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A Warden's Resolve (Complete)
When did the peace on Cassus get shattered? Screaming, gunfire, explosions, and death. Sounds that seemed to carry over Toria Square in a sickening cycle as the suppression of the riot carried on. Even those protesting could not maintain order of their mob, and violence quickly ensued. With the order of the Vigilant Church being absolute, an unprecedented crackdown had begun. Dozens lay dead in the streets, hundreds more injured and arrested.
Shaori gazed down her path, her heavy, red armor glowing lightly as its internal generator hummed. Inside her helmet, a rapid assessment was provided, scanning the various bodies around her. A massive sword, its crimson frame matching the hues of her armor laid cold and dormant, its own generator remaining silently on standby for a threat to warrant the heating of the hot plasma blade. She let out a soft sigh as her gaze bounced between body to body, seeing only the lifeless as she slowly walked through the streets.
"Legionnaire Warden, report." a male voice crackled over her datachron. His voice was firm, with hints of nobility in his accent.
"Shaori here, sir," she responded, her own words rougher, simple, common. Lowborn. Like those who laid dead around her. "No survivors in my section....none at all." As if called out by her words, a small head poked out of once maintained shrubs, the formerly pristine leaves crushed and stained red from the battle. Shaori's visor immediately flashed red, an indicator rushing over to illuminate the target. Her blade roared to life with a thunderous bellow, plasma streaming along its edges as the generator quickly fired up. A child. A mere boy, he couldn't be more than eight years old, she thought.
"Automated reports from your suit report motion, can you confirm?" the voice questioned firmly, calmly, safely. There were no shots or screams coming over the datachron. How fortunate for him, she thought, to be away from the front lines. Her grip loosened on her sword as she began to lower it, the hot blade starting to cool.
"Nothing to worry about, sir...." she started, her visor focused straight at the trembling child, his terrified eyes seeming to peer straight into her own. "Just a stray animal. I'm heading to the rally beacon now, sir." There was a long pause after her response, her body stiff and motionless as she continued to stare at the child. Her own breathing, once filling the chamber of her helmet went silent, holding the reservation in her lungs.
"Understood, Legionnaire. Proceed to the beacon." No sooner than the datachron flickering off did she let out a loud exhale, her relief briefly fogging her inner visor. With a strong swing, she slung her massive blade backwards, an audible click echoing around her as the blade connected to her armor. Her head tilted towards the child as she seemed to pat the open air, gesturing the child downward. As the child lower back into the brush, a sudden explosion rocked the entire square, flinging a pillar of smoke up into the sky. Inside her mask, a display lit up, the signal beacon appearing in the direction of the smokey plume. Her steps started slow, building up into a steady jog, the armored figure moving across the square towards a rain of stone and soil kicked up by the blast.
Posted Jun 12, 15
· Last edited May 26, 17
Smoke lingered in the center of the square, obscuring the flashing lights of the metallic beacon. Several shadowy figures stood through the smoke, the haze and adrenalin tricking Shaori's mind into seeing towering figures. With a loud click, she pulled her sword, the generator once more roaring to life to heat up the blade's plasma. Air shimmered around her as a barrier of energy flickered into existence. Her steady jog had slowed to a deliberate walk, each step slow and calculated as she held her blade at the ready. All seemed silent, not even her own footsteps registered in her mind as emerald eyes fixated towards those figures. She watched as their arms gestured about, spying weapons on their backs, but not at the ready. The first sound to register in her mind after the long seconds was the pop of a broken branch beneath her colossal armor. The heavy plates of metal slammed down on the stone and shattered the wooden article into dozens of pieces which scattered about at the faint breezes wafting over the square. One of the smoky figures moved with a burst, coming at her with incredible speed. She swung her blade forward at the burst, only to hear a loud clang of an equivalent crimson blade striking against hers.
"Good to see you, too, Warden..." the hazy figure firmly stated gruffly, a hint of sarcasm detected in his low tone. Shaori blinked, her vision finally clearing to reveal the brown Draken before her. Indigo eyes peered sternly at her face as he leaned closer, his towering body hunching as the rounded front of the horns lightly ticking as they pushed against her visor. He pushed his blade forward with enough force to stagger her back a few steps, forcing room for breath between them. The stern Draken's expression broke into a sneer, a stifled chuckle escaping from him.
