View Full Version : Sparring Partners

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 15th, 2019, 11:26:37 AM
Some time ago...
(after the events of Unhinged (https://www.sw-fans.net/forum/showthread.php?21830-Unhinged-8-327))

She had been gone for months. In the time that the Mando'ade of Onderon had been following her as their Mand'alor, they had grown used to her absences. Lilaena was not stupid; she knew that each time she left they wondered if she would be back. Bretak always stepped in to lead when she was gone, and had never betrayed her. He knew how powerful she was, and was strong enough himself to push back any one who might wish to assume the mantle of Mand'alor.

As she made her way back into her home she passed by her honor guard, hastily reassembled during the sparring match with her apprentice. No matter how many times she'd insisted she didn't need a guard, they persisted in being there, everywhere she went. Bretak had finally informed her that 'guard' was a poor term, these were to be her vod, her brothers and sisters of the clan. A Mandalore usually brought up his own closest allies to be his right hand men and women, but she had come with no one.

Choruk, Hel, Jeng, and Obed were those Bretak had chosen to fill the position, and they were outside her door, standing casually as if they had nothing better to do than to babysit her when she was in the camp. Lilaena paused in her doorway, making eye contact with Hel.

"See that I am not disturbed," she said in accented mando'a, trying to keep the exhaustion out of her voice. Lilaena pushed through into the first room, intending to make it into the bedchamber, but a surge of pain from her side sent her falling into a chair.

She sucked in a breath, trying to pull her bloodied shirt away from her side to inspect the wound. Her arms were trembling with exhaustion and not cooperating. If Grime decided to follow her now... but no, he was in worse shape than she was.

Lilaena bit her lip as she worked the cloth from where it was sticking to the old bandage, but she couldn't see it where it was high on her side. She got shakily to her feet, focusing just on walking to where a piece of mirrored glass was hung on the wall. Her foot caught the leg of the second chair, sending it clattering backward to the ground, but she ignored it, leaning with one hand on the wall as she tried to twist so she could see the bandage without exacerbating the injury too much.

Behind her she heard the door open, and the Force told her it was one of her honor guard. Not a threat. A flash of irritation rose up - they seemed to do whatever they wanted, no matter what she asked them. She straightened up and let her shirt drop, but didn't turn around.

"If you are going to stare, you might as well come help me."

Mar 18th, 2019, 02:34:48 AM
The mirror reflected the figure behind her. Tall and broad with no helmet to conceal the close-cropped blond hair and familiar face of Jeng.

“And if you’re going to get yourself beaten up, you need to learn how to do a better job of this,” he said in his native mando'a, fingertips brushing a ragged edge of the bandage, where the fabric of it had come away and apparently been attached to her shirt. A little of the skin beneath was visible, red and angry. A frown wrinkled his brow.

“How long’s this been on?”

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 18th, 2019, 10:49:23 AM
"A day... two days," she amended, inhaling through gritted teeth as Jeng worked the bandage loose from the injury. Lilaena held the edge of her shirt up and out of the way, watching him in the mirror.

She was going to have to do something about Grime. Dalamar had been a completely different kind of apprentice - he had been able to channel his darker emotions into the Force, but there was always a calmness about it. Sort of, anyway. He was unfailingly polite to her, even when angry.

If Dalamar DeSang was a blowtorch, Hawkins Grime was a wildfire.

"I've got the drexl by the tail," she muttered in mando'a, something she'd heard Granoi say a few times, usually to children.

Mar 18th, 2019, 11:14:35 AM
Jeng lifted the last of the bandage away and set it aside. The fight with Grime had agitated wounds that were part way through healing, but there was no torrent of blood or obvious inflammation of the flesh around the cuts that would be cause for concern.

“Nothing too serious,” he said. “We’ll clean these up and get them re-dressed,” he added, looking about for a moment before spotting a small medikit close to hand. There were similar supplies all throughout the camp, and all of the Mando’ade made a point of being proficient in their use. He set the fallen chair back onto its legs then flipped the kit open and set it on the chair.

“Shirt off,” he said, with an upward motion of his open palm. While she worked to get the clothing off, he picked through the contents of the medikit.

“You know, you don’t handle a drexl on your own. You do it as a team.”

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 18th, 2019, 11:49:53 AM
Lilaena tugged her shirt over her head, dropping it unceremoniously to the floor. She turned and lifted her arm, looking at the partially healed cuts in the mirror. Blood was leaking around the scabs.

