Ask  Plot Cold Shoulder

Discussion in 'Expansion Region and Mid Rim' started by Skuld Stark, Apr 15, 2019.

  1. Skuld Stark

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    Coming to, and Arriving at, Ando Prime
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    Skuld Stark was, by nature, a very calm, patient woman, with occasional spurts of deep rage or frustration. But when discovering the very tech they needed to access advanced armor defense was on her old home planet of Ando Prime, it was suffice to say that the Deucalian was anything but.

    She kept forgetting things, nearly dropping objects, and pacing around, nervously muttering in almost every language of her exhaustive database, primarily Deucalic and Basic, but a flurry of others, as though the barrier of language would have kept her from going mad within the ship.

    She was sure she was driving her partner to distraction, but she could hardly help it. She would be coming back to a people that had shunned her for her husband's actions... at least until she would return to prove herself. She would perhaps regain her honor and her name, then. Perhaps... she could finally hold her children again.

    She missed them both so much that it was like a stab to the chest.

    When she wasn't pacing the durasteel off the deck, she was locked away in her room or Tagal's; either keeping her mind distracted or looking over all the pictures of her children when alone. She couldn't help it; she just knew that her brother in law Skalvard would insist she see them, as well as his wife, her younger sister Inara. She dreaded facing her father again... but it could hardly be helped. He was a Jarl. And they were landing close to Stark territory.

    She also trained relentlessly during her spare time, as if fighting for her life. And every night was plagued with dreams and nightmares.

    So when she heard they finally approached, she sighed. She did not wear a helmet, but the house colors of her clan blazed brightly against the silver and black.

    She glanced at her companion, giving a faint half-smile.

    "...This should be interesting..."

    They still had time yet, but she couldn't stay put. She was impatient to move, and get in and out. Best to make this as fast as possible, before he asked too many questions.

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  2. Tagal Saxon

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    By all the Gods, Skuld Stark was a woman that Tagal had thought he was coming to understand and then she came through and did things like this. She was a woman who would usually laugh at the very idea that she could be nervous about anything and yet here she was nervous as an expectant father who didn't actually know if the kids were going to be his.

    He had gotten bored on the flight and watched some bad holovids.

    But the fact that he couldn't get away from was that Skuld was nervous and Skuld was never nervous. They'd gone hunting pirates and treasure hunters and she had been downright calm compared to how she was right now. He raised an eyebrow before drawing out a cigara and lighting it. Taking a drag, he offered one to Skuld because she was beginning to make him dizzy with all the pacing and all the worrying she was doing.

    Sitting in the bridge, Tagal was dressed in full armour as the crew began the process of landing the ship on the planet's surface. Even as captain he didn't really need to do much so he just watched Skuld.

    "Anything you want to tell me about before we arrive?" he asked with a shrug, "Any clue whatsoever so I'm not walking in blind would be great."

    Yeah he was convinced SOMETHING was going on at least.


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  3. Skuld Stark

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    She took the cigara absentmindedly, lighting it with icy blue eyes somewhat distant. She didn't know why she was so afraid; and yet... she knew exactly why. It would be confronting her failures, her past, everything that made her the way she was now. Including her husband's... behaviors. She didn't want to face the fact that she had to push away her own flesh and blood to regain honor for their family name; it meant admitting she was a personal failure on one front as a Deucalian... on another front, as a mother.

    She knew she would have to go to her sister's home to reach the master craftsman; Skalvard had to know who it was. Such tech couldn't be easy to access, or she would have had it as well. And then there was also her father. He gave her her new name until she would come back with her honor or as a corpse; perhaps facing death was honor enough. She was sure he had to have heard about her most recent conquests; she hoped he would at least be proud.

    She was finally still, and took a deep breath in, slowly letting it out. "...Don't let them know you are Mandolorian," she said with a short laugh, running her fingers through her hair. "If they meet your eyes, don't flinch away," she half-heartedly joked, then squared her shoulders.

