A Mercenary's Tale – Chapter Ten

The March of Doom

I awoke in the morning with the familiar signs of a headache. I knew what brought it on, it was obviously Maria and her ridiculous tricks. I sighed and got up, reaching for the Sith uniform. I grabbed hold of the uniform bringing it close towards my chest and stared down at it, wondering about the last time I'd gotten so close to a uniform. Was it when I was with Revan? Or was it before that, when I was Commander Carth Onasi? Whenever it was, the uniform glinted in the dull light of the Freedom's Fate. The Sith uniform always looked ominous and foreboding, especially when worn, however it managed to look harmless to me at this present moment in time.

I slipped into the uniform slowly and wondered if people would see me as ominous and foreboding when I was disturbed, "Are you coming then, Jaro?" Maria asked from the doorway. I looked up at her and she was already dressed in the Sith uniform. I nodded in her direction, still finding it difficult to speak to her after the trick she pulled. "Come on.." She whispered, "Am I really that bad?" She asked. If Maria could have seen through my visor and into my eyes, she would have realised that she is that bad. Instead, she giggled softly as we both walked outside the doorway and into the cockpit.

Rivu was already sitting in the cockpit, not doing anything in particular. "You know the plan, right?" She asked.

"No." I replied.

"You get into that Sith building after the march, I don't care how you do it. Then you reclaim the Parysidian and get the hell out of there before the Sith get a whiff of your bad breath, got that, brother?" She said militantly. I chuckled, this was more than amusing.

"Wow... Yes, boss!" I exclaimed, laughing through all of this.

"Hey, this is serious! Obviously the Sith think that the Parysidian is important and we can't let them have it, they're most obviously the wrong hands." Rivu replied.

"You being serious?" I asked her, "I never thought that was possible!" I exclaimed, as I saw the way Rivu looked at me. "Ok, sister, I get the point. I won't make fun of you anymore..." I said, taking a little break before adding, "but you really do try and state the obvious, huh?" I asked, garnering another glare from Rivu.

"Enough. Let's get going." Maria said, interrupting the friendly banter.

"I'll get you back later mush brain." Rivu replied.

I quietly walked outside of the Freedom's Fate, followed by Maria who was holding her blaster rifle nonsensically. I stopped and looked at her, "Have you ever handled one of those things before?" I asked her, probably the first time I'd spoken to Maria seriously and sensibly. She looked down at the blaster and then back up at me, "Yes, that." I answered sarcastically.

"Yes. Of course I have!" Maria replied enthusiastically.

"I don't look impressed." I responded, pointing my blaster rifle in the general direction of her blaster.

"Okay smartass. How am I supposed to tell whether you look impressed or not?!" She quirked at me, pointing her blaster rifle to my visor. If she could have seen me frown, I don't think she would have been too pleased. I lifted my hands, shook my head and turned, walking away from her, sighing to myself in what I could only describe as despair.

"Two can play that game, sister.." I muttered under my breath, unfortunately, Maria heard what I said and already jumped into a retort.

"Do you really want to say that with a blaster rifle in my hand?" She replied. Her comment reminded me of when I was with Revan when I calmly told her that I could "get more attention from a blaster rifle." I shook my head, purging my mind of that memory however and thus it vanished as soon as it came.

"Yeah, I do. Besides, you're handling it like an amateur, this trick isn't going to pass off unless I show you how to march with that in your hands... You're waving it around like a constipated Jawa-"I was cut off abruptly.

"Ooo.. All the more chance that I'll accidentally shoot your brains out through your ear! Exciting!" She exclaimed, sarcastically. I sighed, almost to myself.

"Look, sister. I'm the one that YOU dragged along onto this foolish little escapade. You're obviously masochistic enough to enjoy being sliced and diced by a bunch of Sith loonies that haven't took their happy pills, but I'm NOT and I refuse to go any further unless your attitude doesn't sharpen up!" I yelled at her, not realising that other people may have heard me as my head darted left and right. I realised that I was soon forgetting that this was a woman who had admitted that she had some kind of feelings for me and that she almost died (albeit, in her own devious and deceitful fashion) yesterday.

"Fine." She muttered, "But don't you dare tell anyone that I couldn't handle a blaster rifle, alright? Or you know what that means, don't you?" She enquired. All I could do was smile behind my visor.

"Yeah. I lose my very precious and favourite personal blaster rifle." I replied, with a soft chuckle.

I carried on walking at a steady pace after showing Maria how to march and handle a blaster rifle at least efficiently enough so that we'd pass off as Sith soldiers. "Still mad at me, Jaro?" Came Maria's voice from behind me. I didn't look behind me, instead, I carried on walking.

"I suppose. Although, it's dying down now." I replied as I slowed my pace a little bit.

