AN: Okay, so here's the deal.
This fic was originally called Eyes of a Sith, Feather of a Griffin and was meant to be a prequel to my League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fanfic trilogy, the New Hand for a New Century Trilogy. For those of you who read it, one of the things you will recall is Daria and her friend Vader. Yes, the crossover trilogy (the stories take up the entirety of the :XG/Stargate SG1 crossover section) has a crossover prequel.
The idea for this particular story actually predates the NHNC stories, but things like life, writer's block, and an inability for me to make the original plot to make sense all contributed to me dropping it. It's sat in time-out for a while now and with the random brainwave I had the other day I think it might actually decide to work. We'll see- this fic has been on the back burner for almost five years now.
Le's see, disclaimer-y stuff. I don't own Star Wars, Stargate, or anything you recognize unless you're recognizing it from one of my other fics. I own the Tau'ka. I own Daria. I own the Players. I own Tam. I own my laptop, Shiny. That's about it for now.
So, after a complete revamp of the opening portion of the story, I have high hopes. Now on, at LONG last, to the show!
Prequel: Choosing Sides
Every culture has games of some sort.
Cultures arise among big-brained creatures, especially social ones. Even clever, non-sentient creatures have been observed at play.
Games typically have one or more of four purposes: To hone physical skills, to hone mental ones, to foster social skills among members of a group, and to entertain. In the case of the last, the game usually manages to sneak in one or two of the other purposes as well.
Even gods have games.
Sharp-featured, with glossy black hair and dancing black eyes, Corivos leaned back in his chair and looked over the board that separated him from his opponent. Centinela idly flicked through the list of pawns available to her, strands of her her bloody-red hair trailing loose over her face. Behind the two gods stood their Avatars, a pair of stocky young women who were nearly identical to each other except for coloration and dress- both had aquiline noses, cat-slit golden eyes, pointed feline ears, short talons, and tails that twitched idly as they watched one another. The woman standing by Corivos had golden hair and was dressed in shades of tan, the woman behind Centinela black-haired and dressed in the same color. Around the circular area where gods, Avatars, and table stood rose ring after ring of seats for spectators, gods and god-servants of every stripe.
Glancing at his Avatar, Corivos smiled. "Tamora, my dear," he said, "Would you care to do the honors?"
Tamora the Griffin inclined her head and gestured, a golden spark drifting from her hand to the table where it sank into the polished surface. "I bring the Great Game into play," she said, her solemnity a far cry from her usual playful manner. "My Lord, my Lady, you may choose your Game and your Players."
The Game was both simple and complex. First, a scenario and a setting would be chosen. The scenario could be almost anything, from two armies battling for complete annihilation or a cat and mouse game between two carefully chosen pawns. Once the basics were determined, the players would each select a few chosen pawns to represent them, then each would attempt to out-maneuver the other in a chess-like battle of wits to to get their pawns to complete the designated task at hand.
Centinela studied the panel in front of her, which displayed a readout of what scenarios were available and the pawns she could choose.
"Epic Odds," she said. "I choose the Defender side. Setting Galfaway, date designation 4 ABY, controlling Imperial and Black Sun forces."
The situation would pit a few chosen pawns of one player against the stronger, more numerous team of the other. As Defender, Centinela would command the larger side, and it would be up to Corivos's chosen pawns to complete a mission against the Empire and criminal organization Centinela had chosen as her team. As a method of encouraging a little balance, Corivos would be allowed a few advantages to grant to his pawns.
The Trickster God smiled a little at his sister. "My dear, you did always like to play with the grown-up toys, didn't you?" he teased. He touched his screen, and an image of a large humanoid, covered completely in black armor, with a death's-head mask and long black cloak, appeared above it. "I chose Darth Vader for my first pawn."
Both Avatars frowned, looking at each other in puzzlement. According to the records, Vader was an Imperial and therefore should belong to Centinela. The War-Goddess raised one eyebrow. "Unusual choice, brother," she commented.
He shrugged. "There is precedent. Lord Vader is a balance point. He could serve either Light or Dark, given the appropriate incentive. I chose him as my first pawn."
Centinela's ultraviolet eyes narrowed slightly, but she did not protest. "Choose your second."
"I choose to invoke my first bonus." Corivos tapped his screen again, calling up an image of a auburn-haired young woman with labradorite eyes and broad shoulders. Even in the still image, her stance proclaimed her to be a fighter. "I choose to Outsource and draw upon Special Agent Daria Noclaf of the Tau'ka."
The word 'Tau'ka' drew some murmurs from the spectators. Tau'ka weren't normally used in these games, as they were known for being ornery and particularly prickly where gods were concerned. More particularly, the Tau'ka were not native to the same 'verse as Vader and the Empire. They acted under slightly different rules, a trait which could either cripple Corivos's game or allow for some stunning surprises in his favor.
"Very well," Centinela said. She raised an eyebrow. "Of course, under the rules of Outsourcing, I am allowed to choose additional forces from Astraporta. I choose the System Lord Ra."
"It is, of course, an Epic Odds game." Corivos grinned. "I would hardly suggest you do anything else."
"I almost feel sorry for you." Centinela smiled back. "You seem quite overmatched even for an Epic Odds game. One of your champions upholds the established government, the other specializes in eliminating it. And Agent Noclaf is hardly a Sith."
"Of course, which would lead to certain rather lethal frictions." The Trickster tapped his screen. "Invoking Redemption. While it would be amusing to see Noclaf and Vader at each others' throats, that is not the point of this game. But I will concede to make Battle Mates a requirement for victory."
Again the Avatars traded looks as the spectators murmured. Battle Mates was a tricky handicap to invoke, requiring that the pawns on the side that had it invoked on them become friends in order for their player to win. A simple alliance was not enough. There had to be a bond of actual friendship between the pawns, or Corivos would automatically lose the match to his sister.
Centinela frowned. "You hobble yourself, brother. Still, if that is your choice... very well. I accept your terms." She glanced at the Avatar who stood behind her. "You know what to do."
The black-haired woman nodded and strode away from the table as Corivos turned to Tamora. He grinned at his chief servant. "This is going to be fun," he said.
"I hope so." She looked at the displays on the table. "You're really stacking the deck against you this time."
"Where's the fun in playing with good odds?" the Trickster replied, laughing. "Get going, my dear. You have a Tau'ka and a Dark Lord of the Sith to bring together.