Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Montegue: Origins - Exodus

  1. #1

    Closed Thread Montegue: Origins - Exodus

    The highly anticipated (by Liz, at least) sequel to Montegue: Origins! Another glimpse into the epic backstory of the most disfunctional family on Fans.

    Fairie Junction - 20 BE

    Hugo grunted, the muscles in his shoulders bunched tightly after a long day at work. Much as he appreciated Elroy's efforts in securing him a job as a mechanic working for his family's haulage firm, it had meant long hours and hard work for the best part of the last two years. Oil seemed to have worked its way into the depths of his skin like a tattoo, and he'd long singe given up on trying to scrub his fingers entirely clean, lest his efforts strip all the way down to the bone. Vittore - who was now nearly four, and extremely defiant, had argued that if Hugo didn't need to expend much effort on hygene, he shouldn't need to either. Hugo had countered with the fact that, unlike Vittore, he didn't tend to shove his fingers up his nose and chow down on the findings between meals. For now at least, that had silenced the kid.

    Music floated through their tiny appartment; Hugo winced at the speed with which he identified it as the closing theme of Republic Rangers: Vittore's current favourite holovid show. Hugo's opinion of the overly romanticised and entirely fictional depiction of the Clone Wars - and his opinion of the standard of acting on the part of the main cast - could be summed up rather simply with the nickname that the learning-to-speak Cambrio had given the show: Pubic Rangers. He smiled a little at the thought. Both his kids were growing up so fast, but he hoped against hope that Cammy would never lose that wide-eyed innocence.

    Grabbing a condensation-soaked beer from the unpowered cooler in the corner of their cramped and spartan kitchen, Hugo trudged his way into the lounge. His ass hadn't even landed on the sofa cushions when Vittore whined out an "Oh, man," and reluctantly flipped the holovid channel over to the apparently boring newsfeed that Hugo frequently spent his evenings watching. He considered allowing himself to believe the notion that Vittore was being unusually obedient and dutiful of his own free will, but suspected that it had something to do with a certain threat involving Agent Scarlet action figures, and the afterburners on the ex-military speeder that he'd been patching up between other jobs in the back corner of the Kripke Transit hangar.

    The fact that Hugo was back from work also meant something else; the waiting game had begun, as evidenced by the sudden silence of both Vittore and Cambrio, and the fervant and not particularly covert looks that passed between them. The bargain he had struck with the kids was that, after Alex Tressa - a young and somewhat irritating girl from the same appartment building, that Hugo suspected Vittore was developing his first crush on - had finished feeding the boys, they were allowed to stay up late and watch whatever shows on the holobox they wanted, right until Hugo got home from work. It was generally accepted that Hugo would give the instruction at some point over the evening, and the boys were expected to comply immediately. But if Hugo didn't give the order straight away, the boys managed to glean a few precious extra seconds of staying awake.

    Finally, Hugo cracked; it was either speak, or allow the smile that was threatening to form as he watched Vittore strain against the urge to fidget gain purchase on his face. "Bed," he grunted, flicking the bottle cap from his beer in the kids' direction for extra encouragement.

    With an over-dramatic sigh, Vittore slumped his way off the sofa and on to the floor, offering a helping arm to Cambrio as he wriggled down the cushions to do the same. "C'mon Cammy," he added, muttering under his breath, before trudging off to their bedroom as ordered.

    Hugo waited in silence, listening for the telltale sounds of the kids clambering in to bed... and then a few minutes later making a failed stealth attempt to sneak out of bed again and set about some sort of late-night escapade in hushed tones that were about as loud as they normally spoke. They always did, but he couldn't bring himself to get angry; he'd chase them in to bed in an hour or so, when he went for some rack time himself.

    Allowing his tired body to relax into the worn cushions of the couch, he turned his attention to the news feed, and took a deep swig of his ale.

    Anor Attacker Claims Third Victim.

    Letting the half-chilled beverage slowly work its way into his bloodstreem, his eyes flicked casually over the text.

    Local law enforcement on Ord Anor remains baffled today as another heist is committed by an inside employee, only for them to turn up dead - brutally murdered - mere hours later. Once again, forensics have found little evidence at the murder scene to identify the attacker; detectives have been unable to find a pattern to connect the victims, and coroners are at a loss to explain the sudden behavioral changes that preceeded the robberies. Police officials are reluctant to release a statement, but rumours persist that some form of telepathic 'mind control' may be responsible. Citizens have been urged to report any unusual behavior in their friends, family and coworkers immediately; however, investigators have been swamped by the response, and the odds of unearthing any useful evidence at this point look slim.

    Beer lingered on the back of Hugo's tongue as he mulled over the text. Something seemed off to him; maybe it was the mention of mind control that was unsettling, and the memories it cast up of his wife's own sudden change in behavior shortly before -

    He squeezed his eyes tightly closed, and swallowed more ale. Don't think about it, Hue, he chastised himself, clenching his teeth. Not again. It had been eighteen months since he'd caught Emaryn doing something to the infant Cambrio. Every day that passed without incident, he'd been thankful that his son hadn't exhibited any unusual side effects from her actions, but the dark nest of fear in the pit of his stomach wouldn't go away; it lingered like a Sarlaac, waiting for its opportunity to feed whenever his thoughts strayed too close to his former wife.

    Former wife. He'd spent the past months trying to convince himself that she was dead, but he doubted it. He'd shot her on Coruscant, but somehow she'd shown up on Cularin, murdered her own sister... and then disappeared. He hadn't discovered sight nor sound of her, and while he knew that as soon as he grew complacent the galaxy would spin around and bite him in the ass for it, it was hard not to buy in to the hope that she was gone from his life forever. That hope promised relief, but pain as well. Emotions weren't digital: more like leaking valves that, no matter how tightly you tried to turn them off, kept allowing a little trickle through.

    More beer disappeared as Hugo wrestled with those thoughts; he silently cursed at the holonet for stirring up those kind of memories, and grabbed the remote, stabbing blindly at the controls. The text disappeared, the image on the screen instead resolving into the soft, curvatious legs and ass of a low-crouched woman - athlete, presumably - who appeared to be wearing a pleasantly small amount, surrounded by similarly dressed women. A closed caption revealed that he'd inadvertantly tuned in to the final of the Interstellar Womens Pyramid League. A little of the tension in his shoulders vanished as he settled back into the couch, feet propping themselves up on the nearby coffee table. He had no clue what the game was, what the rules were, or anything like that; but from the look of the court, the outfits, and the ball, the next fourty minutes promised to be filled with a great deal of running, crouching, and anatomical jiggling.

    A grin broke on his face, as late night holonet succeeded in winning over another member of its target audience.
    Last edited by Hugo Montegue; Jul 26th, 2009 at 11:52:39 PM.

  2. #2
    "Gun the engine, would ya, 'roy?"

    An explosion of rumbling leapt into life, spewing forth a noxious cloud of fumes that Hugo barely managed to drop in time as he dove clear. A lick of flame that would surely have claimed his eyebrows followed in the wake of the fumes; a tirade of curses in a multitude of languages followed in the wake of the first coughing breaths that Hugo made. He clambered to his feet, the speeder sagging a little on its repulsorlifts as it took the brunt of his weight. "That went well," he muttered darkly, slumping against the the side in defeat. "I think we need a new eco filter on that port thruster."

