Night of the Shadow...

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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Ghost » 2011-11-04 04:21

Snickering softly, Tyler briefly turned to face Mouse, and smiled. Calmly, he gave her an appraising look before he shook his head. "No...you're right; you don't look like a tea person." An overly pregnant pause passed before he spoke again, after he looked like he'd taken some time to think about something. "Better; hot chocolate. As to the nature of the NR's involvement...we're in their territory. Get used to dealing with them.

"...And I have a traitor to kill. Be a good girl and don't tip him off, and I'll put extra marshmallows in your cocoa." Sighing to himself, Ghost turned his attention to the shuttle's exit hatch, and finally finished heading all the way down. Before he entered the facility, he put the slugthrower into a concealed spot in his outfit, tightly tucked at the small of his back, just inside his waistband. The door to the field station opened as he drew near, a concealed scanner mounted just above it checking his face and matching it with personnel records from the ISIS database to verify that he had access to the facility's inner workings before allowing him entry. Since Arabella had chosen to accompany him, he at least afforded her the dignity of waiting for her to enter behind him before he drew himself in and let the door shut.

Station Chief Janus Orlen was the first to turn to look at their new arrival; on seeing Ghost, he immediately stormed over and socked the special agent square in the jaw. Unsurprisingly, Ghost was quick to retaliate as he stood up, grabbing Janus' punching hand by the wrist and squeezing. He didn't let up until easily a few seconds after he heard a popping sound in the Coordinator's hand. "Down, boy," he said, a sadistic grin flashing on his face briefly. "My beef isn't with you." The smile disappeared almost as instnatly as it had appeared. "Now...apologize to my friend here for putting that sort of behavior on display, and we can get to work."
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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Mouse » 2011-11-05 22:15

Mouse wasn't sure she wanted to hear what Ghost was going to say judging by the soft snicker and the appraising look he gleaned her with. When he finished making her feel as if she were six years old again, the teen scowled at his back. "I'm not a kid, you know," she muttered under her breath, thankful that he was a few strides ahead of her so he wouldn't have heard her pouting -- just like a kid.

"Extra marshmallows. Tsh! I'll show you extra marsh --" Mouse's muttered tirade was slowly whispered away. Apparently Ghost means to have this little talk, she thought, dreading what she could only imagine he was going to say. Mouse looked up from the ground she'd been watching as she trailed behind her friend. He was hiding his weapon in the waistband of his pants and tugging his shirt down over it. Arabella was beginning to consider that perhaps remaining on the ship might have been the better choice.

The facility itself was impressive. From the outside, not much of it was seen, built into the side of the mountain as it was. The landscaping outside did a good job of making the recessed entry appear to be nothing more than a deep shadow created by the thick bushes and tall trees growing on either side of the entry. The doors slid open, allowing the pair to enter. Mouse hesitated, wondering if it was wise for either of them to be entering the facility. Then she saw Ghost waiting for her. After another half seconds worth of hesitation, Arabella went inside.

Shortly after the two were inside, someone immediately stalked over and punched Ghost square on the jaw. Arabella's eyes widened and she gasped audibly with surprise, covering her mouth with both hands to stifle the sound. "Hey! What gi --" The teen began, but Ghost was quick to his feet and even quicker in making sure that whomever it was that had landed the sucker punch wasn't able to do it a second time. Chocolatey eyes darted between the two grown men who apparently wanted to throttle each other something fierce.

Ghost demanded that his attacker apologize to her. Begrudingly, he did so, shaking his hand once Ghost relinquished it. Mouse looked from the station chief to Ghost, then back to the chief. She didn't say anything in reply to the apology delivered. What she really wanted to know was if this guy who had sucker punched her best friend was Rebellion or if he was on their side, meaning hers and Ghost's. Mouse thought it would be best to just be the silent observer for a little while.
Last edited by Mouse on 2011-12-10 16:19, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Ghost » 2011-11-21 04:43

Tyler sighed, frowning, as he waited patiently for Janus to stop nursng the now-damaged wrist. The jaw had stopped stinging only a few seconds after it began to smart, so he was just waiting for the other man at this point, his calm expression hiding a very frustrated, angry individual. He'd come to this station to find a traitor and get rid of the leak, not get in an argument...

...though he somehow surmised that they were related to each other in some way. "Janus," he said after he had allowed enough time to pass for the pain to subside, "let's get to the point: I've had you hunting down an unsavory element. Do you have any news for me, or do I have to do your wor for you?"

Station Chief Orlen snickered, shaking his head as he walked over to the tactical display in the outpost. "Sorry, Ghost," he said, his voice calm enough to cause the usually-expressionless field agent to twitch slightly in anger. "You did assign me to find information on a traitor...you simply assumed it was someone in my ranks. I regret to inform you...you're going to wish you were right."

This made Tyler nervous, if anything ever could have. He had very few friends on this planet to begin with and he hadn't dealt with ay of them in some time...but the idea that any of them had turned into friends of the Republic was ludicrous. Then, Janus pulled a broadcast up onto the holo-projector, and for whatever reason, Tyler's blood ran colder than ice. On the projection, he could see a Republic agent--plainclothed, but his instincts told him it was NRI--and...

"Leryssa..." His voice was a whisper as he uttered the name; he didn't want to believe it, but there she was, meeting with the enemy. "...I'll need the gun today after all," he muttered, before whirling for the door. "Have her followed; if she moves for the south end of downtown, have her detained at all costs. Mouse, come with me; we're leaving." He was out the door before any more could be said, and immediately moving for the nearest landspeeder.
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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Mouse » 2011-11-26 04:41

While Ghost conducted his business with this Janus guy, Arabella strolled the perimeter of the room they were in. There were gizmo's and gadgets aplenty. Holovid screens showing all sorts of activities going on .. well, wherever they had cameras set up, obviously. But Mouse wasn't sure if she was seeing activity taking place deeper within the complex or on other levels, or if some of the screens weren't actually showing the activity going on elsewhere; perhaps even as far off as the main hub of the city.

Mouse glanced over toward Ghost and the other agent. She didn't quite get what was going on, but she also noted to herself that she didn't like the look that had come across her friend's face. Mouse saw his lips move but she wasn't able to make out what Ghost had said. All she heard was something about a gun then he was heading straight for the exit. Mouse looked from Ghost to Janus, brows aloft, wondering what in the hell was going on.

Ghost snapped off an order for her to follow him. She'd never heard her friend speak to her in such a manner but his tone brokered no arguing would be tolerated. Not now at any rate. She cast one last look to Janus before jogging after her friend. When they were out the door, Mouse had to continue jogging to keep up with Ghost. "What's going on?"

Once they reached a landspeeder, Ghost told her to get in so she did. "Should I be worried? What's going on?"

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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Ghost » 2011-12-07 04:08

Practically vaulting himself into the speeder, Tyler silently powered the vehicle up, bringing it to full power as fast as he possibly could. To say he was mad was an understatement; he was pissed to all Hell, and it was a miracle and a half that he was keeping it all in. Looking at Arabella, he waited silently as she climbed in, sighing softly once he turned away. "Friends," he began without much preamble, "don't let friends betray each other. A friend of mine is breaking that trust, Mouse...it's my job to stop her.

"...Even if it means her death." Sighing again, he brought the speeder out of the parking bay and jammed the throttle to full. While his voice was calm, his eyes held the truth of how he felt....absolutely furious. "You may yet come to regret your presence here, dear girl." As they drove along through the city, Tyler sighed to himself again, trying to calm down enough to think. The NR had a friend of his...it meant a good deal to him, and none of it good. The question was why....why would she be crazy enough to side with them? Why would she, a wanted criminal, want to side with the NR?

