El-Nay Darr was resting as
comfortably as possible in a hotel in Calamar, the
capital city of the planet Esseles. How they got there
she did not know, as she had been unconscious for the
trip down from the mountains and back to civilization.
She had been stripped of her armor, and the bodyglove
that was beneath it, and a bacta patch had been applied
to her forehead. As she began to stir she initially
thought she might be in the Imperial base, but then she
felt the comfortable bed beneath her, and realized she
had been moved. She blinked her steely gray eyes
repeatedly until the room came into focus, and before
she looked for anyone else, she scanned for her armor ...
which she was pleased to see had been carefully placed
aside. "Tycho?" she called out, barely able to speak
because of how dry her mouth had become. She coughed
several times, clearing her throat before trying again.
"Tycho?" she cried out again with more success, and as
the more she woke up, the more she wanted a cigarra to
start her day. Damn him, she thought to herself, as she
attempted to sit up in the bed, but she was still very
weak. It was only then she realized that she was
completely naked, and she began to panic, tightly
wrapping the blanket around her to cover herself,
unaware that she had wet herself during electrocution
and needed to be cleaned. That pervert, she thought to
herself angrily, before rolling over onto her side and
assuming the fetal position, trembling slightly from the
thought of what he might have done.
Tycho had given up waiting
by her bedside. The doctor he'd acquired had told him
that she would be fine with rest, so he'd gone back into
the main room of the hotel to watch some holovid and rot
his brain. He had dozed off and woke when he heard her
call. He jumped up and was halfway to the bedroom when
he realized how thirsty she would be upon waking. He'd
been in similar situations, and he knew how it went.
When he came to her, it was with a glass of water. He
placed it on the bedside table. He was no longer dressed
in armor, but in a simple shirt and trousers of neutral
colors. He had cleaned and shaved and looked quite a bit
different. "Relax, kid," he told her. "I had a doc come
see you ... under the table, y'know. He says you'll be
okay. You need to drink ... come on, let me help you." He
reached out and hauled her up into a sitting position
against the backboard, then held out the water for her.
El-Nay screamed in fright
when she touched him, attempting to pull away from him,
but she was simply too weak to resist. "Why am I naked?"
she asked, the tears in her eyes beginning to well as
she asked, trembling in his arms as he touched her.
"What did you do to me?" she asked again, before closing
her eyes both to hide her face in shame and to contain
the tears. She had been put through countless horrors
since they met, but the thought of being ... violated ...
while she was unconscious terrified her more than
anything. "How could you..?" she asked him, as her head
all but collapsed, a pathetic whimper emanating from her
as she began to cry. It had all been too much. She
wanted to go home. She wanted her parents. She did
everything but call out to them in her moment of
A look of anger crossed
Tycho's face. In just a moment he was seething inside,
his emotions trying desperately to run away with him.
He'd always been a brutal person, but emotions had
always been something he could control. Everything he'd
done before had been methodical and carefully planned.
Since he'd started manifesting the Force it had become
harder. Violent thoughts and volatile emotions had
become easy to him. He pulled her hands from her face
and slapped her. Not as hard as he had before. He had
managed to rein himself in enough that the slap was more
insult than pain. "How *dare* you accuse me of that!" He
snarled, standing and walking halfway across the room.
He rounded on her and pointed a finger at her. "What I
*did* to you was carry you back from that damn valley,
give up most of my pay, and get you a doctor to treat
you. Other than the armor, he was the one who undressed
you and I even paid him extra to clean him up because
you pissed yourself. Again! I came to bring you water
and check on you, because for some unknown reason I
actually give a shit!"
El-Nay listened to what
Tycho told her had happened, and for some reason she
believed him. Her face turned white with horror, and her
mouth hung agape in shock as she realized how
unintentionally cruel she had been to him by jumping to
conclusions. "Tycho..." she said slowly, sadly, unknowing
what else to say. "Tycho. I fucked up. I'm sorry.
