It takes three days to get back to Imperial space.
The entire time there’s a steady pulse going through Andronikos Revel’s head. You left her behind you left her behind you left her behind you left-
He tries to shake himself out of it. “She told me to, damnit,” he mutters to himself as he starts to get out of bed. Bed seems too damn big without his wife there with him. This whole room feels wrong. On the desk there are piles of actual books, not holopads and on the dresser are clothes she never bothered to put away, because she always knew Revel would eventually do it for her. Even though they’ve shared this room for the last three years, it still doesn’t feel like it’s his. Without Denravi, he feels like he’s invading her personal sanctum.
This is the third morning he’s woken up without his wife and without thinking, he checks her holofrequency, hoping for some sign, something that would tell him she’s still alive. And like the last two mornings, there’s nothing.
“Damnit, Sith,” he whispers as he tries to convince himself not to throw the holocom across the room. Five years ago, he would have. Now? He doesn’t want to waste a perfectly good holocom. Not when he’s not sure when he can pickup a new one. “Where are you?”
Revel dresses quickly, not bothering to shave, not his face or his head. If his timing is right with the jump he made three days ago - and it’s always right; he can’t remember the last time he mistimed a jump - they’ll be at Dromund Kaas in two hours. Two hours to figure out who exactly to speak to and who might listen to him.
He fucking hates politics.
What little he knows about the Sith on the Dark Council is from listening to Denravi rant about them after council meetings. Revel never really cared, but the last thing he wanted was his girl to realize that, so he always did his best to listen and look like he was paying attention. Here’s what he remembers.
Darth Ravage is a whiny brat who doesn’t have any real power. Vowrawn seems more interested in parties over the Nexus Room Cantina than actually doing anything useful. Mortis he can’t remember a damn thing about. That leaves Acina, who is probably the closest thing Denravi has as an ally on the council. Well, she didn’t complain about Acina and that’s basically the same thing.
Ashara is already in the galley when he walks in to get a cup of caf. He pours himself a cup, then sit down across from her. She looks awful, like they all do.
“We’re arriving at Dromund Kaas today, kid,” he says quietly. She’s not a kid, not any more, not like she was when she first joined the crew, terrified of the world, even if she didn’t let anyone see it. They’ve become friends over the years, between flying lessons and killing time by playing sabacc.
“I know,” she says, not looking up from the table.
He takes a breath, already knowing that what he’s about to ask is going to make Ashara uncomfortable. And he hates that. While technically Denravi runs the show, he’s the captain of this ship. That makes Ashara part of his crew. The last thing he ever wants to do is make his crew uneasy. That’s why before the mutiny, he was one of the most sought out pirate captains out there. Because he took care of his crew. It was a promise he made to every person under his command.
His stomach twists, thinking about the crew of the Sky Princess, and how to fulfill that promise, he had to kill each and every single one of them. That fucking artifact… But he pushes the thought away. He’s mourned the crew of the Sky Princess countless times over the years. Today he needs to focus on his current crew.
“I’m gonna need you to be a Sith today,” Revel says, looking right at Ashara. He doesn’t say another word until she raises her head and meets his gaze. “Are you going to be able to do that for me? I’d much rather have you speak for the ship than Xalek.”
Ashara bites her lip and she looks so damn young. Revel can barely remember being that young. Feels like a lifetime ago. But then she raises her chin and narrows her eyes. “I am the apprentice to a Dark Council member, to Darth Occlus herself,” she says, her voice dripping with contempt. “I’ll get us through.”
Revel nods. Not a bad impression of a Sith. “That should do it,” he says.
If he has any chance to get into the Citadel and to talk with Denravi’s old Council buddies, it will be up to Ashara. He just hopes she’s able to pull it off.
He watches the holovid again. Sitting in the captain’s chair on the bridge of the Fury, one foot on the console in front of him, Revel looks at the footage one more time. It’s the one public holovid of the destruction of Darth Marr’s flagship on the holonet. Somewhere in all of that madness, Denravi is in there.
He wonders what she’s thinking at that moment. Is she scared? Is she angry? Does she think about him?
Two weeks have passed since he left her in Wild Space and each minute he hates himself more than the last. He presses replay, even though the holovid is practically tattooed on the inside of his eyelids. Well, not like he’s got anything better to do right now.
He’s already sent messages to every Sith he can think of. Like he’s done every single day since he’s been back in Dromund Kaas. Just like the request he’s sent to have the Fury leave the planet. Two weeks. Two fucking weeks. One of these days he’s going to have enough and just leave the Fury behind and find his own way to Wild Space.
Revel turns at the sound of Talos Drellik’s voice in the doorway of the bridge. Drellik hardly ever comes up to the bridge, far preferring to stay with the artifacts back in the cargo hold. He waves the archaeologist in. “What’s up?”
Drellik steps onto the bridge and Revel notices the duffel bag on this shoulder right away. “I’ve been reassigned,” Drellik says, an apology in his voice.
That doesn’t make any sense. “I thought you resigned your commission when you joined this boat,” Revel says, turning to look at Drellik.
“As did I,” Drellik says, looking down at his feet. “Apparently I wasn’t as thorough as I thought. The Imperial Reclamation Service is requesting I help preserve what’s left on Korriban.”
He’ll miss him and the thought surprises Revel. They’ve had a drink here and there over the years but mostly Drellik was Denravi’s friend. A friend Revel was glad she had. She deserved to have someone to geek out about old stuff with, since he didn’t give a damn about old shit unless it was expensive old shit.
But they’ve had their moments, drinking and comparing life in the Republic and Imperial army. Not that Drellik was ever really army, being the scholar that he was. But he saved Denravi’s life more than once and Revel can’t ask for more than that.
“Leaving now?” Revel asks.
“The shuttle to Korriban leaves in an hour,” Drellik says. He clears his throat. “You’ve been understandably distracted with everything going on, but from what I can tell, Xalek is out for blood and Ashara will most likely be his target.”
Revel closes his eyes. He hasn’t been paying much attention to Denravi’s apprentices at all. “Shit,” he says, pinching the bridge of his noise. Denravi will kill him if anything happens to Ashara. Especially if it’s due to Xalek. “I’ll make sure nothing happens.”
“Excellent!” Drellik says, as if every problem in the world is solved. But then he almost immediately turns somber. He looks past Revel, out the window. “If she is… gone-”
“Drellik,” Revel says sharply. Denravi being dead isn’t something he’s let himself think about. He can’t. Not until he actually sees her body will he actually realize she’s gone from his life. And he doesn’t want other people thinking otherwise.
To his credit, Drellik lifts his chin and carries on. “She’ll be a Force ghost, you know. You’ll still be able to talk to her.”
“Can’t be married to a ghost,” Revel says, his fingers digging into the arms of his captain’s chair.
“I suppose not,” Drellik says and his bravado seems to disappear. “If she is… Well, I promise you I will build her a tomb that will keep her remembered as long as the galaxy is around.”
We ’re in each other’s orbits until the stars go cold.
“Thanks, Drellik,” Revel says as he stands up, not able to think of anything else to say. He doesn’t want to think of Denravi as a Force ghost. He doesn’t want a huge tomb with her name on it. He doesn’t want Sith apprentices raiding her tomb in three hundred years, hoping for power or artifacts or whatever the fuck they do to tombs. He wants his wife. Simple as that.
They shake hands. A moment later, Drellik turns and leaves the bridge. Revel stands until he hears the sound of the hatch closing. Time to make sure Ashara doesn’t get herself killed.
A month passes before Xalek attacks.
“I will defend myself!”
Revel grabs his blasters from the holster on his hips at the sound of Ashara’s voice, coming from the cargo hold. Out of all the stupid things he’s done in his life - and fuck, he’s done a lot - getting inbetween two pissed off Sith, both with their lightsabers out have to be at the top of the list.
They’re already dueling by the time he stands at the doorway. Khem Val is there, too, pacing while he watches. Probably looking for an opening so he could devour them both. Fuck. This is the last thing he needs right now. It’s been six weeks since Denravi disappeared - since you left her - and all he’s getting is the run around from the Dark Council.
Ashara’s actually holding her own against Xalek, but then again, she’s always been a pretty kickass fighter. It’s everything else that comes along with being a Sith that she can’t handle. Couldn’t handle as a Jedi, either.
But then Xalek makes a mistake and turns his back to Revel. Gives him a perfect opportunity and he takes it, shooting Xalek right in the shoulder. Xalek flinches, giving Ashara the only chance she’ll need.
She kicks Xalek right in the gut and he tumbles to the ground, losing hold of his lightsaber. Ashara puts her foot on his chest and holds the tip of her lightsaber next to his throat. “I don’t want to kill you,” she says and to Revel’s surprise, her voice doesn’t quiver at all. “But I will if you force me to.”
“You don’t have the nerve,” Xalek sneers.
“Oh, I do,” Ashara says softly, her voice steel. And for that moment, Revel believes her. From the way Xalek tenses up, he does, too.
Feels like the right time to step in. “Xalek, get the fuck off my ship,” Revel says, holstering his blasters. Keeps a hand on one, though.
