A/N My writing partners Trynn & Synsyter Shadow are co-writing this with me. Please, any constructive crits are welcome. And now, enjoy an AU that I can safely say will blow your mind because of its originality and OCs, as well as an Exile I think you will like.
Chapter 1: Destruction of a World
It was encompassing, wrapped around her, like a tentacle-like root of one of the carnivorous plants from Felucia; it held her firmly against all her efforts to break free of its ever-tightening grasp. It was a void, the complete absence of substance or life, and it terrified her. She was drifting in time and space, trapped in a vast, black hole where nothing else existed. She wanted to scream in terror but her lungs could not take in air. There was no atmosphere to carry sound, and no one would hear her or know she had ever lived.
No life…gone…every living thing destroyed…the Jedi who had come to Katarr existed now as only empty husks, drained of all life. All the trees and flowers, the birds, all living creatures dead. And her people…
She thrashed her limbs in a vain attempt to reach out and touch something, anything. The lone Miraluka clawed her way up the fallen bodies of her family and friends, of her people. Even the movements of her arms and legs were dull and slow, as if she was crushed beneath fathoms of dark water.
She wanted to speak but couldn't remember how. She was in a deprivation tank—and lost to her were sight, sounds, and sensations. But her fate was not as terrible as her world's. There was no blood on any of her race. Their essences had been a feast—devoured by something or some one and she knew the destroyer would come for her. She could feel the Force ripping into her mind, but she erected barriers, showing her strength and a tie with the Force few of her kind possessed.
I do not want this. Save me!
It was a psychic cry magnified through the Force-She shielded it from the destroyer, sending it into arcs of pure longing for help and rescue into the edges of the galaxy.
On the Outer Rim, on a planet with no name other than what smugglers, pirates and bounty hunters gave it which was Sanctuary, a man staggered out of a cantina. Bleary grey eyes stared out of a haggard face that looked far older than his 30 standard years. They were light, almost mercurial in that deep, spacer's tan. Grit from the sand of this inhospitable planet honed his whiskers, keeping them short and rough. His short dark hair was unkempt and needed a trim. He liked to keep it short even if it showed the scar that was on his scalp from a Mandalorian blade. The scar ran from the top of his head bisecting one brow so that he always looked somewhat cynically amused, over his eyelid, following the curve of a high cheekbone. To most men it would have been a killing blow. To him it served as a reminder, how fleeting life could be.
"Hey, Maverick!" A male voice shouted. "You still in the game?"
His nick name had never failed to amuse him. Maverick Marrex—oh how far the mighty had fallen!
He called a reply, turning up his lips into a reprehensible smirk. He was not incredibly tough like most of the riff-raff on this planet, but he had learned to give off a certain attitude. It was necessary to have them think he was a badass.
"Deal me in, Flynn! I'm—uh, taking a moment here."
Flynn's chuckle filled the air and Marrex stepped out into the night, staring up at the stars. The sky was a deep, deep blue turning into pitch black farther up into the atmosphere and that is where the stars lingered, twinkling, calling to him.
He cocked his head. Calling to me?
"I…do not wish this. Help me."
A voice! One that filled him with compassion and longing because the tone was like the taste of the finest ale and the feel of the sun on his face and so many things he'd lost.
"Come to me…before it is too late."
Marrex scowled, turned and strode into the cantina. "Flynnie, we need to divert course and go to Katarr."
He addressed, in his opinion, the better half of the partners, Kit Flynn, Mandalorian merc—six feet one and a half inches, broad shoulders and twinkling green eyes under a bushel of light brown hair that went every which way. Or were his eyes blue? They seemed to change color with what he wore. He was in a maroon T-shirt, tan flak vest and over that a long brown duster. Brown pants were tucked into worn boots. Buckled about his waist was a blaster belt that held his special piece and there was a vibroblade hanging in a scabbard at his side. Flynn was tough and that could be seen even with the good-natured lop-sided grin that tricked folk into believing he was non-threatening. He was a wiz at cards and an expert at not being spotted when he cheated.
