Sciophobia's Route

Laeonas Tannaras

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Laeonas Tannras’ ship tore across hyperspace, the tunnel of blue space warping around the ship whose cargo had once been trafficked slaves. Staring out the viewport as he sat in the cockpit, the boy thought he recognized the pattern of the Hydian way. That was impossible, ofcourse; hyperspace had the same appearance no matter which lane one happened to be on. But the boy knew that he had taken this route before, and subconsciously, his mind was preparing him for the long overdue return to homeworld.

His destination was one that those who made their living through selling goods were familiar with. If one wanted to go anywhere in the galaxy to sell their goods, passing through the Brentaal System was almost a necessity. Intersecting between two of the largest, most far reaching hyperspace lanes one could travel along, Brentaal was a nexus of the galactic economy. It was deep in the New Republic’s core, right next to Chandrila-- the former capital of the last republic-- occupying a place of local prestige.

For others, Brentaal represented nothing more than a blip on the galactic map-- an intersection between hyperspace lanes. To those who touched down on their ways across the galaxy, Brentaal was a wealthy world of refined tastes; ancient art, operas that were only surpassed by Coruscant performances, palaces that would dazzle anyone who explored them.

When they’d look out the windows of their hotel rooms, or stumble out onto the streets drunk, carrying a purse of winnings, they wouldn’t notice the folks around them glaring. They wouldn’t notice that they were often corralled into smaller sections of whatever cities they stayed in. They’d barely notice the sound dampeners outside their hotels, built to stop them from waking in the night when they heard the sound of blasterfire.

Brentaal IV was home to seventy-billion people. While much of it’s populations did live long, healthy, and happy lives, a sizeable section didn’t reap the rewards of Brentaal’s economic prosperity. All accepted that the noble houses received the lions’ share of revenue from Brentaal’s valuable galactic position, and all accepted that they were subjects to be ruled. Most were able to accept this arrangement because Brentaal’s industrial economy was still strong enough to support the tens of billions of her citizens… but not all of them.

Entire swathes of the cities that covered Brentaal’s surface amounted to little more than urban slums. They had formed following the collapse of the empire, with the demand for weapons manufacturing in the core dipping considerably following the imperial withdrawal from the world. As such, billions of the world’s inhabitants had been left destitute for over a century. Communities that had once been vibrant and wealthy had gradually descended into economic depression, with the only legal jobs mostly revolving around low-wage service work.

This was the environment that Laeonas had been familiar with for most of his life. Brentaal was not a world of glittering palaces to him; it was a world of run-down apartment tenements. Of corrupt police officers, extorting bribes in exchange for a lack of beatings or forgiveness for petty crimes. There was no luxury besides access to a holoviewer, and mid-quality booze to slake one’s thirst.

Hyperspace slipped away from his vision. His sunken, dreary eyes looked out, squinting at the sight of the sun that had beat down upon him for most of his life. A planet with massive polar regions, and an arid surface covered by salt-flats greeted him.

Home.



 

Laeonas Tannaras

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“Oi, yer not forgettin’ a’bout th’at landin’ fee, are ye?”

An accent that most everyone he’d met on his travels found alien sat on the port authority’s lips. The boy’s eyes glanced upwards, looking at the man whose skin was a mixture of pale and pink. His face was covered by a layer of unshaven, graying hair, and wrinkles tore across his forehead and cheeks. His eyes were charcoal in color; a dark shade of brown.

Contrasted against this was Laeonas; taller, leaner, and with skin that had been tinged with a hint of bronze from the time away from the world he’d grown up on. Raven-black hair hung down nearly past shoulder length, and bright, aquamarine spheres glanced at the man. They didn’t carry a vibrance behind them, however-- only a tired expression that made the older man’s look awake by contrast.

Reaching into his jacket pocket, the boy drew a few chips.
“Ten, twenty, thir’ty, four’ty, fifty…” he’d mutter, counting up his change. When he finally set the credits down in the man’s waiting palm, he found a look of curiosity in the authority’s eyes. “Yer from ‘ere?” He’d ask, a playful grin slipping across his lips.

The boy nodded once, a blank expression covering his face.
“Thought so by ‘ow ya sound. What’s brought ya ‘ome?” He asked, the older man cocking his head; a habit, at least amongst the people of this city in particular. Laeonas might have returned with a lengthy explanation; he’d speak quickly and excitedly about what he was planning to do. He could go as quickly or as unrefined as he chose to, with the full knowledge that the port authority could understand everything he said.

Instead, Laeonas let out a flat drone, stating
“Credits.”

The lack of interest caused the authority’s demeanor to change. He had initially seemed ever so welcoming, shifting from professional mannerisms to an informal tone he might use with friends or acquaintances. Laeonas’ lack of interest in smalltalk was all the man needed to shift back, dropping into his familiar “business” tone.
“A’right. Take yer luggage with ya if yer plannin’ fer an extended stay. We’ll provide a regular security che-” He started to explain, cut off by Laeonas drawing a fifty credit chip.

“No checks.” The boy snapped, though the quickness in speech wasn’t matched by a sense of urgency. Pausing, the port authority took the chip, nodding. “A’right, finished ‘ere.” He muttered, not betraying any emotion. His face didn’t match the uninterested words that escaped his lips, however; he wore an obvious expression of confusion. Bribes were standard, but there was always haggling. It was practically a ritual for the port authority to have to get into a verbal battle with whoever wanted to land-- but Laeonas had conceded immediately.

The older man would watch as the boy walked off. He carried an odd bit of scrap metal on his belt, barely concealed by the plain brown jacket he wore. Over his shoulder was a duffle bag that swung back and forth. Slightly opened up, he might have noticed the glint of metal inside.



 

Laeonas Tannaras

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He carried himself with a demeanor of purpose. His face didn’t display a hint of feeling, almost dead to the world around him. Long strides defined his gate, and there was no sign of a strain on his shoulders from his cargo. Still, his face failed to give an idea of the valuables he carried. The backpack wasn’t especially heavy, carrying clothing, makeup, personal trinkets. It was the dufflebag that carried his blaster, beskar, and his saber.

It was mostly because of this demeanor that nobody so much as attempted to bother him. Nobody walking so brazenly believed they were in danger. Nobody who moved so easily could be a foreigner either. These were streets the man had walked a thousand times, as familiar as the grogginess of waking in the morning. For the first time in years, Laeonas felt comfortable… in a place he’d never felt comfortable before.

He’d detested the sounds of distant blasterfire, of couples screaming at each other, or the barely muffled sounds of sex. It didn’t matter that it was the only environment he’d lived in until he’d left his world. It disgusted him as much as the wrong that built within; the innate realization that it wasn’t right. Brentaal was diseased, and all who’d experienced Brentaal-- the real Brentaal-- carried it with them. It was a parody of all the worst aspects of the galaxy.

