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Old 09-01-2010, 12:54 AM   #332
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Cargo Hold, Millennial

There were a few things that passed quickly through Visas' mind when Juhani mentioned "disturbing dreams". Either way, she was certain this was not a conversation to continue here in the cargo hold.

"Dreams," she said. She caught Juhani's elbow gently and gestured out from the cargo hold. As they walked away, she asked softly, "Dreams? Or visions?"

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

Some Random Planet

The Apostle Pauel had failed to do any kind of planning for his departure from Nar Shadda. As a result, his ship had all but run out of fuel, forcing Dominic and Arai to make a fuel stop on an essentially unknown planet en route. As Arai flew the ship down into the planet's atmosphere, she stared curiously at the massive metal station under construction in orbit. Then, she turned her attention to the spaceport.

Once they were landed, she turned to Dom. "Why don't you make sure I didn't ruin the mechanics of this baby too badly in our insanely mad dash away from Nar Shaddaa? I'll go see about refueling."

Dominic nodded as he stood up from the seat beside her, stretching his arms and neck out before heading for the corridor. "Let me know what the cost comes out to be." he said. "If there aren't any replacement parts needed, I'll split it with you."

Arai nodded. "Deal." She rose and followed him down the corridor. About ten steps later, the corridor branched off and the two friends parted ways. In seconds, Arai was at the boarding ramp. She keyed it open and moved out into the open air. Less than a second later, she was practically assaulted by the dock attendant.

"Heyyyyyyy!" he shouted, far too enthusiastic for Arai's tastes. "Welcome to the tail end of nowhere!"

Arai was not impressed. "Is that what your planet is called?"

He laughed uproariously, as though it was the funniest thing he'd heard in his entire life. Belatedly, Arai feared it may have been.

"I take it you're here for the mining," he said once he'd finally managed to cool off. It took him a while and Arai felt almost bad she had to correct him.

"No, we're just here to refuel," she said.

"Mmmm," he mumbled. It was the first time she'd seen him something less than overjoyed. But his perky attitude soon returned. "No problem! We'll get you all wired up an' ready to go! Five thousand credits, please."

"Have I gone deaf?" Arai asked, blinking. "Five thousand?"

"We sell fuel at a flat rate based on ship size," he answered cheerily. "For your ship, it's five hundred credits. Then there's the docking fee of-"

"Docking fee?" Arai interrupted. "We're only here as long as it takes you to fill up our tanks. Unless your fuel pumps are impossibly slow, we won't need a docking permit."

"This is a dock," the man retorted. "You're in it. Docking fee, forty-five hundred credits."

"We're only here for fuel," Arai protested.

The man chuckled. "Should'a gone through the orbital fuel stop, then."

Exasperated, Arai demanded, "Where in orbit?"

He grinned in reply. "Oh, that's right. It's unfinished, but that's hardly our problem down here, now is it?"

"It's not mine either," Arai answered sharply. "I will not pay for a docking permit I'll be using not more than ten minutes."

The man's grin widened. "Look, if it's a matter of credits, there are alternative methods of payment. Jewelery, weapons, artifacts... ship parts you can afford to lose."

Arai wrinkled her nose. "It's not-"

"Or perhaps... something a little more personal?" he interrupted, wiggling his eyebrows. "Gets pretty lonely out here, and the miners aren't much to look at, let alone..."

"That's quite enough!" Arai cut in hurriedly. "No personal favors, no trinkets, no credits! I will not pay for something I'm not using."

"Come on, beautiful." There went his wiggling eyebrows again. "Just 'cuz it's the tail end of nowhere, it don't mean I ain't got a place-"

"Which you share with your mother," Arai countered sharply.

The man grinned. "Ain't nothin' wrong with Mama. She can't hear too well anymore anyway. Not since the bomb went off in her ear. She won't interrupt."

Arai's eyes narrowed. "I. Said. No."

The firmer tone didn't get through the moron's thick head. "You'll say yes. I ain't never heard a no that-"

Wordlessly, Arai raised her right hand and formed a loose grip in midair. The effect was chilling; the dock attendant's voice abruptly gave out, his eyes bugged, and he clawed at his neck as though trying to get at an invisible grip. Indeed, that's exactly what he was doing.

"You've heard it now," Arai said coldly. "When I say "no", I mean it and I do not waver from it. Fool! Added pressure only made your consequence that much worse."