"And why would I do that, Maverick?" The voice belonged to Captain Vasa, who was the leader of the bounty hunter pack Maverick had thrown in with for two years. "Are there credits to be made? A vic to capture?"
Swagger Vasa moved out of the deep shadow he always seemed to find wherever they went. Dark eyes surrounded by intense whites glared at Marrex. Vasa was the total opposite of Flynn—dark, military buzz cut, obsidian eyes that could cut through steel, a sleek, lean physique that oozed power and a dark aura. He always wore black and tonight was no exception. And the man carried weapons on almost every part of his body. He had a double scabbard bandoleer strapped to his back, throwing vibro stars and small blades tucked into the leather bands that caused the hard biceps to bunch as if there were live wires under the tan skin that writhed and seethed. He kept a dagger tucked into his boot and wore a triple belt ensemble with rings he could remove to make an Echani weapon of lethal power and two blasters because he was ambidextrous. He was not wearing the leather band around his head like normal, but then the cantina was extremely hot.
Maverick swallowed hard. "Look, you owe me, okay. I saved both your butts on Ord Mantell. I have never asked you for a thing."
"Except for a job," Flynn amended, grinning amiably.
Vasa made a sharp gesture. "Stow it, Flynn! Why, Maverick? Why would I go to Katarr—put all of us in jeopardy from the Republic-subject to capture by them?"
Marrex glared back at the man. "Because there's a woman there who needs our help."
Vasa rolled his eyes. "Ever the savior of women—since I had the misfortune to meet ya." He rubbed a hand over the stubble on his face, eyes narrowing as he considered options and then he smirked. "Okay, your next two shares of any bounties we pick up go to fuel, food and repair. Got it?"
Marrex smiled. "Got it!"
"Boys, pack it in for the night and get my ship ready. Seems we're going to Katarr."
"Gunner!" Vasa bellowed, as soon as he stepped inside The Seeker, his deep voice resonating through the ship. Behind him, Flynn raised the exit ramp, an irritated expression on his face.
"Mind keeping the noise levels down, Swag?" He scratched his ear. "My eardrums have been kinda sensitive since you blew up that swoop bike on Bakura."
Swagger didn't acknowledge the comment. "Gunner!" he yelled even louder, causing Flynn to cringe – maybe it was his way of acknowledging the comment. "Get your ass in here. Now!"
Flynn elbowed Marrex in the ribs. "Does he do that on purpose?"
"Wouldn't surprise me," Maverick shrugged. "Now can we please get a move on? Katarr's not exactly a five minute jump away."
"Yep, wouldn't want to keep the damsel in distress waiting," Flynn smirked. He clapped a hand of Marrex's shoulder. "But I can't help but wonder…how do you know where to look? I'm willing to bet we won't find anything."
"I wish he would lighten up just a little…" Marrex jerked his head at Vasa but was interrupted by the sound of hurried footsteps and a tall, young man running into the cargo hold.
Gunner was a lanky early twenty something with long brown hair and brown eyes under thick eyebrows. He wore a dark grey flight suit which he had pulled down to and tied around his waist, exposing his chest and long, sleek arms. There was a half-eaten nerf steak in his hand and he looked startled. His appearance made Flynn snigger loudly.
"If it wasn't for the steak, I'd say we might have walked in on something," he told Marrex, nudging him in the side again and not bothering to lower his voice. Maverick nodded but didn't laugh. He liked Gunner – the kid had the least glamorous of jobs on the Seeker, which was basically doing everything that needed to be done, from scrubbing the small refresher to piloting the ship to providing cover fire. He worked hard to earn his keep and was pretty handy with blasters and quad turrets – hence the nickname.
"Captain Vasa," Gunner saluted Swagger with the hand holding the steak and flushed pink when he realized how stupid it looked.