It didn’t take him long to find the place he was looking for. Unlike everything else, Dalgos’ cantina had changed. Another of the neon letters had gone out, leaving only the character’s for “A” and “S” still on. When he entered, the faded pink wallpaper was still present, but it had peeled even further, and there were even more stains on its surface. The cantina should’ve been condemned years ago with how terrible it’s conditions were. Now, it deserved to be demolished.

Behind the counter was a wrinkled old human, who, like the cantina, looked considerably worse than he had when Laeonas had last seen him. He wasn’t immediately recognized, and the patrons, far younger than he was, were complete strangers. Idly, the man would sit down, dropping his duffle bag and lounging backwards. A few of the younger men would eye him, and whispers started flying. Laeonas didn’t bother paying them any mind, as the old fart of a bartender walked up to him.

“What’ll it be?” He’d ask. The bartender’s voice was gruff and raspy, ruined by years of indulging in a crippling death stick addiction. The man seemed to have gotten even worse in his later years, Laeonas noting just how shallow his breathing was. Between the smog and constant deathstick consumption, the man’s lungs should’ve given out. Laeonas concluded that he’d probably be dead in a few years time… though, he’d concluded the same thing years prior.

“Correllian ale, Bentas.” The man replied, a stiff, unflinching expression maintained. The tender had been moving to the bottle before he heard his name; it caused the older man to raise an eyebrow, turning in surprise and confusion. “‘Ow’d’ya know mae name? Been ‘ere before?” He’d ask, squinting to see if he could recognize the man. Laeonas gave a silent nod, and Bentos would scratch his head, trying to recall who the man could be.

“Yer’ from ‘round ‘ere, that’s fer sure.” He went on, pouring Laeonas his drink.

“What neighborhood?” One of the patrons suddenly asked. There was a stir as Laeonas turned to the group of young men who’d been skulking behind him. Standing, the man’s physique became a bit more pronounced, even draped under a jacket like his. It became more obvious as he took it off. He was… thin, but that didn’t detract from what he looked like. There wasn’t a part of him that wasn’t defined; fingers were veiny, with skin dry as leather stretched over bone. His forearms were muscle wrapped in thin, slightly bronzed skin. In fact, the rest of his arms, and even his legs were.

It didn’t deter the boys. They were fools.
“Ai don’t think ‘e’s from our neighborhood, boys.” One of them chimed, prompting chuckles from the others. “Ai’m not from any neighborhood. Never stayed much on one block till Ai was on tha’other.” He stated, still not betraying feeling. “That’s an int’restin’ story, mae guy,” One replied, a grin revealing a golden tooth in the back of his mouth.

“Doesn’t change that yer not from a’round ‘ere.”



 

Laeonas Tannaras

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The one who’d first mentioned him had reached for a blaster. The first major mistake, considering they were so close. It didn’t take more than a broad step, and a push of the force, for Laeonas to close the gap. His fist came up low, but swung upwards as it made contact with the boy’s stomach, while the other arm reached to grapple around his shoulders. A knee came up immediately afterwards, connecting with the man’s private regions.

Tossing him back into his colleagues, one would stumble as they were hit with the obviously wounded boy’s body. The other two had the opportunities to draw weapons; one a blaster pistol, and the other a knife. Moving with the same speed as before, Laeonas closed the distance between him and the knife wielder in a few strides, narrowly sidestepping a stab forward.

Locking his right arm around the man’s shoulder, Laeonas would reach around his own back to grab the man’s wrist. Anticipating what could happen next, Laeo slipped a foot between the man’s legs. Anchored to the floor, he’d swipe as hard as he could, and throw his weight downwards. Both men would hit the rotting wooden floor hard, pain rippling through them both. On the plus side, not a single blaster shot had hit either of them.

The blaster in the third man’s grip suddenly ripped from him and into Laeonas’ waiting palm. A shot fired into the man’s stomach, then a shot hit the one beside him in the ribs. It wasn’t exactly a powerful weapon, but without protection, both were left in absolute agony. They would die in less than an hour without help. The fourth and final member of the gang had finally started to get to his feet… and, when he saw what had happened to his fellows, bolted to the door.

He’d find himself stopped in his tracks, a grip tightening around his throat.
“Ya karkin’ fools…” Laeonas snarled, slowly standing up and cracking his back. “Ai didn’t want this shite. Ai just wanted ta go ‘ome, just wanted ta rest fer a few days before Ai left AGAIN!” he snarled, slowly closing the distance between him and the fourth gang member.

A kick to the back of his left calf brought the asphyxiating man down to his knees. Another kick up into his stomach caused the gang member to vomit, now choking both from the force, and his own vomit. Releasing his telekinetic grip on the man’s throat, Laeonas began beating down on him. Hard. He could hear bones cracking, and the sickly sound of fresh bruising, but he didn’t care. He didn’t want any of them dead, but he wasn’t going to leave people who’d tried to assault and do god knows what to him without scratches.

Bentos, the cantina owner, had ducked behind the counter as the fight had broken out. He’d seen nothing, but heard everything. Poking his head out from under the bar, he’d find the man in black towering over one of the broken gang members, blood splattered on his boots. He let out a horrified gasp as Laeonas turned to look at him, approaching with calm, soft steps. “It’s a’right. Call tha ‘mergency services; they’re tha only thing ya can get in this city that works right.” He stated, leaning over the bar to look at the man.

“Take tha cred’s and kriff off!” Bentos shouted up at him, clearly terrified. Laeonas pursed his lips, and let out an exasperated sigh. “Ya’v owned this bar fer as long as Ai’ve been alive, and yer tellin’ me that this is ‘ow ya react ta fights now?” the man asked in a sarcastic tone. Laeonas could’ve pressed on with the insults, but now he wanted to get out of here as soon as possible. The authorities would be showing up to “investigate” the crime scene, and he wasn’t going to be at their mercy ever again.

The old bar owner began to calm, recognizing the tone as less of a threat, and more as a challenge to his masculinity. Slowly standing up, the old man brushed off his shirt, and puffed out his chest as best he could without breaking into a coughing fit. It didn’t change that he was still shaking like a broken radiator, ofcourse.
“Most robbers just pull out blasters, an’ most fights ‘ave two morons wetter than a pair of sweatin’ socks tryna’ break each other’s jaws.”