When the answer came to him, he wanted to smack himself for how long it had evaded him, even though it hadn't been terribly long at all. "Leniency." It took another few seconds before he realized that he'd said that part out loud, and quickly began explaining. "Leryssa's doing this to get some measure of grace, of leniency, from the Republic here. If she can get that, she'll give the entire group up to get it; they get some folks locked up, and she gets to look golden, probably gets a light sentence or just gets someone watching her for a few months. The others...would be killed for what they've done, if they're lucky."

His right hand ducked down into his coat in a flash, pulling out the comm-link, which he immediately dialed back to the Command Center. "Janus, do me a favor...coordinate with command, see if you can get someone sent down here to do a Houdini. I think we can beat the NR at their own game."
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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Mouse » 2011-12-10 17:11

Mouse looked to Ghost as he powered up the landspeeder and told her that friends never betrayed each other. The girl gave the man a typical teenager look that screamed duh! I know that!. Mouse could tell that Ghost was fuming. She noticed he actually tended to become more quiet, almost eerily so, when he was seething and barely able to contain it. Hence the look instead of a verbalized duh. She doubted Ghost would ever haul off and smack her, but she was wise enough in her street smarts to know not to push his buttons - or her luck - right now.

Mouse's right hand curled around the inside handle - the one she liked to call the Oh-Shit! handle - as Ghost opened the throttle on the landspeeder and they sped away. After a few minutes though, the girl relinquished her grip on said handle and sat quietly, wondering who this Leryssa was and what she meant to him. Whoever she is, I don't like her! Mouse had already made up her mind once and for all. The girl would never admit that she didn't like this female, a person whom she had never met, because of jealousy. Heaven's no! Mouse would deny that vehemently. Still, as Ghost went on, talking more about this Leryssa, mouse sighed softly and turned her head to look out her window as they cruised along.

Mouse waited until Ghost had finished asking for Houdini, wondering who in the hell that was but pushing that one to the wayside for the time being. "Why would this Leryssa," she spoke the name like it was a cootie, "want leniency from the Republic? If she's Imperial, why would she care? I'm missing something, aren't I."

Mouse wasn't so certain she really wanted to know the details to all of this but like that damned cat, curiosity was one of Mouse's weaknesses. So, too, was Ghost. The girl wanted Ghost all for herself. An eight year difference in age wasn't all that much, at least Mouse didn't think so. She got that whole legal age shit. In one short year, Arabella would be seventeen and that was the age of consent. At least in the parts of the galaxy that had laws centered around that.

There were parts of the galaxy where there was no consenting age and right now it would be perfectly acceptable for her to love Ghost and for him to love her back. They could be boyfriend and girlfriend and no one would question it. But she also knew Ghost well enough to know that even in those backwater worlds, it wouldn't sit right with him. He was a man of honor, of integrity. He had morals and values that he would always uphold.

It never occurred to her that there might come the day when Ghost may find a woman closer to his own age and one who fit his lifestyle far better than Mouse ever would. It never occurred to her that the day may come when Mouse was nothing more than a third wheel and some woman comes between she and Ghost. At least the mere possibility of that hadn't occurred to her ... until now. It made her stomach knot and ache. It made her heart feel funny, like it was physically aching. She hid all of this, of course, by simply focusing straight ahead and biting on her lower lip.

Mouse wondered who this Leryssa was. She wondered if she meant anything to Ghost and if so, what? She wanted to ask if he had ever had a relationship with her or if he had ever loved her. On the surface she thought she wanted to know. But deep down, the girl really didn't want to know. She didn't want to think that Ghost had kissed another. She didn't want to think that he had held hands with another woman or that he might even have loved her. Mouse wanted him. She wanted all of him for herself. She wanted his attention, she wanted his love and care, and most of all she wanted his heart.

That realization couldn't have come at a worse time. The orphan couldn't just blurt out what she felt! In fact, she realized with a defeated sigh. You can't ever tell him. Her eyes stung. Mouse squinted, looking out her side of the landspeeder for a moment or two as she bit back the sting that had struck in the center of her chest as well as her eyes. The girl rubbed the tip of her nose to stave off an itch, then cleared her throat and looked to Ghost. "Who's Houdini?"

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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Ghost » 2011-12-11 04:59

Tyler frowned deeply, trying his hardest to not speak much as he instead thought of what words he would indeed say to answer Mouse's question. There were some details that were a little too...personal for him to mention, and he didn't want the young girl to be upset by any of it. "Leryssa is..." he sighed, shaking his head. "She's a woman I once knew," he finally explained. "And she's not with the Empire; she's a criminal. She grew up here with me..."

Another soft sigh escaped the special agent; this was going to eventually turn into some sort of nightmare for him. The only thing that made him consider telling her, and that made him actually do it, was that he felt like she deserved the truth. At the very least, she'd need it if she was going to stick around and try to be of help. "...She helped make me what I am, Mouse." And, he thought to himself, [/i]I'm not entirely sure I'm grateful for that.[/i] The scowl on his face was very grim, almost feral in nature, as he remembered some of the more distinct moments of his past with her. There were some serious concerns coming to his mind, and he wasn't sure he had answers for all of his own questions, let alone anything someone else might decide to ask him...and Mouse had a way of asking questions that really forced him to think about things, for better or worse.

"As for Houdini," he continued, glad to switch the topic, " he's an old man rumored to be dead. Nobody could catch him...he was able to escape almost any trap, and become just about anyone to get away. I think we can do something like that to remove Leryssa from this situation without the Republic knowing." The briefest of a flicker of a grin crossed his face. "If it works, we'll have someone from the ISIS running around in her place, and the NR will be completely fooled. They won't know what hit them."
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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Mouse » 2011-12-11 05:39

Arabella didn't realize that her eyes had narrowed and she was giving Ghost a rather dirty scowl by the time he finished speaking. It wasn't what he had said that drew about such a reaction. It was what more like the things he didn't say. He didn't answer her question about why this Leryssa would want leniency from the Republic. Take that and pair it with the way Ghost sighed and shook his head when he first started telling her about Leryssa ... well, Mouse figured that he'd had a relationship with her or perhaps at least had feelings for her that he didn't want to talk about.

Mouse looked away from Ghost. She paid attention to the road head or looked out to her right and feigned interest in what they were passing or just seeing who was coming up next to them in traffic. Mouse propped her right elbow up on the side of the door and leaned her head into her palm. "Just say it. It's no big deal, ya' know. You loved her. Maybe you still do." Mouse said, hoping the tone of her voice didn't give away the fact that it would bother her very much if he said she was right. To her ears, of course, she thought she sounded like it was just a normal conversational tone. Her voice may not give her away, but her body language just might. The way she continued to avoid looking in his direction, the way she leaned away from him, the way she worked her jaw; flexing and relaxing the muscles. Or maybe even the way she began to fidget; shaking a foot as if impatient, bouncing her knee, or toying with the zipper on her jacket.

"But why would she want leniency from the Republic? You didn't answer that. And why you keep saying "what I am"? What are you? 'Cuz all I see is a man who works as an agent for the Imperial Federation. Someone whose been expertly trained and risks his life every day. I also see a man who ..." Mouse immediately closed her mouth and shook her head. "Nevermind," the street urchin muttered under her breath and reached over to turn on the radio. A few spins of the dial was all it took to find some music. Mouse turned it up and focused on the direction ahead.