"Dammit Veriz!" Shaori shouted out in a burst of anger as her sword powered down, lowering to her side. But the anger was short lived as her own snickering started, her free hand moving to pull her helmet from her head. Long amber hair, slick with sweat, clung to her scalp down the back of her neck. "Don't laugh! This isn't funny!"
"I bet the look on your face was!" the Draken forced out before breaking into a hearty laugh, stepping forward as he returned his blade to his back. He reached over, swinging his clawed fingers in a friendly pat on the woman's back, smacking against the firm plates of her armor. "How was your patrol?"
"Quiet....fortunately," she sighed out with a gentle smile as the sword was replaced on her own back. The two walked towards the smoke, indistinct bickering heard through it. One voice was clearly male, a baritone Cassian noble, and he sounded quite displeased. The other, the high pitched shrill that only once species she knew of made.
"What? You want clear, I make clear! Big bomb make big clear!" the yellow furred Chua chastised towards the Cassian male. Sooty goggles obscured the small being's eyes, it's floppy ears pointed back as its body leaned forward. "If dumb Human not want bomb, then should have said so!"
"I did say so, you insufferable twit!" the man roared back, his short black hair frayed up as the air cooled his sweat. His angry glare fixed on the Chua as his arms folded across his crimson armor.
"They've been at it for the last few minutes, Shaori," Veriz commented, letting his deep voice carry over the other two. Their angry bickering came to a sudden halt as they turned towards the approaching pair. The Cassian beamed happily as he looked forward.
"Ah, lovely! We're all back together again!" he rushed forward to meet the two, stopping directly before Shaori. "I do hope you aren't hurt. It would be such a shame if something-"
"Something happened to your lovely face, " Shaori finished with a roll of her eyes. The pair chuckled as Shaori playfully swatted the man's side. "Jarren, you never do give up do you?"
"The Dominion will crumble into obscurity before I ever give up, my dear," he playfully offered with an exaggerated bow.
"Why stupid Humie always so happy with female Humie? Always angry at Zoba, but always happy with Shaori!" the Chua slowly waddled up, pushing the goggles up to reveal wide, orange eyes. "Stupid Humie wants mating with Shaori?"
"Stupid Humie, as you call him, wants mating with any female that will let him," Veriz chimed in with a low chuckle. Jarren's face flushed red with embarrassment as he turned away, tilting his nose upwards.
"I'll have you know that I can have any woman I desire!" Jarren huffed angrily. Shaori let out a soft laugh before giving him another firm swat to the side. His feigned front quickly dropped on the impact as the small squad started to laugh.
"All except this one, Jarren," Shaori added as she walked further forward to pat the Chua on the head. "No more bombs, Zoba. Promise?"
"Hmph! Fine...Zoba promise," the Chua whined as he glared to the side, the frown slowly morphing into a mischievous smirk. "For now...." Shaori shook her head as she walked past, the other soldiers falling in behind her as they moved through the center of the square. A massive statue to the famed Tresayne Toria watched faithfully over the square named in her honor. Fortunately it had sustained no damage during the riots.
"Ah...Shaori....we have some news that you probably won't like...." Jarren stated with displeasure as he moved forward, the two Cassians standing side by side as he spoke softly to her.
Large transports rushed in overhead, the roar of the massive engines pushing the sleek ship through the troubled air obstructing any other sounds over the four soldiers. Each watched as the additional ships settled down, bringing in hordes of soldiers. Black uniforms adorned with crimson washed over the outer streets like a wave, each step of the soldiers precision march echoing out as the engines whirred to a stop. Amidst the precision calm of the soldiers was the contrasting frantic scurry of technicians, their simple brown jumpsuits making them seem alien to the decorated soldiers. Shaori came to a stop as Jarren whispered softly into her ear, her emerald gaze turning away from the display of military superiority back to her squad. Her jaw moved silently as she tried to mouth some kind of response, the disbelief clear on her once stern face.
"Brightland?" she finally managed to start, barely managing a solid word. "Treason? You're joking, right?"
"I'm afraid not, my dear," Jarren answered, keeping his noble voice soft and calm. "It was all over the communication channels." He slowly stepped forward, placing a hand on Shaori's shoulder with a soft thump.
"But....why?" Shaori questioned, the strong determination sinking from her eyes as she looked into Jarren's, obviously shaken by the news.