    It took a few moments for him to realise that, in his distraction, someone had arrived and ensnared his attention; Nora Nichol, the employee that was laughingly referred to as the Kripke Transit "secretary", but in fact did most of the leg work in running the company. Probably because Elroy spent most of his time out here in the hangar keeping Hugo entertained, rather than actually in the office. Guilt twisted a little in Hugo's stomach; he grabbed at the tools he'd dropped, and pretended to work to disguise his eavesdropping.

    Just in time to catch Elroy swearing. That was a bad sign - even back when they'd all been dirt-mouthed commandos for the Republic (and later Imperial) Senate, Commando Kripke had always reserved that kind of language for the most dire situations; usually when the words "apprehend" and "Jedi" were in the mission brief. Hugo strained his senses, thankful for the visual barrier that the speeder provided; he'd never been all that good at covert surveillance. Nora was talking in hushed tones, but one word leapt out in Hugo's mind: Anor.

    Anor Attacker Claims Third Victim.

    Curiosity insatiable, Hugo abandoned his hiding place, and casually wandered over, grabing a conveniently placed rag to try and scrub the worst of a fresh coat of oil from his fingers. "Something up?" he asked, heralding his approach. "Nora," he added, with a nod in her direction as greeting.

    Elroy wore the furrowed brow of a deeply troubled man. "An order came in; a client willing to pay a heck of a lot of money for us to collect a shipment from Ord Anor. Its a doosy of a contract."

    "But -?" Hugo pressed.

    A sigh escaped from the former commando, the slump of his shoulders and the tired, haggard expression in his eyes revealing every single one of the myriad years that he'd gone through in the service. "Our pilot got into a bar fight last night; picked up a fractured arm while trying to beat the shit out of our engineer. Times are hard with all the extra taxes that the Empire is trumping up; we need this job, but we can't afford to hire in a freelance crew. Don't have the time, either."

    Hugo shrugged, as if the solution was obvious. The gesture only just managed to contain the surge of ellation that swelled through him as he realised the blind luck he'd stumbled upon. "We've still got Joe, right?" he asked, glancing in Nora's direction; her husband, Jorran, was on the books as the co- and relief pilot for their sole long-range transport, the Coromon. "And you did basic astronav back in basic. Throw me in to take care of the engines, and you've got yourself a crew."

    Eyes narrowed, Elroy contemplated the idea; a frown followed far too quickly, however. "What about your kids, Hue? We'll be gone a good two weeks. There's only so long you can leave that Tressa girl to look after them."

    When glance at Nora met an 'Oh no you fucking don't' expression, Hugo winced. "The Coromon has space for passengers," he said, slowly. "We could -"

    Elroy's warning tone cut him off. "Ord Anor is right out on the frontier. Ain't exactly a family vacation spot."

    He wasn't willing to back down though. He still couldn't place it, but something about Anor; it felt like something was drawing him there. Something about that story, maybe; something about that crime report, and the memories it conjured up of Emaryn. He knew he needed to go there; poke around if he could; help to solve the mystery. Maybe if he did - maybe if he found out how, he'd get some closure. He'd have some evidene to back up his theory that Emaryn had been compelled into what she was doing. Maybe he could convince himself to believe.

    "You won't know they're there." The gaze he fixed Elroy with was almost pleading.

    The old soldier caved, shoulders slumping. "Fine," he muttered. "But you ain't lumbering me with baby sitting duty."

    A rare flash of smile crept onto Hugo's features. "You won't know they're there," he repeated, the expression turning lopsided.

    He glanced over his shoulder, eyes settling on the Class 720 freighter whose massive bulk loomed over everything in the hanger. He'd always wanted a poke around inside the old crate, but the now-injured mechanic had never let him within fourty paces of the engine room. Get well soon, Hugo thought darkly to himself. That way you'll be in prime condition to get pissy about how royally I've fucked about with your precious systems.

  3. #3
    Hugo sat silently towards the aft of the cockpit, nervous and apprehensive. Part of it was because of where they were going; Hugo didn't know what they were heading towards, but he wasn't quite as oblivious as the other members of the Coromon's makeshift crew. There was excitement there too; his mind remembered the buzz that had gripped him whenever they'd gone off on a mission back in the early days, and while this was a far cry from the commando missions of the Clone Wars, it was closer than anything he'd done over the past God knows how many years.

    That was only part of the reason, however. Perhaps more contributory to his current apprehension was the fact that Vittore was slowly spinning around on the seat beside the weapons console, a few feet away on the far side of the cockpit. The young Montegue had been firmly buckled in, and Hugo was completely confident that he wouldn't be able to reach the controls from where he was, nor slip his bindings and escape, but he couldn't shake the sensation that this was probably a bad idea. Still, Elroy needed to be in the nav seat, and Hugo needed to be able to reach the systems console if needed; which he could, just, if the Cambrio strapped into his lap would quite fidgeting for long enough. The only thing they were confident not to need between here and hyperspace was the weapons.

    A hand crept upwards, a stray finger accidentally violating one of Hugo's nostrils. He eased the hand away gently, clamping it and its twin down at Cambrio's sides. "Sit still," he said softly, glancing across at Vittore to see if he should repeat the instruction at his other son.

    Fortunately, the repulsorlifts rumbled into life with perfect timing, and Vittore suddenly became deadly still. Since arriving on Junction - and Vittore had been too young at the time to remember that - both kids had been facinated by the transports, freighters, and other starships that filled the skies above their home, but Hugo had never permitted them anywhere near one.

    If Hugo had to guess at Vittore's mental state right now, he'd guess that the kid was about to pee himself with excitement. And despite his insistance that they make use of the 'fresher before they left, Hugo wasn't entirely sure that it was metaphorical.

    "Hold tight, boys," Jorran Nichol announced to the assembled crew, dialling up the power to the repulsorlifts. Though the children clearly didn't notice, Hugo caught a flash of the grin on the pilot's face, right before he threw in a little manual turbulence with the RCS controls to pump up the excitement. An appreciative smile crept onto Hugo's face; he wasn't sure where the Nichols currently stood on expanding their fledgling family, but Joe already had the makings of a great dad.

    Better than me, Hugh mused, a mix of self-deprecation and resentment.

    The buildings outside dropped quickly away as the Coromon climbed through the atmosphere, picking up speed as the persistant tug of gravity fell away. The tug of accelleration felt a little strange; a glance at the readouts on his screen revealed that Joe had dialled the inertial compensators down a couple of percent, to really add to the first-time experience. Disconcerting as hell for anyone who'd actually flown in a properly configured ship before, but no doubt thrilling to the extreme for the kids; Vittore's grin certainly seemed to agree.

    Eventually the tug fell away, as the Coromon broke free of Junction's gravity, and their velocity stabalised at crusing speed. The ship rolled lazily as Joe brought her around on the heading that Elroy calculated; the duo worked in silence, shunting the data about between the bank of screens that spread out in front of them. Suddenly the silence broke; something muttered by Joe.