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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Ghost » 2011-12-13 06:10

Occasionally during the trip, Tyler shot a quick glance into the rear-view mirror mounted on the outside of the left door. Ostensibly, he did so to keep an eye on traffic, though the glass was tilted just enough to put Mouse in the window's periphery. He could tell, from what little he sporadically saw of her posture in her seat, that she was more interested in hearing a lie than the answers she really sought. It was a shame, thus, that she instead deserved the truth, and nothing less; he had to risk breaking her heart with it...and somehow, he knew it would be one of the most painful things he could ever do.

"The true story..." he began, almost flinching at the words. Parts of him wished he didn't remember; other parts of him just wanted him to shut up and let the story, let his past, be forgotten somewhere in some dingy back alley, rotting away well below the skyline. Nar Shaddaa...the underbelly of Coruscant's lower city...the streets of Commenor. It could die in any of these places, just like he could; unlike him, it wanted to die. But there was still that one voice inside him, one that wanted to be heard...and one that believed this child deserved the truth, above all else. On top of that, it felt that the truth didn't deserve to die in some man's lonely memories. 'To answer your comment about her...yes, she and I were in love, once. It didn't work out. In the end, we decided it would be better if we were just friends, and we've been that way since. This, however, changes that quite a bit. A while back, when the Republic was forming, there was a criminal syndicate here on Commenor called the Shadow Vipers. Within only the first year of official New Republic presence on Commenor, two agents of the Shadow Vipers were responsible for a combined one-hundred eighty-seven counts of murder of Republic troop personnel; of these fatalities, one-hundred twenty-nine were infantry officers and enlistedmen, thirty-two were armor crewmembers, and twenty-six were corpsmen from Army Medical. The two agents responsible were Leryssa Du'Maire and Tyler Jones... ...her, and me."

Tyler sighed. "That's what I meant, earlier; that's the sort of person I've become. I wasn't always like that." Shaking his head slowly, he slowed the speeder up for the coming turn, and continued after he had straightned the speeder out from the turn. "My first kill was...many many moons ago. I was ten, if memory serves. My parents were the victims of a Rebel strike; the Alliance deemed it 'unfortunate collateral damage', and didn't do anything to the man in charge of the operation. I can still remember the look on his face as he came to see me, to apologize for what had happened. But it didn't bring them back...

"He didn't expect that I'd make for his gun, or that I'd get it from him. I remember the surprise as he saw that I knew what to do with it, and that I was pointing it right at his chest. It was the first time I'd killed a man...and I didn't stop until I was sure he was dead," Shaking his head, Tyler frowned. "I ran, after that; ran as far as I could go, and wound up living in hiding for a few years. That ended when I met Leryssa and her friends. It started me on the long, lonely road to what I am now...and it's often the worst thing in this galaxy. That's why I have a code I try to live by...it reminds me I'm still human, still sentient, instead of some mindless killing machine with skin grafted to it.

"Children... I was a child once, Arabella, just like you still are now. I don't hurt children; I refuse to. Innocents... my parents. I haven't slept well since they died; I wasn't there when they died, or I would have perished with them, but for some reason, I can hear screams in my sleep, whenever I get any. I know it's them...I know it." A tear began to form, rare and solitary, in his right eye, just visible to the young girl if she chose to look for it. "...I don't want the innocent involved in what I do; it's...bad enough living this Hell. It would be worse dragging someone else into it."

Another soft sigh escaped the secret agent as he took another turn. "Justice. The reason I killed that man, so long ago. And...when I die, I hope it's what brings my death, to complete the cycle." A stop light came up before them, and the agent pulled up to it, turning to look at Mouse calmly, all the anger from before finally gone. "I offered you the chance to stay back on the Observer, because I respect you--like you--too much to let you know what I've been through. I don't want anyone following in my horrid footsteps...especially you, Mouse."
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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Mouse » 2011-12-17 02:20

His name is Tyler. Mouse smiled but it was on the inside. She'd always liked that name. That, and she also liked the names Xander and Jax. Mouse looked to Ghost on occasion as he told her his story. She was interested, sincerely, and kept quiet the entire time. In fact, Arabella was pretty quiet for some time after Ghost finished speaking. There wasn't much she could say, or should say, for that matter. Mouse did notice the tear that formed in his eye, too. But she also knew that men didn't particularly like to cry and they certainly didn't want a woman, regardless of her age, making a big deal out of it. Something about male pride.

"We're a team," the teen finally said barely above a whisper as she kept her eyes focused on what was ahead. "I might not have killed anyone -- yet -- but I don't have much of a life, ya' know." Arabella turned those amber gold-flecked eyes toward Ghost now. "I've been living on the streets for the past .. I dunno .. seven years now, I guess it's been. My -- mother, and I use the term loosely -- gave up on me long before that. My sperm donor got up one morning, left for work, and never returned." The teen shrugged her shoulders as if being abandoned by one's parents were as common an occurrence as blowing your nose or sneezing.

Arabella didn't offer any further insight to what the rest of her so-called life has been like. She sniffed once and scratched her cheek. "I'm not a child, Ghost. A child can't survive the streets for long. They either have to grow the frack up or curl up, suck their thumb, and wait to die because the streets aren't kind and neither is the general population. You know this." Mouse snorted and shook her head. "I never got the chance to be a child, to be a kid or hell, even a teenage girl who worried about what to wear to school, if she was going to be asked to the dance, and decide which sport she was going to try out for first."

Silence reigned for the next few minutes. "Stop. Stop right now and turn around. We can leave, you know. Let's just go to some backwater planet where we can live out normal lives. I'll go to school, work part time afterward and you can be the responsible adult. You know, get a boring eight hour a day job, pay the bills, put food on the table. Help me with homework, try to make me do chores. Wha'dd'ya say? Screw this Leryssa bitch, frak Houdini - whoever he is - and let's just go. It's the only way I won't follow in your footsteps, Tyler, and you know it." Oh yeah, she used his real name. She meant business!

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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Ghost » 2012-01-15 04:07

Tyler sighed as he piloted the shuttle closer and closer to the safehouse; this sort of conversation was beginning to get on his last nerve, and he was getting more and more hopeful for the door, and the relative peace that would come with being immersed back into his own work, his own little world. He didn't enjoy sounding like a mean person to Mouse; he also didn't enjoy having to be so evasive with her. Stil, it was a situation where he had to be either one or the other, and it was left to him to determine which of these was the lesser evil. "I have work to do...work that's been overdue for some time. It's high time I got it done."

Pulling up to a stop in front of an old, quaint-looking house, the ISS agent calmly got out of the landspeeder, turning his attention immediately to the house and the people he expected were within. All things considered, there were things he'd rather worry about...for example, how warm the waters were at the majestic seas of Chandrila, or how breathtaking the view was at the top of the mountains here on Commenor. Instead, however, he had only the intensely cerebral work of the spy to focus on, and in that, he had plenty of work with which to occupy his time and thoughts...

...And that blasted woman, Leryssa, was at the heart of so much of it, he silently wished he could just strangle the life-force out of her and be done with it. Entering the house, he looked around, sighing to himself. His childhood friends lived here... 'friends', in the loosest sense, but they were still friends all the same; he worried, as he looked around the house, whether any of them were working with Leryssa to get that leniency offering from the Republic, or if she had honestly planned on turning them all in. The latter made far more sense to him; if she were going to pick one to bring in with her, it would increase the risk that the plan leaked to the others. All that he remembered of the woman made him think she wouldn't dare tell anyone, just because she wouldn't want the risk of someone among them contacting the Empire for help. Little did she know, the Empire was already aware, and one of their own was already on-hand.