    "We are meeting someone I have known since I could heft an ax; he is a... craftsman as well," she narrowed her eyes as she took another deep inhale. "He helped me craft my own ax... and I think he may have the answers we need. And... I never expected to go to Ando Prime alive again," she admitted quietly.

    Suddenly, her expression changed, hardened. "Engin ótta, allur dýrð," she muttered, and then, all the nervousness she betrayed earlier seemed to vanish. She was armed to the teeth as always, but she kept her head free.

    And when they were within orbit, a voice pinged onto the ship's comm.

    "Þetta er Landing Dock 13, Tilgreindu tilgang þinn að nálgun."

    Skuld paused, and returned the hailing call. She knew the voice all too well.. knew it because she had heard it, not even a week ago.

    "Þetta er Ev- tilnefndur Skuld Stark, að biðja um leyfi til bryggju."

    There was a beat, then two beats of shocked silence, then...

    "Systir? Þú hefur skilað! Leyfi veitt, skyndið!" Came the swift response, the voice almost a delighted screech as she ended the signal.

    The landing wasn't going to be the issue. The issue would be facing her sister. No doubt Tag would be charmed by her... natural enthusiasm, but she dreaded the endless questions that would be thrown in before she would get a word in edgewise.

    Especially why there would be a male with her, instead of her travelling alone.

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  4. Tagal Saxon

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    They were talking in their own language which was... well it was to be expected, he supposed, but it wasn't half annoying to see them just nattering away to themselves in a language that he didn't actually speak and no translators had actually been made to include because it was so niche.

    He sighed a little bit and stood from the captain's chair to make sure that his armor was fully in place and he had all of his weapons on him. Just because these people knew Skuld, didn't mean that they were going to cut him any slack. He rolled his eyes a little bit at her advice.

    "I'm not a shiny, Skuld." he scolded her playfully, "I know how to avoid starting a fight - until I want a fight that is."

    Standing by the door, he pulled his helmet on.

    "You're hiding something from me." he told her bluntly, "I'm fine with you keeping secrets but if it's something that's going to cause us problems I deserve to know. It'll be my arse on the line right there alongside you."


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  5. Skuld Stark

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    The tension melted from her shoulders, and her breath came in a rush. It wouldn't be too much longer now before landing, and the icy world before them would bathe them both in its' winds and snow; she relished it, but that wasn't the problem. "You will be meeting a master craftsman of my clan," she muttered, squaring her shoulders.
    "My systir, Inara, is here to greet us. She is one of the few good, non-traditional Starks left. Be kind to her."

    Here... she paused. No secrets?

    "After they forced me away, they took care of... my..." Her voice faltered. "My father renamed me Skuld until I regained honor, so he said... and the clan took my family from me. My little ones." Her voice was harsh, cold suddenly, and she shook. Not with fear or with anger... but with rage. "They stay with them until I regained honor, even when I fought so hard to..." Her voice faltered. Her jaw clenched as her eyes narrowed.

    She tilted her head to face him, shaking it slightly. "I will not leave until we get what we came to find; perhaps my battle partner will bring me honor, with his strength...your strength. I feared coming here because... I do not know what my father will do if he knows I am here." Blunt words, blunt honesty; it brought back memories of the first time they had been close. What if he misunderstood?

    Nei.

    She would face any consequences head on... even if they hurt worse than anything.

    She squared her shoulders once more, her features remote, cold. "I am not one of them anymore. I am Skuld." She had no idea how he might have processed this revelation, or how her words might have impacted. She hoped he would understand; understand the helpless rage she felt, the heartbreak that ate her alive.

    She said one last thing before the ramp began to lower.

    "With you to fight by my side, I can even face Death. No fear," she snarled, gripping her ax tighter.

    If he refused to come with her, she would have to face it all alone. And truth be told... she knew she would probably have to. But it would hurt deeper far more than she would ever admit. Perhaps he thought her the worst kind of person. She could not deal with that yet, but she would possibly have to.