    "Something wrong?" Hugo asked, fighting the note of worry out of his voice.

    The pilot hesitated. "Maybe," he explained, prodding the console controls seemingly at random. "there's an issue with the interlink between the helm controls and the hyperdrive; the ship won't be able to automatically vector in on the programmed course unless we go for a manual jump."

    Interlink between the helm con- what? Hugo frowned; he was familiar with the technology behind hyperspace travel, but the words escaping from Joe's mouth were utter jibberish. He would have stated as much, but the pilot's continued talking robbed him of his chance.

    Jorran spun in his chair, aiming himself towards the weapons console. "To do this manually," he explained to Vittore, "Elroy and I are going to have to activate two separate controls at the same time. Exactly the same time. Think you can help us out by counting down from five?"

    Vittore's eyes widened in awe; Hugo found himself forced to batter down yet another grin. His son looked at in, eyes seeking permission from his father. Hugo simply nodded. Vittore grinned. Hugo kept his face stern, and jerked his head towards Joe again. Vitt unleashed a brief baby grimace, before swallowing, hard. "Five..."

    Joe span immediately back to his console, just managing to catch a raised eyebrow from Elroy, to which he replied with a shrug.

    "Four. Three."

    The pilot keyed up the hyperdrive coordinates, ready to jump as normal. Elroy stared around the controls in front of him, searching for a redundant button that wouldn't do anything harmful. The divert switch that toggled comm control between the nav and systems consoles. He braced himself, ready.


    Vittore's voice was trembling with excitement. Cambrio's mouth had fallen over with jealousy and awe. Joe's face was plastered with a self-satisfied grin.


    Elroy's switch clunked; an indicator display on the console beside Hugo lit up, revealing that he had comms control. Joe haulled down on the Hyperspace controls, throwing the drive into action. The stars ahead of them twisted and distorted, torn asunder as the hyperdrive ripped a hole in the fabric of spacetime, and hurled them through it.

    Vittore beamed, his expression threatening to rip a hole in the fabric of facetime. Hugo rolled his eyes. "Come on, kids," he muttered, hesitating for a moment as he unbuckled his restraints to let Joe catch a glimpse of his greatful smile. "I said you could watch the hyperlaunch; now its rack time."

    For once, Vittore didn't protest; his little eyes were still the size of supernovae. Cambrio didn't either; he offered a yawn and, as Hugo lifted him gently off his lap, twisted around and cuddled against his father's shoulder. A contented sigh escaped from Hugo as he led a reluctant Vittore away from the bridge. Ain't exactly a family vacation spot, his mind reminded him, echoing Elroy's earlier words. But this is still the best holiday we've had in a long time.

  4. #4
    Ord Ithil

    She sensed him; felt his presence through the Force. She always did of course, reaching out into the aether and seek out her beloved Montegue. She walked with him, in her meditations, her mind spending hours merely lingering in his presence, savouring the warm familiarity therein. But he was closed to her presence: his mind blind to the Force. She longed for him to see her there; longed for her to be there, so she could feel his arms around her once more, enfolding her in the safety that only he could provide.

    But she could not be there; forces she could not comprehend nor understand kept her bound to this dead world, entombed within the darkness and dark clouds. Every day she wept for her love, and for her sons; every day the darkness and dispair in her heart grew darker, providing fuel to the darkness that surrounded. When she had first arrived, the world had been lit by an ominous glow. Now any light that reached the surface was scant, barely enough to drive away the living shadows.

    She stared into the corner of the room; regarded the decaying corpse of the man who had lured her here. She had never thought to learn his name. He stared out of her with hollow eyes: the creatures that had somehow survived in the blackness had long since made a meal of the features that had haunted her childhood dreams. Ragged strips of tissue and sinew remained; his jaw hung twisted, as if forever locked in a mockery of her demise.

    The Force wrapped around a fallen fragment of masonry, long since ripped from the ceiling above by time and decay, and hoisted it aloft; soaring across the room the fragment smashed mercilessly into the already broken skull. Bone popped and cracked with a sickly sound as the stone struck home; the remnants crumbled, slumping the remains of the body to the floor.

    Emaryn Montegue looked away in disgust. She wasn't sure why she still lingered here; up in this tower where her life had ended. She had ventured from there before - first for food, until she had learned that the Force, or some other dark presence in this place sustained her without the need for food or water - but she always returned. Strange that here, of all places, was the location she had chosen as her new home.

    Something tugged at her consciousness; like a voice in the distance, but closer than it had been for a long time. She closed her eyes, and reached out; it was Hugo, his familiar aura of safety instantly recognisable to her mind. But the sensation was more resolved; stronger; closer. She focused her senses. He was here, she was sure of it: his sudden arrival must have been him emerging from Hyperspace. Joy leapt through her heart; she reached out further, and brushed against the minds of her sons as well, feeling the gentle caresse of their own minds as they slumbered. They had come! Found her, somehow.

    But wait. She sensed no joy from Hugo; no ellation at having found his love; not even anger at her betrayal. There was something else; determination perhaps. She concentrated harder, resolving the image of his craft in her mind. She watched it swim through space; watched it bear down upon an alien world; felt them moving away, heading in the wrong direction. She recalled her destination when she had arrived: Ord Ithil was a dark world on the fringes of a star system; much closer to the sun was Ord Anor, populous, pleasant and warm.

    Bitterness tugged at her. They were not here for her; or at least, they had not travelled here with the knowledge that she was so close. Perhaps they were following her trail; it seemed so long since she had last seen them, but in truth her perception of time had been twisted and broken by the eternal night. Or perhaps they were here for another reason entirely; in any case, their proximity gave her hope, and she clung on to it tightly. Perhaps now she was close enough for her influence to be stronger. Perhaps now, Hugo could be made to see.

    Perhaps now, her belovéd could save her from this place.

  5. #5
    Ord Anor

    Hugo stretched, liberating himself from the crash couch that had become his home for far too many hours. He felt stiff and aching; despite the seat having been liberated from the military surplus that Elroy had begun to accumulate in one of Kripke Transit's dusty storage bunkers, it didn't feel nearly as comfortable as Hugo had imagined or remembered. Maybe the seat was damaged. Or maybe I'm just not that man anymore.

    Pacing in the hopes of rekindling life in his legs, he headed fore; appeared at the base of the cockpit ladder as Elroy's booted feet landed on the deck. Hugo prepared a platonic greating; the scowl on Elroy's face shot that down before it was even airborne. Hugo responded with a frown; "Come with me," was all Elroy offered.

    Dutifully, Hugo fell into step, remaining silent until they reached the summit of the access ramp. There, he spoke up; "I should stay with the kids."

    Elroy didn't bother with eye contact. "Joe will watch them," he said simply, activating the servos that would cause the ramp to decend. He was already pacing down it before it had made contact with the floor. At the base he turned, casting Hugo a look that featured a disconcerting mix of exasperation, frustration, and annoyance. "Come with me," he repeated. This time his tone wasn't a request; more of an order.

