An Atton/Female Exile Snippit
Sometimes, it was all he could do to hide his awe. He'd mostly gotten used to how beautiful she was, how graceful, how fierce and yet how gentle. Mostly. But every once in a while, when it was clear she didn't need his help, he'd stand back and just watch her. If you knew how, you could watch her in just such a way that you could see a side of the exiled Jedi most would never even know existed.
It was the Sith inside her. The piece of her that was defiant, passionate, relentless. It was the part of her Atton loved the most- that part that made her so, so different from every other Jedi he'd ever known and hated. It was what allowed him to love her, despite being who and what she was.
His blasters were doing nothing to the heavily shielded Sith trooper, the only one that remained out of half a dozen that had ambushed them, but Aelyn Drae's dual purple-burgundy blades were steadily wearing down the double-layer of melee and energy shields the trooper wore. They flickered, more and more rapidly, then died all together. The silvery Sith's head went rolling, and there was a double hiss as the burgundy-haired Jedi switched off her weapons, holstering them with an air of practice. She turned and gave him a ruefull grin. She was hardly breathing hard.
"Thanks for the help," she said wryly. He flashed her an answering grin.
"You're very welcome." He holstered one of his blasters, keeping the other out- just in case. With his free hand he readjusted his pack of proton nukes; it was already two nukes lighter, thanks to Aelyn's swift sniffing out of strategic points on Ravager. Two more to go, then they'd hightale it back to safety and blow the whole hulking mass of memories and death to hell- a fitting destination, Atton thought to himself.
They fell into step together, quietly reaching out with their senses to avoid surprise attacks. Atton glanced down at her, smiling a little to himself. He'd never been much of a partner-person. He was either in charge, as in his days as a Sith Assassin, or on his own, like he'd been since taking the name 'Atton.' But with Aelyn, it worked. Somehow. It just worked. Not with Bao, who was a decent enough sort, certainly not Mical, though Atton had managed to swallow his dickheadedness and get along with the pansy, not the droids, not the girls, just Aelyn. Just her.
He sensed it a moment before it blew, and he wondered, before he went flying amid debris and heat, if he'd been paying better attention instead of ogling his resident Exile, if he would have sensed the mine in time to avoid it?
Then he hit the bulkhead, and it didn't matter anymore. Air rushed from his lungs, and his chest seized. For a moment he couldn't breath, something that may have saved him from a scorched esophogas, as the air around him filled with fire from the plasma mine. The fire cleared, and Atton waved away the smoke as the sound of blaster fire filled the corridor.
"Aelyn!" He shouted.
"Get over here!" Her repsonding shout had relief and energy coursing through him. He launched himself to his feet, his dropped pack forgotten as both blasters came blazing out of their holsters. Light from his blasts lit his way through the smoke toward's Aelyn. He fell into place behind her as she launched forward, hacking and slicing and whirling. He didn't even look at her- he just concentrated on covering her every move, keeping the Sith that poured from every corner from overwhelming her. He managed to use what little Force was his to command to push some of them back when his cover fire didn't catch them, healing Aelyn from a distance as new cuts and burns laced her pale skin. She could do it herself easily enough, but every little bit he did for her was a little bit she could direct to her own defense.
He wasn't entirely sure how long the assault went on- it seemed susiciously long. How had they not sensed so many Sith lying in wait? How? It didn't matter. He chucked and replaced battery packs like burnt out cigarra butts. Bodies made a wall between him and Aelyn, and lightsaber-charred corpses made a wide circle around her feet, a defense in itself as new Sith couldn't get quite as close as they would have liked, else they risked tripping over their fallen comrades.
Atton spotted him, shouted a warning- "Aelyn! Down!"- as he took aim at the Sith with his arm pulled back to throw-
His first shot went wide -how?- his second hitting a moment too late. A cry born of a female throat slammed into his ears, accompanied by a deafening shockwave. A moment later Atton was flung into the air, spinning and spinning like a human vortex. He felt bile rise in his throat, and with a cry he fought to swallow it down. The spinning stopped, and then he was flying for a second time. His head slammed into the bulkhead, and he slid down the curved wall like a sack of meat. Groggily, he managed to pull his eyelids apart with a deeply seated groan of pain. What he saw made his eyes open faster, and he made an effort to move away from the Dark Jedi that stood above him.
