|Khatta "Cataclysmic" Kels'mek-Prosstang|
43 BBY, Negat Cube City, Mandalore
|Chronological and political information|
Rise Of The Empire, Rebellion, New Republic
Hand'alora Prosstang (darting)
Nor'atine Prosstang (darting)
Ferrigo Prosstang (biological father) Hand'alora Prosstang (half-sister) Nor'atine Prosstang (half-sister) Alexzandria Grayson-Prosstang (step mother)
The Prosstang Posse
Born Khatta Kels'mek in 43 BBY on Mandalore in Negat Cube City, near Sundari to a widowed mother, Relia Kels'mek. Several years after her mother's death, she found the man she believed could tell her about her father, Tyro Kels'mek. He was one of her supposed father's best friends, and a soldier for Jaster Mereel. He was Ferrigo Prosstang.
- – Khatta Kels'mek, to .. .
- "Your father died in a war...in a faraway place..."
- – Khatta's mother, to Khatta on her fourth birthday.
Khatta Kels'mek was born late 43 BBY in Negat Cube City, to Relia Kels'mek. Her mother had many other children by various men in Negat, after Khatta's father died in battle of Galidraan. Khatta particularly worked well with her 7 year younger sister, Aneilka Kels'mek. Khatta would go on to receieve the much hated nickname "Cataclysmic" , for her short temper and explosive retirbution she exacted after losing a game. A few times severly hurting several of her vode when she lost a game of mesh'georya.
Mother Dies...the Journey Begins
- "Where are you heading to, miss?"
"Nowhere, and I do not need someone hanging about me watching my every step."
- – Mandalorian grifter asking Khatta if she wanted company on her long walk to the forested regions.
Finding her mother's body FEB. 26 BBY
Khatta Kels'mek was born late 43 BBY in Negat Cube City, to Relia Kels'mek. Her mother had many other children by various men in Negat, after Khatta's father died in battle of Galidraan. Khatta particularly worked well with her 7 year younger sister, Aneilka Kels'mek. Khatta would go on to receieve the much hated nickname "Cataclysmic" , for her short temper and explosive retirbution she exacted after losing a game. A few times severly hurting several of her vode when she lost a game of mesh'georya.
Khatta was returning from dropping Anielka at her half brothers place in Negat. She never left her mother for very long at any one time. Once she entered the littered hallway of her mothers apartment floor she noticed the door was standing ajar. "Fier'fek buir... What did you get yourself into this time?" she sighed.
Khatta pulled her blaster out and pushed the door open slowly as she stood to the side and entered with caution. The apartment was empty. Khatta put her blaster away, and then looked at the kitchen floor. Her heart stopped and her eyes immediately filled with tears at what she saw. Her mother's body, laying in a heap on the floor, her bucket on the counter while the rest of her beskar'gam was on her body. Khatta knelt beside her mother, and cradeled her head in her lap and sobbed. Her tears falling on her mother's face which even in death showed her affliction. She held on to the body heaving sobs for about three minutes before letting go and gasping for air. She leaned her head back, her tears falling steadily. Her hand brushed across an object lodged in her mother's neck, she pulled it out and stared at it, her jaw slacking as she gazed through her tears at it. She gripped it and screamed "FIER'FEK!!"
She released her tight grip on the dart and put it in her pocket slowly. She removed her mother's 'gam from her body and layed a sheet over her body. She held her mother's helmet and bowed her head over the body. A moment of silence taken she packed her 'gam up in a duffle bag along with a few other things she would need. Leaving her mother's apartment she placed a call to the police unit there. Before they could get her name, she hung up leaving the line dead and she took off to an old abandoned warehouse building where she and her vode used to play as small children.
Two weeks went by of Khatta squatting in the warehouse, she had been going to Glassed, a bar not far from Khatta's mother's old apartment. She remembered from the old Red Rocket holo-vids she used to watch as a kid, Kal Skirata was a good friend of her mother. Khatta walked up to the bar counter of Glassed and sat down, several people stared at her, she could feel their eyes on her.
"Vod, tihaar if ya dont mind." Khatta said softly, as the bartender approached her. He seemed gruff and not happy, but complied. When he brought her drink, she asked "So... Have you kept an eye out for Kal like I asked you last week?"
He seemed to hesitate before answering her, "No, and don't ask that again." He glanced over Khatta's head at the back corner near the door.
Khatta growled softly while drinking her tihaar. After drinking most of it and paying her credit chip she got up and walked out slowly. She meandered through the streets of Negat, taking the long way back to the warehouse she called home. Khatta turned the corner to the small back entrance door and looked over shoulder before entering. Her mind was on Kal, as she kept going over and over the holo videos she had. For several hours past dark she watched and noted different things in them till she finally got fed up with nothing new to work off.
Khatta pushed back her seat and turned slightly to stare out of the broken window above where she slept in the old office space. The walls were covered in grafitti and had blaster marks in the duracrete, she sighed and layed down on her make shift bed. through the night she tossed and turned plauged with nightmares. She sat up and wiped her hand over her face, her body was in a cold sweat. Looking over, she noticed the mess she had made the day before while watching the holo vids. She shook off her dreams and got up to clean her mess. It was four a.m. much earlier than she normally got up, but Khatta decided not to go back to bed.
She exited the office, and looked down at the end of the warehouse. There was a dark figure standing there slightly back lit from the light pouring in from an outside street light. Khatta blinked and looked away then back and it was gone. She held her mother's spiced ciggarillo case in her hand as she walked slowly to the exit door beside the office. The door slid closed after she stepped through it. Khatta popped open the case and put one between her lips while she felt for her lighter. There wasn't much going on at four in the morning on her block, surprisingly. She flipped the lighter on and touched it to the end of the smoking stick and took a long puff before exhaling the smoke. Sitting down she leasurly waited about ten minutes before flicking the bud and heading back to the office inside the warehouse.
Her nerves seemed calmer until she was about to enter the doorway to the office. A figure taller than she was, and in gold beskar'gam stood at the desk with its back to her. Light from the dirty broken window showed filled the office as the night sky faded. The armor looked so familiar, it took her a moment to put it together. This was Kal Skirata, he had found her instead of her finding him. Her breathing quickened, she wondered if he had heard about her mother yet. While she stood there quietly Kal had turned and leaned up on the desk, his t-visor looking right at her. "Mind telling me what you're doing with Relia Vu'udrel's beskar'gam?"
Khatta blinked a few times and crossed her arms she didnt say anything. Kal stepped closer "Answer me, kid."
Her hand had found its way to her blaster pistol on her hip, "I don't know what to tell you, Kal." Khatta stood in the doorway as dim light filled the office, there was a loud noise outside which got both Khatta and Kal's attention. She took an opportunity and closed the small distance between the two of them. She sunk her elbow into his gut plate which had no effect on him. Kal caught her in his arms, and grabbed her pistol.
Khatta growled and struggled to get free. Kal dropped her to the floor and stepped back as she got back up. She spun around and kicked her right heel up towards his head, he caught her foot and jerked her forward and let go. Khatta fell to her left knee, she tried a foot sweep which was easily avoided by Kal. He shook his head when she got back up threw a left hook at his jaw which he just barely avoided and caught her arm. He twisted her arm around behind her back.
"Haar'chak dala, udesii." Kal said as Khatta struggled again. He pinned her down to the floor, her arms above her head. He gasped when he got a clear look at her features. "You...look like Relia."
Settling Scores and Being Wanted
With the images of my Aniel'ka in tears still fresh in my mind when I turned back around putting my helmet on that belonged to my mother, my clan symbol over the entire face of it, I walked quickly to collect from a group that owed me money that always hung out at the bar. I had to navigate the filthy streets of early morning city scum that hang about preying on unsuspecting people. This of course didn't bother me much, I could run with the worst of them. They all knew I could kick their shebse if they tried something stupid. I felt myself being watched the entire way to the shady bar on the worst side of lower end Negat there could ever be spawned out of filth and scum. When I reached the bar it was mid-day. It was swarming with random patrons who enjoyed starting the night off early, and loved starting trouble.
I walked in and stopped just inside the door scanning the crowd, which was fairly small for that time of day. I stood there my helmet still on with several people staring up from their mugs and shot glasses, some of them knowing exactly who I was with out having to take my helmet off. Those select few looked away quickly before I noticed them, but of course it was to late for them to escape detection. I walked in slowly toward the counter, being in my twenties, I drew some attention with my height and body figure. Only those who were regular patrons of the bar knew how much of a wild cat I was when I wanted my business done. When I approached one end of the bar, finally I removed my helmet and sat it down beside me, the symbol of my clan painted on the helmet facing the rest of the bar. When I sat down, I propped my head on my hand and ordered my drink in the softest, sweetest voice I could get out. I told the barkeep my mother just died. He noted my recent circumstances, nodded and got my drink quickly, setting it down in front of me and smiling sweetly. I just returned his smile with a sort of grim glare. I had my feet propped up on the bottom of the counter while I sat looking down the bar every so often while I waited for my targets to come in to kick off their nights.
I didn't have to wait to long on them to get there. Shortly after I got my drink and settled in, a group of loud patrons came in and among them was my first and main target for payment, A'denn Kadestoi. I had pulled a job or two a year or so back with him, and with his group of scum buddies. They double crossed me, and left me to rot so to speak. But... unlucky for them I survived and I had waited patiently for my time to reappear and get what was rightfully mine. I turned around on my bar stool and spotted him right off the bat. He was sitting at a table with his friends, in the corner over on the other side of the bar.
I had decided to wait until he had had a couple drinks in him, before going over to have a nice little chat with him. Acting like I was about to leave the bar room, I stood up, putting on my helmet and leaving the cash on the bar for what I had drank and what I was possibly about to break. The people I had been sitting by watched as I walked away, enjoying the view they saw, but as soon as I got near the table where my target sat they looked away. When I approached the table I removed my helmet, and pulled up my own seat and propped my feet up on the table in front of one of his buddies. I was met with odd stares and some glares as well, I paid no attention to them at all. A'denn sat across from me at the table, and when he looked to see who had crashed his party, he turned white as a ghost. I smiled grimly, and looked him right in the eye and said "So, ner vod, how ya been? Haven't seen you in so long I was beginning to think you were dead. Or that there was a list of bounties put on your head."
