He walked ahead of her towards the ship's airlock, limping slightly though he was trying hard to conceal it.
She'd done that.
He'd brought it on himself.
It wasn't a familiar sort of rage that settled around her as she watched him return to the ship in silence. There was fury, certainly, but well mixed with other emotions; annoyance, regret, passion, doubt...
"That was weird."
The Warrior looked askance at the blue twi'lek beside her, barely turning her head.
Vette was frowning as she too watched Malavai walk to the ship. She still had one of her blasters drawn. Vette glanced at her briefly. "I mean, it's Quinn. Captain Upstanding."
"Vette." Her tone was a warning.
They crossed the airlock into the Fury. Pierce was on his feet half a second before Jaesa. Broonmark stood in the door, head tilted to one side, sniffing the blood.
"What happened?" Pierce demanded, instantly alert and battle-ready.
"An ambush of very advanced droids," the Warrior responded. "Set a course for Corellia."
"I don't like repeating orders, Pierce."
"Yes, my lord." His eyes were hooded but he gave her a respectful salute and headed for the cockpit.
She met Jaesa's eyes and her apprentice got the tacit message. Jaesa made herself scarce, shooing the shaggy talz out ahead of her. The ship shuddered slightly as they disengaged and Pierce began to pilot them toward Corellia. The droid whirred out of the cargo bay, examined them for a second then, showing uncommon good sense, retreated without a word. Good for it. She probably would have dismantled it violently if it had spoken. The three injured remained on the common area of the Fury.
"Awkward," Vette said, breaking the silence. The typical snarky comment felt flat, as if she didn't have her heart behind it.
"Infirmary," The Warrior ordered.
"Right." Vette led the way and took quick scans. "Well the good news is that none of us are going to drop dead at any moment." Setting the scanner aside, she pointedly faced the Warrior, kolto in hand. "You're first, boss."
The warrior lifted an eyebrow.
Vette crossed her arms. "I was out cold for most of the fight, so I got the least of it."
The droids had been good. Not good enough to kill her, but there had been a few wounds. It took her a second longer than she would have liked to realize what Vette was doing. She nodded and stripped down to her undergarments.
There were a few blaster burns where the droids had managed to sear through her under-armor. She had a gash across one hip. Blood had welled up, dark red against the natural crimson of her skin. It had smeared when she'd removed her armor. She'd let Malavai in close to strike him with the pommel of her saber. He'd taken the opportunity, as she knew he would, to use his vibro-blade. As well as he claimed to know her, she knew him equally. Her blow had staggered him, and a second had taken him out of the fight. The wound hurt more now that the rush of battle had faded.
It wasn't bad, they'd all seen and had worse, but Vette's expression darkened and she drove her point home with accusing glances at Malavai. She applied the kolto and dressing with efficient fingers. Vette's silence was telling.
Her lover, for his part, looked ill on seeing his handiwork. She felt her lip twist in a small sneer. A bare half hour previously he hadn't seemed at all put out by the idea of her death. The sudden maelstrom in her chest was...strange. She looked away. As much small pleasure as she might get from watching his reactions, she felt equal unease looking at him. Had she misjudged him so terribly? Had she misjudged herself? Was she now showing utter weakness or utter stupidity in letting him live?
Her injuries were relatively minor and Vette was soon done with them. She shifted her weight, unsure what to do next as the Warrior began to re-dress. Taking pity on her, the Warrior dismissed her. Vette studied her for a moment then gestured for her to follow her outside. Setting the armored top aside, she followed Vette, closing the door behind her. They were the only ones in the common area.
"What?" the Warrior asked.
Vette pitched her voice low. "May I just say something and then I'll shut up?"
The warrior narrowed her eyes. "Go ahead."
"I'm kinda creeped out. If Darth Fatso, can get to Quinn?" She trailed off as shook her head quickly, lekku swinging from side to side with the motion.
Baras. The warrior closed her eyes for a moment, mastering the rage she felt, least she give in and destroy everything around her. Her mission was too important for a temper tantrum like some untrained recruit. His death would come at her hands, but when she'd completed her business on Corellia for the Hand.
"He knows I'm coming for him." She met Vette's eyes. "I'm going to end him."
Vette nodded, eyes hard with agreement. Expression softening, she glanced over the warrior's shoulder and nodded in Malavai's direction. "Think your old boss is getting desperate?"
The Warrior considered that for a moment. It was hard to tell with the fat old spider. Baras played a long game, and yet she'd seen he wasn't able to anticipate everything. She'd been systematically foiling his plans for weeks now, after all. "Perhaps. Go clean up and-"
"I know. My lips are sealed."
The Warrior nodded and re-entered the Fury's small medical bay. Quinn looked up from treating his injuries, his armored coat and shirt lay on the other bed. He had a few burns from her sabers - fewer than he should have had. She'd pulled her punches on him, taking out the full measure of her rage on the droids he'd created. He should have been a corpse, cut to ribbons with a pair of smoking holes in his chest, but she'd held back. The pommel of her primary saber had ripped a gash on his shoulder. Her off-hand saber had struck him on the jaw. Bruises were beginning to appear on his pale skin. He watched her enter the room with wary eyes. She felt no remorse for the injuries she'd inflicted. He'd earned every one of them. She could see he knew it, too.
