Chapter 2: Settling In
Phystte looked up from the holoterminal as Mako waltzed back in, a slight smile gracing her bright face. Pushing away from the interface and now standing at her full height, though her full height wasn't any taller than her tech's, Phystte caught Mako's nod that the job was done and their newest member had been acquainted with the ship as well as given a bed in the crew's shared quarters. No doubt she also let him know the other intricacies of living on the bounty hunter's ship like meal times, chore rotations, ship assignments, and Gault's penchant for smelly shower gels that he insisted were some of the few 'luxury' items he could still afford.
Speaking of which, Phystte turned to glare slightly at the sniper, who hadn't been welcoming in the slightest to their newest member. Mako's gaze followed her and before the hunter could bring up some snide remark she chirped in. "So Gault, you didn't seem too happy when Torian came on board. Everything okay?"
Before he could answer, the Hunter got in her shot. "He's just jealous that he's not the only man on my ship now."
He chuckled meanly at the comment. "You know, I didn't get a tour of the ship when I joined your crew, little hunter," Gault brought up. The devaronian didn't move from his spot as he leaned against the metal wall of the inner hull, arms folded across his chest. Mako looked over at him a little sheepishly while Phystte waved away the comment.
"We just figured an old-timer like yourself would know a ship like this better than we did."
"Right. And I suppose that chasing Tyresius all over Tattooine didn't have a thing to do with your animosity, did it."
Phystte had to give him that. Every once in a while she still wanted to kill him, just out of principle. "You didn't exactly join the crew so much as you bought your way into it," she reminded him.
"Same thing, little hunter, same thing. I'd wager everyone on this ship has a stake in something with you, which is why we're here. Mine just happened to be the most costly, seeing as I paid with my life."
"Another man's life," Phystte corrected.
"He wasn't really using it all that well to begin with," Gault countered conversationally. "We all know why I'm here. Mako helped you get to where you're at. So what's Mando boy got?"
"He helped Phystte track down Jicoln," Mako chimed in almost proudly. "With a bounty that's been out for ten years, that's got to say something that he helped her catch him, right?"
"Sure this isn't personal, little hunter," Gault mocked lightly, his yellow eyes hardening. While he'd wanted Phystte to go easier on the team and maybe loosen up a bit, he didn't really think she should be going soft. At least, not over some boy and definitely not over some Mandalorian. That bunch took their murdering a little too seriously for his liking. Damn crazies even had the gall to call it honorable.
"It's always personal," Phystte stated dangerously. "Don't forget that no one would be on my ship if I didn't take things personal."
Mako sighed slightly at that while thinking the devaronian certainly had a knack for putting the Hunter in a mood. Gault simply grinned with a shake of his head knowing the truth of her words. Well, either way, it was a good thing Phystte hadn't been swooped up by Mandalore before she contracted his bounty. A Mandalorian bounty hunter was the worst luck a con man could come across, all of them would kill a man if he tried to bribe them just on principle. And talking his way out of an imminent death had been hard enough with Phystte. Gault wasn't certain he would have been able to charm his way to a new life had a Mando caught him instead of her. Fortunately, he knew her before she was adopted by the bunch. Yup, lady luck was still on his side. Funny, she was starting to look a lot like the little hunter in his mind.
Somewhat satisfied with Gault's silence at her last comment, Phystte walked toward the rear of the ship, her boots clanking solidly down the metal stairs. Toovee showered her with some of his nonsensical droid affection and she settled for at least giving him a decision on what he should cook up for their supper meal. The droid immediately whisked off to the galley, no doubt in preparation. After watching him leave, she glanced over and spotted the newest member of her crew over near the cargo lockers in the hold. Torian leaned back against the hull wall, his staff leaning much like he was as he worked with something in his hands.
"Mako get you all settled in?" Phystte asked as she strolled to the crafting bench and pulled out a few supplies from the tool drawers to clean out her pistols.
"Elek. Don't need much. Used to traveling light," Torian commented as he fiddled with his generator.
She smiled at that, knowing from their brief conversations before that he wasn't going to one to complain. "If you need something, let me know."
"Sure," he replied back though for some reason Phystte felt like she wouldn't be hearing any requests from him for anything anytime soon. She made a mental note to check over their supplies and his room to make sure he had everything he needed. After all, they'd been making good credits lately. She could afford to spend a little extra on some creature comforts for the ship and its crew.
"You left pretty quick back there," she started. "Wasn't sure I'd see you again after you shot him."
"Just needed time alone to think," Torian answered. He didn't look angry, not even sad. Phystte wasn't sure how he felt about his father really. He said Jicoln dishonored his clan. All of Clan Cadera lost standing with Mandalore after Jicoln's betrayal. Whatever reasons Jicoln had, whatever he told Torian in those last moments, only he would know. She didn't want to press Torian, some things weren't meant to be shared with other people. Phystte could understand that, she had a few of those herself.
