Nar Shaddaa was the indisputable cesspool of the galaxy, but even Malavai Quinn was grateful to land on the Smuggler’s Moon. A week-long hyperspace flight from Balmorra with a hyperactive Twi’lek and an equally hyperactive Sith apprentice was not exactly the most relaxing journey.
Sotiria was a gifted warrior, but his observance of her skills on Balmorra had not prepared him for the fact that his lord was still a young woman in her early twenties who apparently both had the attention span of a nexu kitten when not on a mission, and bored easily.
Very, very easily.
Malavai shook his head as he descended the ramp of the Basileia, idly flicking through an itinerary on a datapad as he did so. Well, he had already sworn himself to her service; there was no going back now. And, he would be honest with himself: it would be an effective means to keep himself on his toes.
He looked up as he reached the bottom of the ramp – and stopped, narrowing his eyes.
A man stood a dozen yards away, examining the Basileia with a displeased expression, hands on his hips. Malavai could not quite tell his age – late fifties, early sixties, perhaps, but very fit, nonetheless. He was about Malavai’s height, with brown skin, a shaved head, and a large red tattoo curving around his left eye. He was dressed in a loose white shirt, sleeves rolled up to reveal tattooed forearms, and dark leatheris pants tucked into similar knee-high boots.
He also wore two blasters openly.
No mere dockworker, this one.
Malavai clicked his datapad off and strode toward the stranger. “Sir,” he said, once he was closer. “This is a restricted area. I must ask you leave immediately or be removed, by force if necessary.”
“Yeah, no, that ain’t happening.”
The lieutenant felt his lips press together. “And just what business do you presume to have here?”
“None of yours, blackshoe.” The stranger finally turned to look at him, disdain painting his features, teeth bared in sneering grin.
Malavai narrowed his eyes. That was a pilot’s insult for non-pilot officers, and one heard more often in the Republic military. He inched his hand closer to his own blaster. If this man was a threat…
A loud, gleeful whoop suddenly echoed through the hangar. “DADDY!”
Both Malavai and the stranger turned in the direction of the yell, Malavai in confusion, the stranger with a huge grin stretching across his face.
Sotiria was running down the Basileia's ramp and straight at them, Vette trotting after her. “Hey there, little sunbeam!” the stranger called out, sauntering toward her. When the Sith was close enough, she launched herself at him in a blur of red-and-black clothing and golden hair. The stranger easily caught her and swung her around in a circle, and Sotiria laughed in delight.
Vette, meanwhile, sidled up next to Malavai. “What’s going on?” she said.
“You’ve been with her longer,” Malavai said dryly. “I was hoping you could tell me.”
The Twi’lek shrugged. “I met her mom before we booked it off Dromund Kaas. Neither of ‘em mentioned Tiri’s dad, so, ya know, I figured…” She shrugged again.
The stranger – his lord’s father, the absolute last type of person Malavai would expect to sire a Sith – had set Sotiria down, but Sotiria still had her arms wrapped her father in a hug. “What are you doing here?” he heard her say. “Is Mama here?”
Her father dropped a kiss on top of her head. “Your mom’s currently stuck on Dromund Kaas playing politics and overseeing an excavation of a shrine the Kaas City expansion stumbled on, and she hasn’t had much luck foisting it off on one of her underlings,” he said. “I am here to oversee the installation of a new engine block for your ship to get it up to snuff to not just my standards, but your mom’s.”
Malavai felt himself bristle, and saw Sotiria do the same. The insinuation that he was not capable of keeping the Fury in prime condition-
“Dad,” Sotiria said, stepping back and crossing her arms. “I know how to maintain an engine block, and your well-known and incredibly biased opinion about officers aside, so does my captain! Better, even!”
Malavai straightened, a pleased smile tugging at his lips. The documentation for his promotion was still being processed, but his lord had already taken to referring to him by his forthcoming rank without a second thought. And he would be lying if he did not admit that praise regarding his ability to keep her ship in top condition to her own father was something he appreciated, especially when he was still so new to her service.
Her father, though, did not look convinced. “Sunbeam, I can practically smell ‘fresh from the factory’ still wafting from those engines,” he said, jerking his chin toward the Basileia. “And your mom will give me to her sisters to put my head on a pike if I don’t make sure your engines and shields meet the standards of the Sekhmet.”
Malavai’s eyebrows shot up. Vette made a choked noise beside him. Lord Sotiria didn’t bat an eye.
“Fi-i-i-ine,” his lord said. She sulked for a moment, then looked at her father with hopeful eyes. “Will you be upgrading the blasters, beam generators, and missile bays, too?”
Her father snorted. “Tiri, giving you the means to get into more trouble is the last thing on my mind.”
Malavai had a sinking feeling that was not going to stop his lord in the slightest.