Ashara lifts her foot and takes a step back, keeping her lightsaber drawn. She gives him a nod, and Revel nods back, wanting to make sure she understands he has her back. Of the two apprentices, Denravi always tried to be equal in training and affection, but they all knew who she preferred. And it wasn’t Xalek.
Xalek jumps up in one graceful movement. Hand out, his lightsaber snaps to him from the floor, all while he stares at Revel. Revel holds his ground; he’s got no other choice. If he stands down or shows any sort of weakness, he’s dead. Simple as that. He ain’t dying today.
“Your ship?” Xalek asks.
“My ship,” Revel says. It’s been home almost as long as the Sky Princess had been. It’s his fucking ship.
Without another word, Xalek stalks out of the cargo hold. Revel follows him, hand still on his blaster. He’ll check on Ashara once Xalek is off the ship. Not before. Xalek goes into his quarters and five minutes later, walks out holding a duffel bag.
The apprentice simply walks off the ship, not saying a thing to anyone. The second the hatch shuts behind him, Revel changes the security codes. He knows that it’s basically a meaningless gesture; if a Sith wants onto his ship, they’ll be on the ship. But it still feels like he’s doing something. Better than nothing.
From the common room, he hears Ashara’s sobs and he sighs.
Khem Val leaves in the middle of the night without any warning. That ones stings. Revel thought he and Khem had a weird sort of friendship after all these years. Kinda a kick, thinking you’re friends with a Force Eater. Guess he was wrong.
Ashara leaves after ten weeks.
“I’m sorry,” she says, her voice soft. “I wish I could have been more help.”
“Not your fault,” he says, forcing himself not to call her a kid. And he means it. Ashara’s done everything she can. But the truth is the assholes that run the Citadel are never going to put much stock in an alien, even if that alien is the apprentice of a Dark Council member. Fuckers.
“I guess,” she says, sounding uncertain.
He decides to take up more practical matters. “You know where you going? You got credits?”
“No to the first, yes to the second,” she says. “I’ve saved up my stipend over the years. Credits aren’t an issue.”
“Good. Be careful out there, okay?” Revel says.
He holds out his hand but to his surprise, Ashara throws her arms around his neck in an awkward hug. “Please find her,” she whispers.
Then without another word, she picks up her bag and leaves the ship.
Revel looks at his holopad again. Without a Sith on board, the Fury’s been grounded and he has twenty-four hours to vacate the ship.
He looks around the bridge. This ship has been his home for almost five years and he’s not ready to leave. It’s where he was given a second chance. It’s where he fell in love. But he knows that if he’s not gone by oh-eight-hundred hours, they’ll send Sith to kick him off and he’s not stupid enough to stay.
What the fuck is he going to do now?
He’ll have to get a ship of his own. Something small, maybe with some stealth. He’s got credits. Being married to a Sith was far more lucrative than being a pirate ever was. Better benefits, too.
Once he has a ship, then what? He flips through his contacts in his head. Casey will help out. She’s a mother of two now, happily settled on Tatooine, still helping out with the Exchange. Jakarro might be willing to help, if the price is right. Lana Beniko hasn’t returned any of his messages, so Revel writes her off. Theron Shan? He thinks about it before crossing that name off his list. He will never put his trust into a spy again. Denravi might have trusted him, but Revel does not. Will never trust him.
Is he desperate enough to reach out to some of his old Republic Army contacts? Even though he’s wanted for a hundred crimes in Republic space, he might be willing to. He’s kept tab on a few of them. One of the men under his command, Aric Jorgan, is big in spec forces now, he’s heard. Revel puts that down as a maybe.
Revel runs his hand over his head; his hair is longer than he likes since he hasn’t bothered to shave since Denravi’s been missing. She did say she always wanted to see him with a full head of hair and a beard. She comes home now and she’ll have her chance.
Well, he’s not willing to wait until they come kick him out of the ship. He’ll clean out his and Denravi’s room and get the hell out of Imperial Space.
The room is cleaner than it usually is. Denravi leaves things a mess and he’s surprisingly neat for a pirate. That’s what she always says, anyway. He looks around the small room. Not really much to show for their life together. They always talked about getting an apartment on Nar Shaddaa but there never seemed to be the time to actually look for one.
He opens the closet and pulls out any luggage he can find, wondering if he should pack her clothes or just leave them. After a moment’s thought, he decides to take them with. Someone else will be using this room at some point. Denravi would hate the thought of something going through her things.
Once the closet is empty, he starts clearing out the dresser. That’s when he finds a small stuffed bantha. His heart constricts as he looks at the plush, remembering a different one that looked fairly similar. Niata had a stuffed bantha just like this.
Not a day goes by that Revel doesn’t think about his daughter, dead for ten years now. She’s the one who named the Sky Princess and he promised her she’d always be his honorary first mate. Revel only saw her a couple dozen times throughout her short life, but he treasured the time he did spend with her. And then slavers raided the colony she and her mom, one of his fellow crew from the Bloodshot Rancor, lived. Neither one of them made it.
Just a couple of weeks before she went missing, he and Denravi started trying for a kid. He still remembers how strange it felt, the first time they had sex without any sort of protection. More than thirty years of him trying not to have kids - and failing once - and there he was, actively hoping for one. He wonders if this stuffed bantha was for the kid they hoped for. And then he decides he can’t think about it anymore, so he leaves the plush back in the drawer where he found it.
Revel does a quick sweep of the rest of the ship and decides he’s had enough. Enough of the ship, enough of Imp space, enough of basically everything.
So he leaves the ship that’s been his home for almost five years, wondering just where the fuck he’s gonna sleep tonight.
“Shit, you really have gotten old.”
Revel rolls his eyes and gives Carl Norn two fingers. “Fuck you,” he says, sitting down on the bar stool next to his old friend. “You better have a drink ready for me.”
Carl simply slides over a tumbler of a light brown liquid. Revel throws it back in one move and isn’t exactly sure what he just drank. He’s fairly certain Carl won’t try to kill him, so he’s not worried. “Another?” Carl asks.
“Damn straight. This round’s on me,” Revel says.
As the bartender fills up their glasses, Revel looks around Port Nowhere. Casey’s the one who directed him here, saying that there’s usually work to be done. Revel’s not sure exactly how much work he wants to pick up; after all, he was one of the most feared pirates in the galaxy at one point. To take orders from someone other than his wife wouldn’t feel right. But it wouldn’t hurt to get the name Andronikos Revel out there again.
It’s been a while since he’s been at Port Nowhere and it’s exactly like he remembers. A perfect place for a man to find the scum of the galaxy. Men like him.
“Before we start talking business, I just want to say I’m sorry, man. I heard what happened with your wife,” Carl says.
Revel looks at Carl. They’ve known each other for more than thirty years now. Saved each other’s lives more than he can count. If he considered himself the type of man who has close friends, Carl would be at the top. They’ve survived being both crew mates and lovers for a long stretch of time. Revel owes this man more of a debt than can actually be paid.
Carl’s looking a little worse for wear. He’s a good six or seven years older than him, so Revel isn’t the only one getting old. Carl’s once bright red hair seems to have turned a bit dull from grey. And he swears he sees an age spot or two. Well, Revel ain’t one to talk. He keeps his head shaved so that he doesn’t have to see grey hairs himself.
“Thanks,” Revel says quickly. He takes a sip of the whiskey the bartender just put in front of him. He’s not a touchy-feely kind of guy. With anyone. But it still touches him a bit that Carl said something. That’s Carl, though.
Revel was sixteen and desperate to get off his old man’s planet when they first met. Carl stumbled in on his ship and they became friends. Was even Carl’s idea for Revel to join the army when he turned eighteen to get away from his dad. Once he enlisted, he and Carl started fucking every so often, whenever they could meet up. Then once that fucker Herman Rike betrayed his squad, Carl was there with a job on his ship.
“Then let’s talk some business,” Carl says, picking up his drink. “I’m broke but you probably already figured that.”
Revel can enjoy a good game of sabacc like the rest of them, but he’s never understood the power gambling has over his friend. “Yeah, that seems to be the way things are with you,” he says with a shrug.
Carl throws back his drink. “I put out some feelers and there is definitely a place for Andronikos Revel in the underworld. Your name still holds respect. It still means something.”
That’s a little hard to believe. “Even after the mutiny?”
“Especially after the mutiny,” Carl says. “Choosing between mind control under mysterious circumstances or a bullet between the eye? I think ninety-nine percent of pirates would take the bullet. I sure as well know I would.”
So would Revel. And he thinks of Voss, right before Denravi went into her first Dreamwalk, making him promise her that he’d kill her if something went wrong. Having to follow through with that has been his nightmare ever since. Even with her missing for the last three months.
“Still feel bad about it, though,” Revel says, thinking about his crew. They deserved so much better than what he was able to give them in the end.
“That’s why you’re actually a decent person,” Carl says with a grin. He slaps his hands together and rubs them back and forth. “Here’s what I think. People are heading to Wild Space in droves. There’s a shadowport there, goes by the name of Asylum. That’s where we go to make a name for ourselves.”