    One step at a time.

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  6. Tagal Saxon

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    Meeting a master craftsman was something that Tagal always looked forward to but the circumstances surrounding it were less than ideal. He wasn't really looking forward to the cold and this whole situation was already beginning to get on his nerves. He wasn't sure what it was but there was something in his gut telling him that this whole thing was going to go sideways somehow and he had best be on the lookout for it.

    The idea that there was a Deucalian that he had to be nice to was rather refreshing though because Skuld looked like she was preparing to engage in battle rather than visit her hometown.

    "So be nice to the family rebel." he noted dryly before adding, "I can't help but think she might be the only Stark I end up liking. Present company excluded."

    They... took her children.

    Tagal stiffened at that revelation as the doors to the ship began to open to the cold air of Aldo Prime. He blinked a few times and his hands clenched closed at his sides.

    "Your children are alive."

    It was said almost as an accusation.

    "You had me believing that your family was like mine. That you didn't have a family because they were taken away from you - because they were dead. And now I hear this... that you have a family just waiting for you."

    Tagal couldn't bring himself to look at her.

    "I will fight and I will beat or kill whomsoever stands in the way of my mission." he told her bluntly before staring at her fiercely, "And you will address your family. And I will decide if I can keep fighting by your side or if I will leave you here with the family you never should have left."

    He marched forwards, honestly getting a few of the Deucalian guards nervous but not caring at all. It hurt. The idea that Skuld wouldn't tell him the truth about this stung keenly.


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  7. Skuld Stark

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    She watched him stiffen; it was a surprise?

    A sudden sinking feeling hit her hard in the chest. So hard, her rage suddenly vanished, replaced by confusion... then a sinking horrific feeling. He... misunderstood what she meant.

    Oh Gods no.

    She wanted to protest--say something--, but he was already marching ahead. "Tagal--" she spoke, but it was snatched away by the wind. Icy cold stung at her cheeks as if it were a punishment, and he seemed like...

    Like the Mandolorian she first met. And she knew him well enough, that any talk or discussion would wait until after they got what they came for. She was the one that usually froze him out, her silences and icy shoulder a common theme of their arguments. But this time, it was he that was cold.

    Though the warrior in her rejoiced, she herself was... more worried than she would ever admit.

    Even more so facing down Clan Stark.

    Speaking of... as he strode on, there was a smaller figure. Though dressed in similar armor, she was nearly 5'01", with the same black hair, the same eyes...

    But she was openly smiling, and running.

    She was twenty-two to Skuld's twenty-four, and a new mother to boot. But when she flew at Skuld, the actions were more that of a child, along with a shrill shriek that even the winds could not contain. "EVAAAAAA!" She squealed, launching herself over. Skuld grunted and ground her feet, but she still stumbled. All Tagal would see was a mirror of Skuld in a much smaller form, squeezing the bigger Deuc. "Ah, sister, I cannot believe you came back!" Came the rapid babbling in Deucalic, not even noticing that there was silent company that strode past her. Nor that whatever mechanics, engineers, or pilots that stood in his way kept their distance.

    Skuld only could nod faintly, then exhale. "Inara... it's been too long. Is Skalvard at the forge, or has he left for more material since last we talked?"

    The two women kept pace, until Inara's eyes lit upon Tagal's back, and icy eyes sparkled. There was a faint hint of mischief in those eyes, and a smile to boot. "Is he your companion?" came the teasing tone, black eyebrows raised. "Finally it seems you chose a proper warrior... though he is a bit quiet."

    She said nothing... but as they approached, she jogged to keep up with his pace. As a result, Inara jogged to his other side, attempting to engage in a friendly smile. "The man you want to meet is Skalvard; he is at home. Be careful, though." The smile dropped, her blue eyes turning serious. "Others have... heard your call. Why you came here... might be hard to... get." Though her voice was accented Basic, it was nothing like Skuld's. As they drew deeper towards the small Hall that made their base, though, Inara gave a private grin to Skuld, then a wink.