“Most fights where one man fights four gangsters in tha one gettin’ strung up on a lamppost.” Laeonas replied, glancing back at his handiwork still splayed on the floor. “Not before his danglin’ bits get chopped off, ofcourse. Allinall, Ai think this was fair.” He stated, eyes glimmering in cruel satisfaction. Bentos’ look soured as he heard the words, though he didn’t speak against him. “Yer… yer a bastard, y’know th’at?” He spat.

Laeonas’ half cheery face darkened. Bentos had the good sense to step back; but an invisible pull forced him forward again. The man’s eyes widened as Laeonas stood up from his stool… but his anger quickly subsided.
“This bastard wants ta ask ya a few questions, ‘fore ‘e leaves ta find ‘is ma.” He stated, leaning forward and placing his fingers down on the counter.

“‘Ow about we start with tha basics; where is Laeo Tannaras’ mom, Saras?”


 

Laeonas Tannaras

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Bentos stared at him in confusion for a few seconds, blinking a few times. "Tannaras? Tha 'ouse? Why would Ai know where some noble bitch is livin'?!" The old man hissed. Quicker than the man could see, Laeonas' arms shot out, fingers curled into talons, just inches from the man's neck. Nostrils flared, and bright aquamarines bore holes into the man's soul. Trembling hands were drawn back, and the man calmed.

"Yer not bein' asked about a woman livin' in a palace... yet." The man stated flatly, apart from a final tone. Continuing, he brushed some of his hair off his face. "Laeonas Tannaras ain't some kid born in a castle, suckin' on a silver spoon from tit ta today." He went on, before leaning further forward, arms holding him up as his neck craned over the bar. Bentos stared at him, clutching at his own neck out of fear. He stared for a few seconds, before uttering a single word; "Laeo?"

Lips curled up into a grin, and the man pulled back. "Holy kark, yer eyesight is dogshit old man." The man stated, calm, yet trying to pull off the closest he could to a joke. Slowly, Bentos' arms fell beside him, and he'd blink a few times, mouth hanging agape. "Yer... back? Why?" The old man asked, rubbing his eyes a bit. "Ya 'aven't been 'ere in... kriff me, Laeo, it's been near ten years! Where tha kark were ya?!" He suddenly exclaimed, absolutely surprised. Here was this boy, this gangster that he'd assumed was dead; and now here he was, standing right in front of him.

"Ai mean... Ai thought ya were dead. Everyone did." Laeonas blinked a few times, cocking his head at the man. "Who's everyone?" The man asked, raising an eyebrow. "Those assholes Ai 'adn't even met, and they attacked me." He repeated the obvious facts of what had happened, but Bentos laughed. "Oh... boy, ya should 'ear some of the shit this neighborhood's been sayin' about ya." The man replied, shaking his head.

Laeonas looked more confused than ever, leaning back over once again.
"What are ya talkin' about?" He'd ask, a serious tone in his voice now. Bentos promptly stopped laughing, tugging at his collar. "Uh... well, a lot of rumors started gettin' spread about ya. They said ya were a Jedi, or a Sith. That yer some sorta well trained leader, sent 'ere ta... ta break up tha gangs." The man sad, before breaking into another chuckle. "It's all meaningless bullshite. They said ya got killed, but some idiots still think yer some messiah figure."

The man had to take a step back from the bar, and process all he heard. Jedi? Sith? Destroyer of gangs? What kind of caricature of him had been created in his absence? Rumors about important people in a neighborhood were common, and Laeonas had a tendency of dismissing most of them when he was younger. It was impossible to separate what was true from what was utter nonsense. It seemed he'd been wise to do so, since everything they said about him was utter garbage.

"They think Ai'm tha chosen one? Cause they knew Ai could lift shite with mae mind?" He repeated, blinking a few times. Under any other circumstances the man would be laughing, but he specifically wasn't. Bentos would nod, shaking his head once again. "Ai know, it's absurd. Ai never believed any of it, least of all that ya could lift shite with yer mind, but... well, that last bit's true." He stated, looking around the cantina.

"Look, these idiots need stabilizin', and Ai need ta call mae insurance." Bentos stated, glancing at Laeonas one more time. The younger man frowned, exclaiming, "Ya didn't tell me jack shite! Where's mae ma?!" Bentos paused, before chuckling again. "Laeo, Ai saw yer ma last week. She 'asn't moved in nine years. Refuses ta, even though rent's gone up."

He was out the door before any more words could be said. The address was still printed in his brain, and he wasn't about to waste any more time talking to his old cantina tender.



 
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Laeonas Tannaras

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Angelas 5008, room 5b.

That had been his last address on this world. There had been so many more, plenty lost to time. The addresses themselves had never mattered before; they were just places within places. He'd lived in Jol, Dartmot, Taenas, and the city where he'd been born. His mother had never told him about that first city, or about the early days of his life. Only that she'd met his father there, and that he'd been born 9 months later, and that months after that, he nearly scared a neighbor to death.

The small details had never mattered in the larger picture, not until now. He'd memorized their last address, over and over and over. He could only rely on those who'd known her to point the direction if she'd moved. If he got nothing, he'd have to head to their previous landlord. If nothing came up there... than there'd have been no way to find her.


But if Bentos were correct, that scenario would never play out. She'd be living where he'd left her; in a shitty tenement, on a street named after a lord who'd been dead for force knows how long. With finding her out of the way came room for other thoughts about his mother. Had she done well enough without the credit's he had promised 8 years ago?

Hesitation kept his steps from speeding up any faster than he was going. What would she say to him? He'd spent years traveling the galaxy, and even after escaping Dantooine, he hadn't immediately returned home. He'd held off for a lot of reasons, one being the simple matter of credits, and the other being the possible reprisal he'd get. By the time he reached his street, he couldn't even bring himself to run anymore.

The main entranceway into the building looked the same as it always had; a formerly red painted door, peeling and covered in rust in the places it was missing. Unlike plenty of doors on other worlds, this one actually had a handle you needed to open... and a shitty one at that. It took a few turns to finally get it open. There wasn't any security outside a single camera the owner had installed some weeks after he'd moved in. Entering, he surveyed the lobby.

It was narrow, with a coffee table covered in old stains, and some folding chairs sitting around it. The light was dim, the same dim green he'd been greeted with every time he arrived home late in the night. The smell of mold and some other, putrid smell emanated from the nearbye waste bin, and the two bags that had been left beside it. There was a restroom which Laeonas never dared to use, a door and window to a perpetually closed office, the stairwell, and the same, broken down elevator.

Boots clacked on the cheap laminate, the man climbing up stairs as slow as he could manage. Rarely did he visit the other floors of the building, except on the occasion of a party. All the hallways looked the same regardless; the same fading, sky blue paint on the walls, shaded badly by the dull, green light. Posters the landlord had stopped bothering to take down years ago covered the walls; advertising local businesses, bands, strip clubs, brothels or gambling houses. The signatures of vandals ran along and over the walls, and the flickering hid the places where panels were simply missing from the roof, and wires dangled through.