“We?” Revel asks, trying hard not to sound amused. He should have known. Of course it’s we.
“You got a ship?”
Revel shakes his head. He wants one, though. Needs one, more like it. He’s getting jumpy, like he did back on Tatooine, when he had no ship and nothing on his mind except revenge. Which is of course when Denravi walked into his private cantina room, changing his life forever.
Carl spreads out his hands. “I do. Probably only make a couple more jumps before it implodes, but it will get us to Asylum. Then you can find a ship and I will make it sing.”
“Wild Space, huh?” Revel says. Wouldn’t hurt to be closer to Denravi, assuming she’s still there. She’s got to be. Where else would be be? They can get a ship, and he can start looking for his wife. And if they make some credits along the way? Even better. “Pirating can be a young man’s game, Norn. You up for it?”
“Fuck you, Revel,” Carl says with a laugh. “Look at us. A couple of washed up pirates.”
“No one will say that once we’re back in the game,” Revel says, his mind already making plans. He was ready to be a pirate again.
It takes months of meeting people and working jobs and killing the occasional asshole wanting to bring down the famed Andronikos Revel.
Asylum’s a good fit for Revel. He likes the place. It’s busy and messy and there are all sorts of people trying to make a life for themselves here. When he’s not working, he’s listening, trying to get his finger on the pulse. The new Emperor of Zakuul isn’t popular, that’s for sure. That makes Revel happy. Unpopular leaders are good for business. And right now, he’ll take any sort of work he can get.
After six months of working and getting his name out there, he’s got a permanent booth at the best cantina on Asylum. He’s also got no way off this rock right now. Carl kept his junker of a ship going for as long as he could, but it couldn’t last forever.
“We need a ship,” Revel says, looking over the numbers on his holopad. He hates accounting, always has. But it’s part of being a captain. No way is he gonna let anyone else touch his credits. Before they hooked up all those years ago, Denravi asked him to do her books for her, since she wasn’t really good with credits. So he did. One of the earliest signs he knew she trusted him.
“Damn right we need a ship,” Carl says, leaning back in the booth. “I’m thinking more Rancor size than Princess size.”
Revel nods, agreeing. While he loved the Sky Princess more than almost anything in his life, it was a huge fucking ship. This time around, he doesn’t want nearly the amount of crew or cargo space. He wants something small and quick. A little bigger than the Fury.
His glass has been empty for longer than he wants, so Revel picks it up. Without saying anything, he picks up Carl’s, too, and heads towards the bar.
There’s only one person sitting at the counter, so Revel gives him a wide berth. Fresh from Zakuul from the looks of it. He’s got that wide-eye shell shock look to him, like Zakuul must have done a number on him. And maybe it had.
He fucking hates Zakuul. He’s used to hating people and things. Not huge concepts like an entire Empire, unless you count the Republic Army. But it’s because of them his wife is missing, so they get his hate.
“That’s right. I heard the Outlander’s been spotted…”
Revel immediately straightens up and moves a little closer to the refugee. The man is taking on a holocom, obviously not caring that anyone can hear anything he says. Revel hopes the man doesn’t care, because suddenly he is very interested in the man’s conversation.
It wasn’t too long ago he learned that the Outlander is his wife. Lana Beniko finally replied to his messages and told him that, at least. Figures his girl would get captured and then kill the head of state. She never could do things by halves. But the last rumor he heard that she was in prison, deep underground. Revel had fantasies of storming Zakuul himself and rescuing her.
As much as he would like to do that, he’s not stupid. He needs to build up his name, find a ship, find a crew, and then make a plan. Then he can rescue his wife.
He motions to the bartender, asking for refills. Once in hand, instead of going back to his booth, he sits down next to the refugee. Pushing the glass in front of him, Revel says, “So why don’t you tell me what you’ve heard?”
“There she is,” Revel says, looking up proudly at his new ship. “Sky Princess the Second.”
“That’s a fucking mouthful,” Iske says, crossing her arms over her chest. “We really have to call it that?”
He hired Iske about a week ago. Zabrak and the type of person who’s muscles have muscles. The perfect heavy for the new crew. And a surprisingly good chef. Since neither he or Carl want to cook, she’s gonna work out great. Plus, from what he can tell, she’s got some damn fine taste in women, something Revel can appreciate.
But she doesn’t know the story behind the name of the ship and it’ll be a while before she earns that right. “Yep,” Revel says. “Captain’s orders.”
Iske rolls her eyes but doesn’t say anything else.
The moment the ramp to the ship touches the ground, Revel bounds up. It’s a used ship with two previous owners. Took cashing in most of his and Denravi’s assets just to be able to afford a used ship. A new one like the Fury? He won’t be able to afford a ship like that for a long time.
For now, though? Sky Princess the Second will do. His heart clenches when he remembers how excited Niata was when she saw the first Princess, especially when she realized he gave the ship the name she suggested. How could he choose any other name? For the rest of his life, any ship he owns will be the Sky Princess. Simple as that.
He walks onto the bridge. It’s smaller than the Fury’s bridge, but far more efficient. The Fury had style which this version of the Princess is sorely lacking. But he’s always preferred substance over style.
“We ready to leave?” Revel asks over the comm.
At the moment, there’s only the three of them. Until they start making money on a regular basis, Revel can’t afford more than Iske on the payroll. He and Carl have to be content with room and board. It’s enough for him, though. Credits have never impressed him. Even during his time as a raiding space pirate, he was far more interested in the tactics and challenge than the bounty they brought back. The fact that they made a shit ton of credits was just a bonus.
Eventually he’d like seven, including himself and Carl. The crew bunk fits six and then there’s a tiny little captain’s room, which barely fits a single bed and a desk. But it’s his.
Fuck yeah, comes Iske’s voice over the comm. Find us a place with decent chow. Asylum’s food sucks.
Revel didn’t disagree. After basically living at the shadowport for almost eight months, he’s ready for a change. Fuck, he’d even go for some Republic chow. His officer training was on Coruscant and they had some decent restaurants. But there are plenty of places with good food out there.
First, though? They had a job to do.
Fifteen minutes later, they’re cleared to leave Asylum. The controls for the Princess are a little jarring; they’re not moving quite as smoothly as he’d like. Luckily, Carl shouldn’t have an issue fixing it at all.
He puts the ship on auto-pilot, just a heading away from Asylum and Zakuul. Now comes the fun part.
Over the last year, the underworld’s been paying special attention to where exactly the Eternal Fleet is patrolling. And if a person is willing to pay enough credits, they can get detailed routes. For most sane people, it’s a way to avoid the patrols.
The Princess? Revel wants to fly straight at them.
From stories he’s heard, the ships don’t respond well to outside threats. They make no course corrections or set up any outside defensives. They simply continue on their patrol. All Revel needs to do is find the right one. They’ll board the ship, search it for Denravi, and if there are any spoils to take, they will.
He still is a pirate, after all.
“Nah, I’m done,” Revel says, moving his glass out of Carl’s reach.
They’ve been drinking most of the night at this point, spending the evening in the small common room on the ship. Iske’s already called it quits for the night, leaving just Carl and Revel to finish up this bottle. Drinking the night before a raid has always been one of Revel’s traditions and he doesn’t see any reason to change now.
“Yeah, I probably should be, too,” Carl says as he takes another sip.
He and Carl are sitting side by side on the small sofa and it’s comfortable. For the first time since Denravi disappeared, Revel’s brain isn’t going a million miles a minute. He might actually feel calm, knowing that tomorrow, he’s finally gonna be doing something about it. And he knows that he’s not gonna luck out and find her on the first ship. He knows that. But a guy can dream, right?
Revel looks over at Carl, wanting to thank him for everything. Without his friend’s help, he wouldn’t be nearly this far along. He’s about to say just that when Carl leans forward and kisses him.
Thirty years have passed since the first time they kissed. The kiss is familiar, comforting. Something he could could get lost in easily, if that’s what he wants. But it isn’t what he wants. Revel turns his head, hoping their friendship didn’t just end. “I can’t, Carl,” he says quietly.
“Why?” Carl asks, placing his hand on his knee.
Revel closes his eyes. It’s been a year since Denravi went missing. A year since he’s been kissed. A year since he’s been held. A year since he’s fucked. It would be so easy to give in and move this party to the captain’s quarters. It’s been probably close to fifteen years since he and Carl fucked last. Revel’s pretty sure they could pick up exactly where they left off.
It’s not what he wants, though. “She’s still out there somewhere,” Revel says, leaning forward and resting his forearms on his knees, just so that Carl will have to move his hand. Fuck, this is not a conversation he wants to have while he’s drunk.
“Didn’t realize you turned into a serial monogamist,” Carl says. There’s humor in his voice, which eases Revel’s upset stomach. If he’s trying to make a joke, maybe their friendship can make it through this. And it’s not just a friendship. Carl’s his first mate. His mechanic. He’s the only reason the Sky Princess the Second is actually up and running. Revel can’t lose that. But he can’t fuck Carl because of that, either.