A'denn just sat there staring at me. Then his face turned back to normal coloring, and he relaxed back in his seat with a quick glance to the entrance before returning words. "Oh I could ask you the exact same thing, but then again, who really gives an osik about it all. A round of drinks on me!"
I shook my head and stood up looking at him severely and spoke. "No. I came here for one thing, and it wasn't ale. I want the money from that job that you double crossed me on." I tapped the table with my finger tips while I stared him in the eye.
He grinned at me. "Well well... what makes you say I still have your money?"
I stared him down and crossed my arms then my face went calm, and I shrugged. "I guess you are right A'denn. You never knew how to keep yourself employed. You always mooched off of little ol' me. You are right. How am I supposed to get money you don't have, hmm?" While he was thinking my words over I fiddled with my gauntlet some, and sat back down across from him, he motioned his buddies to clear out to another table.
I conversed with him a little while, slowly pushing him using persuasion to hand over the funds he had of mine. After a little while he looked at me and said, "How is Rel'ia? Haven't seen her since.....oh, about two years back?"
My shoulders dropped a little and he knew he had hit a raw nerve with his question by the way my lip quivered. I stood up again and said, "Alright this is getting nowhere. Either you pay up or I take it from you. I have places to go and people to see, and I don't feel like wasting anymore time here in this back water town."
He stood as well, and stared at me. "I already told you, I don't have your money, Khatta."
I grinned and pointed my left gauntlet at him. My face went straight and his look of surprise was priceless. "So you expect me to cave just like that?" He snapped his fingers together. "I'm not a soft person, Khatta."
I turned to one of his buddies, my gauntlet firing, sending one of my darts into his chest, an arc of electricity coursing through his body at point blank range sent him into violent convulsions. A'denn stepped back about to pull his blaster out, I turned back to him, rotating my wrist with a quick snapping movement to reload the chamber of my dart blaster. "So, you want to rethink your words now, di'kut? It would seem you don't have much of a choice." He had his hand on his blaster, but pulled it away and sat down slowly while I kept my gauntlet trained on him. He took out a bag and tossed it at me, which I caught it with ease, grinning. I nodded to him. "A'denn, it has never been a pleasure doing business with you," as I put the bag in my cargo pocket. "Until now." I grabbed my helmet, and saw out of the corners of my eyes that his buddies decided they would try to stop me. One of his buddies came from behind to grab me, I heard him coming, and I moved swiftly to the side, my elbow whipped back to catch his cheek bone, and my fist landing square to his jaw while he was still reeling from my elbow. The other two left standing came at me one at a time. When the first one grabbed my throat, I kicked his knee out of place and darted him with one of my sleeping darts...that would earn me a measure of infamy for their effectiveness. I laughed a little to myself when I thought of how bad he was going to feel when he woke up. The last one looked around seeing his buddies laying unconscious or hurt badly and he turned yellow and ran off out of the bar.
I nodded to the barkeep and grabbed A'denn's shoulder on my way out and said quietly to him, "Ret'urcye mhi." I got to the door and stopped my blood ran cold, I looked over at the bounty board I felt myself not able to breathe as I read what the words said under my image "WANTED: FOR THE DEATH OF REL'IA KELS'MEK, ALIVE 20,000" My hands shook as I stood there and thinking back to the dart I found and kept to myself at my mothers death place, I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. I took off running for the edge of town. A'denn had gotten up and looked at the bounty board and grinned evilly and just followed behind me slowly knowing exactly where I was going in such a hurry. While I ran my thoughts went thru my mind so quick it made me dizzy on several occasions and I ran into random people, I didn't even stop to apologize while they screamed curses at me and shook their fists angrily at me.
When I reached the edge of town I stopped and leaned on the tree panting for air. I heard the tell-tale sound of a jet pack shutting off and the thud of someone landing hard on their beskar'gam boots. Whirling around fast, my heart almost stopped. It was A'denn. He had followed me, no doubt, to collect the bounty. He held his blaster pistol in his hand, his arm bent up where the barrel scratched his head as he moved his arm up and down. His words were accusing as he spoke "So...my dear Khatta, tell me, what kind of person kills their only parent and then collects from an old friend and tries to leave town so quickly after her mothers death? Wouldn't you say that is the marks of a guilty person?" His face went completely blank as he stared at me.
I felt myself getting light headed and thought No no no no not right now any time but now! DONT PASS OUT DONT PASS OUT! YOU DO AND YOU ARE DEAD! YOU HEAR ME DEAD! GET YOUR SHEBSE IN GEAR AND DO SOMETHING! I suddenly twisted my wrist locking a knock out dart in the chamber of my gauntlet and fired it into his leg, hitting his artery. It worked a few moments after it hit. He didn't even have time to get out one word before he hit the ground. I took this as my chance, and I dragged him to the tree I had been propped up on, and turned his limp and heavy body to face the city. I took out one of my special memory erasing darts, and stabbed it into his neck. I had come up with that formula when working with an old Mando named Yoma Tre'vhek. He was one of several serious barves I had no interest in working with again. Word around on him was that he survived a bounty collected from a Hutt years ago, and that Hutt was still trying to get someone to put him on a shelf. For a moment, I even considered whether that old bear of a man might have been responsible for taking out my mother. I shook my head, clearing my mind and putting both darts I had used into one of my belt pouches. Taking my stashed backpack out of its hiding spot inside the tree, I removed my helmet took one last quick look at the city and took off north towards the Prosstang Region.
I kept moving through the night and didn't stop until I was half way to the outskirts of Prosstang Region. The trees had been gathering more densely, and seemed to be, I don't know...healthier than the ones closer to Negat. I finally stopped for rest, almost falling down on the side of the trail because the entire time of me moving was fast walking, or running when I had overhead cover. It was the dead of night by this point I saw a small rock outcropping and I got up weary and went to hide there for the night until I was rested enough to continue. The next morning I awoke with the same sick feeling I felt the day before when I first saw the bounty board. All these years of helping my clans elders on their hare-brained schemes, and this... of all things is how they repay me. A bounty.. for a murder I didn't commit. I just had to find Ferrigo Prosstang.. he would be able to help, possibly. He knew my dad. Mom said he was my dad's best friend.
I sat up pulling my helmet off my head feeling the tug of my long braid fall down my shoulder. I sighed deeply grabbed the braid half way to my neck and closed my eyes slowly. I let go of it a moment tapped a button on my left gauntlet and my vibro knife came out slowly. Taking the braid again I sighed once more and cut my long hair up to my shoulder. Feeling the limp, heavy braid in my hand I shed a few tears thinking back to what I had just lost in Negat. I dropped my severed hair at my side and took my gauntlets off my hands and put them down beside me pulling my clothes out of my pack. Changing quickly so I would not draw any attention to myself, lucky for me I thought ahead for times like these. I reached back in my pack pulling out a pair of scissors, I cut the burned ends off an inch or two higher than the burn was where my hair only just swept at my shoulder. Also trimming my bangs up they swept over my forehead. I shoved the scissors back in my pack. Grabbing my gauntlet I piled my cut off hair up and burned it. Making sure nothing was left but ashes. I quickly packed up my beskar'gam.
I looked out from my hiding spot to make sure no one was coming from either direction, and I quickly got on the trail with my hand held holo-map showing me where and how far Prosstang Region was from me. A certain village caught my eye, small and secluded, and would be easily looked over for a bounty on the run from a clan out for blood. Perfect.. it will give me long enough to get to know the towns people, and find out some about this man my mother told me to find... I set out in right direction walking quickly, every step I took, I could feel my helmet moving against my back, and I felt a closeness to my mother who was not with me, for my armor had been hers when she was alive.
Rhell'cyok, the small village I set my sights on, was just in view ahead of me when something came out of the bushes towards me in a stampede of sorts. I jumped quickly out of the way and saw shatual, and a few men chasing them. One stopped to help me, I sat on the ground shaking my head, he put his hand out to me I took it and pulled myself up and put my pack down at my feet. He looked me over closely then said "Su'cuy. Are you alright?"
I nodded slowly and looked at him "Yes, I am ok, a bit shocked but other than that, fine. Now, why are you men chasing those shatual around?"
He shuffled a bit with his feet and looked down at me, him being a lot taller than me. And...handsome. "They got out earlier this morning. We have been after them all day. I'm Rhanin Kuporr," he said slowly, and casually pointed to the other guy with him. "He's Lhonin, my little brother."
"Would you happen to need help? I am good with animals." I tried to sound cheerful, but he saw through my forced happy voice, but said nothing to me. I noticed by the way his eyes looked he was suspicious of me, but he also seemed perplexed...maybe attracted. After a few awkward moments of silence, his brother turning around to look at a tree, Rhanin Kuporr gladly accepted my help. I picked up my pack and headed off after him and his brother to the rest of the younger looking men to herd the shatual. It took all in all about four hours after I started helping them to get them back up.
After checking the gate, I turned around and looked at Rhanin, and asked quietly "What is the quickest way to Prosstang Town? I need to head on out, because the sun sets in a couple of hours." He turned his face and met my eyes, a small glimmer of admiration in them. But it went away when he comprehended what I was asking. He replied a little unevenly. "It's a day or so out from here, but why you heading there...Miss...? Sorry, what was your name?"
OSIK!! Why...did he have to ask my name?.....Just..WHY!?? I looked up at him a few seconds, then spoke almost to quiet to be heard, from being so exhausted "Ke'ana. Widden..." Oh, please don't look at me suspicious again, Rhanin. Please, just buy the name as it is.
"Ke'ana Widden..." Rhanin asked thoughtfully, as his brother Lhonin and a few of the other five guys occasionally stole a glance at me. "Why are you heading to Prosstang Town?"
I looked at him a bit awe struck at all his questions and him seeming to be interested in me and I spoke still in my quiet voice. "I'm...going to try and find an old friend of my mother. I haven't seen him and I'm not sure I can even find him."
"Well, we know quite a few people, Miss Widden," Rhanin said warmly. "We might be able to help you. Still, we think it would be best if you stayed with us tonight..."
"Rhan!" Lhonin Kuporr muttered sharply, turning back to look ahead.
