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Fleeing the Shadows [Invite]

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#1
Dissero

Dissero

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They'd left with the exodus of freighters filled to the brim of students and teachers fleeing the incoming darkness. It had been haphazard, or at least it felt that way. Something that he had planned for and expected for months, if not longer, still felt so urgent even while plotted to the letter. The pounding of his heart had not subsided since they'd begun to pack their bags.

 

It still hammered, raw and unfettered, behind the ribs of the man piloting his family across the stars. He hadn't been sleeping well lately, not with the looming presence of Kaine Zambrano and his Empire on the horizon. Though a great deal many steps were taken over the years to protect his identity, Dissero often awoke from dreams that laid out the worst of fates. How long had it been since he served under the whim and will of Empress Desmius?

 

How long since the Rudrig heist?

 

His days within the Fringe?

 

Years. Many, many years. Several galactic-scale events and wars. The rise and fall of many empires.

 

Still didn't feel long enough to bury his old name under dust. It was entirely possible his name held no meaning to anyone in relation to this new dark Empire but he wouldn't take any chances. He had a family to protect.

 

 

LORRD - 2:37am

 

The journey had been non-stop and he hadn't slept a wink. By the time they arrived everyone else on the ship was fast asleep. Sahti, the last of the loyal Noghri guard from the days of his mother, dutifully roused at the slightest touch. Dissero quietly bid her to gather Gabriel, his son now just coming 3 summers old, while he collected his wife. He found Verie Lacroix snuggled beneath a blanket and carefully leaned to bundle her into his arms, trying not to wake her.


Edited by Dissero, 29 December 2017 - 01:49 AM.

"L'er'griff seke eravnik zhah wun zhaunl dos zhaun naubol."

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#2
Verie Lacroix

Verie Lacroix

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That Dissero fled from the shadows warmed his wife's heart, and cocooned her in a sense of security and safety. Early in their relationship, his misdeeds -- his seeming embrace of the darkness -- had nearly spelled ruin for the young couple. Verie was not harsh by nature, and did not view power as an indiscriminate tool to be wielded towards any end, and so when Mero had confessed to certain darker deeds, it had been a struggle to reconcile her vision of him as a bright, sunny young man with warmth in his eyes and gentleness in his spirit -- the man she thought she knew -- with the picture he had painted for her. Now, all these years later, the fact that he wanted to be away from the planet as the Sith Empire prowled around, Verie knew it as a sign of something that had been confirmed over and over: that he was closer to her view than the frightening and stark description he had chosen for himself. 

 

Still, it was sad to say goodbye to the house in which they had begun their married life and raised their son. She had many fond memories in it; no room or path or even stretch of grass was without some poignant or memorable moment. She had built her first lightsaber in her study, had painted the nursery with her husband in preparation for Gabe's arrival, had cooked meals and had her meals cooked for her by Mero in the kitchen, debated philosophy with him in the library, whispered to him in the darkness of their bedroom, taught their son to talk and count. All within those walls. 

 

She dreamed of it, of the ivy climbing the walls, of quiet words whispered between the couple in the deep grass near the landing pad, of the sweet smell of their son and the hibiscus that grew outside the nursery window. When she woke, it was with tears in her eyes. She was moving -- sort of -- and her eyes flickered open. She instantly recognized the smell of her husband, the mixture of his soap and shampoo and cologne and himself that was uniquely Mero, and relaxed, shifting her position to wrap her arms around his shoulders. Stifling a yawn with his shoulder, she closed her eyes and settled in against him, already subconsciously preparing herself to sleep. "Are we there yet?" she muttered sleepily.


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#3
Dissero

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There was a chill air to the night of Lorrd that he'd forgotten about and it made his steps a little bit quicker than he intended. Nevermind the onus of an Empire potentially on their heels, Dissero just wanted for peace. Quiet. A happy wife and family. Ve had not been happy to leave Rudrig and, frankly, neither had he. Their lake house had grown significantly on him over the years, filling his soul with memories he would not soon part with. For every particular he thought he knew about Verie, he'd learned a hundred more over the last three years. 

 

"Are we there yet?"

 

She shifted in his arms and he noted as her bare forearms looped around his neck that they'd not dressed for their arrival to a destination presently experiencing the onset of winter. The walk from their ship to the starport proper felt far longer than it really was.

 

"Almost," came his answer, words leaving him in a fog of breath. A short glance over to Sahti found the Noghri carrying Gabriel in his own blanket, the boy's cheeks were pink on her shoulder but he was sleeping and silent.

 

An attendant stepped out from the doorway with a repulsor-trolley for their luggage, Dissero and Sahti stepped in to a woosh of warm air.

 

"Amadeus Shamalain," he spoke to a woman behind the reception counter, "I called ahead for a taxi."