Swagger wasn't impressed. "Number one, lose the steak." Gunner stuffed the steak in his mouth and with monumental effort began to chew. Flynn burst out laughing and Marrex gave him an exasperated glare.
"Number two," Vasa went on, pointing at the kid's attire. "Get dressed. I don't want any naked males on my ship. Number three, prep the engines. We're leaving."
"Ah 'aven't…" Gunner tried to talk but nothing coherent came out. He took a full ten seconds to swallow his mouthful of steak. "I haven't restocked the supplies yet."
Swagger's obsidian gaze hardened. "Thought I told you to do so ASAP."
"Hey, I was effing hungry! And you said you'd be back late so I thought…"
Swagger made a move with his hand as if he wanted to grab Gunner by the collar but stopped since there was no collar to grab. "When I tell you to restock supplies, I expect you to do it first thing," he snapped. "I expect my ship to be ready to go when I come back, or there's going to be effing trouble." He mocked Gunner's way of swearing without actually using swear words.
Gunner looked downright scared now. He had heard about Swagger's preferred methods of punishment for breaking his rules – getting your ass handed to you in a spar was the better option. Getting kicked off the ship was the other.
"Okay," Vasa seemed to calm down a bit. "Get down and give me a hundred. Chest hits the floor. No breaks. Then you can go and get the supplies."
Gunner sighed in relief and lowered to his hands and knees, but Maverick took a step forward. "Come on, Swagger. Pushups?" he said impatiently. "The woman on Katarr isn't getting any better while we stand here watching you punish the kid. I can sense it. Let's get the damn supplies and then you can devote time to bodyweight exercises."
Swagger scowled at him. Marrex knew you never questioned Swagger Vasa and his methods, but there was something about the voice he had heard in his head that made him feel irrational, like tracking it down was the most important thing right now both for him and the woman who had called – so strong was the feeling of desperation she had placed in the cry for help. And there was something else that made him uneasy – the feelings her voice carried reminded him of something he had once relied on, once lived as one with – of something that was taken from him.
"You sense it, huh?" Swagger said in a gruff voice. "All right. Supply run first, and then you'll do two hundred. Still no breaks. Clear?" There was speculation in the dark eyes. Vasa was weighing something in his mind and it was clear something about Marrex was not adding up and there would come a day of reckoning.
Gunner leaped to his feet. At six foot four he towered over the rest of them, but when it came to dealing with Vasa, height didn't matter. "Clear." He started to put on his flight suit.
"I'll go with him," Marrex volunteered; he was eager to insure they got going as fast as possible and also wanted to avoid the questions he could see formulating in Vasa's mind. "Flynnie, cover for me in the engine room." The big merc gave him a look that said Who died and made you Captain?, but he nodded and left the cargo hold. "Gunner, what do we need to buy?"
Gunner had finished zipping up his flight suit. He attached a blaster holster to his belt. "Would be good to get a spare secondary buffer panel. I replaced ours today, but the wiring keeps expletive-ing up, so this one might not last long either. And then we need some of those frozen steaks…because I ate the last one," he finished sheepishly and turned to Swagger. "Captain, some credits?"
Vasa smirked and pulled a death stick from his pocket. "The shopping trip's on Mav today. I've heard these buffer panels are expensive."
Gunner's long stride almost left Maverick in the dust. Long legs, lanky, and such a good natured kid, how the hell did Vasa get his hooks into you? You were with him before i signed on—just a kid wet behind the ears...You remind me of...someone better left forgotten.
Gunner slowed down, looking apologetic. "Sorry, Maverick. I forget sometimes how hard it can be to keep up with me."
Maverick smiled and allowed it to reach his eyes. He really liked this kid. "Don't apologize. Vasa is a good motivator."
"Oath! I shoulda known better than put myself before the well being of the crew and the ship. Flynnie's warned me time and time again. I know I'm gonna get myself kicked off the team like the two before me. You don't ever break Captain Vasa's rules."
"Relax." Marrex gave the kid a friendly slap on the shoulder. "We'll see if we can find him some more death sticks while we get the parts and supplies we need."