"Lho..." Rhanin raised the hand closest to his brother. "I mean, you should stay in our village, Rhell'cyok. You don't look like you've eaten, I don't hear any pots or pans in your gear bag, and it will be dinnertime soon. There are plenty of beds, and either our mom, or one of the guys' moms can put you up safe for the night."
"We don't bite," one of the other village guys said.
"Except Rhan, maybe!" joked another.
"Nice...very nice," Rhanin shook his head with a mocking smile. "I'll remember your wisecracking, ner vode."
I looked at each of them as they spoke, and then answered. "But, I really should..." I trailed off in my thoughts and agreed to stay for dinner and perhaps the night. From their reaction, for a moment I thought these guys scored a goal playing mesh'geroya.
Welcomed To Rhell'cyok
When we started to head to the village, I leaned over to pick up my pack, but Rhanin said "Ms. Widden, let me carry that for you; you look exhausted."
I looked up at him hesitantly, and said, "I can handle it. It doesn't weigh that much at all." He didn't take no for an answer and kept insisting. With the greatest reluctance I let him carry it for me back to the village, where he arranged for me to stay the night with his mother.
The Determination of Rhanin
He disappeared into the house and I saw a large tree off to the side and decided to climb it to look at the view of the village and think on some things for a little while. Until Rhanin found me.
.. Ok...Khatta..think.. that dart you found in your mothers back was there anything special about it at all.... Yes.. that's right it looked like one of your darts you use... this is how they intend to have evidence against you... no one will be any the wiser to it either.. no one will think of or want to clear you of your supposed crime.. you are an outcast of the Kels'mek clan.. no one cares.....
I looked down and saw Rhanin, he stopped and looked up in the tree. He chuckled and said, "Well, do you think I'm going to let you roost there for the night? The food will be ready shortly. Why not come down so we can talk?"
With a little bit of surprise I spoke in my quiet voice again. "Oh...I'm sorry. I didn't see you there."
I slid off the branch and down to the ground slowly, and Rhanin walked over to me. He looked like he had so much to say to me. Instead of telling me about dinner, he asked of course where I had been traveling from.
I looked at him, my eyes blood shot and a deep worry line in my brow. I hardly spoke about that, being deliberately evasive, asking questions about the trees, shrubs and wildlife around Rhell'cyok.
He got a little frustrated, with me not giving him the answers he wanted. He finally got fed up with my evasion of his questions and stopped pressing me so much for answers. Instead, he and I went to dinner. There was so much talk and food, and appreciation for help with the round up, I couldn't take it much more. I finally slipped away unnoticed outside, or so I thought.
As I left the large room where the entire village was gathered, someone bumped into me and...guess who the someone was...yes...Rhanin. I quickly said, "Oh...sorry, I guess I'm not looking where I'm going to well..."
He smiled wryly and watched as I walked slowly toward where I was to sleep that night. When I had gotten half way to the house, he said, "Hey wait up!"
He came running up to me, smiling.
What could Rhanin want... wait... why is he smiling like that.. he..his features are so attractive..wow...
When he got to where I had stopped, he asked, "Would you care to take a walk with me? I would like to talk a bit more before you go to sleep, but I know you are tired so I will understand if you say no."
Why did he have to be so handsome...I'm so tired...this is nuts, and I will regret doing this...Don't say yes, Khatta...don't say yes...I looked at him and forced a grim, exhausted smile and said, "Ok. What is it you want to talk about?" .....Gar di'kut!
He lead me through the village, to a forest trail. After checking behind us, we walked on into the darkness. We walked for about ten minutes or so, then he stopped, turned around and leaned up on a tree beside the trail. He then looked at me, gazing. I looked at him barely able to see him in the darkness that gripped the forest at this time of night. He asked, "Why do you seem so depressed, or...nervous?"
I looked at him, glad it was so dark, I didn't want him to see my expression at his question. I answered quietly, as I had done all day. "I...just recently lost my mother, and my younger half sister that I practically raised as my own..." I didn't have to see his face to know his expression at finding this out. I went on. "I would rather no one know, and I'm still doubting if I can even find the friend of my mother...so basically, I've no where to go right now."
There was silence for a few moments on his part. He cleared his throat and spoke. "Well, I'm sure if you were to stay here at the village we could help you find that friend of yours," then Rhanin Kuporr stunned me a little, though it shouldn't have. "Perhaps you might find someone who can help you soften the pain you're in?"
Is...is he hitting on me..... Did I just hear him correctly... I told you... DI'KUT!!
I stumbled over my words a little. "Oh...I wouldn't want to impose on anyone, I just need time to think things out," I made an upward waving gesture at the tree. "Which is what I was doing earlier in that tree. Things just don't seem to add up to me at all. I wont return to where I came from. That is for sure." K'UURRRRR! GAR DI'KUT! stop giving him things to think on about you! Stop acting like you need so much help! I felt light headed again, this time I couldn't stop myself from falling down.
I awoke some time later, to find myself in a small room on a bed. Not knowing how long I had been sleeping so at first, I didn't know where I was and sat up quickly in a panic of sorts. Until I looked around the room and remembered I was in Amaana Kuporr's bed.
I moved to get up, but I saw someone standing at the door watching me. The figure looked to be female. I then realized it was Amaana Kuporr. She came in saying "Are you alright, Ms. Widden? Rhanin brought you back here the other night after you passed out with him. You have slept for two days straight."
I didn't know quite what to say, so I said nonplussed, "Yes, I am alright," in return. She asked if I wanted to eat something, which I gladly accepted.
Taming a Steed
After getting things taken care of, I decided to wander around the village a little, to see what was going on. In my wanderings, I came upon a fairly large stable area. There were guarlara all around, most of them young. I walked up and stood staring at them, and a certain one came up to me curious of my presence. It snuffled my hand and pockets thinking I had something for it.
I heard someone behind me. I turned to look. It was the stable owner. He introduced himself as Mu'uk Rhell. He said, "That little one seems to have taken to you, Miss. Do you ride?"
I looked at him and nodded "I have ridden before when I was much younger. Nothing this grand though. I have never seen one of these before, they aren't indigenous to my region I grew up in..."
He left my comment alone, not wanting to know my past. "They aren't indigenous to Mandalore, except that the Clan Prosstang chieftain from over 600 years ago received a few from the King of Naboo as a gift, and most of them ended up here," he seemed busy with feeding and inspecting them, and a little hurried in speaking. He said to finish our conversation, "If you would like to ride, there is a saddle and bridle in the stable for you. Help yourself." I nodded, and he led me to show where it was at. When I entered the doorway I looked up, and of course saw Rhanin saddling his own steed. He looked up and smiled at me, I returned a sheepish smile to him and turned around to catch up the steed that I had met moments before.
When I returned with him a few minutes later, and Rhanin's jaw dropped open. I looked at him and said, "What is it? Why do you look so surprised?"
He replied, "That guarlara is known as Firebrand. He never lets anyone...do anything...with him." I looked a bit dumbfounded at Rhanin for a moment, then saddled up and walked the Firebrand outside. Rhanin followed with his guarlara as I hopped up on Firebrand's back. When Rhanin mounted and sat down easily, he gazed at me, seeming to issue a challenge, a sort of I'm going to show off, see if you can keep up with me Little One look. He took off on his guarlara leaving a dust trail behind him. Firebrand reared as I held him back from following for a moment, then as I let the reins forward he took off after Rhanin.
I caught up to him in mere minutes after him taking off, the events that followed.. Were to say the least, crazy. Firebrand caught up to and almost ran into Rhanin's steed when he stopped short of a small stream running across our trail. When I composed myself again and shot a glare at him for stopping so quickly, he winked and took off again. I of course was ready for this to happen again, and followed him this time, and shorlty passing him.
Something didn't seem right to Firebrand, nor me. My steed halted with a hard slide and stood his head held high staring up ahead of us. I looked back over my shoulder, and saw that Rhanin was coming up on my tail fast. Holding out my arm motioning for him to stop or slow down he noticed and slowed to a stop beside me. I didn't take my eyes off the trail up ahead for a moment, he reached over and put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Ke'ana.. why do you seem so jumpy and paranoid?"
I looked at him for a moment, Firebrand seamed to relax when he had the other steed near him as I did also with Rhanin's touch. I shook my head, "I don't know what you mean.." Looking ahead again I nudged Firebrand on, but he would have none of it. He whirled around on his hind legs rearing up not wanting to leave the others. I held on to him tightly around his long neck, but that didn't help him rearing, for this time, he came back down and bucked several times sending me flying to the dirt trail. Rhanin chuckled at his behavior and dismounted to come over to me and help me up.
I had already sat up holding my forehead from being dizzy, sort of laughing at Firebrand's behavior. Rhanin stood over me unable to keep his deep laughing voice quiet, putting his hand out to me while saying "See? He lulls who ever rides him into a false sense of security...then completely loses it."
I looked up at him and blushed taking his hand. "Why does it always seem you are picking me back up?" That was more of thinking out loud than wanting an answer. He noticed my expression and didn't let go of my hand.
He said quietly. "You interest me Ke'ana. I want to find out more about you." I could tell that wasn't all he wanted to say. It seemed the other part would be I have too big of an ego to admit all of what I feel.
I got up and walked slowly to the Firebrand putting my hand out and caught the rein quickly before he had the chance to run off again. I leapt up onto his back quickly, kicking him into a gallop. Which he did at first then slid to a stop and reared up. Staying on this time, when he came back down I kicked him into gallop again back towards Rhanin. He again slid to a stop and reared in front of Rhanin's steed and started bucking again. I stayed on his back keeping his head up to make it difficult for him to buck. All this time Rhanin stayed back watching me and Firebrand work our problems out.
After a while of this Firebrand calmed down I was exhausted and patted him on the shoulder softly cooing to him "Good boy.." I looked up at Rhanin who sat there on his own steed in disbelief and he didn't say anything until we got back to the stable yard. Dismounting he looked at me while I removed Firebrand's saddle and set it down easily, saying "I have never seen anyone do that with him before...EVER. You have got to be something special to get him under control like that."
I turned to him "I don't know about special, Rhanin." He kept quiet a few moments then went to unsaddle his own steed and left me with Firebrand. I walked him cool then took him back to the stable yard and let him go in the holding pin. Turning around I noticed Rhanin watching me from a distance, which I didn't mind much.
