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You'll think of me...

Keepin Corellia Weird
Writer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2NpTwVr968​
The news still stung him, and he sat at a desk heaped with cans of a cheap beer he and Cal had grown fond of sneaking from their father in their youth, sharing a singular one and feeling very adult. Now, to most Coronet Reserve was cheap and foul, but it got you very inebriated and that was what the Green Jedi was after. What had happened he just couldn't reconcile with the world he thought he knew. Swaying, he looked at a picture on his desk as he sealed a letter inside a small durasteel box and dropped it to the mail slot, and stumbled over to his bunk in his ship and passed out in a pile of covers and pillows all disarranged.

The box within contained a letter to [member="Keira Ticon"]. It was short, simple, but spoke volumes. Pain still radiated in the words as it made it's way via courier to his wife. Or, well, his former wife he supposed. After Utapau, and the subsequent attempt by Jorus to aid the Mandalorian Empire and their reaction to said attempt, he had developed a staunch hatred of the Empire. So he was obviously hesitant when his wife had reached out to reconnect with her Clan. But seeing the picts of Verds banner flying in Sundari had sent him into a rage at first, then learning she had joined her Clan to them willingly made it even worse.

He could forgive much, but never this.

"Keira-

It pains me, but you've already made your choice. You know how I feel about your people's Empire. As a Judge, as a Jedi, as a man of principle - you know. But you have joined with them. I never thought I'd see the day, but this is one of the few things I cannot forgive.

May The Force Be With You,

Julius"

In a loose pile within was his wedding ring, her family Jedi Credit, and several other tokens of affection. And an inch or so of dirt from the worst of the fighting sites on Utapau, spread in the box. It still faintly radiated of pain and loss to him.

He may have done the Jedi thing in this situation, but he had also done the only thing a man and a father could in his eyes.
 

Keira Priest

The Iron
Character
Music

In her life, Keira had seen the betrayal of all but one that she held dear. First had been Cryax, one of her longest-standing friends that had turned his back on not only her, but the entirety of the syndicate she'd worked with for his own gain. Then had been Connor, a man whose descent she had witnessed since the very beginning until he was gone too far that even she wouldn't follow. Her former elder brother had suffered the same fate, abandoning the family he'd once sworn himself to in exchange for his own power. Most recently had been Vilaz, and just because it had been easier to rationalize didn't mean it hurt any less. Despite what she liked to tell others, it never got easier. But at least through it all she'd always had someone to lean on.

Or at least, she thought she had.

Just like all the others, it had gutted her. Except this one stung more purely, piercing to her core in a way nothing else had managed for years, because he was the only one she'd dare let in. Against all principles she'd let him in, because around him it was safe for her to be vulnerable, to exist, to feel. For years he'd been her only confidant, and the arms she'd come running to when her brother had died once literally, and then again metaphorically when he walked. Always he'd built her up whenever she faltered, supporting her with no strings attached, seeking only to see her thrive and with her offering the same in return. She hadn't known there was a line drawn in the sand, but now it was too late.

She couldn't decide what hurt worse, the seeming coldness of the note, or the fact that he hadn't had the gettse to do things in person. But she had screamed and cried all the same, seeking out the bottle for solace in a way she hadn't in a decade or more, drowning herself in one of the only things that truly felt familiar. It had ended with a hole in the wall and her slumped in a corner, an envelope on its way to him. Within was a single sabacc card he would find familiar, and scrawled on its front in handwriting he would instantly recognize was a simple phrase in Old Corellian,

Doaba ol'val tru, min larel.

[member="Julius Sedaire"]
 

Alkor Centaris

Son of Liberty
Writer
She would think of him, too. For far longer than the man deserved, a woman he ruined would cling to his memory as the single, most harrowing love she had ever lost. Alkor could not begin to comprehend her pain, so when he entered the room and saw the still-smoking hole bored into the wall, he let out a contemplative breath. There were many opportunities in life to say the right thing, or to offer a hand at a pivotal moment. This was not one of those times.

The exiled Corellian struggled to remember the ancient sensation, the reddish purple blur of warmth that called out to him in the earliest stages of life. His mother, a woman from who he was removed by bitter circumstance, had afforded him nuturing and care as he developed into a living, breathing human. The miracle called life still baffled him. He was still far from a proper grasp on any of it- but now was no time for Alkor to master the subtleties of the universe.