"Mouse," he said after a few moments of silence, turning to see if she was nearby. "Welcome...to my home. Before I wound up an orphan, this was it; most of the gang should be here right now, working on something or other."
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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Mouse » 2012-02-07 14:52

No matter how hard Mouse had tried thus far, she couldn't get the man to just turn his back and walk away from this life. The thought or decision she came to in that very moment wasn't exactly a conscious one, but it was then that Mouse was determined to stick with Ghost, even if meant she became just like him. Of course, the teen didn't see how becoming like the man who was her best (and only) friend in the universe was a bad thing. But then again, her eyesight was a bit rose-colored when it came to the man.

Soon the vehicle came to a stop and Ghost left it, coming to stop near the vehicle and focusing his attention on one particular house. The place had to be at least thirty years old, if not older. There were signs of its aging, such as the worn color of the paint, the trampled trail that wore away the grass from people walking a particular path regularly from door to curb.

Folks tended to cut a corner while walking to or from a building, as if bypassing those three to seven extra steps walking around the corner instead of cutting across a lawn to get back on a permacrete walkway would truly reduce the amount of time it took to reach the destination. When all was said and done, the only thing cutting the corner succeeded in was ruining the manicured lawn.

Mouse quietly opened her door and exited the vehicle, too. Apprehensively the teen tugged her jacket and shirt down over her hips, then stuffed her small fists into her jacket pockets and walked up to stand next to Ghost, as she noticed more about the house. The bushes needed a trim but they were very full and some were quite tall. At least the ones marking the corners of the property were a bit taller than the rest. There weren't any flowers in the flower beds but Mouse imagined that a long time ago, once upon a time, there had been.

She also envisioned that they were quite pretty, maybe even a few award winners amongst the blooms, being tenderly cared for by a woman who looked like the perfect mom. Hair perfectly styled and not a one out of place. Just the right amount of make-up to show off incredible eyes, a pretty mouth, and possessing a feminine fragility to make one quite attractive. Hands that hadn't seen the meaning of hard work, perfect manicured fingernails that were always painted a pretty color; soft, too, from a daily regimine of delicate soaps, smoothing lotions, and wearing gloves to do yardwork or dishes so as not to ruin the skin or her nails. The woman would have smelled good, too, sporting a delicate floral perfume. Just a light spritz once behind both ears was all she ever needed.

She imagined the inside once smelled like fresh baked cookies or homemade breads and that the house was filled with guests, joy, and laughter during the holidays. A look to the upstairs windows had Mouse's imagination going even further as she pictured Gho -- Tyler's -- room. Posters on the wall, a bit messy, a shockball lying around, stuff spread across the top of a dresser. She could imagine him being younger, not much older than she was right now, in fact. Talking with his friends, planning to meet up for a rough and tumble game of shockball in the afternoon then perhaps getting ready for a date later that night.

"Mouse, welcome to my home. Before I wound up an orphan, this was it; most of the gang should be here right now, working on something or other." Ghost said to her as he looked to the building from where he stood next to her.

If this were a holofilm this would be the time we'd all hear the sound effect of a record being scratched and the visions of Mouse's imagination would suddenly come to a screeching halt and disappear in a snap. His words ruined her dream of what life must have been like for Tyler before he was orphaned. He had said that most of the gang should be in there right now working on stuff. What gang? Who? How does he know these people? Why are they all inside his house? The teen wondered.

They both stood there for what seemed like minutes but in reality was probably only a handful or two of seconds before Ghost took a step toward the house and Mouse followed. "Are you just gonna' walk in? Maybe you should knock first," she said, uncertainty definitely heard in her voice.

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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Ghost » 2012-02-12 07:19

Tyler chuckled. "Arabella, dear, knocking with these 'fine folks' is like using a secret handshake in a town square. It's just...it's not done. Besides, I used to live here...should've charged some of them rent." He sighed, trying not to laugh a little more at the thought as he stepped into the house. As if on instinct, his right hand reached to the inside of his coat, resting comfortably on the grip of his sidearm; the feel of the cool metal against his hand was reassuring, in a manner that few other things in this galaxy had ever been to him. Am I really that much of a waste? he caught himself thinking at the realization. So dead inside, that a gun is almost my sole source of comfort?

Thankfully, he wasn't on that train of thought for long. The instant he reached the kitchen, he drew the gun out, carefully taking aim at the figure waiting for him by the table. The tall man returned the gesture in kind, a light-hearted laugh escaping him and a brilliant smile on his face. "Tyler?" he asked in slight bemusement, already knowing the answer. "With how long it's been, I'd thought you had forgotten all about us here."

The ISS agent shook his head with a smile of his own, putting his pistol away. "No, Jack, you know me; I don't forget. Had some work to do in the area, figured I'd stop by...I also brought a friend along, and I'd like you to meet her." Politely, he gestured to the young girl, not once taking his eyes off of his old friend. "Jack, meet Arabella...a very dear friend of mine." His tone became, just then, a touch more serious. "I trust you understand implicitly when I say to be gentle. You two get acquainted; I have some work to do."

With that, he was gone and headed for the stairs to the upper level in a flash. It took under a minute to get to his room--still untouched, he surmised from a quick glance, in the time since he 'd last used it--and another two to get the communications device running and properly secured. Tyler entered the signal frequency as soon as he had triple-checked to make sure the proper security safeguards were in place, and the signal buzzed to life shortly thereafter. As soon as the face materialized in front of him, the agent smiled; it was Janus, as upset as ever. "Terribly sorry to be bothering you again on such short notice, Orlen," he said, fighting the urge to chuckle a little over it, "but I need to call in a slight favor."

Janus' eyes narrowed, the man giving Tyler a dirty look. "Uh-huh. And when are we going to get to the part where you apologize for accusing one of my men of treason? Or the bit where you formally requisition that speeder you took? And let's not get into breaking my wrist."

"Respectively," Tyler responded with a chuckle he couldn't refrain, "sorry; form's in the mail; and don't throw a punch at me next time. Now let's cut the bantha-shit. You saw the same footage as I did; you know from that footage that Leryssa's the suspect. I need an agent--any field agent you can grab me, preferably one that NRI hasn't seen much of yet. Send me the best woman you can find for the job, even if you have to pull from the Observer itself." The agent nodded once, briefly. "You'll know how to contact me once she's here. Ghost, out."

Not waiting for Janus to respond, Tyler shut down the communicaions system and quickly left his room, turning to look down the hall. The room that Leryssa had always used was just a short ways down the corridor from him, and he carefully made his way over to it. Calmly, he entered the room, positioning the door just as he'd foundit, and sat on the bed, lying in wait. Leryssa would doubtless be back soon, and he planned to be ready for that particular confrontation.
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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Mouse » 2012-02-28 03:56

It hadn't escaped the orphan's sharp eyes, the way Ghost slid his hand inside of his jacket. Mouse thought she could see a veil of reassurance fall over Ghost's eyes once he felt the cold grip of the weapon concealed within. It left the teen wondering, then ... If he use to live here and knows everyone inside, then why the need for a gun? Mouse left the expression on her face remain blank as she looked up to Tyler's profile. She noticed subtle questioning look shade his eyes for the briefest of moments just before he eased the door open.

Mouse followed him cautiously through the interior of the house. It wasn't decorated as she had imagined it might be. Of course, anytime she envisioned how someone else might have grown up, she always imagined that they had the perfect upbringing. A couple of adorable house pets, a loving mother and father, perhaps a sibling or three, friends, slumber parties, birthday parties, family vacations, and summers spent playing in the yard or swimming in a pool.