When finally I got done at the stable putting things away I had used, I headed back around the village to the Kuporr's home which I was staying at. Finding the tree again I climbed it and sat on a high branch, not noticing anything for a long time while I thought again. Being in deep thought I slowly nodded off into sleep, being awakened a few hours later by a familiar voice but one I had not heard in days. The voice was from Aneil'ka when she said her parting words to me, I sat up in groggy haze almost falling from the branch I was perched on. I sighed when I realized it was only a dream.
First Six Months At Rhell'cyok
The first few weeks I spent in Rhell'cyok was basically a cat and mouse game with Rhanin. He would almost play hide and seek, he knew I was already a little paranoid and loved making me squirm a little. About two months into my stay, I woke up one morning and started playing with my hair trying to smooth the wildness of it. I groaned Why did I have to cut it this short... Oh yea because you are on the run, Khatta. Maybe that is why? During this thought I noticed my boots laying apart when I had quite plainly left them together beside the bed when I went to sleep the night before. Thinking hardly anything of it, I got dressed and went out to the stable like normal. Only to find Firebrand loose in the yard. Catching him up there was someone standing in the shadows of the barn I noticed. I shrugged it off thinking it was the stable master or something.
When I entered the barn nothing seemed out of place, Firebrand followed me in and stood while I saddled him up. Looking around, I noticed Rhanin's steed was gone. Again, I shrugged it off. Leading Firebrand outside I mounted him easily and walked on toward the shatual corral. It was an easy walk but Firebrand kept looking in the woods hearing someone or something rather large following us at a long distance. I looked over my shoulder my heart racing a little wondering if someone had caught up to me and was playing with my mind.
I didn't stop but kept on and did my chores for the day, heading back to the stable yard that thing didn't seem to be there or so I thought. We kept walking on occasion a short gallop and jump over a downed tree or small stream. When jumping over one of the trees I heard something come crashing through the woods towards us, Firebrand reared straight up I was able to hang on and catch a glimpse of the tale end of what had just frightened us. I growled and followed knowing exactly who and what it was.
When I caught up, I jumped off Firebrand and onto the mystery man who was on his steed. I rolled while having him in my grip and finally stopped me on top of him pinning him to the ground. I snarled "What were you thinking?! Gar Di'kut! Rhanin!!"
He was laughing uncontrollably at how furious I was. Then said through gasping laughter "You need to lighten up Ke'ana! It's all good natured fun!"
I growled a little and got up off of him putting my hand down for him. Which he took and pulled himself up grinning broadly. When I started to walk away to catch Firebrand, Rhanin didn't move.
He whispered "Ke'ana did you hear that? It sounds like a striil growling doesn't it?" He looked behind his back closely in the bushes.
I had grabbed Firebrand's rein and came back over to him to listen "Yes it does. Here take Firebrand. I'm going to look and see if I can find it." Rhanin put his arm out in front of me.
I glared at him and pushed past him against his protests "Ke'ana, that thing is dangerous. Don't go looking for it. Besides, Amaana would be upset if you brought a pet home."
Not paying any attention to his talk I combed through the bushes carefully and caught sight of a small striil pup. The pup let me pick it up by the scruff. Turning around to Rhanin, I held it up.
"Look at him Rhanin. He is half starved and no older than two months. I'm sure I can persuade Amaana to let me keep him outside." I put the pup in my arm holding his body letting his feet dangle. He didn't struggle with me either.
Rhanin just shook his head slowly and mounted his steed "You are insane." He turned his steed back to the village and nudged him on.
With the pup still cradled in my arm I sighed at Rhanin's stubborn ways. Looking over my shoulder at Firebrand and taking his rein off his long, graceful neck I followed after Rhanin back to the village. I started thinking of names on the way and finally settled on Net'ruus'alor, Net'ru for short.
Back at the village, Firebrand was itching to get away from the little creature I held in my arms. When I dropped his rein over his neck he snorted at me and trotted away a few feet, throwing his head around several times. Rhanin stood nearby and chuckled at him.
"See Ke'ana? Even HE knows that thing is nothing but trouble," he turned, a smirk on his face while he walked away.
"Come on Firebrand. Don't be like that, he is harmless." I edged closer to him and he ran into the stable snorting. Shaking my head I looked down at Net'ru. He was weak and you could have almost counted every bone in his body. Walking into Amaana's presence was going to kill me I knew it.
Striding across the stable yard, I sighed thinking more and more about talking to her about it. I stopped just outside the house my hand extended to push the door back to enter I froze there. I don't know quite how long I stood there. I then felt Rhanin's hand on my shoulder, turning my head to look at him and meeting his stare. His eyes twinkled almost in the sun when he said "Ke'ana I know you are worried. I thought about it a little bit when I had walked away from you earlier, and went straight here to talk to her. She said yes."
I felt my face flush and knew I was probably bright red, "Bu.. But Rhanin you said I was insane for catching him." He smiled at me.
"Well, are you happy or not?" He said still smiling at me. I looked away quickly knowing he saw the red on my face. I'm falling for him.. Why in Hod Haran's name am I doing this? I have to find out if I can trust him with my true identity...
I forced a smile after my thoughts subsided. "Of course I am Rhan. Vor'e ner vod." I pushed my bangs back off my eyes and tucked them behind my ear with the free hand.
After that short conversation with Rhanin I thought very serious on telling him my whole story. But when was a different story. I had to know I could trust him. I was going to find out even if it killed me.
Agricultural Aid Comes To Rhell'cyok
About six months after I arrived in Rhell'cyok, on a bright afternoon I was in the stable yard training Firebrand when I noticed Rhanin coming towards me. I stopped and waited on him to get close enough to hear him. "Su'cuy ner vod, why do you look like you just seen a shatual on the roof?"
He laughed sarcastically "Ha Ha! We have some visitors. Supposedly an agricultural relief aid team from Grayson Galactic Enterprises. Who in the name of Jelkiga is that? Since when do we need agricultural relief? If you ask me though, these guys look more like they haven't worked a day in their lives." He leaned on Firebrand's neck looking at me while he talked.
"I'm sure you can't be serious, Rhanin. Over-exaggerating maybe?" I leaned forward on Firebrand's back getting close while I spoke softly.
He shook his head. "No, and you will see what I mean. Here they come." He nodded his head towards an approaching group of young people.
I looked back to see a few guys, most of them with long, dark hair pulled into tails. At the front of the group was a very young looking blonde girl. I then turned back to Rhanin and laughed so hard I almost fell off my steed. Rhanin stifled a chuckle and held his arms out as if to catch me. I was able to regain my seat and quiet Firebrand down before they reached us. I subtly smirked and shook my head at Rhanin.
"Su'cuy ner vode. What brings you to Rhell'cyok?" I spoke mainly to the young girl in the forefront of the group. She smiled.
In a very childish manner she greeted back. "Suu coy" She giggled. "What kind of beast is that?" She pointed. I dismounted quickly, landing softly on my feet and turning to the visitors.
Rhanin rolled his eyes at her child-like attitude and speech, which made me sink my elbow deep in his side and cough a little to stifle his grunt of displeasure. I smiled broadly. "This, is a guarlara. His name is Firebrand." I looked at her eyes light up and noticed how emerald green they were. Wow, such vibrant eye color. She is a cute kid. "Would you like to meet him...Miss?"
She nodded and started to approach the giant beast. One of the young men, with long black hair cautioned her quietly. "Be careful Miss Grayson."
She turned as she put her hand on Firebrand's shoulder and said, "I am fine, Mr. Barken. His handler is right here. Nothing will happen." She turned back around, her attention fully on Firebrand again.
I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Syrral...Barken, as he was called, was staring at the young Ms. Grayson rather intently. But so were a few of the others. Rhanin was watching them closely also. I turned to Ms. Grayson, smiled again and asked, "Would you like to ride him sometime?"
She grinned brightly at me. "Oh, yes I would love that very much." I turned to see a few of her group members, including 'Syrral,' looking very upset as I had asked her that.
Syrral Barken objected first. "Miss Grayson, we didn't come here to play. We came here to work." Ms. Grayson turned slightly to look at him.
I spoke up. "Well, these beasts are used for work. So it wouldn't be playing around for her to learn how to ride one." I eyed Syrral closely. He was silent.
Turning back to me, Ms. Grayson whispered. "I can sneak away a bit later. They are just jealous." She giggled again and returned to the group.
I hid my chuckle with a hard cough, cleared my throat and then bounded up on Firebrand's back again. Nodding to the group, I said curtly, "I need to return to my chores now. Pleasure meeting you all."
I then grinned at Rhanin as I kicked Firebrand into a hard gallop toward the shatual enclosure. Firebrand left a trail of dust behind him while the audience watched. I could only imagine that the young men were not thrilled with the idea of Ms. Grayson riding such a beast.
Troubles Rise, Names Brought to Light
On a dark, rainy fall morning about three years after I arrived in Rhell'cyok, I was sitting with a small group of vode in the covered stable sharing stories. Swirling my ti'haar around in my glass I laughed and shared the year's past events "You should have seen up close the look on Rhan's face when that shatual got up and ran off with him on it's back! I almost fell on my shebse laughing so hard."
Lhonin was laughing and so was Tangi'il Ur'mogg, his face so twisting with laughter, he had tears running down his bearded cheeks. Neddo Tre'vhek, almost spat his ti'haar across the stable floor with the recollection of that day's events as he choked and laughed along with the rest of us. Buuth Kuporr, Ghela Rhell arrived a bit later and sat smiling while the story was related.
A bit more familiar with Buuth than Ghela, I asked, "Buuth? Where were you vode?" I smiled broadly. He only grinned back at me and sipped his ti'haar.
Tangi'il sipped thoughtfully on his own glass and looked over at Ghela. "Are you going out with one of the Grayson Galactic team?"
"No, not me. Those guys are nice, but I want a man who can handle the hard work of helping around the farm. I am going to talk to Rhell about getting some hectares of the eastern reach to convert from pasture to ag. and Buuth is gonna help me plow it." Buuth choked on his ti'haar and sat up.
She looked over at him with a smile and he smiled back saying, "Of course, cyar'ika."
