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Archive for January, 2012

Interesting

I really have not had a character demanding a story in a long time, more than a year.

But today the Bounty Hunter, Kafekta, demanded it. So, I managed to get it done during breaks and lunches today. Not sure when it will get published for general consumption, but I wrote without feeling pushed. I could learn to like this.

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(So, I’ll be posting stories detailing all the missions that Keltyr has been on, with Kafekta as the main PoV. I will be changing a number of points to not hog the entire agent storyline, because I think it is both crass and limiting. Still, there will be parts that remain the same. So, if you are planning on doing an agent, I will mark those stories that reflect the big reversals in the Agent story line for you to avoid. Aside from that, most stories will follow a basic arc premise. pt1 is the set up, pt 2 is the conflict and part 3 will be the resolution. As always, Keltyr is involved in all of these.)

There were always dark corners in the entertainment rooms of Hutt palaces. Places where people could make shady dealings in pretend privacy. Nothing happened here that the Hutts did not know about. Fithka’fek’tarithi nursed another watered down drink in a dark corner of Nero’s palace and wondered exactly how she was going to get off this stinking rat hole of a planet.

She’d been scrapping the bottom of the bounty hunting barrel for a few years now, but this last job was supposed to have changed that. She should have known it was too easy. Should have seen how eager the low ranked wormy hutt was to hire a no name hunter. The money had been so good that she had ignored the small bits of doubt.

Credits she would never have seen, if she had been less ready with her blaster or less wary. Her frustration at being caught stupidly in that trap had carried through as she had sliced into the hutt’s accounts and bled them dry. Most of the credits she had sent to the bastards rivals, but she had enough to buy her way off planet. Which would have been great, except the hutt wasn’t nearly as stupid as she was hasty. And he had friends. And her team had died.

Stars, she should never have taken that money. One impulsive decision to take the contract followed by a second to slice the accounts of hutt. Too late to take any of it back now. Fithka’fek’tarithi threw a datapad on her table and started working on a way to bypass the spaceport’s security. It was a tricky proposition, but it might be the only chance she had.

She noted the man that slipped into the booth, but did not acknowledge him right away. Chiss might have a reputation for stoic courtesy, but it was not exactly rude to not acknowledge the presence of an intruding stranger. Shooting the intruder under the table, no matter how appealing, that might raise some eyebrows.

“Hello to you, too.”

Her head shot up at the familiar voice. “Keltyr, been a long time.” She was puzzled at the lack of imperial accent but it would be impolite to ask about it in public. She turned off the datapad and took it off the table. No use taking a risk. Keltyr was Chiss and he had been a friend, but she was not sure where his loyalties were.

A waitress sidled up to their booth and Keltyr flashed her a brilliant smile.. Some things never changed. Kafekta waited to see how the twi’lek would react to the unusual behavior, but the waitress smiled and bantered with Keltyr a few moments before going to fill his order. Keltyr was not a stranger to her. Odd that she had not heard about another Chiss in the area. Keltyr looked back at her without a trace of levity in his expression. “I heard you made some trouble for yourself.”

“News gets around.”

“It does. I have a proposition for you. One that could be mutually beneficial.” He leaned back, flirted with the twi’lek waitress when she brought his drink and then looked back the hunter as the server walked away. “Or at least enough to get you out of Hutt space without a collar around your neck. I don’t think the Hutts would take kindly to you breaching their security.”

Stars, of course he had seen what she had been working on. No way to tell how long he had been watching her. “All right, you know I’m in a tight spot and I’m interested.”

“Yes or no, Kafekta. I’m only going to offer this once.”

“Fine, I’m in.”

Keltyr nodded and then slid out of the booth. “Good. Let’s get to work.” He paused long enough to make sure Kafekta was following him. “Where’s the rest of your gear?” She pulled a duffel bag from underneath the table. “Follow me and don’t shoot anyone unless I tell you to.”

