Friday, December 6, 2013

Rain on Klatooine

Rain on Klatooine
Bobby Derie

Precipitation was rare on Klatooine, and even then mostly up in the mountains. It was a rare system of fat, wet, hot clouds that rolled down and deposited its moisture on the arid plains and deserts. Eiven Task had left the window open to invite the humid breeze in, and for a little while the whole world smelled like wet dog.

Laying next to him on the bed was Xasha. Like him, she was near-human; only the hint of elongated canines and the extra nipples budding down beneath her breast suggested the alienage in her ancestry. Naked in the afternoon light, she idly traced the Sith runes tattooed on his chest, then slid her fingers over to probe the puckered scar that ran down the left side of his body. On one side, flesh. On the other, plastic and metal ribs, artificial organs, a cold cybernetic arm.

Xasha bent over and caught one of his nipples in her teeth, teased it. Eiven tensed under her ministrations, broken out of his musings. Her intuition was incredible, her aura of sexuality and lust palpable; she could have been a Jedi, if they'd found her, though he'd never told her he knew she had the gift. Feeling the shift in his mood, she released his nipple and snuggled close into the crook of his flesh-and-blood arm, her breasts pressing into his side.

She knew he was spent, and only playing for time.

"You never told me how you lost that arm."

"Playing with lightsabers," Task said. "I won't tell you all of it, but the end..."


The rain beat down so hard and heavy that you couldn't feel each drop, only the torrent of water pounding down on. The lightsabers steamed and crackled audibly in the downpour. Two of them circled him, older students, their weapons blue-white blurs burning in the rain. Their quarry was younger, at least a head shorter, and he didn't have a lightsaber - but he held his hands low and in front of him, legs spread shoulder-width apart as the others came on.

It looked like a dance, but it was closer to a chess match. Where they were was only part of it, the rest of the battle is where they would be, move and countermove, Force-guided intuition seeking the future, who could out-predict and out-move the others. With the pouring rain, none of the three could see or hear very well, but they could feel their positions relative to each other. Like in training at the academy, wielding burning blades without any heft or inertia, you simply had to know where it was at all times.

One of the bigger students got too close, and the shorter one made his move - a forward roll underneath a clumsy swing; the little one stood up in a smooth motion, something sharp glinting in the palm of his right hand. The scream of the taller student cut the air, and he collapsed, hands cupping the red stain spreading over his crotch.

The short one stood over his fallen foe for only a heartbeat before falling backwards, the blazing, steaming arc of the remaining student's lightsaber cutting through the rain only centimeters from the shorter student's face. Faster and faster the lightsaber zig-zagged in front of him, the student retreating constantly to keep out of the deadly range. If anyone was looking that dark night, the swings might have looked wild and erratic, but they cut off every route of escape, every opportunity to duck or dodge around to the side, the taller one boxing the shorter one in. It was a losing fight, and both knew it. In less than a minute, the shorter student's heel was touching the back wall of the alley.

Reflexively, the shorter student tossed the blade into his right hand. He turned to present his left side to his enemy, the smallest possible target, his bare left hand raised in front of him as though he held a lightsaber ready to parry. The small handblade was in his right hand, level with his belly, pointed at his opponent. The assumption of the posture was rote, automatic; if the taller student could see anything besides the burning blade of the lightsaber before him, he might have barked a laugh. As it was, he did not hesitate to bring the blade down in a heavy, straightforward two-handed stroke.

The shorter student leapt forwards, bringing his left hand as close to the base of the blade as he could reach. There was a moment - an agonizing fraction of a second - where the blue-white plasma seemed to halt against some unseen force as the palm of the small hand touched its corona. Then the falling stroke came through skin and blood and bone, deflected only a fraction from its deadly course - but the burning strike that should have fallen square on the shorter student's head came down instead on the shoulder, and then down through the side of his torso.

Momentum carried the smaller body to crash into the taller one as his severed, burning arm fell to the ground. The last thing the older boy felt was the tiny handblade digging into his chest, punching through muscle and scraping against bone as it punctured his lung.

Eiven Task stood over his fallen opponent. The lightsaber had seared the wound shut, and shock was already setting in, but he willed himself to stay conscious as the older boy started to drown on his own blood. To feel his presence in the Force flicker and fade.

There had been a legend, Eiven knew, of Jedi who on death became one with the living Force, not even leaving a body behind. Staggering away from the scene, lopsided and unused to the new balance without his arm, he left two corpses behind him.


"You won't tell me why?" Xasha said.

"Some other time." Task said.

With nothing left to say, she move to straddle him, drawing the sheet over them both like a tent, and hugged him close to her. On his flesh-and-blood side, he could feel the line of her nipples rub against him.

"Another time?" she breathed in his ear "I'll take that as a promise."

Outside on Klatooine, the rain had come on again.


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