|Black and White
Author: jedimasterathena PM
When an Imperial privateer stumbles upon a Jedi, she knows she must surrender him, but right and wrong aren't always written in black and white.Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance/Adventure - Chapters: 11 - Words: 15,361 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 6 - Updated: 12-09-12 - Published: 05-26-12 - id: 8152811
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Tara stood before the Moff in her Imperial grays, hands behind her back, hair neatly plaited.
"It is good to see you back, Captain Nyine." Said the Moff and he took a seat behind his desk.
"Good to be back, sir."
"Mmm," the Moff eyed her suspiciously. She kept her face solid but knew her thoughts were safe. The Moff had no Jedi mind tricks. He pulled up a file on a data pad. "So, it was true. You did manage to secure a Jedi."
"Such work is commendable. I want you to know," he looked up at her, "I've increased your fuel quotas dramatically and given you access to funds that shall allow you to continue such performance." Tara could have hit him.
"My charter then, is it not-"
"No. Most definitely not. Your stunt did require a rescue mission. Valuable resources were spent on pulling you out of that Rebel prison. We are not foolish enough to attack such a well-supplied fortress as Jyrenne base, especially when Iziz is sympathetic to the Rebel cause. Your charter will not be revoked." His voice was no longer proud, but stern and commanding. "You, Tara Nyine, are a liability to the Empire. As we all know, the sprit of rebellion can be quite…infectious," he hissed eying her as if she were wearing a badge of a traitor.
Tara's heart plummeted from her chest to her boots. She would not have her freedom. The Emperor had Maris and still, they had her. She was a slave, a prisoner tied with invisible chains to the Moff, to the Empire.
"I understand," she said solemnly.
"I'm glad to hear so."
"Will that be all?"
"No," he set his meaty elbows on the desk, "because you have allowed for the arrest of such a figure as a Jedi Knight, I am extending to you an invitation to tomorrow night's gala in honor of the Death Star rebuild. I understand it is short-notice but you can still manage a gown in time." His eyes roamed her body. Pig, thought Tara.
"Of course. I consider it an honor."
"Good." He reached across the table and they shook hands. Tara, fuming, took her leave.
Tara cursed and stuck her bleeding thumb into her mouth. Her father had always told her to wear gloves and she had spent enough time in the shipyards to have this small safety precaution ingrained into her brain. But she had not worn gloves. Distracted, she guessed. She threw her hydrospanner into the tool box as Spinner whirred beside her.
"I'm fine," she told the droid. "Just," she sighed, "frustrated."
"Understandable," Tara followed a pair of boots up to the green eyes of Mara Jade. She immediately stood for her superior. "Please," said the Hand with a raised palm. "I'm not here for business."
Tara was confused, "No?"
"No," confirmed Mara. "Let's talk." She started off towards The Paratta.
Inside, Tara kept a wary eye on the other woman as she scrutinized her ship. She hated Imperials on her deck.
"If you're not here for business, why are you here?" Tara demanded, knowing that her tone was unacceptable to use with a superior officer.
"Pleasure," said Mara and slapped a holoproj onto the table. Tara picked it up.
"Yes, I believe Sabaac is the preferred game of smugglers, but I prefer a game that is not up to chance, but to wit. I noticed you didn't have a board installed, so I brought my own." Jade finally spun to face her, a surprisingly mischievous grin on her face. The privateer was onto her ploy and activated the board. The colorful pieces spread to their places over the table.
"What are the stakes?"
"Should I win, I get your ship." She stroked the bulkhead lovingly, "Because, you will be arrested for involvement with the Rebel Alliance."
Thankfully, Tara was able to contain her gasp. The Hand seemed to read her thoughts. She knew of her hatred of the Empire, of her relations with the Moff, of her affection for Maris, an insurgent. She remembered the violet lightsaber. What mystical powers did the Emperor's Hand possess?
"And if I should win?" She asked.
"I will take you to see the Jedi."
"He's still alive?"
