My Pillar, My Beacon

Chapter 19

Carth was heartened to see Sarah looking so much better. It was as if she'd been asleep on her feet, and suddenly awoke fully. She was beautiful again, her gaze clear, her actions sharp. Mine.

Wait, what? No. That was sheer stupidity on so many levels. Just wrong. He barely knew her, sleeping with her once and only once, did not give him the right to suddenly get possessive. Or even proud. He'd grown beyond the adolescent 'I tapped that!' stage...hadn't he? It didn't help that she had fallen into a stalking, swaying strut...it didn't help that, as if she'd heard his thoughts, she gave him a hooded, smoldering glance and blew him a kiss.

"Knock that off." He sputtered, and she grinned at him. "We've got a Wookiee to rescue."

She shrugged, waved a hand towards the tunnel ahead. "And more Gamorreans to kill. Win win."

His answering look was unimpressed, while they weren't exactly his favorite race either, he didn't approve of her joy in their slaughter. He was here for a reason, for a job that had to be done. "Think of their poor little morrts, you're leaving them homeless."

"The fact that you're using their parasites as an arguing point merely supports my disdain. They're slavers...Devid." She took his elbow and turned him to face Mission. "Just...think...about that. They're running loose, down here...in a target rich, unprotected environment. Easy pickings."

He growled, shrugging out of her grasp. "I never said they shouldn't be dealt with, Sarah. But perhaps they should be handled with a little less enthusiasm."

Her return gaze was contemplative, measuring, weighing, and he sighed, shaking his head. He wouldn't, couldn't back off of this. He understood she was...not quite right...but that gave him the responsibility to pick up the slack, not the opportunity to run with her. "Sarah." He breathed, moving closely to her, eclipsing Mission's view and hearing to give them a modicum of privacy. He reached out, resting his palm against her cheek, before leaning in to kiss her hair. "Please."

She rested her hand over his fingers, before she nodded slightly. "Right." She muttered, "Feel sorry for the poor homeless morrts, now stranded in the sewers of Taris."

"None of that."

"Oh, I know! They'll become rakghoul pets. They'll..."

He had to laugh, in spite of his better judgment, and she gave him a triumphant smirk in return. "Rescue. Wookiee." He breathed into her hair.

"Right. Rescue wookiee."

"So...you two are together?" Mission asked from behind him, curiously, and Carth glanced back at her. Cute kid, well on her way to gorgeous adult, and Sarah's dark warning rang all too true in his heart. Taris was the absolute worst place he could think of to put a twi'lek female on the rise to sexual maturity. He'd never been one to go there, he had a fancy for women of his own species, and set a high value in knowing that they were perfectly willing as well. So many twi'lek weren't...

"Sarah's my wife." Again, that fell too easily from his lips. "I'm Devid." That didn't fall nearly as easily, he had to struggle for it. He was Carth. She was Sarah. And they were together. Those were easy. Anything off of that path was difficult to grasp.

"Humans, but not from Taris." Mission mused, staring at them both. "Stuck here by the blockade?"

"That's an affirmative."

"Sucks. There are rumors that the Sith like humans stuck here by the blockade, if you know what I mean."

Carth did. He had few illusions about what would happen to him if he was captured. He'd break, eventually. "They say the force can do terrible things to a mind." He breathed, running his fingers through his hair. The idea of that was almost as horrible to him as being attacked by a rakghoul, and the thought of losing Sarah to the Sith made him ill to consider it. She was already damaged... "It can wipe away your memories, destroy your very identity." That would shatter her, and make him just like Karath... a name to be feared and hated, everything he had done, everything he had stood for, burned away in an instant. Another traitor.

"Not going to happen." Sarah stated firmly, a river of confidence again. "We go get...?" She snapped a finger in Mission's direction, and the girl nodded shyly.

"His name is Zaalbar. Big Z."

And Carth was certain the wookiee in question just adored that one. It annoyed him, a reminder of just how young she really was. She shouldn't be here. At least he was an adult. A soldier. At least Sarah was the same. He'd gone to war, and he was willing to bet she had as well.

"Soooo..." Mission continued, "Where are you two from, originally?"

"Telos." He muttered, watching the momentary shutdown cross Sarah's features. He now recognized it as what it was, her attempt to dredge up a memory that might, or might not, come.

"Deralia. I'm from Deralia. Little place out in the Tammuz sector. Outer Rim."

He whistled, shaking his head. He'd thought that Telos was remote, but no, she had just trumped him big time in the timeless 'I'm from the bum fuck nowhere part of the galaxy!' challenge game. "It's okay, darling. It didn't take you long to figure out how to use indoor plumbing."

She yanked her head around to stare at him, her eyes wide, brows raised. "You...ass! You are going to pay for that...later. I promise."

"Promises, promises. I will hold you to that." What in the hell was he doing?! Teasing her? Was he just begging for...? Yes, he was. He was just begging for it, it had been so long since he'd been able to tease, to banter, to joke with a woman...with the thought that it might just lead to bed play, to something more. She tilted her head, entranced by him and not bothering to hide it.

"Ah, geesh." Mission grumbled loudly, and Sarah's attention shot back to her. "I'm sorry I asked. Why were you two looking for me, anyway?"

"We need you to get us in the back door of the Black Vulkar's base. Gadon says you know how. We help you get Zaalbar back, in one piece, and..." Sarah waved her hand, hinting at a forward motion, and Mission nodded, her lekku bobbing in time with her head, striding along with Sarah. Carth was left bringing up the rear, trying to avoid watching..rears.

As much as he hated to admit it, Mission was good...a dead on shot, as good as Sarah, easily, possibly even better. Sarah seemed rusty, uncertain, about what he'd expect for someone who had spent months down. And he was a pilot...but at least the average Gamorrean boar was as big as a speeder, and not nearly as fast. Even he could hit them easily enough. It would have been too much for Mission to break through, alone, but the three of them had little difficulty cutting through them, and silence reigned after the last cacophony of squeals faded.

"Go get your friend now, Mission." Sarah said, beginning to rifle the bodies scattered across the floor in a opening where four sewer tunnels intersected into a large hub. It looked like a control point to Carth, a pump substation, probably. A perfect place to hold a reluctant wookiee until the blockade lifted and the ships started moving again. But now, the Gamorrean slavers were dead, their corpses being picked over by an unamused Sarah.

"I suppose it was optimistic to hope they'd have more than smelly crap, newly homeless furry ticks, some power cells and enough credits to buy a hot drink between them?" She grumbled, and he shrugged. Gamorrean slavers were not a high opportunity target, but she knew that.

"I'll be sure to get you that hot drink when we get back up." He joked, and she shrugged in answer, watching Mission go to work on the locking panel of the nearest door...which was the only secured one. The others were open, showing cluttered small rooms. Sarah shook her head when she followed his gaze.

"No. Ain't going to happen." She muttered rebelliously, and he chuckled, resting a hand on her shoulder. She rested her cheek against it for a moment, her skin was warm...he could feel the throb of her heartbeat in her neck...

"Zaalbar! Oh, Zaalbar, it's you! You're okay!"

Sarah flinched at the squeal, and gave him a conspiratorial stare when he dropped his hand, startled, towards his holster. "Kids." He muttered. Even if he'd meant to say more, it would have been drowned out by the sounds of a wookiee in an expressively vocal mood.


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