Tuesday, February 20, 2007


"Get up, you!"

Darrus was hefted out of bed and thrown bodily across the room; this was how he woke up. He'd taken in the last two days to wearing a cloth mask to sleep since his helmet was too cumbersome. Now he was glad he'd done so. These quarters were not as "private" as the Wake made them out to be.

The lock also wasn't terribly useful. He hadn't even been roused from sleep by the sound of it being prised open. Darrus attributed that to the amount of personal training he'd put in since arriving here. Maya had been doing the same and garnering a lot more attention doing so. Of course, he could hardly blame the men in this place from admiring his partner during her workouts. She did have quite a nice figure and preferred very tight, very sheer exercise uniforms. He almost pitied the poor men trying to concentrate on their own routines.

Pity, sadly, was entirely lacking in his present situation. He smashed into the wall, tucking and bracing just enough to avoid any serious injury. There would be a impressively dark shoulder bruise but little else. Only now did he open his eyes, braving the possibility of bright light to get a look at his attacker.

What he saw past the haze of radiance did not surprise him. Since he'd gotten here, there'd been one man taking silent offense to everything he did. The others called him Bantha because of his sheer size and, Darrus assumed, his pervasive body odor. Bantha was the Wake's animal handler, which explained some of the stench, and was built like... well... a Bantha. Broad shoulders, thick body, and a monolithic jaw. From the force of his throw, Bantha's build wasn't just for show. He had a lot of power in those huge arms - power he wasn't afraid to use.

"It ain't fair! Why should we pay you for what the rest o' us are doing fer free?" Bantha rushed him, shoulder down, obviously intending to crush him up against the wall again. It was a simple matter to sidestep the attack, but Darrus saw that bantha's other arm was pulled back in a waiting jab. The man was big, but he was also smart enough to anticipate a dodge.

Skimming the edge of the Force, Darrus drew on it just enough to send energy through his legs. His spiraling jump took him over Bantha, twisted in midair, and brought him down facing his opponent from behind. Without his helmet to disguise his voice, Darrus did not want to speak, so he remained silent. His only reaction was to crouch in a combat stance and wait for the next move.

It came quickly; Bantha turned and lacked out with a scything kick. It was a surprisingly agile and skilled maneuver, one that almost caught Darrus off-guard. He ducked it and came up with the intention of catching Bantha's leg, but his own reaction to how well the big man attacked threw his timing off enough for Bantha to pull back and evade him.

"You ain't better'n us!" Again came the attack, this time a pair of punches moving faster than the big farmer had a right to throw. The man had been trained, recently by the feel of him and very well. It was a commando-style assault - upfront, swift, and obviously intended to be knockout punches. One was coming low for his vitals while the other was an overhead smash to the skull. Darrus would be in trouble of either landed.

So, of course, he didn't let either one strike home. He needed to get across to this man that he was not to be trifled with but he didn't want to have to seriously injure him. Even though it was hard to see right now, Darrus didn't have to see his enemy clearly to sense where his was or what he was doing. Or why. Bantha was obviously just acting out of jealousy and outrage; there was no need to kill. Besides, Darrus had his own reasons for not wanting to take another life. Not if he could help it...

...and he could. Darting faster than Bantha could see, Darrus was out of the bigger man's reach and on the other side of a metal nightstand. Grabbing it, Darrus slid the table under Bantha's smashing punch and winced as four fingers shattered on impact. The gut strike fared no better, hitting the stand's front drawer. More splintering bones.

Howling in pain, Bantha turned and kicked again. This one was fueled by rage and faster than the one before. It actually clipped Darrus across the side of the face despite his best dodge but it wasn;t enough to do more than sting. Darrus spun away from the impact and answered with a kick of his own. It snapped up, out, and caught Bantha in exactly the same place. There was just one difference between the two attacks.

Bantha's had glanced. Darrus' had not. It was a full-on hit to the jaw. Even without the Force to enhance the impact, it was enough to send Bantha reeling. With the Force, there was another crack as the big man went down, gurgling past a mouth full of blood, spit, and loose teeth.

His door opened just as Darrus was putting on his helmet. There was a faint hiss as its lining inflated to lock around his head and a hum as its optics activated. Instantly, the light in the room filtered to a non-painful level, allowing him to see clearly again. Standing in the doorway were two other farmers, friends of Bantha's who'd obviously been waiting outside in case the big man needed help. It almost amused Darrus to think, "Oh yes. He certainly needs help. He needs help breathing."

The only one to speak was the farmer called Wease, a thin, angry-looking human with a scar on his cheek and a chip on his shoulder the size of a speeder. "You... you broke his jaw!"

Darrus nodded. His voice modulator kicked in as he spoke, filling the room with a voice like something rising from its grave. "He should not have been here." Darrus did not bother reaching for a weapon even though the other two men were armed. He didn't need one and going for a gun now would only make him look weak.

Wease shook his head. "No, I meant you broke his jaw! How?!?" Wease was referring to the inch thing plate of solid bone that was bantha's formidable lower mandible bone.

Letting himself seem as hostile as possible, Darrus took one step forward. "Shall I demonstrate?" The two men startled and began dragging their heavy friend out of the room. They scrambled over each other trying to get away, fear rising off them like Bantha's pungent personal stink.

"Wise choice." And with that, Darrus pushed the control panel of his door and shut it again. The autolock was broken but there was a manual lever. He wedged it closed, making the door physically impossible to open without cutting tools. Not that he suspected it would be necessary; there was little chance anyone would be disturbing him again tonight. He settled back into bed before thinking to contact Maya through her headset.


"Echo, do you copy?"

Maya's voice was a warm relief to hear once she finally answered. "Yes, Wraith. I'm here."

"I just had an unpleasant late night visitor. Unfortunate but inevitable. Are you all right?"

There was concern in Maya's voice when she replied, "I am fine. We are just sitting here, doing girl things."

He furrowed his brow, not that anyone could see the expression. "Girl things?"

"You know, talking about boys, painting our nails, modifying blasters and discussing past kills." There was enough humor in her tone to make Darrus believe she was kidding but also enough of an edge to lend a little doubt.

"Oh. Okay."

Then a soft laugh. "Wraith, get some sleep."

"Right. Wraith out."

"You'd better be. Soon. Good night."



Erisraven said...

Well, painting nails and modifying blasters would be girl things for Tril!

Zay said...

Beautiful as always :)

Tarek said...

Heh. Another test. Jealous or not, I'm sure that guy was primed to take Darrus by ambush.

Things are starting to add up for me... I think I know what the Crimson Wake leaders are, or at least were once.

August said...

Now now... It's Scarlet Wake.

Let's not go pulling in words like Crimson; that suggests an entirely different group.

Or does it? ;)