"If the ones who tame..." Her mando'a failed her, and Lilaena switched back to Basic. "Taming a drexl is different from hunting it. It's difficult to do, without the right skills."

She lifted the shirt from the floor with the Force, and tossed it into the corner of the room.

Perhaps this was what Callidus felt like, when dealing with her. Only, she was pretty sure Grime wanted her dead. As soon as he got all he wanted from her teaching, he would turn on her.

Mar 19th, 2019, 04:23:55 AM
For her benefit, Jeng spoke in Basic too. He grinned. “Show me a tame drexl and I’ll show my arse in the middle of camp.”

He poured saline solution onto a gauze pad and began to dab at the cuts, cleaning away what he could. He patted her side dry with a towel, and though the fabric still came away with flecks of blood, it would have to do. A fresh dressing came next. Jeng pressed it firmly into place while the adhesive took hold.

“No more sparring until this is healed.”

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 19th, 2019, 09:32:20 AM
Lilaena grunted in reply, gingerly moving her arm and testing how much the bandage on her side pulled when she moved. Jeng had done a good job patching her up, but as his fingers touched her side once more to smooth down one edge of the self-sealing dressing it was Salem Ave she was seeing in the mirror. His fingers tracing along her ribcage. His body close enough behind her she could feel the heat of it.

Her heartbeat thumped in her ears, and she looked away abruptly, twisting out of his reach. Stupid, stupid girl.

Lilaena looked down, as if just realizing her state of undress, and her shirt zipped across the room to the palm of her hand.

"Thank you, that will be fine." She didn't look directly at Jeng, instead focusing off to the side, her face a little flushed as she pulled her shirt on.

Mar 19th, 2019, 11:54:47 AM
(after the events of The Empty Orphanage (https://theholo.net/forum/showthread.php?55826-The-Empty-Orphanage))

In a common room aboard the Ne'ta Prudii, there was a crude circle painted on the deck plating. Back on Onderon, it would have been a patch of dirt, distinct only because the grass within was thin, patches of hard earth showing through after being trampled by so many shifting feet and falling bodies. Here, it was a rough white line that traced the outermost perimeter of a battle circle. There was no right or wrong way to mark the space that Mand’alor now stood in, lightsaber in hand. What mattered wasn’t how the circle was drawn, it's precision or it's size, but that it was there and that it’s rules were respected. That there wasn’t much room aboard the YT-1760 transport, yet space had been set aside for the circle, spoke volumes of its importance to the mando’ade.

Jeng watched from outside the circle as Lilaena cycled through a series of precise movements with the Jetii'kad.

“Had a feeling I’d find you here.”

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 19th, 2019, 12:16:55 PM
Lilaena hissed out a breath, her muscles glistening with sweat as she whipped through another Vapaad form. Deactivating her lightsaber, she let her arms hang by her sides as she turned to face Jeng. "I could not sleep."

In one of the cabins lay a tiny Rodian girl, barely holding onto life as the scientist they had captured tended to her. In another cabin the other five children were sleeping - Lilaena could sense their peace with the Force. Akasha was asleep in the galley, along with some of the other Mando'ade. Zereth was sitting up in the cockpit.

She could feel all of them, knew their satisfaction of a job well done. Imperials slaughtered. The wrinkled old doctor burned to death in his own lab.

Still, she could not sleep.

Tossing her saber away, she looked at the Mando'ade and then down at the circle in an open invitation.

Mar 19th, 2019, 02:00:08 PM
Jeng looked down at the circle, then back up at Mand’alor. He studied her expression, trying to discern anything about her state of mind and, as usual, found her a difficult one to read.

“Unarmed? Armor on or off?” he said, preemptively tightening the fastenings of one vambrace. Though he wasn’t wearing his helmet or jetpack, Jeng was otherwise dressed as he had been during the mission to Talus.

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 19th, 2019, 02:10:41 PM
“Unarmed. No armor.” Lilaena paced to the far side of the circle, waiting for him to take off his armor. She wore leggings and a tank top, and her hair swept up into a short ponytail.

She stretched a bit, rolling her shoulders and cracking her neck. “Take your time,” she said dryly, goading Jeng as he piled his armor carefully outside the circle.

