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Would you please get out from under my skin, because I can't begin this yet

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Oct. 15th, 2011 | 12:59 pm
music: rachel yamagata ~ under my skin

I have not dropped off the map again, I promise, despite the fact that it's been almost a month since I've done, well, anything here. The autumn is just shaping up to be incredibly busy -- weddings, engagements, babies, baby showers, birthdays, football, pumpkin carving parties, happy hours and Sunday dinners... I'm certainly not complaining, though. :)

Given all that, this is me trying to keep writing on my radar.

Man, do I ever have issues with Part 7 of Percy Weasley: Rogue Demon Hunter. If it wouldn't blow up the plot entirely, I'd just ditch it and move on to Part 8. :(

A few short bits from upcoming chapters, though, because why not?

What Kingsley lacked in skill, he made up for in style.

“Hey, Tall, Dark and Groovy…” Lorne caught Kingsley by the arm. "A word?"

“See anything interesting?” he asked.

Lorne laughed. “Just watch your back…”

Kingsley reflexively looked behind him.

Lorne chuckled again. “In the romance department, I mean. You’ll know what I’m talking about when it happens.”

*

“Where is he? You know, the guy who reads destinies?”

Lana smiled at them sympathetically. “He’s gone. He’s been back in L.A. for months.”

Neville went a bit green. “Does that mean I just sang in public for nothing?”

“Not exactly…”

“Look, I need to know what my destiny is,” Ginny said, bouncing up and down impatiently.

“Me too!” Neville agreed. “It’s very important.”

Luna just smiled calmly and shrugged. “I’d never done karaoke before. Did you know that in Japanese it means ‘empty orchestra’?”

“I did, actually,” Lana replied, with a smile of her own. “Why don’t you all have a seat? I think I know someone who can help.”

*

“Oh, boy.”

“What?” Neville said. “What did you see?”

“You think you dodged a bullet, don't you?” She looked closely at him. “Don't be so sure about that.”

He swallowed hard, but then said, “Dodged? Not hardly. I'm mostly just worried that my- that I'm just collateral damage.” He sounded so unlike the Neville she knew, so grown-up and determined, that Ginny reflexively turned to look to make sure it was really still him standing there.

“Well, that puts a slightly different spin on things,” Sascha said. “You've got a lot you could be worried about, but I wouldn't add that to the list.”

*

“Charlie? Please don’t slam the door in my face.”

“I wasn’t going to,” he replied, bemused. “I won’t say I’m not surprised, though.”

Percy grimaced, folding and unfolding his hands nervously. “I wouldn’t have come, except…” He fumbled for the words, very aware that this was the second time in as many months that he’d had to go to one of his brothers for help. It galled a little, he couldn’t lie. “I need your help. I have a bit of a dragon problem.”


I pressed my brother into service doing an initial edit on Iteration, despite the fact that he's in the midst of his tenure review. I figured he owes me, since I let him talk to me for an hour about Freespace the other night. (I'm not a gamer by any stretch, but consider me... intrigued... by that one.)

Anyway, while chapters 1-4 of this one are off getting the professor-treatment, here's a bit of that as well.

Smugglers, as a group, tended to be highly superstitious. Karrde had long been an exception to that rule, though just at the moment he was reconsidering his stance on the matter. Most smugglers, for instance, wouldn't have gone back to a planet where they'd been caught by a squad of Imperials – and they certainly wouldn't let themselves be slotted into the same landing pit. Karrde, though, tried to ignore the little tinge of uneasiness, of doubt. It was just bad memories making the place seem dangerous, he told himself as the Wild Karrde settled to the pavement, it wasn't logical at all.

“You shouldn't go out there alone, boss,” Dankin said, clearly remembering the last time they'd been there, too.

“It'll be all right,” he said, unstrapping himself from the seat and standing up. “You see anybody out there?”

“Not yet. Mazzic's here, though, like he promised. The landing logs show him coming in about an hour ago. They've got him two pits over.”

“So he probably saw us land.” He keyed for the hatch release.

“Boss,” Dankin said, pressing the issue, “I really think you ought to-”

“I'm just going to talk to Mazzic. Everything will be fine,” he said, and stepped out into the landing pit.

