Malastare: 2 APC

My name is Horatio Sheridan, but odds are, that's not how most people know me.

To the vast majority of criminals and smugglers I've associated with over the years, I'm the Huxnel operative Jespir Carrx. Or the freelance mercenary Toraxcen. Or maybe the weapons trader Kale Kaeda; the list goes on. Only the smartest and most well-connected have figured out my true identity, but they still don't know why I do what I do. And to be honest...sometimes I don't, either.

But the past few years of my life have been focused on finding the one person who could ever understand me completely, because she basically is me.

I can easily remember the first day I met her. I had spent the entirety of my twelve-year life that I could remember in Coruscant's savage Underlevels, alone but aligned with a handful of other orphans who scavenged for mutual survival. I brought valuable scraps of equipment and materials to one merchant who occasionally housed me, and our arrangement eventually developed into a dependable job. He sent me out for more elusive and valuable items, and in return, I earned myself some decent weapons and a comfortable place to sleep, luxuries a lot of the other orphans I fell in with didn't have. I never disappointed him; for seven years, I always brought back what he wanted, and sometimes more...until that day.

An antique Mandalorian flashpistol was rumored to have been circling through low criminal ranks on the city-planet. Armed with my favorite blaster pistol and my patented acerbic wit, I tracked it down within three days. As small and as slight as I was, I could fit almost anywhere to hide, and even when I sat in the open, no one tightened their tongue with some random kid hanging around. If they did, though, I could always find something to hold over them, and it usually didn't have to be my blaster.

I had been following it for a few hours as it changed hands, and a perfect opportunity presented itself when an amateur trader so helpfully forgot to vary his routine. He was out in the open, carrying his newly acquired prize in a case at his side, and all I had to do was wait until he was crossing the skybridge and land one carefully placed blaster bolt on his hand holding the case...

Just as I planned, the case fell from his hand onto a condemned landing platform a few meters below. He couldn't get over his fear of being shot at long enough to get down to it, leaving me with ample time to retrieve it. Though the decaying floor crumbling underneath me was unnerving, I at least knew no one was going to chase me as I cautiously tiptoed out to it. I was so focused on my own steps that I didn't realize until it was too late that someone was challenging me, slowly edging toward it at a faster pace. She was about my height, but her face was mostly covered by a helmet and a three-plated mask concealing everything else but her eyes. A waist-length cloak attached to her shoulders only briefly hid her twin blaster pistols at her hips as a rough wind breezed through, and though I knew I was outmatched, I couldn't let this one job get away. I gripped my blaster as we both closed the gap, but something about her kept me from eliminating her outright.

...it was her eyes, green with the slightest hint of brown. Like mine. Even as we stood a handshake away, our gazes were locked, and I couldn't figure out why. She looked just as curious and confused as I did, and though she moved slowly, she bent down to pick up the case. I grabbed her wrist...but I let go almost immediately.

The connection was hard to process. I suddenly felt like I had known her all my life, and judging by the surprised look in her eyes, she had just experienced the same thing. We both straightened and faced each other properly, and somehow, we spoke at the same time.

"Who are you?"

I wouldn't have answered anyone else truthfully, but for her, I had to. "Horatio," I managed to say.

Again she moved slowly, but this time she unclipped her face shield and folded it away, leaving me nearly numb as I saw the rest of her face.

"Recero."

Everything of mine she shared. Her eyes, her brow line, her nose bridge, her chin, even the way she tilted her head as we stared. I remember thinking it had to be the most unbelievable coincidence...

"Are you..." her question began, but startlingly, I knew what she was asking.

"Twelve."

The small, startled gasp she took in confirmed it to me: I was standing face to face with my twin sister.

"I had no idea," she breathed in shock. I shook my head dumbly.

"Me, either."

I couldn't think of anything else to say. I remembered nothing of my family; my earliest memories involved rummaging through scrap heaps deep in the Underlevels, almost always by myself. But the only thing I could think of as we looked at each other was that even though we didn't know where we had come from or why we had been separated, we had been brought back together for a reason.

We needed each other.

She tried and tried to convince me to take the blaster, but I refused every time. She told me it looked like I needed it more, which, on reflection, was somewhat insulting, but at that time, I was only wondering what kind of punishment she'd receive for not returning with it. At worst, I knew I'd end up on the street again without shelter, but I'd survive. I knew nothing of her employer; how could I condemn her to a fate I couldn't fathom?

Reluctantly, she left with it, but not before making a promise to me.

"We will find each other again," she pledged, "and next time, it'll be me who helps you."

I thought that would be the last I'd ever see of her. It was all I could do to keep from following her out of intense and somewhat compulsory curiosity, but if she was as good as I was, and she very well could have been better, she'd know I was tailing her. Again, I couldn't risk potentially causing her harm at her employer's hand, so I simply made my way home, empty-handed but fostering a rigid determination to find her some other way.

How I ended up staring at her fourth floor window across a lifeless stretch of roughly three hundred meters once more, but hadn't been allowed to talk to her, I'm still not sure. So much had happened in sixteen years, but what did I know of what had happened to her in that time? I had gotten the most recent information from Tzymo, whose complex I was so coincidentally being 'stored' in while I awaited his signal to begin my next mission, but that intel was superficial at best.

Some time ago, she had married the Hunter Lead, Najin Roeken, but she dropped off all channels a few months before his death at the hands of an enemy of the Guild. I had heard that the Jedi Master Aalon Noor had saved her life after their transport was shot down over Ambria, and he delivered her son when she went into labor. She even named her boy after him, but again she disappeared. I grudgingly had to take a job with Tzymo to find her again, and when he filled me in on her current condition, her sudden illness that he had taken upon himself to 'cure', I could feel the cruel noose of irony tightening around my neck the longer he kept me away from her.

But this time, back on Malastare again, I had made my decision. Tzymo wasn't going to control me anymore.

...I was going to take up a vibroknife and cut myself loose.