This was his home. The armpit of the capital city of the most important trading world in the entire galaxy. He walked through the halls of floor five, needing to reach the other end. Z... V... L... J... F... D...

B.

He took a deep breathe. This would be an experience. He knocked once, standing still as a statue, frozen in place. He waited; was she not home? Had she moved to another apartment building? There was only silence.

He couldn't accept this. Bentos couldn't have been lying; what would the point be? What would throwing off his scent intentionally achieve lead to? The man was old, but he wasn't a fool; he knew Laeonas would come straight back, and do more than reach for his throat this time. He couldn't have been wrong. Couldn't.

He backed up, taking another deep breathe. He slammed the side of his frame into the week wooden door, hearing an audible crack. He didn't notice the sound of stirring inside as he crashed into the door again, even harder. There was a final crash, and the doorknob and it's surrounding wood were torn off and away.

He stumbled inside, finding the lights out. The click of a blaster caused him to swerve; but the blue stun ring hit him before he could do anything. The man faded into unconsciousness.



 

Laeonas Tannaras

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There was a stirring from the man, a groan that came from his mouth slowly. He felt... awful, both from what he'd done to the door, and what the person who lived here had done to him. His eyes took awhile to open, and even when they did, his vision was cloudy. He couldn't really feel anything except for his toes, and his fingers. He'd reach out to grasp with something; and he'd feel a hand take his.

There were words, but they weren't clear at all. He moved his lips, but he couldn't feel any sound pass through them. His senses were still shot... he couldn't even tell if the person was still touching him. What was going to happen to him? No reasonable person who lived on this street would try taking him to the police. They'd be extorted to cover the costs of "investigating," and the apartment would probably be locked off for days. Even if the person were to find a new place to stay for awhile, it was likely that much of their valuables would be taken as "evidence."

The only other group one went to for justice were the gangs. He didn't know which one was controlling this area of the city now; but none of his options were good. He'd worked for most, switching allegiances when job offers came up. As a result, he was nobody's friend, and everybody's enemy. Assuming they recognized him well enough to remember his reputation, he was dead. But even if he wasn't... well, he'd still broken into an apartment in their territory. They'd probably try making an example of him.

Perhaps one of his limbs had already been broken? Maybe he was hanging from the ankles down off a lampost? Those fingers brushing against his could just be trying to get a pulse. The thought sent shivers down his spine, and he began trying to move as hard as possible. Wriggling in his position, the human could move everything below his ankles and above his wrists.

His hearing was beginning to come into focus again. He could make out words; faint, muffled, and unrecognizable as to who they were. "Fool boy..." He heard at one point, causing him to pause. That was a familiar phrase. He started moving his lips again, barely able to get out a sound.
"Mmmmrrrrrmmm..." He didn't even whisper, trying to speak as loud as he could. "Fool boy," He heard again, in increasing clarity. "Mm...mmaaa..." He repeated, as best he could, focusing all his effort on getting the word out.

The hand he felt on his fingers pulled back. The faint, rhythmic sound of breathing ceased. He paused dread washing over him. Turning his head, he could make out a silhouette. The figure was dark at the edges, with a cream color in the center, a hair darker than his own skin. He'd reach out again, and a hand, distinctly smaller and with thinner fingers, wrapped around his. He heard what sounded like a long, exasperated sigh.

"My fool boy... ya would come back laike this, wouldn't ya..." He heard, as close to clear a sound as any since he'd been stunned. Laeonas didn't say anything, frozen and unable to speak. He breathed heavy, entirely surprised to hear that voice again. The man had waited nine years to come back, nine years to see her face again.

He didn't imagine that he'd have only seen a silhouette, or feel the touch of his mother's fingers before he could look her in the eye again. He didn't imagine that in the heat of the moment, he'd appear as a burglar would. He was lucky that his mother had even bothered switching to stun; otherwise, his mother would've done by accident what she'd oft teased him about.

It didn't stop the tears from welling up on his face. It didn't stop him from bawling his eyes out.

It didn't stop her from wrapping her arms around him, and whispering that all would be well.



 

Laeonas Tannaras

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"Eat." She'd commanded. "Nah, tastes laike-"

He felt the smack on the back of his head, and he relented, digging into the bowl of mystery goo. It was awful, but as his mother had always pointed out, "Better it tastes, worse it is fer ya." At least when it came to the low value garbage the food companies pumped to the poor masses. This grool she'd been feeding him was terrible, but it had a variety of nutrients, and it was extremely high in protein. It was half the reason he had the well built physique he did, rather than the thin frames of most poor on his world.

"Yer 'ealthy, at least, but yer no smarter. What, thought th'at if Ai wasn't 'ere, tha person livin' 'ere wouldn't 'ave put a bolt 'tween yer eyes?" The woman asked, scolding the fully grown man. "Ai wasn't thinkin', but-"

"BUT NOTHIN!" She snapped, wrapping him on the back of the head yet again. "Excuses, excuses. Stupid decisions get ya killed. D'ya remember anythin' Ai taught ya?" She snapped. The man pursed his lips, and in an exasperated voice replied, "If Ai didn't learn jack shite, why am Ai alive?" He asked, turning to the woman. She held up her lip, and batted it away with a "Bah." A signature sign that this line of questioning was over.

"...Ai brought 'ome money." He finally confessed, halfway finished with the bowl. The woman raised an eyebrow, turning to him curiously. "Most of it's in accounts, but Ai closed one with..." He began, before glancing around. Reaching out with the force, he searched for any thoughts nearbye. Most were asleep, but a few on different floors were still awake. Regardless, he whispered, "...twenty faive thousand.'

The woman's facial expression remained blank for a few seconds, before her eyes widened as she took in the number. It was nearly three years wages. "...'ow'd ya get it..." She whispered back, a menace in her voice. Laeonas gulped a bit, but held his ground. The last time she'd seen him, he'd sworn off giving her any of the credits he made thought illegal activities. "Ai taught ya t'steal so ya wouldn't starve; didn't want ya livin' off it fer tha rest of yer laife!" She had shouted, throwing a pot across the room at him. He'd held up his end this time around, and what he said next wasn't a lie.

"Bounty. Bitch of a Czerka exec. Kidnapped a kid. She's gettin' what she deserves." He went on, leaning back in his chair. The woman's eyes narrowed, searching his facial expressions for any sign of a lie. Than, she nodded, facial features relaxing. "...Ai mean, it's 'onest..." She admitted, before letting out a sigh. "...th'at all ya came fer? Ta tell yer Ma that ya brought 'er some creds? When're ya leavin' next?" She groaned, a frown returning to her face.

The man's brow furrowed, and he stood up, exasperated. "Yer mad? That Ai'm leavin?!" He said, face contorted into anger. "D'ya want me ta stay 'ere? Stay in these shite apartments, with these people that 'ate me, in a town that's been tryin' ta kill me fer as long as Ai 'member? Nah! Fuck this world, and everyone on it!" He shouted, slamming his fist into the nearbye wall.

His mother rose as well, face contorted into indignation. "Everyone said ya were dead. Told me that ya'd probably drank yerself int'a'fight ya'd lost. Ai told 'em it was bullshite, told 'em ya would come 'ome..." The woman began, that hard demeanor still up... until it wasn't. Her expression turned somber, and her eyes started to water. "...but Ai believed 'em. Ya'd been... ya'd been gone fer so long... Ai thought ya were dead... or ya'd left me behind." She whispered, tears finally beginning to stream down her face.

The taller man's expression softened, and he rushed to embrace her. "Ma... Ma, Ai couldn't do th'at. Ai owe ya... owe ya everythin'. Nothin' was stoppin' ya from just... just endin' me 'fore Ai was out. Nothin' would've stopped ya from leavin' me on some doorstep, or tossin' me in a garbage compactor and sayin' ya lost me. Ya... yer mae... yer mae ma..." He tried going forward, but he couldn't. Tears began to well up in his eyes, not from pain... but from this.

"Yer mae boy, Laeo...mae little raven 'aired prince..." She finally whispered, reaching up to grasp his face in her hands. Those hands that had swaddled him, held him to her breast, brought him up like a starfighter in space... and wrapped him on the back of the head when he did something stupid. She held him, and he held her. "Ai... Ai couldn't let ya go. Yer mine... and Ai wouldn't let mae baby bird die."

They stood for a long time together, silently contemplating. Neither wanted to pull away... but his mother spoke first.


"...now get t'repairin' mae door, asshole."



 

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It went without saying that the neighbors didn't appreciate the sounds of renovation so late in the night. Laeonas didn't have any power tools, but he was using some very old, and very loud basic tools to fix the door. The screwdriver that was being used to replace the hinges ground against the metal with an annoying shrieking sound. It wasn't particularly loud, but with how thin the tenement walls were, plenty could hear it. All through the night, both Laeonas and his mother would hear obscenity filled complaints thrown their way.

"Ya did a shite job." His mother chastised him when the fixed door was finally in place. "Yer actin' laike tha old one wasn't a piece of shite t'begin with." He replied back, causing the woman to thwack him on the backside of the head with her backhand. "Ow!" The man had exclaimed, rubbing the back, wearing a frustrated look on his face. "Ai'm older than ya when ya popped me out, when're ya gonna stop 'ittin'me?!"

"When there's nothin' ta'it ya over." The woman replied, crossing her arms and smirking, before turning round and walking across the room. "Couch is yers. Ai'm gettin' some sleep." She stated, moving behind the singular half wall that blocked her bed. Laeonas knew not to bother arguing, and soon enough, his mother was out.

----------

The morning came, and when he woke, he could immediately feel that he was alone. Rising from the couch, the man found a familiar note on the coffee table.
"Work. Be back at nine." The words were familiar, and Laeonas let out a sigh. He should've known that his returning wouldn't change what was necessary. She still had to work-- even if she now had three years income as savings.

Even if there was even more.

The man hadn't told her about GME, or Huttball, or Mataou. Hadn't told her about the dozens of small jobs that had built up to a fortune that could finally allow them to retire. What would she do when she found out that between all the accounts he had, he'd only give her less than a percentage of all he'd earned?

He was half afraid she'd just drop dead.

His mother was... older than he remembered. There were way more lines on her face, her skin was even more pale than it had been when he left. By Brentaali standards-- the standards of their class, that was-- she was old. She'd be fifty in a few years... and how long would it be than? How long until her bones started to get brittle? For her joints to begin wearing down? For her to be unable to work herself as hard as she did?

If he'd waited any longer, would she have been able to last? Would she have been fired in the next year or two, obviously not as capable as she used to be? What would she do for money than? For food? For rent?

He felt his head throbbing. He needed to eat, to calm himself down. Their minfridge was filled with cans of grool. He didn't want to leave the apartment...



 
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It took him awhile to finally exit the apartment. For a long time, he'd been overwhelmed by nostalgia-- mind flooded with memories of the past, of the years he'd spent in apartments just like it. Yet after awhile, he'd begin to remember just how much he hated them. The thin walls were a constant, painful reminder that he couldn't stand. He could hear the regular stuff-- yelling, kids crying, people kriffing, but there were other things. The sounds of cooking, of... whatever was going on somewhere else.

It was an absolute nightmare, and he simply could not stand it. Years off world had eroded at his tolerance for these things. How could anyone look back-- bother to come back to a world so miserable? Because it was his home? Because it was the miserable little moat of dust that he'd been born on, but it was nothing more to him. To others it might be a hub of culture, a world full of opportunities for new experiences, broadened understanding.

But to him, Brentaal would always be this. A miserable crush of humanity, of desperate, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Of billions of dreams crushed in the name of a few dozen powerful families. Of these datapad thin walls, useless for anything but keeping him from seeing what was going on elsewhere, of reminding him of how little he could call his own. This world was a pit on the galaxy, in a place where pits weren't even supposed to exist.

He'd walked only a block down the street when the rubber ball slammed into the side of his head.

--------


"Ayy, mister, ya'awake?" He heard, a young voice calling. "Quiet, Barda, 'e's gonna be pissed when 'e gets up!" Another voice hissed, just as young sounding. Laeonas' eyes fluttered open, and a few children that were standing around him let out cries of fear. They quickly stepped back, not one offering the man help. Groaning, the tall, black clad man stood, absolutely towering over the children.

None could be a day older than twelve, based on how shrill their voices were, and how tiny they happened to be.
"Why'd ya 'ave ta wake 'im?!" The second one had hissed again, a young rodian girl facing a togruta girl a few inches taller than her. "'E was gonna wake on 'is own, an ya were all standin' around 'im anyway!" She protested, pushing the rodian. The togruta was obviously "Barda," based on the exchange from earlier.

"Ayy, don't go pushin' me ya... ya kriffin' dummy!" The rodian cried, pushing her back. The other children gasped, and Laeo stood, arching an eyebrow in confusion. "Ya can't SAY that, Juli!" Barda cried. "Can to!" "Can not!" "Can to!" "CAN NO-"

"AYY!" the man finally cut in. Both girls yelped in surprise, and all the children stepped back. Laeonas stood, towering over the lot of them, face contorted in frustration. "Which one of ya little tike's was stupid enough ta'it me with a ball?!" He asked-- no, demanded. The children all stood quietly, before finally, the togruta raised one of her hands.

