Jedi Master Xaja Taerich, Alliance Commander, The One Who Served To Irritate Valkorion, The One With An Evident Death Wish And No Survival Instincts (or so Theron and Lana were both convinced), and Vaylin's Nemesis In Chief, was hardly the only legendary person on Odessen. Theron was, of course, the previously-unidentified Technoplague who'd been responsible for the demise of two Darths on his own (and he was so very, very fortunate Darth Marr had never discovered that while the Sith still lived, otherwise the spy probably would have met a premature and gruesome end); Lana was the former Minister of Sith Intelligence, with Reanden Taerich as the former Commander of Sith Intelligence and one-time Cipher Nine; and Sorand was the still-unknown Darth Imperius. Korin had developed his own particular reputation over his life though, and it wasn't merely limited to his favourite title of the Voidhound. His other titles, however, were regarded with a fair bit more infamy than the formal ones the Galactic Republic had bestowed upon him.
The most feared of those reputations was The Guy Who Makes Ears Bleed.
"It's the eye of the vornskr, it's the thrill of the fight!" Korin danced under the exhaust port of his personal freighter the Dancer, rocking out with an air-guitar and not really caring how loud and off-key his voice was. Or maybe he did care and he was just a sadist who liked tormenting everyone within earshot. "Rising up to the challenge of our fathers!"
Theron visibly flinched as he entered the hangar bay where the higher-priority Alliance vessels were kept, including his own shuttle, Koth's newest ship (the third he'd had since Xaja had been rescued. He was keeping a running tally and constantly nagging Lana about it.), Hylo's freighter, and Reanden's sleek ship. Seeing the Mirialan smuggler hiding behind her own ship and appearing to be considering a break for safety, he made his way over to her. "How long has he been singing this time?" he asked.
"You call this singing?!" Hylo turned to give Theron a horrified look. "This sounds like a dying manka cat's final squall!"
"What'd that poor manka cat ever do to you?" Theron asked.
"I'm allergic to 'em. They seem to like me not breathin'."
"Oh. Yeah, fair enough." Shaking his head, Theron started walking to the direction of the unholy noises, already developing a headache. Couldn't he have waited marginally longer than two days after arriving on Odessen before traumatizing all of us?...
Korin didn't sense him coming. Or perhaps the Force-sensitive smuggler did recognize Theron's presence approaching, but chose to ignore him in favour of trying to remember the next lyrics to the song. It gave Theron the perfect cover to stoop and grab a datapad that had been left lying around. "And the last known survivors… uh, da da da da da, da da da da da da da da DAAAAAAAAA-OW! THERON!"
"Your voice carries. We can hear you in the war room, twit," Theron growled out, his annoyance with his one-time friend doing just barely enough to hide his satisfaction at having (temporarily) shut the smuggler up.
Rubbing his head where the thrown datapad had hit him, Korin gave Theron a mutinous glare. "It's not that bad. Have you heard my brother try to sing?"
"You've already made Koth crumple up in fetal position and start confessing to things that would make Arcann blush."
"... Like what?" Korin looked way too interested for Theron's own ease of mind.
"Like stuff you're not gonna get to hear about if you don't shut up. Next person to come down and tell you to button it will probably be Lana, and she's not into dying-rancor-noises."
"... I am thoroughly offended, Shan."
"And I currently wish I was thoroughly deafened." Theron started making his way out of the hangar, noting that Hylo had taken her chance to escape. "Would it kill you to take maybe one or two singing lessons if you insist on tormenting the rest of us?"
"I'm allergic to education. Fatally so. I'd wither up and die and then you'd feel guilty for the rest of your life."
"Could I be so lucky?"
Korin's revenge was apparently to sing at every conceivable chance he got whenever Theron was within earshot, no matter that he was usually making Xaja suffer with him. One would have thought that the smuggler loved his sister enough to at least spare her this form of torture...
"Utinni Jean's not my lover! She's just a droid that I used to loooooove, but the Jawa's not my sooooon!" Korin was dancing again, and Theron honestly wasn't sure which was worse- the auditory torture, or the visual to accompany it.