I smiled from behind my glass while I leaned back onto the wall "That Ms. Grayson is adorable. But those two guys that follow her around like love sick striil pups are not worth the trouble. Tried getting one of them...Zak...I think, to hand me a bucket of feed the other day, wouldn't touch it." I shook my head.
Several others nodded in agreement with my comment. Lhonin spoke up. "Yea, Rhanin tried teaching Zak and Rhett how to mend a fence the other day..." he chuckled. "He came back steaming about how Zak was not worth the mud on his boots. He wouldn't help them."
I laughed loudly. "I remember that. Rhan came back to the stable on one of his rants. How Zak couldn't be used on an agriculture team in anyway possible. That this was all a big conspiracy to kill us all..." I couldn't help but laugh harder and wipe a tear away.
Lhonin shoved his elbow into my side. "Rhanin was talking about you the other day, Ke'ana." He chuckled again.
"Wha..What are you talking about Lho?" I felt my face turn red and I knew I stammered.
Lhonin went on, "Oh yea, he was talking to me and another guy about how great you are with animals. You know, for being a city girl and all...He went on and on about how well you handled Firebrand when you first got here." He seemed to be mocking his older brother.
I felt my face burning red, but mustered a smile. "What is ag?"
Lhonin retorted in a sing-song, dripping voice, "Ag is agricultural, Ke'ana."
I laughed sarcastically, nudging his side. "I knew that!"
At that moment, I spotted something moving as I looked at the slightly open door. "Fier'fek, that shatual and her youngling is out again. I don't know how in the world she keeps on doing it!"
The others turned to look and got up quickly to follow me. We all had put on our ponchos and were heading out to herd the stubborn shatual back to the corral in the heavy cold rain. Ghela stood at the gate with Buuth. Lhonin, Tangi'il and I blocked her and the youngling off to keep them out of the woods.
After he had shut the gate tight, Lhonin turned to the group and smiled. "Well, I wish Rhan was here for this. He would have had fun like last time!" Everyone broke out laughing at the recollection of the story shared earlier.
Tangi'il turned to look back at the trail leading out of the woods, "Hey look vode." He nodded in the direction of two men walking toward us on the trail, undeterred by the heavy rain and cool fog that clung to the mud.
As they approached near the turn of the path into the village, I noticed they wore dark colored animal hide jackets with long pants tucked into knee high boots. The taller one had two blaster pistols holstered on his hips. The shorter one had only one on his left hip and a boot knife strapped to his lower leg. Who could these guys be... I wonder...
As they greeted our group, Tangi'il spoke first to them. "Su'cuy vode. Do you need help with something?"
"We are looking for someone. Maybe you can help us. Our sister. She has been missing for some time..." The tall man answered.
"You don't look familiar...we don't get too many outsiders visiting here..." Tangi'il said warily.
The tall blonde headed man spoke again seeming to me a bit disturbed, "We have had a lead that she headed or was brought in this direction... We would greatly appreciate a little more help."
I was within earshot of all this. This seems bad... Something doesn't sit well with this. Fier'fek...
Tangi'il stroked his scruffy beard thinking rather intently, then said "Let's go back to the stable out of this cold and wet. I'm sure there is some way to help you."
The two men didn't object to the proposal. While we headed back to the stable I kept wary eyes fixed on the two men. Something still didn't sit right with me. As we entered the stable, I looked back near a stall where Rhanin's steed was and saw him standing there being petted by his master. I walked over to him immediately and poked his side "Su'cuy vod." Then dropped my voice a little, "We have visitors..."
We returned back to the group while Tangi'il continued the conversation with the tall blonde man. Not hearing much of the conversation while they talked I sat with my back on the barn wall and arms crossed knitting my brow with thoughts. The others noticed and Lhonin nudged my side "Hey lighten up Ke'ana. What is wrong?"
I shook my head a little coming back from my thoughts. "Huh? Oh... Trying to figure out who their sister could be is all..."
While we sat there talking amongst ourselves in a small group, Tangi'il and Buuth spoke with the two men. I didn't catch all of it but small bits here and there. Hearing my name, my heart sank. I zoned out for most of our conversation after that. This is deep osik you got yourself into this time, Khatta... Way to go.
I didn't come back to reality until I felt someone holding my shoulder, looking up I saw Rhanin smiling at me. "Ke'ana, those two left. There is a meeting going to happen this evening, you were with the group when they first appeared. You need to be there tonight."
I forced a smile, "Ok Rhan... What exactly did those guys want anyway?" I tried to play it off like nothing was wrong.
He saw through the fakeness yet again. "Something about their sister being missing. Khatta Kels'mek, or something like that."
I felt his piercing stare, but said no more. The day went on mostly uneventful and yet I found myself in Grandmother Kuppor's vheh'yaim day dreaming about my past. Not realizing I fell asleep, I was confused when I found myself back in my mother's Negat apartment. I was walking up to a small table near her bed finding the holo disk, seeing its transmission. Then running through the apartment to the kitchen area finding her beskar'gam-clad body face down with a dart in her neck. Her helmet on the counter. I awoke with a gasp, finding Amaana standing over me.
At the meeting that night, I stood in the crowd near the back. Tangi'il and Rhanin were talking amongst the group when someone spoke up after they announced who the men were looking for. "Why would a Kels'mek even be out here in Prosstang Region?!"
Another answered him. "Well it must be true! Otherwise they wouldn't have come this way!"
I was hearing all of this talk about me and I wondered. Was this even worth it...
Rhanin looked over at me when yet another one said. "They came from somewhere they called Negat." I gave Rhanin a helpless look meaning to say I will explain soon.
Looking down at Net'ru as he sat at my feet which gave me a smile, I turned calling to him and he followed me out of the meeting into the cold night air. When I was almost to the vheh'yaim I heard a slight rustle in the bushes but only thought it was Net'ru. Only to feel someone's arms around my waist and throat. I was shocked from this trying to scream but couldn't get air out of my lungs. That was the last thing I remembered for a while.
I awoke in my room, with low voices I knew quite well. It was Rhanin's that made me stir and sit up. Looking at him, he met my eyes. He then looked down and over at Grandma Kuporr and at Lhonin. "Can we have a few minutes alone please?" They looked at me and I nodded to them.
Lhonin said in parting. "He saved your shebse..."
When the door was shut, I got up on the edge of the bed and put my hands on Rhanin's as he asked. "Your name isn't Ke'ana, is it?" After I shook my head in answer Rhanin continued. "I don't know what to say," Rhanin lowered his gaze to the bed. "A woman that could kill her mother. I can't imagine you are that person."
I stared at him the entire time he spoke. "That's just it Rhanin... I didn't. I have evidence to prove it, but the clan put out the hit before I could even blink."
Rhanin sat back slightly. "What clan? Hit? On who?" He searched my eyes for answers.
"The Kels'mek Clan... They put that bounty out on me, for me to take the fall for their killing my mother..."
"That bounty," Rhanin inhaled deeply. "Has been posted for well over two years. Wouldn't someone have figured out who really did it, if it wasn't you?"
"No, the way my mother died... It points to me as the killer... They are not a caring people Rhan, they would rather see someone take the fall and they go on living their comfortable lives care free."
"Who are you, really?" he shifted in his seat, as he slowly removed his hands from under mine. Rhanin glanced at the wall for a moment.
My eyes went misty and before I could speak again he went on. "I've never been to Negat, or Kels'naya...whatever it's called. But it isn't a place of leisure from everything I've heard. In fact, it's dangerous," Rhanin continued, slightly deflated. "You are Khatta Kels'mek, aren't you?"
Grandma Kuporr entered the room. "Is everything okay, dear?
Rhanin shook his head slightly. "No, Grandma Kuporr."
"I wasn't talking to you, Rhan'ka." Grandma Kuporr chided, then came over to dry my cheeks. She turned to Rhanin. "Whatever you're saying to her, I don't like it." She walked back out of the room.
"Khatta," Rhanin started, his eyes misted with tears. "What are you going to do? Why are you really looking for Ferrigo Prosstang? Do you think he's behind your mother's killing?"
I stood holding my arm and stared at the floor for a few minutes. "He...is my mothers friend I am looking for." I knelt down next to the bed and pulled my bag out. Finding my mother's helmet, I got up and turned looking at him for a long time. I sat back on the bed and held my mothers helmet looking into the visor my eyes brimmed with tears. "She...She told me to come find him...He knew my father...I need to find him Rhan...I just have to..."
"But...Ke..Khatta...How could your own clan want to kill your mother?" he caught himself. "She married into the clan...She was not blood Kels'mek. She is..." I sighed deeply. "Was...expendable"
"Still...why?" Rhanin placed his hand on my thigh.
"I have suspicions and I intend to find out if they are true or not." I said through a broken voice.
Rhanin stared into my misty eyes. "I will help you. But you won't be safe with the likes of these di'kute wandering around. It's not a small bounty," he continued. "The fact that it's not fresh doesn't seem to have lessened the interest in bringing you in."
A slow smile came upon my face through the upset. "People want to impress clan leaders...To claw their way to the top. I'm not surprised."
"These two goons look like a father and son team. They said they're from Negat," he looked at me his hand still rested on my thigh.
I grabbed Rhanin's hand and looked at him. "Tell no one..."
Rhanin gripped my hand in his tightly. "Khatta, your secret is safe with me, but Ottigo went to Ferrigo a few hours ago," he shook his head slowly. "People are already whispering all over the village."
"Rhanin... I have to go find him soon. Before something happens again." I got up, pulling the rest of my mother's beskar'gam out of its bag and put it on the bed near Rhanin.
When I handled the chest plate I noticed a small bit of something tucked in behind the right breast cup. As I grabbed and pulled, my breath caught. It was a piece of purple and golden yellow embroidered cloth that was tattered and slightly singed on one small edge of it. I looked over at Rhanin and back at the cloth.
"Rhanin, did you put this here when I wasn't looking?" I asked him slightly out of breath.
He got up and came over to me. "No, Ke...Khatta, I didn't. Where did it come from?"
"I don't know. It was behind the right breast cup of my mother's armor." He took the cloth from my hand and looked it over closely.