    It had been a long time since Elroy had cracked out that attitude; Elroy had been Hugo's superior during his early commando career, and the mutual respect they'd had back then had translated into a close friendship when promotions had elevated Hugo to his equal. Despite effectively being his employer for the best part of the last two years, Elroy had never so much as instructed Hugo to do anything. Everything was a request. But now -

    Hugo almost shuddered. This was not a good sign.

    * * *

    "Why are we here?"

    The streets of the settlement that had sprung up around Ord Anor's primary starport were buzzing with multispecies crowds. Back in the Galactic Core, many of the alien races that had been involved with the Confederacy of Independent Systems were thought of as second-class citizens by the loyalist humans; that prejudice was quickly evolving into a distrust of non-humans in general, that the Galactic Empire was doing very little to discourage. Out here on the fringes of civilization however, populations were far more diverse; Hugo liked to think of himself as a travelled man, but even he couldn't recognise more than a handful of the species arrayed before him by name.

    Hugo's attention had been distracted by a skantily-clad Twi'leki woman dancing provokatively through the doorway of one of the cantinas. Over the ambiance of the street, he couldn't make out the music, but frankly that wasn't really the important part of the process. He finally offered his response when their progress along the thoroughfare had moved the tavern out of his eyeline.


    Maintaining patience - barely - Elroy repeated his question. "Why are we here?"

    Hugo frowned. "I thought we were heading off to meet this contact guy of yours; pick up our cargo." He scratched at the thick stubble on his jaw. "You're the one that wanted me to come."

    "That's why I am here," Elroy countered, making a concerted effort not to make eye-contact, instead focussing on dodging around the oncoming pedestrians. "That's why the ship is here. But you were pretty quick to volunteer you and me for this mission; and don't think I didn't notice that glimmer in your eye that you were trying to hide."

    They stepped into a pool of calm; Elroy finally turned to Hugo, and fixed him with the most stern glare he could muster. "We're here now. Why?"

    Hugo was prepared to lie; Elroy would probably have accepted what story he provided, even if he was more than capable of telling lies from truth. Whatever story Hugo gave, he'd take his word for it, hoping that Hugo would relax enough to reveal the truth in time. At least, normal Elroy would be like that. But this sudden emergance of of Drill Sergeant Kripke from the depths of Elroy's memory was making him nervous.

    With a sigh, Hugo caved. "The news," he said simply.

    Elroy frowned, searching his mind for anything remotely interesting in the holonet feeds he'd been reading up on in hyperspace. The only thing was -

    "The murders?" He frowned, clearly not understanding what on Junction Hugo was talking about. "What do they have to do with anything."

    Reluctance tempered the pace of Hugo's words. "They're suspecting something unusual. The witness reports mentioned that people were behaving differently; acting strange..."

    "Emaryn?" Elroy interjected, reaching the logical conclusion. His voice was laced with disbelief. "We're thousands of lightyears from Coruscant, Hugo. How could this have anything to do with Emaryn?"

    Hugo's jaw clenched. "I don't know," he admitted, but the words were forced out with great reluctance. "I just... I feel I should be here. Maybe by learning about what happened here, I'll be able to come to terms with what happened to Emaryn. Or maybe by helping to save these people I can -"

    His voice cracked, throught turned dry. He looked at Elroy with pleading eyes. No more questions. Please.

    Elroy sagged, looking his age once again. "Helping these people won't bring her back to you. And the locals probably won't appreciate us hanging around; it isn't our place to fix the universe's mess anymore."

    "This is my mess," Hugo countered. "At least, it feels like it. Sure, it may not be the same thing that was responsible; but its close enough. I need to find it. Need to... Need to get -"

    Revenge. The word didn't need saying; it hung between them, clear as day.

    Elroy sighed, and placed a hand on Hugo's shoulder. "Lets get this cargo sorted, and then find a bar. If after a drink or two I haven't managed to talk you back to your senses, at least we'll be in a good place to start hunting for leads."

    Hugo offered a tight but genuine smile. "Good idea," he replied softly. There was a hesitant pause. "That's why you're the manager, and I'm just the mechanic I guess."

    Elroy quirked his eyebrow, a tired sigh escaping from him. "Fancy a trade?"

  6. #6
    Hugo scratched at the nape of his neck. Elroy's efforts had ultimately failed in at everything except instilling a slight meander into their balance as they'd hiked across town. They'd sobered up fast though, and now he stood in the heart of the old industrial precinct where all three of the previous victims had been found. They had split up, much to Elroy's dismay: the elder of the two had ventured off in search of a computer terminal, to try and discreetly access some of the police reports. Hugo had insisted on scoping out the crime scene himself; a perimeter fence had provided a certain obstacle, but that had quickly been overcome.

    The forensics teams had swept through, carefully disassembling the scene with laser precision, before the clean-up crew had been allowed to rustle away the worst of the remaining evidence. There were still a few stubborn patches of blood here and there that had evaded the clensing efforts, but nothing to help him get his bearings. He cringed, reminding himself never to underestimate the extra skills that his Sector Ranger brother must have collected over the years.

    He crouched low, investigating something tucked behind the shadow of a drainage pipe; footsteps behind him made him rise and turn, eyes settling squarely on the blaster barrel aimed at his head. "Who the hell are you?" the police officer on the other end of the pistol asked, thankfully youthful and hopefully naive.

    Hugo racked his mind for a suitable alias, and threw out the first name that came to mind. "Victor Montegue." Shit. That was a bad choice; hardly one that would do a good job of disguising his identity. Then again, such a simple deception did potentially come with certain advantages. Buoyed by the cunning plan he had accidentally stumbled upon, he expanded his story.

    A wry, lopsided grin formed on his face. "I'm a Sector Ranger," he lied - well, it was the truth really, provided you assumed the initial fact to be correct.

    "Let me see your badge."

    Damn. His brow furrowed, trying as if regretting a bad decision. That wasn't a hard expression to conjure up. He reinforced the smile with a nervous laugh, holding his arms around him. "I'm afraid I left it in my other jacket," he quipped. A hand gestured towards the officer's belt. "That datapad connect to the holonet?"

    The officer nodded, slowly. "Why?"

    "Pull up the personnel net for Sector Ranger Command," he suggested, with a casual shug. "My official records should be as good an evidence of ID as my badge."

    Seeming to muse over the idea momentarily, the officer finally nodded. He gestured away from himself. "Hands on the wall," he instructed, stepping back a few paces to give him a little more reaction time should he need to retrieve his blaster again.

    Slowly, so as not to make the kid any more jumpy than he already was, Hugo complied. I hope this works, he willed, to the Force and to a dozen or so fictional deities that he'd heard of over his years as a commando. The officer's progress was arduous, taking an eternity as his apparently archaic data device stoked up enough heat from the coal fire to produce the steam needed to make the damned thing run. Finally, information began to appear on his screen; he squinted at the photo, not entirely convinced. Hugo fought the urge to panic. "Look a little different with the beard, huh?" he called, correctly assuming the source of the officer's trepedation.

    After a long pause, the police officer chuckled. "Yeah; the hair and the extra weight makes a difference, too."