Mar 20th, 2019, 03:20:45 AM
PIece by piece, Jeng shed the many parts of his armour. Shoulder pauldrons, breastplate, all of it removed with care.

“You’re enjoying watching this, eh?” he said, glancing up with a grin from working loose the last piece, a shin guard. Stripped of the beskar armor, he wore only the durasteel-grey body glove that formed the lightweight base layer of the suit.

He paced barefoot to the edge of the battle circle. Ordinarily, the circle demanded an audience, a referee at least, but this was no fight for clan supremacy. They could do without.

Without ceremony, Jeng crossed the painted line.

“On your word, alor.”

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 20th, 2019, 06:53:27 AM
Lilaena padded over to him, the deck cold under her bare feet. Meeting in the middle of the circle, she put her hands up in a loose defensive posture, hands open.

“Begin,” she said, her voice short as she concentrated on the way his muscles bunched under his bodyglove. Anticipating his move, she slapped aside the first strike and the second, stepping back as he flowed forward.

Seeing a quick opening she abruptly held her ground, grabbing his arm and yanking him to the side. He let her throw him over her hip, and she straddled him in a finishing move, but held her hand above his his face without landing the strike.

”Do not think you should take it easy on me,” she said, finally tapping him between the eyes with the tips of her fingers.

Mar 20th, 2019, 07:24:07 AM
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” he said, batting her hand aside as though swatting a fly. Jeng raised his knees, planted his feet hard against the deck plating and bucked his hips. In a single motion, Lilaena tumbled off to the side and he rolled with her, their positions abruptly reversed. She was quick and lithe, but Jeng had the height and weight advantage to make it a short fight if he could stay on top.

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 20th, 2019, 09:57:36 AM
She scrambled underneath him, shoving him up enough so she could twist to her hands and knees. Crouched, Lilaena wrapped an arm around the outside of his, spinning around until she faced him as she drove him toward the deck with her shoulder.

Launching from her toes, she slammed into his side, trying to wrap him up.

Mar 20th, 2019, 11:35:06 AM
Jeng rolled, letting out a huff of breath as he tumbled across the decking. He scrambled back up to his feet, stooped low with his stance set wide, waiting for her to come to him, fingers teasing the air in anticipation.

“You fight well.”

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 20th, 2019, 12:47:42 PM
“So I’ve been told.” Lilaena grinned despite herself, adrenaline banishing her gloomy thoughts.

Fighting hand-to-hand was not something she did very often, but she had grappled with Granoi and Hel before, learning moves she could use in case she didn’t have her lightsaber. Or the Force.

It it was tempting to simply drag him toward her, but she closed the distance, throwing a few punches that he dodged or blocked.

”Of course, I don’t usually fight like this,” she said, dancing back a little.

Mar 20th, 2019, 01:04:38 PM
“How do you normally fight?” he asked, stepping in to deliver two quick jabs. On the second strike, she caught his fist with preternatural quickness and he weaved away to the left before she could twist his arm into a lock.

He feigned another punch, aiming high, then with a quick step to the left, drove a kick at her knee.

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 20th, 2019, 01:24:24 PM
Lilaena caught his foot with hers, hooking it and shoving him back. As he regained his balance she threw herself into a one handed cartwheel, driving both feet down at his head, one after the other.

Mar 21st, 2019, 05:43:11 AM
Jeng lurched backwards to avoid the first kick, upper body twisting just enough to escape what would have been a staggering blow to the head, though the second caught him in the chest. The Mando’ade of Onderon practised many forms of combat, but the acrobatic flare of the cartwheel was beyond Jeng’s skillset. Still, he wasn’t without aerial maneuevers of his own. As she completed the cartwheel, he hoped to capitalise on what might be some unsteady footing, so jumped and twisted at the hips, driving a two-footed dropkick at the centre of her breastbone.

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 21st, 2019, 09:51:40 AM
As she landed Lilaena grounded herself through her feet, pulling up her arms to put her fists near her face. As she did so Jeng launched at her, both feet slamming between her forearms and catching her in the chest.

She tried to stay upright, rather than moving with the blow, and staggered backward. Jeng landed hard from the drop kick, but he was quickly rolling to his feet while she was struggling to get air back into her lungs.

Lilaena drew in a ragged breath and readied to counter whatever he came at her with.

