It wasn't enough that we had fought our way through pack after pack of raging rakghouls, or that we had gone toe-to-toe with Sith and gangs alike. It wasn't enough that we had rescued a Jedi with all the imperious pompousness of a Alderaanian princess, or that we had managed to pick up an underground urchin and her walking carpet. It wasn't even enough that I had watched our ship burn through the Tarisian ozone, or that I had dragged a blacked-out stranger through hostile streets to safety.
Nope. It wasn't enough.
We just had to accept help from a mercenary. And not just any ole' mercenary. A Mandalorian mercenary.
I had decided rather quickly that if there was, in fact, some mystical Force, then it hated me. Either that, or it had a really sick sense of humor. Or, maybe both. I don't know. What I did know, is that Briah was better off putting faith in a Hutt, than in a backstabbing Mando.
I scowled at the tastefully tiled fresher wall in front of me and scrubbed roughly at my sewer-scented skin. The really twisted part of it all, was that we didn't have a hope in the Nine Corellian Hells of getting off of Taris without Ordo's help.
He'd proven solid so far, but I trusted that to last for about as long as it took to get out of Taris' orbit. For all we knew, he'd made a second deal with the Sith behind our backs – in fact, that was my deepest fear. Briah had been unusually successful in her infiltration of the Sith base and she'd gone in by herself with a droid as her only companion. The odds of her coming out alive had been next to impossible – but she'd waltzed back into our safe house, sweaty and triumphant, not three hours after having left.
Her success – while admirable – was eerie in its reality. I didn't put it past Ordo at all, to siphon funds from his current employer to pay the Sith to keep a low profile until he found a successful flight off-world. I could just imagine it now...
Touching down in some remote planet like Tatooine... Heading out to a local cantina... Thinking everything was safe and congratulating ourselves on a successful evasion...
And bam! Right back into Sith hands.
I growled darkly at the thought and slammed my hand against the fresher shower button. The water turned off abruptly and I mashed a button next to it for the air-dry option. I could have toweled off, but I wanted a few moments to linger. I had left Briah – unwillingly – in the Mandalorian's sole company, so in that regard, I was eager to conclude my business and head back to our shared room. But, on the other hand...
We were sharing a room with said Mandalorian. A very boastful, arrogant, swaggering Mandalorian. Who seemed to have caught Briah's interest...and who knew it. A few moments to collect my temper would go a long way in keeping the peace.
I gritted my teeth and thought about putting a bolt through his head. Only then did I remind myself that we needed him now more than ever – I didn't relish the thought of having to fight our way out through Davik's palatial abode and I was gracious enough to admit that Ordo made a pretty convenient walking tank. I took a deep breath and reminded myself that it also wouldn't help matters if I went back to the room in a mood for blood.
Briah was a fighter, but there was some part of her that was a peace-keeper as well. She didn't seem to enjoy conflict within her inner circle and I couldn't really blame her. Trying to survive on a planet where everything seemed to want you dead was stressful enough – she didn't need two of her own party trying to take each other out on top of everything else.
I took a deep, calming breath, and tried to enjoy the moment. I hadn't had a shower since we had hit the Undercity – and we'd been down there for almost a whole week. It wasn't the first time in my soldier's life that I had been forced to so long without a good rinse, but the past seven days on Taris had to be have been the most physically vile experience I'd ever had. While I didn't – under any circumstance – approve of spending the night in a crime lord's mansion, I wasn't so morally self-righteous that I would turn my nose up at the chance to abuse said crime lord's generosity.
The filth and squalor of the Undercity was enough to persuade me that maybe I shouldn't look a gift tauntaun in the mouth. As it was, I felt a thousand times better than I had in a while. I had tried to take the opportunity to catch a quick rinse when we had come back from the Undercity, but our small safe-house's minimal supply of water had been quickly consumed by three females equally eager for proper hygiene. Ever the gentleman, I had settled for a sonic shower – but even that couldn't replace good old fashioned water and soap.
I leaned a shoulder against the cool, wet tiled walls and let the warm air dry my skin. I tried to linger as long as I could – after all, there was no looming deadline, or impatient female waiting to take my place. But, I couldn't forget that Briah was alone with Ordo – eventually, my protective instincts over took any rational thought and I concluded my business in the fresher as quickly as I could.
Mandalorians weren't known to rape, but they were known to torture, murder, and backstab. My imagination wreaked havoc with my mind, as I clamored hastily into fresh clothes and ran my fingers through my hair. I usually took time to comb my hair properly and to shave, but I'd left Briah alone long enough. As I walked down the hallway to our room as briskly as I could without lapsing into a full-out run, I couldn't help but recall the highly publicized trial of the Mandalorian scientist, Demagol.
For all I knew, I had left Briah alone in a room with the likes of that. The thought sent me scurrying and I practically burst into the room, out-of-breath and on the brink of panic.
The only greeting I got was a sardonic look from a very solitary Ordo. My paranoia kicked instantly into high-gear.
"Where is she?" I demanded, as my eyes scraped across the room – Briah was no where to be found and I thought my heart might stop in my throat.
"Relax, Republic," Ordo replied with a lilt to his rough voice that sounded suspiciously like laughter. "She's around the corner, getting a massage from one of Davik's Twi'leks."
"Do what?" my mind tripped over the word "massage" and I stared blankly at the Mandalorian lounging nonchalantly on the bed he had claimed by the door.
"She's getting a massage," Ordo repeated, his words slower this time and his tone of long suffering patience.