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My Father,

Korriban is much as you described. A dry and dusty place filled with the whispering of the dead. It has been a good place to test myself and my will. I fear that some of the worries that consumed you have come to pass. Three times I have been tested for genetic purity. The overlords pushing this absurdity do not seem to understand how ridiculous it is. What is the point of such an activity?

Sith has long since ceased to be a racial name. I look at my hand with its five digits and am amused that once again I have been confirmed as a pure blood. A small man with silver hair and pale pink skin boasts that he too is Sith. He is proud for all the wrong reasons. This needless pursuit of imagined purity weakens our empire. It disgusts me, but I harness that emotion to face the trials ahead.

Along with the genetic tests, there are the loyalty trials. We must show ourselves willing to bend to will of the Emperor. I harbor doubt that the acolytes singled out for elimination are truly disloyal, or merely weaklings or the children of political rivals of the Dark Council. Surviving Korriban is more about learning to judge other Sith than learning about the force.

Today, I met a man that I believe you would like. He called himself Gharr. He is small of stature, but not in power. There is desire and drive in him. We have talked often, he and I. We do not always agree in philosophy, but he is not so weak as to dismiss the ideas of another. We have formed an alliance, he and I. I will play the part of Massassi to his Kassai, for now

Your wisdom continues to me, father.

Itanya Adonai

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Trouble, lots of it

Dorri prowled at the edges of the light, showing as much unease as the two visible worgen. She listened only partially to the conversation between Keltyr and the worgen who now identified himself as Neville Hewell. She heard her lover broach the subject of the odd trades of livestock between the Hewells and the Athertons. “Other people came looking a few months ago. Most of them wore a black tabard with red fire on it.”

“Did one of these men have bright red hair? Maybe with a dark haired woman with him?” Keltyr asked, curiously.

“Could be.”

Something bright moved among the bushes and Dorri heard the rest of the worgen pack move quickly away from them.

“Kel, something is coming.” She moved back towards him, still looking for the flicker of light she had seen just briefly.

Lars was upright and alert; daggers out.

“I’ve told you all I can, now free the boy.” The Worgen’s fur was bristling and he was looking anxiously from side to side.

“I thought we were friends, Neville.”

The Worgen snorted, “You’re impressive, slick ear, dangerous too. But I’m no…” The large wolfman raised his muzzle and howled. Keltyr took a few quick steps back and pulled a round metal ball from a pouch as the worgen burned from the inside out.

“Oh, I would think you’re quite the fool.” The remaining worgen fled in terror as the heavy bushes surrounding the manor house parted to reveal a druid of the flame. “You three depraved degenerates have been poking around where you don’t belong.” Long hair looking vaguely green despite the touch of flames, floated around the Kaldorei druid’s face. “And now I had to kill one of my pets because of your interference.”

“If you don’t want your dogs to talk, I suggest you muzzle them.” Keltyr addressed the woman, while Dorri moved to circle behind.

“I’ll have to consider that, but I’d have to train another one to talk. Perhaps I’ll just leave them as ignorant mongrels.”

Any other witty exchanges were interrupted by Dorri’tow’s impatient charge. Her wordless challenge was knocked from her lips as a blast of elemental fire slammed into her chest. “Bloody hell!” She threw a shield of light around her as another fireball rocketed towards.

Lars had vacated her post and was nowhere to be seen.

“Well that was…: Before the druid could finish speaking, Keltyr had tossed a small sphere at her face. Her hand batting it away caused it to shatter, coating her in a powder that caught flame as it was exposed to the air. “Fire against me?” Three daggers flew at the Kaldorei and got caught in a cloak that swallowed the projectiles completely.

The druid turned to face Dorri again and a pot lid that glowed with golden light slammed into her back, ricocheted into the woods. There was a wolfen yelp from the copse, followed by a gurgling sound as Lars emerged from wherever she’d been hiding to slit the downed worgen’s throat.

“The pack is back!” The rogue shouted. A large pair of claws came out to swiped at her as more of the pack closed in. She dodged and grabbed the nearest tree branch, swinging up and claiming the high ground. Small silver throwing knives rained down from her perch, evoking a chorus of pained howls from below.