Mar 21st, 2019, 12:02:55 PM
“We should do this more often,” Jeng said, taking a moment to catch his breath too, as they stood facing off against one another. His side ached some from the impact with the dropkick, but he could see from the rise and fall of her chest that it’d had the desired effect. He had to strike now and press for the advantage. Centre of gravity low, he edged forward and swiped first left then right, aiming to grab behind her knees and pull her legs out from beneath her.

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 21st, 2019, 12:32:03 PM
The workout was exhausting her body to match her mental exhaustion from the long day. Lilaena fumbled the counter to his move, and found herself on her back, breath knocked out of her again.

Mar 21st, 2019, 12:47:28 PM
Jeng dropped to the ground with Lilaena and, sensing an potential impending victory, he slammed the length of his forearm down across her collarbone, aiming to pin her in place beneath him.

His face loomed above hers, his expression challenging her to yield.

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 21st, 2019, 01:03:27 PM
It was tempting to use the Force to shove him off, maybe slam him into a bulkhead while she was at it, but this was the Battle Circle and there were traditions to be upheld, even in a sparring match.

Lilaena struggled for a moment, trying to buck him off of her, but his arm pressed harder and closer to her neck. She let her body go limp, breathing hard.

"I yield," she said, looking up at him, a tired grin tracing her face. Lilaena closed her eyes, waiting for him to release her. After a long moment she opened them again.

"You can get off me now."

Mar 21st, 2019, 01:22:04 PM
Sitting back onto his haunches in the space between Lilaena’s legs, Jeng smiled a lopsided smile down at her. He held out a hand, offering to help her up.

“Want to go again?”

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 21st, 2019, 01:30:33 PM
She accepted his hand up, but yanked hard to pull him off balance as she scrambled to her knees.

"I think I'm too tired to think clearly." Lilaena sat back on her heels. "Can't stop thinking about that terrible place, though."

It made her so angry to think about children being used like that, as expendable objects for some mad scientist's experiment. Lilaena clenched her fists until her knuckles whitened, her fingernails digging into her palms.

Mar 21st, 2019, 01:53:22 PM
The fight had allowed them to think, for a while, about something other than the trip to Talus. Jeng pressed his lips into a hard line for a moment, considering what they had seen.

“We did what we could. We made a difference.”

He glanced down at Lilaena’s hands, at the tension in her fists and the whitening knuckles. “Don’t let that anger build up inside of you.”

Getting up from the deck plating to stand, Jeng rolled his shoulders as he watched Lilaena rise. “You ever need to let off some steam, let me know.”

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 21st, 2019, 02:05:49 PM
"I thought that was what we were doing - ohh. Oh." Lilaena's eyes widened a bit as Jeng raised an eyebrow. "No. No, I don't think so."

Wasn't he with Hel, anyway? She could have sworn she'd seen the two of them sneaking off together a few weeks ago. She realized she was staring at him and turned away, a little flustered.

"I don't - thank you for the offer?" Lilaena shook her head, smoothing her tank top across her middle with her hands.

Mar 21st, 2019, 02:16:21 PM
Jeng just nodded, not appearing remotely crestfallen at the rejection. “Consider it an open invitation,” he said, turning away, toward the edge of the circle and the pile of armour waiting for him.

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 21st, 2019, 02:32:35 PM
Lilaena didn't reply. She walked outside the circle and held out her hand, her lightsaber hilt snapping into it.

He was so nonchalant about what he'd just offered to her. While she didn't really believe what A'na had taught her - that to remain pure of body was to keep herself pure of purpose - she found herself still holding on to her virginity. Not that it made her special or anything. Perhaps she was holding on to some old fashioned notion of giving herself to the right person.

Of course, that person was all too happy to muck about with his underlings. Lilaena's cheeks flushed, an image of Salem and Razielle entwined together appearing in her mind. Angry, she tried to think about something else. They both would likely try to kill her if they ever saw her again. "Try," being the operative word.

If nothing else, Jeng had succeeded in completely distracting her.

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 21st, 2019, 02:49:24 PM
(after the events of Malleable (https://theholo.net/forum/showthread.php?57750-Malleable))

The Ne'ta Prudii sat in the middle of the moors on Terephon, cloaked in fog. Lilaena was only able to find it again because her HUD was programmed with its location, and her speeder cut through the heavy mists toward it.

She slid to a halt beside the light freighter, dismounting from the speeder. Standing there for a moment, the dampness of the planet curling around her boots, she seemed to come to a decision.