"This looks like a piece of a Clan Prosstang banner... Those are the colors....and...yeah..." Rhanin mouthed words without sound. "Looks like Q'...O...S...S... and S...I...G...N...A...That's all I see." He stopped to think for a minute. "Hey, Grandma! Please come here."
Grandma arrived at the threshold of my room. "Yes, Rhani, what is it?"
"Grandma, please take a look at this."
He handed her the tattered, but colorful piece of embroidered fabric. Amaana Kuporr looked at the piece for a minute, her features slightly tensing. "Where did you find this?"
Rhanin shrugged. "Ke'ana...I mean, Khatta found it - in her mother's armor."
"Well, this piece of fabric would have, by its design, belonged to the children of those named. The person is definitely of the Clan Prosstang," she continued. "But their name would not be found on that fabric. Q'osstigo and Signara Prosstang had only one child, a son. Ferrigo Solus be Prosstang," Amaana Kuporr's eyebrow raised. "What your mother's armor would be doing with a piece of this fabric is beyond me, child." She handed the piece to me. "This fabric belongs to Ferrigo Prosstang, our Aliit'alor, and Mand'alor of all of our peoples."
I stood there dumbfounded. Everything in that moment clicked in my head. The fabric, my mother, Ferrigo, Tyro... Everything. I stood shaking my head my eyes misty again. "Are you okay, child?" She said with a touch of worry in her voice.
Rhanin touched my shoulder as I sat on the bed heavily. "Khatta, are you okay?"
I sat thinking for a few minutes and didn't answer. Then in a wavering broken voice finally spoke. "I'm fine... Don't worry about me. I have something I need to tend to."
Amaana Kuporr smiled with a slight wince. "Child. What happened with your mother? I hear from the Rhells that you killed your own mother. I can't believe it. But those Rhells are a bit righteous and excitable."
Rhanin spoke up. "She didn't do it."
"I found her dead...Someone pinned her death on me." I sat painfully still while answering her.
"Do you think it was Ferrigo Prosstang, young lady?" she asked in a soft voice.
Rhanin's face turned ashen. "That son of a striil!"
"I don't know what to believe, but my mother always spoke highly of him.. So I doubt it was him..." I said evenly, slightly regaining myself. "Why would he kill her when she told me to go find him...It doesn't make sense that he would have done it."
Amaana Kuporr's eyebrow raised. "I guess not. He seems nice enough to me. Even if he doesn't come out here much to mix with us country folks."
Rhanin interjected. "I don't trust him."
I threw my pillow at him "K'uur a moment..." While they talked I got up and started putting on my mother's armor.
"Oh Rhani, you've never liked him. Too much like the man you want to be. You were always talking about him when you were knee high to a shatual." She smiled. "Some reason, maybe when he took up with Gela Tre'vhek, you changed your mind toward him," she chuckled. "Boys."
Rhanin shifted. "Grandma, enough, please."
"You were just a boy, Rhani. She was a woman, and when he became Aliit'alor, she left Rhell'cyok to be with him. No matter what. All I heard was that it was her on his tail, not the other way around."
Rhanin scowled and turned toward the window. I was messing with my gauntlet fixing it correctly "I'm going to find him... I need to know."
Amaana had walked back in the other room. While still fixing my gauntlet, I looked over my shoulder at Rhanin who had looked from the wall to me. "I'm coming with you, Khatta."
I shook my head. "You obviously have issues with Ferrigo Prosstang. It wouldn't be wise..."
"Khatta, I want to protect you..." He stood up and came closer to me.
"Rhanin, I said no." I turned around facing him.
"You can't keep me from coming along," Rhanin said passionately. "I saved your life last night."
"Wanna bet..." I started to challenge him, but he grabbed me by the shoulders embracing me tightly in his arms while kissing me deeply.
I felt my face burn when he finally let go of me. I followed his movement not wanting to let go. I stood there knowing I looked silly, but I turned quickly around to pick up my helmet. He grabbed my arm gently, pulling me back to him just as I picked it up. Taking my helmet from me, he slowly put my helmet on me.
He stared into my visor. "I'm coming with you whether you like it or not." He pressed his forehead against my helmet. "Don't leave with out me..." His hands slipped around my sides to my back as he hugged me closely again.
He slowly let go of me and left the room to get his beskar'gam. I had made up my mind to try to slip away unseen with out Rhanin, but Grandma Kuporr noticed me as I walked past the room she was in.
She called out. "Dear, Rhanin will be ready in a few minutes." She came to the threshold of the room.
I forced a smile while I removed my helmet. "Is there anything else you might have done that you aren't proud of, my dear? Her voice was very soft and polite. "We all have done some embarrassing or painful things, ...Khatta..."
Shaking my head I answered her quietly. "No, other than run like a coward to save my shebse."
she continued. "I think of you as one of us. We don't want you to run. And I can tell my Rhani is mad about you."
Turning I took hold of her hand "You don't know how much that means to me... I'm tired of running I'm going to face this once and for all..."
"I hope you find what you're looking for, and that you have the strength to face it. I've always known the Prosstangs to be good people. If a little strange." She smiled.
I returned the smile and nodded. "Thank you..."
"We'll be here, my dear child. Just don't get yourself into any trouble." She let go of my hand and put a duffle bag where her hand was.
I smiled broadly but didn't say anything. Thinking to myself. You have no idea how bad I don't want trouble, Grandma Kuporr.
Rhanin came up behind me and put his arms around me to take the duffle from my hand. "Ready, Vin'ka?"
I nodded and turned to follow him putting my helmet back on over my short braided hair.
Leaving out of the vheh'yaim, Rhanin put his arm around my waist. As we walked on, I noticed Ottigo talking to several men. He saw us and set his jaw with a look, as if to say "Get off of her you di'kut!" But instead, he walked towards us then stopped and hollered. "Where do YOU two think you are going?!"
Net'ru was standing beside me on his lead line he started growling at Ottigo as I turned to face him. Rhanin responded. "I'm taking her to Prosstang Town."
"No, YOU aren't taking her to Prosstang. I am the appointed leader of Village Security, AND the Aliit'alor himself ordered me to bring her in!" Ottigo was starting to get annoyed looking while Rhanin shook his head.
I turned my visor to Rhanin then growled. "Look, I have business with him other than your osik'la task!"
Out of the corner of my visor I noticed Amaana Kuporr emerge from her vheh'yaim. Then turned my attention back to Ottigo. "Look!" Ottigo barked. "You are wanted for the murder of Relia Kels'mek!! The Prosstang Posse and I are bringing your shebse in, Miss Widden!"
"She is Khatta Kels'mek," Amaana shouted. "I have lived with this young woman for over three years. I can tell you, she is not the kind of person who would kill her own family."
"Like She said! My name is Khatta and that was my mother you di'kut! I was framed!" I was furious by this point.
"Things happen," Ottigo Rhell spoke equivocally. "Doesn't change a thing, Ma'am Kuporr. She's coming with us."
Rhanin said firmly. "You can follow us, but she's not coming with you. And you're not collecting any bounty, Rhell."
More quietly Rhanin said on our private channel. "Let them protect our six. We might still have other people hunting for you." I sunk my elbow into Rhanin's side and growled, giving in to him.
When I finally entered Prosstang Town, I asked several people where I could find Ferrigo Prosstang. Which being in my beskar'gam, I felt it made me look suspicious asking about a man not of my clan. I got over that feeling. I didn't care as much for my appearance as I did for getting some answers. The night before when I had stopped to rest I had been messing with my beskar'gam, and found a keepsake of my mothers... It was a torn bit of purple fabric with gold trim around it. Everything started to come together for me, why she had told me to find Ferrigo.. Why she never talked about my supposed father.. I barely slept that night after finding it and thinking everything out. When I found someone who would tell me where he was at, I went straight there. A place called The Itchy Strill. I stood outside there leaned on the wall, getting my nerve up to go in there and find him. Several people watched me closely as they walked on past me either leaving or entering the bar. Finally, I got my nerve up and walked in.
I had my helmet on, but took it off and shook my hair out when I got through the door. I made like a shriek-hawk in a predatory dive for the bar counter. When I got there, all of maybe seven steps through a small crowd, I turned to take my surroundings in. The crowd, the table lay out, and..a certain distinguished man sitting among several people at the table near the bar counter. He had brown hair, a full but well-kept beard, and from what I could gather, he appreared to be just over six feet tall. He wore a dark purple military frock coat with black shoulder bars with embroidered gold letters. He had an empty plate in front of him, like he had just finished his meal and was sharing drinks with friends. Hmm...he looks much more formal than this crowd, but doesn't seem out of place...I feel every eye in here on my back.. I closeed the gap to the counter and sat my helmet down on it, making eye contact with the Mon Cala bartender, and said. "Two glasses of the strongest stuff you have in house."
As I stood there a man, about five foot nine, came up behind me wrapping his hands around my shoulders, spoke next to my ear slurring his speech as he said "Well, that.. would be me my dearest.." I turned my wrist quickly to the left, making a loud warning sound, the drunk man didn't seem to take. I turned my head and forced a smile putting my hand under his jaw, his smile grew wider. That is until I said through clenched teeth and with venom in my voice. "Let go of me... or I will pin your tongue to the roof of your mouth, di'kut!" I had turned my gauntlet under his chin, well-positioned to release my vibroblade and deliver on my promise.
At that moment, the distinguished man sitting at the table spoke up. "Take your hands off her, Vehrr'ik. Now." As he spoke, the entire room grew silent and watched as the drunk let go of me and backed away like a scolded animal. Then the man spoke again, "Now, get your shebse out of here before I let her do what she threatened."
I looked at the man giving the order, and lost my cool and said before I thought everything out, "Who in fier'fekking Keldabe are you and what makes you think you have authority over me?!" The crowd grew more silent. He stood up, and I crossed my arms staring at him.
He said "You won't get anywhere in Prosstang Town talking that way to the Aliit'alor Ferrigo Prosstang." He stared me down a bit, and I tried to hide my mixed emotions at this moment. "Come here and sit down. Fish, her drinks please.. on the house."
I stared at him wondering if he saw through my best efforts to keep my cool at this point. I came over and sat in front of him, in a seat someone cleared for me then practically tripped over himself to get away from me while I came closer.
