Authors Note: To alleviate some confusion...and to warn you...
The story line I am taking this from, if you haven't played it and do not know, is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. A game for the X-Box or PC. The role of Lillian is actually the character you control. Now, if you want to play the game, I would do so, as this will follow the story line, AS spoilers will occur...
If you don't want to bother playing the game, then go ahead and keep reading...man this chapter was tedious...
Walking across the floating plaza on the upper city of Taris, Jack found it strange that nobody was stopping them – a well known Republic Soldier and two people carrying swords, even if his was under his jacket, should cause pause for comment.
Walking across the floating plaza on the upper city of Taris, Jack found it strange that nobody was stopping them – a well known Republic Soldier and two people carrying swords, even if his was under his jacket, should cause pause for comment. The Sith troops that walked around holding their blasters didn't even stop them. Nothing like England. Then something struck his mind, the aliens before, he had understood them. Perhaps the rift left some trace in his mind of the speech. Hopefully the effect wouldn't wear off while he was here, or else it would be like talking to the Weevils again.
They were moving in a straight line from the apartments, towards the cantina. Dark, noisy, nobody would look for them in there. The Captain left the small group to mingle, and slipped into a stool at the bar. Lillian was intelligent; she would know who to ask, and how to go about it. Carth, he could watch her.
Turning to face the tender, he found himself looking at a man with medium length brown hair, slicked back and looking still wet, his face was completed with a reddish goatee, and he wore a black coat, not unlike Jack's own, but a curved sword was at his side, hidden among the folds. Before Jack could even open his mouth to order, a shot glass was slipped across the table; it looked familiar.
"Drink up Captain. You have a long journey ahead of you. Retribution will be coming, and your physician can't save you this time. Besides, this will be your final taste of home for a while."
Jack picked up the shot glass and sniffed it, before throwing it back. Scotch. Good, old fashioned Scotch. "How?" He looked up, but the man was gone, as if he had never been there.
Shaking off the troubled feeling, the man dodged through the crowds, reaching the Pilot and Scoundrel. "Find anything?"
Lillian smiled, "Carth found a young Sith soldier, he tried, but I succeeded. We are now invited to a party tomorrow with the youngest recruits, most of them just off duty."
"That will provide us with a disguise to get to the under city." Carth added. "Unfortunately, we're low on credits." Just then a cheer broke out from around the walls where people were watching view screens. "What was that?"
"Deadeye Duncan lost to Gerlon Two-Fingers! AGAIN!" A citizen shouted.
"A Dueling Ring?" Jack's interest was piqued. "Sounds like a good bet. Shall we try it?"
Lillian shrugged and Carth stood there for a second, thinking. "We do need the credits." He concluded. "But who will fight?"
Lillian smiled, "Well, Carth would be well known as a Republic Soldier. That leaves me and Jack."
"Well, I can't have all the fun now, can I?" a small smile tugged at Jack's lips. "Besides, it seems nobody dies in these duels. My pistol if very good at killing."
"Let's go talk to who's in charge then." Carth quipped.
Maneuvering through the crowded cantina, they reached a nearly empty room, filled with duelers and what looked like, to Jack, a very large, bloated worm.
"I'm not a gambling man, but something tells me the Hutt is in charge." Carth muttered under his breath.
"The huge worm?"
"He would consider that a compliment." Lillian added.
Walking up the worm, it smiled; not pretty due to the slime that dripped from its lips. "Greetings Humans. I am Ajuur. Do you wish to place a bet?"
"Hello, great Ajuur." Carth started, "We do not wish to place a bet, but to enter the dueling ring."
"All three of you?"
"Just I." Lillian bowed.
"A female. You will have to start in the bottom tier. His eyes narrowed some. Do you have a name for dueling? I have one you could use…"
"I am Lillian Candella; that is good enough." Her eyes gave a cold stare that showed her pride in her identity.
Taking her aside, Jack whispered into her ear. "I think it would be best for a dueling name. The Sith could be looking for you, and the name would attract attention."
"Fine." She turned back to Ajuur. "What type of name are you thinking?"
"The Mysterious Stranger."
"Sounds good enough." Carth said, nodding.
"What do the duels entail?" Jack asked.
"She fights, nobody dies. If she wins, she gets paid, and I always get a cut of everything."
"Wait…let me get this straight. Vibro-blades and Blasters, and nobody dies?" Carth interjected.
"There are energy dampeners that prevent the most serious injuries from occurring. Not like before the Sith arrived. Now duels to the death are illegal." He seemed depressed about it.