Beside Theron, Gault stared in what might be best described as mute horror, an expression that didn't normally show itself on his red, gaunt face. "... Those lyrics make no sense," he muttered.
Theron tried to bury his face in his hands as if to hide the fact that he'd ever met Korin Taerich before in his life. "And he wonders why Blizz keeps stealing all his stuff. It's revenge for a cultural insult."
"I can believe it. Hell, I can sing better than this!"
Gault was completely tone-deaf, and Theron was still inclined to agree with him.
"Sheeeee's my muja pie! Cool drink a' water, such a sweet surprise!"
Kaliyo shot a grin at Reanden, whose stoic-agent mask had crumpled like wet flimsi as he tried to hide his face in his folded arms. "Aren't you a proud dad now?"
"This comes from his mother's side," Reanden vehemently growled. "Not mine. His mother's."
"How come I remember you singing like this way back twenty-odd years a-OW! DAD!" Sorand scowled as his father cuffed him upside the back of his head, ignoring Kaliyo's snicker and Theron biting his lip to keep from laughing as Xaja facepalmed.
"You're delusional, kid. I don't sing." Reanden gave his younger son a flat glare. "This is your mother's genes."
Behind Reanden's back, Kaliyo pointedly shook her head in contradiction to what the older agent said, and then immediately gave her best (and very poor) attempt at an innocent expression as Reanden whirled back around to fix her with a dark scowl, bravely ignoring Korin's mangling of a song that used to be one of Theron's personal favourites.
"... Tastes so good, bring a tear to your eye, sweet muja piiiiiie!"
"Is this the real life? Is this just fantasyyyy?"
Xaja groaned audibly and thunked her forehead down on the planning table as Korin's voice drifted up into the war room again. "Caught in a sonar attack, no escape from reality…" she muttered under her breath in time to the actual lyrics, just loud enough to make Lana snort in agreement.
"I used to like this song before your brother started mutilating it," Jorgan complained as he rubbed at one pointed ear. "Commander, can I request an immediate transfer back to Zakuul?"
"Request denied, Major. You and Kaliyo are still on probation." Xaja paused and gave the Cathar a raised eyebrow. "And if I have to suffer this, so do you."
Jorgan groaned, gave the Commander a scowl, and marched off, probably to go yell at another bunch of recruits in the military wing.
Theron shook his head and settled back into his seat, trying to ignore Korin's voice tormenting his ears and their enhancing implants. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Xaja pull a pair of old-styled headphones out from her jacket pocket and slide them over her ears, and felt a brief moment of self-berating idiocy for not having thought of such a coping mechanism before.
Then Xaja pulled the headphones back off and made some noise that most absolutely was not a whine. "Damn it!"
"What?" Theron asked, his forehead creasing in equal parts confusion and worry.
"That noise coming up the hallway is the only thing that's making Valkorion shut up. As soon as I try to drown it out with better music I start getting nagged at again!" Xaja slumped in her seat, looking as defeated as Theron had ever seen her. "I can't kriffing win!"
"I'm sorry, love." Theron stood up to come behind Xaja's chair and rub her shoulders soothingly. "Maybe we can find a way to weaponize your brother's voice to target only the ghostly kriffer and leave you unharmed?"
Xaja opened her mouth to say something, but was halted by Korin's voice, rising in a threatening crescendo that was already making Theron's implant-enhanced ears hurt. "The Sithly ghosts have a devil put aside for meeee, for meeeee, for MEEEEEEEE!"
"Owwwww," Theron groaned as his skull threatened to split apart with the noise that he previously would never have suspected a human of being able to make. "I'm pretty sure we could make even Vaylin surrender with that."
Xaja gritted her teeth and leaned back into Theron's hands. "Probably. I think I just heard Valkorion whimper."
What made the entire thing worse was that Korin could actually sing well when he had a mind to do so. Theron decided the smuggler was lulling Arcann into a false sense of security when, the day after the former Emperor's defection to Odessen, the spy heard a surprisingly-melodic voice drifting up from Dr. Oggurobb's lab. "Hello darkness, my old friend, I've come to talk to you again..."