    Oh no.

    What did she have planned?

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  8. Tagal Saxon

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    Huh.

    And the surprises just kept on coming it would seem.

    It was clear just from the visual confirmation that Skuld was related to the woman who had appeared and it was clear that she was very closely related indeed. If the woman had been younger he would have assumed that she was Skuld's daughter but they were close enough in age that the only relation that made sense was sister. And her sister had just called her loudly by her name... which was not Skuld.

    How much of what Skuld had told him had been a lie? She wasn't even named Skuld? Eva was her actual name? He didn't want to think about it anymore so he focused on glaring a hole through the skull of one of the closest guards until Inara spoke to him directly in Basic.

    For once he was glad he didn't speak their language.

    "Lead me in the right direction." he declared firmly, not actually bothering to ask a question, "And let anyone who would stand in our way..."

    At this he glared through his helmet at a guard who was slowly approaching. Even without eye contact the guard paused before turning away and stepping back.

    "Be prepared to swallow their teeth. Let's go..." he cast a lot over his shoulder at Skuld, "... Eva."


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  9. Skuld Stark

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    She flinched back as though he had slapped her. In fact, she was as pale as though he had. Suddenly, multiple emotions flashed through her expression. Pain. Anger. Fear. Anguish. And then lastly... a resigned pain. She knew he was furious. That he would perhaps even loathe her... she deserved some of it, perhaps. But some of it... she did not.

    And that was the worst expression, because there was a dawning horror of how much exactly she had grown to care for him... and how much his lashing back hurt.

    The sinking feeling became a sudden gaping pain. As a result, her face suddenly closed off, jaw firmed and icy blue eyes as cold as the winter winds that blew past.

    "Nei. I haven't been Eva for nearly four years... that name is dead to me," she snarled at them both, striding past. She would not betray just how deeply that cut anymore, but something burned in the back of her throat. It was like fire, and though her hands shook, it was a deep, useless rage of pain and fury.

    How dare Inara call her that name. And how dare he use it against her... it was a curse flung back at her, a memory of her own failure. It was a stab and twist.

    She and Inara both led him towards the massive doors before the hall, and shook her head. "I am sorry, sister, I thought he knew-" She cut her off with a savage shake of her head. "No, he did not. Let your husband know we are here; we have no time to waste."

    Her eyes settled on Tagal once more; they still showed a glimmer of something, but it was veiled. A protection against any more barbs thrown her way. "We are on borrowed time, after all."

    The doors began to groan open, to a mostly empty hall, apart from one blond-haired male. He sat before the treadle table steps, absentmindedly sitting on one of the steps, when he glanced up. "Inara... guests?"

    Then he glanced at Skuld. Stilled.

    And then the widest grin split his features under his massive blond beard, brows raising.

    "Well, sister... you made it home at last. Here to challenge your Father for your brood, and nearly die again? Do I have to drag your body through snow to a ship out of here again?" Skalvard's features hardened then, as he slowly rose. "What are you here for? And tell us about your... friend." His eyes flickered over Tagal, then back to Skuld, the smile gone.

    But... he was unarmed. Simply waiting a response.

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  10. Tagal Saxon

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    Tagal could see that his choice of name had hurt her and he was, for once, glad of it. For once he was glad that he had upset her because he felt as though she had betrayed him in some way. It might not be an entirely logical feeling but it was his feeling and he stuck by it. She had hurt him with her secrets and her lies because he had honestly thought that the two of them had a connection deeper than that.

    To find out that this didn't?

    It hurt.

    He didn't say a word as they marched through the Deucalian settlement. Some of the people looked his way before turning away as though they could feel the full weight of his glare through his helmet. He wouldn't be surprised if they were able to feel it in all honesty.