Lillian rolled her eyes. "Pity. Let's get this on." She pulled out her blaster and checked the sight, then the battery of her vibroblade.
"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! IF YOU LOOK TO THE TARIS DUELING RING, DEADEYE DUNCAN IS AT IT AGAIN! WE HAVE AND UP AND COMING CHALLENGER TO THE GAME…THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER! HOW WILL SHE FAIR?"
Walking down into the center of the arena, Lillian met the applause – and jeers – of the audience. Duncan had entered from the opposite end of the arena, and had his blaster out.
"You ready for this?" She called across to the man.
"I won't go easy on you!" For some reason, the audience laughed at his taunt.
Drawing her blaster, she thumbed a switch and charged a shot, while a small flurry of bolts didn't even reach her, or they shoot completely across her. Pressing the trigger, her shot left the muzzle and flew completely across the area, smacking into Duncan, hitting him in the chest, knocking him to the ground. He brought his head up, and dropped it. Apparently having fainted.
"I DON'T BELIEVE IT! THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER WON! THE ROOKIE TOOK DOWN HER FIRST CHALLENGE. BUT THIS WAS DEADEYE DUNCAN. WHAT ELSE WOULD WE EXPECT?"
"Yeah, that knocked me down a few notches." Lillian muttered as the turned and went back up towards the exit of the arena. Jack and Carth were sitting next to Ajuur, discussing something. "So…"
"We managed to persuade him to give a larger cash prize. Unfortunately, you have to prove yourself more." Carth started, "Until then, you get the same as everybody else."
"Well then, I just have to keep going then. Get the next dual ready." She turned and went back to the door for the arena.
After waiting for a while for the preparations to be made, Lillian stepped back down into the arena.
"THAT'S RIGHT FOLKS! SHE'S AT IT AGAIN! THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER WILL NOW FIGHT GERLON TWO-FINGERS! NOT EVEN HIS DISFIGURING INJURY COULD KEEP HIM FROM THE RING. LET'S SEE HOW THE STRANGER CAN FAIR AGAINST THE FORMER BEST."
She reached the edge of the arena and looked across; Gerlon gave a small wave, revealing that he, indeed, had two fingers. He drew his blaster and fired before Lillian could even get hers out of the holster. A small sting jabbed her leg as the hit rang true.
"Stang. How can he hit me like that? He only has TWO FRELLING fingers!" Lillian muttered as another bolt nearly hit her in the arm. For a cripple, he shot extremely well.
Starting to duck, dodge, and roll, the scoundrel took a few more shots. Her left arm started to get numb from the energy blasts pounding into it. One chance. Dropping the pistol, she reached into her side pack, grabbing a grenade. Standing, she faked a pant, watching as Gerlon paused, then raised his blaster, charging it.
As the red bolt of energy left the muzzle, Lillian kicked her pistol and dove, forward and to the right, using the momentum to fling the grenade further. It bounded and rolled to a stop under Two-Fingers. A blinding while light sprung forth, engulfing him, the sonic grenade blinding and stunning him. It worked.
Lillian rolled to a stop, right next to her blaster; she kicked it into the air, grabbing it at the top of its arc. Moving fast, she took a precise aim, and rapidly hit her stunned opponent; bolt after bolt hit exactly, right in the chest – not as powerful as a fully charged blast, but each little one added up. The stunned Gerlon fell as the impact energy took its toll. His knees buckled, and he fell forward. Everything went silent, and a hum started as the audience realized what happened. She heard the roar of an ocean as the audience broke into applause and cheers.
"AN AMAZING DUEL! THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER HAS DONE IT…" she droned out the voice of the announcer and felt the sting of pain begin. Her leg burned from the first shot and the she felt banged up from the impact of her dives and rolls.
Walking back, trying to shake off the pain, she made it back up the ramp and grinned at her friends. Jack nodded and walked over to Ajuur and started talking to him, finally getting the cred chips.
"All right." Lillian looked about the room. "Who's next?
Another woman walked up to her, she could have been pretty, except for her face. Her blue eyes were cold, and her face stern. "You're good, but you will never beat me. I'm next, and your end."
"We'll see about that." Lillian told her. She turned back to the Hutt. "Ajuur! Set up the next duel!"
"Do you not want to rest?"
"No. Just get it ready." Turning, she stalked back down the ramp, not even feeling the pain in her leg.
"THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER HAS RISEN THROUGH THE RANKS. HER OPPONET IS COLD AT STEEL AND ICE WATER FLOWS THROUGH HER VEINS. THE ONE, THE ONLY…ICE!"
