And for another bit from Kira’s player…
Trayus Academy, Malachor V
So I apparently have someone looking to kill me. That much I learned from my Master. Judging from the lesson he gave, I would also say that, whoever it is, he or she is probably one of the more powerful students running around. Not a lot to go on considering the sheer number of candidates here at the Academy.
Attempting to sense who was harboring malevolent thoughts towards me was going to be a useless headache. The whole place reeked of sheer malevolence. With my underdeveloped skills and general lack of talent, trying to pick out the signal from the noise is going to be impossible. Unfortunately, the best bet was going to be asking around and see if someone was willing to part with some helpful information.
Leaving my quarters, I saw Valerie Soung leaning against the opposite wall obviously waiting for me. She certainly had been watching me during my training with her father for the last several weeks now. She pretty much has been since the day I found out her lightsaber was pink during our first sparring session. Laughing at that was probably not the smartest of moves I will admit. The sheer beating I received was not pleasant either. Is she here now to kill me? I seriously doubt my Master is the type to tell me to kill his own daughter, even if they are both Sith.
(Kira) What, so are you the one out to get me? Is this really part of your training and not mine?
(Valerie) Shut up, your skill is not at a level to be worth being a training exercise for me.
(Kira) Then why are you here? I seriously doubt you want to help me with this task.
(Valerie) Consider me intrigued after what my father said to you. I’m going to watch from a distance and see what you do.
(Kira) Fine then, have it your way.
(Valerie) I don’t need your permission to do what I want.
(Kira) Yes, I believe you proved that.
A rather blatant way to trail me, but it wasn’t like I could do anything to her given the difference in power between us. She proved that some time ago and my right arm is still sore from that experience. At least she was going to stay far enough back that she shouldn’t draw attention.
The commons area seemed like the reasonable place to start. Quite a portion of the Academy was already here eating whatever meal of the day it was now. Almost all the “students” here formed little groups around the major personalities. The hanger-ons were usually there for one of two reasons: either they didn’t have enough power to take care of themselves and hoped to prove themselves useful to someone who had, or they were waiting for the main guy to make a mistake and kill him for his place. Occasionally one group would attack another group for some silly reason.
Then there were the students that had been picked up by one of the masters for personal training. Usually the brightest or most talented students that got that dubious honor. For reasons I didn’t understand, Master Soung had chosen me. It was clear I didn’t have the raw talent or decades of training most everyone else here had. Those few with similar levels of ability as I went through the most rudimentary courses in large groups. Most of them didn’t make it very far.
There were quite a few here that were upset over my being chosen to apprentice. Some of them would probably even try something about it if they felt that Master Soung wouldn’t be upset with them. Apparently what happened to the last usurper was affording me some protection.
I didn’t ask for this.
Over in the back corner I could see the servants huddled together. It was easy to pick them out, besides the difference in clothing, they were all in more tightly packed seating arrangements. Since sitting by myself was asking for trouble, I usually sat with them. One of them asked once why I sat with them instead of the other Sith. I did get a chuckle out of him when I said he was better company than the Sith were.
(Bleus) Back again are you?
(Kira) Well, I have to eat sometime don’t I? I really don’t think there is a Force ability to keep me from having to eat.
(Cav) You’d think one of them would figure it out, given the amount of poisonings going on.
(Kira) Oh? Anyone I know this time?
(Cav) Might, let’s see I think this week we’ve had Yeltus and Grent killed by poisoning. Merco did himself in taking on Hetz. And Draver hasn’t been seen in some time.
(Kira) Hmm, can’t say any of those really shock me. Thankfully I been sailing under the radar of the competition thus far.
(Bleus) Not a bad approach, don’t hear nearly as many grumblings about you as we hear about the others. None of them would do anything to displease Master Soung either.
(Kira) So I am told.
(Arc) Best to watch yourself though. Master Soung has apparently been asking around about the other talented students lately. He may be looking for a replacement in the near future.
(Kira) Damned if I stand out and damned if I don’t. Anyone in particular he seems to have his eye on?
(Cav) Well he has been asking about Jurin for some time.