Dorri merely grunted, focused on the druid in front of her. No Kaldorei would be her match. A quick pommel to the gut kept her opponent from casting another fireball, but the druid recovered quickly.

A second druid of the flame plummeted from the sky with a high pitched shriek. He shifted from fiery bird to a man, landing on his feet smoothly. Keltyr slammed into his back before the Kaldorei could take stock. It was mere seconds to shove his sword into the enemy’s back and twist it.

Keltyr watched two more druids drop from the sky, leaving trails in the sky from their fiery feathers. The paladin could make out at least two more circling overhead. “Hells.” He threw a few bombs at the newcomers and dashed inside the house.

The explosions pulled Dorri out of her red focused haze. A spinning attack sent blades of light in all directions, hitting all three of her attackers, while restoring her energy. If the other two were as skilled as the woman facing, Dorri knew she would be outmatched. She called and the Light answered. Bright golden wings sprouted from her back as she stunned her main opponent. Two steps took her to the druid that was still trying to recover from having one of Kel’s bombs exploding at his feet. He died quickly enough, but two more druids were already on the ground. She barely dodged another fireball as the first druid regained her senses.

“KNEEL BEFORE THE POWER OF THE FIRELORD!” The female druid slammed her staff into the dirt and shimmering balls of fire formed over her head. Incensed, Dorri started to charge, but the air grew brighter. A pulse of fire flared and knocked the paladin back a few feet.

Dorri pulled herself to her feet, using the stones of the manor house walls as handholds. A second pulse pushed her back against the wall, but this time she was ready for it. The hot air burned her skin, but the blood knight pushed forward.

Keltyr pulled Dorri through the door and slammed it shut.

“What the hell!” Dorri turned on Keltyr, angrily.

“Four druids of the flame on the ground, a pack of worgen and light knows what else.”

“There’s three of us.” Keltyr merely looked at her. “I want her.”

The door to the manor house shook and burst into flames. “Right, out the window,” Keltyr’s tone ended their argument. Keltyr snagged a bundle of documents and Dorri followed suit.

“The gear!” Dorri took a couple of steps towards their bedrolls and armor. The heat from the door started to radiate outwards. Without a second thought, Dorri followed Keltyr into the kitchen and out the window. They ran for the trees as a pillar of fire rose out of the structure.

Behind them and closing in fast was the sound of snarling, foliage being destroyed and large padding feet. A great dark figure emerged, charging from somewhere around the side of house and formed itself into Lars astride the shoulders of one of the bigger worgen. She had a garrote wrapped around his neck, holding it like reins. Right as she reached the other two her mount collapse with a loud WHUMP and Lars threw herself away from the corpse.

“Miss me?”

Behind them, the manor house was rocked by an explosion. The shock wave blew past them, carrying the enraged screams of a fire druid deprived of her prey.

“Let’s get in the trees before they take to the air.” Keltyr led them into the forest, hauling out a lighted compass to set them in the right direction to get back to the nearest Forsaken post. It was going to be a long walk. A long quiet walk. Dorri was pretty sure she saw the rogue smirking as she gave Keltyr another suggestion on how to keep from breaking every fallen branch in the woods.

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Secrets in Numbers

The fish soup had been passable, but drinking tea afterwards left a lot to be desired. They didn’t have much of their watered wine left, and it was probably best to save it. The three of them had spread out the assortment of documents on the floor, sorting them by household and language. Lars only knew enough common to pick out names or household. She also understood basic bookkeeping and would actually read ledgers.

Keltyr had immediately passed that duty off on the rogue, insisting that he read enough ledgers during his usual duties. He was not going to do it now. Of course, that meant Dorri and Lars both had to look at any ledgers they found together, because Dorri had to read the account names.

Keltyr gleaned through the correspondence, but none of it was going quickly. While he leaned back and lit up some thistle, Dorri looked over the scattered papers and started to feel itchy.