"If it is true," Veriz added, his deep voice quickly pulling the attention of the pair as his heavy steps plodded towards the Cassians. "I still have trouble believing it myself. Brightland's cunning, skill, and honor are well respected even amongst the Draken. He would not betray the Dominion." The Draken let out a loud snort as his voice rumbled, a clear disapproval in his final words.
"Look Veriz, I'm just telling you all what I heard!" Jarren gasped out. "All I managed to get was that he refused orders so they charged him with dereliction and treason, then arrested him."
"Hah!" Zoba interjected with a loud laugh. The sudden outburst drew the attention, and ire of the other three, a clear sense of anger emanating from the armored soldiers. Shaori pushed through the two men towards the Chua and quickly reached down to grab the furry nuisance.
"Something funny Zoba?" she growled angrily as she lifted the Chua up enough for their eyes to meet. Though surprised by the sudden elevation, the Chua managed to return the scornful glare.
"Stupid humies is funny! If Chua not do what boss tells, minion usually become next experiment. No arresting, just killing. Much too dangerous to keep, even for Chua!" Zoba explained, the high pitched creature wriggling uncomfortably in the air. "Now put Zoba down!"
"You dare suggest that they should ki-" Shaori grumbled as her fingers released the flailing Chua, her voice suddenly cut off.
"Zoba is right, Shaori," Veriz interrupted. "If Admiral Brightland truly is a traitor, then he is the most dangerous kind and will not be permitted to live long." With an angry huff she turned back towards the outer streets, storming off towards the assembled might of the Dominion. The other three soldiers remained behind, watching Shaori's angry march.
"Well...." Jarren started with a soft sigh. "She actually took that better than I expected."
"Not to Zoba, stupid Humie..." the Chua grumbled, dusting itself off before rolling back onto its feet. Whiskers angrily twitched as Zoba looked up at the larger species. "Why Shaori so mean to Zoba today? Shaori nice one, not like stupid Humie Jarren!"
"Brightland means a lot to her, Zoba," Veriz noted, looking down at the pudgy Chua, the frightening Draken visage calm and stoic.
"To all of them," Jarren added before turning to follow Shaori out of the square. "He's one of the few who gives them a chance."
"Who stupid Humie mean by them?" Zoba questioned curiously, swiftly waddling to catch up to Jarren.
"Those christened as inferior by the Church. The Lowborn, as they are now called." A hint of disgust was apparent in Jarren's tone as he spit out the last words. The three quickened their pace out of the square, plenty eager to leave the once glorious place behind them.
Posted Jun 16, 15
· Last edited Jun 16, 15
The sound of marching became more and more distant, the recent reinforcements moving from the staging grounds and towards the Square. With the silence came comfort to Shaori, her heavy armor clanking heavily on the ground as she lowered her body to settle as best she could. Leaning back against one ornate stone wall, eyes gazing at another, she sat silently in the alley between buildings. Her heavy breaths filled her ears and mind with a great many conflicting thoughts.
First, to her family. A kind and gentle husband. The mere thought brought a comforting smile to her as she envisioned the burly man, a heavy, stout body forged by years of laboring. Her children, a son and daughter, both too young to know what was going on in the world. It was best for them, she thought, not to have see how fiercely divided they had become.
To the Dominion, the grand empire created by the great Eldan themselves. It was a glorious beacon of prosperity and knowledge. How could it stand with its foundation cracking so? Even if the Mechari remained resolute, could they alone handle what the Cassian Humans had built? Surely even they could not manage to stabilize the Dominion with the rulers fighting amongst themselves. How would the Emperor handle the discord? How would the Church?
The Church. It was their decree that started it all. With the deification of the Eldan, they had declared that those of the Luminai bloodline were more pure. They they were better than those without it. Now, there were two breeds of Cassian instead of the unified front of the Dominion. The Highborn, children of the Eldan, descendants of the great Tresayne Toria, Mother of the Dominion, heirs to Dominus himself. And then, there were people like her, like her family. Without a drop of sacred blood dripping from their veins. The Lowborn, as they were now called. Those who had typically taken on the more physical, even menial tasks, to ensure that Cassus ran smoothly. Were they now forsaken by those who thought themselves better?