    He wasn't being subtle about his mood after all.

    Tagal reached up and removed his helmet before tucking it under the crook of his left arm. With his face free it was clear by his stormy expression that he was in a foul mood. He looked between Skuld - Eva - and the new person they had met. His frown deepened.

    "Is this the craftsman we are supposed to meet?" he asked her bluntly, casting an eye at the man, "He looks too frail in the arms to work a forge."

    It was true but maybe, just maybe, he was just looking to pick a fight. To pick a fight and let out his anger and hurt through his fists rather than having to speak about it.

    Maybe.


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  11. Skuld Stark

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    She would not show any emotion unless she had to. No doubt he took great pleasure in stabbing her just where it was sorest. Like a varlwulf with a sore tooth, he was going to keep biting at her until he would see her bleed enough. They had had their arguments in the past before, but it was nothing like this. It was always a hot temper; she never saw this coldness.

    She could never admit such weakness. But...

    Skuld stiffened at Skalvard's words; the man remained relaxed, blue eyes glinting with amusement at her. He slowly strolled in her direction, arms crossed. "Bold of you to come back, knowing the consequences. You've been shamed enough."

    He was interrupted by Tagal's blunt baiting; he barely gave him a sideways glance, but the smirk was telling. "Down, lad. I've built more with these two hands than even your hot temper could wish to melt in a ten-year. Now, as to this lowlife--"

    Before anyone could react, Inara suddenly darted up from behind, giving him a solid smack to the side of his head.

    "Fool! Stop messing with their heads, and help them out."

    He chuckled, winding an arm about her waist, lips still curved into that mocking smile. "But my little wolf, it's so much fun--"

    She swatted him back, giving a glare. "Stop insulting her, then, she has suffered enough. If you do not help them, you sleep with the floor."

    He sighed, then glanced at Skuld, then Tag. One blonde brow raised, and he held out his hand. "Tell and show me what you need, then," he rumbled, one arm still around Inni. "I might help, if you can constrain your fight for one moment."

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  12. Tagal Saxon

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    Lad?

    "If your hammer-work is as weak as your insults then I think I'd be better off buying from a Mandalorian." he cracked off in response, tilting his head to one side slightly, "Boy."

    But he let it drop.

    Mainly because it seemed that Eva's sister had come to the 'rescue' and seemed to be wanting them to get what they came here for. At least that was what he thought - he didn't actually know, however, because he didn't actually know what was being said and that was beginning to grate on his nerves something fierce.

    Tagal resolved to purchase an upgrade to the universal translator built into his com unit because, by god, he was not going to stand there like a god damned fool while these people chatted about him behind his back, while stood in front of him. If they actually would talk about him behind his back or not was, by and large, irrelevant.

    He hated that it was even a possibility.

    Reaching into his belt, he retrieved a holoprojector and showed the man what it was that they actually wanted. He let the holographic display linger for a moment before speaking.

    "We want you to give us the information to make them." he declared in a clipped tone, "Credits. Trade. Whatever price you set we shall discuss."


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  13. Skuld Stark

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    Skalvard laughed.

    In fact, he laughed so hard it boomed in the hall, blue eyes crinkling. "Please try," he retaliated, "their handiwork has yet to figure out that gross mishandling of size doesn't always matter." He deliberately eyed Tagal, but all traces of mirth and merriment were gone when he saw what was on the holoprojector, blond brows furrowing.

    "To make them?" He muttered, his other hand running in his beard. His eyes glanced at Skuld first, contemplative... then Tagal. "It is not my handiwork; my specialty is best left with her weaponswork; such defense is best left with a man who knows them. But getting such information..."

    His eyes set heavily. "It will not be easy. This man taught me everything I know, but he does not work for the price you do. Let me summon him; perhaps, he will allow you more than he has allowed me."

    There was a brief, terse comm conversation, and then he nodded.