The blond woman stood across from Lillian, drawing her sword. Lillian charged out, meeting Ice in the middle of the arena, her hand on the hilt of her own blade. Ice's blade rose and was about to come down on the scoundrel's body when Lillian's sword was in position one, drawing it and covering her body at the same time. The ring sounded throughout the arena. With a flick of her wrist, Lillian moved Ice's blade out of the way, and shifted, kicking the other woman in the side – enough to knock the breath out of her, but none for massive damage.
Ice recovered and raised her sword to slice at the head, but Lillian's own blade rose and deflected it, leaving her open. Ice took that chance and preformed a roundhouse, hitting Lillian's left arm. Grunting, Lillian made a swipe at Ice, hitting her armor, but not slicing through. Every attack was deflected on both sides, openings only made enough for kicks.
Abruptly, Ice's blade lashed out and cut across her cheek. The abrupt sting stopped Lillian for a second, but then she went right back, feeling a trickle of blood start down from the cut. Ice thrust again and was deflected.
Ice smiled coldly. "You are making this harder on yourself. You could just give up and save yourself further humiliation."
"Not a chance, shutta. I'm just getting started."
"Suit yourself." Ice swung out again, and Lillian ducked under the blade. Before she could come back up, Ice kicked again, making contact with the woman's sword hand, disarming her; then kicked the dropped sword away.
Ice swung her sword low, forcing Lillian to jump over the blade, but not soon enough. The blade struck right where a blaster bolt had hit before, stinging. Now disarmed, the scoundrel had to change tactics. She started dodging the blade, kicking when she had an opening. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to block every kick that the other woman threw at her.
Taking a chance, Lillian waited for Ice to swing again. Reaching out, she grabbed the hand holding the sword and brought it over her head and twisted, making her drop the blade. Raising her elbow over the twisted arm, she brought it down, feeling it weaken under the impact, and Ice grunted. "I just returned the favor." Lillian spoke through her teeth.
Ice gavea glare and twisted against her, pulling back and punching Lillian in the face, hard and right where the cut was. Lillian's hand shot up to hold the wound and Ice stepped back, kicking her in the stomach. Snarling, Lillian spun and kicked her in the knee, feeling it give way. Dropping to the ground, she rolled and caught both of Ice's legs and twisted, taking her legs out from under her. The blonde's head smacked against the floor with a thud, and she didn't move.
Pulling herself back up, she ignored both the announcer and the audience and started for the ramp, limping. She reached it, her left arm numb; she ascended the ramp and tried to prevent from collapsing due to the exhaustion. Carth was waiting right by the door and managed to catch her right before she fell.
She awoke to the stubble covered face of Carth, her head resting in his lap, a blood soaked rag in his hand. "You okay?"
"I'm fine." She croaked. "I think I just pushed myself too far."
"Drink this." Captain Harkness came back and handed her a glass. Cold water flowed down her throat.
"Here," Carth pulled out a medpack. "I got this from one of the med droids." Lillian felt a wave of pain relievers wash through her as Carth injected her. "You just need to rest some more now. You actually don't need to fight anymore. We have enough creds for food and supplies."
"I started this. I'm going to keep going until I prove myself the best here."
Carth nodded. "I understand. Just don't push yourself so hard." He pulled out dermal regenerator and waved it over the wound. It burned first as the skin stitched itself back together, but the wound was healed without a trace of scaring.
"But I must add." Jack interjected. "That was the best sword fight I have ever seen. I have never seen moves like that." His smile beamed at her again. "And trust me. I have seen plenty of moves in my time. Just not in a duel." A wink. What was with this man?
Sighing, Lillian rested her head, feeling pain melt away and her skin heal. She heard steps approaching. "Please…not autoprints." She muttered.
The person laughed. "No, I'm just coming over to talk. I'm Marl, who you would be fighting next. I must say, you're good. Probably the best I have seen in a long time. Ice has fought me a few times, but I have never beaten her so completely."
"And?" Lillian just wanted to close her eyes.
"Don't give up. If you keep going, you have just me and Twitch. Word of warning – he's crazy…for a Rodian."
"Thanks. We'll keep that in mind." Jack replied. Rodian? He mouthed as Marl walked away.
"Strange species. Mostly bounty hunters, they strive for battle and violence. Probably one of the most widespread species in the galaxy. You see them everywhere." Carth informed him.
"And they smell like a Bantha's backside." Lillian muttered. "But I'll take care of Twitchy later." She started to sit up and fell backwards. "Onasi. Help me." Carth nodded and stood with her.
"Giving up yet?" the slimy bloated worm asked.