No, not all of them. Admiral Brightland, he understood their plight. Even before the divide, no other leader of the Legions spent more time with the rank and file than him. But after.....after it felt like he was the only one. She had only seen him once since the official decree, before the unrest that had began to rage across Cassus like a storm. In that brief moment, the burden that Brightland shouldered seemed clear. And she knew that she wasn't the only one that had seen it. Jarren, had seen it, too, and no doubt countless other soldiers had.
Jarren. Another Highborn. And yet he was content to serve as a lowly Legionnaire. With his family's influence, especially now, he easily could be elevated to an Officer. But he chose to stay on the front lines, to remain in her squad. Perhaps, like her, he took his vows of service to the Dominion seriously.
Vows. Her word. Promises, things that were supposed to be the strongest bond in the galaxy, once forged. It was something she took very seriously. But recently, her once ironclad resolve had been shaken. Her word, once infallible, was seeming as such no longer.
A single footstep echoing into the alley was enough to shatter her trance. With a quick spring, Shaori launched herself to her feet, arms stretched up to grasp at the hilts of her sword.
"Easy there...it's just me...." Jarren chuckled, his armored frame slowly stepping into the alley.
"Dammit Jarren, you scared me," Shaori sighed softly as she lowered her hands, relief quickly filling her gaze. "Veriz and Zoba? Where are they?"
"On a transport back to headquarters," Jarren started, his footsteps growing softer with his voice as he moves further into the alley, the two armored figures growing nearer. "I just wanted to make sure you were al-"
His words were cut short as Shaori's arms grasped at his crimson armor and pulled him forcefully into hers. As their bodies clanked together, their lips met in a heavy, impassioned kiss. Shaori couldn't help but think of the promise she had broken, long before this day. But she pushed such thoughts aside, for now, to savor this moment.
"You know, I thought the part where you said I couldn't have you was a nice touch," Jarren joked softly, his voice obscured by the hum of the transports engines. Shaori shot him a sideways glance before swinging her arm across, her gauntleted fist slamming onto the thick armor around Jarren's arm. "Oww! Okay, okay!"
"This isn't the time or place, Jarren," Shaori whispered, peering around the cabin of the transport. Dozens of troopers sat weary, leaning against the frame of the transport. With a soft sigh, she leaned back in similar fashion, worn out by the days events.
"Well, when is the time, Shaori?" Jarren questioned, leaning in closer as he spoke.
"Later, okay?" she answered, a tired irritation in her voice.
"There may not be a later if this keeps up," Jarren protested, his gaze turning fully towards Shaori.
"What do you mean by that?" Shaori's head rolled to the side, her exhausted eyes meeting his.
"All I'm saying...." he started, before lowering his voice even further, making sure that nobody else could hear. "Is that the unrest is getting worse. We're on the brink of something terrible here, Shaori, I just know it."
"Ah yes, your famous powers of reading the future," Shaori chuckled, putting up a gentle smile. "Relax Jarren. I'm sure after all this the Church, or maybe even the Emperor, will sort everything out."
"I'm not so sure, especially after what happened to the Admiral," Jarren warned with a cautionary tone. "Just....promise me something, Shaori."
"Try to avoid any trouble. There are plenty of....Highborn," he paused after spitting out the word. "Six I hate that word. Anyway, there are plenty of people who will use this divide to take advantage of those they think are their lessers."
"People like me and my family, you mean. Don't worry, we'll be fine."
"I'm sure you will be. And, while we're on the subject of your family...." Jarren started, only to meet a disapproving stare. "Right. Later. It's only been a few weeks, I'm sure everything's fine..."
The constant hum of the engines slowed and softened as the craft settled down upon the landing hangar. Within moments, a sea of crimson soldiers wearily walked out of the large transport and moved deeper inside the structure, eager for a respite from their duties. Gone was the rigid formation and stoic silence, in its place was raucous banter and dissonant steps. What once seemed a model fighting force was now just a throng of people. Jarren and Shaori waded through the armored congregation, stuck behind the flow until they could exit the hangar into the halls, where the soldiers would finally disperse into separate directions. With an opening formed, the Jarren grasped Shaori by the arm and tugged her along until the pair maneuvered into the first room they could find, a simple conference room with only a table, holoprojector, and a dozen chairs surrounding them.
"Can we please talk now, Shaori?" Jarren pleaded, his voice filled with concern.