 

"It's waiting outside for you on platform 20C," whispered the Receptionist as she smiled at the sleeping woman in his arms and the child in Sahti's, "just down the hall to the lift, third level up. Welcome back to Lorrd Professor. We'll have your luggage transferred shortly."

 

"Thank you." It occurred to him, as he turned to head down the hall towards a lift, that they might need to start using new names. A hard line of worry etched itself into his face, filling in the spaces between the careworn lines already there. He stepped in beside Sahti and punched in their level, standing back with a slow and heavy breath. The weight of his wife in his grasp was nothing compared to the weight of disappointment and regret on his shoulders. Dissero shifted her slightly in his arms, lifting her to nuzzle at her hairline as he watched the lift display slowly tick over.

 

"Are you warm enough, Ve?"

 

Verie Lacroix


Edited by Dissero, 30 December 2017 - 05:20 PM.

"L'er'griff seke eravnik zhah wun zhaunl dos zhaun naubol."

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#4
Verie Lacroix

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Verie sensed her son nearby, radiating peace and contentment. Whatever she felt about leaving Rudrig, Gabe didn't seem particularly bothered in the moment. Thank the Force for small blessings. She dozed in and out of twilight, and it never occurred to her to offer to walk on her own. It wasn't that she was inconsiderate or spoiled -- well, at least not very spoiled -- but her mind felt full with the cobwebs that came with unfamiliar places and lack of sleep. Being transported suited her just as well.

 

"I'm always warm enough when I have you," Verie muttered. She hadn't meant to sound sappy, but the part of her responsible for controlling these things appeared to be asleep. How long had she been asleep? She was vaguely aware of the chill creeping in, though she didn't quite feel cold. "Professor," she added, the hint of a teasing giggle mixing with the grogginess of her voice. As the turbolift moved, Verie shifted her weight in Dissero's grasp. "I can walk if you want a break. Just let me hold your hand."

 

Two feet thus on the ground, Verie kept her blanket draped around her shoulders and wrapped her hand around her husband's. "Maybe it's the blanket, or the sleep, but -- " She rested her head briefly on his arm. " -- it's going to be all right. It always is. We're going to be all right." She squeezed his hand. "Not that I want to start a trend but you look quite handsome when you're careworn." Verie tried a smile. 


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#5
Dissero

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Little things. Such delicate little things. Verie's fingers in his own, her sleepy words on his ear, her head against his arm. She never failed to encourage confidence in him, and warmness, and kindness. Those little things he'd given up for greed and cold and bloodshed many years ago, on a blind fool's errand to power. How long ago it seemed, and yet it still felt only yesterday that he realized what he'd lost. It was these moments he shared with her that inspired an unsettling amount of regret and fear in him.

 

So much that he could no longer read the Sith Spellbook, but there were more important things at stake now.

 

The man smiled, a long breath escaping his nose as he glanced down at his wife, feeling as careworn as she deemed appealing, "That so?" He laced his fingers through hers, recalling just only a few nights ago, before the scare, that she was chiding him for not getting enough sleep. How she missed him at her side at night. Dissero could only chuckle and squeeze her hand, internally defeated by the sharpest double-edged blade he'd ever come across in his life; Verie Lacroix. 

 

"At least I have that much going for me." He may have lost them nearly everything else, but damn he if didn't have good genes.

 

The lift opened and permitted them out to the third level. They stepped across a hall vacant for the late hour and through a set of glasteel doors to forge the winter cold again. Their taxi awaited. Dissero opened the door for Sahti and his son, then tucked Verie and her blanket in before joining them in the back. 

 

It would be a long ride out from the starport to their next destination: a small flat he rented in the capital for the numerous trips he made to Lorrd for his work at the University. It wasn't a proper place for a family and he knew it, but his name wasn't tied to it at the very least - it was rented through Rudrig's account. 

 

"I'm so sorry, Ve," he said to her after a time, "I thought I had everything planned out so perfectly. I never wanted for this..."

 

Verie Lacroix 


"L'er'griff seke eravnik zhah wun zhaunl dos zhaun naubol."

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#6
Verie Lacroix

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"None of this is your fault, Mero," she responded quietly once Dissero had clambered into the back seat with her. Her voice was loving but gently reproachful. "You have quite enough cares on your shoulder without blaming yourself for the blood lust and uncontrollable hunger for power of these other men. Or monsters." Her hand fumbled for his in the darkness, finally seeking out his warmth. She gathered his arm over her shoulder and laced her fingers through his. A thumb brushed over his knuckle and she squeezed his hand. "At any rate, our plan -- our core, central plan -- is as intact as it ever was. You and me and Gabe. That's Plan Aurek. As long as we're together and safe, the rest of the plans don't matter. And nothing -- and no one -- is going to stop that."