Salem Ave would have been content to allow her to yearn for him, as long as it remained unsaid. When she had kissed him he made his choice known. In some ways, it had been ...liberating. She had finally said what had burned inside her for so long, and instead of his rejection breaking her, she had walked away as strong as before.

Lilaena thumped her fist on the hull of the ship, walking to the hatch and keying it open with the touchpad.

Mar 21st, 2019, 03:10:54 PM
Jeng was waiting on board, bare arms folded across his chest as he leant against the frame of the doorway to the common room. He looked Lilaena over, taking stock of her appearance.

“Su cuy'gar,” he said in greeting. So, you’re still alive.

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 21st, 2019, 03:21:50 PM
Lilaena nodded, riding the speeder up into the ship. “It was a little anticlimactic in that regard,” she said. Dismounting, she bent down to fasten the speeder into its place.

When she straightened, she faced Jeng, taking in his broad shoulders and muscular arms. “You once offered... you said if I ever wanted to blow off steam...”

Lilaena took one bold step toward him before she halted.

“If you are still...” Her voice trailed off and she was mortified to feel the heat rising in her face.

Mar 21st, 2019, 03:37:42 PM
It had been almost a year since he’d first mentioned the prospect of the two of them letting off some steam together. She’d said nothing about it since, and Jeng hadn’t thought anything of it either. Not until now, seeing the flush rising in Lilaena’s cheeks. He stood up, away from the door frame, not quite so languid anymore.

“The offer still stands.”

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 21st, 2019, 03:56:09 PM
Her heart was hammering in her chest. Lilaena took another step forward, unbuckling the gauntlet on her left arm and letting it fall to the ground. She stood right in front of him, looking up into his blue eyes.

“I would ...hiibir gar laam bat bic.” Her mando’a was nearly flawless now. Take you up on it.

And for the second time that day she stretched up and kissed someone on the lips. It was an almost chaste peck, her inexperience probably obvious to him.

Mar 21st, 2019, 04:11:50 PM
There wasn’t a chaste bone in Jeng’s body. He returned that gentle, tentative kiss with something more firm, more mando’ade. One calloused hand cupped Lilaena's cheek, fingers sifting into her hair. The other settled onto her hip, his palm following the curve of her body up to small of her back, pulling her closer.

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 21st, 2019, 06:35:39 PM
Lilaena gasped against his mouth as he pulled her close, her body stiffening instinctively. Heat rushed over her and she slowly relaxed against him, returning the kiss with sudden urgency.

Her hand found its way around his neck, fingers brushing against the short hairs on the back of his head as she pressed more firmly against him. Her armor -

Lilaena concentrated on the Force for a moment and the fastenings on the various pieces of armor she wore began to unclick and release as she started to struggle out of them without breaking off the kiss.

Mar 22nd, 2019, 04:43:39 AM
The clang of metal hitting the decking brought to mind Jeng’s own armour. He made to move the hand at Lilaena's back, to work at the clasps that held his chestplate in place, but seconds later heard the fastenings clicking loose, as if own their own accord. He broke from the kiss, long enough to shrug the harness over his head and into the pile with Mand'alor's discarded armor.

“Here?” he asked, eyes shifting for a moment around the half-light in the ships hangar.

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 22nd, 2019, 09:29:43 AM
Lilaena looked around at the sterile hangar and shook her head as she pulled her own chestplate over her head.


She dropped the armor and grabbed his hand, towing him into the rest of the ship. Her cabin would be better. There was at least a bed in it.

Lilaena stopped outside her door and turned to face Jeng as she opened it. “You should know... I ...this is my...

”Oh, never mind.” She kissed him in the open doorway, fingers fumbling for the zipper on his bodyglove.

Mar 22nd, 2019, 10:37:13 AM
The living quarters aboard the Ne'ta Prudii were far from ample, making it a short stumble from the doorway to the bed. Jeng shrugged out of his sleeves, the upper half of his bodyglove slipping down to his waist.

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 22nd, 2019, 10:59:54 AM
She ran her hands over his bare chest and around to his back as he found the zipper to her bodyglove, tugging it down and exposing her back to the air. Lilaena hesitated for a moment, holding him close so that she couldn't be peeled out of her clothes. His hands returned to her skin, fingers on the thick scars that criss-crossed her back, and he kissed her again, with the same urgency as before.

Lilaena pulled him down to the bed.