Arcann, who'd been with Theron on the orientation tour of the base (never minding Theron's dark distrustful looks directed at the back of the other man's head), tilted his non-damaged ear as though to catch the sound better. "Is that Captain Taerich- the commander's brother? He has quite a nice-sounding voice."
"Don't let him fool you," Theron muttered. "That guy's responsible for driving ninety percent of all the recorded cases of base insanity."
"With a voice like that? Hardly." Arcann curiously looked back at Theron, who'd managed to school his face back into a neutral expression just in time. "What was the other ten percent?"
"Scorpio, the Jawas stealing everything not nailed down, or dealing with the Commander's pet rakghoul."
Arcann's eyes bulged. "I beg your pardon- the Commander's pet what?"
"You heard me. Seriously, don't piss off Scritchy. Commander Xaja is his person." Theron suspected that Dr. Lokin was still quite jealous about the fact that his pet rakghoul apparently loved Xaja more. While Theron himself put up with the walking virus, he put his foot down over allowing the creature into their shared quarters ever. Maybe that was why the rakghoul didn't like Theron very much…
Korin's voice drifted up the hallway as Theron and Arcann continued the tour. "Fool, said I, you do not know, silence like a cancer grows..."
It couldn't have lasted.
And Korin picked the single most inappropriate song he could have thought of for the Alliance's final, desperate push to Zakuul through the uncontrolled Eternal Fleet's fire. The entirety of the command staff stood in the bridge of the Gravestone, grimly watching the slaughter raging as Koth prepped the ship to blast through the blockade. Theron felt Xaja pressed up against him under his arm, and squeezed her slim, over-burdened shoulders as he felt her shaking. He stooped to kiss her forehead, earning a tight, strained, pain-filled attempt at a smile as she looked back up at him, and opened his mouth to say something encouraging-
"It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fiiiiiiine!"
Xaja's eyes flew open with what Theron felt could be best described as 'murderous intent' as Korin went right on, ignoring Lana's loud groan, Koth's frustrated "For kriff's sake!", or how Arcann's jaw dropped as he realized just what Theron had meant by Korin's inability to sing. "That's right it starts with an earthquake, birds snakes and fleet blockades, Lenny Bruce is not afraiiiiiid…." And then Korin went off into a long tangent of lyrics sung way too fast for Theron to keep up with, and how the smuggler could keep them all straight while singing at the top of his lungs was a mystery.
Theron decided he didn't really want to solve that little mystery as he let go of Xaja long enough to finally punch Korin in the stomach like he'd had an urge to do ever since the smuggler had first broke into a rousing chorus of "Under the sea! Under the seeeeeaaaa!" on Manaan all those years ago. And thus it was that Korin doubled over with a pained wheeze mid-chorus and Theron earned grateful applause from the rest of the bridge's occupants.
"... Didn't he start singing that on Ziost, too?" Lana asked as she gave Korin a glare.
"Yep," Theron growled. "About two hours before Vitiate destroyed the planet entirely."
"How was I to know my comedic efforts were going to be morbidly ironic?!"
Xaja sighed and gave her brother a murderous look, earning a sheepish (and still pained) smile back. "I swear to the Force, if you jinxed this entire mission and I get killed as a result, I'm going to come back and haunt you forever."
Korin glanced around at the looks he was getting from every other person on the bridge, cheerfully crowed out "Worth it!" and immediately fled before Theron could punch him again.
Songs mangled: "Eye Of The Tiger" by Survivor, "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson, "Cherry Pie" by Warrant, "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen, "Sound of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel (although I had the Disturbed cover playing while writing this. You all should listen to it. It's beautiful.), and "End Of The World" by Great Big Sea. And I regret nothing.
Also, as a fun fact, Korin in my head has always looked and acted like Dean Winchester from Supernatural. This little mangling was partially inspired by that one clip of Jensen Ackles airbanding to "Eye of the Tiger". If you haven't watched that, you're missing out on something glorious.
Also also, I'm currently on four hours of sleep and have been awake for nineteen hours at this stage. I offer apologies for that ending that I'm too damned tired to fix. I might go back and edit later.
More shenanigans later!