"No Ajuur. Just get those credits waiting for when I get back here."
"What confidence the human has." Ajuur laughed. "We shall see how long it lasts."
"Indeed." Lillian muttered as Carth walked her to the doors. She felt like she could move more.
"You might need this." Carth handed her the sword. "Careful, I saw his weapon, it's a dual blade."
"Great." She let go of Carth's support and started down the Ramp.
"You could just shoot him."
"Where's the fun in that?" Lillian smiled and the door closed behind her. She continued walking, standing up straighter. The pain relievers and the medkit had worked. Confidently she strolled back in, with many cheers of the audience.
"AFTER NEARLY SUCUMBING TO ICE, THE STRANGER IS AFTER IT AGAIN. THIS TIME FIGHTING THE FORMER CHAMPION OF THE ARENA…MARL. HE HAS EXPERIENCE, BUT WILL HER YOUTH HELP HER?"
Marl nodded at her and saluted when she reached her place. He drew from behind him his double blade, spinning it. Cocking her head, she shrugged and drew her sword. They both ran towards the center of the arena. Before they met, Lillian drew her blaster from the holster in her off hand and charged it, blasting him in the chest, throwing him back.
"So. How was that?" she asked as he lay prostrate.
"Good. You surprised me. I think I'm ready to get out of this. I'll let you have it." Marl sat up. "Good luck." He stood and bowed to her, then turned and made his way back to his entrance. Everybody stood stunned, even the announcer didn't have a thing to say.
She raised her fist into the air and the audience broke out, both cheering and jeering. Taking the way back up to the door she found Carth waiting. "So, you shot him."
She shrugged. "It worked." Looking around, she noticed something. "Where's Jack?"
"He said he had an idea for when you got to Twitch and he would be back."
"Well. Let's get our creds." Lillian slide over to Ajuur. "Well Hutt. What now?"
"I have never seen something like that."
"But I still won. Marl forfeited."
"I suppose. Take your credits; I've never seen anything like that."
"All I have left is Twitch?"
"Is the female afraid?"
"Is the Rodian?"
"Just tell me when you're ready."
"…wait!" Jack shouted as he ran in, dodging some patrons. "I have something for you to use." He slipped something into her hand. "This may come in handy."
"Thanks." She turned back to Ajuur. "Tell the Champ I'm ready." She turned and walked through the door to the arena, ready for her last fight.
"AND NOW, FOR AN UNPRECEDENTED FIFTH BATTLE IN A ROW, THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER IS FACING THE CHAMPION. HE'S WILD, HE'S UNPREDICTABLE, HE'S BORDERLINE PSYCHOTIC! HERE'S TWITCH!"
The Rodianstood on the other side of the arena, two blasters in hand. Raising them, above his head, he fired upwards, lowering them slowly as he took aim on her. Opening her hand, Lillian gazed upon a personal energy shield. Wasting no time she turned it on and attached it to her belt.
With a quick draw, her pistol was out. Waiting for the last second, she ran to the left, making Twitch miss, as she aimed. Firing, the Rodian dived and started firing again. A blast smacked her arm, and she felt nothing. Perfect. She took aim again and fired, shot after shot, but only a few made contact. Twitch gave the Rodian version of a maniacal grin, and started shooting again, this time horizontal. Running, away from the bolts, the scoundrel turned and kept firing. She angled herself and kept shooting.
Twitch had finally focused enough to almost catch her. Directing herself, she charged right at him, not feeling each bolt hit her shield. She continued to fire, and was shocked when she felt the sting of a bolt hitting her armor. She was close enough now, switching her blaster to the other hand, she drew her sword and leapt, bringing the blade down and hooking, slicing off both barrels of his blasters. The Rodian stared at her shocked, and then fell back as the butt of her pistol contacted with the top of his skull.
"You still smell." She muttered as the holstered her pistol and sheathed the sword. Bowing to the audience she smiled and walked back to the door, basking in the glory.
"WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION OF THE TARIS DUELING RING! THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER!"
Stepping up to Ajuur, she smiled. "Credits my good Hutt, and remember – you promised a bonus." The Hutt groaned and handed over the cred chips. Smiling, she snapped her fingers, and the two men grinned, and flanked her through the cantina, patrons cheering and whistling as she walked through.
"You're good," A Mandalorian in yellow armor stepped forward as they neared the entrance, "but you would have one more opponent. Unfortunately, to the death is illegal now. Pity."
"You want to fight us?" Lillian was amused.
"I would, but I don't think Ajuur would want to risk his best fighter."
"Then how about dancing in the arena with somebody else?" Jack stepped forward.