    Extra weight? Hugo seethed a little, but his desire to avoid prolonging this encounter any more than necessary kicked in. This is the last time I complain about how much I look like my brother, he reminded himself, though knew he'd forget as soon as a suitable opportunity for some kind of appropriate sarcastic comment arose.

    He turned slowly towards the officer and smiled. "I take it I'm not a criminal?"

    The kid sighed, and shook his head. "Unfortunately no; could have done with something like that to spice up the evening. What can I do for you, Ranger?"

    Hugo shrugged, and folded his arms across his chest. "Been enjoying some downtime, visiting an old friend; saw your recent crime spree mentioned on the holonet, and figured I'd head down and take a look; offer my services if possible."

    The officer seemed relieved as much as anything else. "I'm sure the detectives will appreciate that; we put in a request to have a Sector Ranger shipped out here, but because we're so far off the beaten track, we don't actually have one regularly assigned. We're screening the outgoing shipping as best we can, but the Superintendant has been worried that the perp will slip through our net; there's no way we can put the starport on hold until someone arrives to help track this guy down."

    Hugo offered what he hoped was an understanding smile. "Guess its lucky I'm here, then." He faked hesitation, and frowned in the officer's direction. "Anything you can give me, to stop me having to go through this every time I'm spotted? It'd be a pain to have to repeat the same process every time I run in to one of your patrols."

    Eyes widening at his having overlooked such a simple notion, the officer rummaged around in the depths of his pockets, eventually producing a thick strip of flexiplast, attatched to a descending clip. Slotting it into the back of his datapad for a second, he tapped away furiously at the screen, before handing it over to Hugo. "Crime scene permit," he explained, as Hugo examined the plast with interest. "Just tell them who you are, show them that, and there shouldn't be any problems."

    "Thank you," Hugo threw back, with a reassuring smile. He looked around him, faking hesitance again. "Well, I guess I'd better let you get back to your patrol." He fired a curt nod. "Carry on, Constable."

  7. #7
    It was dark down there: clammy, moist. Smelt like hell, too; or at least, smelt like Nal Hutta, which was just as bad. He'd spent his time in some Force-forsaken places over the years, but this ranked pretty high on the list. Still, it was necessary, given his line of business; the sewer tunnels provided a freedom of movement that just wasn't available on the surface, and provided him with the privacy he needed to change. That'd probably have raised a few questions if he'd done that out in the open air.

    He tugged a little at the throat of his Anor Police uniform; as bad a fit on him as it had been on its original owner. It was a necessary element of his disguise however, if he was to be successful in walking away from the scene of his crime uncontested. Stooping for a moment to wipe a streak of something green and slimey off one of his shine-polished boots with the corner of the clothes he'd abandoned, he carefully adjusted his mindset to comply with the persona he'd now adopted. He blew out a breath; focussed his mind; became the Police Constable that his appearence suggested he was.

    He glanced over his shoulder; looked at the corpse of the man who he'd been forced to kill when he'd stumbled upon his subterranian hiding place. He wasn't a cold, heartless man; he didn't kill for pleasure, or sport. He killed for money: usually the money of his victims like this job, though occasionally on contract for the Bounty Hunters. He wasn't one to fool himself: he could appreciate the moral implications of his crimes. But his victims always deserved it.

    Well, most of the time. Sorrow tugged a little at his expression. "You should have accepted the bribe I offered," he muttered to the deceased with a sigh, before clambering his way back up the access ladder, and out into daylight.

    * * *

    Elroy strained; the shipping crate he was carefully lowering himself down onto groaned disconcertingly as his weight began to shift onto the toes that only just reached it. He eased a little more, and the protest continued; but his strength wasn't what it had once been, and he was well beyond the point of return. Committing fully, he let the remainder of his weight drop onto the crate; in return, the crate fractured into shards, and let Elroy's weight continue its gravity-assisted journey towards the ground.

    Elroy unleashed a pained grunt, wincing in frustration as pain pulsed through his body from where his back had made contact with the duracrete. Damn it, he groaned inside his head, wondering why the hell Hugo had been so insistant that he clamber over the security fencing that encircled the crime scene; too lazy to make the journey to a rendezvous himself, more than likely. This had better not be a waste of time.

    "Who the hell are you?"

    One of the curse words that Elroy so dedicately refrained from using floated through his mind as his eyes opened, sight clapping on the blaster levelled towards his head. He explored his way up the attatched arm, vision taking in the Police Constable who loomed over him. Another curse swam around his brain, and connected with the first.

    The Constable repeated his question, brandishing the blaster for emphasis. Elroy pushed himself slowly into a sitting position before he replied. "I'm a little lost," he began, holding his hands up in as non-threatening a manage as he could muster. "I'm looking for a friend of mine -"

    "He's with me," an irritatingly confident voice interrupted. Both the Constable and Elroy glanced back up the industrial alley they occupied; a mix of relief and anger swelled in Elroy as he recognised the cocky approaching form of Hugo Montegue.

    The Constable didn't seem particularly pleased about the new arrival, however, given from the speed with which he trained his blaster on Hugo. "And who are you?"

    The slighest of frowns tugged at Hugo's brow. He reached slowly into the jacket of his pocket, producing the flexiplast he'd been issued with. "A Sector Ranger." He brandished the flimsy. "You gave me this, remember?"

    The Constable hesitated; from this angle, Elroy couldn't make out much of his expression, reading most of the exchange in Hugo's unhelpfully minimal reactions. "Right," the Constable said reluctantly; his tone didn't sound entirely convinced. "And who is this guy?" His blaster strayed towards Elroy, making the old soldier cringe internally again; he made a mental note to make Hugo's life hell if they got out of this. "Does he have clearence?"

    Hugo shrugged; his casual attitude was annoying in the extreme. "Sector Ranger Operations, Protocol 14, Section 31: A Ranger is permitted to make use of any and all equipment and assets necessary, available, and justifiable over the course of his investigation." He nodded towards his old friend, still occupying the floor. "This is Elroy Kripke, a retired Sergeant in the Senate Guard. He's aiding my investigation." He hesitated again, cocking his head to one side as he regarded the Constable. "His records should be available on the Holonet, if you want to check."

    Rather than being relieved by the revelation, the Constable appeared to grow increasingly aggitated. Hugo remained calm and patient, waiting for a reaction; Elroy struggled to do the same, but with a lesser degree of success. "Very well," the Constable said at last. "I'll leave you to your investigation."

    Without another wor,d he disappeared with perhaps more pace than was appropriate - Elroy simply dismissed it as embarassment over the mistaken identity, but from the furrowed brow that graced Hugo's features as he helped Elroy back to his feet, the Montegue wasn't convinced. "Protocol 14?" Elroy asked, echoing Hugo's earlier words.

    The mechanic shrugged, a hint of a cheeky smile sneaking onto his lips. "Victor left a copy lying around last time he visited. Gotta read something while I'm in the 'fresher." The expression faded quickly however, the puzzled frown returning in ernest. "Did anything seem 'odd' about that police guy to you?"