"You don't have to talk to me like I'm an idiot," I growled through gritted teeth; my shoulders had tensed up almost immediately, to the point of being painful, and I wasn't in the mood to be stuck in a room alone with the likes of a Mandalorian bounty hunter.
"Then don't ask di'kutla questions," Ordo rolled his own massive shoulders in an arrogant shrug.
We eyed each other warily from across the room.
I thought about picking a fight, but decided against it, when I realized that there was absolutely no way I would win in hand-to-hand combat. Ordo had at least a good hundred pounds of pure muscle on me – the only advantage I had was with a blaster and I was in no good position to whip those bad boys out. For whatever Force-damned reason, I had decided to leave the fresher with my gunbelt slung over my shoulder instead of around my hips where it should have been.
It was probably for the best. I liked Briah – and as a general rule, I tried to avoid making women angry at me. If I shot Ordo in the head, well...I could probably count on a different sort of fight with Briah. One that I could never, ever hope to win.
A smug sort of look crossed Ordo's broad face, as if he sensed that I had decided to back down. I ground my teeth together, but said nothing, as I made my way toward the bed on the farthest wall.
"Briah's claimed that one," he calmly stopped me dead in my tracks.
I looked in horror at the only bed left – the middle one, right next to his.
You've got to be kidding me, I thought to myself as I eyed the crisply-turned down linens.
I refused to look Ordo in the eye; I knew he'd be smug. I didn't need visual confirmation of something I already knew.
So, I silently stalked over to my bunk and slung my gunbelt off of my shoulder. I glanced surreptitiously toward Ordo, to see if he was still wearing his blasters as well. He wasn't – as a matter of fact, he wasn't wearing much of anything anymore, except his pants. I glanced up at him and scowled.
"You're sharing a room with a woman you don't even know. Don't you think you could be a little more decent?"
"I'm sure at her age she's seen it all," Ordo gave me a wry look, before picking up the datapad he had been resting on top of his bare stomach.
I could feel my ears turning red at the boldness of the Mandalorian's suggestion. I gritted my teeth yet again – wondered briefly if I'd end up chipping a tooth by the end of the evening – and insisted on trying to establish some boundaries.
"That's really not the point," I insisted. "She's not going to prance around half-naked –"
"I wouldn't mind at all if she did – "
"So, it'd be decent of us to return the favor."
I might as well have been arguing with a duraplast wall. Ordo looked completely unmoved by my suggestion – and I was irritated by his intimation that he'd like to see Briah less decently dressed.
Though, he had me there. If I was honest with myself, I wouldn't have minded, either. Except, I had already been vaguely imagining something of the like since I met her and I wasn't about to share that experience with another man. Especially not a Mandalorian man.
"I'm going to go see if she's really where you say she is," I decided after a second of grinding my back molars together that it might be wise for me to concede defeat for the moment.
I was also still plagued by the nagging feeling that Ordo was up to no good. It was all fine and well for him to claim that Briah was getting a massage – but it was far more likely that she was being tortured by Davik or the like. I scowled at him and he merely stared back at me with a carefully bland expression.
I wanted to wrap my hands around his thick neck and throttle the life out of him. It's what he deserved, after all.
"The Twi'leks will yell at you for interrupting," he warned mildly; I just snorted.
Twi'leks were the least of my concern.
"Or, proposition you," Ordo eyed me a little more skeptically and I could almost anticipate his next remark. "Come to think of it, you should take them up on the offer. You need something to mellow you out."
"Thanks for the suggestion," I snarled, as I looped my gunbelt around my waist and cinched it tight. "But, Twi'lek's aren't my type."
"More of a black-hair-blue-eyes sort of man, eh?"
I knew he was baiting me, so I tried to breath – and make it back through the door as fast I could.
"That's hardly any of your business."
"As long as I'm stuck with the lot of you, I'd disagree," Ordo's voice was almost polite, but his words dug under my skin; I itched with the urge to pull a blaster on him.
"You have the manners of a kriffin' nerf herder, you know that?" I paused at the foot of his bed and struggled against the building desire to swing a fist at his head.
"And you have the common sense of a kriffin' Gungan," was the measured retort.
I decided to leave, before our trade of insults escalated. I paused at the door, though, and shot him a hard look over my shoulder.
"She better be where you say she is, Mandalorian," I warned darkly.
"Or what?" Ordo seemed less than impressed.
"You just better keep your nose clean, Mandie," I left him with the pejorative nickname; hopefully, it would needle under his skin and deflate some of that infuriating calm he seemed to command with all the confidence of a frakking' Jedi. "I'll be watching you."
A/N: Sweet Manda! Could it be? An update!
I never expected this story to be as popular as it's been, when I first posted it. So, many warm and wonderful thanks to everyone who's favorited this, who follows it, who's commented on it, and who's insisted that I continue. This one's for you! :)
We also have SW:TOR to thank for this update... After running around Taris with my smuggler character, I finally found my Carth-muse (which was what was largely holding me up from writing more). I wasn't sure if I was going to include Carth in this ficlet...but I've decided that I enjoy writing him, surprisingly enough.
More to come! Next up: Dantooine and Briah!
Also, please keep in mind that I'm telling a story by way of random vignettes - since I'm not writing a full story, or a walkthrough, I'm leaving the details of Revan's relationship with Carth and Canderous to your more than fertile imaginations. I'm just playing with various scenes that have popped into my mind from playing the game...and trying to focus more on the angst of a strong-willed woman who's found herself caught between two potential lovers (and two lovers who love to loathe each other). Don't look for anything deep...this is sheer fluff and fangirl wish fulfilment at its finest!
Love it? Like it? Hate it? Lemme know...!