“Light, this is getting us nowhere!” Dorri snarled, straightening up a few of the piles. “The only thing we found from the Hewell’s are some accounts of wool trade and some stupid love letters between some an idiot girl and the boy without the sense to do her when he had the chance.”

“Wait, wool trade?” Keltyr looked up suddenly.

“Yeah.” Dorri looked at Kel curiously. “Some records of sheep being transferred from one family to another.” she looked through the ledgers and pulled one out. “Well that is odd. It was definitely found in the Hewell house, it has some mention of them in it. That’s not the Hewell crest on the ledger.”

“Right!” Kel went to dig through one of the other piles, and then looked surprised when Lars handed over the paper he was looking for. “That’s house Atherton. And they didn’t deal with sheep.”

“Horse traders.” Lars added, stealing a little of Keltyr’s revelation. Dorri wondered if the other woman saw the frown Keltyr gave her. Who knows what kinda of trick he was going to play on her for that.

“So, why record a trade in Hewell sheep?” Dorri tapped the line on the ledger with a scowl. she scribbled the question on the pad of paper on her knee, where she had been keeping notes of odd things all evening. It was not the first odd transaction they had found, but for some reason it stood out for her.

“There is something else odd there.” Dorri nodded at Keltyr, but whatever else he was going to say was lost in the sound of claws across the wooden door.

“Little pig, little pig,” A gravelly voice called out. “Let me in.”

“You can go to hell, dogboy.” Dorri shouted back. Keltyr tossed her a sword. They were unarmored, of course, but that did not matter in the end. Dorri kept gathering up the papers, shoving them in the bundles they had been in before.

“So hungry….”

“It’s speaking common.” Keltyr kept his voice low. “We might be able to reason with it.” Dorri glared at him. “Might have some useful information.” She continued to glare. “Fine, beat it up a little, try not to kill it.”

Wearing her civy pants and her Prophecy tabard, Dorri unbarred the door and hurled herself at the worgen outside.

Lars eyed Keltyr, “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“Not if we want a live one.”

“Yeah, that’s kind of what I was afraid of.” Lars checked to make sure her daggers were loose in their sheaths before heading into the other room. The windows were still shuttered. The rogue tried to push them open but they stuck tight. A couple of slams with her shoulder and finally they gave. Around the front of the house the worgen was all slashing claws and snarling teeth, spittle flying in the ferocity of the combat. Dorri had him well in hand but Lars was afraid the worgen wouldn’t survive the encounter, making it exceedingly difficult to question him. She slipped under a furry well-muscled arm, slamming her dagger hilt down on the worgen’s head, almost losing her hand to Dorri’s sword in the process.

“Watch it with that thing, would ya!” The rogue grumbled as the worgen slumped to the cobblestone porch.

“Keep the hell out of my way!” Dorri’tow snarled in frustration at the rogue.

She leaned down to grab the unconscious figure under the arms, “Oh calm down and help me get him insi…” She was cut off by snarls that seemed to come from all sides. “That can’t be good… You may want to tell Kel to get out here. One o’ you got a plan? I hope you’ve got a plan ‘cause I’m bad at plans!”

“Yeah, the plan is ‘kill them all.’”

“I can work with this plan.” She eyed the worgen sprawled at her feet, “Can you cover me while I get him inside?”

“Which means I stab things while you do the boring stuff? I think I like having you around.” Dorri grinned.

Lars rolled her eyes leaning over to pick up their captive again, “I need a drink…” she grunted under the weight of the worgen who was at least twice her size. “Kel! A little help here!” Behind her she heard more snarls as the waiting worgen attacked.

“Coming, just needed somewhere to put the mutt.”

With Keltyr’s help, Lars dragged the fuzzy dead-weight across the threshold and tossed him unceremoniously into a corner. Lars headed back out towards the door while Kel hog-tied the worgen and bound the end of the rope off like a leash.

“Stay!” Keltyr barked at the restrained worgen, slapping him on the nose with a flat palm.

