands are so tiny, but with them he makes me stronger than I ever believed I could be.
With Nema’s help, Ikus was the first to hold him. Our two boys. An uncle holding his nephew when they are only a few years apart in their ages. Maybe you will come home and teach them to fish. And maybe I still dream.
I wish his father could meet him. Will you send me word from the Sands? I’ve been gone too long to know if my love still lives, or if Duglus has had himself too many dancers yet…
And send me word of yourself, father. I miss you all.
Part Three (Thus Far)
Everyday she returned to the make shift hanger her grandfather had built just inside the walls of the Testori compound on Jiann. He had built it for her father, Alfonso, in hopes that his son would return home more often than not. It hadn’t been built in vain as his hopes were realized upon its completion until the day that the freighter her mother was piloting crashed on Coruscant and the Testori family had been torn asunder. Now, the hanger was home to her father’s X-Wing, forgotten by his departure from the Rebellion, it pained her to see it rusting away in her self imposed exile. With the death of her grandmother, Padija had little time to do anything but care for her baby brother and her son, now two years old.
Today, she was blessed, young Ikus was teaching Shar’setta to repair an old droid, forgotten since the Clone Wars, if Padija had to guess. Their happy chatter gave her focus, so long as they kept themselves busy, she knew her focus could remain on the ship. The electrical wiring and avionics had long been eaten away by the rogue mynock that sometimes found its way inside the corrugated durasteel structure. Once repaired, she didn’t see why the bird wouldn’t be able to touch the black again. All other systems seemed to still be in working condition, though covered in a thin layer of rust that would have to be removed.
The lanky Jiann woman climbed the ladder up to the nose of the fighter with a rough grace and swung a leg over it in order to straddle the X-Wing. The hatch easily opened with the experienced use of one of her father’s hydrospanners. Once open and folded down over the right side of the nose, she used the same tool to hold her dreadlocks in a makeshift bun, at their length, she could’ve tied them back, but the fear of breaking or losing any one of the trinkets she still kept in her hair, remembrances of her Prophet, her love, Shar’setta’s father, kept her from binding it any other way. Their random clink threatened to steal her focus to a lost hope of his return to her, instead she shifted her thoughts to a gracious bliss of her hair growing back after all the cybernetics, after the attack and mistaken interrogation three years earlier.
Her eyes twisted with the holo-feed into her line of sight as she worked, her natural aptitude with electronics only boosted by the information coming to her and guiding her hands through the wiring. The sound of the boys voices becoming music to her as she snipped, reconnected, removed and replaced. Her only conscious hope being that the droid would entertain them long enough for her to finish this task.
“Ain’t we just.” The womans voice cooed as the figure leaned onto the bar against Shar’setta. He smirked, taking note of the flameout cupped between her hands before his eyes slowly travelled up her statuesque form. A bounty hunter, if he had to guess.
“Ain’t we just?” His head canted with his question.
“Big damn heroes.”
“If you’re looking for heroics, you’ve come to the wrong end of the bar, doll.”
“Have I?” She asked and drinking the last of her Flameout. “You, Ona, dumped the load of one angry Hutt.”
He snorts. “I heard that’s a common occurrence. You can never trust those shifty scoundrels types. The load of a Hutt though… is there anything more foul?”
“Mmm. I’d say the price on your head is pretty foul, you might call it lucky I suppose.”
“I think you just hurt my ego.”
“Then I’ve given you reason to find me.” She grinned and pushes away from the bar, disappearing easily into the crowd of aliens that was to be expected at any club in Coronet’s undercity. Shar’setta chuckled, reaching up to run his fingers through his thick brown hair, his mothers hair.
“And it’s not like I get a name…” He mumbled into his drink.