a/n: if you've been reading my other stories and wondering whether I've
moved to Africa or died or something, NO! I've been busy with finals and
moving and all that garbage.
Disclaimer: Do I really need to say that I don't own Star Wars? Please.
Anybody out there think I DO?
Another note: First- this IS a Thrawn fic. He's in here. If you can't
figure out which one he is, you probably have the wrong story. Second- this
is also an AU fic. Meaning if you're a diehard Imperial fan, you're
probably in the wrong place, too. There are very few scenes showing Thrawn
as an Imperial. I don't want to tell too much here, but if a few major
deviations in Thrawn's story would get you all annoyed, do yourself a favor
and don't read it.
And if you're still reading after all that. . .. .
At noon, the warehouse that was headquarters for the Densvule Mercenaries
was as close to empty as it ever got. There were a few guys wandering
around, but otherwise, it was deserted. Most of the other mercs were
sleeping, working, or out drinking.
Kirah Siljor, dressed in her traditional black jumpsuit with a
blaster on each hip, was lounging on a grungy gray chair near the east
wall, her legs and black-booted feet dangling over one of the armrests.
Her steely blue-gray eyes tracked the movement within the vast room,
Turk had said noon. She didn't have to look at her wrist chrono to
know it was past that now. He hadn't given her a new assignment last night
after finishing her last one. No, he had merely said to meet him in the
front room of the warehouse at noon. He obviously wanted her to do
something for him, something quiet. Well, she'd give him five more
Shortly before her deadline was up, the leader of the Densvule Mercs
made his way into the warehouse from the alley entrance. Turk was a huge
human- tall, wide, and strong as an angry gundark. He had arms like a
Wookiee, and a neck like a tree-trunk. His long, tan hair was sloppily
bound into a ponytail and a short goatee scraggily graced his chin. His
eyes, shiny, black, and locked into a permanent glare, always watched
everything that was going on around him, giving anyone that could see them
the impression that he was rather paranoid. It was an accurate assumption.
Turk spotted her and walked over. She looked up at him when he
stopped at her chair. "Hello, Turk," she said, swinging her legs around
into a sitting position. "What's got you in such a good mood?" Indeed,
the irritable man's usual scowl was gone for the moment.
"You hear of some guy named Gyris?" he asked without preamble, fixing
his beetle-eyes on her solidly.
She frowned. "I've heard of the word," she said, shrugging. "Gyris
is the god of lightning in Fornaughti myth. And then there's a painting by
Chassau called Gyris Awakening."
"Great, Professor" he snorted. "You hear of the guy, Kaye? This's
what I pay ya for."
"No," she corrected. "You pay me- on commission, I might add, and a
hell of a lot less than I deserve- for blowing things up or knocking things
down, among other things. Not for selling information. That's what Lidda's
He scowled briefly, but it had no real feeling behind it. Behind his
surly attitude, he really did put up with a lot. He was good at what he
did, Kirah thought. Mercs had attitudes, and he knew it, not bothering to
blow up every time someone made a smartass comment. Which she did often.
He had managed his group all the way to the top of the heap on this
cesspool of a planet.
"That yer fancy way of telling me you don't know, mochilla?"
She chuckled. "Yeah, I guess it is."
"Ya know, normal people would justa said 'no'."
"I'm not normal," she replied. "You want me to find out about this
guy, then? I can swing over to Lidda's if you're too scared of her to do it
"Hate that bitch," he muttered, scowling at the name. Then he looked
at her again, his eyes having wandered across the warehouse briefly. "No,
I know all I hafta bout him. Just wondering if you did."
She raised an eyebrow curiously, still peering up at the brutish-
looking man. "Can't say I do," she admitted. "Why? Should I?"
"Thought you might be interested," he said in a lazy drawl. "Heard
he's some sorta super-merc or something like that from Bregg lookin' for
better game here on Jada."
Kirah felt her stomach harden into ice. Was he looking for her, or,
through her, Havik Fletch? "You sure he's a merc?" she asked cautiously.
"Not a smuggler or bounty hunter or something?"
"Damn, girl, yes, he's a merc," Turk growled. "Why the hell ya think
I'm talking ta you? People been talking bout him- he's fer hire, girl,
haven' ya heard nothin'?"
Kirah wasn't very relieved. "Alright, alright," she said. "I get
it. You're afraid I'm gonna lose all the big jobs to him, is that it?"
"Sith, no," he said. "Listen ta me fer once, mochilla. Got a
meeting with him today. Hear he's been askin' round bout the Dens. Wants
ta join up."
Kirah snorted. "If he's so good, why not stay solo? Makes a hell of
a lot more than whatever percentage you're going to give him."