    "Yes. He is interested in meeting the debt-life," he glanced at Skuld. "And... her friend," he smiled, but it was not a warm one. His arm wrapped around Inni.

    "Sit," she ordered, pointing at one of the tables. "He will not be long; we have things to discuss." She began dragging Skal off, and he walked slowly, muttering in mock horror.

    "I am already a dead man, I know, wife."

    Until the man arrived, it would be a matter of time. Oddly, Skuld found she could not look in Tag's direction. The pain had lessened, but she knew if she looked, it would stab at her fiercely again. She couldn't allow that. It would be a weakness to let him see it in her eyes; best to let him be furious.

    Especially since she knew beyond a doubt he was still itching for a fight, and she was for once not willing to fight at all.

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  14. Tagal Saxon

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    Finally.

    These Deucalians were chattier than any of their kind that he had met before and Tagal didn't much care for it. He was in no mood to discuss things after all - he was in the mood to punch things until they started to cooperate with him. If that took a few punches then so be it. He sighed a little bit, ignoring the insults to his people because the man quite clearly didn't know what the hell he was talking about.

    The ignorant were to be ignored.

    Left outside with Skuld (or Eva) to await the arrival of the craftsman who knew how to work with the designs they had already found, Tagal found that he would have actually preferred it had the ignorant man continued to chatter away uselessly. But there was something else that he could discuss with her he supposed.

    "Where are your children then?" he asked aloud, his voice slightly softer than either of them would expect simply because he was talking about children, "You should see them before the day is done."

    He paused for a long moment.

    "Perhaps bring them with you."

    You... not us.

    He didn't know if there was an "us" between the two of them at this stage.


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  15. Skuld Stark

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    She took a deep breath. Brows dented as if she was pained; she dreaded this kind of talk.

    "...I want to."

    The whisper was pained, soft. Far softer than how she usually spoke.

    "I cannot leave them here; it would kill me again." Her grip tightened on her ax, which she still hadn't let her whiteknuckle grip let go of. "Ando Prime is not my home; it has not been since I lost my husband."

    Her voice turned bitter, pained still. "I fought every day to regain my lost honor in the eyes of my father. Just to hold them again. But he said the next I showed my face, and did not regain the honor my husband lost... he would kill me before them, to teach them. After I was dragged back to my ship... and escorted off-planet. Not awake. It was a message he left... and the last I have heard."

    She hesitated, then shook her head. "Be furious at me, as much as you want to Tagal Saxon; I should not have assumed you understood. I will never make that mistake again."

    This was all she said, before the doors opened to another.

    He was massive, nearly six-foot eight, and maybe half as broad. Where Skalvard seemed lithe, and most of the men here were reasonably fit, he seemed worthy of most legend.

    He was dressed in light armor befitting a smith, with a dense bantha-weave jacket and the shimmer of thermal undersuit betraying that even the hardiest did not dare contest the wintry winds that billowed around them.

    He glowered first at Skuld, looking her head to toe with a fierce frown; then at Tagal, where he met his eyes.

    His hand rested on his belt, looking down at Tag.

    "You vant infurmation on gauntlet shield, and shield itself?"

    His voice was deep, nearly as chillded as the air outdoors.

    "You vill hawe to vight me vor it. I vill not fight with debt-scum; partner vill do."

    Her face, if at all possible, seemed to grow whiter.

    "Urdun... nei." He ignored her though, his eyes still locking on to this... smaller male.

    "Ja, or nei?"

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  16. Tagal Saxon

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    The more she spoke the more of it that Tagal understood and he could accept what he had heard so far he supposed. In all honesty, the fact of the matter was that she had lied when there was no reason for her to lie. He wasn't the kind of man to hold it against her and he would have helped her because he would have been able to understand what she was going through. The only real difference in their lives was that Skuld still had the chance to be a mother to her children.

    Tagal did not.