“Nah,” Revel says, thinking back to some of his and Denravi’s conversations. Talks about people they wouldn’t mind bringing into their bed. Never did anything about those talks, though. “My gal and I had a rule. We could fuck anyone we wanted, long as we told each other.”
“Not a bad rule,” Carl says.
Revel chuckles. “Figures you’d like that one,” he says. He turns and settles into the corner of the sofa. “She’s out there somewhere, Carl. I know she is. And I can’t tell her that I’d like to fuck someone else. So I won’t fuck anyone until she’s back.”
The reality of what he’s saying sinks into his chest. What if she never comes back? What if there’s never any proof of her death? He willing to be fucking celibate for the rest of his life? Only with his hand for company? He takes a breath and decides that yeah, for now he is. Maybe that will change in five years. Ten years. Twenty years if no one manages to kill him by then. But for right now? No one else.
“Fair enough,” Carl says. He takes a sip of whiskey. “Either of you ever take the other up on that offer?”
Revel shakes his head. A couple of times he thought about it, sure. But at the end of the day, Denravi was the only person he wanted. “Long as I had her, I didn’t want anyone else.”
“I’m going to point out the obvious and remind you that you don’t have her right now.”
“Doesn’t matter,” Revel says, hearing the fire in his voice. “She’s out there. And I’m gonna go find her.”
Later that night, after Carl goes to bed, Revel goes to the bridge and shuts off the engine. The Eternal Fleet patrol isn’t scheduled to arrive for another twelve hours. He can waste an hour of his life cutting the engine and starting it back up again.
Once the ship is dark and drifting, Revel closes his eyes, dreaming of Denravi.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
“These ships make no fucking sense,” Iske says with a grunt as she pulls open the hatch.
Revel nods in agreement, even though she’s not looking in his direction. They’re all style and little substance. For a ship that’s only crewed by droid, why did they need so much space? A waste of good materials, if anyone asked him. Fuck, take that a step further. Why does the ship need air? Lights? Well, he’ll have to hope the ship doesn’t get any ideas.
“Alright, if these schematics are right, this should lead us to the main corridor. We’ll probably have a fight on our hands,” Revel says. His hand hovers over one of his blasters. Been too damn long since he’s been in a proper fight. He’s only been in skirmishes for the last couple of months and he needs to let off some steam. “If underworld intel is right, there should only be droids guarding the ship. If you see any people, you let me know right away.”
“Got it, captain,” Iske says.
“We’re still killing them, right? Even if there are people?” Carl asks.
Revel takes a breath. “No killing people until you’ve pointed them out to me. Got it?”
He’s not sure why he hasn’t told Carl or Iske the true purpose of these raids. As far as they’re concerned, they’re looking for treasure, for shit they can fence. Taking on targets that no one else is willing to go after. They don’t know that they’re doing this to find his wife. To find Denravi.
None of their business. As long as there’s actually something of value on this ship, the crew will be happy. They don’t need to know anything else.
Iske gets the door open then and already there’s shots being fired at them. Revel turns on his stealth generator while Iske pushes ahead with portable cover in front of her. He stays in stealth until he’s able to take cover behind a barricade. Carl and Iske are on either side of him.
Revel stands and fires a few shoots, quickly counting the number of droids they’re facing.
“Twelve troopers,” he says.
“I’m getting too old for this,” Carl mutters.
“The day you’re too old is the day I’m too old, so shut the fuck up,” Revel says. He ducks down in cover, ignoring the way his right knee creaks, loud enough for him to hear it over the blaster fire. That knee’s been bothering him on and off for twenty-five years now. One of these days he’s really going to need to do something about it.
“They’ve got to have a weak spot,” Iske say, hoisting her assault weapon on her hip. “One of the joints, maybe?”
Revel tries to remember what he’s heard about these fucking Skytroopers. He’s always hated fighting droids and these are worst than most. “Try to take out their knees,” he says finally. “They fall, we can shoot them in the head.”
To prove his point, Revel gets out of cover and quickly lines up his shot, going right for one of the Skytroopers knee casing. It works like a fucking charm. The droid goes down and better yet, it drops it’s weapon.
“Nice!” Iske yells happily. Five minutes later, the main corridor was quiet.
It takes them eight hours to fully search the ship. Whoever was in charge tried to resist, closing doors and releasing poison gas once in a while. But nothing the three of them can’t handle.
As they search, Revel makes notes and maps out the layout of the ship. Every one of the Eternal Fleet ships are the same. So once they know where they’re going, they should be able to cut the search time in half. They find a small treasury room, with enough treasure to last them a couple of months. He sees Iske eying the treasure eagerly and he decides it’s time for a lesson on how exactly things work for his crew.
“Iske?” Revel says as she picks up some of the gold bars.
“We haven’t talked much about expectations,” he says, hand on his blaster. “I like to think I’m an easy guy to get along with. I trust my crew.” Revel spins the blaster around once, just to make a bit of a point. “That being said, I find you ever cheat me, or take something that don’t belong to you? I will kill you without even wondering if I should.”
Iske nods. “Wouldn’t expect anything less.”
“Good,” Revel says with a grin. Always so much easier when they agree. “Everything we take goes into the communal pot. I fence it. I dole out everyone’s cut. And for the sake of transparency, yes. I do get a bigger share than anyone else.”
“You also have to put up with everyone’s bullshit,” Carl says with a laugh. “Seems like a fair trade to me.”
They keep exploring the ship and one of the last places they find is a brig. Denravi’s not there - of course she’s not - but Revel now knows exactly where the brig is. He’ll be able to check first thing after they clear any of the ships.
One ship down. Who the fuck knows how many more to go.
After every raid, they go to Asylum. Revel finds he likes the place. It’s an interesting mix of refugees and smugglers and people looking to get ahead. It’s the type of place where he and Denravi would go and spend hours in the cantina together, people watching and making up stories.
Now he goes to the cantina alone.
He drinks too much. He knows he does. When he’s sober Revel tends to think more than he should. Thinks about her and how much he fucking misses her. One thing he doesn’t do, though, is drink when he’s flying. Or on-duty. He’s kicked people off his crew in the past for that very reason and if there’s only thing he ain’t, it’s a hypocrite.
A year passes. They pick up a navigator, a Twi’lek by the name of Trottren. Good guy and within three months of being on the crew, he and Carl start fucking on a regular basis. Trotten’s a good fifteen years younger than Carl, who’s acting like a teenager. If Denravi were here, Revel would think it’s a riot, seeing Carl being all lovestruck over someone. Instead, it just reminds him what he doesn’t have.
Two years pass. They pick up some stealth. A Mirialan named Bitta, who Revel’s pretty sure uses the Force. He’s been around enough Force users now that he can sniff them out. She never comes out and says anything, though. And Revel never asks. He knows better than anyone what it’s like to leave a former life behind.
Three years pass. They pick up two more crew members. One tech, a Cathar named Yorril. And another heavy. Weltar, a Nautolan. That’s six besides himself, which is the number of bunks the ship has. If he wants a larger crew, he’ll need to get a larger ship. But there’s no need. They’ve got raiding Eternal Fleet ships down to a science. He doesn’t even need to join them at this point.
But he always does. Because he never stops hoping that the next ship would be the one where they find his wife. And he’ll be damned if he isn’t there to greet her.
One day they leave Asylum just as one of the ugliest ships Revel’s ever seen is making it’s way to port. He doesn’t even want to think about what’s needed to pilot a ship that huge. Probably a challenge but he always likes challenges.
A week later, he comes back to Asylum only to find that it’s been almost destroyed by the Emperor of Zakuul. As if Revel needed another reason to hate that bastard.
“Everyone shut up,” Bitta says, flipping on holovision on the wall of the common room. “Something’s going down.”
More than six months have passed since Asylum’s been hit. His profits are taking a hit, too. Fuel prices have skyrocketed and no fences are willing to operate on the shadowport any more. They’re trying to rebuild, but what’s the point? Zakuul know it’s there now. The whole point in it’s favor was that they didn’t know.
So now instead of going back to Asylum, he takes them to Port Nowhere, which means less time to raid the Fleet and more downtime inbetween. The crew’s getting ancy and he doesn’t blame them.
Emperor Arcann has disappeared and is presumed dead. His sister, Empress Vaylin, now rules in his stead. Long live Empress Vaylin, a newscaster says, their voice almost a monotone. There is no word on a plan of succession at this point. The Empress will release that when she is ready. Celebration planning has already begun-
Revel takes the remote and mutes the channel. If they’re talking about parties, there’s no more important information to be had. “Dumb fucks. Wonder if that’s why the Fleet’s been acting funny lately.”
It’s like they’ve gotten a mind of their own lately. Some of the ships stay on their patrols and do their routes. But others seem to show up in the most random places. He’s even heard of ships just drifting. But if there was some sort of power struggle between Arcann and Vaylin - and that’s what he assumes, reading between the lines - maybe that explains why the fleet’s been so weird.