His whisky brown eyes lit up. "Do you think that would help?"
The two men thought about it for a moment then chuckled together. "Wouldn't hurt," Marrex told him.
They made their way to the supplies depot. Maverick was great when it came to bartering, being able to persuade the man on duty that he could let the buffer panel go for a lot less than the price he named. They had to take the panel to the ship before they continued their run, since it was so heavy.
Before they left the port, Marrex paid for a full load of fuel. This was taking every credit he had, but it was worth it. They brought a flotation lift back with them and loaded the supplies and food stuffs on it.
"Best place to find death sticks would be the cantina. We'll ask the 'tender." Marrex was impatient to leave. The voice echoed in his head and it vibrated in his chest and he realized he had not felt this alive in five years.
Gunner kept his hand poised over the blaster as they entered the cantina. It was pretty typical of any outer rim cantina—no live dancers, just holos of scantily-clad Twi'leks and the scum of the galaxy for patrons. He watched Maverick's back. One of the reasons Vasa kept him in the ranks was because he was a dead shot.
He saw his friend approach the bartender, probably questioning him about procuring some death sticks and then slip into a darkened part of the room. Nervous, because he could not see Marrex, Gunner tried to make his tall form inconspicuous as he followed after him. He was so intent on watching the aliens and humanoids sitting at the bar and the various tables, he did not watch where his feet were going and the next moment he tripped over a pair of scuffed boots in his way and was sent into a wild, sprawling fall to the floor. His trigger finger twitched and the blaster in his hand went off, leaving an impressive smoldering hole in the ceiling.
Everyone in the place drew their weapons and it looked like there was going to be a free-for-all, with Gunner tagged as "it" when Maverick reappeared and waved his hands for them to listen to him.
"He's sorry! He tripped. He was not shooting at anybody! Now, just calm down and go back to what you were doing."
Gunner accepted the hand up. He was gaping at Marrex as if he wondered who he was. "Mav, what? How?"
Marrex frowned, looking at his hands as if they did not belong to him. They buzzed with a strange energy. "I don't know," he admitted. "Got the death sticks and some Tarisian ale for Flynnie. Damn, I will be working for Swagger the rest of my life to pay for all of this."
There was a loud, explosive burp and Gunner stared down at the man who belonged to the boots that had tripped him. Marrex did the same, because there was something familiar about him. And then he knew! The man was older, but the orange jacket, he'd recognize it anywhere. Had to be...
"Carth? Carth Onasi?"
Bleary brown eyes gazed up through a mop of dark brown hair. The military cut was gone. His eyes were rimmed with red and shot with tiny veins of red as well. His mouth was slack and the once trim, fit body of a soldier of the Republic had softened. The face was puffy; there was a scar on his left cheek and deep grooves carved the sides of his mouth.
"Do I know you?" The words were slurred. Marrex counted the juma shot glasses on the table. The man should be dead!
"Kyron Marrex, sir." Maverick frowned when he saw the rank had been torn from the shoulders of the worn orange jacket that had seen better days.
A smile tried to etch its way through the stubble and grime on Carth's face. "Ky, you old space dog! What're doing all the way out..." He tossed the hair out of his eyes. "Where the hell am I anyway?"
Gunner whistled softly. "Nice to meet you, but we have to be going."
Marrex tugged his arm loose from the kid. "Sanctuary. Carth, what's going on? Obviously, you're in some kind of trouble."
Carth's laugh was bitter and his voice was hard. "Not as much trouble as I'm gonna be when the barkeep finds out I don't have the credits to pay for all this." He swept the sleeve of his jacket over the table and several shot glasses crashed to the floor. "Oops!"
"Stay here." Maverick overrode Gunner when he tried to tell him they needed to leave, by treating the kid to a glare worthy of the almighty Vasa.
Marrex strode to the bar and paid Carth's bill, then he was back at the table. "He's coming with us." He prevented Carth from sliding out of his chair as the massive amounts of juma he'd consumed finally overcame him and sent him into a stupor.