She lay gasping for breath as Jeng collapsed beside her, their legs still tangled together. Lilaena turned to her side, letting her eyes take in his muscular form now that the frantic urgency of the last half an hour had abated.

"I didn't know it would be like ...that," she said, a smile tracing her lips.

Mar 22nd, 2019, 11:28:55 AM

Jeng lay on his back, his head propped up on one arm, his chest rising and falling with long, slow breaths. He shifted a little, so that he could meet Lilaena's smile with one of his own.

“What were you expecting?”

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 22nd, 2019, 11:54:38 AM
She shrugged. "I don't know... I knew the mechanics of course, but to do it..." Her voice trailed off.

Lilaena sat up abruptly, crossing her arms over her breasts. "Do not tell anyone about this," she said, a warning in her tone as she pulled the sheet up to cover herself while she looked for her underclothes.

Mar 22nd, 2019, 12:20:51 PM
Watching as Lilaena struggled to keep the sheets around her body while she picked up her hastily discarded clothes, Jeng suppressed a grin. He felt no need to be modest about his body, not when it had been flush against hers a matter of minutes ago, but he bit his tongue and kept the thought to himself.

“I won’t. Ori'haat,” he said instead, pressing his palm to his chest, over his heart, as he sat up.

“Should I... get the ship started?”

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 22nd, 2019, 12:44:27 PM
"Elek, vi ru'kir slanar."* Lilaena gave up on her clothes and sat on the edge of the bed, looking sideways at him with the sheet still clutched to her.

"Then vi liser vaabir bic tug'yc..?"** She raised an eyebrow, her body already stirring at the thought.

*Yes, we should go.
**then we can do it again..?

Mar 22nd, 2019, 01:37:48 PM

The mess hall of the Haran rang with laughter. Cups and crockery rattled as they were settled down onto one of the long tabletops. Choruk stood over to the table where the rest of Mand’alor’s honour guard sat, carrying a broad terrine dish. “Fill your boots!” he said, grinning, as he placed the dish of hot, fragrant stew in front of Hel, Jeng, and Obed.

Jeng passed out spoons to the others, while Obed sniffed at the contents and feigned a look of mock distaste. “I see you’re still hell-bent on using engine grease for stock.”

“Only the best for you, ori’vod,” Choruk agreed, as he slid down onto the bench beside Jeng.

Opposite the tall blond, Hel merely lifted an eyebrow, her expression dry as old mythosaur bones, and shook her head, while beside her Obed grinned a grin so dumb that Jeng couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of it.

Still smiling, Jeng’s eyes met Lilaena’s as she entered the mess hall. He lifted his chin a fraction, then nodded down at the table, as if to say: you're welcome here.

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 22nd, 2019, 02:20:11 PM
The mess hall was nearly empty when Lilaena walked into it. She had visited it many times in the past - a few faces would turn toward her, there were nods of respect, and then everyone returned to their meals. She never stayed, usually eating alone in the conference room off the bridge or in her quarters. But today...

She caught Jeng’s eye and crossed the hall to join her honor guard, her vod, sliding onto the bench beside Choruk. There was a moment of surprised silence, in which she reached out and broke off a piece of the warm, crusty bread that Tal in the kitchens was so good at making.

Lilaena dipped it into the communal dish, bringing it to her mouth. As she chewed she spoke around the mouthful.


She grinned, and the Mando’ade laughed with her, their surprise at her arrival quickly fading away.

Mar 22nd, 2019, 02:48:19 PM
“What did I tell you,” said Obed, both eyebrows lifted, gesticulating with a chunk of bread to emphasise his point. Choruk happily shovelled in another mouthful, clearly pleased to have Manda’lor partaking of his cooking.

“The trip went well, then?” Hel asked, eyes shifting between Jeng - who was rather inelegantly chewing a mouthful of stew - and Lilaena.

“You sorted out that… old business?”

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 22nd, 2019, 03:44:50 PM
“Yes,” Lilaena said. Testing the waters with an old ally to see if she had a new enemy at her back. “The situation was not as bad as I feared it might be. He will not oppose us.”

She caught Jeng’s eye as she reached for more bread, keeping the smile off her face that she felt in her heart. How would she keep their...their whatever it was a secret if she couldn’t treat him the way she always had?

”Confronting a potential enemy is always better than leaving them to lurk in the bushes,” opined Choruk sagely. “I prefer a straight fight to being stabbed in the back.”