“Makes sense,” Carl says. He’s sitting on the sofa with his arm around Trotten’s shoulder. “Well, hopefully they’ll settle down now that this Vaylin is in control. I’m sick of checking patrols and finding no ship there.”
“We’re all tired of that,” Revel says. Especially him.
He wonders what that means for Denravi. If she still might be on one of those ships. More than four years have passed since he got that tip. And look where it’s gotten him. Plenty of credits, sure. But he’d trade every single one of them to have her by his side again.
His mind starts to wander as the others are still talking about the new Empress. He needs a fucking drink, is what he needs. Because now all he can think about is if this is going to be the rest of his life. If he’s going to chase after Eternal Fleet ships until he dies, looking for his girl.
She wouldn’t want that for him, he’s almost sure of it. But he’s not ready to let go, he’s not willing to call himself a widower or some shit when there’s even a remote chance that she’s still out there. Maybe his priorities can change, though.
Revel remembers one of the conversations he and Denravi had, the one where he first mentioned the idea of having kids. He told her then he wanted to be there for her when she started training apprentices in earnest. Well, he’s not about to start a Force Academy or anything, but he could start training pirates. Especially his brand of piracy. Basically no one dies unless they shoot first. Granted, most of the time they shoot first, but he does actually try to save some lives. Well, except Zakuulan lives. They can burn. No stealing from the truly poor cause that’s just a dick move.
Before he knows it, he’s got a whole philosophy forming in his head. This could work. Certainly a hell of a lot better than moping around, waiting for the next raid.
“Hey boss, I’m reading a Fleet ship not too far from here,” Trottren says, looking at his console. “If we changed course, we can catch it.”
Revel sits back in the pilot’s chair and makes a decision. His navigator wouldn’t waste their time if it was one of the ships they’ve already raided. And at this point, the Fleet ships are so unpredictable, they need to take advantage when they can. He remembers how easy things were in the beginning, when they’d check the patrol routes and raid the ship. Now they can never exactly be sure where they’re going to find one.
The eight months of Vaylin’s rule has not impressed.
“Send me the-” Revel looks down to see the coordinators already in the computer. “Nobody likes a kiss ass,” he says with a grin, punching in their new destination.
“I think you’ll find you’re wrong about that,” Trottren says. “Carl happens to really like-”
“Yeah, that’s enough. Save it for the cantina and not on duty,” Revel says. As the ship starts moving, he idly wonders if Carl ever told Trottren that the two of them used to fuck. Last thing he wants is to be seen as competition or anything like that. Not his business. Well, not really. If the relationship starts affecting their jobs, then it’s his business.
Thirty minutes later, Revel’s working to match speeds with the Fleet ship so his boarding party can make their way on to the ship. Just like it has for the other hundred-odd raids, his heart is beating faster than it should as he wonders if this is the one. If this is the one that will stop his desperate searching. He’s been looking for her longer than he’s been married to her at this point.
Revel looks at the console - he needs to pick up the pace just so - when the fleet ship suddenly changes course. “Shit!” Revel says as he reaches out to hold himself upright. He flip open a switch. “Brace for impact!” he shouts into the intercom. What the fuck is happening? Fleet ships don’t do that. They follow orders. They absolutely don’t make moves outside of what they’ve been programmed. He flips a button and forces the Princess to do a barrel roll. Carl is gonna kill him. Well, if they live through this, he’ll happily take the beating.
Hoping to surprise the fleet ship, Revel drops the Princess down the y-axis. The fleet ship has no response, giving Revel just enough time to make a short jump. His console lights up with all the possible quick jump locations and one coordinate stands out. A place he never thought he’d see again. Time is moving too fast and he needs to make a decision now.
He makes the jump.
Revel was four years old when his mother dropped him off on this planet. A month with daddy! You’ll have so much fun! He never heard from her again and found himself living with a father who had no interest in being one. That was the one difference between him and his old man. When Revel found out he was gonna be a father, he actually cared. About Niata, at least. And he played nice with Niata’s mother for the kid’s sake.
Old Man Revel? Probably would have sold him to slavers for drinking money if they ever bothered to stop by the planet.
Carl’s voice comes over the comm. Seriously, Andronikos? Out of all the planets you could have taken us to, you brought us here? Tell me your old man is dead.
“Damn right he is. Only regret is I didn’t shoot him myself,” Revel says. “I technically own his shop. You can fix the ship from there, right?”
The Princess ain’t doing too well. Communications are out. Engines are fucked up enough that they probably can’t handle another jump unless he wants the ship destroyed. Which he definitely does not want. So his options are limited.
I can fix the ship anywhere, Carl says, sounding offended. Revel grins. Far too easy to piss Carl off when it comes to the ship. Just get us down there in one piece, okay? My baby’s hurting.
Fifteen minutes later, the Princess is planetside, not far from the shop where Revel grew up. Not far from the woods where he and Carl fucked for the first time, either, but he decides not to think about that.
The shop is in the only real city on the planet. And from what he can tell, it’s changed a lot in the almost fifty years since he first was dropped off here. Almost fifty fucking years. Doesn’t seem possible that it’s that long ago. But the city will be a decent place for the crew to get some shore leave. He’s worked them hard for last six months and they deserve a break. No doubt they’d rather it be on Nar Shaddaa or some shit like that, but beggar’s can’t be choosers.
Revel quickly makes a shore leave schedule, rotating shifts, so someone is always on the ship. He’s not taking any chances. Doesn’t matter how prosperous the planet looks now. He knows the underbelly of the world and it’s not pretty.
But before he can take some leave himself, Revel’s got to talk to the manager of the shop. He’s only met the woman in person a couple of times. Mostly they exchange holomessages, along with the occasional credit transfer. To say he was surprised when he learned the old man left him the shop in his will is an understatement. He’s tried to do right by the place. A few of the employees were there when he was a kid. He’s not about to turn people like that out on the streets. Not when they’re just trying to make a living.
The on-ramp is already down and he can see Iske and Weltar walking ahead towards the city. Revel takes a breath. Thirty-five years have passed since he first left this planet. Three days after his eighteenth birthday he skipped town. And he’s only been back a couple times since.
He takes a step. Then another. And another. Then suddenly he’s on solid ground. On the planet he once wanted to grind into dust.
Allusion to a child’s death and some standard death imagery in this chapter
On the other side of town from his old man’s - His. His shop. He’s really gotta start calling it that - is a graveyard.
After Revel talked to Zeika, the shop manager, and after Carl’s happily situated and figuring out exactly what’s needed to fix the Princess, he takes a walk. It’s colder than he remembers and he wishes he had a coat. But he’s either too lazy or too proud to go back to the ship to find one. So he digs his hands deep in his pockets and walks.
More than ten years have passed since the last time he was on the planet. It’s definitely being built up and he’s glad. Living and working here is absolutely not the life he would have even chosen for himself. But for some people, it’s exactly the right fit, and those folks deserve not to worry about credits.
The well-paved road eventually putters out to become a dirt one. And from that divide, Revel can see the graveyard.
He tries not to think about the frantic holomessage from Elene, Niata’s mother, sent him more than ten years ago, telling him that their colony was being attacked. The one where Niata told him that bad pirates were here and she was scared. He might not try to think about it, but he’s still got that recording backed up somewhere in his holopad. Revel’s never been able to bring himself to delete it, not when it’s the only recorded version of his daughter’s voice he’s got. He deleted all of her earlier messages, always assuming there would be another one. Fucking raiders.
The graveyard is small, maybe only fifty tombstones and monuments. In one corner, kept neat and tidy, thanks to monthly payments to a local flower shop, is Niata’s grave.
Elene wanted to be cremated and her ashes spread over an ocean. Revel took care of that, no problem, and took a trip to Manaan. But Elene didn’t have any instructions for Niata and the kid was six. She’d have no idea what she’d want. Death shouldn’t be real to a six year old.
Revel did his best. Maybe he could have cremated Niata, too, and drop off her ashes over the waterfall at the same time. But he knew his daughter. Knew that she hated being alone more than anything. What if her and her mom’s ashes got separated? The thought of Niata being alone for the rest of time sent him on a bender he barely remembers.
Instead, he brought Niata here, where she’s surrounded by people. Revel’s grandmother is even buried here. She died before he was born, but he likes to think she might have been a decent person, even if she did raise an asshole for a son.
He’s not been back to the grave in person since he buried her here. Once a year, on the anniversary of her death, the flower shop sends him a holo with whatever bouquet of flowers they put out there. Niata always liked blue flowers. Didn’t matter what type, as long as they were blue. It’s the wrong time of year, so there are no flowers on her grave right now.
He should have brought her flowers.
Revel’s of half a mind to walk back into town and grab some, but decides he better stay. Carl thinks they’re gonna be on the planet for a while, so he’ll have a chance to bring Niata flowers later.
Now that he’s standing in front of the grave, he’s not exactly sure what to do. It’s a modest tombstone, dark stone with just her name Niata Gund and the dates etched into it. Someday, years from now, he and Denravi - assuming he can rescue her from Zakuul at some point - are going to be buried here, too. Drellik can talk about grand Sith tombs all he wants, but this is what he and his girl decided.