She always imagined the inside of the house smelling wonderfully, mom's perfume hanging gently in the air as she bustled passed to retrieve fresh baked goods from the oven before they could burn and just as her flared skirt twirled with the flourished spin and she set the tray of cookies down, she'd turn with a vibrant smile and ask if they'd like a warm cookie for a snack.

It never occurred to Mouse that just because someone had parents, siblings, or even friends, that their childhood may not have been as rosey-pink as she thought it would be. It never occurred to her that other kids might have had just as shitty of an upbringing as she had, or even worse than growing up on the streets. But isn't that usually the way orphans imagine other people's childhoods?

Mouse let her eyes drink in the surroundings, the decor, the sounds, the smells. The place could use a decent cleaning but it wasn't a pit, at least. She thought that the trash hadn't been taken out in about two weeks and as she wrinkled her nose her eyes caught the ratty ol' pair of shoes kicked haphazzardly near the couch in the livingroom. Mouse nearly bumped into Tyler as they neared the kitchen and for a split second, the teen's heart skipped a beat and caught in her throat as Ghost had pulled the gun from inside his jacket and had it aimed on a figure near a table who had also done the same.

Mouse held her breath, afraid to breathe for fear that even the slightest breath would be enough to set off a firefight. But that held breath was soon released, albeit slowly and inconspicuously, when the one at the table loosened a laugh and smiled brightly to Tyler. Mouse peered at the man through distrusting eyes, though, from the safety of being behind Ghost. At least until her companion and savior had to go and introduce her.

Still harboring a deep sense of distrust, the brown haired teen stepped out from behind Ghost and quirked a quick closed-mouth smile at the guy Tyler introduced as Jack. But her quirky smile turned into a more lopsided grin as she cast an upward, sidelong glance to Ghost. She heard the change in his voice as he referred to her as his very dear friend. Mouse looked to her feet as she shuffled and shifted position, stuffing her hands into her jacket pockets and resting her body weight more to her left.

"Hey, wait -- ", she started to protest when Ghost suggested that Jack be gentle to her and that they should get acquainted while he took off. "Great," she murmured just under her breath, then cast a wary eye on Jack and flashed the man a nervous, crooked grin.

"Arabella, huh?" Jack said as he retook his seat and motioned to a vacant chair at the kitchen table. "Pretty name. How'd you get caught up with that loser?" Jack asked, the smile on his face evidence that he was kidding when he referred to Ghost as a loser.

But Mouse just stood where Ghost had left her, eyeing Jack warily as she chewed on the inside of her cheek a bit. After a few passing minutes, Mouse hooked her foot around the leg of the closest chair and pulled it toward her. After twirling the chair around so she could straddle the chair and fold her arms along the edge of the backrest, Mouse finally set Jack straight. "No one except Ghost calls me Arabella. It's Mouse to you." The teen fixed Jack with a hard stare.

Jack found the teen rather endearing and he could see the fire simmering just beneath the surface in the young girl's eyes. He knew the attitude well. "Mouse it is, then. I stand corrected." Jack conceded to the teen. She was cute, he thought. "So what's the story with you and Tyler?"

Mouse studied Jack. She paid close attention to his eyes, then noted his mannerisms, twitches, etc. "Not much of a story. We ... we're a team, we're take care of each other."

Guarded, very guarded, she is. Jack noted. He just nodded and smiled at her. "Well ... Mouse. Any close friend of Tyler's is a close friend of mine. Help yourself if you're thirsty or even hungry." Jack sat forward and toyed idly with a lighter and a cancer stick.

"What's all the equipment for?" Mouse finally asked, her curiousity piqued enough that she couldn't bite her tongue any longer.

Jack smiled. "Come with me, I'll show you." He stood and motioned for her to follow. "It's okay. I won't bite." He assured the teen as she stood.

"You might not, but I sure as hell do," Mouse promised Jack as she followed him but apprehensively.

Jack just laughed.

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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Ghost » 2012-03-13 03:16

The rattling of the door as it briefly opened and shut was softer than usual, as gentle a sound as the person that had made it; calmly, surely, she made her way into the house as though she owned it, by now quite well accustomed to the sounds of the old structure and everything inside it In a soft, sweet voice, she called out a polite greeting to everyone in the house, and quickly made her way upstairs. There was so much work she had to do...it was looking like it would be another night sleeping on the floor, getting two hours' worth of rest, scraps of information littering the room as they covered the bed, the nightstand, and every square inch of flooring that wasn't already being used to provide her body with something of a cruel mockery of sleep. At times, it all made her wonder how much different all of this would have been--how much easier it would be--if she had all of her old friends with her. But...there was one missing, and she didn't want to think on that too much.

The news report that had come out of Neelanon had been too much for her to take. The first few days after Ghost had left for the Empire, Leryssa had been 'sad', for lack of a better word; hearing about his death had only made her feel worse...sick, even. As if trying to bring Commenor's established Republic governance down wasn't enough, now she had the added stress of losing one of her best friends, and never having the chance to give her goodbyes. It was also a hard task in and of itself; thanks in large part to actions recently undertaken by NIF forces and possible look-alikes, the sheer thought of wresting this planet out of Republic control without a full-scale military occupation was laughable at best, and the idea of an occupation would only spark resentment to levels that would bring about pro-NR underground movements...the sort of thing she could whip up and identify casually, just in the other direction.


The door that led into Leryssa's room creaked open, the knob turning just enough to allow the door to clear away from the frame. As was her style with such doors--as far as Tyler remembered of her--she pushed the door just open enough that she could slip in, turned, and shut it. When she turned to face into the room, however, she almost dropped her satchel in shock. There he sat, perched upon her bed, a silenced slugthrower staring her down. "Leryssa du'Maire... It's been a long time, madam. Mind telling me what I've missed? Or should I start filling in the gaps myself?"

"I--I don't even know what you're talking about. Tyler...I thought you were dead. You and a little girl, a few days ago."

"The way I hear it, you've been a bit busy to notice something like that. Imagine my surprise to find out you've been in contact with the Republic. So what is your angle with them, hm? Trying to get your way out of a long sentence or something?"

"No..." Shaking her head, Leryssa looked at Ghost, as though she could find something in the way his eyes looked at her that she could use as some sign of what he was thinking. As usual, she found him to be completely unreadable. Perhaps he was truly just that much his namesake...or perhaps he was just that way to her. "Tyler, I don't know what stories you've heard, but I haven't been working with them. Please...put the gun down." She blinked, once, fighting back a tear that was beginning to well up in her left eye. "When have I ever lied to you, Tyler?"

"Never," he began, still aiming the gun at her, "but given the circumstances, I have every reason to be suspicious right now." Gently, he pulled back the hammer on the pistol, keeping the weapon aimed square at Leryssa's chest. "One false move, and you'll have a few rounds in you before you can whisper. Now...put the bag down." The instant it was on the floor, he nodded, smiling just a little. "Very good. Next...there's some rope down in the basement; I'm going to set up a chair for you down there."

A soft sigh escaped her lips as she turned around to head for the stairs, arms kept at her sides. "You're wrong about this. I hope you know that."

Standing behind her, with the gun aimed square at the base of her neck, Tyler only nodded once, slowly. "Believe me...I hope you're right, but I still have to prepare for you being wrong."