Lilaena let the talk of the others fill the space as she ate. It was strange to sit with them, these warriors she had lived among for years, and begin to finally let her guard down. Strange, but... good?

She grinned at a joke Obed told, helping herself to more stew.

Mar 25th, 2019, 03:12:53 PM
Their talk meandered about the topic of old enemies and grudges, and drifted as inevitably as it always did to momentous victories.

“Look, none of you were there, but I’m telling you it was two fully grown boma - big, meaty bastards - and I took them out with my bare hands,” said Obed, who then threw his hands up in the air, as if to say: this is the truth, take it or leave it.

Choruk almost choked on his stew, laughing.

“What about you, alor?” Jeng said, with a knowing smile, first at Obed and then at Lilaena. “You must have some stories.”

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 25th, 2019, 03:32:06 PM
Lilaena’s knowing smirk froze at Jeng’s question, and her eyes widened a bit. Stories? Her?

There was the time she found a planet full of dead bodies. Not a victory. Also, terrible for meal time.

The four Mando’ade sitting with her had been present for most of her recent victories. But before that...

“I killed a drexl on Dxun,” she said, a serious expression on her face. “Singlehandedly. Outside the beskar tomb of Freedon Nadd.”

Silence fell at the table. Dxun figured hugely in their myths and history, usually a subject of reverence (if only for its extreme deadliness).

”What about you, Jeng?” she asked, quickly taking another bite of stew as her eyes met his.

Mar 25th, 2019, 04:33:40 PM
Did he believe that Drexl story? She certainly looked serious, and it wasn’t too difficult to imagine… Jeng lifted an eyebrow as Lilaena caught his eye. “Me?”

He paused and, looking down, took a moment to dip a particularly tough bit of bread crust into his soup. He gave a little shrug of one shoulder.

When he looked up again, it was right at her, still smiling. “I don’t like to brag.”

“Bollocks!” Hel cut in, right away, and once again Choruk had to clamp a hand over his mouth as if coughed through his laughter.

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 25th, 2019, 04:47:24 PM
Lilaena’s eyes stayed on his, Choruk cough-laughing between them, and she raised an eyebrow.

“I’m sure you can think of something,” she said, trying to keep it light while her eyes told him you better not start bragging about anything recent.

Mar 26th, 2019, 03:38:34 PM
Jeng tipped his head to one side, weighing up his answer.

“Snuck up on a Dxunian stalker once, ripped the stingers right out of its tails.”

That earned an approving nod from Obed, although not with the same look of almost dumbstruck reverence as Lilaena’s drexl-slaying story. It was no small thing to surprise a Dxunian stalker, but they weren't winged beasts of death.

“But... all of this pales next to the time I beat Hel at a drinking contest. That was a truly momentous victory,” he added, grinning down the bench at Hel.

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 26th, 2019, 03:55:03 PM
Hel snorted, wiping her mouth on the back of her hand. “You must have hit your head when you slipped off your stool. I remember that night quite differently!”

The good natured ribbing continued until all the stew was gone. Lilaena joined in as best she could, but it did not come easily. It reminded her of her time in SpecForce with her unit. Back then she just let the jokes and camaraderie wash around her. Here, she found herself trying to take part and realizing she didn’t know how.

Obed cleared the dishes while Choruk excused himself to check on the besu’liik. Hel looked at Lilaena and then to Jeng.

“I will catch up later,” she said, picking up a dish to assist Obed.

Lilaena found herself walking out of the mess hall with Jeng.

”Good meal,” she said, just to fill the silence. “I... hadn’t realized what I’ve been missing by being alone.”

Mar 26th, 2019, 04:21:56 PM
“Choruk is a decent cook,” Jeng conceded, serious at first but then letting a smile creep into his expression.

“You can eat with us whenever you like. No reason to be alone, when you can have some company," he added, with a sidelong look at her.

Lilaena De'Ville
Mar 26th, 2019, 04:39:31 PM
She side-eyed him as well, finally cracking a smile and looking away.

It felt strange to finally own her place here among the Mando’ade. To be doing what she wanted to do.

Lilaena rubbed her temple, closing her eyes for a moment. There was no one to command her but herself. No master to whip or berate her, to send her across the galaxy on a mission for their needs. She led these people, and they trusted her to be there for them.

Perhaps it was time she began to trust them as well.