Gunner's eyes widened to the point they almost popped out of his skull. "Mav, Captain Vasa's pi---peeved off enough! Who the h-e-double levo-spanner is this guy?"
"When I knew him he was Lieutenant Carth Onasi. He's a decorated war hero and we're not leaving him here to rot."
"All right." Gunner grabbed the other arm and they dragged the now comatose Onasi out of the cantina. "But you are going to be the one to explain this to Swagger."
"Well, looky here, the boys are back from town," Flynn said jovially when they arrived at the ship. "And looks like they picked up a new recruit." His nose wrinkled. "A very smelly new recruit." He placed his big frame in their way when they would have carried their burden up the loading ramp. "Whoa, whoa, whoa!" He brought out a datapad and began checking the supplies off the list." Food, check; engine parts, check. Supplies, check. Buffer panel, check." His lips quirked into a smile, but his eyes stayed dead serious. "Smelly drunk? Nope! Sorry, he's not on the list."
"Flynn, I..." Maverick began.
"Since when do you shanghai people, Mav?" Swagger's voice was deceptively soft as he stalked down the ramp. "And bring them to my ship without my permission?"
Gunner shuffled back and forth, scuffing the toes of his boots into the ground, stirring up small pebbles, until Flynn shook his head in warning and the action ceased.
"I haven't brought him inside the ship and I was going to ask you first. Just had to get him out of the cantina."
Swagger lit a death stick and took a deep drag. "And?"
Marrex told Vasa a short version of his history with Carth, leaving out any parts he didn't think the bounty hunter needed to know. Vasa ruminated on things as he smoked, his expression unreadable. Maverick had put every ounce of persuasion he could in his voice as he explained.
He came to the end of the story and there was a deafening silence. Everyone watched the obsidian eyes for a sign of acceptance. Finally, Swagger crushed the cherry of the death stick out in the palm of his other hand, eyes narrowing slightly at the small burn it caused. He was half Mandalorian, Marrex knew and had the regeneration gene of their race, so it would heal without needing a kolto patch, but it was impressive and just added to the mystique of the man.
Swagger smirked. "War hero gone to seed." He chuckled in a low, wicked manner. "Well, I'll get him back into shape." He jabbed a finger at Marrex. "The trip to rescue the woman and a new sparring partner just cost you the last favor. We're even, Mav. Debt paid." He paused as he was about to go back into the ship. "Toss him in the shower and get him cleaned up. He can have Neut's old quarters, unless you want a bunk mate, Mav?" He arched a brow, jerked his head in a signal and he and Flynn went inside the ship, both sniggering.
Marrex breathed a sigh of relief. "That went better than I expected," he told Gunner and they dragged Carth up the ramp.
Vasa's voice drifted back to them. "Oh, and, Gunner, you owe me those push-ups soon as we hit hyperspace, and Mav, your turn to spar."
Carth Onasi awoke from his comatose state several hours later. His back ached from sleeping on the hard bunk and his eyelids felt so heavy they wouldn't open. He tried to sit up and as his head left the comforting softness of the pillow, a splitting headache overtook him. It felt like every beat of his heart was followed by a thrust of a red-hot vibroblade into his brain.
Carth sat on the side of the bunk for five long minutes, trying to clear his head and get a sense of where he was. The gentle hum coming from the other side of what seemed to be a door told him in no uncertain terms that he was aboard a ship in hyperspace. You can take the man out of the spaceship… Carth rubbed his eyes and took in the surroundings. The dormitory was very small and with no furnishings to speak of – just the bunk and a heavy-looking chair with what looked like his jacket slung over it. He stood up slowly and the room spun in front of his eyes. He held on to the backrest of the chair for support and took several deep breaths. When the floor seemed perfectly flat again, he picked up the jacket and put it on his shoulders, feeling that finding the right sleeve to go with the right arm was too much of a challenge for him at the moment.
