Ink (Aayahpoy’shiri, SWTOR)
The universe was is her child and her breath, it gave life itself. When the Misha cried she brought to life our clans; each of us offering her what we could. My people gave her fire. The Darians gave her creations of stone and earth, the Tukians offered her undying spiritual worship. Songs of praise and devotion were brought to her by the Tyrians and the Rutians tended to her oceans. We were all nourished and cared for by the Misha Kikka’lekki. She kept Ryloth a paradise for us to thrive on. And like all living things, it was too little for us. We need more. We demanded power and we sought it. When she realized that we had found such destruction and evil, her dance changed. The people began to go to war. We discovered death.
Aayahpoy’shiri pushed open the door of the small tattoo parlour hidden away on the ground level of Coruscant. A chime jingled. The young Twi’lik smiled sheepishly at the sound as she glanced around. A few well maintained chairs, a small bench that looked almost like a bed, tattooing guns, wooden sticks. Poy blinked quickly an refocused on the wooden sticks, “Qa frotz?”
A slender Iridonian woman stepped out of a room near the back and offered Poy a warm smile. The Tolian shook her head and returned the smile with a bit of embarrassment, “You caught me of guard, my apologies.”
The Zabrak raised her hand, “You do realize that you have nothing to apologize for.” She chuckled and stepped few steps forward, offering Poy her ink-stained hand. “Neikei, Neikei res het Sarkanias ru and welcome to Jat’i Keff.”
Poy gave a relieved chuckle, it would be nice to do business for once without a front to her personality that was so often needed. “Aayahpoy’shiri, but you don’t have to use the whole thing.” The smuggler took Neikei’s hand in a firm shake. “What..” She pulled her hand away to point towards the sticks, “What are those?”
Neikei’s head turned, her long black ponytail brushing across her shoulder. She chuckled, “Those are wooden sticks I use to tattoo sometimes. Some of the Zabrak who live here don’t always get to go home when it’s time for their Res Selenoren. I’m able to accomodate. Not many of us here on Coruscant who can do a proper Ru Jato.”
Poy kept on smiling without a clue of what the Zabrak woman was going on about. “…You lost me at Selenoran.”
“My turn to apologize now.” She motioned for the Twi’lek to follow her as she wandered over to the needles. The shop was fairly small and had thay same durasteel sheen that everything in Coruscant had. It smelled smokey, a rich tang. Exotic, Poy was instantly reminded of the temples on Ryloth just before the Kiva’s began daily worship. “When my people come of age, they go through a challenge to prove themselves. Should they pass they marked with the Jato.” She traces her fingers along the tattoos of her face and arms. “The tattoo of the clan. If they ail they are outcosts, without honour as they have failed the needs of their clan.”
“Why do you use sticks for that?”
“Tradition, I suppose. Most of the tattooing equipment days comes without the rite of pain. The entire point of getting something tattooed is to have it etched into your flesh. Your soul. In a way your making an offering, if you believe in it. It should hurt, it shows that you’re willing to endure the comittment that you’re decided to undergo.”
“Do you only use them for Zabrak?”
Neikei shook her head, “Anyone who is willing to truly earn their ink.”
The Tolian woman raised a finger rather quickly as she grabbed her datapad from her hip and tapped it a few times. When she found the correct image she held it out to Neikei. “Can I?” She was kind enough to ask and wait for Poy to nod, yes, before taking the device and crossing the room to connect it to a small computer array. The Zabraks claw-like nails clicked against the screens as she manipulated the image of Kikka’lekki. “And where is this going?”
“Over my back.”
“Ass to shoulders?”
“I’ll need a three hundred credit deposit today and another seven hundred when we’re done with your back.”
Poy managed not to cringe at this, the work would be time consuming unlike the sticks and spanks of the mechanized machines or even the use of droids. But it would truly be art meant of the eyes of the Goddess. “Yeah, that’s fine”
Neikei smiled reassuringly when her datapad blipped to inform her that credits had been deposited to her account. She quickly stepped over to the table and picked it up to verify the amount. She motioned to the table, “Take your shirt off and make yourself comfortable. It’s easier if you lay on your chest.”
It is said that this destruction swept many races of the universe and for them all Kikka’lekki wept. She knew that they must learn to control it and themselves. She knew that they had to resist it. She also knew that in the future, enlightenment would be found and the destruction would be set aside so, Kikka’lekki allowed the destruction to consume us. The Kivas tell us this age is called Sissavia, the times we now live in.
Poy returned to Neikei faithfully once every three weeks for two months while the Iridonian woman worked on finishing the portrait of the goddess Kikka’lekki upon her back. She had never felt such pain in her life. She’d been shot a time or two, but a blaster cauterized the wounds it left. This was just a jabbing roar of pain that would go on for hours and ache for days after. The itching she felt as the tattoo would heal drove her to find new and quite odd ways of scratching her back without actually scratching.
On the day Neikei completed her work, Aayahpoy’shiri couldn’t have been happier to turn over the credits and in two years, return. And continue to return.