Keeping the sidearm level, he followed her all the way to the basement, grabbing a single barstool from the kitchen on the way down the last flight of stairs. It took a few minutes of work to pick a suitable spot and lash the young girl to the nearest support beam--a task made longer only by how much the work beat him up mentally just from committing it--and then he was back upstairs and in the kitchen. Not long after returning to the kitchen, Tyler reached down to his belt, grabbing the communicator as it went off at his side. The voice on the other end was Janus, and for once, he was delighted to hear the other man speak. "Sir, Imperium Florists here. That specialty you wanted to import from Imperial space is due to arrive by nightfall. We'll inform you when the shipment clears customs; per our agreement, you'll be charged the handling fee for the import. Thank you for doing business with us."
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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Mouse » 2012-04-19 23:13

Jack had taken Mouse to the basement and along the way he asked, "Mouse, do you like fireworks?"

The teen thought that was a rather odd question to be asked, but she shrugged her shoulders as she followed the man down the stairs and replied, "I guess. I mean, you won't catch me running to the park to watch the yearly displays on independence day or anything like that, but sure ... I guess they're all right. Why?"

"Well, Mouse, I think you and I are going to light up the skies. Whaddya' say?" Jack glanced back at the teen following him down the stairs and flashed her a big, cheesy grin.

It made her uneasy. "O-kay, but only if you stop smiling like that. You look like you just ran over a small child or something." That made Jack laugh. He did, finally, stop smiling like a deranged hawk-bat, though.

While Jack was showing Mouse the ins-and-outs of how to make home-made bombs, the two heard footsteps on the stairs. Jack ignored them and Mouse tried to, but something gnawed at her inside. So when Jack went to rummage through some cabinets for more material, Mouse poked her head out and around the corner to see who had come downstairs, too.

From where she stood, though, she couldn't see much of anything. So she crept along, following the soft voices she heard coming from the other room. Mouse was careful not to be seen as she leaned just enough to see who was talking. She saw Ghost and some woman sitting on one of the kitchen stools. He had her tethered to a supporting beam. She was pretty, whoever she was. Already Mouse didn't like her and her nose involuntarily wrinkled just as Jack came along and put a hand on the teen's shoulder then guided her away and back up the stairs.

"Best if you don't see Ghost interrogate anybody; especially that one." Jack said once they were upstairs.

Mouse looked to the man. "Who is she?"

Jack snorted through his nostrils as he opened the cooling unit and offered a beer to Mouse. The teen smirked, but accepted greedily. "She's the past." Jack replied. A snap-hiss was soon followed by the sound of tin striking a formica countertop. Jack flipped the cap to his beer bottle casually aside then strolled into the living room to watch some holonet as he took a long pull from the liquor bottle.

Mouse watched Jack as she twisted the cap off of her drink. The teen chewed on the inside of her left cheek lightly then averted her eyes from Jack toward the stairs that led to the basement. I have a bad feeling about this, the girl thought as she took a long drink herself.

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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Ghost » 2012-05-05 01:46

Tyler let out a brief sigh as he headed back into the house. He'd taken a short breather after placing his call with Janus, if only to try and ready himself for dealing with yet another new face on such short notice, and it had been relieving to find that fresh air was, indeed, still fresh. It had always had that relaxing, soothing quality about it, and he was pleased for it. The peace of mind that came with it was perhaps the most enjoyable part of his day...which spoke a lot to the stress he was under, if being outdoors was doing him more good than talking to Arabella. To be honest, he was still having his doubts about having her out here with him, and was routinely finding himself wishing that she'd taken the idea of staying away from here, somewhere in the greater safety of Imperial space.

Silently entering the kitchen, he paused for just an instant, his eyes falling on a scene he had neither expected nor wanted, and he immediately felt something familiar rise unbidden to the forefront of his mind. Was it...yes, anger, that was the thought that coursed through him. It wasn't usually his place to yell, so he made do without the noise, yet there was certainly something coming as a reaction for this. Angrily, he reached over, grabbed the beer bottle roughly from Mouse's grasp, and tossed it clear across the kitchen, where it shattered against a wall with a sickening wet smashing sound. The noise brought Jack running, and Tyler quickly had his gun out, aimed for the doorway; the instant Jack drew within sight, the ISIS agent took careful aim, and fired two rounds...both hitting the bottle in Jack's hand and reducing it to nothing but a dripping stump. He remained perfectly quiet as he stood there, glaring at his old friend, letting the silenced slugthrower do all of the talking,

When at last the shock from his reaction had settled down, Tyler stormed out of the kitchen, intentionally rapping the butt of the pistol off the back of Jack's head as he passed by the other man; there was a dark scowl on his face, the likes of which the explosives fiend would know meant nothing but trouble. The sound of heavy footsteps could be heard as the special agent headed upstairs, followed by the same sound a few minutes later, coming back down. The front door opened with a rush of air, and then slammed shut. Not too long after, there was a high-pitched roar as a landspeeder fired up outside, tearing off down the street. Wherever Tyler was headed, he was clearly too angry for any company.
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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Mouse » 2012-05-05 04:14

Mouse and Jack made eye contact once more when they heard the door close. Jack glanced out the window and saw that Tyler had just stepped outside for a bit. Jack knew Ghost pretty well, or at least felt that he did, so when he looked back to Mouse he gave her a relaxed smile. "Just getting some fresh air. Want to watch some of the game with me til he's ready to go?"

Arabella shook her head as she swallowed a mouthful of beer. Not a drinker, and not use to drinking alcohol at all, the girl wrinkled her nose and forced the foam and liquid down her throat. "Definitely an acquired taste," she said, looking at the label on the bottle and reading the information it contained.

Still, there had to be something about it that she liked, for the girl tilted the narrow head of the bottle toward her lips again and just as she was about to pour more into her mouth, the bottle was snatched right from her hand! Had the girl seen him come back inside and enter the kitchen, 'Bella might have also seen the angry calm that settled within his eyes. Mouse would have learned with just a look that Tyler was NOT happy seeing her drinking. But she hadn't noticed and therefore did not see the stone set in his eyes.

"What the ffff-----" Mouse was going to curse at Ghost. But the way he took that bottle then threw it across the kitchen so it smashed against the wall, spattering beer and glass all over, frightened the sixteen year old orphan. She flinched. To cover the fact that Tyler had just actually scared her, Mouse narrowed her eyes and scowled at the man, setting her jaw firmly, and changing her body posture by crossing her arms defiantly and thrusting a hip out.

Arabella was just about to lay into Ghost and demand to know just who in the Emperor's black bones he thought he was to treat her like that, when she saw Tyler retrieve his weapon. Those narrowed eyes widened, crossed arms uncrossed and both hands cupped a slack-jawed gasp of surprise. "GHOST, NO!" Mouse shouted, certain that Tyler was about to commit murder by shooting Jack. So when the glass bottle shattered and left Jack holding the remains, the entire house became so silent it was deafening.

Mouse was sure, at first, that Jack had been hit. It took a moment to realize, as she looked between both Ghost and Jack to see each glowering at the other, that Jack had not, in fact, been hit. The girl let out a breath she'd held and slowly lowered her trembling hands from her face. Her mouth suddenly felt dry. Staring at the two men, seeing the way Ghost looked at Jack in particular, made Mouse feel as if she was now intruding or something. The girl looked away, taking her lower lip between her teeth lightly and began to chew nervously.

Jack grunted loudly and staggered forward as Tyler struck the man on the back of his head with the butt of his weapon, drawing Mouse's attention again. She stepped forward, reaching for Jack just to make sure he didn't continue forward and topple over. But as she was moving to steady Jack, the girl watched Ghost's retreating back as he left the kitchen and went upstairs. "Are you okay?" She asked Jack quietly. Jack slowly looked to Mouse and shook his head, then went to make himself an ice pack.