"I…don't think so."
"Come on. I'm fun! I've never danced with someone like you." Jack smiled.
"Eh. I could use the exercise. Go talk with Ajuur. I'll be waiting." With that, he started walking towards the room the Hutt occupied.
"Jack. Are you sure you want to do this?" Lillian didn't want the man killing himself just for more credits, or her honor.
"I don't want to risk your death. Besides…I hung around for a year in a place I didn't want to be, and now I could use a good work out."
"If you're sure…I'll go talk to Ajuur." Lillian sighed and turned to walk back to the repulsive worm.
"Carth, I need help with something. I have an idea…."
Standing at the edge of the arena, Captain Jack Harkness waved at the audience. He had removed his shirt and over coat, standing there in his jeans, undershirt and holster.
"AND NOW, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A WHILE, BENDAK STARKILLER HAS ENTERED THE ARENA. VIEW YOUR SCREENS TO THE FIRST DEATH DUEL IN A LONG TIME! AND NO, IT'S NOT THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER THAT IS IN THE DUEL, BUT….CAPTAIN JAMES HARPER."
Giving a final wave, Jack looked down the arena to the…Mandalorian was what Carth called him. Apparently a nomadic warrior race. "Now for the test." Before Bendak's blaster was out Jack's revolver was drawn and he had fired three shots. He could tell Bendak was hit by three movements from impacts. Bullets couldn't be seen, unlike the blaster bolts.
Holstering the revolver, Jack smiled and charged. He took every bolt but never slowed. As he neared, he saw the Mandalorian draw his blade. It was too late to stop, his opponent only had to take aim and…
Jack gasped at the sword pierced through his stomach. Wide eyed, he kept going forward, trusting what which hasn't failed him for the past century. He swallowed hard as the blade forced itself further through, Bendak driving it in till it pierced through his back.
Gasping, Jack finally reached him. "Hey, Mando." He spoke softly, "You know how there's that spot on your back you can never reach?"
"Strange last words."
"Not with what Carth told me." Taking something from his pocket, Jack reached around and stuck a glowing red sphere on his back. Yanking the sword from the other man's hand, Jack jumped back, still impaled, and growing weak. "I hope you like plasma."
If the helmet was off, Jack was pretty sure he would have seen the Mando wide eyed as he reached around, clawing at his back. "Boomies." Jack said with a smile. Bendak looked up and an explosion of fire and plasma consumed him; the corpse stood there, and then fell, showing his back had a huge gouge in it. Jack shook his head and grabbed the fallen blaster.
Walking back to the entrance, Jack held onto the hilt and pushed out, feeling it slide through his gut again. He had to stay standing. Focusing on his task, he didn't even hear the announcer. The sword was finally out, and Jack felt his eyes roll back in his head as he heard it clatter on the floor. His knees struck the ground, and Jack fell. Closing his eyelids, he rolled over and breathed. He could feel the blood pooling around him. It would only take a second. The Captain felt as his airways constricted and he took a last shuttering breath.
It was the same as it (almost) always was: the deep shuddering inhale of breath and feeling the muscles tighten; dampness of blood soaking through his clothes; the feeling of life entering his body again. Sitting up, Jack looked about, the entire audience was dumbstruck.
"I…I…I CAN'T BELIEVE IT! HE'S ALIVE! HE'S KRIFFING ALIVE! CAPTAIN JAMES HARPER HAS SURVIED. SURLY THIS WILL BE A TALE TO TELL YOUR GRANDCHILDREN."
Grimacing, Jack rolled over and started back towards the entrance. The door opened and he felt something bound into him. He looked down to see the brown ponytail of Lillian. "How did that happened?" she asked, she was breathing heavy as if she was crying.
"I'll explain later. One of my friends had the same reaction when she first saw it happen." He felt a sharp pain thinking about his team. He still needed to get back to them.
Next thing he knew, the woman smacked his arm, and kept hitting him. "Don't…do…that…again." She scolded with each hit.
"That was spectacular. I didn't expect the sword, but the plasma grenade worked like a charm." Carth stepped over to them, holding Jack's coat and shirt, his solider disposition kept him stoic, but his voice told Jack the emotion was down there.
"That's for the help. Now let's get those credits."
Walking back into the open air, the sun was setting over the horizon of the huge city. They had spent the entire day in there. But, Lillian mused, our pockets are full of credits, and we hold the hearts of the people. Nothing is better than that.They all walked, together, a team, back to the apartment. Tomorrow they could acquire the armor, buy more supplies, and then they can continue their quest to save the Jedi.