(Kira) That degenerate? He makes your average Sith look like a Jedi.
(Cav) Aye, but he does have some talent, plus he has all those years of Jedi training on you.
Jurin was another one of the Sith-wannabe Jedi running around. A true sociopath, he delighted in violence and asserting his dominance over others. You could usually tell which servants were his from the scars and bruises. The female ones didn’t usually last long either.
Sadly Cav was right, Jurin had years of experience and some talent. If Master Soung was dropping hints at being interested in apprenticing him, then Jurin would have no problem killing me for my position. Well now I had someone with a potential motive for wanting to kill me while still avoiding pissing off my Master. I just needed to confirm it. I saw my chance walk up to another table.
(Kira) Hey isn’t that girl over there one of Jurin’s new servants?
(Bleus) Aye, she is. Poor lass won’t last a month I wager.
(Kira) Want to make a wager of it?
(Cav) What you going to off Jurin? We should be taking bets on you surviving, not her in that case.
(Arc) Five meal tickets says Kira and the girl are dead inside of a week.
(Cav) I say one month at most.
(Kira) Here are five meal tickets saying the girl and I are still alive in two months.
(Bleus) Alright, Kira still alive after one month, but the girl dead before the month is out.
Meal tickets were about the only currency to be had at the Academy. There were other more specialized “currencies” running around, but nothing that had the sanctioned value the yellow slips of paper had. That was one thing I had to give to Master Soung, I never wanted for meal tickets. I made certain not to abuse the priviledge, although today seemed like a prime time to.
I got up and put away my tray and grabbed something that looked like a dessert. A quick glance around the room confirmed Jurin and his cronies weren’t currently around – although I could see Valerie watching me from across the commons. I resisted the urge to wave and draw attention to her. Satisfied, I grabbed a second dessert and went to see the new girl.
(Kira) Mind if I sit here Ms….
(Girl) Kilnes, Gab Kilnes, and I am not sure Master Jurin would like this.
I went ahead and had a seat, she didn’t exactly say no. I pushed a dessert towards her. Up close she seemed to remind me of someone, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. The name certainly didn’t ring a bell.
(Kira) Well Gab, I can say that Jurin does not appear to be here right now. Nor any of his cronies that I know of. From the Republic are you?
(Gab) Yes, from Maples out on the midrim. Sith invaded, killed my parents and took me as a slave.
(Kira) Sad, it’s a story happening rather frequently around here right now. I’m from Alderaan myself. Was captured 3 months ago during the war.
(Gab) You were a Jedi?
(Kira) No, nothing like that. I just happened to have my Force powers awaken as the ship I was on started to break up. It caught the eye of the Sith commander, and I got sent here.
(Gab) You’re lucky.
(Kira) Normally I would say not, that you don’t have to deal with the harsh training, constant backstabbing, and general unpleasantness that comes with being a Sith, but I think you may well have a harder time ahead of you than I do.
(Gab) So you’re here to take pity on me then?
(Kira) Maybe, although I would be lying if I didn’t say I had an ulterior motive in all this. I just want information that I hope you can provide is all. Hey, I will even throw this in as an added bonus.
I threw a bottle of tablets on the table that I gotten from Bleus some time ago. Apparently the servants in the kitchen had a chemist among them that was willing to make poisons on the side. The most abusive masters tended to end up dead after eating the wrong meal, although some servant or another ended up taking the blame. Most of the Sith wisely learned to not abuse the servants as much, or learned to have their meals cooked by someone else.
(Gab) I can’t poison his food. He has a trusted family member cook and taste it all before he even eats it.
Drat, there went that option. Oh well, time for the backup.
(Kira) Well, he isn’t the only one you might want to poison. From what I understand of what he does to young girls you might want to partake yourself before long.
I could see realization of what lay before her dawn on her face. For the briefest of moments it looked like she was about to cry. Amazingly she held her composure.
(Gab) Thank you but I don’t think I can do that.
(Kira) No matter, although I will point out that a half of a pill should put you into a sleepy state which you won’t remember anything for about twelve hours. Again, your choice.
(Gab) You said you wanted information?