She didn't know what to do now, or where to go. Ghost brought her here to his childhood home and she didn't have a way to get back to the ship without Ghost. Mouse stepped from the kitchen and looked to the stairs as Tyler came stomping back down. Without so much as a look at her, Tyler threw the front door open and then slammed it shut. The house shook and windows rattled in their panes.

'Bella flinched. As soon as she heard the landspeeder's engines roar to life, Mouse felt panic in her chest. The orphan ran to the door and threw it open. She bolted outside just in time to see the landspeeder growing smaller in the distance. Mouse stood there, shocked. Her chest felt as if it were tightening, her palms felt clammy and sweaty. She could feel herself trembling. "He left," she said barely above a whisper as she stared at the vacant street. The landspeeder could no longer be heard, either. "He really left."

Mouse swallowed. She had to force it, too. Slowly, as if someone else were controlling her limbs, Mouse put her hands into the front pockets of her jacket and looked to the door of Tyler's childhood home. She saw Jack standing there. He was watching her, holding an ice pack to the back of his head. He motioned with a jerk of his head that if she wanted to, Mouse could come back inside. He waited another minute but when the orphan just stood there in the driveway staring at him, he sighed and went back inside. He left the door open for her though.

Mouse's mind couldn't wrap itself around the fact that yes, she had just witnessed Tyler storming out of the house and driving away, leaving her behind. Never in a million years did the girl ever think that Ghost would - or even could - abandon her so easily. He was her best friend. Right? The teen scratched her cheek then looked to the house again. The door was left open for her. Soulful, tear-filled eyes looked to the street once more. It was still empty. There was no sign of Ghost returning in the landspeeder. No sight of him. The area was void of sound, too, with exception to the occasional chirp of a critter or rustle of leaves on a tree as the wind kicked up.

Your own parents didn't want you. No one else did, either. What makes you think Tyler would want you around?

Mouse, down-trodden and broken-hearted, hung her head and walked off. By the time Jack noticed that Mouse was no longer in the driveway, it was too late. There was no sign of the girl at all. The guys searched high and low in and around the house. Jack, though his head throbbed, began searching for the girl by driving from street to street. He had no idea where Tyler had his ship, if he even had one, no idea where to look for the girl at all, really. He just knew that if he didn't find Mouse and have her back at the house by the time Tyler returned, there'd be real hell to pay.

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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Ghost » 2012-06-04 03:13

Impatient. That's what Tyler had been in leaving so swiftly. He'd allowed his anger to finally build up enough that it manifested, and he had succumbed to it and acted out of impatience; it was displays like this that served as the reminder for why he often kept his emotions in check. Worse still, the anger coursing through him was beginning to dwindle and take the adrenaline along with it, a process that had already caused the speeder to swerve somewhat violently once under the special agent's control. Fortunately, nobody else had been on the road near him at the time, and he'd brought the vehicle under control, but it had been enough that he pulled off to the side of the road to try and let the anger fully subside. Driving like a rage-afflicted maniac would only draw unwanted attention.

The minutes passed by second by second, slow and silent; in them, Tyler found some measure of calm as his temper--a clearly violent beast that he needed to tame--receded. To further reduce the risk of driving off under the influence of his anger again, he had forced himself to exit the speeder, and instead simply rested against the hood as he stood off to one side of the road, letting the storm calm itself. As the last of the temper finally diminished, he let out a soft sigh and turned to head back into the speeder...and that was when he saw Jack, cruising around in another as though looking for something. Alarm bells went off inside Tyler's mind, not the least of which was the fact that the demo man was drunk. Next time, Tyler, he chided himself, go for a knee! Dashing into the speeder, he set off to pursue his old friend, a feeling of worry turning into deep dread as it rose up from the pit of his stomach.

Catching up with Jack, Tyler quickly brought his speeder in front of the one his friend was driving, the look on his face one composed of a fair mix of disappointment and confusion. "Mind explaining to me what has you so concerned you're willing to break the law and risk getting caught?" he asked in a low, sharp voice, his eyes narrowed in an expression not so much of glaring at the man, but of questing for an answer.

"Mouse..." came the first word of Jack's reply, and even as he tried to finish, all color had already drained from Tyler's face. "She ran off shortly after you left; I didn't see which way." For a moment, he looked genuinely sad. "Ghost, she could be anywhere."

Tyler fought off the urge to cringe at his old nickname, a life--no, a monster--that he had been for some time, and instead looked his friend in the eye, nodding. He was as pale as the creature from which he took the hated name and sickening life, and when he spoke, it was with a hushed whisper that was almost as quiet as the spectres themselves. "Except....I think I know where, Jack." He patted the explosives engineer on one shoulder, nodding again. "You should go back home...carefully, so nobody who sees you has reason to remember. I'll find her." My mistake to fix, after all, he thought to himself, once again chiding his own failings.

Merciful Heights Park...to the elderly, it was a nice place to sit and rest; and to children, it was a playground full of carefree merriment. The wind was always a soft, tender breeze, delicate and cool with the soft grace of the sea, and the sunset view from the high hills and the climbable trees was a wondrous sight...so captivating that, indeed, many a pair of young adults had found themselves locked in each other's arms just staring at the sun as it set below the horizon...or partaking of it as they delicately feasted on the full bliss of each other's company. The city even had a youth stickball club that played at the park, drawing in fans from all across town, and evening games were a common thing when the season was underway. Yet for Tyler, Merciful Heights Park was none of these things...

...It was his own private Hell. He hadn't set foot in the park since he was a boy, lost and afraid after a horrible accident. His parents, stars rest their souls, had never married...would have attracted too much notice from certain unwelcome elements, he had learned later, but the lack of a formal wedding hadn't ever diminished the love they knew for each other. It was the one solace he had ever taken, then and now, in their deaths, the fact that they had at least died together, and their spirits had never been forced to endure separation. Still, stepping into the blasted park brought back memories of that one day, so long ago...

He was just a little boy, sitting on a swing. The swing didn't move, because he was too depressed to do anything but sit on it, letting it hang there in complete and total silence. Other children played their little games in the park, some coming near him and others leaving well enough alone; as the child of two recently-murdered parents, Tyler didn't bother reacting to them. After all, what could he say? What could he say to them, do with them, that would make the pain go away? Their voices were so far away, their laughter so horribly foreign to him, that he could only imagine it was there...couldn't even bring himself to believe that he heard any of it. The wind must have been repeating his name, then; the wind...mocking him, calling out to him with a voice that it must have assumed he wanted to hear.

"Tyler!"

Jumping slightly, Tyler turned his head towards the source, the depth of the sound convincing him more than the clarity that it was really a person and not some trickery. When he looked, he saw a man in Republic military garb...an officer of some significant rank, if his read of the man's uniform was right. The seven-year-old boy looked over, but didn't get up, still too depressed to think of doing anything at the moment. Unsurprisingly, the man came over to him and started the conversation, as most adults were wont to do. "Tyler," he started, his voice already sounding like something with the most deceitful of apologies laced into it. "I'm glad I found you, son," he said, oblivious to the dirty look that particular form of address had garnered him. "I've been trying to find you for hours...wanted to talk to you."

Tyler's interest with the man had been piqued at the use of the word 'son', though the darkness in his motives was only just beginning. He knew he'd recognized the face from somewhere, when the name badge triggered his memory. The Republic's self-proclaimed 'victim of bad luck', responsible for an accident that had claimed two civilian lives. The names of the victims had been withheld, but for a boy who had just lost his parents within the past few days, it had hurt hearing the story on the orphanage holo-news feed. What hurt even worse was that they werent punishing this weasel with anything worse than a slap on the wrist. Calmly, casually, Tyler looked his visitor once over, and then pushed himself off the swing. "Can I help you, sir?" he asked, his voice betraying his inner worry over how life would change for him.

"I just wanted to....to apologize, for what happened to your parents; it was a tragic, unfortunate accident. Commenor Foster Services is working on finding someone for you."

Tyler had been paying the barest level of attention to the man's words, already disgusted with them. More direct focus had been spent on the man in a physical regard, the boy looking for anything that might help him deal with the monster before him. The only thing he saw was the man's gun. Calmly, a liar's false smile formed on Tyler's face, and he gave voice to the two most gut-wrenching words he could have ever said, glad to not really mean them. "Apology accepted," he said, moving closer to hug the waiting officer. As he accepted the returned hug, he struck, quickly pulling out the officer's sidearm and leveling it at him, pressing the blaster end against his victim's chest. "....Accepted in your blood," he said, pulling the trigger.

By the time anyone else in the park had turned to see what was happening, Tyler was already gone, leaving behind a dead Republic officer with a smoking sidearm atop his chest.


Making his way through the nightmares to the swings of the long-closed park, Tyler nodded at them, and their lonely occupant, and said nothing. Instead, he took the open seat, looking out at the sunset from the swings in the high hill of Merciful Heights Park. All these years, the guide had been right...it was still beautiful. It was best enjoyed in silence right now anyway, he imagined, looking at Mouse through the corners of his eyes....after all, what could one say to earn back the trust of a child?
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Mouse
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Re: Night of the Shadow...

Post by Mouse » 2012-06-04 23:28

Mouse didn't know where she was going. She was on a strange planet where she knew absolutely no one. She didn't know the streets, didn't know any of the local officers or which restaurants actually showed a little kindness to someone down on their luck. She didn't know how much longer she had until sunset, what dangers lurked around the corners, or even what time it was. All she knew was that Tyler left her there. He just sped off. Never once did he hit the brakes. If he didn't do that, then she was certain he also never once looked into the rearview.

The teen felt her heart tighten and her lungs seemed to lose their ability to hold air. Her eyes stung and her vision shimmered, then blurred entirely. There was a sharp tingle in the very tip of her button nose which also began to run. The girl sniffled. No matter how hard she tried, Arabella just couldn't stop them from falling. The tears, that is. Her cheeks took on a rosy hue and the tears just kept coming. Her throat had started to ache, too. She tried to remember how Tyler got them to the house, but Mouse found herself standing on a street corner and nothing looked familiar to her.

As the crowds hustled and bustled their way along the walkway, crossed streets at the intersections, and immersed themselves in their own little worlds, Mouse looked to their faces. Her eyes saw what they always saw. The expressions of pretending not to notice the orphan girl or the girl who happened to be crying and completely lost. People were the same everywhere she went. Oh they saw her all right. They just liked to pretend they weren't feeling sorry for her or that they weren't completely disgusted by the girl's comely appearance. It was those looks and stares that made her feel like she was the ugliest, scummiest, and most pathetic creature to ever life. Which said a lot considering there were creatures such as the Dug, the Kowakian monkey-lizard, and the Hutts gracing the universe with their presence!

As she moved through the crowd, going against the flow, the teen didn't bother to say excuse me or beg the pardon of anyone who bumped into her. Why should she? They certainly weren't apologizing for running into her. The girl pulled her balled up fist from her jacket pocket and swiped the back of her hand under her nose as she sniffled a few more times. Then she wiped her cheeks with her palm and stuffed her hand back into her pocket again. Long, thick, brown lashes appeared even darker from the tears that had soaked them; her lower eyelids burned as hateful a red as her bloodshot eyes.

The sound of sweet, innocent laughter was heard from somewhere up ahead. Mouse was lured toward it and upon reaching a corner, she saw a bunch of little ones getting off of a transport, their parents or caregivers happily greeting the children as they came home from some school function or perhaps a field trip even. Mouse's tears seemed to slow then cease falling altogether. She watched as one brown-haired girl excitedly ran to her father. She squealed with laughter and threw her arms around the man's neck as he, smiling from ear-to-ear, scooped her up into his arms and hugged her tight while smothering her with kisses. Mouse sniffled, a very faint smile threatened to dimple her lightly freckled cheeks.

"Can we go to the park, daddy?!"

"Of course! Then we'll go out for ice cream!"

Mouse wasn't sure why, but she followed the pair to the park. She thought for a moment that there might have been a time, or maybe even two, when her own father was waiting for her and that she exhibited such love and sunshine upon seeing him. Even if there wasn't, 'Bella saw no harm in pretending that she had witnessed a memory replaying itself live. The father and daughter went straight to the jungle gym and the monkey bars. The teen gave the duo their privacy and continued to walk through the park and up the large hill. There she saw a sign announcing to all who passed that the park was Merciful Heights Park. But Mouse didn't know that. She'd never learned to read or write.

To the left of that sign, maybe no more than fifty to one hundred feet away stood a tall, thick, and ancient looking tree. She walked over to it and stood beneath its reaching branches, its leaves providing a canopy over her head and the height of the hill lending Mouse a spectacular view of the mountains. For reasons unknown to Arabella, the tears started to flow again. She wasn't sure if it was because this was the first time she'd ever seen mountains and was overcome by their beauty, or if it was because she wished this moment was being shared with Tyler. Or maybe it wasn't either of those things. Maybe it was just a culmination of everything she had ever been through in her entire, shitty life, including and up til this very point. Whatever the reason, Arabella had a good long cry. She never let herself do this before and keeping it bottled up for all of these years only meant it was a matter of time before the walls broke and the flood waters rushed forth.

When those tears finally subsided, which took a good twenty minutes, Arabella didn't feel any better. She just felt drained. Physically, spiritually, emotionally. As the sun continued to set it painted the sky in a myriad of colors. Oranges, purples, pinks, blues, yellows. Set as the backdrop against the purple, snow-capped mountains, the setting was idyllic. Mouse felt a chill settling in the air. It'd be a few hours still, but tonight was bound to be rather chilly. Mouse turned away from the safety of the tree and made her way back down the hill and toward the now empty playground. The swings were empty. Mouse sat on one and leaned her head against the chain and watched the sunset until all of the color was drained from the sky and nothing remained except for the stars against a midnight blue backdrop.

Arabella Rose heard someone approaching from behind but didn't bother to turn and look. She figured it was going to be one of the local peace officers telling her that the park was closed now and she'd have to move along, to go now and to scat. So when she didn't hear an authorative voice ushering her along the girl figured it was just someone passing through, perhaps getting home late from work and cutting through the park to save some time.

Judging by the faint aroma of cologne, Mouse knew it was Ghost. The moment she knew it was him, the teen hung her head and silently wept. The two sat there upon the swings. The only sounds were those coming from the city behind them. "I realize, Ghost, that I'm ... a burden." The teen started, quietly. "I know I'm not much to look at and I can't imagine why I let myself think that someone in this vast and lonely galaxy might want me around." 'Bella, scoffing, lifted her head and turned her tearful eyes to the heavens, then turned them on Tyler, " But ... If you're going to abandon me, at least have the decency to say good-bye. I know I'm not deserving of much, but after all we've been through together, I think I deserve at least that much." The girl said very softly through her tears.
Last edited by Mouse on 2012-07-03 23:46, edited 1 time in total.

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