I intentionally put my helmet down in front of me the symbol facing him, I saw.. my action got his attention. When I put my helmet down, he stared at it thinking deeply about it, then had to catch himself before he got too far in thought to keep focused on me. The bartender came and set my drinks in front of me which I nodded to him without taking my eyes off of Ferrigo Prosstang for a single moment. I held on to one of my drinks out of habit, and said in a quiet voice. "I just want to find my father's friend."
Ferrigo sat there one eye on the helmet symbol, and he said, "Well.. this is no way to go about it. By the way, sorry about Vherr'ik. He doesn't hold his drink very well."
I slowly told him where I had came from, and how I lost my mother three years earlier. I told him also, how my mother had told me about my father dying before I was born almost twenty four years ago. "It was the Battle at Galidraan," I tossed my 'fathers' shoulder plate in front of him on the table. Which he stared at, while I drank my entire first glass as soon as I lifted it from where it sat. I looked at him in the eye and said, "Tyro Kels'mek. Do you know him? No, of course you don't. He died at Galidraan," I noticed him thinking something over in his mind. "My mother always told me, we had some rough times, destitution, shame, and survival..But she always said to me..'One day, go find your father's best friend, Ferrigo Prosstang. He will help you understand who you are.' Well... here I am...with the only thing I have left of my mother. Her beskar'gam." I grimly laughed at my situation. Noticing that Ferrigo Prosstang was still in deep deep thought and staring at me so closely.
"THIS," I pulled out the worn purple cloth trimmed in gold from behind my breast cup where it had been stashed away. "I found this on my way here. All these years, me never knowing she had this momento." I stood up not able to hold myself back any longer than I had already done. I was beyond angry. "When I think back, she rarely talked about HIM.. SHE always talked about...YOU!" I pointed at his face and sputtered in rage. "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!!" Feeling the hot sting of tears behind my eyes then finally stream down my cheeks. I don't care if I cry! I don't care if I am not professional!
He stared up into my eyes, but I didn't give him any time to respond to what I had just said. I had already been pointing at him, and lowered my arm slightly and fired a dart into his neck, just as he got out the word "I..." He fell back onto the floor convulsing. I jumped the table and kicked him several times, then was grabbed from behind, while in mid-kick, by someone who was twice my size. My fury made me stronger than normal. I held on and jerked my weight forward and to the left to land on my feet, and body-slammed the huge man down next to his clan leader. Several others also tried to stop me, and they met the same fate as the first, but only one of them was thrown into the bar counter. Before anyone could grab me again I had my helmet and was leaving The Itchy Strill, my gauntlet raised ready to fire on anyone who tried to stop me again.
Meeting My Half-Sister
When I got through the door to The Strill I picked up the pace, running at first then when I turned the corner I stopped in the marketplace. There stood someone up ahead of me, a little too short to be a man of the clan. When I looked closer, I realized it was a young looking girl, or a rather tiny woman. Smaller than me, even. She wore a beskar'gam with the Prosstang Clan symbol on it. I didn't much care if she was related or not, I walked toward her but stopped short when she screeched something through her emitter. "Take one more step, and you lose your head!"
I laughed out loud, and retorted. "Aww someone is angry. Don't test me little one. Move aside before I make you move!" My voice emitter crackling with my already failing voice. She didn't move. I shook my head and took a fighting stance.
She said, still enraged. "You attacked my father! Are you a di'kut or something?! I'm not moving! Only way past me is over my dead body!" She pulled a saber hilt from her belt and activated it slowly. It seemed to me, she of course was making a show to try and scare me into submission. Too bad for her I wasn't that type. While I was reflecting on the situation, she bounded forward at me slashing at me. I had just enough time to move to the side and kick her back hard as I could while back flipping to make some distance.
She caught the ground with her hand stopping herself from sliding too far back. I stood watching her intently now, trying to read her next move. I felt a sharp pain between my eyes. What the-! Just as my thought process wandered a bit she came again at me this time almost too quick for me to realize it. She then slashed at me again I some how figured out where her saber would strike. Moving to the side again I forced her to the ground, knocking her helmet off. I quickly ratcheted my gauntlet to load a saber dart. I fired just as she was about to regain her feet, and the dart landed deep in her arm that wielded the saber.
For a moment, my breath caught. How much like one of my mom's cousins this girl looked. She growled in pain, and switched her saber to her other hand after pulling the dart out. She stood quickly after throwing the dart down to the side, and leapt up before I could clear my mind of my mother. The girl came down with her heel forcing me to the ground as she kicked out into my side. I coughed hard and moaned, feeling the snap of bone in my left side. She stood over me while I writhed a bit in pain, and put her foot on my chest. I instinctively grabbed her ankle with all my strength and shoved her back off her balance. She jumped back as I climbed to my feet twisting my wrist quickly to the right. She spoke. "Just give up. You can't win. I'm faster and stronger than you'll ever be."
I laughed till it hurt. Which was a lot less than I would have otherwise given for such a boastful brat. "Honestly, child. You don't know who you are dealing with. Seems like it's time for a lesson." I raised my gauntlet to fire another dart at her quickly. When it fired, she wasn't able to get out of the way of it. The dart blades extended deeply and locked into her leg muscle. She pulled at the plume of it, gritted and let out a short shriek of pain, her eyes wet with tears. She let it go, turned to me with a seething gust, and leapt up into the air. I thought I had plenty of time to get set for her strike. "Kad!" I yelled, and my right gauntlet jerked slightly as the vibroblade began to slide out from its housing.
Her full weight transferred through her boot as she came down into the right breast cup of my beskar'gam. Air left my lungs instantly, and my vision went dark for a fraction of a second. The damage and pain of the impact not yet registering, I had raised and rotated my right forearm to deflect her crimson lightsaber blade with my gauntlet. The scraping contact of the lightsaber with the beskar alloy of the outside of my gauntlet raised a high-pitched chirp and sent sparks flying. As she landed firmly in close quarters, my right hand slipped upward along the inside of her left forearm, scraping the top side of my gauntlet against the underside of her gauntlet. I gasped and curled my knuckles toward the palm of my gloved hand and lunged my head forward as my vibroblade quickly jabbed into the pressure point in the crotch of her left elbow. She dropped her lightsaber before having a chance to rotate her wrist and do damage to my right side. Her scream of pain was quickly punctuated into a gurgling moan with the impact of the top of my helmet on the lower half of her face. She spat blood on the visor of my helmet, and as my right foot moved swiftly to kick away her deactivated lightsaber, I felt her right fist ramming into my broken ribs under my left arm. I screamed and shoved her into a staggered backstep. She spun and lifted from her left heel, sending her right boot heel hard above my right breast cup, audibly cracking my collar bone in two. I gasped and screamed again with the blinding pain, but was somehow able to grapple her right boot and push her backward onto her shebse. She grunted on impact with the ground, and I raised my left gauntlet and curled my knuckles down into my palm, firing a dart that she dodged by moving her left shoulder across her chest. My vision was blurred from tears of overwhelming pain, so I don't know how she recovered so quickly from being on her back. Before I could focus, she kicked my body up against a stack of medium sized veshok-battened crates, cracking several boards and knocking what wind I had left right out of me.
I dropped down to my knees, and she came up to me and kicked the side of my head with the beskar toe of her boot. My helmet came off and bounced and rolled a few feet away. I lay there on the ground a moment reeling from the pain and dazed from the concussion of being kicked off the ground into the crates, and the sharp kick to the head. She grabbed me by my throat with her left hand, picked me up, and turned me around before slamming my face into a crate. Haar'chak! This little devil is so strong! My forehead began bleeding and I felt a steady warm trickle from my nose as I made my mind up for one last ditch effort to get this kid to stop as she took a few steps back.
Not sure how she had the time to find her lightsaber, but she had, and was standing a few feet from me with the crimson blade activated. Suddenly, I felt something grip my throat, and I clawed my hands at my neck to free myself. I gasped and grunted trying to call out, "Rha-!!," but I could feel no physical hand there. Rhanin! I was then picked up off the ground, rising in front of this young girl, whose face and chest were covered in blood. And she held me in her sway as if for humiliating display. Shifting me slightly with the movement of her right hand, like an angry puppetmaster, my feet wildly kicked at the air. I was furious, and this only seemed to make her sneer, and seem more powerful. Fierfek! Ferrigo! Who in the name of Kad Ha'rangir is this kid?! I'm gonna have to kill her before she kills me!
"For my father!" She snarled and slowly raised her right hand further upward, likely feeling some effects of the dart serum, but still curling her fingertips toward each other.
As she began to make a fist, my coughing and gasping was uncontrollable. And my sight began to cloud over. Noticing that my torso was floating above the level of the roofs of the market stalls near us, I pushed aside disbelief and lack of air. Survive, Khatta!! I gritted my teeth and twisted both my wrists to the right quickly. I could barely hear each gauntlet click. Great. My hearing is also going out. She can't be a Jedi! I'm related...to this?! Fier...FEK!!
Through all the pain, I pushed my fists downward and fired darts into each of her shoulders. With my last breath, I seethed. "For...my...mother!"
As they hit, her face twisted with agony and she screamed into the air, squeezing her right hand into a fist, her left fist dropping the crimson bladed light saber. I saw the slowly forming darkness around the edge of my vision move quickly to the center of my focus, then saw a flash of my mother's face. Smiling, she said to me. "I love you Khatta."
Falling backward, seeming to call to the heavens with another blasting shriek, the tiny dark-haired, blood-drenched demon-waif jerked her fist over her right shoulder. My eyes partially opened, I felt my body jerk forward and sail several meters through the air, across the market lane onto the semi-firm fabric roofing of the carpet dealer's stall. Which collapsed dramatically under my weight, snapping or pushing out from ground several support poles.
I groaned deeply as the constriction of my throat eased, but I still couldn't take a full breath. My hands instinctively returned to my neck as I looked over toward my opponent. She was laying motionless on her back, several knock out dart plumes visibly dancing in the breeze, one in each shoulder and one in her left thigh. I gasped and panted, thinking back to how many darts I had used on her. I tried rolling onto my side to get up, but the blinding pains coursing through my body returned me gently onto my back, gasping for air. I had seen people tending to her, and also around me. Exclaiming all sorts of horrors and amazements. I then blacked out.