(Kira) Yes, it has recently come to my attention that your Master may be fishing for my position. I would like to verify this before trying to do something about it.
(Gab) So you’re like the rest of them then? Out to kill those in your way and sweet talk or bribe those that might help you do it?
(Kira) Perhaps, I just view it as protecting my own hide long enough to figure a way out of here. Have to cling onto something.
My answer seemed to quiet her for a bit. Maybe mentioning hope of escape was a bad idea. She knew how hopeless her situation was and yet I was rubbing it in her face in the hopes of saving my own hide. Damn it all.
(Gab) He certainly thinks he has approval from your Master to kill you if he can. I think he is waiting for something else before he does it though.
(Kira) Oh? Any idea what that might be?
At which point the girl became sheepish and reluctant to answer anymore questions. Well, I at least confirmed Jurin was the one most likely to make an attempt. Odd though that he hadn’t already tried if he felt he already had approval from Master Soung.
I bid the girl farewell and left the commons room. I needed more information though before all the pieces fit. I got the odd feeling Master Soung wouldn’t appreciate it if I killed Jurin on a probably. I needed proof of intent to satisfy myself as well. Facing Jurin directly was a good way for me to end up dead. Oh well, this was two problems that could be worked on in parallel: how to kill Jurin, and how to get the information I needed.
The latter was the easier one. I met with Bleus later in the droid maintenance room.
(Kira) Hey Bleus I need to ask a favor.
(Bleus) No, I am not sending a droid with a bomb to solve your problem for you.
(Kira) What about a droid with a camera?
(Bleus) A camera? What, are you planning to explore the countryside from your quarters or are you hoping to get interesting vids of Valerie before you die?
(Kira) Not particularly, but I was wanting to see if I could get a good view of whatever it is Jurin gets up during his personal time.
(Bleus) Well that’s sick, I thought you were above that sort of thing being from Alderaan and all.
(Kira) It’s not like that. The guy has a clear motive and the means to kill me. Apparently in his eye Master Soung has given approval to off me. I want to know why he hasn’t already, and I have a sneaking suspicion it relates to these sick activities of his.
(Bleus) What you think he wants to have you in those things?
(Kira) I doubt it, he certainly doesn’t seem to lean that way according to all evidence.
(Bleus) Well, I can certainly see no reason to say no, especially if I say you made me do it. Sicko would probably want a copy of the video himself.
(Kira) I don’t doubt it.
Bleus quickly rigged on of the maintenance droids to pause at a certain spot in the ventilation ducts near Jurin’s quarters and record what it saw into memory. He promised to get me a copy of whatever it found in the morning. Wasn’t much more to do on that end other than to leave and wait.
Now that led to how in the galaxy did I kill a Force user with my meager skills? It wasn’t like I even had a lightsaber of my own to fight back with. Poisoning him wasn’t an option, he was too paranoid for that. Giving Gab a dagger or a knife wasn’t going to work either. I certainly didn’t have the skills to rig an explosive and take him out at range. This was going to be humiliating: I could find out who was going to kill me, how he was going to do it and still not be able to do a thing about it. I just didn’t have the skill or power.
Hmm, if I didn’t have the skill or power, what if I could get someone who did to kill Jurin for me? Alright, that would work, but how do I get someone to want to kill Jurin? And want to do it badly enough to risk annoying Master Soung? Sith were gullible and prideful, but not that stupid. I found myself brooding as I headed back to the commons.
I got back just in time to witness Valerie kill another Sith right in the middle of the room. Apparently the idiot had tried to sneak a feel, or so she was claiming. Her word against his, and he was a greasy smear on the floor. What really scared me about her is it wasn’t like she flew into a rage during this sort of thing. She just sort of loses all emotions as she decides it is your time to die now. Despite the fact you would expect her to be furious, she approaches the kill with a calm not unlike an assassin droid. I couldn’t even recognize who the victim was this time.
She certainly could kill Jurin, but manipulating her to do anything I want was going to be nigh impossible. Wishful thinking anyway. Was there anyone else I could manipulate into doing it? The servants I could probably talk into trying something, but were the least likely to succeed. The instructors were as likely to kill me as to inform Jurin of my request for help. The other students would see it as a sign of weakness if I asked for help and would try to kill me instead.