Atton grit his teeth as he recognized, all too well, the dark garb that swathed the figure towering over him, red lightsaber poised, a malicious chuckle eminating from behind that black face cloth-
Suddenly, there was a purple lightsaber next to that red one- only this one wasn't coming from a hand, but from a stomach. The Dark Jedi's eyes, wide above the face cloth, darkened with a lack of life as a hand from behind pushed the corpse off her lightsaber. Breathing hard, Aelyn steered the falling enemy to where it fell next to Atton instead of on top of him.
"You know, I really don't like red," she breathed, holding out a hand to him. Grinning ruefully he took the offered appendage, her small hands sheathed in strength amplifying gloves. She hoisted him up, and they stood nose to nose- or, as it was with her height, nose to chin. He smiled down at her.
"Then it's a good thing I don't go by it anymore," he responded, glancing down at the corpse, then behind Aelyn to where their dozens of enemies lay fallen. He looked back at her in time to see the expression on her face as she gave a derisive snort, and stepped back. She waved her deactivated lightsaber hilt towards the pack a few feet away.
"Don't forget that," she told him, and took a moment to heal herself before moving on down the corridor. Atton snatched up the pack and hurried to catch up, relishing the sweet coolness that slipped into his veins and flesh as he, too, was healed.
Mentally, Atton added another one to the tally he was keeping. Chances were, Aelyn wouldn't ever be in enough positions to need his help for him to pay her back for the number of time's she'd saved his hide. And even if she ever did need help in the midst of a fight, he'd be willing to bet he would already be out of the fight! But just in case...
"...Just in case..." Atton's eyes opened slowly, so very slowly. A little ways away there was the sound of ragged breathing from a torn throat, mingled with the painfully familiar noise of life being choked away...
Then he was awake, fully and completely, memories of the unconscious memory-dream from moments before swirling in his blood and oxygen deprived brain. Stumbling, he pulled himself to his feet, his lack of an arm and even more severe lack of blood making his sense of balance a precarious thing. But that didn't matter. Nothing mattered, right now, except that Sion had Aelyn in a chock-grip, her silent lightsaber gripped by limp, white fingers. Her green eyes bulged from the sockets, blue tinging her skin and purple touching the corners of her lips. The lips Atton had yet to dare kiss.
He focused on that. He focused on her lips, on the precious little air she was fighting to pull through those lips with crushed lungs.
"No," his voice was hoarse. Sion didn't seem to notice him, all his attention focusing on crushing the life from the Jedi held in his fists, smashed against the crumbling pillar. Atton stumbled closer, Mical's lightsaber tight in his grip. He thumbed it on, and yellow light lanced from the hilt. Still Sion didn't look at him.
Sion slammed Aelyn against the pillar, as if impatient for her to die. Again he slammed her, a chocked cry emitting from Aelyn's throat. Her eyes shut tight in pain and mingled stubborness, a trickle of blood leaking out from behind her ear to trail down her pale, bruised throat, flowing over Sion's gnarled hands. She dropped her lightsaber, raising both fists to claw at Sion's fingers.
"Let her go," Atton coughed out. "Let...let her go!" He jumped forward, hoping to catch the Sith Lord unawares. Releasing Aelyn's throat with one hand, Sion called his lightsaber to his grip, igniting it while it was still enroute to his hand. He raised it a split moment before Atton brough this own yellow blade to bear, and Atton gave a cry of utter frustration- if he hadn't managed to block, Atton's swing would have taken Sion's head clean off.
Aelyn choked, and Atton grit his teeth. He didn't look at her. If he did, he'd lose it...he knew he would...
Then again, maybe that's what he needed to do.
Utterly and completely, like the day he'd had his hands around a pale Jedi throat, a day so long ago. Losing it thenhad turned him into the person he was now, the person that couldn't save her...couldn't save Aelyn. Maybe if he let it go now, maybe, just maybe, he could bring Jaq back.
Jaq could save her.
Atton couldn't- Atton loved her too much.
So Atton glanced over, in that moment when all three of them were trapped where they were, Aelyn against the pillar, Sion with one hand on her throat, his other blocking Atton's attack, and Atton himself unable to let up for fear of it all ending right there if he did.
He looked at her. He looked long and hard, he looked at her the way no one else knew how to look at her, and he saw just what he was he loved so much- that passion, that defiance, that stubborn streak that had allowed her to defy a council and help save a universe.
He looked at what he was about to loose.