The sun was out. It had been overcast the last time he'd been there. He remembered looking up at Mara, the sky behind her flat and grey.

Don't, she'd said then, taking his weapon away from him easily. I can get you out of this; I can get us out of this.

He should have wanted her dead then, should have wanted to kill her with his bare hands. In that moment, though, the betrayal hadn't bothered him that much – he'd had the sense from the beginning that she'd been running a long game, though, admittedly, he hadn't thought of himself as the mark.

He didn't get truly angry with her until later, when the whole truth had come out and he realized just how much she'd been keeping from him, how explosive her secrets really were.

“There you are, Karrde,” Mazzic said, standing in the exact same shadow Karrde had chosen for his own hiding place back then.

“Mazzic,” Karrde replied in greeting, allowing himself a cursory look up at the sky before crossing the landing pit toward him. “Any reason you chose this particular place for a meeting?”

Mazzic frowned at him. “I was in the neighborhood.” He paused. “Any reason I shouldn't have?”

“No, none at all. Just getting superstitious in my old age, I guess.”

“Old age?” Mazzic laughed. “If you're old, then I'm ancient – and Ellor and Billey are practically fossilized.”

“Maybe it's not just the years,” Karrde admitted. Mazzic shook his head, still smiling, and Karrde couldn't help noticing that this was the closest to friendly they'd been in longer than he cared to acknowledge. He was more than a little ashamed to admit it, but it made him suspicious. “I'm led to understand that you have some information to sell?” he said, attempting to keep his tone friendly and respectful, and succeeding for the most part.

“Not to sell,” Mazzic said, “just to share.”

The whisper of suspicion in the back of Karrde's mind dialed the volume up to a full-throated roar. “To share?”

“Look,” Mazzic said, “this isn't worth much to anyone but you. Consider it a favor, and you can owe me one.”

“Hmm,” was all Karrde said in reply.

“The word is out from Thrawn's people. They've upped the ante on finding you – and it was pretty high already.”

Karrde raised an eyebrow. “How high?”

“Seventy-five.”

He whistled softly. In another life, he would have been impressed by that – maybe even a little proud. “And you're just freely passing this information on...”

Mazzic frowned darkly. “I know you think the rest of us sold you out – maybe that's even a little bit true – but just because I didn't want to get my ass shot off for you, it doesn't mean I want Thrawn to catch up with you.”

“So this is a goodwill gesture?”

Mazzic shrugged, looking uncomfortable. “Yeah, I guess you could call it that. The others... None of the others wanted to tell you – except Gillespee, of course, but he's gone to ground in some shit-town in the back of beyond. It didn't seem right to me. If the situation was reversed, you would have told me.” He smiled grimly. “You would have used it to your advantage, but you would have told me. You'd never have left me twisting in the wind.”

“That's true,” Karrde said. “A little less than flattering, but true.” He paused. “The others knew you were going to seek me out and tell me?” he asked, feeling a sudden uncomfortable thrill of apprehension. He looked at the sky again.

“Come on, Karrde. You can't really think that any of our old crew would go running to Thrawn, can you? They might sell you to the Republic, but not Thrawn. Not after everything.”

“They might not have had a choice,” he said, thinking of Mara, her hand on his wrist, pleading softly with him not to fight back and get himself killed, while a pair of stormtroopers hauled him to his feet and into a shuttle. Maybe he shouldn't have listened to her, maybe he should have just ended things then – on his own terms.

He realized that he'd fallen silent and Mazzic was watching him, an odd expression on his face.

“What is it?”

Mazzic shook his head. “I was just remembering the first time you and I ever worked together. Remember that? Aud was running a grift on that dimwitted lieutenant of Jabba's... What did she call it?”

In spite of himself, Karrde smiled. “The Corellian Two-Step...”

Mazzic smiled back. “Right, and she needed two 'nice-looking boys with good heads on their shoulders' to sell the bit. Was Jabba ever pissed. Served him right, though.” He paused. “That was right after she and Billey met. I'd never seen him struck dumb over a girl before... I'd never seen him struck dumb over anything before. That was a hell of a thing, wasn't it?”