Reaching out, he softly knocks the top of the tombstone with his knuckle. “Missing my first mate,” he says, keeping his voice quiet.
Revel stands in front of the grave, just thinking and trying not to get too deep into what ifs. What ifs are fucking dangerous, are what they are. So he pushes those fantasies away, the ones where he wonders if Niata and Denravi would have liked each other and just what sort of person his daughter would have become.
Niata would be twenty-two now if she lived through that raid. Old enough to join the crew of the Sky Princess the Second. He wonders if she’d be embarrassed of the ship’s name or secretly pleased. He decides a combination of both. Maybe loudly complain to anyone who would listen but still keep the name plate that’s on the bridge clean and polished.
Finally, when he doesn’t think he can stand the cold any longer, he brings his fingers to his lips before pressing them against Niata’s grave. “I’ll bring you flowers tomorrow.”
“Fuck, this takes me back, Andronikos,” Carl says, leaning back on the steps.
Revel takes takes a swig of his beer and nods. He’s had a little too much to drink tonight and feels like waxing nostalgic. “Drinking on the old man’s front porch steps? Like the last thirty-five years haven’t happened.”
“Oh they happened,” Carl says, patting his stomach. It’s expanded little bit over the years, but none of them are eighteen any more. “Hard to believe I’m gonna be sixty soon. Never actually thought I’d make it this long with some of the stupid shit I pulled.”
“I hear you,” Revel says. He’s fifty-three himself and there are days when he feels every single year carved into his bones.
They’ve been on Eorath for three months now. Slowest three months of his life. The holonet on the planet so rarely gets a signal that he’s given up trying. And the Princess is still dark. Holonet will be one of the last things that Carl gets around to fixing.
But he’s almost done. Another week, and the ship should be back at full force, ready to take on the Eternal Fleet again.
“Been thinking,” Carl says, running his hand through his hair. It’s finally reached the point where there’s more grey than red. It’s not a bad look, not really.
When Carl doesn’t say anything else for a bit, Revel sits up and takes notice. Carl and thinking’s never a great combination. Usually means he’s about to get into some serious trouble. Well, at least Revel’s here to protect him and bail him out if he has to. “Can’t leave it like that, Norn.”
“Shit, I know,” Carl says, looking off into the distance. “Here’s the deal. Trott’s talking about getting married.” He coughs, probably as a way to waste time. “And I’m not completely opposed to the idea.”
Revel lightly punches him on the shoulder. “Good for you,” he says with a grin. Carl’s been basically flying solo for a long time now. It’s been good to see him with Trottren these past few years. “Any time you’re ready I can marry you two love birds. Lemme know and I’ll even give you a discount on my services as wedding present.”
Carl starts to laugh. “Fuck you,” he says, holding his side. “If he and I do this - and right now I’m thinking it’s like a seventy-five percent chance - we want to do this right. A place to settle down. Kids, even.”
“So you’re telling me I’m gonna lose my engineer and my navigator?”
Carl looks down at his beer like it’s holding all the secrets of the universe. After he takes a breath, he says, “Yeah, I am. I’m ready to retire.”
Revel should have known this could happen. Carl and Trottren have been playing house these past few months, renting an apartment in town while the rest of the crew still stay on the ship. A ugly part of him is jealous. Jealous that Carl gets his happy ending when Denravi is locked away in a prison somewhere.
But another part of him thinks that maybe Carl has the right idea. They’ve made plenty of credits over the last few years, almost as much as the first Princess at her peak. It’s been a hard couple of years, though. Sharing a small ship with six other people ain’t the easiest thing in the world. And then there’s the fucking truth, the one he doesn’t ever want to admit to himself.
He’s tired of raiding Eternal Fleet ships and hoping it’s the one where he finds Denravi. Tired of scourging for fuel and parts; even with plenty of credits it’s getting harder and harder to find supplies these days. Admitting that makes him feel like a fucking failure. He’s a pirate, it’s in his blood. It’s what he does. Fuck, even before he was a pirate, back in the army, he basically did the same thing. Kill people the brass wanted dead. He never asked questions. Just killed who they told him to. One of the reasons he advanced as quickly as he did.
Now? Now he wants his wife. Maybe it’s time to do a little more. Hire an information broker. Find out if she’s actually on one of these ships. And if she is, maybe find out which one. No reason he can’t do both, though. Keep raiding ships while investing credits in finding more specifics about Denravi. There’s just one loose end to tie up first.
“So Zeika’s ready to give up managing the shop,” Revel says. He takes a sip of beer and closes his eyes, wanting to make sure this is what he wants to do. He opens them again because he trusts his gut. Hasn’t always. If he had, Rilke would be dead in a ditch somewhere before the SIS spy could have betrayed his crew. But with this? Yeah, he trusts his gut. “You and Trott want to take it over?”
Carl freezes, his beer bottle halfway up to his mouth. “Wait, you serious?”
Revel nods. “You do realize that means you’ll actually have to live on this planet, right?”
“Yeah, but it’s on the way up. And there’s nowhere for me to lose at cards, so that’s definitely a plus,” Carl says. His beer finally makes its way to his mouth. “I’ll have to talk it over with Trott, but shit. This could be perfect.”
“Tell you what. You and Trott stay on the Princess until I’ve got new crew to replace you both, then you come here and take over,” Revel says. Can’t be much fairer than that. Won’t take long to get new crew, either. The Sky Princess the Second’s made a bit of a name for herself.
Carl stands up off of the porch. “I’m gonna go find Trott right now.” He takes about three steps then turns back. “Thank you, Andronikos.”
Not trusting himself to say anything, Revel nods. As Carl walks off, he brings out his holopad, wanting to start a list. There’s got to be more he can do to find Denravi. If there is, he’s gonna do it.
“I don’t know what to tell you, Captain,” Trottren says. “I can’t find a single Fleet ship that’s on it’s regular patrol.”
“Fuck,” Revel says under his breath. If all the routes have been changed, he’s gonna have to get a map of the new ones. Hopefully the underworld’s been taking notice, mapping them out. It’ll cost him a shit ton of credits to get an updated version, but what else can he do? He presses the comm button. “Carl?”
What? Carl asks from the engine room.
“We got access to the holonet yet? I got some people to reach,” Revel says, leaning back in his chair and putting one foot up on the pilot’s console. When Carl doesn’t respond, Revel adds, “Force damn you, Norn.”
There is only one me. You want to keep the ship flying or you want holonet? Make a choice.
Revel shuts off the comm. Carl will know to keep the ship flying. Hopefully they won’t miss anything big while they’ve got no comms. Three months of no news is starting to wear at him. He picks up his holopad and brings up his accounting program. If he’s gonna have to dole out for all new maps of the fleet, he needs to figure out where the credits are going to come from.
“Wait, I think I found one,” Trottren says. His voice is excited, which Revel understands completely. It’s been almost three months since they’ve raided a Fleet ship. “Sending you the coordinates.”
Sitting up and putting both feet on the floor, Revel looks over the console. They won’t even have to jump. Just fly faster than the ship for three hours. And if there’s anything Revel can do, is fly fast.
They leave the ship and there aren’t any droids to greet them. It sets Revel’s nerves on edge. Just more than a hundred Fleet ships raided and every single one of them has had a minimum of twelve droids waiting to fight them in the docking bay. And now there’s not a single one.
“This is creepy,” Carl says quietly.
“Agreed,” Revel says. If Vaylin’s finally upgraded the security on the Fleet ships, they could be facing some unknowns. Revel really doesn’t like facing unknowns. “Well, we’ve been raiding their ships for almost five years. Suppose it’s time they figured it out.” He takes a breath, wondering if he’s gonna have to rework his whole operation. “Bitta, scout ahead for us, will ya?”
“Got it, boss,” Bitta says quietly as she goes into stealth.
She disappears easily, just like Denravi used to do. He remembers the first time Denravi ever stealthed him. Felt so strange and powerful at the same time. Something he could have found himself getting lost in easily, being invisible like that.
Five minutes pass and Bitta’s not back. Now he really doesn’t like this. He’s ready to call the whole thing off when they hear Bitta yell for help. Revel doesn’t hesitate and starts to run towards her voice, the rest of the crew behind him.
The corridor door shuts behind them. But they keep running, to find Bitta locked behind a forcefield. “They’ve changed everything, boss,” Bitta says, sounding near tears. She throws her hands out in front of her and dirt and rocks shoot out of her finger tips. Guess that answers that question. Former Jedi, it is.
“Breathe, Bitta,” Revel says quietly. He stands in front of the forcefield while Yorril, his tech, starts to work on the console.
After a couple of minutes, Yorril throws their hands in the air. “This is all new programming,” they say, sounding as frustrated as they’ve ever sounded. “And it’s good. Better than I’ve ever seen Zakuul use before.”
