kyra_avIn what was quickly becoming a common occurrence, the sound of a light foil cutting the air could be heard coming from the Soul’s secondary cargo hold. An area that had been more or less given over to the crew’s resident force-user in training. Kyra wove her way through the basic Shii-Cho movements to the more refined Makashi – a style that focused on blade to blade combat and was most suited to the smaller hilt of the light foil. Fluidity of form danced the young woman around the hold in what could be perceived as performance art as much as melee fighting.

Her repeated sessions, both with the blade and in meditation were paying off with a level of focus she’d not been able to reach in many, many months. She has also begun dipping her toe into the Soresu form, which was particularly suited for defense against blasters. The light foil wasn’t going to be very effective against much more than a hold-out blaster, but training was training, so she thumbed a switch on her belt, activating a training remote.

The little sphere’s repulsor-lift sent it into the air with a swish as the remote kicked into life. Kyra opened herself to the force in an attempt to glean where the remote’s randomization sub-routines would send the first numbing bolt of energy. What she found herself most keenly aware of however, was not the remote, but a strong wave of emotion from the general direction of the cockpit. The redhead frowned, absently flicking the remote’s first volley out of the air as though it were nothing before she deactivated the device.

The hum of her blade died as well as she made her way to the door of the hold. Kyra’s hand hovered over the intercom momentarily before deciding that maybe a walk was more in order. The cargo bay hatchway opened and closed with a thunk at Kyra’s exit.

Arden sat in the cockpit, with her knees pulled up to her chest. She stared out at the stars whizzing by. It always seemed to calm her, and she needed all the help she could get. Ever since they had their last meeting with Durga, the little pilot was feeling more stress than ever.

She fidgeted with a hole in the arm of her chair and sighed and rubbed her eyes. She wasn’t sure if it was that she was tired or if it was stress, but her eyes were watering and burning.

“Arden?” Kyra’s voice called from behind the pilot. “Is, uh… Is everything okay?”

Arden nearly jumped out of the seat. As it was, her legs shot out in front of her slamming hard against the console with a sickening crack. Arden grumbled a few choice swear words under her breath as she rubbed her now throbbing knee.

“Oh hey, Kyra,” she said with strained politeness, “I didn’t see you there.” She said wiping the residue of wetness from her eyes. “Y-yeah everything’s fine.” Her nose punctuated the sentence by giving a large sniff.

Kyra leaned against the bulkhead, crossing her arms over her chest. The ‘Uh-huh, right’ Arden expected went unspoken and was instead offered a: “You want to talk about it?”

Arden sighed heavily and looked back out the window at the long strings of light. “I don’t know,” she said after a long pause, “after our little meeting with the slug some…” she thought about her answer,”unfortunate memories.” She started fiddling with the whole in the arm of the chair again.

Kyra jockeyed the co-pilot’s seat around so she could sit. “Must have been something heavy. Might help if you got it off your chest.”

Arden’s eyes almost imperceptibly shot sideways towards Kyra and then back to the starfield. For several long moments, Arden said nothing. Finally her mouth opened again. “There’s a reason Durga put me on board this ship, and it wasn’t just to be a pilot,” she sighed heavily again, “Why would anyone honestly believe that someone, especially a Hutt, would just loan out a slave?”

Kyra shrugged. “Not exactly, but I’m not what you would call an expert on the inner workings of a crime lord’s mind. I just assumed that you were something of an insurance policy. If something were to happen to Trey, you’d be the one to bring the Soul back to Durga.”

Arden chuckled mirthlessly. “Something of an insurance policy,” she repeated, “that’s a really good way to put it.” She pulled her knees back up to her chest again and wound her arms around them. A crinkle of a smile crossed her lips as she thought. “I have no clue why I’m telling you this. We’ve never really even said as much as hello really.”

“You know, I guess we haven’t, have we?” Since Trey had agreed to take her on, she’d really only had any extended contact with Bralor. Kyra had initially felt like an outsider for the most part, imposing on the kindness – or the convenience – of a family. However, the more time she spent with this crew, the less they seemed like a family and more like a collection of personalities that only tolerated each other because they were forced to.

Maybe if she could get Arden to open up… The redhead smiled and extended her hand, “Kyra Wolfknyght. Nice to meet you.”

Arden chuckled and took Kyra’s hand. “Arden Ramis.” She wrapped her arms back around her legs.”Your analogy about an insurance policy is pretty close. Durga guards his investments very tightly; he told Trey that he was sending an indentured servant pilot with him to keep Trey on schedule, what he didn’t tell Trey was I came on board with much different orders.”

Kyra’s senses pricked with the wave of conflict that rolled off of Arden. She had an inkling to where this was going. “I take that to mean something… unpleasant?”

“You could say that.” Arden said with a sigh. “To put it mildly, Durga hates Trey. He wants to get the money Trey owes him and then get rid of him.”

Kyra took a deep breath and exhaled heavily. “You’re not in an enviable position. You don’t do what Durga says and you spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder for whoever he sends after you. You do what Durga says and, well…”

“Yeah,” Arden nodded, “I never told Bralor and Trey cause in the beginning it was just a job being with them, but now…” Arden felt her eyes begin to sting again as she consciously fought back tears.

“Hey,” Kyra reached out a lay a hand on Arden’s arm, giving the blonde a little shake, “it’s not usually the kind of thing you tell your boss and his big scary Mandolorian buddy the first day on the job.”

Arden sniffed heavily. “And then as time went by it just got harder and harder to bring it up. Oh by the way now that we’ve been together for a year I wanted to tell you that Durga planned on me killing you as soon as you paid him off.” She said mockingly. “And then Trey, being the idiot he is goes and offers to buy me! Yeah that would make it easier.” Arden buried her head into her knees.

Silence, save for Arden’s sniffling, settled between them. Kyra considered the options, none of which seemed to have an outcome that didn’t involve Arden coming clean to the others in some way or another. Finally, she spoke, “So what’s to stop you from telling them now? You obviously don’t wantto put a blaster bolt between Trey’s eyes… at least not for Durga.” She gave the young pilot a small smile. “Come clean. Tell Trey what’s at stake, and maybe we can figure a way out of this together.”

There was an even harder sniffling from Arden. Then after several long and horrible seconds for the blond she finally looked back up. “I just hope they could forgive me for not telling them sooner.”

“I promise I’ll do my best not to let them chuck you out an airlock,” Kyra teased. “C’mon… you probably want to get this over with sooner than later.”

“Wait,” Arden put her hand on Kyra’s arm, “we’re coming out of hyperspace now. We’re gonna be busy getting rid of Tilla” she said like she was discussing mynock removal, “we can tell them about it after, okay?”

“Sounds good.”

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