    "We will bring them onto the ship and we shall leave." he declared bluntly, "I've had enough of this ice-ball planet and it's backwards ways. The Sith make more sense than these people."

    He wasn't including Skuld in 'these people' for a reason. Taking a deep breath as the large man approached, Tagal knew that this was the Smith almost immediately. Of course he was slightly bigger than Tagal but that wasn't going to be an issue. It wasn't as though the Smith... actually no. The Smith DID want to fight.

    Tagal frowned slightly before looking between the Smith and Skuld - almost as though he was asking for permission. In the end he simply shrugged his shoulders and decided that the Smith was being honest. That the challenge was to actually fight him was not unexpected he supposed.

    He didn't bother answering the man when he asked if he was alright with the fight.

    Instead, he threw his helmet up at the man's face, prompting him to immediately raise his hands to instinctively protect his face. Before the man could think of any kind of defense, Tagal struck out with his right fist. He rocketed his fist forwards, punching him with all of his might and his armoured hand... right in the balls.

    The Smith's light armour didn't protect his groin area (for ease of movement) and that meant he was entirely at the mercy of Tagal's fist. With a strangled sound, the Deucalian fell to his knees clutching his balls in pain. Tagal caught his helmet and growled as he hammered it home directly into the Smith's face, breaking his nose. He continued, railing away at the man's face with his helmet, bruising the man's left eye closed and breaking teeth.

    A two-handed, bone shaking, bash with his helmet sent the Smith rocking back to the ground, Tagal's helmet now covered in the man's blood but the man was still breathing. Tagal, breathing heavily himself from the adrenaline, looked around at Skuld.

    "Are we done here?"


    @Killa Ree
     
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  17. Skuld Stark

    Skuld Stark Character

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    "We?"

    She said this with some shocked surprise; icy blue eyes widened, she wheeled on him, and then.

    Ah.

    Watching Urdun be solidly beaten and groaning on the floor was both... a shock, and yet not a surprise. The man could take it; it was not the first time he had lost teeth, nor the last time he suffered from so many wounds at once. She gave Tag a smile; the first tentative one that she had dared to give.

    "We need him alive... but ja. We are done. Do you concede, Urdun?"

    The man nodded, letting out a very reedy, weak chuckle as he slowly rolled to disengage the Mandolorian from him. "Very good, little one... he has strength. I vas worried for nothing. I shall help, ja. But in return..." he took a deep breath, still wincing from the pain in his left eye, as well as the nauseating pain radiating from his groin, "that you send some client to me. Ve are small forge, with resources. But no one braves a storm to come to us. If you accept, I vill make you shields, and show your friend how."

    Feet rushed down the hallway.

    Small ones. Followed by larger ones, with two adults calling.

    "Mama! Mama!"

    "No, little ones, wait-"

    Suddenly, Skuld turned-

    and then-

    There they were. They barreled straight into her, and she stumbled, mindful to raise her ax higher during impact. Suddenly, there was a strange sight. The two-black haired children held onto her tightly; one was six, nearly seven. A little girl with her face and eyes. And a little boy, with a different face but the same eyes, no older than three. And Skuld?

    She slowly knelt down, putting her ax to the ground. She slowly wrapped her arms around them both, her eyes closed.

    Though there wasn't a sound, tears slipped down her cheeks, cool and silent as she pulled them against her tightly. She let in one ragged breath, her voice a croon. "Little wolf cubs, my little ones. You are my little pack. Did you miss me?"

    Inara and Skalvard burst in from the corridor they left, looking winded and wide-eyed.

    Behind Tag and Skuld...

    Another man emerged.

    Light ginger hair streaked with grey was pulled back tightly, accenting a male version of Skuld's features, with a broader jaw and colder eyes. A fierce scowl further bisected his face as he strode towards her, his voice cold, sharp.

    "Daughter... you bring honor here. But first... we must talk about you."

    His gaze leveled at the man behind her. "And the business you have brought here."

    /End Thread
     
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