"Fine! Fine....talk..." Shaori sighed as she yanked her arm free of Jarren's grasp.
"Look....Shaori..." Jarren spoke softly, trying to keep his tone and volume muted. "You know how I feel. But we can't just keep going on like this. You're married an-"
"Don't you think I know that?" Shaori shouted out, pushing forward towards the other Cassian, she face showing more pain than anger. Silence lingered in the room as the pair stared at each other, both eyeing the door cautiously. "Look....I do...care for you, but my family...."
"I have no problem bringing you and your children in, Shaori...." Jarren tried to reassure her, stepping forward to rest his hands on her shoulders. "You know I'd give them as much care as I give you."
"It's not that, Jarren..." she softly countered, forcing her gaze away from his. "It's all this....lying. I've never once broken my word to anyone. Anyone. And now I've....been doing all this. And now that I might be...." She stopped, keeping her gaze turned from Jarren.
"Might be what?" Jarren probed curiously. "Shaori...are you..."
A loud beeping came from Jarren's datachron, the holographic screen flashing in front of his face. Within moments of its appearance, the visage of Veriz appeared.
"Jarren, are you and Shaori back at the barracks yet?" Veriz questioned, his normally firm tone disturbed.
"Yes Veriz....we're back," Jarren moaned out with annoyance. "Look, we're in the middle of something important, could you call back in a fe-"
"Brightland escaped," Veriz interrupted with a growl of anger.
"What?!" the pair of Cassians shouted out in unison. The two stared at each other in shock, the projected screen lingering between the two of them.
"All Legions are being kept on full alert for the time being," Veriz continued, the resolve returning to his voice. "Until the traitor is captured, we are to stay at our posts."
"Just wonderful...." Jarren grumbled. "Alright....we'll meet up with you and Zoba in a few minutes, alright? We just need a few minutes t-"
"Zoba should be at your location shortly," Veriz cut off Jarren once more.
"Delightfully efficient as always, Veriz...." Jarren muttered with annoyance, his eyes peering through the screen towards Shaori. "Alright...we'll stay put until Zoba gets here." The screen flickered away as quickly as it had appeared.
"If the Admiral escaped from custody..." Shaori started, the news still seeming to soak in. "What do you think is going to happen?"
"I don't know Shaori....but I don't think it's going to be pretty," Jarren hummed with concern. "They're going to want him back pretty badly."
"If they don't just shoot him outright," Shaori noted despondently. "Maybe he really has betrayed us."
"He would never betray us! It's the Church, the Emperor that's betrayed us, betrayed you! And you don't even care!"
The conference room was silent as Shaori sat in a chair alongside the conference table. Her face was grim as she stared down at the table, Jarren's angry voice still lingering in her mind. He had stormed out only moments ago, leaving his words to linger. The quiet peace was shattered by a thumping on the door, Shaori's head wearily turning towards it.
"Open door for Zoba, stupid humie!" the angry Chua demanded from the outside. Shaori waited for several moments as the banging resumed before finally rising up to allow the Chua entry. "That's better stu-....oh, it Shaori. Where stupid humie go?"
"Jarren..." she paused, still rattled.
"How can you stand there and take it as the Dominion calls you, your family, everyone around you inferior? It's wrong!"
"He needs some space, Zoba. This whole situation has hit him pretty hard. It's hit all of us pretty hard."
"Zoba never seen Shaori so angry before," Zoba noted, the Chua's tone softening as he waddled into the conference room. Zoba hopped up onto one of the chairs, obviously not suited to the species' short stature.
"I'm sorry Zoba, I never should have done that," Shaori apologized as he shut the door. She slowly walked over to the chair, kneeling down to match the level of the yellow Chua.
"Other humies do worse," Zoba sighed, the normally fiery gaze softening to Shaori. "Zoba forgive."
"Thank you, Zoba," Shaori smiled, remaining on level with the Chua.
"We go find stupid humie now?" Zoba questioned, reaching for a rectangular device dangling from a tool belt around the wide crimson armor. "Can try new stupid detector! Jarren should be biggest source!" Shaori couldn't help but chuckle at the comments, offering only a brief glimmer of joy before sinking back into depression.
"No, Zoba. We need to meet up with Veriz. Jarren will..." she stopped, considering how their conversation ended.