"No," she interrupted him with a sharp hand gesture and sharper tone. "Silence."
He shut up, teeth closing with an audible click. She could feel the fear as he no doubt wondered if she was going to kill him anyway. She growled in annoyance, taking the Kolto from him and beginning to apply the salve to the burned areas. His body shuddered and twitched under her fingers as she applied it. It took a moment for the anesthetic mixed into the salve to kick in, and the initial touch was always painful. He suffered in silence.
"You need to apologize to Vette," she told him. It was an order for all it was phrased as a suggestion.
Malavai bowed his head. "Yes. She isn't the only one."
"No," she agreed. The laceration on his shoulder might leave a scar, the one on her hip probably would. She wasn't sure how she felt about either of them. She continued to dress his wounds with silent efficiency. The Warrior wanted to move on to her tasks on Corellia. She needed space and bodies to unleash her anger upon, and neither were to be found on the Fury.
Malavai caught her wrist, holding it very lightly. His eyes and his touch pleaded with her to stay a moment longer. "I said things I regret."
"Then why were they said?" Her reply came out sharper than she'd intended. She hoped he didn't hear weakness. What was she, a child upset over a failed crush? She was a Sith Lord! Heir to an ancient and powerful bloodline, a warrior of renown, and wielder of the Force! Worlds had trembled at her feet!
He maintained his gaze, not backing down in the face of her fury. Malavai never did when it was important. He was one of the few who showed strength in her presence and damn if it wasn't something that attracted her. Curse the man for getting under her skin.
And damn Baras for picking so excellent a weapon to use against her. Here she was, second guessing herself in a critical moment because she'd let Malavai live. If she'd killed him, her rage, and her grief, would have burned brightly - possibly blinding her. Failing that, she'd have been without a valuable asset. If she'd died, well, Baras would go uncontested. It was an elegant trap in a way, which made her hate him all the more. She was going to kill that fat, scheming-
The Warrior suppressed a shiver. How odd that a voice could do that to her. She met his eyes. "Was any of it real?" It hadn't been what she'd intended to say.
"Yes." He stood, the hand still on her wrist tightening.
"Then why?" she demanded.
"All the reasons I gave before- the excuses-" He cut himself off, shaking his head. "I can't explain it. Not really." The lines of his face were tense with barely controlled rage. As attractive as he was, his answer wasn't good enough.
The Warrior jerked her wrist out of his hand with a sharp motion. "Pathetic."
"Listen!" he demanded, grabbing her arm. Malavai's intensity stayed her hand, halfway to her primary lightsaber.
"You have thirty seconds to explain, Captain," she said, emphasizing his title. She narrowed her golden eyes, glaring at him, her voice dropping into a dangerous growl. "And you will remove your hand or I will."
He let her go then began to pace the small room, hands flexing, shoulders hunched. "When he contacted me, he sounded reasonable despite my initial misgivings. I thought I could gain an advantage. We ended up speaking at length. He kept talking and the more he spoke, the more it all seemed to make sense. In retrospect none of it does, not with all I've seen, but at the time-" He broke off. "After that it was like there was this little nagging voice in my head, telling me I needed to harden my heart against you, reminding me of everything Baras had done for me, reminding me of my career and everything I'd held important."
Malavai stopped pacing. He faced her, squaring his shoulders and meeting her eyes. "Then you beat the shit out of me and he stopped making sense. The magnitude of what I've done is beginning to settle in and it sickens me. I've betrayed the Empire, The Emperor, myself... You."
She considered his words and watched him stew for a moment. She'd seen powerful Darths reach across space while a holocall was active. She'd seen Baras choke people; could he play mind tricks at that range? He was terribly persuasive even without mind tricks. No doubt Malavai had come to the same conclusions. His rage seemed ready to boil over, but he was mastering it well. His hands clenched into fists as he seethed, absolutely livid. It was captivating.
"Baras had you construct droids to kill me," she mused, taking a step closer, "but you were his real weapon." She placed her palm flat on his bare chest. He shivered slightly, which pleased her. Perhaps it might seem odd, but they were well suited. There were deep wells rage and passion in him. The Warrior wondered for a dark moment if Baras had arranged for their affair or if he'd merely taken advantage of it. "I think we were both meant to die," she concluded.
"I-" He paused to think for a moment. "I think I see," he growled. One of his hands came up to rest on her waist. "Being the architect of your defeat would have broken me."
She hooked a finger through one of his belt loops and showed her teeth. "If the crew didn't kill you first."
He grimaced. "Pierce will be the most problematic when he finds out. I'll handle it."
She tugged him closer. "I know you will." She grazed her nails lightly down his chest. "Your old master has discarded you. You're my weapon now."