Mara nodded. "For the moment. The Emperor and Lord Vader are preoccupied with the completion of a second Death Star." Tara shivered. Another Death Star, another vehicle for murder…Certainly, there could be no flaws this time, not like before. "It will be a week or so before Aedann will be interrogated and-"
Mara nodded, "Thus, in his absence, I am in charge of the Jedi's fate. You will never see him again without my help."
"I don't understand," said Tara, "why?"
"I can…sense what the two of you share. I am the Emperor's Hand, but I am also a woman. Shall we play?"
"I've already gone," Tara crossed her arms pointing with a nod at the board. "It's your move."
Maris woke again from a nightmare. Dark eyes and lifeless lips haunted him. The scorn of the Jedi order followed him. In a moment of weakness he rolled over and reached to pull Tara closer to him. For, if she were in his arms, he knew she was safe and the protests of his Jedi past momentarily died away.
His arm only touched cold durasteel.
Fully awake, he groaned, rubbing his eyes. These nightmares never left him rested. He so yearned to repeat that night he spent with Tara. He wished he could once again feel the soft warmth of her lips against his and inhale the sweet floral scent of her soft hair.
But he would be laying with a liar.
"Khev?" Maris could not see the Corporal in the cell to his right, but he could hear his voice. "Are you alright? Where is Commander Sol?"
"I'm fine, throat hurts a little. Corinna's a big girl. Wherever she is, she can handle herself." The Corporal spoke of the Rebel officer with tenderness.
"I'm sorry, Khev." Maris battled his guilt, "I should never have gone after her."
"She's an Imperial, Aedann. It isn't your fault. They can't be trusted."
At the end of the hall a door whooshed open and The Emperor's Hand stepped into the cell block.
"I can only give you a few minutes," she whispered to someone hidden from Maris's view. A set of bootheels approached Maris's cell. His heart thundered in his chest.
Tara stood before him. He refused to look at her. When she said his name, however, he forgot his grudge and faced her. Then he remembered her betrayal. Instantly, his gaze hardened into a glare.
"I trusted you," he whispered just as he had the last time he had seen her. He saw that it hurt her and was glad. What? This was not the Jedi way. He instantly chastised himself. He also knew there was no place for attachment in the Jedi order. He prayed for stoicism. Still, the hurt made his gut turn over.
"Why have you come?"
"I," she began, "You will die, Maris." She held her hand a few millimeters from the force field that trapped him. "Vader will torture you. Then, he will kill you." There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no passion, there is serenity.
"Did you get your ship?"
"Maris," her brows furrowed in frustrated pain.
Though he would have died then just for the chance to hold her, he met her protests with indifference.
"Why are you here?" he asked again.
"It seems," Mara Jade came to stand beside her. "I had underestimated the Captain as a chess player." Her eyes narrowed. "A mistake I will not make again." She turned to Tara, "It's time."
"I've got nothing left to lose anymore," Tara breathed so only he could hear. He watched a tear fall down her face as she followed Jade out of the cell block.
"Chess?" the Jedi heard Khev mutter, "Corinna must've taught her."
"In the Imperial Academy, before she went rogue, Corinna was undefeated in Mobius Chess. Still is."
"I played her once," Khev continued. "Back on Dantooine, I was working in the grain fields with my brother. Imperial troops approached us, demanding to be quartered in our houses, fed bread from our harvest. Before long, word of the Rebellion reached us. My brother decided to lead an uprising. His militia was cut down and most of the farms burnt to ashes. I survived the bloodbath and was put before their leader, a young commander, Corinna Sol. I would live if I could defeat her in chess." His voice lowered, "That was the mindset of an Imperial. Dominate in any way possible. I lost. But Corinna was never much of an Imp."
Maris considered this. What had Tara bet, what had she risked to see him? He knew the only bargaining chip the pirate held was her ship, her freedom. We've all lost something to the Empire. Maris understood now. He wanted to scream with the knowledge that he would never see Tara again and never get the chance to apologize. The Jedi would never be able to tell her that he loved her.
"Spinner," Tara spoke quietly into her comm as she rushed to the hangar. "I need you to get me a surgical droid." She listened to his beeping reply; a question." No; I want it at the ship." She paused as a mouse droid skittered past. "Do whatever you have to."