"Still… you had guts kid. Not many people would've pulled the trigger themselves," Phystte commented. It was supposed to be a compliment, but Torian frowned slightly. Figuring she'd probably do more damage if they kept talking, Phystte turned to the table and started working on one of her pistols.
"Have a question for you," Torian spoke up, joining her at the table.
"Alright, shoot." Phystte replied, wondering what he wanted to ask.
"Never got the chance to ask why you stuck around to patch me up at the traitor's bolt. Didn't think beroya like you worried about collateral damage."
Phystte's brows furrowed a little. She'd built this ruthless reputation and it had been hard work to make it so. After all, she couldn't have people thinking she was soft. But in some ways, her reputation made people think of her as less than a person. Maybe in some ways she was. In her profession, she had to be. It was a job. Nothing personal, though she would be lying if she said she didn't enjoy it. She craved the hunt, reveled in its completion and soaked in the rewards afterward. It was a dangerous life but it was hers and she wouldn't trade it for any other.
But for some reason, Torian's comment rubbed her wrong. She felt a pang of guilt that he honestly thought she would just leave him there, as if she lacked a sense of humanity. Of course she didn't help him solely out of goodness of her heart either, which made her feel even a bit more guilty, especially after all the help he gave her in tracking down his father. She'd helped him mostly because he was her best chance at tracking down Jicoln. He'd done such an efficient job of finding the artifacts for Jicoln's challenge, and even his hiding spot, that keeping him around until she killed the target just made sense. Besides, killing for creds didn't make her heartless, not completely anyway.
"Well, I'm an adopted Mandalorian now. Couldn't leave one of my own behind, could I?" She taunted instead.
"Just like that, huh. From cold-blooded killer to honor-bound Mando? Not sure I buy it," Torian shook his head.
Phystte stopped cleaning her pistol and sighed. Part of that was true. She'd spent so much time killing without regard to the aftermath. Taking the hunts, taking the creds, working on the premise that no one else mattered except her. Then Mako came along and changed everything, softened her quite a bit even. She remembered how hard she'd been on her in the beginning. But the cute little tech worked hard and pulled great results. If it weren't for her, she'd have never won The Great Hunt. She nabbed the title, but really they were a team and Phystte wasn't arrogant enough to believe she would have been able to do all that without Mako's help.
She never did feel like she was a part of something bigger though. Mako seemed to have this innate connection with the empire. She talked about it all the time, how their hunts could help the Empire, how awful the Republic was. Phystte didn't share her opinions really, mostly because she didn't care about the Empire or the Republic, though she was more than happy to work with the Empire. They seemed more sensible than the other guys at least. Belonging to one side seemed completely pointless. However, after the Hunt, after Mandolore made her an official Mandalorian, her feelings changed.
It wasn't just being the Champion, Phystte expected that. What she hadn't expected was how much trust Mandalore instantly put in her. He gave her his token spot in the respected Blacklist, and practically treated her like his own daughter. She'd never felt like she belonged to something bigger until now or like she belonged to a family. For some inane reason, she didn't want to let Mandalore down. Before, she'd only ever been on her own side. Now, she actually felt proud to be on the Mandalorians' side.
Phystte shrugged finally, remembering Torian's comment earlier while they were hunting Jicoln. Be straight with me. She decided she didn't really have anything to lose by doing that. "You were useful. I wouldn't have found Jicoln without you."
"Suvari. Figured as much," Torian commented with a touch of disappointment.
"I'm new to this, you know," Phystte added. "The Mandalorian thing… honor in the fight. I want to do right by the Mandalorians."
His expression softened. "I get that."
"Do you? Weren't you born a Mandalorian? Isn't it… in your blood or something? All I know is that I'm good at killing and can make decent credits doing it. The Great Hunt, that wasn't honor for me – that was a shot at a life out of the slums."
"You sound angry," Torian stated quietly and Phystte realized she'd raised her voice. He'd grown up with a clan, with people who cared about him, people to hunt with, to train him. From the sound of it, he'd gotten to live his life in a decent way. No scrounging the trash bins for food while her mother plied her trade in some rank back alley. No knifing the gang members that tried to rape her when she started to look like a woman. No… he'd never had to deal with the stuff she did growing up. Maybe she was mad at that. He questioned her honor and the really sad thing was, she didn't have much to begin with. Perhaps that's what upset her most of all.
"Maybe I am," Phystte clutched the blaster pistol in her hands.
"Didn't mean to upset you," Torian said. She sighed and he went on. "Mandalore saw something more than a killer in you. Wouldn't have sent you on the bloodletting otherwise."
"I'm not so sure."
"I am," Torian replied. Phystte glanced over at him, seeing the sincerity in his eyes. "Ni haa'tayl ijaat o'r gar. I see it too."
With that he got up and walked off, leaving her alone to her work. Phystte looked down at the blaster, worn with heavy use, scratched and scuffed from being modded too many times. It was one of her first blasters when she started the hunt. She'd grown attached to it. The blaster of a killer. Maybe it was time to get a new gun. A gun for someone more than a bounty hunter. A gun for a Mandalorian.