No, best bet was to make someone think it was their idea to kill Jurin and for reasons completely unrelated to me.
Valerie was standing over her fresh kill and was giving me a wicked grin. I don’t know if she was trying to display that she could take care of her own problems to me, or was implying I was next or what. I really didn’t feel like asking. I left the commotion that was brewing as an instructor found his star pupil a stain on the floor and headed back to the room Master Soung trained me in.
Master Soung was gone, probably off doing something or other that didn’t concern me in the slightest. That left me in the training room alone then. I went into my regular exercises of Force acrobatics, telekinetics, and meditations. It was about the time I was trying the one hand stand that a voice called out and I lost my concentration.
(Valerie) Practicing in the vain hope you would improve enough to kill your target in time?
(Kira) Well I got a pretty good idea who it might be. I should be certain come morning. Still working on the method though.
(Valerie) Aww, don’t have the power to do it yourself then? Trying to think of some clever way to off him?
(Kira) Perhaps, I am open to any brilliant suggestions you might have though. I will compare it against what I have and decide how to proceed.
(Valerie) Well if you tell me who it is you need killed, I might do it for you then.
Nothing Valerie did was for free. Some price was expected for such a large favor and I had little to offer. Well, might as well get her to state what she wants in exchange for it.
(Kira) And why would you waste your time on such a small fry?
(Valerie) Who? You or him?
(Kira) Does it really matter? You clearly want something in exchange for it and I would like to know what.
(Valerie) Heh, not one to beat about the bush are you? At least you didn’t immediately start begging me.
(Kira) I reserve the option for that towards the end of the week.
That at least made her laugh. That usually was a good sign.
(Valerie) Cute. Alright, I think my father made a mistake in choosing you as his apprentice. He has begun to regret it and is now looking into getting another.
(Kira) Tell me something half the school doesn’t already believe.
(Valerie) Watch it Keldav, I may not be as strong as my father yet, but I am plenty strong enough to kill you.
(Kira) You already proved that and I have acknowledged it repeatedly since then. Doesn’t mean I am going to start kissing your feet if that is what you want of me.
(Valerie) Well you have spirit , I give you that. I want you to quietly step down as apprentice and allow someone else to take the position. I am even willing to push to have you enrolled in one of the advanced classes.
Ah, she was wanting to avoid the scandel of having it look like her father chose poorly. If I stepped down, that placed the failure on my head and not his. The ruse to put me into an advanced class was likely to last until everyone forgot about me and I could be made to quietly disappear. It would delay my death sentence for a few months that way. Sadly my best bet of surviving the next six months meant sticking with Master Soung and passing this test. Actually having a lightsaber of my own would do immense things for my social status and chances of survival.
(Kira) Hmm, thanks but no thanks. While I appreciate the offer, I do believe I have more I could learn here with your father than with one of the common instructors.
Counterbalance one rejection with a backhanded praise of her father, check.
(Valerie) So you still think you can win this one then? Well, you aren’t the only one to think so. I have my doubts however. I would recommend you spend more time planning or training than wasting your time sympathizing with servant girls.
With that she turned and left. So she thought that was purely about sympathy? Valerie could stand to spend a year in high school to learn proper politics. Although I doubt she could last a day without killing someone. It was an amusing thought that brought a smile to my face.
Valerie said someone else thought I could win this. Who in the Academy would think that? I was fairly certain I was going to die soon and I had insider knowledge on the whole affair. Who would be so naive to believe I could pull such a thing off? It had to be someone fairly important for Valerie to even bother mentioning it.
Wait, Valerie didn’t know it was Jurin wanting to kill me. Maybe it really was possible to get her to kill Jurin. All it was going to take was for a couple of assumptions to prove true come morning and I might be able to get Valerie to do all my work for me without even realizing it. It would be worth the beating just to see the realization dawn on her face at what happened.
I went back to my training regimen for rest of the evening before calling it a night and heading back to my quarters.