"I don't understand." She said to me.

"I didn't expect you to." I snorted.

"Make me understand." Maria pleaded, as she jogged a little to be at my side.

"What's the point?" I said, as I stopped, turning to face her.

"The point is, I'm confused. You won't open up. You won't let me in. What's wrong?" She enquired, facing me now. Of course, I knew what was wrong, nearly every woman that ever loved me or who I had loved had died. Maria was nearly another one and even though it was unfair of me to be so harsh and I realised that, part of me couldn't help dwelling and gloating on the past.

"It's none of your concern." I said. I watched as she cocked her head to the side and I assumed that she was probably giving me some kind of cute eyed look... Wait.. This is Maria I'm talking about, it was probably a stare of complete hatred.

"I've been on this mission with you for a while, of course it's of my concern." She whispered to me. I gently placed my hands on her shoulders, sighing.

"Thank you. I appreciate your concern, Maria." I said restlessly, "but there's no need to care this much, in fact, why do you care this much?" I asked, knowing the answer, but something inside of me still wanted to hear her admit that she had feelings for me when she at least knew I was conscious.

"Well, we started talking the other day and things seemed fine. I thought we were finally getting along." She replied. I folded my arms at this point and interrupted.

"They were going fine when you were threatening the loss of my various anatomical pieces?" I asked.

"You know that it's just banter.. It's just a bit of fun, besides, you play along!" She exclaimed, folding her own arms and mimicking my gesture.

"But back to the original question.." I said.

"I answered it. We were getting along well, I think it's only customary that I find out more about you." She replied.

"And what about the gaps of your life I have no idea about? I have absolutely no clue about your background, at least you know stuff about me. Not only that, but I thought you actually wanted to understand why I was angry, not about my life.." I said drifting off.

"That's not the point, Jaro. At least if I knew about why you were so angry still then I would understand your life and your background a bit better." She replied.

"You know enough. This is a game of give and take, Maria. You can't just run away and hide in the corners of your mind. You have to come out of there and you have to let me know before you can just run away with everything I have to offer." I said frustratingly. "Not only that, but I've fell into that trap before and I'll be damned to Kun if I fall into the same one again. I said paranoia was my defence back then, perhaps it wasn't, perhaps I should have been more careful, but I've learnt my lesson and it's more than my defence now. It's my life. It's my motto. Does that suit your curiosity, Maria?" I asked her aggressively.

"I suppose. So you want to know about me, huh?" She asked me, I just nodded in response. "Well, fine. I suppose in a sense we're similar." She said as she started to walk again, I followed accordingly, not able to believe what I was hearing. "Things have happened to me, that no normal human should have to go through-"

"Everyone has their problems, sister. Don't give me that line." I responded.

"Let me finish!" She snapped angrily, "That's just it. You start telling people things and they don't understand, this is why I don't tell anyone and this is who I am, Jaro! This is who I am. Inside I'm so weak and trying to put that across is like trying to find the sympathy I don't want, because that is what people want to see." She said, sighing almost in despair. "So people have problems.. I've had more than my fair share of problems, so have you. I'm paranoid about explaining them. I don't want to explain them. I don't want to share them. So I'm not going to. Now, does that suit YOUR curiosity, Jaro?" She asked me. I shrugged, not quite knowing what to say.

"I guess. Not that I'm happy nor am I satisfied with your answer." I replied.

"Well, a lot of things have changed since I've met you Jaro." She sighed, "A lot of things have changed..." She reiterated.

"Like what?" I asked her, curiously.

"Who I am, the way I think, the way I.." She paused. "Feel." She finally said. Blast that woman, she was never going to admit her feelings directly to me, but would do anything to admit them indirectly. I stopped again, turning to face her.

"Well, I want you to know that-"I was cut off abruptly.

"You there!" A rather colonial voice from behind me exclaimed as I felt something rather heavy being smacked against my leg. I turned around and noticed that it was a sergeant of the Sith Army. I saluted stiffly and Maria mimicked my movement.

"Yes, Sir!" I exclaimed.

"Really soldier, put that officer down, you do know how important this day is, right?" The Sergeant asked.

"Yes, Sir! I exclaimed, again.

"Then follow me, boy, before we all get into a lot of trouble!" He yelled. I followed, obeying his command as Maria tagged along behind me.

Both Maria and I tagged along with the unknown Sergeant until we came to the back of what seemed like an awful queue. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, but there were hundreds, perhaps thousands of Sith soldiers stood to stiff attention. "Whatever this is for, it must be pretty important." I whispered carefully to Maria. If she didn't have her helmet on, I would have guessed that she glanced at me sideways, but instead I could only imagine that she kept focused as she kept a tight hold of her blaster rifle. Suddenly I felt the presence of someone behind me.