"Anyone who so readily disposes of those under them doesn't deserve loyalty, Shaori. They'd throw you away in a heartbeat. All because you don't have special blood."
"He'll meet up with us later, I'm sure."
Posted Jul 8, 15
· Last edited Jul 13, 15
The halls had started to clear out, the rush of soldiers mostly having reached their assigned posts. Grim contemplation consumed Shaori as she followed behind the Chua, the slower stride giving time for her thoughts to take shape. Never in the history of the Dominion, so far as she knew, had anyone betrayed like this. It was unthinkable, especially from one of their greatest heroes. Was Jarren right? Had they been the ones that had been betrayed? Or was it simply the actions of one man who couldn't abide by decrees from those above? Loyalty. It was supposed to be such a straight forward topic. But much like other facets of her life, she was quickly finding that it was anything but.
"Ah, there you are," Veriz's voice called out down the hallway. The Draken stood outside ornate double doors, reserved only for the highest officers. Shaori glanced at her surroundings, not having realized where they ended up. "Where's Jarren?"
"He's...." Shaori wondered softly, uncertain how to answer.
"Stupid humie doing stupid humie things!" Zoba blurted out, the sinister, mischievous tone coming out with a toothy grin. "Probably catch in engine, get killed. Best for all."
"That's not helping Zoba," Veriz growled, bringing a clawed hand to his own face in frustration. Before he could turn to question Shaori, the doors began to open inward, revealing the decorated office. A well polished wooden desk, crafted of the finest Cassian mahogany sat on one end, a backdrop of filled shelves behind it, faced a display screen on the far wall. Towering windows offered a glance into the central courtyard, obscured by thick curtains. Behind the desk, a pale, wiry figure sat dressed in the finest silks. Blackened garb was adorned with golden emblems, a matching mask covering his face. As the three looked in, the immediately snapped to full attention, realizing what they were now facing. A Luminai.
"Where is the man called Warden?" the Luminai questioned, his haughty voice showing signs of boredom. "I was told there were four of you, is he not present?"
"I...I am Warden, Councillor," Shaori stated, needing a moment to compose herself as she stood forward. "Legionnaire Shaori Warden."
"Truly?" the Luminai starting to take the matter with more interest. "A Lowborn? How droll. Tell me then, are you capable of following instructions or do you harbor the heretical spirit of those who have been disrupting our perfect order?"
"I am a loyal subject of the Dominion, sir!" Shaori proclaimed as her body grew rigid. "My whole team is." The Draken and Chua remained at attention, but allowed their eyes to drift from the noble, peering towards each other questioningly.
"I would certainly hope so, Lowborn," the Luminai lowered his voice a threatening undertone clear in his words. After taking a moment to clear his throat, the noble arrogance returned to his words, an almost celebratory speech beginning. "You three should rejoice, as you are about to receive the most fulfilling assignment you could imagine. Since only a Luminai can be trusted to gather the facts of the recent events in an objective manner, it has fallen to me to brief the Emperor. As such, I will be required to spend a great deal of time in this building. My Mechari guards will, of course, remain stationed at key locations, but you have been chosen to be my personal retinue while I am here. Is that understood or should I use simpler words for you?"
"Understood, Councillor," Shaori loudly proclaimed, bringing her arm up in a salute. "But, if I may be permitted a question, sir."
"Ah yes, you must be curious as to why you are even worthy of such an honor," he mused with a soft chuckle. "Quite simply, your little...team as you called it, is a perfect little microcosm of Dominion unity. And what better way to demonstrate our strength, our commitment to each other, our resolve to the rest of the masses than to show them our togetherness in the face of such a crisis."
"Yes sir," Shaori nodded, lowering her salute. "Do you require anything else of us, sir?"
"Just tidy up your armor, all of you. Make sure you look presentable for the next few weeks. Dismissed."
The three soldiers saluted once more before filing out of the room, the doors swinging shut behind them. Their faces all held the same disapproving frown.
"Babysitting, there is no honor to be gained in such a task," Veriz grumbled as they slowly walked down the hall.
"Maybe stupid humie not so stupid leaving," Zoba mused. "Not have stupid boring assignment. Why we not get assignment needing explosives?"
"Come on, you two," Shaori chastised, even if she agreed with their sentiments. "We may not always like our orders, but we have to follow them, right? I'll try to get a hold of Jarren and let him know of our reassignment. You two go get some rest."