"Why don't you?" he countered.
She frowned at him. "Don't give me ideas, Turk."
He rolled his eyes a moment before saying, "'cause all the big jobs
come through us groups 'cause we have 'resources.' Now ya wanna come with
me and meet him, or do I forgetcha?"
"Course I'm going," she said. "Gotta check out the competition,
after all. Want me to hang behind and be your backup?"
"You?" he snorted. "Lookitcha. He'd know you were there the second
ya came in. Might as well just come right out bout it."
"You've already got backup in place, in other words," she said, a
little peeved. She didn't think she was that obvious- nobody had ever
accused her of not being a mercenary, as of yet.
"Yup. Now c'mon. Let's go."
Kirah climbed up and followed him to the speeder. This was not good
news, not at all. She didn't need the attention that major competition
would bring her, but she needed the money she was bringing in.
Turk drove them to a cantina downtown in his wreck of a speeder, and they
walked in. The room was nearly full, a band playing tinny music in the
back. Turk glanced around with his dark eyes and then started off through
Kirah followed after him, keeping pace through the crowd of humans
and aliens. Along the back wall, Turk slipped into a booth. Kirah
followed suit, evaluating this super-merc as she did. Before she even hit
the seat, her breath threatened to freeze in her lungs. Only through sheer
willpower did she keep any expression from her face.
The unfamiliar man in the booth was studying her right back, not
attempting to hide it. His glinting red eyes ran over her, obviously
sizing her up. After a moment, he settled them on her own eyes and said,
"You must be Kaye."
"And you must be Gyris," she said, her voice remarkably calm. He was
a Chiss. The thought whirled around in her brain. He was only the second
Chiss she had ever seen outside the Unknown Region. They didn't like to
travel far, as a rule. Why was he here?
He nodded politely. "I am."
So even Chiss mercenaries were courteous, she thought to herself.
She knew only a few Chiss, since they had only begun to move to Atochi when
she left. But she had known Liana for years, her tutor that taught her
Cheunh, and she had been remarkably polite. There was Gad, the Chiss boy
from school, somewhat obnoxious at times but a very nice guy nevertheless.
And then there was Grand Admiral Thrawn. She had met him three times, and
each time he had been polite to her.
"So you're my competition, then," he mused, leaning back in his seat.
He had a way of moving, not to mention a confident air, Kirah mused on
with an uncomfortable feeling, that she connected to warriors. He didn't
even have to stand up for her to see he was good. And dangerous. He looked
strong, too. He was wearing a black tank-top, giving her a good view of
well-defined muscles in his arms and hinting at the same beneath the fabric
on his chest. There were two scars evident on his face. A jagged one
crossing his chin on the right, and a smaller one on the corner of his
right eye. The results of vibroblade injuries untouched by bacta.
Well, she loved a challenge, she thought, letting out a deep breath.
She'd fought difficult battles before.
She gave him half a grin and said, "That's what Turk tells me,
anyway. Good thing. It's been getting boring around here lately."
"Don't worry," he said, not a hint of bluster or arrogance in his
voice. "I plan to do my best to make sure you won't be bored." He knew
he was good.
She gave him a playful look, refusing to be intimidated. "You think
you'll be taking over at the top? Then I suppose we'll really see who's the
best after all."
He finally returned with a faint smile. "I suppose we will."
"Stang," Turk said, looking between each other. "So's that how it
is? The real good mercs all talk like ya, Kaye?"
She shrugged. "I talk how I want to talk. I don't care if you
butcher Basic. Why should you care if I don't?" She looked at him
He scowled again before saying, "Good thing ya get along. Yer taking
care of yer new buddy here, mochilla. Show him around, get him a room.
Then yer taking him along on yer little job tonight. I'll give ya a ten
percent bump on the job if ya shut up and don't complain. Standard trainin'
rate. And don't let 'im die. I don't care if you'd rather work alone."
She snorted lightly. "And how much is it worth, Turk? Five? Ten
"Forty-two," he said. He glanced at Gyris, then back to her, waiting
for her response.
Kirah mentally calculated. That was over twenty-five thousand
credits. Big job, very big. "Interesting choice for a training round,"
she said. She glanced at Gyris. "Though if rumors are true, you hardly
need training, do you."
"No, I don't," he said, shrugging slightly. "Though I imagine you
and your people want to see what I can do."
"Bright boy," Kirah said. She turned to Turk and said, "Good choice,
boss, I don't think he's gotten too many stuns to the head yet."
Turk didn't laugh, but then, he rarely did. "Let's keep yer special
brand o' humor out of it, eh, girl?" he said gruffly. "No needa piss the
man off." He looked at Gyris and said, "Kaye's good at what she does.