“Shit,” Revel says, even as he’s trying to stay calm. “Okay, so they’ve finally got someone competent working over there. Had to happen eventually.” He puts his hand on Yorril’s shoulder. Softly, so Bitta can’t hear, he says, “Can you get her out?”
They nod. “It’ll just take a bit.”
Almost an hour passes before Yorril throws up their hands in victory. “Fuck, yeah!” they yell as the forcefield goes down.
Bitta immediately runs out of the room, straight into Yorril’s arms. The two kiss and Revel stands there with his mouth wide open like an idiot. He’s the captain of the ship. He’s supposed to know everything that happens on his boat. And he had absolutely no idea about Yorril and Bitta. That’s two couples now he has on his ship. Luckily he’s pretty sure there’s not going to be a third, since Iske has no interest in men and Weltar has no interest in anyone.
“Alright,” Revel says, holstering his blasters. “Let’s get out of here. We’ll need to do some more research before we hit another ship.”
He takes a step down the hall and another forcefield goes up.
Twelve hours and they’re still stuck in this damn hallway. Nothing they do make a dent in the forcefield. Not for lack of trying. A couple of hours ago, he had to physically drag Yorril away from the console to take a fucking nap.
Luckily, they all have water and rations on them. They always keep some handy, in case it takes longer than they plan to clear out a Fleet ship. And hopefully they’ll figure a way out before they use all the supplies. Because Andronikos Revel is not going to die behind a fucking forcefield.
Bitta suddenly goes still. “There are people on the ship,” she says, gripping Yorril’s hand.
Revel stands up from the floor and moves in front of the forcefield, wanting to protect his crew anyway he can. With a signal, he hushes them all, and listens. He hears footsteps coming towards them and he takes out his blasters. The second they make the mistake of dropping the forcefield, people are going to die. Nobody messes with his crew and lives.
A group appears down the hall and he squints his eyes, sure he can’t be seeing things right. Knights of Zakuul? The fuck? Apparently Revel’s pissed off enough people for them to send in the big guns. There are at least half a dozen and he’s suddenly wondering if he and the crew will get out of this after all.
He’s fought Force users before, but only behind Denravi and her lightsaber. Seven people with guns don’t stand much of a chance against six Knights. Shit. He’s not losing another crew to Force users. He can’t. He fucking can’t.
A woman marches behind the Knights and straight up to the forcefield. With a bit of a shock, Revel realizes he recognizes the woman. Hylo Visz. What the fuck is a woman like that working with Knights?
“So you’re the asshole who’s been tearing up the Fleet,” Hylo says, crossing her arms over her chest. “Pirate assholes. We should just space you. Makes the datawork a whole hell of a lot easier.”
“Leave my crew outta this,” Revel says, mirroring her posture. “They take their orders from me.”
“You willing to come quietly in return for their safety?” Hylo asks.
The crew starts muttering behind him and Revel takes a breath. He turns behind him and looks at his crew. “I’m gonna go talk our way outta this,” he says, silently promising that he will keep them all safe somehow. “Don’t do anything stupid, okay?”
Carl shakes his head. “I don’t like this.”
“Neither do I, but we don’t have much of a choice,” Revel says. They don’t, not when Hylo could just starve them out. “You all stay safe, okay?”
He walks back up to the forcefield, close enough that it almost tickles his nose. “I’ll come quietly.”
The forcefield drops and for once, Revel decides not to do anything stupid. Twenty years ago, he would have charged the second the forcefield dropped. But he’s not a kid any longer. He takes a step out and immediately they put his hands behind back, cuffing him.
Hylo takes his arm and they start walking. “You’re gonna have a little talk with the commander. She knows how to deal with pirates.”
Revel rolls his eyes at the talk. Only pirates know how to deal with other pirates. A bullet between the eyes does wonders. “You sound sure of this commander,” he says, trying to get a little more information.
“Yeah, I know all the tricks, buddy, so don’t bother trying,” Hylo says.
He shakes his head and tries to figure out a plan. He’ll get out of this somehow. He always does.
“Hard to believe you’re actually taking a break,” Revel says as he stands behind his wife, wrapping his arms around her waist.
They’re standing on the bridge of the Princess, waiting to come out of a jump. She leans back into him. “Well, it only took the destruction of the entire Eternal Alliance to make it happen, so don’t get used to it,” Denravi says, a smile in her voice.
Almost eight months have passed since they found each other again. And fuck what a ride that’s been. He’s still annoyed that Denravi didn’t leave Theron to die on Nathema. What he would have done, no questions asked. Even worse she let him stay with the Alliance after all the bullshit he’s pulled. Shan knows to stay away from him, at least. Fucking spies.
They actually don’t talk much about her day to day. He could give a crap about the Alliance, and she knows it. To him, it feels like they’re occupying Zakuul when they should be getting the hell out of the way and letting the planet learn how to be a society without their Immortal Emperors. But what does he know? He’s just a pirate.
Instead, Denravi seems to want to piss off the entire galaxy. First, pissing off the Republic, though that he doesn’t mind, because fuck the Republic. Then she had to go piss off the Chiss Ascendancy as well. Add the Order of Zildrog to that? Perfect storm. Not that he’ll ever really admit it, but he’s a little worried. A lot of people wouldn’t mind Denravi disappearing. One of the reasons they’ve decided to take this little trip, actually. A chance to go off the grid for a bit.
“Yeah, I know you don’t know how to vacation, Sith,” Revel says. “You’ll learn eventually.”
“Let’s enjoy it while we can,” Denravi says. “The Empire’s calling. There will be work to do once we’re back.”
Revel goes to pick up his duffel bag. “You really want to be a lackey for the Empire again?” he asks. She’s basically been the most powerful person in the galaxy. Doesn’t make sense for her to downgrade like that. Taking orders from Empress Acina isn’t Denravi’s style any more. She’s the one who should be giving the orders.
“I’ve never wanted power, you know that,” she says. And it’s true. She’s never grabbed power for herself. Plenty of other people would disagree, looking at how she made it onto the Dark Council, but he knows his girl. Killing that Thanaton bastard wasn’t in a lust for power but simply self-defense. Everything she’s done has been more reactive than anything else.
“Yeah, I know,” Revel says, picking up her bag as well. “So give me one good reason we can’t hightail it out of here and never look back. We’ll finally make you a Sith pirate.”
Her smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes. “Because I’ve left the galaxy in an absolute mess,” she says quietly. “If I had been… No, I’m going there. I need to clean up after myself. Surely you understand that.”
He nods, because he does understand. It’s one of the reasons he searched for Denravi for almost six years, because he couldn’t stand having that loose end flying behind him. Worked out well for him, though. Hopefully it will work out for her, too.
“It’s almost quaint,” Denravi says as they walk off the ship, hand in hand. “I never thought I’d actually see this place. You always sounded like you never wanted to come back here.”
“True at the time,” Revel says, squeezing her hand. After six years apart, it still makes him happy just to stand next to her. When the fuck did he become such a sentimental idiot? “But the place is growing on me.”
“Introduce us to the dame, Andronikos!”
Revel rolls his eyes at Carl, who’s standing at the doorway to the shop. “Lemme take a look at the changes you’ve made first,” he says.
From a quick glance, the place looks pretty damn good. There’s a larger hangar bay, with plenty of room for a ship even the Princess’s size. Even a shiny new sign over the door. The painted wooden sign proclaiming Revel’s Machine Shop is nowhere to be seen. Revel hopes they set it on fire. Better yet, maybe they kept it and he can set it on fire.
Denravi nudges him with her shoulder. “Introduce me to your friends,” she says with a smile.
They both know this is a pretty big deal. Neither one of them have actually introduced the other to friends or family of any sort. The ghost of Lord Kallig doesn’t count, cause Revel’s still not buying the story that he’s her great-times-a-million grandpa. But this is nice, actually bringing her into a part of his past. Sure he’s told her all about Carl, even the they used to sleep together part, but actually having her meet him feels different somehow.
“Wait, lemme go all formal and shit. I may never have a chance like this again,” Revel says.
“If you’re going formal, lemme grab Trott.” Carl takes a step into the shop. “Trott! Get your ass over here. Andronikos and his wife are here.” A few seconds later, Carl and Trottren both step out of the shop. “Okay, do it now. This I’ve got to see.”
Revel clears his throat, wanting to do this right. “My lord, this is Carl Norn. Professional asshole. And this is his fiance, Trottren. Carl and Trott, let me introduce Darth Occlus, heir to Lord Kallig, former Dark Council member, and current commander of the Eternal Alliance.” He takes a moment and looks at his girl. Hard to believe someone like him would end up with someone with all those titles. “But because you’re friends of mine, you can call her Denravi.”
“If you make me bow…” Carl says, punching Revel on the arm.
“Please don’t,” Denravi says, sounding happier than he’s heard in a while. Maybe being done with all that Zildrog bullshit is helping. She holds out her hand to Carl. “I’m very happy to meet you. I’ve heard a lot. And some of it was actually good.”
Carl lets out a laugh as they shake hands. “Same here. If you ever want stories of eighteen year old Andronikos, I’ve got you covered.”