He reached the door shortly after Lars. During their absence Dorri had taken out one of the mob. He lay at her feet a mass of blood and fur.

“How many are left?” Lars asked.

“Plenty more where that one came from.” Dorri did not bother to look behind her. “They’re being more cautious than this one.” She kicked the dead worgen at her feet. “I can hear them but I can’t see them.”

“I’ll fix that.” There was a hiss and Keltyr threw a bright blue flare over their heads, revealing a number of lurking forms in the light copse of trees close to the house where they had taken refuge.

“Well that ruined my night vision. Though its probably worse on them.” Lars tossed her companions a salute whether they were watching or not and slipped of into the shadows. A few seconds later there was a high pitched yelp, then a snarl, followed by a slightly deranged sounding giggle.

Somewhere off to the right someone started barking orders. “Form up! Don’t let them catch you alone!” Three large figures came loping out of the shadows.

“That sounds like an alpha, we kill him, and they should scatter.”

“I’d rather just kill the whole pack.” Dorri purred with the desire for blood and violence.

Keltyr noticed the familiar gleam in her eyes and knew this was probably not going to go the way he wanted. ““You want to go have fun? Fine. But no baths tonight.” Dorri’tow gave her lover a petulant look. “There’s not enough water. You’ll have to sleep with blood in your hair.”

Just outside the range of the flare, there was another yelp and a slightly wet sounding thud.

“Can’t let the damn rogue have all the fun!” Dorri tightened the grip on her sword.

“And we don’t have time to kill everything that growls at us. Take care of this first, there’ll be time for hunting strays after we’re done.”

Lars dropped from the roof of the house landing behind them, “They’re getting it together, tightly grouped now. That’s way more chances for punches to the face than I’m comfortable with. So, have fun!”

A large worgen stepped into the edge of the flare’s light. His shoulders were far wider than they had any right to be. His fur was a black so dark, it swallowed the light his well cared for armor reflected. He had a long snout with fangs that were almost as long. Two swords crossed across his back. He sniffed the air and turned his gaze on the three elves gathered outside the door of the house. “If you would be so kind as to release your captive, we’ll give you a head start before we hunt you down.”

Dorri snarled in reply, her eyes moving from the three large worgen coming in from the side and the large one directly in front of her.

“Better idea, you answer a few questions and I’ll talk her into not killing all of you.”

“I’d listen to him if I were you.”

A smile crept across the worgen’s muzzle as he looked the three Sin’dorei over. “I don’t think you are in the position to bargain.”

“You really think you stand a chance? Even with the three you’ve got sneaking around over there, we can take you. I think I’ll leave you maimed. Which one of them would kill you so they could lead?”

The worgen looked towards one of the three worgen to the side. Without prompting, Dorri leapt at him. His two companions were immobilized by the light as she sliced the wolfman open, flicked the blood from her sword and walked back to Keltyr. The blood knight came to halt next to her commander, crossed her arms and looked up at the Worgen leader with one raised eyebrow. Behind him, the blue flare faded away, leaving the trees in darkness again.

“Hold!” The worgen leader looked away from them, without turning his back. Angry grumbling was his answer. The two Dorri had stunned began to move forward, their eyes on the blond haired paladin. “I said hold!” The worgen turned back to the elves. “You’ve made your point. I’ll answer your questions as I see fit.”

“If I am satisfied, I’ll let your puppy go free.”

“Oh? Are we done? I’m going to take a nap now.” Lars took a step towards the door.

“You’re keeping an eye on the rest of these hairballs while we chat.” Keltyr did not look away from the Worgen, but Lars leaned against the doorway acting as if she had intended to do that from the start.

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In Gilneas

(I know it has been three months since I posted the lead in for this adventure. I have been slacking. I apologize. However, this is part one of two. I expect to have some Star Wars: The Old Republic stories to post over the next few weeks as well.)