Thinks she's clever, but gots no common sense."
"Ouch, Turk," Kirah said, putting her hand to her chest, over her
heart. "That really hurts my feelings. You better watch it, or you'll
make me cry."
He turned to Gyris, ignoring her. "Now let's get a few things
straight," he said. "Ya'll get ten percent for tonight. Kaye's in charge.
After that, you'll be gettin' twenty-five on each job. That's non-
negotiable, or however ya wordy people call it. That's better than just
bout all of my regulars; if ya bring in enough, we'll talk bout bumpin' it
Kirah scowled slightly. She herself had started at five percent.
Months later, after firmly establishing herself as the best merc in the
group, maybe even the region, she had to threaten to quit before being
raised to fifteen. Only recently, as more and more people began asking for
her personally, and she threatened to kick Turk's ass, did she get up to
fifty percent, where she stood now.
Gyris noticed her expression, but he didn't comment. He nodded.
"That will be acceptable."
"Good," Turk replied, almost sarcastically. "Kaye, when ya show him
the ropes, don't ya leave anything out. I don't care how good ya are, I
"Don't worry," she reassured him. "I play fair. Otherwise it's not
a real win, is it."
He made a noise low in his throat. "Whatever ya say," he replied.
"I got stuff to do. Don't take yer time bout it." He got up and left the
table, disappearing into the crowd.
Kirah turned her full attention to Gyris now. He had half a glass of
some sort of amber liquid at his elbow that, as she watched, he picked up
and sipped. "Can I get you a drink?" he asked after setting it back down,
seeing her watching.
"No," she said. "We should get going. You have a speeder, or are we
stuck wading through the cesspool?"
He studied her again, looking almost amused. "Yes," he said after a
moment. "I have a speeder."
She nodded. "Good," she said. "Then finish your drink and we can
get a move on."
He tossed a coin on the table, a ten credit piece, and stood up
smoothly. "Very well," he said. Kirah flickered her eyes over him as she
rose. He did move like a trained fighter, and the faded fatigues he wore
didn't detract from the image. She spotted several patched areas on the
pants, including one area that appeared to be the charred remnant of a
blaster bolt. He also wore heavy combat boots. Quite the tough-guy look,
she thought to herself. Last year, when she had first come here, this man
would have intimidated her. Now, she didn't care enough to be intimidated.
At the worst, she could leave and find a merc job somewhere else. It
wasn't like she was short in time. She rather doubted she would be killed
by him, but hey, she thought. If she was, that certainly solved most of
her problems, now didn't it?
They set off through the crowd. He cut through the crowd, and she
followed him outside. He led her down the street a distance, his hand near
the blaster he had strapped to his right hip. Kirah did the same. The
muggers here were the dangerous sort. Confident. They didn't give a
flying gundark's left wing who you were or what your reputation was.
They'd slit your throat and take your creds at their leisure. Luckily, they
were cautious about their own skin, so they wouldn't shoot one part of a
pair in case the other got a shot off.
They made it to a speeder parked in front of a chain-link fence. It
was the ugliest thing Kirah had ever seen with a repulsor attached. A pale
green color, it was spotted with rust. The engine looked like it needed
repairs, and she suspected the repulsors would look similar underneath.
Either he opted to travel in a piece of junk to prevent it from being
stolen, or he disguised a high-performance vehicle to look like this.
Either way, there were better-looking speeders to steal; right now, she
could see two. The only bonus was that it had a roof.
She tried the door. It was unlocked. Obviously, no thief with
brains would want this speeder. But plenty of them would try it to see if
it really was only disguised.
Her hope that it was really some sort of super-speeder vanished as
Gyris tapped the ignition pad with the starter wand. At first the engine
sputtered. The speeder lurched upward as the repulsors belatedly kicked in.
Kirah watched in some amusement as Gyris cursed in a mishmash of
languages, mostly Chissi and what she thought was Pinast, under his breath.
He stabbed the pad viciously before bending down to grope under the
He fiddled with the wires revealed there for a moment, and suddenly,
the engine sputtered to life, backfiring loudly. Kirah bit her lip to
prevent a laugh. Gyris looked irritated enough already. He slammed the
panel shut and pulled onto the road.
"Nice ride you've got, partner," Kirah said with a slight smile.
He had a sour expression on his face. "The only speeder safe on this
blaster planet is the kind that doesn't work, and the parts are so bad that
it would be a safety hazard to try to gut it."
Kirah chuckled. "Well, you beat it into submission this time, Guy.
Nice trick, by the way. Hotwiring doesn't usually work if the engine's
just a chunk of rust."
He shrugged. "Just be glad it worked." He shot her a look. "Or
we'd be wadding through the cesspool."