A Second Chance
I opened my eyes what seemed like only a few minutes later. I lay in a hospital room groggy and in tremendous pain as I tried to sit up. Only to find myself unable to do so. I turned my head to the side and saw darkness outside the window. Turning my eyes to the corner of the room I saw only a small gleam of light from a lamp on a table. It is night time.. How long was I out for? I heard someone at the door about to open it, the tap of keys outside to the right of the pocket door. I was barely able to lift my head to look as Ferrigo entered the room shutting the door behind him.
He noticed I was awake, but just barely. As I met his stare he nodded to me and walked further into the room, finding a seat near the lamp-lit table. I noticed he had a bacta patch on his neck where my dart had hit. I felt no remorse nor guilt over it at that point in time. He spoke finally "So how did you survive your younger sister's wrath?"
I rasped softly in pain, "Quick reflexes. What time is it? How long have I been out?" I tried sitting up again, but was still not able.
I noticed his keen stare and careful reply. "You have been unconscious for an entire day. It's now just past midnight. I wanted to come see if you were okay. Now, tell me your name."
I was in no mood to resist questioning for some reason, but thought nothing of it and quietly said "Khatta is my first name. You already know my last name and my clan." I looked away from his stare to the ceiling.
After hearing a soft rustle of movement, I glanced to see him shifting in his chair. "Well, Khatta," he fixed his gaze on me yet again I noticed. "You certainly have reason to be upset at me, and given who your mother is, perhaps I can understand the darting you gave me. Your sister, however, was only protecting her father."
"Protecting? What is her deal? I know I have some anger management issues...but, she's a total freak of nature," I was beginning to get very animated but pained, and Ferrigo motioned his hand toward me to calm down. "Are you a sith or something? Because that isn't normal." I continued, my voice slightly rattling as I shifted uncomfortably in the angled hospital bed.
Ferrigo took a deep breath. "No, I'm not," and he then looked earnestly into my eyes. "But, Hand'alora has only recently returned to me after being abducted with the rest of my family more than ten years ago. I...lost my wife, Hand'alora, her two brothers and sister." I made a grim half smile and looked down at the bed covers as Ferrigo continued to tell me about the involvement of his once trusted aide, Gela Tre'vhek, and Count Dooku, now leader of the Separatist Confederacy, in the abduction of his family. "Hand'alora was trained as a Sith from the age of seven. She was only rescued from Dooku and an academy of Sith teachings by my cousin, Jannigo Prosstang, and several bounty hunters. And Gela..."
After the re-telling, Ferrigo held his face in his hands as I spoke. "I am sorry for your loss. It must be touching that Hand'alora is so ready to defend you after such a long absence," I paused and wondered aloud. "Dooku is still the leader of the Separatists; and a Sith, at that. What about that di'kut Gela?"
Ferrigo paused, his face still in his hands. "Hand'alora. Hand'alora took her life out of retribution."
I regarded the right side of Ferrigo's face as he sat back in the chair, the dim lamp light faintly illuminating his purple frock coat. "You must have loved Gela. But, I would have done the same thing Hand'alora did. Not sure I would have even waited to come back here to do it. Gela, if she loved you, would never have done something so horrible to you."
Ferrigo nodded. "I am truly blessed to have Alexzandria Grayson in my life."
"She helps you forget the pain of your...losses?" I probed cautiously.
"No. She is much more than that. I have felt a connection to her since she arrived several years ago," Ferrigo blushed.
"She was a child when she arrived. I was there. She is still a kid, you know," I quickly countered.
Ferrigo slightly shook his head and said without apologizing. "Alexzandria and I have a deeply shared bond, and I stayed away to give her time to grow into her womanhood. Now things are changing. Coming together."
"And those guys in her agricultural relief team in Rhell'cyok? You know that some of them don't know seed from stalk," I said with slightly labored breathing. "I was in Rhell'cyok around half a year before Alexzandria and her team arrived. There is something going on with that Grayson team that has nothing to do with agricultural aid. I think you should know that Zak Reddel and Rhett Unteril always follow Alexzandria around...they are totally worthless, like lovesick puppies. Everyone in Rhell'cyok knows it."
Ferrigo cleared his throat and I looked for his reaction. "I know. I'm not worried."
"You should be. Not about Alexzandria. But her team," I said a bit more quietly. "I know they're not out for me, but they are hiding something."
"Count your blessings, Khatta," Ferrigo said firmly, but with warmth. "I'm sure that the villagers of Rhell'cyok will be stunned to learn you are their Aliit'alor's daughter. You know you are welcome to stay at Prosstang Palace, or at the Castle. If you do not feel welcomed back in Kaitom'prosstang."
Abruptly, I shifted the conversation with the grim look still on my face. "Why did you leave my mother?"
Ferrigo inhaled and blew out the air slowly. "Relia," he seemed to be collecting his thoughts. "I thought her heart belonged to my best friend who'd only died a few months before. I was his best man. She was a friend of mine. To many of Jaster Mereel's warriors...Relia Vu'udrel was not a woman to forget."
"Why did you?"
"I didn't. She married my best friend, and one of my mentors, Tyro Kels'mek. He was bigger, stronger, more silent and supportive. Relia, she was a bit wild. For a long time. And a great commando. Special operations and espionage. I was maybe 15 or 16 when we first met. She ended up doing a lot of the up-front intel work to prepare for our combat teams to do their jobs. She was very talented at getting information and silencing anyone who might have gotten in the way," Ferrigo chuckled a little and continued, looking at me. "She was legendary among my comrades for her ability to accurately - no, precisely...put down targets with gauntlet darts from inside 20 meters."
I couldn't help but smile, though I felt a few sharp pains, in my right shoulder and left side.
Ferrigo smiled and shook his head. "At their wedding in full combat gear, as she Keldabe-kissed Tyro on finishing their vows, she fired a dart into my neck," Ferrigo laughed out loud for a moment, his words inflected with a smile. "Some of Mereel's...Jango's men...insisted that it was on purpose. I'd gifted her that left gauntlet only a few nights before, and got Tyro some batteries for his infrared scopes. In any case, when we get together, ner vode and I, it almost always comes to a laugh about the Kels'mek wedding and the poor sot of a best man."
Ferrigo took a deep breath before continuing. "She saved our shebse so many times with her thorough investigations and misinformation campaigns. We really suffered for her not being in on the intel gathering at Galidraan."
I cut in sitting up this time with another question, that sent a searing pain through my broken collar bone. I groaned first, then asked. "Why wasn't she there? Wasn't that where Tyro Kels'mek was killed?"
Ferrigo responded thoughtfully. "Tyro told her to stay home. And for the first time I can remember, she did as he asked," he shifted in his chair a little and softened his voice. "I never forgot your mother, Khatta. Nobody could. But, she and I couldn't put aside the guilt we felt for...Tyro's memory. Relia was a woman I'd admired...and even desired from afar. And when it happened, it was nothing less than beautiful, Khatta. But we both agreed to let it go. For Tyro. I never heard from her again."
"You never came back for her."
"True, I didn't come back," Ferrigo said. "But she was a special woman, and I assumed she moved on to greener forests."
"She didn't. She talked about you. Only you, and some about Tyro Kels'mek," I couldn't hold back a few tears, but said without sobbing. "She once told me she sent someone looking for you, to help me understand who Tyro Kels'mek was, but never found you."
"I'm surprised to hear she was looking for me," Ferrigo said wistfully. "She was everyone's tough-skinned sweetheart. Frankly, I didn't think I could hold her attention."
"Maybe not, but I think you sold yourselves short," I grinned rather grimly. "In time, she did find company with other men. Many men, in fact. Most of them not worth the mud on my boots. But she filled my life with many little half-sisters and half-brothers."
Ferrigo got up from his chair and moved to my bedside, placing his open right hand on my left forearm. "I am here for you now. I can't change the past, only embrace a brighter future. You are my daughter, ner adi'ka. You are a Prosstang by blood. And in name, if you will accept me as your father."
"I have a lot to think about," I said quietly, looking into the corner of the room near the door.
Ferrigo nodded at me "I understand. You need more rest. Don't make me come back in here and dart you." He said in good spirits as he edged closer to the door and looked over his shoulder.
I lay there looking at him "Oh sure.. Dart your daughter while she is injured. I see how you work now buir." I laughed then growled when sharp pain went through my rib cage. I lay back closed my eyes gritted my teeth.
Ferrigo turned slightly looking back a moment before exiting the room. ...
That night after Ferrigo had left, I lay there thinking for a while. I heard someone enter the room after about an hour. It was the nurse checking vitals and administering bacta. I fought to stay awake until Rhanin came to find me. Which thankfully wasn't very long after the nurse had left. He entered the room quietly.
Sitting on the edge of the bed "Vin'ka." he put his hand on my forehead "Are you alright?" He spoke in warm hushed tones.
I nodded "I'm alive right? I found my father." Looking at him solemnly.
"You mean your mother's friend?" Was his response.
"Sort of. It's very complicated right now. I didn't know my father was still alive. Turns out, I'm not a Kels'mek.. I am a Prosstang. Guess who my father is."
He looked into my eyes so closely I felt he looked right through me. Then spoke "You are Aliit'alor's daughter... I knew he had blood relations in just about every city."
"Rhanin, don't go off on another one of your rants. I have a plan, I need to get my shebse back to Kels'mek clan territory. I'm going to find those clan elders, and kill them if need be." I spoke through labored breathing.
Rhanin looked at me "Khatta, you are in no condition to go anywhere..."
I butted in "You let me worry about that Rhan. Now please, tomorrow evening, bring me my gear, I'm going to need it. I'm tired of running to save my skin."
Rhanin looked at me "I can't let you go and injure yourself more. You're going to have to stay here. That's final."
I shook my head while he spoke "Rhanin, I'm fine." I tried to sit up but couldn't. "Okay.. Maybe you're right. I hate when you're right, you know?"
Rhanin chuckled and put his hand back on my forehead "I know, it just kills you doesn't it?"
Subchapter Event #5
- – Someone talking about or being involved in an event or something.
More about this subchapter.
Subchapter Event #6
- – Someone talking about or being involved in an event or something.
More about this subchapter.