    "He pointed a gun at my head," Elroy said tightly, summoning up a little of his bottled frustration to fuel a glare in Hugo's direction. "The fact that I'm on the wrong side of the law thanks to you seemes pretty damned odd."

    Hugo waved a hand dismissively, his attention apparently far from focussed on Elroy's tone or expression. "I met the guy not two hours ago," he muttered, vaguely. "Convinced him I was Victor; he issued me with an all-access pass to the crime scene." His hand rubbed at his thickly stubbled jaw. "Didn't even recognise me."

    Elroy shrugged. "Maybe he's just stressed," he offered; it was evident from his voice that he had no desire to dwell on the subject. Or dwell in this particular location, for that matter. The sooner they could get back to the ship and start heading home, the happier he'd be. "Does it really matter?"

    Hugo's eyes stared off into the middle distance. He'd scouted out this alley before; he'd used it as his point of entry as well, hence his suggestion that Elroy sneak in this way. Something seemed off however; more than just the smashed cargo crate that Elroy had evidently fallen through. He paced over, and poked at a steel drain cover with the toe of his boot; it let out a clunk as it shifted slightly and dropped back into place. "Yeah," he said, gaze lifting back to Elroy. "I think it does."

    * * *

    Hugo crouched beside the corpse, while Elroy upheld a silent vigil a few paces away, trying to decide whether the sewer or the body made for a less appealing smell. Hugo didn't seem as bothered however, regarding the propped body with intregue. "Its pretty warm down here," he announced, as if back on Coruscant and explaining a trivial fact to a class of recruits. "Bearing in mind how that accellerates the decay, this guy probably hasn't been dead more than an hour or two."

    "And?" Elroy muttered, the back of his hand covering his mouth as his nose wrinkled in disgust.

    Hugo looked at him in disbelief. "This is the same Constable we were just talking to."

    Elroy blinked, and took a few cautious steps closer, peering at the corpse with renewed interest. In truth he'd paid more attention to the blaster than to the man holding it, but as he dredged through his short-term memory, he picked out the few recognisable features that confirmed Hugo's analysis. "Twin?" he asked, hopefully.

    Hugo shook his head. "A shapeshifter," he countered. "A Clawdite or something similar, more than likely. Stripped this poor guy of his uniform; suggests that he only has the ability to change his face and skin, rather than being one of the more advanced types."

    Elroy nodded reluctantly, agreeing with his old partner's assessment. Fortunately, they'd only dealt with individuals posessing such abilities on a handful of occasions, but he still remembered the extensive series of briefings that they'd all undergone after a Clawdite had been linked with the assassination attempt on Senator Amidala, shortly before the Clone Wars began. "Our suspect?" he asked, resigned to the fact that they were committed to the investigation now.

    Hugo straightened, his expression grave. "More than likely."

    Elroy's arms folded across his chest as he unleashed a sigh. "Well: this is your rodeo, Montegue. How do we hunt down a suspect who can alter their face at will, when all we have available is the two of us, and whatever blasters you managed to conceal about your person?"

    "We don't."

    The admission stunned Elroy to momentary silence; he hadn't managed to conjure his voice back before Hugo offered an explanation. "We don't have the manpower to pull off this kind of search. We contact the authorities, fill them in on what we know, and help as much as they'll let us."

    Elroy refrained from comment. He'd known Hugo for years, and knew how much he'd loathe being forced to admit defeat; but he respected how willingly he accepted the truth, and how willing he was to pursue the correct course of action. "There's probably a senior officer still around from the crime scene investigation," he offered helpfully.

    Hugo nodded, the slightest hint of a smile quirking his features. "Lead the way, boss."

  8. #8
    The fake Constable scratched at the base of his neck. Shifting was a strange and sometimes uncomfortable process; his previous form had been completely bald, and it was taking his mutated skin a little time to adjust to the sensation of having hair again. Still, it wouldn't take long; as soon as he made it off the planet, he'd be able to relax and revert to his natural form again. All he needed to do was find a ship.

    He cycled through the list of vessels docked at the Starport, eyes glancing over the information that his Police Constable access card had granted him access for. Aside from information on the licencing and documentation of the craft - useful to know, so that he could log an appropriate flight plan for his getaway - he browsed casually over headshots of the registered crew, noting whether or not they were logged as having departed the Starport; imperative if he planned to imitate one of them in order to sneak aboard. Most of the landed vessels carried too many crew however, and he didn't have time to dispose of them all without the risk of alerting the authorities.

    His eyes settled on a pair of faces that he recognised. His lips curled into a smile at the irony; his face twisted and shifted, malleable features contorting to match the visage of one Hugo Montegue, the individual who had proved such a nuicance to him earlier. His hand toyed across his jaw, scratching across the layer of stubble he'd subconsciously remembered to ammend to the file photograph, based on his encounter with the man in the flesh.

    "Docking Bay 11-37," he said softly, testing out his approximation of the man's voice. His smile broadened as he familiarised himself with the specifics of the Coromon: the ship he was about to steal. Only one member of the crew - and two infant passengers - were logged as still being aboard; an easy target. Might be able to make a few extra creds off the resale as well, he mused, rising to his feet. And infants can fetch a tidy sum on the Black Market as well.

    * * *

    Jorran drummed his boots idly against the deck plates. Elroy and Hugo had disappeared a few hours ago to meet with their employer; they'd commed in a few hours ago to inform him that the shipment was on the way, and to let him know that they'd become sidetracked by 'other business'. Joe had read between the lines and assumed that translated to 'bar', but hadn't begrudged them their downtime: Hugo always looked like he could use a little rest and relaxation, and Elroy had been pretty stressed out lately. Besides, it gave him a little time to play Uncle Joe.

    That he and his wife hadn't yet had children of their own didn't frustrate him necessarily; they were a relatively young couple, and there was pleanty of time for all that. It was just that he'd reached the point in his life where he was ready; unfortunately, Nora wasn't just yet. Maybe he should volunteer their services to take care of Hugo's kids more often - a little exposure to as sweet and endearing a pair of younglings as them would no doubt win her over.

    Speaking of Hugo - Joe frowned as movement caught his attention outside the ship attracted his attention. A figure appeared at the cargo hatch that led into the landing bay; he punched in a few commands on the main console, and zoomed in on the figure's face. When the image resolved into Hugo Montegue, he was admittedly surprised, given how the new arrival's clothing displayed a marked difference from what he'd been dressed in when he'd left the ship. Not that he paid much attention to clothes or anything of course; it was just pretty obvious when the faded blue military garb that the mechanic habitually wore transformed into something new, black, and shiny.

    Still, he took the return as a good sign. Punching in a few commands to lock down the helm, he abandoned his seat and paced over to the access ladder that led down into the rest of the ship. His boots clunked lazily on the deck plates as he skipped the rungs and slid rapidly down; he'd paced across to the summit of the access ramp by the time it had fully opened.

    His signature grin plastered across his face. "Hey, Hu-"

    The whine of the blaster cut off the rest of his greeting. His grin melted as his features slackened, body collapsing heavily to the floor, a smoking hole burned into his chest. The imposter ascended the ramp with a sigh, kicking the pilot's leg aside so that it cleared the hydrolics of the ramp before slamming a fist into the controls that would close it.