“It was,” Karrde agreed. It felt like a lifetime ago, or remembering something that had happened to someone else.

“How sad is it that I've begun to think of those as 'the good old days?'”

Mazzic wasn't the only one, but Karrde didn't say that. “Maybe we are getting old.” Then, “Thank you for the information. I won't forget it.” The implication, of course, being that if this was legit, Karrde owed him one – and if it wasn't... well, Karrde wouldn't forget that either. The threat, though, was fairly half-hearted, and Mazzic gave him a wry smile like he knew it.

“Let's hope I don't have to do it again,” he said, and was gone.

Karrde headed back to the ship, managing to only glance at the sky twice on the way. He still couldn't quite shake the feeling of unease, but pushed it down and held it there. He'd been led around by his emotions enough lately; he wasn't going to give in this time.

“Now can we get out of here?” Dankin asked, fingers already dancing over the controls, keying the rapid-sequence start-up even as the hatch closed behind Karrde.

“Now we can go,” Karrde confirmed, Dankin breathing a sigh of relief as they got underway.

Karrde leaned back in his chair, only peripherally aware of the activity around him. His crew was good, and this was a routine take-off.

Seventy-five thousand, he reflected. There was really only one reason for Thrawn to have raised the stakes that high, though how he'd found out about what Karrde had was hard to guess. He needed to tell Aves about the bounty, at least, if not the rest of it. He needed to tell Aves, and Billey. Though, he thought with brief bitterness, he supposed all he would have to do was tell Maddoc and she'd save him the trouble.

They cleared the planet a few minutes behind Mazzic's ship, leaving orbit just in time to see a squad of Imperial fighters come screaming around the planet's largest moon.

“Um, that's not good,” Corvis said from the co-pilot's chair.

“That would be an understatement,” Dankin replied, with a half-glance back at Karrde.

“Play it cool,” he said with more ease than he actually felt. “Let's see what they're up to.”

What they were up to, apparently, was chasing Mazzic.

“Now can we get worried?”

Karrde ignored that. “Are we far enough out of orbit to make the jump now?”

“About two more minutes...”

That was risky, but it would also give them a front-row view of whatever it was the Imperials had planned for Mazzic. Sending fighters after him indicated that they were more interested in search-and-destroy than capturing him or his people alive, unless...

There it was – a Star Destroyer, one of the newer, lighter models coming out of the newly rebuilt shipyards at Bilbringi, but a Star Destroyer nonetheless. The fighters were herding Mazzic toward it, the big ship already activating its tractor beam.

“Make sure we get an ID on that Star Destroyer,” he said, and Dankin gave him a look but did it anyway.

The stars outside the ship blurred and Mazzic's ship disappeared behind them, winking into the blackness of hyperspace. Karrde sat back, folding his hands, caught somewhere between relief that they'd managed to slip away unnoticed and the grim realization that his gut had been right this time.

Maybe there was something to those superstitions, after all.

This entry was originally posted at http://viola-dreamwalk.dreamwidth.org/14925.html

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Comments {4}

Roseveare

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from: roseveare
date: Oct. 16th, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC)
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*cheerleads*

Yay! Interested to see Percy's dragon problem! I kept writing dragon stories earlier in the year, for some reason. Obscure manga fandoms and original, though. But on something of a dragon roll, after not writing anything with dragons for years. :)

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Viola

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from: viola_dreamwalk
date: Oct. 17th, 2011 04:13 am (UTC)
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Thanks! That whole bit with the dragons is kind of fun for me. It's all fairy tales and fantasy stuff, which I never do. You'll have to tell me whether it hangs together for you, since it sounds like you're a bit of a dragon expert. ;)

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Derry

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from: derry667
date: Oct. 26th, 2011 05:56 am (UTC)
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Glad to hear that your persisting with the Rogue Demon Hunter despite the problems.

The dragon problem sounds most intriguing...

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Viola

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from: viola_dreamwalk
date: Oct. 27th, 2011 04:23 am (UTC)
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Thanks :)

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