There was an strange calm the past few nights. No glow of fires raging off in the distance, no sound of thunderous bombs reverberating across the landscape. Perhaps there was a chance that peace would return. Perhaps nobody was foolish enough to attempt anything near headquarters. Perhaps babysitting duty wasn't so bad after all, since it granted her these few days of peace.
Shaori glanced up from her bed, looking through the curtains towards the sky, what little she could discern from her position. The only light in her room came from outside, the city's radiance shining in, keeping the room alight with a dull glow. Sleep refused to come to her that night, despite her weary state. Though her body was fatigued, her mind continued to race. As much as she tried to deny it, she had to agree with Jarren. As much as had already occurred, something even bigger was coming. It had to happen. The only way for this unrest to end would be by something dramatic, an unprecedented display to quell those who had been told that they were lesser and inferior. But would those who had been told that they were superior, those who shared the blood of the gods, accept such a proposition?
There had always been boasting from those who could trace their lineage to the Luminai, and thus the Eldan themselves. Most of it was idle bragging, a teasing, about how close they were to the Luminai. The added wealth that came with such familial ties was certainly a boon to them as well. But otherwise, people were fair. At least, that's how it used to be, in the times of those before her. Fortunately, not all of those of Eldan blood had forgotten kindness and compassion to their fellow Cassians. People like Admiral Brightland and even...
"Jarren," she sighed, her eyes moving back to the ceiling.
"Yes dear?" Jarren whispered, his form appearing suddenly above her, his playful smirk obscured by the dim darkness. In a burst of adrenaline, Shaori sat upright, her arm swinging across in a powerful hook right onto the man's jaw with enough force to stagger him.
"Dammit Jarren!" she gasped, doing her best to keep from screaming outright. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
"First, oww," Jarren chuckled as he rubbed the side of his face. "Second, you didn't answer my knocking so I came into check on you. You were completely spaced out there."
"I've had a lot on my mind," she sighed as she leaned back onto the bed.
"Well, I've had a lot on my mind, too, but I don't go around punching you in the jaw now do I?" he joked as he pulled his shirt over his head, subtle muscles visible in the faint light.
"You just don't aim for the face," she grinned as the man slowly climbed onto her, slipping underneath and sharing his warmth with her.
"True enough," he chuckled, resting beside the woman. He couldn't help but admire her form, the firm definition on her frame, a strength that easily exceeded his own. "Have I ever told you how much I love powerful women?"
"Repeatedly." Their lips met in a soft, short kiss. Both paused and recoiled back, a tension clear between them even from that brief touch. "Jarren..." Shaori started, reaching out to caress his cheek.
"Is now a good time to talk?" he questioned, trying hard to keep the frustration from earlier suppressed.
"Yes...this is a good time," she nodded slowly, letting her fingers continue to trace along his visage.
"That's cheating," he chided as his own hand reached up to grasp hers, interlocking their fingers and guiding her away from his face. "Shaori, I love you. You know that. And I know you love your husband, your family and I'm sure that's been making your life hard for the past several weeks. It can't easy fighting knowing your family is so close to a war zone."
"I've enjoyed our time together Jarren, I really have," she commented softly, leaning in to rest her head on his shoulder.
"And I have, too, you know that," he continued, the lightness of his voice fading as he sat upright, gently sliding her aside. "But I can't keep staying in the shadows like this and I know you can't either. So we need to decide right now how this is going to play out."
"Jarren....I've been thinking a lot on it and it's not an easy decision for me," Shaori answered as she sat upright alongside him. "I'm going to need more time."
"We're out of time Shaori. You have to answer now. Are you going to stay with me?" Jarren's words were resolute, but his body trembled softly. "Just you and me."
"What do you mean by that?" the looked curiously at him. "You've always said before that I could bring my children."
"That's too dangerous now, they wouldn't be safe," he answered with a grim expression.
"Not safe? What do you mean? Jarren, what's going on?" she probed with worry. "What aren't you telling me?"
"What aren't you telling me, Shaori?" he snapped back in frustration. The two stared at each other tensely. "I...I'm sorry Shaori, it's just been hell on me these past few days, with my reassignment and..."
"No, no you don't get out of it that easy," she scolded. "If you're upset with me then tell me. If you think lying to me will get me to tell you the truth..."