 

This last bit was said with a durasteel spine in each word. One might almost have heard Verie's indomitable mother in them. Verie Lacroix was a slight little thing, to all appearances as svelte and fragile-looking as any ballerina. But she was also a Knight in the Force, and before that had trained from an early age to be one of the pre-eminent ballerinas of the age. They were small but required an impressive amount of control and strength to execute their routines. Verie's strength had only grown as she trained. The upshot was that she could prove formidable when the case called for it. 

 

And threatening the safety of her husband and son was one of the cases that called for it. 

 

"All that said," said Verie, tugging her blanket up around her shoulders as she suppressed a shiver. "Maybe we should start thinking about Plan Besh. Or, I guess we're probably op to Plan Onith, now."


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#7
Dissero

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With a sigh and a weary glance out the window now frosted by the cold winter skies as they departed the starport, Merovign considered himself lucky for all the things Verie could do that he could not. Arm looped over her shoulders, hand within hers, he leaned back against the seat and rested his head back. 

 

His chest still felt tight, his throat as well, and he was certain it was caused by his anxiety for the shadows they fled. When he would ever feel at ease again he couldn't say.

 

Perhaps Plan Besh, he thought as his gaze drifted to Sahti and his sleeping bundle of a son in her arms, or Plan Onith.

 

Jaw set, lips drawn thin, he leaned his head against Verie's and closed his eyes.

 

 

~~~

 

There were few nights of travel he could remember being quite so painstakingly long. The arrival to the condo was quiet and uneventful. Though the place was made for comfort and luxury, it was also only meant for a maximum of two occupants. There was no guest room, no baby room, no air of homey comfort. No amenities for a growing family. Just the crisp edges of modern furnishings best suited for someone not looking to make a home here; perfectly suitable for him when traveling on his own for work.

 

He knew the instant he stepped inside that they couldn't stay here long. 

 

"Ladies you can take the bed if you like," the offer was made with a weary smile, "I can take the couch."

 

"Oh, Mal'ar, this is not necessary," Sahti hissed softly in response with a look to Verie, "Noghri do not make for comfortable bed mates."

 

Ever the foil to her father, Mahet, Sahti had always been kind and gentle at all the appropriate moments, and shockingly ruthless when necessary. He'd witnessed her cut a man's head clean off with a single, graceful swing. Rest assured he'd never felt any need to worry about the safety of Verie or Gabe in her presence. 

 

Verie Lacroix


"L'er'griff seke eravnik zhah wun zhaunl dos zhaun naubol."

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#8
Verie Lacroix

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Verie swept off her traveling cloak and hung it in the small closet near the door, then stood on her toes to pull her husband's own coat off. Instead of hanging it up immediately, she folded it over her arm and let her hand run along it as if she could absorb the last traces of his warmth from it. As she performed this ritual, her eyes cast around the apartment, a faint sense of amusement curling her lips upward. "I can only imagine what kind of bachelor shenanigans you got up to in here. I picture... a Zeltros stripper over on that coffee table, a keg on the sideboard, and dozens of small-denomination credit chits littering the floor. It's very artistic. A portrait of the artist as a young man."  

 

She finally hung up the coat and turned back to the group. "Mero, you will take the bed. Sahti, you will take the sofa. You've both been up for hours and need your rest. And I will take the baby and the chair. And maybe make breakfast if there's anything in the pantry."

 

The former ballerina took Gabe from Sahti and nodded her head towards the living room. "I mean it. You need to rest, and I slept all the way here. Off you go. And you," Verie said, hefting her dozing son against her shoulder and turning her attention to her husband. "I'd just like to change out of these traveling clothes before you go to sleep, so I don't interrupt your rest." She found the bedroom and carefully laid Gabe on the bed, then returned for her bag, which she unpacked, drawing a few comfortable alternatives to traveling clothes and changed into them. 

 

"Are you all right?" she asked Dissero softly as she rested their son against her shoulder, preparing to make take her leave to let him rest. "Is there anything you need?"


Edited by Verie Lacroix, 17 June 2018 - 08:38 PM.

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#9
Dissero

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Merovign and Sahti exchanged glances. Both may have been tired, but any given day neither were typically up to the task of refusing orders from Verie when she took that tone. 

 

Sahti handed the young boy over with an appreciative bow of her head, took up her own traveling case and made way for the living room. Merovign loosed a sigh and followed his wife into the bedroom, luggage in hand, and set her suitcase down for her to rifle through. Moving to sit on the bed by his son, he leaned over the tiny boy with a smile that was equal parts warm and tired. 

 

"Look at you," gently rubbing at the boy's chest, voice low so as not to wake him, "napping champ, going for gold."

 

Little overachiever. He'd expect nothing less.

 

Blue eyes drifted to Verie as she changed, admiring the glimpses of skin as she quickly donned her new outfit. How he would miss those days of laying in the purple grasses under the sun, lake waves lapping at the shoreline. He sat up as she took up Gabriel in her arms once more and reached to draw the woman in with his own arm, nuzzling his face in there between wife and son. 

 

"My head and neck hurt," admitted only after taking several moments to simply breath in the scent of his family. Mero leaned back, brow knit over a slight frown as he lifted his other hand to rub at his neck, "it's strange. I haven't felt pain like this since ... since before."

 

Verie knew he was referring to his time as a Sith Lord. It wasn't something he spoke of often or at length.

 

"Maybe I do just need to rest."


Edited by Dissero, 17 June 2018 - 08:54 PM.

"L'er'griff seke eravnik zhah wun zhaunl dos zhaun naubol."

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#10
Verie Lacroix

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"Can I help?" Verie asked softly. She set Gabe down; the infant made a faint gurgling sound, then settled back into his slumber. "We're blowing his sleeping schedule," Verie whispered to her husband before she circled around him, sitting behind him to take his shoulders in her hands, kneading gently against the muscles that seemed so tense, like durasteel under her soft hands. Her hands moved towards his neck, massaging at where his tension could be felt. She imbued her touch with the Force, trying to bring peace and relaxation to her weary lover. 

 

"That's gone beyond a hypothetical, dearheart," Verie murmured, leaning forward to rest her chin on his shoulder before letting her head dip to press her lips to his shoulder. She stayed like this for a few moments. "I'm distracting you," she said finally. "I'll be in the other room." She tusseled his hair playfully and then scooped up their child before leaving the bedroom, shutting the door softly behind her. She found a secluded corner, away from the slumbering adults, and sat with Gabe. She didn't know how much time had passed when he awoke, and she didn't know how much time she played with him before he grew bored. She fed him, changed him, and set him down on the makeshift carpet of her soft jacket so she could clean herself up and make a snack. 

 

She decided she would make cat-in-a-basket for breakfast whenever Dissero woke. Or dinner. She glanced at her watch. What time was it on this world?


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#11
Dissero

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Distraction or not, he would not have discouraged her staying. As it were, they both needed time to themselves. The journey here had been rife with emotion and even if she had taken sleep along the way he doubted it had been very restful. After she left he did not make it much beyond discarding his shirt and boots. The man fell asleep sprawled atop the bed, his snores echoing out into the other room as the hours whiled by. 

 

He wasn't often one to sleep for extended periods of time. Verie had seen him go days without sleeping, obsessed over some venture or project, and come out little worse for wear so long as the nights were filled with moonlight. Other times he might return from a trip to an outlying shop or excavation site and sleep as soundly as a stone for only a handful of hours before waking into a frenzy of renewed business. 

 

Any other time his sleep was at her behest, keeping her company and warm and indulging in the intimate moments in the nighttime hours. Even then, he rarely slept past sunrise. Often she'd wake to him reading or writing in bed, sometimes he'd be at his desk by the window, othertimes he'd be in his study or Gabriel's room, content to watch his son sleep. 

 

He called it a fear of missing out.

 

Doctors called it insomnia. 

 

Merovign refused to take medication for it.

 

The point was that he was sleeping. Soundly. The sun was coming up and still he dozed on.

 

Sahti, too, slept on the couch in the living room - but her rest was not so unusual. Noghri were good sleepers.

 

Someone knocked on the door.

 

Verie Lacroix


"L'er'griff seke eravnik zhah wun zhaunl dos zhaun naubol."

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#12
Verie Lacroix

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Verie hummed to herself as she punched holes in two pieces of bread, an adagio from The White Queen. It was all she could do not to go into her steps, but she was carrying a cookie cutter and a knife, so she had to focus. Gabe was awake by now, gurgling happily at Verie as he sat in an admittedly slightly unorthodox bassinet comprised of a blue milk crate, a few pillows off the settee, and Verie's jacket. Dissero wasn't awake yet, but Verie was starving and bored. She couldn't focus on meditation for all that time, not with a fussy baby and on a strange planet. 

 

She got a butter knife from the drawer and smeared some butter on the bread, then turned on the burner of the stove and dropped the bread on the skillet. She went to the cooler, extracted two eggs from the package -- poultry eggs, she hoped, but beggars and choosers -- and cracked one into each hole in the bread. 

 

Someone knocked on the door

 

Verie tensed, her dark eyes cutting towards the front door. She set the butter knife down and picked up the kitchen knife, which she held in a firm grip. She glanced at Gabe, then tucked his bassinet around the kitchen island, out of sight, and moved to the front door. A beat passed and she reached out with the Force. She didn't know if it was exhaustion or nerves, but she was unable to identify the presence on the other side of the door. She set the door chain and then pulled the door open as far as it would allow, and peeked an eye in the crack. "Yes?" she whispered, but before she could react further, she an acrid smell began to assault her senses.

 

In the kitchen, the smoke detector began to scream its warning.

 

Dissero


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