No, this was Keira's time.

Frozen in time, the woman was visibly hurt. There were no scars on her flesh, but her heart was cleaved into halves. When she contacted the man she called Brother, no words could express her meaning. He asked multiple times what was wrong, but she could only manage to tell him to meet her. There was nothing else. He could see why, now.

The man removed his helmet slowly, quietly, and hooked it to his belt. One of the precious moments of vulnerability where [member="Keira Ticon"] was without her armor, and she was exposed to her core. Anyone else might have mentioned it, tried to make light of the situation, or even try to loose a laugh from the broken woman. The truth was, the Keira they knew was far away.

This was the small daughter of a Corellian crime lord, seated in the empty room prepared for her by a neverpresent mother. This was the rebellious teen who rocked back and forth at night because her family was gone, bereaved early in life by the grotesque and brutal consequences of their actions. The Keira who curled herself into the fetal position before him was everything but the hardened Mandalorian woman she had grown into, laid bare by the foolish actions of a self-righteous man.

She had loved him.

She would inevitably learn.

There was a reason they did not romance beyond the confines of the culture. Mandalorians put family above all else. In a heartbeat, they would put aside their personal issues and stand beside those who they loved. That was the inherent difference between them and everyone else. It was not only a natural response, to Mandos, it was Law.

It was why Alkor was here, instead of at the bottom of a bottle somewhere else, unsteady and unsure about his place in the galaxy. For the first time, Alkor had his bearings better than his sister, but instead of throwing it in her face and gloating, he slowly made his way to the wall near her and sank to his haunches.

He stared at the dark ceiling and his eyes glazed over. Not so long ago, Keira was explaining what it meant to be Mandalorian to a man who just did not get it. Seated across the table from him, she poured drinks constantly and tried to tell him what various words meant, the importance of honor and armor, and above all, the meaning of family.

It took a leaky roof, the distant sound of thunder, and rain on the flimsy metal above for her investment to finally pay off.

Dim light refracted through the soaked window illuminated his face and burned his eyes as he searched himself for the words. He was no sage, he had no wisdom to offer her. What she needed was his presence, and he offered it at no charge. He simply felt the urge to do more than he usually did. He felt a need to give himself a voice in her struggle.

"...do you want me to kill him?" he asked, genuinely.
 

Keira Priest

The Iron
Character
In any other circumstance Keira would have managed a laugh at his question, however sincere it was. It was just like her brother to suggest murder as a sensible solution to life's problems, but this time there was something noticeably different about his words. This wasn't him attempting to lighten the mood or draw a smile from her. No, he was making the offer genuinely, and while anyone else would have viewed it as strange she knew it meant he was willing to do anything to help her heal. Shaking her head, she rested an unsteady hand on his knee, the other tight around a bottle of liquor already a quarter empty, "No." She still needed time to reconcile this. Retribution would come later.

Alcohol washed down her throat, the bitterness welcome, if only it would burn away all those times she had told him she loved him and actually meant it. That was what made this so hard. Because for once in her life she had said those three words and believed them with every fiber of her being, holding him above all else as the true love of her life and the man she was meant to be with, despite their differences. She had returned to her Corellian roots and he had responded in kind, taking on aspects of her people's culture that most outsiders weren't privy to. And she'd been proud of him, for all of it. She decided then that if he was ever seen in beskar'gam again, it would be the last time.

"I want to know why," She managed finally, not looking at anything in particular, eyes focused on nothing at all except perhaps the past, "Why he couldn't do it in person, why he had to send a note, why he apparently holds my own clan against me, of all things." That was the true reason she'd returned: her aliit. They had the potential to be something great again, and she wanted to be there to help cultivate that. It was why she'd returned to the galactic stage, why she hadn't turned her back on this incarnation of the Mandalorians, why she fought willingly for this Mand'alor. Because for once, her family was given a chance they hadn't had before, and that deserved some kind of thanks in the form of blood, sweat, and tears.