He didn't remember getting on a ship – to be perfectly honest he didn't remember much at all – but the fact that he wasn't handcuffed meant he couldn't have landed himself in too much trouble. Carth was starting to believe in the existence of some higher power, because over the last seven months, no matter how much alcohol he consumed every night, he always found himself back in the shabby room he rented. He walked over to the door and found it wasn't locked. Maybe by putting him on this ship and taking him away from Sanctuary, fate had dealt him a trump card.
The fog in his mind slowly clearing, Carth walked down a short dark hallway, eager to find someone who was flying the thing. The layout of the ship was unfamiliar to him, although some parts resembled a Corellian freighter. Sounds that resembled panting, as well as some light were coming from an open doorway, and Carth peeked around the corner into what he presumed was the main hold of the ship.
He was more familiar with the Dynamic class freighter, one in particular came to mind, the Ebon Hawk. He recognized the ship as a newer model Corellian freighter and the main hold must have been customized for the captain's needs. Instead of having the normal huge holo map in the center like on the Hawk, she was equipped with exercise and weapons racks. One whole wall was taken up with melee weapons of all sorts and blasters and blaster rifles. There were sniper scopes on some of the rifles and an alarming amount of shackles, chains and electro-binders hanging off hooks on the same wall.
The seasoned warrior reasoned that whoever the captain was of this ship and his crew must use the main hold for sparring and keeping themselves in peak fit condition. There were bars to do chin-ups and pull-ups and weights mounted on the walls.
When he served on the Courageous as a helmsmen and been promoted to lieutenant during the Mandalorian Wars, he had often worked out in the gym the large ship provided, sparring and learning martial arts from one of the Special Forces aces.
His eyes lowered and he sucked in his belly, his face flushing as he realized just how much he'd let himself go. His bloodshot eyes fell to the deck and he frowned at what he saw.
A tall, brown haired man was on the floor doing pushups. His face was flushed from the effort and sweat was dripping on the floor from his forehead. He seemed to take a second as his chest touched the floor and blew out a heavy breath, pushing up slowly, his arms trembling. Another man, a couple of inches shorter, dressed in black, was leaning against the wall, arms crossed over his chest. There was a death stick between his teeth and he took drags on it between counting loudly.
"One hundred and twenty one," his voice sounded like very rough sandpaper. "One hundred and twenty two. One hundred and…"
The taller man's arms finally failed and he collapsed on the floor, hitting his chin. He rolled over on his back and panted, "Sorry, Captain."
The captain tossed him a towel and he wiped sweat off his brow. "Even I can't do two hundred consecutive pushups, Gunny-boy," the captain said, taking the death stick out of his mouth and extending a hand. He pulled the kid up easily. "Just let this be a lesson to ya to do as I say."
"Thanks, Swagger," Gunny-boy said, relief evident in his voice. He stretched his arms, trying to loosen muscles that must be screaming for mercy.
Carth did a double-take. Swagger? The name sounded disturbingly familiar.
Swagger's ever watchful obsidian eyes turned to the door and he smirked. "Well, look who's up. Sleep well?"
Carth forced himself to take the posture that two grueling decades spent in the military had perfected and tried to summon as much dignity as possible, knowing he probably looked like he had been sleeping on the street and ignoring the fact his head still felt like he had been beaten up with a hydrospanner. He stepped through the doorway. "Are you the captain?"
Swagger nodded to Gunner. "Find Mav and tell him his friend's awake." Gunner picked up a shirt from the floor, pulling it over his head and disappeared through another door. Swagger turned back to Carth. "Yep. Swagger Vasa. Welcome aboard The Seeker."
Carth's fears were confirmed. Of course he had heard about Swagger Vasa, an elite assassin and one of the deadliest bounty hunters in the galaxy, whose reputation preceded him everywhere. However, Vasa didn't look like he meant any harm to Carth, so he decided to play it cool. If it turned out he was in trouble, at least he'd know why.