"You're right," Jarren sighed, still irritated. "Yes, I'm mad at you always refusing to address this. You always put it off, avoid it, ignore it! No more. I need to know, and I need to know now. So please Shaori, tell me what's going on. Tell me what you want and I will respect that, no matter your decision."
"Then..." she paused, sharing a short, tender kiss with him. "Let us share one final night together."
Posted Jul 14, 15
· Last edited May 26, 17
The following days were a monotonous rut of pomp and ceremony. Each day with the Luminai was an unceasing cycle of decorum and irritation. He seemed to delight in making his new guards suffer various indignities, treating them less like guards and more like servants. Most of the actual guard work was done by the Mechari, ruthlessly efficient machines that wouldn't even think about doubting an order, a fact that as frequently reminded to them. But the insufferable Luminai wasn't the only pall lingering over the trio.
"Why stupid humie get reassigned?" Zoba grumbled angrily, the rotund Chua leaning against a wall adjacent to the Luminai's office, a rifle propped up beside it. "Bet he not want dumb orders!"
"That would make him the smart one, wouldn't it?" Veriz stood tall on the opposite side of the door, smirking towards his smaller companion.
"No! Zoba smart one! Jarren was...." Zoba turned towards the Draken defensively, standing defiant for only a few moments before drooping it's small shoulders. "Stupid humie was Zoba's best friend...."
"You could always send him a comm, Zoba, remind him now stupid he is," Veriz smiled down.
"Hey! Veriz right!" The Chua frantically brought up the comms display, looking for the human's signal. "Been too long, Zoba needs to use most cosmotronic insult!" A toothy, mischievous grin grew on Zoba's face as the Chua schemed. But as the scheming continued, so did the delay in a response. "Answer comms already stupid humie! Zoba must rain down intellectual doom on feeble brain!"
"Something wrong Zoba?" Shaori questioned, the double doors swinging open only long enough to allow her back into the hall.
"Stupid Jarren not answering stupid calls so Zoba can call him stupid!" Zoba complained with a stomp. "But Zoba do it smartly, because Zoba smarter."
"Too smart and he might not understand it," Veriz chuckled, enjoying leading on this little game.
"Alright you two, leave him alone," Shaori smiled, stepping further into the hall. "Just call him later, I'm sure his new assignment is keeping him plenty busy."
"You're in a better mood today Shaori," Veriz noted, stepping away from the door. "Does that mean we're finally ending this assignment?"
"Today's the last day Veriz," she grinned, giving the Draken a hearty pat on the back. "Once he delivers his final report, he has sworn to share our incompetence with our superiors."
"That doesn't sound like something to celebrate," the Draken furrowed his brow with concern.
"Bah! Zoba not worry! Luminai just full hot primal air."
"I think you may be onto something Zoba," Shaori laughed. "Honestly, at this point, I'd almost plead guilty to treason just to get out of this assignment."
"At least headquarters has been quiet the last week," Veriz noted as he glanced down the halls. "Only half as many people to make fun of our assignment."
"Hmph, only half as many for Zoba to assert intellectual dominance over!" the Chua pouted.
"It has been pretty quiet, hasn't it...." Shaori pondered, turning back towards the double doors. "Maybe things are finally starting to settle-"
A powerful blast came from the office with enough force to blow the double doors into the hallway. Shaori gripped at the hilt of her sword and rushed into the smoldering room, instinct not giving her the opportunity to panic. Mechanical parts were strewn across the office, mixed with shards of glass from the blown out window. Several more blasts shook the building, rocking the structure to its foundation. A panicked voice called out from under the ornate desk.
"Guards! Guards get me out of here, now!"
"Zoba, get on comms and find out what that was, Veriz start securing a path out!" Shaori ordered as she moved to the desk, forcefully grabbing the Luminai and pulling him to his feet. "Stay with me, sir."
"Unhand me, lowborn filth!" the Luminai protested, pulling his arm free. "My Mechari will-"
"Take too long to put back together!" she shouted back moments before the next salvo struck the complex. "You need to come with us, now!"
"Ugh....very well," the Luminai resigned.
"Shaori, Shaori!" the Chua shouted, "Zoba has report!"
"What is it Zoba, who is attacking?" She questioned, leading the Luminai out into the hall.