Atton died inside, but Jaq reared his head and let out an ugly, hate-filled roar that filled all three of his remaining limbs with a liquid fire he hadn't felt in years. Anger and hate suddenly and abruptly turned his tenuous and infantile link to the Light Side of the Force into a raging, torrential bond to the Dark Side. He pulled on it, sucked on it like a deprived addict sucked on spice-stick. He pulled it through him, shoving it down his lightsaber and forcing it into Sion's. The red blade flashed blue, and exploded. Sion cried out, dropping Aelyn and backing away even as his perversely thick connection to the darkside swarmed over his burnt and useless limb, mocking the motions of healing as suddenly his fingers were whole and turned from black to grey.
Sion looked up at him, slowly, and gave a wide, malicious grin, his good eye darkening with bloodlust.
"You," he said in a voice made of grinding gravel. "You I can fight, you I can kill without regret- you are hideous to me."
"Likewise, pal," Jaq snarled back, and launched himself at the undead Sith. It didn't matter he was missing an arm, it didn't matter he was missing a quarter of his blood supply, it didn't matter that he sported a number of shattered ribs, punctured innards and multiple concussions. All that mattered was the woman behind him, unconscious and fighting for life. Every chance he could, he sent bursts of healing towards her, tainted as it was from it's source being the darkside. He prayed for her to wake and save him- for saving he would need, in more ways than one.
Would he die to save her?
In half a heartbeat.
Didn't mean he wanted to die, though... Mical could be the stupid one.
And so he alternated healing her -and himself- with rapid attacks that drained both the life and the force from Sion. Sion, in his hate for the very thing that kept him alive, had weakened himself, weakened his connection to the Force. Whereas Jaq wallowed in it, loved it, treasured it, fueled it and was in turn fueled.
And slowly, very slowly, he began to win.
Then, all at once, it was over. Sion crumbled for the last time, looking up at Jaq with eyes that were, for some reason unknown to the heavily breathing, one-armed Jaq, more full of life than death, even as his body and the darkside failed him. Sion's gaze flickered to the Exile, still crumbled at the base of the pillar.
"Thank her, for me," the Sith spoke in a dying voice. "Love her, for me... Resuce her, for me...Do not let Traya do to her, what she has done to me...Save her..."
Sion fell, and was no more. Even as Jaq backed away, Sion's body turned to grey dust, as it should have long, long ago.
Slowly, Atton re-emerged, a part of him horrified at the rage that had boiled through him moments ago, another part of him nod sagely at the nessecity of it. He shoved it all aside to be dealt with for later- the results, whatever the cost, had been worth it. He stumbled over to her, falling to his knees. He thumbed off Mical's saber and dropped it, using his free hand to catch himself from falling forward. He stayed as he was, on hand and knees, catching his breath. Sweat dripped from his brow to land on Aelyn's bloodied forehead. He sat back on his heels, and wiped her face clean with a corner of his torn shirt, blinking as he watched his hand move methodically.
Her lips weren't purple anymore, and her breathing, while still ragged and her throat looking painfully bruised, was even and steady. Almost numbly, Atton leaned down, brushing his lips over hers. There, he thought, there was two things he'd been meaning to do since she'd rescued him off Peragus; kiss her, and rescue her.
Her eyes opened as he pulled back. He cracked a wry grin, a split on his lip reopening with the motion. "S-saved you..." he murmured, before collapsing on top of her. She caught him as she sat up, her eyes wide. All at once she took in the grey whisps of dust on the floor, the silent saber hilt next to those whisps; Atton's missing limb, the dark tint of his lips and the purple pallor of his sickly skin. She pulled herself up into a sitting position with a groan and a painful, ragged gasp of air. She leaned against the pillar, pulling Atton into her lap. Hand shaking, she brushed a strand of messy brown hair from his eyes.
Her eyes flickered shut, and she let her powers wash over him, sensing him, evaluating him. With a cry, her eyes flew open, looking down at him to see that his eyes had opened as well.
"I'm a mess, huh?" He coughed, blood splattering on his lip and chin. She wiped the specks away, blinking back tears. Now was no time for waterworks.
"When are you not?" She jibbed, her voice hoarse. It wasn't the broken bones that scared her- it was what was mending the broken bones, that darkness, that twisted malevolence that was the darkside. How? More importantly, why?