Dorri was not sure exactly how Lars had managed to get on board the ship she and Kel had taken to get to Gilneas. Lars had only wanted to deliver a message to Dorri’tow. Too bad the rogue had not planned her message running a little better. She blamed the drugs. The ship had set sail while she was delivering it. Lars had a brief argument with the captain, demanding one of the life-boats take her back. It had ended with her stating there was no way in the Nether she was swimming. She spent the rest of the trip shooting hateful glances in his direction.

Ambassador Dawnsinger’s passport allowed their entry into the Forsaken army’s camp. There was no set number of people listed, so it was simple to get Lars admitted with them. With one of them on foot, however, it had made more sense to leave their mounts behind. They had not brought the hogs because Dorri had managed to damage hers again, but that troll had completely deserved to be run down. He had put a frog in her hair.

Two days they spent walking up the sword coast, investigating every house they had seen. Lars had been brilliant at finding hiding places for important papers. Things that had escaped other robbers and soldiers. The rogue commented off handedly about the condition of some of the hiding places. The Sin’dorei were not the first ones to go looking through these documents. There were empty caches and documents missing.

With Keltyr’s memory for everything he saw, Dorri had been able to make properly labeled bundles of all they found. Their packs were full now, so they had spent the afternoon to find a place to hole up and really look at what they had found.

The Gilnean manor house wasn’t much to look at now. Dorri thought it would have been passable before the Forsaken Invasion. However, it had sturdy wooden shutters that were still in place and intact. Better than a number of other houses they had passed along the coast, it would do for a night or two while they went through the large bundle of scattered papers they had salvaged from the houses they had targeted.

It had taken the last bit of light for her to get the shutters barred and to shove the ruined furniture into one of the rooms. She had swept a small windowless room that looked like it had served as child’s bedroom and then thrown down the small bedrolls she and Keltyr had brought with them. Lars could sleep in the front room. Dorri liked the other woman well enough, but not enough to share a bed with.

She was sweeping up the front room, using the fading sunlight and the banked fire. Lighting lamps or letting the fire in the hearth burn too brightly would have drawn to much attention. Lars already hissed at them every time they had made too much noise. At one point she had threatened to cut their tongues out to which they had responded that she was welcome to try. Kel had started dropping some of his smaller noisemakers just to set her off during their march.

Once she was done sweeping, the paladin closed the door, unbanked the fire and lit the few oil lamps and candles they had found. They had a few mage lights, but Dorri wanted to save those for when they were all there. She did not need them for the last few things she needed to do.

Dorri cleaned out the large iron pot that had been in the hearth. She thanked whoever built the house for their indoor plumbing. Once clean, she filled the pot with water and added some salt from their packs. She hung the pot over the fire and then sat down at the small table and started to cut up the vegetables they had found in the house’s cellar. The place had been ransacked more than once, but there had been enough potatoes, onions and carrots that Keltyr felt he could make something passingly edible. There was not much in the way of seasonings, but it would be the best they could do.

“I’m opening the door, don’t stab me!” She smirked at Kel’s warning and started moving the vegetables into the pot as he sat at the table to cut the cleaned fish into small pieces. He dumped the chopped fish into the pot and then tried to grab her with his nasty fish hands.

“Is there a time when you two aren’t antagonizing each other? It’s bad enough watching you groping each other, then you start adding in kinky crap.” She shook her head and folded herself into a corner closing her eyes.

When Dorri turned to reply to Lars, Keltyr ran his hands down her bare arms. Screaming, Dorri turned on him. He managed to grab her wrist to keep her from slapping his face, but let her go when she slammed her other fist into his gut. She jerked her wrist out of his grasp and walked away, cursing.

Keltyr followed her, muscling her out of the way so he could wash his hands before she could clean her arms. While they were wrestling around the sink, Lars’ annoyed voice came from the other room.

“How long on the soup?”

“Twenty minutes.” Keltyr called back.

“Twenty minutes?” Dorri raised an eyebrow with a smile.

“Give or take.”

“We’ll look at the stuff we gathered during dinner.” Dorri called out and dragged Keltyr back towards their bedding. If anything tried to sneak up on them, it would have to go through Lars first.

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