“Shit,” Revel says, breaking them apart. With a grin, he adds, “That’s it, we have to go. Nice seeing you, Norn.”
Denravi takes his arm as she holds out her other hand to Trottren. “Good to meet you, too.”
“Everyone knows everyone else now,” Revel says. “Let’s have a drink.”
Trottren nudges Carl and it’s clear the Twi’lek got something on his mind. “Yeah, I will,” Carl says under his breath to Trottren. He straights up then and Revel wonders what exactly is going through his friend’s mind. “We’ve got a favor to ask.”
“You talking to me? Or Denravi?” Revel asks, trying to sound casual. The last thing he wants is for them to be asking favors of Denravi right out of the gate.
“You,” he says.
Revel raises his eyebrows, his worry apparently unjustified. “If I can, you know I will, Carl.”
“Marry us,” Carl says. When no one responded, hell, when no one even moved, he adds, “Seriously, Andronikos, marry us right now.”
Letting out a breath, Revel looks at Trottren. “You really want to get get hitched?”
Trottren lets out a laugh. “Technically, we actually already are,” he says, swatting Carl on the shoulder. “We’ve done the Twi’lek ceremony but this guy wants a human ceremony, too.”
“That ceremony was private, with no one else around. I just need to hear someone say ‘I now pronounce you blah blah blah’ and I’ll be happy,” Carl says.
Revel thinks back to his and Denravi’s wedding, a quick ceremony on Nar Shaddaa after she dealt with that stupid group called the Veil. Back then, no one actually knew how much time Denravi had left, thanks to all those fucking ghosts. She told him he was an idiot for marrying a woman who could die at any moment, but she still married him. One of the best nights of his life. Carl deserves that, too.
Denravi leans her cheek against his shoulder. “Might be fun to see you marry a couple,” she says.
“Do you want to invite anyone? What about the rest of the Princess crew?” Revel asks, practically ready to punch his own face as he hears himself talk. When did he become such a mother hen? “You know what? Never mind. Let’s get you married. Then you owe me a drink.”
“Deal,” Carl says as he takes Trottren’s hand. He glances up at Trottren. “We doing this?”
“Fuck, yeah, we are,” Trotten says.
Carl and Trotten stand shoulder to shoulder, backs straight. Revel almost has to laugh; they both look like they could pass an army inspection right now. He’ll keep things short and simple. Then they can get that drink.
“Carl Norn, do you take this man as your husband?”
“I do,” Carl says. His grin is almost bigger than his face.
“Trottren, do you take this man as your husband?”
“Yeah, I do,” Trottren says.
“The terms of bonding are now complete,” Revel says. Technically the next sentence doesn’t need to be said, but if Carl wants to hear them, who is he to say no? “I now pronounce you husbands. Feel free to kiss.”
As Carl and Trottren kiss, Revel leans over and gives Denravi a quick kiss of his own. “Excellent job,” she whispers.
Maybe it’s ridiculous to feel pride over what, four sentences? But his girl doesn’t give out compliments lightly. “Thanks,” he whispers back.
Once Carl and Trottren step apart, Revel looks at them and tries to see if they’re any different. He did the same thing on his own wedding day, trying to find some sort of physical sign. In his and Denravi’s case, they went out and bought some, getting matching tattoos on the inside of their left wrists. But his friends look the same, even though things won’t ever be again.
“Now let’s get that drink.”
“This is it,” Revel says, his voice quiet. “My Niata.”
The graveyard is still today, with no one else around. Exactly what he hoped when he brought Denravi here. The last thing he wants is for anyone to witness this. Today’s their last day on Eorath. After this pitstop, they’ll head back to the Princess and start the next leg of their trip. Maybe he should have stopped by before this - he’s been on the planet for three days, a good three days - but it never felt like the right time. Now it does.
Denravi wraps her arms around his waist. They’re silent, with no words spoken between them. But her support is enough. They’ve never really needed words, not really. But then she tilts her head, in that spooky way of hers that usually means a ghost is involved.
Revel’s heart starts going a million miles a minute as Denravi sinks to her knees, digging her fingers into the earth. He knows he should let her work, doing whatever it actually is she’s doing, but he can’t take the stress. Not when it comes to his daughter. “What do you see, Sith?” he asks, his voice cracking.
“She was Force sensitive.”
Only one reason he can think that she’d know that. “She a ghost?” Revel asks roughly. He doesn’t want to think of Niata as a ghost. He wants to think of her at peace, maybe with her mom somewhere, at a park or someplace she can play. Enough seconds tick by that Revel thinks he’s gonna lose his mind. “Sith?”
“She’s one with the Force,” Denravi says as she crumbles a bit of earth between her fingers. She looks up at him, a small smile on her face. “Niata’s at rest.”
Hearing those words unlock something in his chest and relief washes over him. His Sith would never lie to him about something like this. That’s not the relationship they have. Lies aren’t something they do. Denravi holds out her hand, but instead of helping her up, he kneels down next to her. Kissing her temple, he says, “Thank you.”
She doesn’t answer, but instead puts her arm around his waist. “You’re welcome,” she whispers into the crook of his neck.
“You know I’m not exactly a Force expert,” he says. Understatement of the year there. He barely understands anything and he’s been married to a Force User for almost eight years. “This mean you’ll meet her someday?”
He doesn’t like to think about Denravi dying, especially not when it feels like he just got her back. Course, they’ve done a lot of living in the eight months since he made his last raid on an Eternal Fleet ship.
“Perhaps,” Denravi says, placing her hand on his cheek. “One day I’ll be one with the Force as well. We’ll see what happens then. No one knows for certain.”
Time passes and finally Revel gets up off his knees. His right one aches, because of course it does. His body can’t seem to give him a moment where it doesn’t want to remind him of his old age. Well, Denravi doesn’t seem to mind and to him, that’s all that matters.
Revel takes one last look at Niata’s grave. It’s not goodbye, that he’s much he’s certain. They’ll be back someday. He’s making new memories on the planet now, crowding out the bad ones. With Carl and Trottren here - already they’re talking about adopting; plenty of kids need a home after the war - he and Denravi have a place they can consider home. And whenever they decide to have kids one day, they’ll have people who they can consider family. He can’t ask for much more than that in life.
They walk out of the graveyard hand in hand.
“So where to next?” Revel asks Denravi as he settles into the pilot’s chair of the Princess.
They’re in a lazy orbit around Eorath, waiting for coordinates. The three days they’ve spent on the planet’s been exactly what they needed. Felt good to share that history with his girl after all these years. Almost like someone scrubbed his insides and cleaned them out. Well, at least feel like he’s not holding his cards too close to his chest any longer.
Denravi sits next to him at the navigator’s console. “So many choices,” she mulls, leaning back in her chair. She won’t be doing any actual navigating, but she’s always liked being on the bridge, even back on the Fury. And Revel doesn’t mind having her here one bit.
“Nar Shaddaa? Dantooine? I hear Naboo is gorgeous this time of year,” Revel says. Strange to think they’re taking an actual vacation for once in their lives. Even stranger to think that they can make the decision on where to go next. Seems like they’ve never really had that chance before. There was always another mission, another task to do for the Empire.
She takes his hand from across the console. “I’ve got an idea,” she says with a smile dancing on her lips. She’s got that look he can hardly say no to on her face.
“Yeah?” Revel asks, squeezing her hand. “What’s that?”
She puts her bare feet up on the console, so her knees are up against her chest. If it was any of his crew doing that, he’d bark an order at them. His girl? She can put her feet up on anything on the ship and he won’t care. “You ever fly to the middle of nothing, cut the engines and just drift?”
Revel chuckles, remembering that conservation clearly. He puts in a set of coordinates, about an hour’s ride from here, far enough that they’ll be barely be able to see Eorath’s sun.
The hour goes quick. She plays some silly game on her holopad while he writes some messages to Hylo. She might have started out as his antagonist, but since Hylo discovered who he is, she’s been a rock, letting the remaining crew of the Princess get some work while Denravi’s been doing her Alliance thing. It’s been a good eight months.
His console beeps, warning of a slow down. Revels shuts off the arm and when the ship’s not moving, he turns off the engines. “There we go,” he says, looking out the window.
Before them is a black emptiness dotted by stars and like she told him years ago, it’s absolutely beautiful. Revel gets up from his chair and walks over to Denravi. Already he can feel the ship starting to move. He reaches out his hand towards his girl. Amazing how he can still get a bit of a thrill when she puts her hand in his.
She stands and Revel puts his arms around her waist, her back flush to his chest, as they stare out into space. “Freedom,” Denravi says, sounding almost choked up. He gets it. Even when she was Sith, how much freedom did she have? Not nearly enough for a former slave. Now with the Eternal Alliance being disbanded piece by piece, she actually can do what she wants. For now, at least.
“Anywhere you wanna go,” Revel says, pressing his lips against her shoulder. “I’ll be right here with you.”
She leans her head back, so their cheeks are almost touching. “This is a good start.”
And so they drift.
Thank you for reading! I'd love to hear what you thought. :D