Something like that happened to me once," she said,
growing uncomfortable with the memory, and shifting
beneath the blanket in an awkward tick. "Thank you.
Thank you for all that you did back there for me," she
said, speaking for the first time honestly, without any
jokes or hostility in the voice. This was the real,
vulnerable version of herself that no one had seen in
Although she had no idea,
Tycho already knew a bit about her vulnerable side. It
wasn't just the way he'd seen her act; he'd known her
feelings, felt them first hand, and knew that she hid a
weakness, a vulnerability that she tried to hide from
the world. He hesitated for a few moments, as if unsure
whether he'd stay or leave. After a moment, he said,
"You're going to have to start wearing a diaper."
Seeming mollified, he moved to sit beside her on the bed
and handed her the water. "Drink up ... then tell me about
it. You owe me that."
El-Nay allowed him to make
his diaper joke, still too mortified from her
mischaracterization of him to say anything in defense of
herself. She took the glass of water in both of her
hands and brought it to her mouth, drinking the entire
contents in one feverish gulp. As she pulled the glass
away she was panting lightly, and then brought a wrist
to wipe away the last remaining traces of water. "I saw
that woman before. On the command ship here on Esseles,"
she began, trying to remember more, but originally she
did not make much of an impression. "I came here to
pursue a bounty that the Imperial Governor had placed.
Fifty thousand just to recover his daughter. Some
teenage brat no less. I thought it would be easy
enough," she said, as she found herself moving closer to
him, until her hand reached around him for support. "I
ended up partnering with a bounty hunter I worked with
once. We tracked her to a city here on Esseles, and I
caught her!" she said proudly, her arm wrapping around
his, almost clinging to him now. "But this bitch he was
partnered with ended up jettisoning me from the ship,
and I was very nearly killed," she said, sounding more
jealous than angry, as she continued to recount the
events. "I thought for sure they would have collected
the bounty without me, so I demanded to see the Governor
and get my cut," she explained, thinking it sounded
perfectly reasonable to her. "What's fair is fair right?
Only when I got there I found out the bounty had never
turned in. They just disappeared. They demanded I go
after the bounty hunter. That woman was there at the
meeting, but I knew him from when I was younger..." she
said, turning to lean her head on Tycho's shoulder, as
she drew him in closer. "...but I was just too damn
scared and I ran," she confessed, taking in a sharp
breath, as the tears began to come to her once again.
She turned her head into him, burying her face against
his upper chest and shoulder, wetting his shirt with her
Tycho listened in silence,
thinking about the recording that had been left on the
girl. He was a little uncomfortable with her getting all
close. It wasn't that he didn't like women getting all
close to him, but it was an emotional thing, not a
physical thing, and he didn't know how to do that. He
didn't know how to comfort people. The last time he'd
had a similar reaction was back when he'd had the bounty
who had earned him a black mark. Even then it had been
awkward. He wrapped his arms around El-Nay and held her
so she could cry and hopefully feel better. "The
Imperial bitch left a data disk with information on the
guy ... and a problem. I'll get to that. We're going to
find him and turn him in. But ... that isn't what I meant.
I meant, tell me about what happened to you. You were
raped? Tell me what happened."
By now the portion of
Tycho's shirt that she had used to shroud her face had
become saturated with a mix of tears, saliva, and mucus,
as she sobbed uncontrollably into him, a mixture of fear
combined with the weight of what was upon her. "I had an
ori'vod once," she began, her voice muffled, as she was
speaking with heated breath into his chest. "In your
language that means sister. My father did not wish for
me to follow him into life as a mercenary. He would not
help me. He would not train me. He discouraged me at
every attempt. It was only my mother ... whose armor I
wear ... that encouraged me," she began, trying to give
the necessary backstory to build up to what he wanted
her to reveal. "So when I left my father hired this
woman to watch over me. She became the most important
person in my life. More than a friend..." she continued,
her arms wrapping around him now, and she scooted a bit
until she had situated herself practically in his lap.
"She went on a hunt to avenge her parents, and she never
came back. For a while I was lost. I tried to hunt on my
own, but I needed help. I turned to a man I shouldn't
have..." she said, angrily, as her fingers dug into his
back, perhaps a bit harder than she had intended. "We
captured a bounty. And to celebrate he took me. He was
my first. But when I woke up he was gone. So was the
bounty. So was my innocence," she muttered, angrily,
exhaling sharply into his chest. "That's the man they
want me to go after..." she concluded, shaking in his lap,
a weak puddle of a human being.
As he listened, he found
that he was beginning to understand the girl better. He
couldn't relate to much of her story, but thanks to his
newfound powers, he could empathize just by feeling what
she felt. She was still naive and unskilled, but it had
been worse before, apparently. She'd been taken in by
someone, duped, and gotten screwed over. That was enough
of a reason to get revenge. As it turned out, it was the
same person they were already required to hunt down
anyway. "I need to know," he said. "Did he actually
force himself on you, or just trick you?" It wouldn't
make it much better if he hadn't, but it would make a
difference for sure.
"Trick me?" El-Nay asked, as
she pulled away from his chest, looking up at him with a
slobbering mess of a face. "He told me he loved me. Some
trick..." she said, angrily, before slamming her face back
down into Tycho's chest to shield herself. "I can never
let another man get that close..." she said, despite the
fact that she was wearing nothing but a sheet, sitting
on his laps, and wrapped in his arms. "I'm not good
enough to catch him. We need to find my ori'vod. She'll
know what to do..." she said, pressing her face deeper
against him, her arms clinging to him as if he were a
lifeboat from the shipwreck of a life she was now
Tycho did what he could to
keep her sheet wrapped around her. He valued her desire
for privacy, for he was not a man that would force
anything on her. Seeing her naked was something he
certainly would have appreciated, but certainly not in a
situation like this. He didn't like seeing her
vulnerability and didn't want to take advantage of it.
Despite that, there was this little dark place inside of
him that said her vulnerability could be useful. He felt
even more uncomfortable because of it, and he wasn't
about to follow that course of action. "We don't have
time to find your ori'vod," he said, his pronunciation
of the alien word not bad at all. "We have a deadline of
a week to find the bastard and deliver him. I'll do what
I can to help you find your sister after that." He
pulled back enough that he could look her in the face.
"You may not be good enough to take him by yourself, but
I'm going to be there. And once we capture him, we're
going to kick his ass before we turn him over." He gave
her a faint smile, then kissed her on the forehead. "Let
me get you some more water. You're dehydrated and you're
crying it all out."
"A week?!" El-Nay squealed,
her eyes widening in a mix of shock and disbelief. "I
don't even know his name. I don't even know what he
looks like. He never took his helmet off. Not even
during..." she paused, stopping herself, unwilling to go
any further. "I know where she is. I just don't know how
we're going to get to her," she said, dejectedly, as she
was always one to give up far too easily. "In fact,
she's right above us. On the governor's command ship..."
she revealed slowly, hesitating to revealing the fact
that she was asking him to go aboard an Imperial star
The interesting thing about
that was that it wouldn't be the first time that he'd
infiltrated a star destroyer. He didn't mention that,
though, instead, giving her a look of frustration. "You
can't give up so easily," he said. "Nothing in life,
especially in this profession, is ever easy. You have to
put your nose to the grindstone and work for it. Hard.
That's exactly what we're going to do. We're gonna start
by finding him and turning him over ... then we break your
sister out. That's going to take too much planning and
work to get it done within a week and still have time to
find the guy. If we don't get him, you're gonna have a
fifty thousand bounty on your head. We can't let that
happen." He laid her back on the bed, escaping her
clutches, and pulled the sheet up to cover her
shoulders, as it had drooped down low enough to show
more than she wanted shown. "Just wait here." He picked
up the empty glass and went to refill it."
As he left, El-Nay felt a
coldness come over her, and a feeling of longing that
she had mistaken for anxiety. She pulled the sheep up
over her with his help, and rolled onto her side so that
she could face him, and continue talking. "No. It's not
what you think, Tycho..." she said, nervously, having
hoped he would have understood, but apparently it had
gone right over his head. "She isn't a prisoner ... she's
the one that goes out and catches prisoners," she said,
with some apprehension, as she was not sure how he would
react to the news that her 'big sister' was now an
He had indeed mistaken what
she'd said. For whatever reason, he hadn't expected her
sister to be with the enemy. That certainly complicated
things. For a moment, he said nothing. He played it
through in his head, trying to work out exactly what
they could do to help a woman that had chosen a side
already. Sighing, he came to sit on her bedside with the
water. He held it in one hand, wrapping the other around
her shoulders. "Come on ... we're sitting up again." He
helped her up to an incline and held the glass to her
lips, tilting it a little at a time. "Drink slowly. Sip.
You can't afford to throw it up because you drink too
much." With her stomach being idle as it had been and
the stress on her body, it was entirely possible she
wouldn't be able to hold much down at a time. After a
few sips, he took the water away and set it on the
table. "We're going to focus on the problem at hand ...
then we'll talk about your sister. Trust me. I'll do
what I can to help you."
"I *am* focusing on the
problem at hand, Tycho," El-Nay said, after taking a
guided sip of the water. "And if we have a week to hunt
down the best bounty hunter I've ever seen, then we're
going to need my ori'vod!" she said, emphatically,
looking up at him pleadingly with her gray eyes. "It
does not matter what uniform she wears, Tycho. She took
an oath to my father long before the oath she took to
the Empire. And she will help ... she *has* to," she
explained to him, nodding to reassure him. "Now are you
going to just keep here until the bounty activates and
collect the easy money or are we going to get started?"
she asked, regaining more of her composure with each sip
of water. The fact that her life was on the line did
much to bring her back to reality and sharpen her mind.
"Fine," he said. "We'll see
if we can contact her and see if she'll come help. In
the meantime, you need to rest. The doctor was clear
that you need a day of bedrest. You'll be fine after
that, and we need you in top shape. We'll find your
sister and get her help. I know who to call. Trust me."
After a moment of helping her drink more water, he put
the glass aside. He piled up pillows under her and laid
her back on them. "Now, about that 'best bounty hunter
you've ever seen' ... are you telling me he's better
than me?" There was a twinge of hurt in his voice that
sounded like he was offended, though it was hard to tell
if he was serious or not.
"Well I've never seen you
collect a bounty, Tycho," El-Nay said, as she lay back
on the pillows, and looked up at the ceiling as she
considered her predicament. "I've seen you beat the piss
out of me in an alley. I've seen you kill some
Stormtroopers, but those guys can't shoot anyway. But
I've never seen you collect a bounty..." she said, making
light of a situation she ought not have. "But I can tell
you he is better than my ori'vod ... better than me ...
better than even my father," she revealed, honestly, her
hands twirling the edge of her sheet in his hands
nervously, as she continue to fidget. "But I think
together all of us can get the job done. Really I do!"
she said optimistically, her brown eyes flashing with a
sense of hope for the first time since they met.
Part of Tycho was unwilling
to believe that the man was better than him. As good as,
maybe? Better, though? Tycho hadn't yet met his match...
or, at least, someone he couldn't escape from when
things went bad. If he had to run, he could always
regroup and try again. Still, they were talking about
another expert bounty hunter. What if he was better than
him? Tycho knew, logically, that it was possible. He
needed to put his ego away and not underestimate the
target. Some of his abilities, namely the Force, he
could simply not use in this mission. Not only did he
not want El-Nay to know his secret, he was meant to take
the bounty hunter in alive. That meant that he couldn't
have the man see him using his powers. It was just too
dangerous. What good was the Force if he couldn't *use*
it? He gave a scowl, but simply nodded. "All right," he
said. "I'll get ahold of my guy ... see if he can't give
us a program that'll let us contact your sister directly
and bypass Imperial channels. He's a sorcerer with
computers, so he should be able to do the trick."