    A hiss from a little further up the corridor drew his attention; his blaster snapped up, levelled squarely at the young boy who appeared within the freshly opened doorway. Whatever surprise must have flashed through his mind was trampled aside by an overjoyed gasp as his eyes settled upon his apparent father's attire. "Cool, dad!" Vittore almost shouted, excitedly. "Do we get to play dress up too?"

    "Fuck off, kid," the shapeshifter growled, advancing menacingly down the corridor. Vittore backed away, face twisting in confusion and horror as his eyes settled on the slumped form of Uncle Joe, apparently lying at his father's feet. The expression deepened as, in his frustration, the 'shifter let his faked features slip. A hand lanced out and grabbed the scruff of Vittore's shirt, and shoved him roughly back into the quarters. A blaster shoved its ugly nose into the room as the 'shifter restored his composure and appearence; Cambrio, woken by the noise, scampered backwards in his bed.

    The 'shifter grunted, backed out of the room, and jammed a thumb into the door controls. A pair of blaster bolts followed in its wake, ensuring that the boys wouldn't be able to trouble him any time soon.

    Inside, Cambrio's lip trembled; he turned a pair of dark, worried eyes on his brother. "Why is daddy angry?" he asked, his voice faint and mournful.

    "That's not daddy," Vittore explained, padding barefoot over to Cambrio's bunk, and wrapping a reassuring arm around his brother's shoulders. "That's a bad man."

  9. #9
    Ord Ithil

    Joy. Unhindered, unbridled joy. Emaryn had reached out across space to the neighbouring world of Anor, and her mind had brushed against the consciousness of her love. She had tried - persisted - in making him notice her there, but his mind felt focused, and dedicated. Something important occupied his thoughts, and she knew him well enough to know that, in such situations, he would allow nothing to distract him. She would have to wait until his mind was cleared; but even so, she could feel his presence close to her once more. Such joy was second only to what she would feel when his arms were around her once again.

    She had strayed a little from her focus on his mind; brushed against his surroundings. Her joy had deepened when - to her surprise - she had felt them: her sons. Her boys! Her spitit had danced; within the darkness of Ithil her spirit had burned like a new sun. Her love for Hugo had drawn her away, but she split her mind between them; straying from one to the other, longing for the time when they would be a family once again.

    She returned to them now; she felt Hugo returning to them, but in her impatience she could not wait enough to travel at his mere mortal pace. Her mind skipped ahead: danced over the conscious minds that littered the distance between them and, like every mother would, wrapped her loving arms around her sons.

    But things were different; something did not feel as it had. Darkness plagued the spirits of her children: the first step on the path to darkness that had tried to consume her. Fear; her children were afraid. Of what? she wondered, opening her mind to them further. What are you afraid of?


    The answer was simple, and yet meant so much. With it came flashes of thoughts and images; a vision of a man who was Hugo, but not Hugo; an imposter; a fraud. She saw through his disguise, and saw the ugliness in his soul: a soul that looked nothing like her belovéd. He had come; invaded the ship; come to steal her family away from her. No!

    And yet, the realisation came to her, and buoyed her spirits. That she had seen this meant that her sons were not deaf to her thoughts: one of them had sensed her, and issued a reply. The joy at that brought renewed determination: even if Hugo could not feel her presence, her children could. That would be enough to bring them here: to free her.

    Her focus sharpened, her maternal instincts and the joyous warmth in her heart bolstering her spirit, making her stronger. She crafted it into a weapon, sharp and precise, and reached out across space towards them again. Don't worry, my sons, her spirit whispered. I will keep you safe.

  10. #10
    Ord Anor

    The 'shifter cursed, slamming a fist into the console. Whether through some fortunate intuition or overzealous paranoia, the pilot had secured the controls of the vessel before he had expired; without him now alive, it would take hours to break through the security, and time was something he had precious little of. He scathed himself for his short-sightedness, and confronted his dilemma: should he remain and aboard and attempt to rectify his oversight, or abandon this ship and seek out another?

    No, he decided. To linger is far too great a risk.

    Abandoning his seat, he crossed hastily to the access ladder, decending the rungs as fast as he could manage. His feet collided with the deck and he turned; mere meters away, a blaster stared angrily in his direction.

    "Nice face," Hugo muttered darkly, teasing the controls of his blaster to 'kill'. He had until moments ago been carrying his weapon safely on stun, in the hopes of apprehending the shapeshifter and turning him in to the authorities. But with Joe lying dead behind him - Elroy crouched over the body in the hopes of coaxing some ounce of life out of his blaster-scorched form - and the evident blaster damage sealing his children trapped (though hopefully safe) in their bunkroom, Hugo no longer had any such intentions.

    The 'shifter winced; this was hardly going to plan. "Listen -" he tried, holding his arms up in semi-surrender. Perhaps he could reason with this man; perhaps he was smart enough to take the bribe that he offered, and grant him liberty to flee the ship and find an alternate means off the planet. It was only the pilot he had killed, and he could probably convince him that it was self defence: he was an expert con man, after all -

    A sound that his ears could not percieve shrieked in his mind; screamed at him, battering any other thought aside. He replicated it through his voice; shouted as he gripped his head in evident pain. Through the cacophany of noise he heard words: gentle, feminine words that were clearly from no one that he could see before him. I will keep you safe, the words intoned, repeating over and over like a chant. I will keep you safe. I will keep -

    "- you safe."

    A stunned expression formed on the 'shifter's features, totally different now than they had been mere moments before. He looked down at his hands, small and dainty now, as if they belonged to a woman. His clothes hung loose about him, and hair hung in a frame around his face. His hands rose to his face - controlled by a will that wasn't his own. And was that his own voice that he had just heard, aloud?

    Inside his mind, Emaryn forced his eyes open in surprise, feeling her own familiar features through his fingers. Something had changed; she felt different, somehow. She percieved his surroundings through his eyes as if they were her own. She had form, and substance, as if she was actually there. As if... she was... actually there?

    Her mouth opened in amasement, twisting into a smile. She looked at Hugo - at her love - with longing eyes. Finally, after these years of waiting, he would hold her again. "My love," she wispered, taking steps slowly towards him -

    The 'shifter's face rippled back into its natural form as the blaster bolt exploded into his chest, felling the Clawdite body to the ground instantly. He flailed frantically as the off-center shot sliced a hole through his lung, the last remnants of precious breath leaking through the burned wound. Hugo advanced, blaster still held ready to fire again. "My wife is dead," he muttered, venom in his words. "Just like you, you son of a bitch."

    The blaster shrieked again, the bolt this time lancing directly into the shapeshifter's heart - or at least, where Hugo presumed it to be. The life drained from his eyes, and Hugo slumped his shoulders, his expression turning tired and haggared.

    "He's dead," Elroy announced from behind him, gently closing Joe's lids and rising to his feet.

    Hugo knew the words referred to their pilot, but they applied to him as well. "Yeah," he muttered softly. "He is."

