My Pillar, My Beacon

Chapter 15

"This is crazy." Carth stated, and Sarah only shrugged the statement off. "You know what's under Taris, right?"

"The Undercity." She sounded displeased, but hardly wary, and he stared at her. Taris's Undercity was famous, or infamous, depending on who one spoke to. It was a dumping ground, a jail, and a quarantine zone, all in one handy, hidden package hidden below the sight-line of the great city above it. The very idea of it grated on Carth's nerves and fanned his outrage. It was one thing to prosecute criminals, to punish wrongdoers...but there was no circumstance in which he could consider it fine to have generations of families tossed away like garbage, for some nebulous wrongdoing of an ancestor long dead and gone. And the magnitude of injustice just rose with the understanding of what bred and grew down there...the direction they were headed towards.

"So, if I'm bitten, I can count on you to do the deed, right?" It might be less than impressive and manly, especially in front of a new lover, but the very idea of it had always haunted him. He flew, usually above crap like this...

"Deed?" She seemed more interested in a hangnail than their continuing drop lower.

"Rakghouls." Surely she had not forgotten those. He held his hand out in her direction, tapping his fingertips to his thumb to simulate a biting motion. She gazed at it, amused, and he glared at her. "Seriously, Sarah... not funny. Those things give me nightmares."

"Deed, eh? Sure, Carth. I'll do the deed...right here. Take your jacket off."

"Not that deed, silly." He muttered, rolling his eyes when she jabbed him with a finger. "I like my jacket. And it's some protection against..." He made the motion again, and she actually chuckled in response.

"Jacket. Off." She reached into her pocket and removed a small plastic case. "Now. Deed."

"What is that?" He asked, warily shrugging out of his jacket and studying her as she pulled a syringe out, eyeballing it, and then Carth. "Eighty five kilos? Or so?"

"Close enough." It was pretty close, he was a little heavier than that, but unwilling to admit it. Or he had been, he'd lost some weight already during this. "What is that?"

"Rakghoul vaccine, the good shit. Fast acting Imperial version, from the armor carrybins." She held it out, much like he had just gestured, but with the syringe pinched between her fingertips. The matter of fact labeling promised exactly what she claimed. "So yes, I am more than willing to do the deed, Carth."

"How many do we have?" He asked, rolling his sleeve up and standing stoically as she injected it.

"One for you. One for me, since I can't remember if I've had it...even though I'm sure I've seen it before. Two extra...just in case." She rolled her own sleeve up and presented her bared arm to him, barely blinking when he pushed the plunger. "There." She rubbed the injection point briskly, and rolled her sleeve back down while he rescued his jacket from the floor of the elevator. "Now, let's go find ourselves a teenaged twi'lek and a wookiee roaming loose in the Undercity. How hard could it be?" Thankfully, there was a tinge of sarcasm under her syllables already, and he felt no need to add to it.

"Glad to see you're still sunny."

"Sunny, eh? She asked. "I don't believe many people have ever called me that one before." She stepped up close, kissed him on his chin, and he smiled, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.

The elevator dinged, the doors opened, and she...still held in his arm, quick drew her blaster and pointed it unerringly out...her gaze still on his face. He mirrored the action a moment later, sending a glance towards the opening. Three filthy, thin men flinched away, back towards the darkness.

"We won't be having any of that." Sarah stated boldly, coldly, stepping out of Carth's grasp and out into the dimness. "Take your shit elsewhere."

Even though he'd seen it before, it still startled Carth. She had just been calm, sunny...even, and now she was death and doom, a promise of destruction engraved on her austere features. He'd seen something that came close before, and it fit with the growing picture in his mind... resolve to do what had to be done, to hell with the consequences. That was what had put her with Bastila, and had probably put her in the strike force to kill Darth Revan.

"I said, go!" She snarled when two of them hesitated, not quite willing to give up on the idea of fresh meat...figuratively or literally, Carth wasn't certain which. But her bravado was enough to break the mens' wills, and they turned and ran...disappearing into their gloomy surroundings. "What a hellhole." She muttered, blinking as she stared into the dark. Carth had to agree, and the idea that they were down here to find a teenager didn't sit well with him. It didn't sit well with him that there were people down here at all. He could just barely sense the towering buildings he stood amongst, more like insurmountable walls, cliffs here, than anything built for utility. A prison wasteland made out of the footprints of soaring skyscrapers.

"Agreed." He was used to flying, free...alone as far as he could see.

This was horrible, even if he forgot the rakghoul problem. He hadn't been joking when he'd said that those gave him nightmares. And now that he'd actually seen where they came from, it was even worse than his imagination had shown him.

"I'll keep you safe, Carth."

He would have preferred it if she'd bothered to put even this slightest hint of a joke there, but her tone was deadly serious. "Not going to even try to protect my man feelings?" He snorted, falling into step behind her.

She paused, glancing back over her shoulder at him. "Only boys need that, and you don't qualify. I picked a man, I picked you. But it's only wisdom to understand that you are out of your element here. I am not. You can keep me safe after we find you a cockpit to do it from."

"Fair enough."


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