"Barda, what're ya-" The rodian tried to cut in, but the togruta interrupted her. "ItwasmeandAididntmeanitpleasedonturtmaefriends!" the girl quickly said, closing her eyes. Laeonas blinked a few more times as he looked down at the girl, crouching down to eye level. The man raised a hand... and patted her shoulder. Slowly, she opened up, looking up, the fear in her facial expression fading.

"Ai'v gone t'a lot of places, but Ai'v never met a worse liar than ya." The man would say, crossing his arms as he glanced at the rodian. "B-but it's true! Ai 'it ya, and... and Ai didn't mean... please don't 'urt mae friends!" the girl stammered, trying to reason at all, over something the man wouldn't do.

"Ya didn't throw tha ball by accident..." He began, glancing down and looking her straight in the eye. For a brief moment, the girl was frozen, fear eating at her senses. "Ya didn't throw it at all." He said, turning to the little rodian again, causing her to step back. "Yea, don't think Ai can't spot a guilty face, even with those bug eyes of yers." The man replied, causing the girl's eyes to practically bulge out of their sockets. "BUG EYES?! Why Ai oughta-" The girl began, but a single step forward caused her to scamper back.

"Yer friend 'ere thought it'd be funny ta 'it me... and than ya got scared when Ai went down, right?" Laeonas asked, prompting a nod from Barda. Laeonas took in a long, drawn out sigh... and than he began to chuckle.

"...Ai used t'do tha same shite. Funniest thing Ai'd ever seen." The man confessed. Barda gasped from the use of another naughty word, but the rodian couldn't help but giggle a bit. So did the other children. "Now... if ya'd aimed fer mae weak spot, Ai'd Ave bashed yer 'eads in." The man said, and while it wasn't serious, it definitely caused the children to all second guess themselves. "But ya didn't. So... which one of ya stole mae wallet?" He'd asked, tone shifting. Laeonas began grabbing at his coat, increasingly frantic as the seconds passed him by. The few of them still around all looked at each other, than their eyes landed on one human boy in the back.

Without a word, he'd turn tail and run, causing Laeo's face to twist in anger.
"AYY, STOP IT YA LITTLE SHITE!" He shouted. Without any hesitation, the ball, which had rolled near some garbage cans nearbye. With strength that could only be summoned by the force, Laeonas shot it at the boy. He went flying off his feet when the ball hit, skidding a bit on the pavement. The children's jaws were all dropped, watching the unconscious boy lay there as Laeonas felt up his pockets, and grabbed his wallet.

"Fuckin'..." he began to mutter, taking the ball in one hand. When he turned back, the children were staring, some yelping as he walked closer. "Ayy!" He finally exclaimed. Looking straight at the togruta girl, he held up the ball. She was clearly afraid... but she didn't move.

"Catch!"



 
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He'd toss the ball with enough force to cross the 50 or so feet, but not hard enough to send the girl skidding along like the boy who'd ran. She'd been far to scared to actually bother catching it though, instead letting out a squeal before it harmlessly bounced off her. Looking at the man, she'd watch as he'd yank the boy up, uttering a few curses as he dusted him off. She stood, absolutely still, unsure of how to react. He hadn't taken retribution for them hitting him, and when it looked like he was going to beat Deimos, he'd just helped him up and warned him not to steal from him again.

"A'right," the man in black would exasperatedly say, "Ai ain't dealin' with any of ya stealin' mae cash again, got it?" He snapped. Barda, Julii, and all the other children nodded, with Deimos the most enthusiastic of the bunch. "Y-yer not gonna 'urt us, right?" Julii asked, her brash demeanor having completely fallen away. The man with aquamarines for eyes decided to roll them, and let out an obviously forced groan. Than, a grin played across his face. Lips twitched up, and he chuckled again.


"Oh, Ai'm gonna 'it ya," He replied, cracking his neck. The little Rodian stared at him in fear, bracing for what was about to come. "...Ai'm gonna 'it ya so 'ard... with this!" He exclaimed, hoisting up the ball in one hand. The grin was still on his face, and he began to laugh.

A few of the children looked at each other, confusion on their faces. Barda glanced up at him, unsure of what he was trying to say. At his wit's end, he'd groan again, exclaiming,
"Ya daft tike's, Ai wanna play a game of kick tha ball!" The togruta stood there, ball at her feet. Glancing at the other kids one more time, she kicked it to the man.

--------

The next hour went on, and by the end, everyone was laughing-- and sweating. The man had barely broken a sweat, but he'd been cackling like a made man as the minutes passed by. The man had an expression that could only be described as childlike; his cheeks were pressed up in a wide, goofy grin, his eyes were wide, and his teeth shown as he giggled like a schoolboy. It was an odd sight, but with how smooth his skin was, one might be able to mistake him for a child... if they ignored the cheekbones and the 6'2" height.

There was also a subtle change in the air, like positive energy was radiating off of him. Barda couldn't put her finger on it, but she could just... sense something in the man. Nobody else seemed to notice, but beyond being absolutely eccentric, there was just something about him. Whether it was his vibe, the way he carried himself, or something that couldn't be seen or described. The togruta girl had to question herself again and again.

Through all that, the man hadn't picked up on anything. He just seemed to be enjoying himself; like a reprieve from whatever tasks he was bound to. It reminded her of her uncle, when he wasn't drunk or coming home after a long day's work. He didn't hit here than, and he seemed to have fun whenever his friends came over. This one hadn't even tried hitting her; he'd acted like he would, but it seemed primarily to just scare them... or to amuse himself.

Barda caught the ball with her right foot, tossing it back to an olive skinned human boy who was friends with Deimos. Panting, she'd finally plop down to the ground, the olive skinned boy passing it off to the man in black. He'd catch it, but finally, after an hour in an amused, childlike high, he finally bothered paying attention to the others. Not just vague awareness, but an actual focus on the children. They were tiring out, clearly exhausted after an overly intense hour of physical activity. Barda could barely hear him mutter
"Yer gonna be screwed when ya go off t'work..."

His smile began to fade, and the man let out a sigh. The children had been giggling, sitting around, telling jokes, but they'd all stopped once the man had shown he'd been worn down. Barda had simply been alone, trying to understand the enigma the human represented. His aura had shifted, and a sort of depressed disillusionment began to take hold. It seemed much less off-putting to her; almost like it was just normal behavior for him, whereas the giddyness he displayed just was... off.

"...Ai gotta go." He finally said, stepping back. The children looked at him, Julii blurting out a "Where?!" that caused the man's smile to briefly return. "Ai've gotta... talk ta someone. A'bout somethin' important; something ya wouldn't understand if Ai spent tha rest of mae days explainin'." He stated. Barda got a hint that he was exaggerating, though that didn't take her sense to pick up on. He wasn't interested in talking to them anymore-- or even being around them.

"...thanks fer not 'ittin us." One boy said, causing the man in black to turn towards him. "...yeah." the black haired human replied, turning on his heels.



 

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He'd been happy.

There had been no string attached. No caveats, no exceptions to what he'd experienced. Over the course of that hour, he'd forgotten about everything. His responsibilities, his guilt, the Jedi, the Sith-- all that could trouble him had vanished. For the first time in well over a decade, there was nothing to trouble him.

And the children?

Seeing them had reminded him of the only thing that made this world worth a damn. Brentaal, pit as it was, was alive. People lived here, billions of lives-- innocent lives. In spite of the horrible world around them, those children had simply chosen to enjoy themselves. They put aside whatever fears or reservations they'd had of him, and they'd had fun.

They'd had fun on a world where the government's singular existence was as a money making tool. They had fun on a world where they and a third of the population lived in poverty. They had fun with a man who'd spent much of his life hurting people. The reaction Laeonas had expected war fear; fear of him, reminders of trauma. But they'd welcomed him, and forgiven the perceived attack on the one child... either because they thought it was justified, or they just didn't like the kid.

And there was the girl, who'd acted different from the rest. The young togruta had looked distracted half the time, and had paid an inordinate amount of attention to him. It wasn't natural curiosity; the rest had had their time to be fixated on him. He... couldn't think of a reason why. But it didn't matter.

At the end, they'd grown tired, and Laeonas slipped from that brief dream. That time when he could throw away all his responsibilities, forget everything out there. No Sith hunting him, no Jedi expecting him. Just him, free to do what he wanted. Free to just enjoy himself, without having to drug himself to do it. His pursuit of material wealth, of the mysteries of the force... he'd felt fulfillment in his journey, but not the simple, childlike happiness he'd felt.

He'd been happy. But he had places to be.



 

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Block after block, he moved. This address was easy, etched into not just his mind, but into his mother's contact lists on the wall commlink in her apartment. He'd travel in the evening, sun cresting over Cormond's horizon and fading beneath within an hour of walking. It was a massive cityscape, but he didn't want to be tracked through all this, so a speeder was out of the question. There was traffic, and it only grew ash e moved. The basic streets and 5 stories buildings grew taller, and the speeders went from 20+ year old hunks of scrap, to almost modern, smooth rides.

He hadn't gone deep into Cormond's commercial heart. It didn't really get much better though; architecture on Cormond was almost entirely based on practicality over aesthetics... save for the ancient palaces that the great houses still lived in. The only that would improve were the streets, and the people on them. The junkies would get more rare, the trash would be less prevalent. It was the sort of thing that just tickled the bougie pricks that lived in these parts. They'd act like their streets were clean, safe; all thanks to the boys in br-


"Hey, where are you headed?"

Laeonas froze in place, the clack of his boots coming to a halt as he stopped. He didn't move from where he stood, he didn't even turn his head. He could sense everything he needed to about who was standing behind him, all without another word. "I'm talking to you, boy. Where do ya think you're headed tonight?" The voice was gruff; cocky. The officer's accent wasn't nearly as thick as his; a demarcation of his status. There was nothing that gave away position like a voice, at least when clothes couldn't help.


"Family's shop. Needed t'meet someone." Laeonas answered. The snickering he got in response wasn't the usual, bellowing belly laugh that caused his legs to shake as a child. But there was an unmistakable cruelty in his voice. Turning, Laeonas got a look at the man who'd decided to accost him. The familiar brown fabrics and plasteel armor over the chest region brought back memories of beatings and racketeering that were quite unpleasant. The face... he didn't recognize, but the look on it was very, very familiar.

"Visiting a relative, at this hour? Seems like a pretty bad time; it's dangerous in the evenings, y'know." The officer said, threat barely veiled behind honeyed words. "I hope you've got a key into your family's place; how do you plan on getting in, I wonder? I'd be careful; we've had a spike in robberies within this area recently. I'd warn you'd be extra cautious." He went on, within a few feet of the younger man now.

"...but I'm more surprised that you've got family in this quarter at all, boy." The officer continued. Pursed lips twitched at the insult, but Laeo didn't act. He stood his ground, not betraying a hint of weakness. "Usually yer... kind... keep to their own. What, do we have a bit of interclass mingling going on?" He prodded, a wry grin appearing on his face. "Do we have ourselves a half base, half decent, full on ba-"

The officer collided with the nearest wall at a speed that would pulverize the internal organs of most men. Had the plasteel not absorbed most of the damage, he would've died right than, and right there. Laeonas had counted on it, and now, he was going to put this man through the ringer. Falling to the ground, the poor officer vomited out blood-- and his dinner. Wretching on the ground, wheezing as broken ribs dug into lungs.

Laeonas pulled him up by the scruff of his collar. Terror glazed over the man's eyes, as he reached down for the blaster on his belt. A younger hand reached to grip the man's wrist. Bright aquamarines burned into greens, and for the briefest moment, the man could see the color of fire.

And than he dropped.



 
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The officer had been left in a bad condition, but not one he couldn't recover from. It was probably enough to keep him off the force for several months. Maybe the guy might simply be laid off. Laeonas couldn't really care; as long as he wasn't dead, he hadn't done wrong in his own eyes. But more importantly, the search for whoever had done the officer in wouldn't be as intense.

The guard had been left unconscious, and Laeonas had made sure to smash his commlink. His face had been obscured by the dark, but his outfit would be obvious. So, Laeonas had stuffed his coat into an automated trash receptical. He was wearing nothing but the tank top and cotton weave pants he usually wore when going out casual. In addition to that, he'd put away his earrings; which he probably should've done the moment he arrived on planet, all things considered.

Of all the places he'd been to on Brentaal, this shop should've been one of the most traveled to. One of the only two people in his family that didn't deny he existed worked here. Yet out of all the years he'd lived on Brentaal, he'd only visited this place once. Once, when he was five years old. He couldn't remember the face, or even the building.

It was only the address that ensured he knew he was even going in the right direction.

The final corner was turned on to Saurias' Way. He was in a district that had at one point been a prosperous jewelers quarter, supplying the middle and upper classes of Brentaali society with fine ornaments. That was what near every business here still produced, but the natural flow of capital had ran near dry long ago. Other quarters became more popular, or foreign imports proved more desirable. Either way, the effect was the same-- these businesses had seen better days.

The exterior of the shops already proved how the situation had declined. Rather than glass windows that displayed the fine works inside, there were durasteel barriers, built to keep out burglars. A number of the businesses he remembered being there were gone, with foreclosure signs all around. Fortunately, his main focus was still open; "Rhagerii Seodra Aurelii" or "Rhager's Gold and Jewelry" (written in the old tongue to seem extra fancy).

Laeonas considered his options, seeing as how late it was. Briefly, breaking in was considered, but even with the neighborhood not doing well, the store had to have a security system. There was a lot to be taken, and he doubted that any owner on this block could handle more than one robbery. Additionally, he couldn't help but be put off by the prospect of another break in, seeing as how well the last one had gone. There really weren't many options.

...so, he got to waiting.

Well, less waiting, and more meditating. Leaning near the door, Laeonas closed his eyes, and began to draw on the force. He'd wait until opening... and hope that the man he wanted to see would be there.



 

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"AYY!"

A gruff, booming voice bellowed out what sounded like less of a greeting and more of a yell. Shot out of his meditation, Laeonas let out a yelp as he fell backwards. He'd been leaning on the metal door that had come down over the store windows. Promptly, he fell down in a heap. Laeonas flailed around, finally locking eyes with the man who'd called to him.

Standing before him was a man whose skin looked more like dried leather than living flesh. If it weren't because of the variety of sores, and the thick grey-white facial hair, he'd assume it was. Wrapped in an older jacket of a similarly leather look, and with a surprisingly bulky figure, the old man was intimidating. It didn’t help matters that he was carrying a DL-44 in one hand.
“Ai’ve got this on stun, but all it takes is one switch and tha pull of a trigger fer ya ta nothin.” The man growled, narrowing his eyes.

Promptly, Laeonas raised his hands, beginning to shift onto his feet. When he got no negative reaction from the older man, he finally stood up. He could easily disarm the old man if he had to, but he doubted it would be necessary. If this guy wanted to stun him, or kill him, he could’ve done it while Laeonas was meditating. No, instead he’d woken him up. That meant he was either uncomfortable with killing outright, or was uncomfortable killing without a reason.


Either was good for Laeonas, and he counted himself lucky because of it. “There’s no need fer any of th’at. AI wasn’t ‘ere fer anythin’ nefarious.” The man replied, hands still raised in the air. The older man didn’t budge, eyes narrowing as he took stock of him. “People who stand around mae shop aren’t just doin’ it fer shites and giggles! What, were ya waitin’ fer me ta open up?” He questioned, ignoring the sudden expression of shock on the younger man’s face.

“…this is yer shop?” Laeonas asked, almost hesitant to even speak.


 
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The older man glanced down at him, his already wrinkled forehead creasing as an eyebrow was raised in confusion. "...yeah?" He answered, though his tone sounded more like a question. Laeonas stared at him for a few seconds, not even sure as to how he'd respond.

His lips twitched upwards, a smile trying to find it's way onto his face. Air sputtered from his throat, a laugh trying to escape. The older man's confused expression deepened, those creases getting deeper. Finally, Laeo forced out a full laugh, though it was swallowed by apprehension's maw, forcing him to stop. The older man's confusion finally shifted into anger once again.

Pointing the blaster pistol at Laeonas, he'd press it against his forehead-- and flip off the safety. All amusement on the younger man's face died, replaced by a steely expression that lacked a hint of emotion. It was a curtain to hide the terror just behind his eyes. Even with his reflexes, grabbing the blaster before it fired would be a difficult task. There were other ways to disarm him, but all of them would leave the geezer injured. That is, all but one.


"Yer really gonna pop me off?" He'd whisper, an eyebrow cock breaking the expressionless look. The display didn't faze the older man-- not even a little. "Things are 'ard around 'ere. Ya should know th'at." He replied, pressing the barrel into Laeonas' skull. "Plenty show up actin' laike Ai'm weak, easy pickin's. They'll act friendly at first-- than tha second mae guard's down they'll pull out a knife and take all Ai've got." he warned, almost repeating the words like a mantra. A justification for what was being done.

Laeonas didn't bother addressing it yet. His eyes narrowed, the cocked brow furrowing down into a scowl.
"Ai've only stood outside yer place. Ai only laughed at somethin' funny. Th'at e'nough ta kill mae?" He questioned, scrutinizing the shop owner with both his words, and his expression. There was an iciness to his tone that even he wasn't used to. Usually he solved his problems by beating men down physically. This... this was new.

"Ai don't need a reason, much less a good one. Call it fair or not, this world ain't, so Ai ain't." the older man barked back, spitting the words out in aggressive, vengeful tone. "People'v died 'round 'ere fer less."

"Than what was th'at shi-" He tried to reply, before he suddenly felt a knee shove it's way up into his stomach. Wheezing, Laeonas fell to the ground, eyes agape as he looked at the older man. He was surprised that he'd managed to do it without the force warning him. He was surprised further by the fact that the old man was even capable of such things.

It only made sense if Laeonas had been distracted. Before he could recover, however, the blaster was pressed to his forehead again.
"Ai'm given ya till tha count'f ten ta fuck off." The old man demanded. Laeonas stared up at him-- at his face, at the gun. Anger began to boil in his veins. That familiar feeling began to creep in. That feeling that told him to show the old man who he was dealing with. Damned who he was to him, he could make the old man suffer if he so wished. It would be so easy-- he could start with his tose, than his ankles, than his--

"Ten."

And the way he could make those old throat strings sing--


"Nine."

Bones would break to easily...

"Eight."

But he was family-- yes, family. That's what he was.

"Seven."

And yet, so was his father. So was that scum who'd taken what he deserved.

"Six."

What did blood matter? It hadn't gotten him anywhere. Hadn't taken him to new heights, given him the riches he had earned.

"Five."

But family... family was his mother. Family was why he had come home-- come here.


"Four."

And here it was, about to end him. Repaying his visit with a one way ticket to the end.

"Three."

But that wasn't how it had to be.


"T-"

The old man was cut off as Laeonas finally cried out, "SARAS!" The shout that had escaped him Caused the man a great deal of shock-- and the trigger was pulled. Yet in that brief span of time, Laeonas had been able to duck. Yet what came out wasn't a bolt; but passing Laeonas' form was a blue ring that dissipated into the ground. He stared up at the old man, whose fingers were trembling, and whose face was left shocked.

"...oh naw..." He muttered, holstering the blaster around his waist. Laeonas laid there, panting, looking up at the man.

Looking up at his grandfather.



 
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