For the first time since he'd arrived she looked directly to her brother, her eyes lacking their usual fire, "If he dies for this it's going to be me that does the killing, but not yet. There's more to settle." Seconds passed, and her gaze drifted away again, "We had a son together. Have, I guess. And he's caught in the middle of this."

[member="Alkor Centaris"]
 

Alkor Centaris

Son of Liberty
Writer
He wondered all that and more for a moment as she gushed in a way she never did. Both of them were habitually stoic creatures, reserved and unwilling to part with any sign of weakness. Perhaps life had taught her the same as it had him, that a single instant could be taken as an opening, and an eager enemy would seek to exploit it. He knew only what she elected to tell him, and what he knew placed her stunted emotional growth in the hands of gangsters and criminals. Alkor knew something about that.

The pain of betrayal was also a familiar sting to him. If it were him, perhaps, he might have had different feelings on the matter. He couldn't know that though. He had never given his unfettered trust to another person, nor willingly exposed himself for a moment of vulnerability. He tried to sympathize with her, to understand, to connect.

In the best way he knew how, he took the bottle from her once she finished dousing her throat with the contents. "In my experience," he began slowly, eyes fixated on the bottom of the bottle, obscured by liquor sloshing about. "Men are proud, scared creatures. They rarely admit they are wrong, and when they're faced with it, they run from it."

There were many times he had been wrong. He chose crime as a youth to survive. He followed blindly any cause that would take him for as long as he could remember because it gave him an excuse not to question anything. Simple things like direction were a grave responsibility, and Alkor had never been allowed to grow into a responsible adult. His petulant answer to those who crossed him became murder. It was easy now; and maybe it would always be easy for him. That didn't make it right.

But what was "right" anymore?

"The only time they show their true face is when the truth is looking them in the face." He took a practiced swig from her drink and savored it. Old Corellian, maybe several hundred years aged. In the blink of an eye, it would be gone. How fleeting the most precious things in life were. "When they have no opportunity to run from it."

Here he sat, a long and winding road from the dirty apartment he once called home. Many twists and turns, and countless fear-laced denials of accountability later, he had matured. "Those mistakes belong to the men, not their children. Gar taldin ni jaonyc; gar sa buir, ori'wadaas'la."

The real question was the one that she dropped at his feet last, and it was the heaviest. A man willingly severed his familial bond. In their culture, there was no greater sin. The Resol'nare spoke succinctly on the topic- clan and family, and possibly even more crucial, raise your children to be Mandalorian.

For [member="Keira Ticon"], there was only one right answer.

"There is no "this," Keira. Not anymore. His choice is made- dar'buir. Your son has no father." Alkor passed the drink back to her, knowing the words were far from kind. He pondered for a moment, then added, "but, he does have a family."
 

Keira Priest

The Iron
Character
What he said was the truth, and they both knew it. By marrying her Julius had become one with their culture, and so had accepted all the codes and laws the vode lived by. In leaving he had abandoned those principles, few and simple they were, and that gave him no right to their - no, her - son. Still, Keira knew her ex-husband even better than he knew himself sometimes, and he wouldn't forfeit the role of father that easily. "It won't be that simple." Her thumb traced the lip of the bottle before she took another pull, "Like you said, men don't admit their wrongdoing. He doesn't believe the child is Mandalorian any more than we believe that's all he is and should be. Dar'buir or not, he won't walk away from this." Her tone was more deliberate now, and she spoke from a place of knowing.

"His name is Desric. Looks like his dad, but he has my eyes. Ticon attitude through-and-through. Force-sensitive, Julius was teaching him. He's just six, too young yet to really understand what all of this means." Too young to grasp the idea that although the man that had fathered him still lived and breathed, he was a father no longer, not privy to anything the role would grant him. That was what really got to her, in the end, the fact that it was her son that would be paying for this in its entirety. He may not have a father now, but he'd grown up knowing one, and that was enough to make any child ask questions they weren't quite ready for the answers to just yet.

Momentarily she considered the bottle, eventually setting it to the side. "He's at the Green Jedi Temple on Corellia. There won't be any getting him back without a fight. We'd have to burn it to the ground." A thought she wasn't entirely against, at this point in time. At one point the planet may have been home, but after this all ties had been severed permanently. She had nothing there. "It's not worth it. Let him have his son."

[member="Alkor Centaris"]
 
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