Another Vision

“I thought I told you never to come back here!”

“Yeah, you did. But we need to talk.”

“Get out! Guards!”

Kellaro felt the Imperial Guards surround him and grab his arms. He quickly fused his magnet boots to the floor, but made no other move, his eyes seeking Brant’s. He said quietly, “I found the fugitives.”

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Blue and Red

Commander Auretal was surprisingly young.

When Lathril first met him, the Sith had been wearing a mask. Lathril had imagined an old man — or perhaps an alien species — barely holding together under the ravages of the Dark Side under that mask, but when Auretal took the bit of metal off to smooth his moustache, he was revealed to be a brown-skinned human barely into adulthood, with the only sign of his Sith status the yellowing of his eyes.

The yellowing of his eyes… and his chronic impatience. Lathril disliked him immediately.

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The Power of Speed

When Lathril met with his subordinates assembled in the hangar, Lathril thought he understood why Sarak assigned him to this particular squad. They stood carefully separated from each other, giving each other suspicious side-eyes just as much as they did to him. The one woman stood with her arms crossed; the oldest seemed to have a permanent frown etched onto his face, and the other two men shifted and leered as if they had a background of backroom dealing on a Hutt world somewhere. When Lathril stepped before them and cleared his throat to get their attention, they haphazardly came to a salute, then went back to staring at him.

“Sloppy,” said Lathril. “Let’s try that again, in unison. Atten… HUT!”

This time the salute was more in sync. Lathril studied the bunch a second time as they came back to a rest. They were reluctant, frightened, staring at his cybernetic and then at the vibroblade sheathed on his waist, likely making up stories in their head of how this Sith had lost his eye, Lathril thought. He bit back an internal sigh.

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Floating Lost

He awoke to a vision of glass cracking like a spider’s web and the sound of screaming in his ears. The screaming he had heard before: it was his mother’s, when he had killed her.

Brant dragged himself up from where he’d fallen asleep lolled across his desk. For a second, he wasn’t even sure which desk it was. Navy, the Covenant? The one he hardly used at Velmor? They all started to look the same after a while. He pressed his face against the cool glass of the window, cognition slowly trickling back in. He was on a ship, without helmet or mask. That ruled out two desks, and as for the other… the sigil on the wall was wrong. So not Navy, but the ISS-Relentless. Close enough.

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Kellaro and his brother Brant were getting along better now. It had been touch and go for many months, with the two fighting as often as they spoke, but bit by bit, the aggression had died down. Brant tolerated Kellaro’s advances of friendship, and Kellaro swallowed his concerns to try to simply be there for the Sith when he was needed.

Yet there were times, when Brant’s eyes gleamed sulphur-yellow, and it seemed like someone, or something else entirely, was looking out of them. …nor could Kellaro forget what had happened to their parents.

Brant’s eyes had been unreadable then too, the day he had confessed what had happened. Not yellow, but flat and dead, as if the soul had retreated back beyond them instead of witness what had been done, what was being said. And in his brother’s soul, Kellaro sensed a kind of wildness, like the anoobas that had howled at night around his mother’s old Tatooine moisture farm. The sounds were hunting calls, or heralds of a death having taken place, where the hyena-like creatures would gather in large numbers to fight and to feast.

But every so often, just one anooba would howl long into the night with no answer, a lonely, desperate call for its missing family, and Kellaro could see that in Brant’s eyes sometimes too. And when Kellaro spoke to Brant, that was the anooba he tried to reach.

“I think he forgave before you even ignited your saber,” Kellaro told Brant, when not for the last time, the topic of their parents’ murder came up. “Father knew what the Sith were about, the lengths they’d go to break you. It was never your fault, Brant.”

And the eyes would become a little less wild.

They never talked about their mother, however. Kellaro didn’t know her part in the story in those dark catacombs, only assuming she, like their father, had sacrificed herself so that Brant could live. Yet Brant had grown up around her. It wouldn’t have been the quick stroke against a near-stranger as their father’s death had been. Her face, her cry: these would have been familial to Brant, a betrayal of the worst kind, beyond even dar’manda. Realizing that in full, Kellaro thought, would break him.

So no, they never talked about Mother.

“…But I Got It Back!”

The other bookend to “You Lost Our Ship?!”

Author’s Note

“Nine thousand ninety-eight…nine thousand ninety-nine… ninety-one hundred!” Kellaro exclaimed, slapping the credits into the Sullustan mechanic’s hands.

The wait was agonizing as the alien counted the money and then took one last look at the Dynamic-class Freighter Kellaro was trading in. Kellaro started bouncing impatiently on his heels, but finally, finally, the alien passed him the deed to his family’s old Mantis spaceship.

“Take a look at that, Brant!” he said a few minutes later, as they walked into the hangar and turned on the lights. The lamps took a few minutes to warm up, going from a dim orange to a brighter and brighter yellow. The effect it had on the ship was something like a smoky dawn, the empty cockpit casting a forlorn expression of long-suffering through the gloom, at least until the Mandalorian sigils for Clans Lok and Lok’kar as well as a series of handprints were illuminated across the ship’s bow, transforming the ship’s frown into a rictus grin.

Kellaro glanced over at Brant to see if he was as excited as Kellaro was, but Brant’s expression was almost as pained as the ship’s. He broke from Kellaro, crossing over to it and brushing his hand against the underside of the nose, around the housing for one of the ion cannons. His hand came to rest over one of the handprints in their row under the cockpit: a small one, no larger than a child’s. It was his own, made more than a decade ago.

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Ground Pounding

The base was oddly silent, despite the space battle taking place only a few kilometers overhead. The soft clinks of Kellaro’s armor filled the air instead, and Kellaro winced each time he took a step. He wasn’t making that much noise, but it felt like it, and he kept expecting to meet guards around every corner.

Eventually his expectations were fulfilled, as he came around another bend and met a flurry of blasterfire. He dodged back around, now wincing in pain instead of the anticipation of it. His assailants did not pursue, and Kellaro took the moment to flip open his wrist bracer and start a quick scan.

Three droids, two small turrets. That would explain the lack of pursuit. They had to be guarding something, and Kellaro bet his best blaster pistol that that something was his goal.

Kellaro flicked open his comms unit. “Hey, Imadulc, could you send in a strike to the base?”

“Kzzzzsghksssgzzzzsh.” Kellaro couldn’t clearly hear her voice over all the static, but it sounded irate. And then…

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