"What do you think you're doing, boy?" Came that colonial voice, "Get out of line, immediately!" He yelled.

"Yes, Sir!" I replied as I stepped out from the throng of soldiers. I followed the Sergeant until I was led to the far left end of the block of Sith soldiers, being forced to stand next to him.

"See this, men? This young laddie here thinks that he can mess this up, well, it looks like I'm going to have to treat him like a baby and chaperone him for this entire march." He said loudly, many of the soldiers laughed in response and I was greeted with his face right in front of my visor, "You got that kiddo?" He asked.

"Yes, Sir!" I yelled affirmatively as the Sergeant stood beside me straightening his uniform.

What was I going to do now if Maria was so far away from me? How was I going to get into that building? Drat. What if she ruined it all through her obvious inexperience? All those questions kept floating around my head when I was suddenly disturbed by very loud Sith music. The march had begun. I took the march in my stride, lifting my right leg, then my left leg, prostrating my blaster rifle in various positions while the thoughts kept flying around manically even though the Sith music was loud enough to stop anyone from thinking. But nothing was ever loud enough to stop my paranoid self from thinking.

The entire block of Sith soldiers, all mechanically placing one leg in front of another were walking into a long tunnel and I followed naturally as the tunnel gently bent to the left and followed through back out into daylight. I looked at the sight ahead of me and caught a glimpse of a platform coming up to my left and the huge Sith building up towards the way we were marching. I peered up as best as I could at the platform and saw three people standing there. From the distance I could tell that one was female and the other two were male, but at this point their importance was oblivious to me.

I felt a tug on my arm and I turned to the left as I was dragged out of the marching group, I strained my neck to look back to see if I could see Maria, but she just blended into the crowd anyway which meant finding her was going to be damn difficult. I managed to catch a glimpse of the march walking further on down the dusty path as they were directed to the right and away from the Sith building all showing off their obligatory salutes to the three people as they passed, whoever they were. "Since you were the most unfortunate one to be caught talking, boy, I'm going to have you meet three very important people in the Sith hierarchy.." The Sergeant said to me.

I stood to attention and clutched my blaster rifle in my hands anxiously as I peered upwards, watching the platform being lowered before my very eyes, squinting as the light from the closest star was hindering my view. The platform landed with a soft thud and the three people stood forward in unison. I could see them clearly now. They were Sith Lords. I could feel myself almost cowering with fear and I knew that they could feel it too.

"Who are these insignificant little grunts you have brought to us?" The woman asked the Sergeant standing close to me.

"These are our finest men, my Lord." He replied, taking a small bow before the woman Sith. The two men were standing together and one of them slapped the other one on the arm to grab his attention. It was most obvious which one was the runt of them all and this was only confirmed when I looked up and noticed that not only had the dark side corrupted him, but he was horribly disfigured from what was probably some kind of accident in his earlier life.

"Dathji, don't just stand there get our robes you imbecile!" The man in the middle exclaimed to the disfigured man.

"Fine.... Roym...." Dathji snarled in response as he silently disappeared, passing all of us and walking towards the Sith building. I was then startled by Dathji shouting, "What do you think you're looking at?" to one of the Sith soldiers. I didn't turn. Instead, I listened to the Sith soldier being fried to a crisp by a lightning bolt sent by Darth Dathji and noticed that I'd caught the glance of the female Sith, suddenly, I started to panic and wondered if my cover was broken.

"Who is that soldier?" I heard her whisper to Darth Roym.

"I presume he is just a mere grunt, Serila." He replied. She squinted as she looked at me and I started to think of things that were going to get me out of this situation. I watched as she whispered something to Darth Roym. Again, I felt my heart beat faster and my limbs go weak, was I really going to die? It was then that I had a brilliant idea and collapsed on the floor in front of the Sergeant.

"I don't believe it!" The Sergeant cried out, he kicked me gently to see if he would get a response from me and I bit down tight onto my bottom lip, making sure he wouldn't hear a sound as he said, "I knew you were more trouble than you were worth, boy." He sighed. "He's fainted. Medic, go take him away to the building." He ordered. I felt myself being picked up and played out a limp posture as best as I could. As I was being dragged away I heard Darth Serila's distinct voice.

"That was your best?" She asked, laughing.

"Y-Yes, I absolutely swear it was, my Lord!" He exclaimed, nervously. I couldn't see what was happening, but he was obviously in some kind of distress, "T-That won't be necessary my Lo-Ahh!" He screamed as I heard the crackle of lightning. He was dead.

Sorry about the lack of updates, I will finish this story eventually though :D. Thank you for everyone who reviewed the last chapter and I sincerely hope you enjoy this one.