"Carth. Carth Onasi," he said, his voice hoarse. He cleared his throat. "As embarrassing as it is for me to ask, how did I end up on your ship?"
Vasa pulled something out of his pocket. "Take this," he said with a smirk, handing a small object to Carth, who accepted it with a nonplussed expression. "It'll help clear your head." The object was a small herb with tiny green leaves. Carth gave him a questioning glance.
"Eat it," Swagger said, a hint of impatience creeping into his voice.
Carth kept looking at him suspiciously. "How can I be sure you're not trying to poison me?"
Swagger's face hardened. "If I wanted to kill ya, you wouldn't have woke up. I guarantee it isn't poisonous, and my word is my bond."
Carth didn't argue with the statement; from what he had heard about Vasa, this was true. He carefully bit off a small piece of a leaf and chewed slowly. It had a sweet, pleasant taste. He swallowed, and maybe it was his wishful thinking, but after a few seconds the pain in his head seemed to lessen somewhat. He shrugged and took another bite.
Swagger lit up another death stick, watching him with a wicked merriment in his eyes. "As to your question, you ran into an old acquaintance – or he ran into you, I wouldn't know. Here he comes now." He pointed at yet another door on the other side of the hold.
Maverick walked into the hold, Gunner hot on his heels. "Carth Onasi, sir." He gave Carth an informal salute before he had the chance to say anything. "How are you feeling?"
Carth raised an eyebrow. "Kyron, why are you calling…" He went white and clutched his stomach as a sudden and very powerful wave of nausea overtook him.
Vasa smirked, recognizing the cleansing effect of the herb. "Happens sometimes. Refresher's that way, Ace."
Carth barely made it in time and an ocean of juma juice spewed out of his mouth as the herb did its work, emptying his stomach. He heaved and heaved until he thought he would pass a lung. He finally stopped and stood up, his frame shaking, sweat dripping from every pore.
When he looked up and saw his face in the mirror, he winced. The once proud admiral reduced to this. He saw Kyron's reflection behind him.
"Swagger says chew the rest of the herb," Marrex said, tossing the man a towel he had wet down so the admiral could wipe his face. "Said it'll help take away the smell and taste of the vomit, too."
Carth, never one to trust easily, took a whiff of the herb then pinched off a piece reluctantly and stuck it in his mouth. He waited a few seconds and then he downed the rest of it. "Ky, what are you doing with Swagger Vasa? You do know what he is, right?"
"He is what I am, sir."
"And what is that exactly?"
Marrex's eyes turned silver. "A survivor." He placed a hand on Carth's shoulder and felt the tension give way to a placid calm as he pressed it gently. "It's good to see you again, sir."
"Don't call me sir anymore, Ky. I read your file so I know you're no longer a Jedi."
Marrex's eyes widened and he craned his head around to make sure Swagger or Flynn was not in earshot. "Yeah, about that. They don't know I used to be a Jedi and I would appreciate it if you would let them find out from me."
Carth sighed as his body began to stabilize. The herb Vasa had given him seemed to really be helping. It was good to be in the company of someone who'd known him for the honorable man he was instead of the besmirched officer whose war record had been expunged as if it had never existed—as if he had never existed. "No problem, Ky. I owe you, buddy." Carth's brown eyes met the light gray. Having Ky there made Onasi feel like maybe his life was finally about to change for the better.
"When you're feeling better and are ready, you can tell me what happened to bring you this low, Fleet."
Carth chuckled ruefully. His old pilot nickname from his Courageous days. He gestured to his soft belly and grimaced. "Yeah, I'm about the size of a whole fleet."
Kyron grinned. "Oh, I wouldn't worry about that too much longer. You're a part of the crew---for now--- and Swagger Vasa's men have to be in shape. He'll start on you as soon as you recover from the juma poisoning." Marrex scowled. "I counted the shot glasses on your table. Were you trying to kill yourself?"
Carth met his accusing stare fairly. "No, just trying to forget."