    * * *

    It took time to pry open the door that the shapeshifter had sealed, every second of which ached with guilt. This was his fault: if he hadn't delayed their departure, the 'shifter might never have come to them; his sons might never have been in danger; Joe might never have died. That guilt fuelled his muscles as he wrenched the door sideways, tearing a hole wide enough for him to squeeze through.

    He dropped to his knees, arms wrapping around the boys that ran immediately to him. "I'm so sorry," he wispered, voice cracked and broken; his arms squeezed them tighter. He held them for an eternity, before squirming from Vittore suggested that he should probably ease off. His grip retreated a little; he held them at arms length, studying them intently. "Are you okay? Did he hurt you?"

    "We're fine, dad," Vittore replied, with a look of confident determination that tugged at Hugo's heartstrings, despite the image being somewhat marred by the dried tears that stained his face. "The fake you locked us in here pretty quick."

    Hugo nodded, relieved that they hadn't been harmed, at least. He turned his attention to Cambrio; ruffled his hand through the boy's thick, dark hair. "What about you, Cammy?"

    The boy's dark eyes blinked before he replied. "I saw mom," he said simply, his voice sure that he had, and yet unsure at the impossibility.

    "No, Cambrio," Hugo said with a pained voice. "That wasn't your mother: just a shapeshifter using her face." Hugo squeezed his son tightly again, but as Cambrio hooked his chin over dad's shoulder, his eyes weren't entirely convinced.

  11. #11
    Epilogue - Fairie Junction

    It was decided. There was no going back. Force knew enough people had attempted to convince him to remain already. Elroy had mustered a rousing lecture. Even Nora - clearly riddled with grief, especially since the revelation that Jorran had left her with a legacy, curled and gestating in her womb - had made an attempt. After he'd told her the truth - confessed about his part in it - she'd probably been glad that she hadn't succeeded. But it was for those people, and for others, that Hugo was leaving.

    Truth was that his visit to Ord Anor had opened his eyes. He had watched the holonet religiously for the last years, but never knew why. Stories like the one that had drawn him to Anor stuck out in his mind: tales of people and creatures who were beyond mere mortal, threatening the lives and safety of innocent bystanders. Years ago, both Hugo and his brother had taken an oath to protect and defend the Galactic Republic; and while he did not regret his decision to protect its government back then, he now wondered if Victor's choice to defend its people had been the better choice.

    Now was his opportunity to make amends. He would make it his mission to seek them out, and prevent them from harming anyone else. He would ensure that there would be no Joes or Noras; Cambrios or Vittores - no innocent victims, or the families that they would leave behind. The Galactic Republic had spent thousands upon thousands of credits turning him into a soldier, and in his grief he had simply walked away. There was no returning to them now; but on his own, maybe, he could make a difference; make the galaxy a better place.

    There was a dull knock against the hatch behind him. He grunted, and rolled his eyes; Elroy had only signed the papers giving Hugo ownership of the Coromon - bought with the proceeds from the sale of his appartment - this morning, and the door that he had ripped open a few days before had het to be repaired. He knew who was standing in the doorway before he even looked; the one man who hadn't yet tried to talk 'sense' into him yet.

    "Funny thing happened the other day," Victor announced, casually. "Apparently, I went on a visit to Ord Anor without realising it." He perched himself on the corner of one of the bunks, and folded his arms across his chest, a fake puzzled frown plastered across his features. "Thing is, I don't have a clue where Ord Anor is: had to check the holopedia to find out." He paused for a beat. "Any idea how that happened?"

    Hugo let out a sigh. His brother was obsessed with theatrics, and it was annoying as hell. "I know why you're here," he muttered, dumping down the next of the containers that he was busily unloading from a repulsor trolley. He glanced over to his brother darkly. "Don't try and talk me out of it."

    Victor held up his hands in surrender. "I wouldn't dream of trying to talk you out of your insane, hair-brained scheme."

    A grumble escaped from Hugo's throat. "I've thought this through," he muttered. "I know what I'm doing."

    "I'm sure you have," Victor replied, with a shrug.

    "Someone needs to do this," Hugo added. "Its not like the existing infrastructure - local law enforcement, the Sector Rangers, the government - are going to get their asses in gear and do it themselves."

    "I know."

    Hugo rounded on him angrily. "Then why the hell are you here?"

    A grin broke on Victor's face. "Ship needs two people to fly it, jackass."

    Hugo blinked, confused. "What?"

    The expression remained as Victor rose to his feet and crossed the bunkroom, clapping an arm onto his brother's shoulder. "You're right, Hue: this needs doing, and there's no one else to do this. Since I became a ranger, I've seen shit like this happening far too often, and there just isn't anything that the handful of us per Sector can actually do. The only way that these things are getting killed is if someone with the necessary money puts a hit out with the Bounty Hunters and, well..." He trailed off, and shrugged. "You know how I feel about them."

    "But," Hugo muttered, faintly. "You're job. Its what you always wanted."

    "What I always wanted," Victor countered, with a chuckle, "Was a job that'd let me walk around with a blaster, and that'd help get ladies into bed with me." He hesitated. "You know. For sex."

    Hugo grimaced, hand grabbing at his forehead at his brother's insufferable, state-the-obvious attitude. "You remember the rules from when we were kids, right?" he asked, peering out from underneath his hand. "Big bro outranks little bro."

    Victor forced out a mock sigh. "I'll follow your lead, if that's what you mean." He frowned. "Unless you're being a bitch."

    Hugo struggled, but couldn't quite keep the smile from his face. "Shut up, jerk."

    "Jerk?" Victor teased, raising an eyebrow. "That's the best you can come up with?"

    Hugo shook his head and sighed, walking out of the room. Not comfortable with his insult going unchallenged, Victor piped up again. "And we're going to need to change the name?"

    "Of what?" Hugo asked, moderating his pace slightly so that Victor could catch up.

    "The ship," Victor replied, as if it was obvious.

    "What's wrong with Coromon?" Victor remained silent, as if the question was ridiculously stupid. Hugo sighed. "Fine; what do you want to call it?"

    "Something badass," Victor replied. "Maybe Coromon Headhunter? Its an animal." He paused. "A badass animal."

    Hugo closed his eyes, fighting the urge to massage his head again. "I know what a Coromon Headhunter is, Victor."


    Another sigh. "Fine; we'll change the name, next chance we get."

    Victor grinned, ellated by his victory. "Oh! And I call shotgun."

    A wry hint of a smile crept onto Hugo's face. "Fine; I call pilot."

    "You call -" Victor frowned, processing the information. Realisation blossomed in his eyes. "Wait: that's not fair!"

    "That's the rules, dickweed," Hugo shot back.

    "Fuck you, bitch," Victor muttered, darkly.

    Hugo quirked an eyebrow. "Recycling insults now, asshat?"

    "At least I can come up with decent ones, fucktard," Victor shot back, grin threatening to tear his head in half.

    "You can't even spell fucktard, dipshit," Hugo retorted, as they descended the ramp; his hands wrapped around the next crate of cargo to be carried onto the ship.

    Victor followed, grabbing the shipping container beside it. "Sure I can!" he protested. "F- U- C- uh..."


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts