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D. Wade Hyde and Christopher Levy.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:8:29) in the Brentaal system: Brentaal IV (Cormond: The Speakeasy).
El-Nay Darr and Tycho Starlight.

El-Nay could feel the sensation of the man's vibroblade against her knee, and the slightest of tremors could be seen flowing through her young body. Beneath the helmet she was a ball of nerves, and she began looking around without moving her body to count just how many guns were drawn upon her. But even if she did manage to take out a couple of them, there was still the issue of the blade being held directly upon her knee. "I suppose it's too late to apologize?" She asked, turning her helmet slightly to look at Tycho from beneath her visor. Her breathing began to increase rapidly, her heart racing, as she began to have the onset of an anxiety attack. She had been hurt before, and injured through carelessness, but certainly nothing that could constitute a beating. Not by any stretch of the imagination, and imagining was just what she was doing as she anticipated the horrors that might be to come. "I'll pay for the dress!" She suggested, tilting her head slightly, and raising her shoulders as if to say 'oops'.

Oops indeed. Tycho sighed as he reluctantly watched his possible evening's entertainment leave. He hadn't even gotten a comm channel to contact her on. The Force filled him as he took in a breath, and he could sense the girl much more strongly. She was terrified and looking for a way out. She wanted to pull away, but she was afraid. He actually felt sympathy for her. But, he had a job to do.

"Here's what we're going to do," he said. "You're going to take *all* your weapons and place them on the table. Do it slowly and don't try anything. Trust me, you'll lose that kneecap if you do." His voice wasn't angry or demanding, just frighteningly calm.

El-Nay breathed slowly, but each breath seemed to be deeper than the one that preceded it, as she desperately sucked down air. She nodded her helmet slowly at the man, but did not utter a word, as she could sense he was not easily amused. Her right hand moved to the DT-57 heavy blaster pistol, a relic which was older than she was. Her hand trembled as she moved it towards the table, and then dropped it ... not as part of any disrespect or diversion, but out of a fear so palpable she could no longer hold it. Next she moved to a section of various explosives she kept in a small satchel, and placed them down on the table as well. Inside were a thermal detonator as a last resort, and more useful flash grenades for disorienting her prey. "I'm going to have to reach down for the next one," she explained, before bending down to pull up an old beskad, a blade of Mandalorian iron. She was not properly trained to use it, but had been in her clan for generations. "I'd ... I'd kind of like to keep that one," she said, despite the fact it was unlikely she'd make it out of this alive. "It's important to me," she explained, doubting that he would care, but it was the truth nevertheless.

Tycho watched her like a hawk as she took out her things and placed them all on the table. For a moment, there was indecision, especially when she asked to keep one of her items. The blaster pistol was a nice one, but he didn't desire it. The blade, however, looked like it could rake in dough. He frowned slightly, then peeked into the satchel, eyebrows raising. He took out her 'last resort' and added it to his belt. "I've always wanted a thermal detonator," he told her. After putting the pistol in the satchel, he slowly stood, keeping his knife right where it was. Then, he found a gap in the armor plates at the side, near the back. He quickly pressed his blade there instead. The weapon would go right through and into the kidney. Carrying her satchel and blade in one hand, he started forward, giving her a nudge. "Walk slowly and keep moving. We're going out back."

El-Nay took in a sharp inhale of air, and began to sniffle, fighting back the desire to cry as she felt the blade pressed against her. As they began to move through The Speakeasy none of the patrons seemed to care, and the Gamorrean she had assaulted was actually applauding as she was led to her fate. "Please..." she said pathetically, as they moved through the preparation area, which revealed just how unsanitary the food was prepared by an assortment of aliens and droids. If he truly wanted to injure her, he might have just force fed her some of the raw food that had been sitting out far too long. They finally emerged in the dark alley behind the structure where garbage was taken to be dumped before the refuse droids came to collect it. "It doesn't ... you don't have to do this," she said in panic, wishing she had listened to her father about not going off on adventures without proper training. Worst of all at the moment was the realization that he had been right; she could not stand for that. She closed her eyes when they stopped moving, and a few tears began to flow, with soft whimpers beginning to escape the domed helmet she wore.

Tycho could feel it all. How was it possible not to empathize with a person when he could feel their pain and fear? He didn't like it one bit. Hell, he didn't even want to do this. That wasn't going to stop him, unfortunately. He tossed her satchel and blade aside, a good distance from them. "You chose this life," he said. "You stepped into the path of danger. There are consequences. Take them and deal with them instead of whimpering about it. Now, off with your armor, helmet first."