He nodded, jaw set, eyes fixed on hers.
"I'm still angry with you, Malavai." She sank her nails into his chest, enough she'd leave marks. "But you're too... valuable to me to discard. I've seen the game he's playing and I will not be manipulated by Baras." Every one of his failures would be turned against him, including this one.
"Yes, my lord."
She leaned in, pressing her body against his, and straddling one of his legs. She nipped at his ear and grinned when he shivered in response. "You're going to make up for this transgression, Captain." The hand on her hip clenched for a half second before he schooled his reaction. Breaking his rigid self-control was so much fun. She chuckled darkly. "And again, and again, until I'm fully satisfied, is that understood?"
His voice was throaty. "Yes, my lord."
"Good." She stepped away, tugging him behind her, one hand scooping up her discarded armored top. She flung the garment at the droid as she crossed the common area to her chambers. "Fix my armor by tomorrow," she ordered, "or I'm dropping you on Tatooine. From orbit."
"Yes, Master! And might I say how fit and deadly you are looking tod-"
The door shut behind her, cutting off the droid. There wasn't much time before they were on Corellia, but she intended to have him before then. She stalked around him, the nails of one hand grazing over his skin, hips swaying, all dangerous curves and predatory intent. She pushed him back onto the bed and attacked his pants, stripping him. After a startled moment of inaction, he began to help by kicking off his boots. She stepped back and shed her own remaining armor letting him finish undressing. She prowled onto the bed, hovering over him as he lay prone.
She straddled one thigh and rubbed along his leg, one hand palming him. His hands raced up her sides and over her breasts, grasping and stroking. She leaned up and bit his shoulder. He tweaked one nipple, drawing a hiss from her. She flexed her hips, riding his thigh as she nipped up his neck and jaw. He groaned as she stroked him to full hardness. Holding him with one hand she moved over his hips and sank down with a growling moan that became a throaty chuckle as she watched his eyes roll back and close.
Still laughing, she rolled her hips slowly. He moaned, hands sliding up her thigh. He brushed over the bandaged wound and she hissed, hips snapping forward, nails digging into his chest. He moved the offending hand between them, finding her clit and rubbing it with the pad of his thumb. She ground her hips against him and hummed her approval. Good as it was, she needed more and they didn't have time to linger. Bracing her hands on his chest she began to ride him hard and fast. Malavai's hands skimmed up her sides to cup her breasts then slid to her ribcage. He pulled her down as he thrust up into her.
She moved one of his hands back to her clit. He rubbed circles with his thumb, fast and hard. She grinned and leaned forward, changing the angle of her ride. He moaned and leaned up, kissing and suckling on her breasts as their hips moved. He pulled her closer with his free arm, fingers spread on her back. He kissed up her neck, daring to nip at her throat every so often. The Warrior lost herself in the passion of their coupling, her focus narrowing down to the sensation of her lover under her, flesh on flesh, and the building need to come. Moving with more speed and force, she sought her release. His thumb sped up and his mouth captured one of her breasts. She cried out as she came, her back arching. He continued to thrust up into her, drawing the waves out until she was gasping down at him with glazed eyed.
Malavai rolled them over, thrusting back into her with a force that made her gasp again and dig her nails into his back. He braced his hands on either side of her head. He didn't move within her yet, but nuzzled at her ear. The warrior rolled her hips and she felt him grit his teeth into her skin.
"How shall I please you?"
She caught his jaw in one hand and forced him to look her in the eye as she rolled her hips again. He groaned, his forehead resting against hers. They panted the same air for a moment as she came down. Ready for him, she nibbled her way back along his jaw. She ran her hands from his ass to his shoulders and back again, pulling him into her.
"I want it hard," she answered his question.
Unleashed, he snapped his hips forward, drawing a pleased gasp from her and a male grunt from him. Putting his weight on one arm, he held her waist with the other and pulled her to him. He thrust hard and fast, driving her into the pillows at the head of the bed. She panted into his ear with each thrust, hips rising to meet his, their moans and the sound of flesh on flesh the only noise in the room. She buried her face in his uninjured shoulder, breathing in his scent, luxuriating in the feel of him moving within her, the sound of his voice, the passion in his movement. Malavai touched her again and she came a second time, moaning her pleasure into his shoulder. He came after, her name on his lips, sending another small shudder through her body. The Warrior wrapped her arms possessively around him, pulling him closer, hips rocking slowly, eliciting little aftershocks.
As they caught their breath, she rested her head against his. The Warrior left a small kiss at his temple. It was somehow more intimate than the way their bodies were still entwined.
Feeling suddenly exposed, she pushed at him and they separated. Malavai rolled onto his back beside her, his hair mussed, the bruises livid. She propped herself up on her elbows and looked down at him. He was watching for her reaction. She leaned over and claimed his lips in a hungry, demanding kiss. The Warrior trailed on finger lightly over his jaw.
"We'll call that a good start," she purred.
"Yes, my lord."