"It wasn't enough," Atton whispered, as if hearing her unspoken question. "So I found a way to get enough." He glanced to the pile of dust that had been Sion. He gave her an almost sheepish grin. "Wish...wish there'd been another way...never wanted you to see this...this ugly side of me..." He gave a laugh, and paid for it as more blood coughed its way up his throat.
"Sshh," she hushed, laying her hands on either side of his face and closing her eyes. "Let me in," she pleaded, and when she felt him open his mind, she went to work. It wasn't easy- bits of Atton wanted to fight her, wanted to keep the newfound link to the seemingly endless power that was the darkside. Most of him, though, wanted something else even more, something he wouldn't ever have if he held on to the darkside.
Thinking about that thing that he wanted so, so much distracted her, so she sidestepped thoughts of his arms wrapped around her, thoughts she encountered floating around in his mind and memories. She concentrated on seeking out and eradicating any traces of the darkside, overwhelming them with light and affection, loyalty and peace.
"You need...you need to save your strength..." she heard him murmur faintly, but she ignored him. Deeper and deeper she dug, sensing along the way traces of someone else having clawed their way along this same path, someone Atton had tried to keep out.
"Kreia," Aelyn muttered, fighting to keep the hate that welled inside her from tainting what work she'd already completed within Atton. She barrelled on forward, eventually stumbling across the myriad of memories, wrapped in guilt and fear, that had her stumbling back, crying out both with her heart and her voice. She felt Atton flail, emotionally, and she swallowed harshly, shoving aside the whole thing to be dealt with later.
That wasn't who he was now, she reminded herself. And it wasn't like she didn't already know these things...he'd told her himself, on Nar Shaddaa.
Still, hearing, and then seeing, were so very different...
Then, all at once, it was done. Unconscious from his own body's efforts to heal itself, Atton lay limp her her grasp, his breath shallow but steady. Absently she brushed the back of her hand against his brow, blinking to dispell tears of exhaustion.
But she wasn't done yet...
Satisfied that he would survive, she unhooked her communications device and left it with him. If the rest of the crew were still looking for her, this would lead them to Atton, instead. Hopefully, they'd take the hint and gather up the fallen scoundrel and get off this dying planet...hopefully.
That was what everything boiled down to, right now, actually. Hope.
The Exile took off in search of the end of her journey- one last battle, one last enemy.
"Close it!" Atton snapped, ignoring the painful throbbing in his lungs that gave a jolt every time he spoke. Giving him an annoyed look from underneath Atton's arm, Mira slammed a fist into the controls, and the boarding ramp of the Ebon Hawk began to rise. Releasing himself from Mira's supporting arms, he used the walls of the narrow corridors to stumble his way to the cockpit, where Mical was grim-faced and white-knuckled as he steered the Hawk up and off the crumbling plateau that was the entrance to the Sith Academy.
How Mira had found him, Atton wasn't quite sure he wanted to know. All he knew was that when he'd awoken, Aelyn was gone and a different redhead was leaning over him, slapping his face and demanding to know what idiocy he'd gotten himself into this time. Oh, and where was the exile?
"There," Atton pointed, leaning on the pilot's chair. Below them, the Academy crumbled, entire chunks of the structure falling into endless chasms and fissures that got deeper and deeper, green light lancing upwards from the deepest ones. Stormbeasts howled as noxious gases too strong for even their resilient lungs ate at them from the inside out.
"I see them," Mical responded grimly. Two points of light, red and purple, radiated through the green. Mical gently pushed forward, carefully diving into the gaping maw that was the dueling circle, the huge circular exposure that sported three huge, curving spikes around and above the two lights. Continually those two lights spun and flipped, flickering and dying alltogether, only to relight a moment later. Atton's gaze was fixated on the twin purple blades, their owner barely visible through the gases. How was she breathing, he wondered? Even a gas mask would be no defense against the fumes that billowed up.
Then, all at once, the last red light winked out, and didn't reappear. The twin purple blades stayed stationary, for a long while.
"What the hell is she doing?" Atton demanded of no one. He felt Mical reach out through the Force. The blonde frowned.
"I believe she is attempting to...to save her...save Kreia." Awe entered his voice, his blue eyes widening.