Her gloved hands came to the side of her helmet, and with some bumbling she managed to detach it and reveal what lay beneath. She was barely an adult, with a face that could be considered beautiful if she properly took care of it instead of gallivanting about the galaxy. Her hair seemed blonde at first, but the shaved sides of her head revealed her brown roots, betraying the cheap dye job that covered the rest of her hair, which was cut short and styled upwards. She turned her head to face him, exposed for the first time, her gray eyes looking at him helplessly, as they began to well up with tears. Her hands then moved to the plates of armor that covered her small, 1.65 meter tall frame. As each one of them was placed upon the ground she found herself become more vulnerable, more exposed, more afraid. It was as if she was digging her own grave, and by the time she finally removed the last shin guard she was a broken wreck. She was trembling and then she thought there was nothing worse that could happen, the muscles of her bladder suddenly gave way and she felt the warm flow of urine between her legs, and then down them, until they formed an odorous puddle at her feet.

At some point he had to remove the blade enough that she could get out of the armor. She was left in nothing but the snug body glove underneath. He looked down at the puddle she was forming and sighed. "Seriously?" He had seen people piss themselves before, but not often, and he certainly hadn't expected it from her. The level of cowardice didn't mix well with her line of work at all. He punched her hard in the gut, then put the knife away. He had no desire to cut on her. "This is humiliating and frightening," Tycho said, understanding the situation, apparently. "But you need to get your shit together." He punched her again, not holding anything back. This time, the blow came to her ribs. "You think you can be a merc? This is pretty pathetic."

El-Nay gasped for air the instant his fist connected with her stomach, causing her to bring up some bile that she spit up. The bile dribbled down her lips, and then down her chin, as she weakly turned to look at him. "Is this..." she tried to talk to him, before that second shot came in contact with her ribs, knocking the wind out of her, and causing her to drop helplessly to her knees. She closed her eyes, placing a hand out in front of her, to keep from collapsing, as she knelt in her urine. "Is this what a merc is paid to do?" She asked, weakly, coughing, as she brought a hand to her face to wipe away the mess. Her eyes were barely open, and she was panting like a beast of burden, doing her best to catch her breath.

"A merc gets paid for whatever job they accept," Tycho said calmly. He gave her a solid kick to knock her onto her back, but he was careful not to knock her unconscious. "This isn't my job, really, but when you're making a deal with big people and getting paid big creds, you do favors asked of you." Tycho shrugged, then knelt down beside her, giving her a rough slap to the face. "I don't like doing this," he admitted. "You need to learn a lesson. Either get out of this business right now, or toughen up and get smart. You're not a merc. You're playing a merc." Suddenly, he seized her by the throat and stood, displaying impressive strength as he brought her up with him and slammed her into the wall. "Are we getting the message yet?" He snarled.

As she lay on her back the words her father repeated inside her head, scolding her to give up such foolish pursuits and ignore her heritage until the time was right to return to Mandalore. Now this stranger was saying the same thing, but with a far more deliberate hand. The slap in the face caught her off guard, and a mixture of saliva and blood flew from her mouth, as her head was snapped to the side. She gasped for air, choking as he grabbed her by the throat, the blood running down the corner of her mouth and down onto his hand. She let out a desperate scream when she was slammed into the wall, her spine sending waves of pain radiating throughout her young, diminutive body. "Ye..." she tried to speak, but was finding it difficult with his hand wrapped around her throat like it was. She brought her hands up to his, trying in vain to give herself some space to breathe, and more importantly, to speak. "Yes!" She murmured, between desperate gasps of air, her head thrashing from side to side as she struggled in his grip.

Tycho would normally get excited about this kind of brutality. It was something deeply ingrained in him from his life on Nal Hutta. However, he pushed that down, using some of that discipline he'd been learning lately, and forced himself to calm down. He couldn't help squeezing her throat a little tighter, though. A little longer. He held her there, choking her, taking her breath from her, staring into her eyes and feeling her fear.

"No," he said, dropping her and stepping back. He breathed in deeply, then let it out again. "I'm not going to kill you. We're done. You seem like a nice girl. Naive, too. But you're going to die. Not by my hands, but it'll happen. Soon, unless you learned something today. Tell me ... did you learn anything?"

Her eyes began to roll back in her head as he nearly crushed her windpipe. She was just about to lose consciousness when he released her, and she collapsed to the ground like a sack of tubers. She was on all fours, barely able to keep herself from collapsing face first onto the filthy ground. He had nearly killed her, but she had survived, and found herself gasping for air. It took several moments to regain some of her composure, but eventually her breathing began to normalize and she calmed down. "Yeah..." El-Nay said, as she shifted her position so that she was seated on the ground, her knees bent upwards, and her arms resting somewhat on them. "Don't ruin another woman's dress..." she said with a smirk, and short laugh, revealing that despite the ordeal, he had not broken her of her sense of humor, despite the trouble it often got her in.

Either he didn't appreciate humor, or this wasn't the right time for it. Tycho rolled his eyes, turned, and walked away. He knew she might shoot him in the back (he left all her items there on the ground, save for the thermal detonator he'd stolen), but he knew that the Force would let him know if he was in danger. As long as he remained focused on it, that was.

"Good luck out there, girl," he said, not looking back. "You'll need it."

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