Dom was in the midst of stripping a wire end to replace one that had been fried in the sudden surge of power to the engine when something... made him stop. It wasn't a sound or something that he saw, just a feeling... a feeling he hadn't know for a very long time. And it scared him.

He dropped his tools immediately and rolled himself out from under the open panel, scrambling to his feet. His heart was in his throat; all he could think of was that something had happened to Arai. A Republic soldier, a bounty hunter, God forbid, one of the Sith remnants...

But no. Upon reaching the ship's open loading dock, he found that Arai wasn't the victim of the dark energy - but the source of it.

"Raia, no!"

Arai's eyes never left the choking dock attendant. "Stay out of this, Dom," she said sharply. "He went too far."

"You're the one going too far!" he answered, grabbing at her shoulder and whipping her around. "Let. Him. Go."

If nothing else, the force of Dom's action distracted Arai just enough that she released the dock attendant. Her eyes still full of anger, she turned her attention to Dom, lashing her right hand out at his cheek. Then she raised her hand, as if intending to do to Dom what she had done to the dock attendant.

He hadn't been ready for it - not that there was a way for him to dodge it when she was so close anyway. The blow caught him hard across the face, and he blinked rapidly, stunned momentarily by the blow.

It wasn't until she began to raise her hand and he felt the dark energy gathering again that he recovered his motor functions. He could feel something tightening around his throat, and he threw his right arm up to press palm-to-palm with hers. The tattoo in his hand burned as the pressure at his neck relaxed. "Damn it, Blondie!" He cried, grabbing her wrist with his other hand. "Don't do this to me again!"

He used the nickname only Dom could get away with. That combined with the ostanovium tattoo canceling her attack was enough to jolt Arai out of the darkness. She took a step back, rage quickly replaced with horror. She felt weak and she bent almost double, bracing her hands against her knees. Her eyes flooded with tears she could not stop.

"Are you still here?" she asked softly. "Hasn't our time back together proved to you the Jedi were right? I'm beyond saving, Tink. Why do you stay?"

He sighed and, with one hand on her upper arm and one hand on her jaw, he lifted her back to a standing position... so that he could kiss her, quite roughly.

"No one," he told her sharply, lowly, "Is beyond saving."

Arai took a step back in astonishment, blinking several times, opening and shutting her mouth at least three times. Then, without a word, she grabbed his neck and kissed him back. Pulling apart from that, she said softly, "Now that we've got that straightened out..."

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

Once they had gotten that straightened out, Arai went back to the ship, leaving Dom to sort out their fuel. Due to Arai's episode, the dock attendant had fled the scene. Free fuel, Arai thought ruefully. But at what cost? How many times had she tried to kill Dom now? The fact that the attempts were beginning to blur scared her. How many more times could she get away with this before she hurt him seriously?

They were in hyperspace now and Arai had withdrawn to the room. Before her was a small cloth bag. In her mind's eye, she was back at Geeda's, watching Pauel reach into the same bag and pull out an ostanovium inhaler. Slowly, her hands shaking, she put one hand in the bag. The cool metal of the remaining inhalers almost made her shiver, but she forced herself to pick one up nonetheless.

Did she dare use it? Her questions had not been answered even remotely to her satisfaction, but she could not risk losing herself again. She raised the inhaler to eye level and stared at it, her hand wavering.

"Seventy-two hours," she said softly. That's how long Pauel had said it would last. And then what? The effect would simply go away? If only! Members of the Found were dying and Arai had no way of knowing if, by taking this inhaler, she was following in their footsteps. She had to know more...

Of course, they were headed to Khristoff... whoever he turned out to be.

Squeezing her eyes tightly shut, Arai swiftly brought the inhaler to her lips and pressed the button before she could change her mind. The gas was expelled into her mouth and she breathed in deeply, allowing the gas to enter her lungs. The sensation was dizzying at first, but that sensation quickly subsided.

Pauel was right. She had drastically overacted the effect of loosing Force-sensitivity. The feeling was much like he'd described, the gradual emptying feeling. She waited for even that feeling to subside and suddenly she was afraid. Without her connection to the Force, she felt so very small, stuck within her own skin. Unsettled, she crawled up onto the bed and curled up in a corner, hoping this feeling too would pass.

Mom tells me I need brain food... but if writing ain't that, I don't know what is!

My work in progress:
Hidden Histories: The Galaxy Hacker

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