Atton cursed. "Idiot!" He spun away, ignoring grave injuries as he bolted out of the cockpit. Over his shoulder he shouted. "Get me in closer!" He slid to a halt by the boarding ramp, pulling a gas mask from his belt and hooking it over his face as he punched open the ramp. Kneeling down as furious winds battered him, he squinted through the swirling green-tinged air. Steadily, the belly of the Hawk neared the pinpricks of purple light, until eventually Atton could make out Aelyn's battered, blurry form. She was bent over, one arm wrapped around her middle. His heart gave a cry. In front of her, Kreia kneeled, swaying. He could see the old hag's mouth moving, and saw, occassionally, Aelyn answering.
"Come on!" He shouted, but winds and his gas mask made it so even he could hardly hear himself. As if his words had had an effect nontheless, Kreia at last toppled to the side. Aelyn made a move as it to catch her, pain evident on her face. Too late Atton remembered their Force Bond, and Aelyn crumbled to the ground, writhering in pain.
Atton reached up, pushing his whole fist against the communications console he found there. "Closer, Mical!"
"Don't try, do!"
The ship lumbered dangerously lower, even as Atton saw Aelyn try to stumble to her feet. Inside, he cheered. "Come on!" He shouted, putting a touch of precious Force behind his words. he saw her head snapped up, as if she'd heard him; if nothing else, she definitely saw him. Her eyes widened at the sight of the Ebon Hawk, hovering dangerously low. Renewed strength seemed to stiffen her limbs, and she made it up onto her feet. She holstered her lightsaber, using both hands to steady herself against chunks of foundation that had been thrust upwards like jagged, miniature mountains. Behind her, the giant circle that had been her's and Kreia's battleground began to crumble into the darkness below. In a moment of creativity, Atton used a reverse Force Push to pull Aelyn closer. She stumbled, then regained her balance, almost running towards him, now.
"Atton, I've got to pull up!" Mical's voice shouted from the console.
"I've almost got her!" Atton shouted back, his outstretched hands pulling her ever closer. He could see her face, now- and instead of the determination, the desperation he'd expected to see, she seemed almost...resigned? No! She began to slow down. No!
"Don't you give up!" he screamed at her, tearing off the gas mask. "Don't you dare stop running!" He thrust out his hand again, beckoning and pulling and pleading all at once. She stumbled forward one last time- then fell, tripped, back arched, mouth open in a silent scream.
He didn't even think twice. Barely healed bones and muscles screamed in agony, but he ignored it all. He leaped down from the boarding ramp, bolting towards his exile's fallen form. He battled his way through the smoke, the gas, the debris, the howling winds. When he reached her he scooped her up with his one arm, hardly stopping as he whirled on his heel and darted back towards the slowly retreating Ebon Hawk. Mira was there, her arm outstretched in an imitation of the position he'd been in only moments before.
Blood -her blood- soaked his jacket, and he grit his teeth with renewed determination. Muscles that tore with the force they were exerting pumped even faster, his legs a blur as he unknowingly invoked a crude form of Force-induced speed.
Then he leaped, his feet hit metal, Mira pulled them in, the ramp rose to shut, and the whole ship gave a shudder as Malachor, with its memories, began its final death throes.
"Punch it!" Mira shouted into the console.
Atton collapsed, Aelyn on top of him, and Mira wrapped her arms around them both to brace them as the ship shuddered; inertia crushed them, for a moment, before the internal dampners kicked in.
Breathing hard, Atton opened his eyes, blinking as agony raced along every cell in his body. Yet he was oddly numb... He blinked, looking down a bit. Aelyn was still cluthed in his arm, over-the-threshold-style, even as they were both on the floor. She stirred, opening eyes lit with surprise, as if she was startled to find herself alive.
"Atton?" Her voice broke something inside him, and he clutched her to him, even as Mira returned -he hadn't noticed her leaving- with much needed medpacs.
"I'm here," he told her, brushing a kiss against her forehead.
"You saved me again," she murmured, amusement coloring her voice, right alongside the pain.
"Nah, first one doesn't count," he told her. "Since you turned right around and saved me from myself." He saw her smile against his chest, a chest soaked red. Mira got to work on them both; Mical joined them a moment later, having turned over the controls to Bao-Dur.
"But yeah," he said. "Guess I got to rescue you, after all."
Then they both lost consciousness.
Woot! This was a fun one to write. Normally, as you all know, my snippits are game-inspired. This one kind of is...it's more of a concept, though, then an actual game scene (or scene that should have been in the game.)
Hope you all enjoyed. And no, Orphic Verboten is not dead, just on haitus. Working seven days a week, going to school five days a week, planning a wedding, and finals does not for free time make. . I'm insane...