I was angry, a slow gut burning anger that simmered and burned in my gut. I had showered and changed into a cropped sleeveless top and a long wrapped skirt so that he would be able to dress the various hurts on my back easily enough and I could hike the skirt up so that he could deal with the gash on my thigh which was still seeping and bleeding. I had cleaned it as best I could and gritted my teeth in doing so because it had hurt like sandfire. I had wrapped a towel around it because I didn’t want blood on my skirt. The welts on my jaw had all but vanished but where the creature had slashed me ached dully and although most of the feeling had come back and I almost wished it hadn’t. As I waited for Thrawn, while he had quickly washed up and changed into clean clothes, my anger festered. The little common area of the ship was quiet and only the sound of the ship’s engines broke through. I had pulled out the medical kit and sat at the table waiting, my leg supported by another chair.
I sat in silence while Thrawn took care of my wounds. The disinfectant had stung and the synthflesh itched. He was firm and gentle as he methodically dealt with my wounds, taking extra care of my leg. Because the wound was deep and long, he had given me a bacta shot which had not improved my temper any. That I was in pain had not escaped his notice but he said nothing about it perhaps because I had not made a sound. I had gritted my teeth and gripped the arms of the chair so tightly that my knuckles were white. I was not going to break down and cry or make a fuss in front of him so I let my anger flow about me and that helped dull the edge of the hurts. When he was done taking care of the various gashes and cuts on my body he said.
“You might have to spend time in the bacta tank when we return to the Vengeance.”
I took a deep steadying breath but said nothing. The air between us sparked and crackled Vader style. He regarded me for a moment with a hard stare which I returned in full. I hated the idea of being submerged in bacta and had no intention of letting that happen. I would rather have scars than be half drowned in that stuff.
“The first hyperspace jump will take six hours.” He told me flatly as he finished up.
“Fine.” I replied tersely.
He gave me another look, paused as if to say something but changed his mind instead he cleaned up the bloody bandages and mess from putting me back together again. Once that was done he calmly and silently made tea. All the while I sat and watched, never taking my eyes off him, wanting to scream with the anger inside and not knowing how to let it go or even why it was there in the first place.
“So what about what we discovered down there?” I asked. “What happens now?”
“Nothing happens now. We leave it alone.” He said coolly, pouring two cups of tea.
“We leave it alone.” I said slowly. He handed me one of the cups and leaned back against the counter, watching me carefully.
“For the time being, it would be best if Myrkr were left half forgotten as it has been in the past.” He said.
“I don’t think I will be able to forget that place so quickly.” I said quietly. “I will wear the reminders for my entire life. The next time you need a force sensitive slave dancer to trot along with you on one of these little outings you can find someone else. I would rather spend the day sparring with Lord Vader in one of his bad moods.” I could not keep the bite out of my voice.
Thrawn regarded me for a moment and spoke with a quietness that made my skin prickle. “Have a care…” he began and suddenly the anger, the bewildered sensation of loss and the physical pain I was feeling all crashed together and became a white noise. Without thinking about it I flung my cup, tea and all at him as hard as I could. He had anticipated this and he moved ever so slightly to one side, the cup and the tea flew past him hitting the wall behind. This did nothing to satisfy my anger at him.
“You have a care.” I hissed between clenched teeth, getting to my feet. “You, who are supposed to be this great military genius, you drag me out here on this bizarre mission of yours and for what?” I asked. “In the last five days I have been poisoned, I have died and been brought back to life. I have been paraded as a slave-girl and made to dance half naked for men who would just as soon rape me as watch my performance. Been hunted by the same men who though it might be fun to tear me to pieces, attacked by vicious creatures I don’t even have a name for and had a blaster shoved in my head by some deranged man who thought it might be fun to hunt a Bone Trader instead of his usual fare and you tell me to have a care? What where you thinking? I am not some highly trained assassin or a Dantassi Hunter and I am certainly not one of your elite storm trooper soldiers. Yet, you dragged me out on this mission as though I were all of the above and you put my life at risk without so much as a by your leave!” I went to him, standing so that there was no space between us and I poked him hard in the chest. “Have – a – care?” I said again, punctuating each word with a jab from my finger. “You tell me why I should have a care, Captain, because I really need to know what we gained from this little jaunt of yours that was so worth the price I paid.”
He caught my hand in his and held it tightly, almost painfully, preventing further jabs on his chest. He never once took his eyes off mine as he spoke.
“Information.” He said ever so softly. “The most important reason of all, information.”
“Information?” I spat.
He nodded, letting go of my hand. “We went there to discover if the myths were true and they are. I needed to know in order to prepare.” He said.
I narrowed my eyes and glared at him. “Prepare for what?”
“There are things beyond the borders of the known regions of space that would turn your blood to ice if you knew of their existence.” He said slowly. “There are beings, creatures within the confines of known space that would make you feel the same if you were to know their true nature.” He paused, weighing his words with care. “I have seen what Jedi can do with their terrible powers first hand, and I wish to be prepared should I come up against such creatures in the future. Information such as we now have may save many lives. You, my dear, with your fledgling gifts and small weirding ways have no idea of the unspeakable evil a Jedi can wreck should he or she choose to do so. So put your claws away. I would never knowingly endanger your life.”
There was such awful truth in what he said that for a moment my blood did run cold. I wanted to stay angry at him but somehow that was hard to maintain in the face of his utter calm.
“But you did endanger my life, down there on that planet. You were not completely prepared for what Ormante had planned despite all your strategy and theories.” I said quietly.
There was a moment’s hesitation. “No.” he conceded at length. “No, I was not.”
“And if Ormante had shot me?” I asked.
Thrawn gave me a nasty smile. “That, he would not have done. You are worth far move alive and kicking than dead.” He said coolly. “Having been given a taste of your... talents I can tell you, that a dancer with your gifts would fetch him much on the slave market.”
“You took an awful risk.” I said not wanting to even think about what he had just said, not wanting to start a discussion on that little stunt I had pulled in the cantina. I had hoped he had forgotten that, guess not.
“I am an excellent marksman. You were in no real danger from Ormante.” He shrugged ever so slightly. “The creatures that attacked you were, however, somewhat unexpected.”
The rest of my anger suddenly drained away leaving only the aftershock of fear. I could feel the shakes come and could do nothing against them, even my teeth chattered. With a care that was surprising he caught me before my legs buckled from under me led me to a chair and sat me down, made another cup of tea loaded with honey. He handed it to me and said. “You are in shock. Drink it this time.” Then he cleaned up the mess I had made throwing my last cup of tea at him. Everything on the ship was made from unbreakable material so it had not shattered with the satisfying crash I had hoped for. He leaned against the small galley counter with arms folded over his chest. He drew a deep breath and after a moment he said.
“I don’t often repeat myself but for you I will. I would not ever knowingly place you in life threatening danger. You were right, however, that I did not foresee everything that could happen. But, Miss Gabriel, mark my words well, I did not underestimate you. ”
There was a compliment in there somewhere but I ignored it. We stared at each other for what seemed like forever.
“You are so arrogant.” I said quietly.
“I am good at what I do.” He replied evenly.
With a sigh, I sat with my head in my hands, my body trembling and in pain. The wound on my thigh throbbed mercilessly and the place on my back where the second beast had raked me with its fore claws ached. I felt oddly empty as if some part of me inside had been gutted clean and there was nothing left to fill in the black hole. I watched as Thrawn rooted about in the onboard med kit and dug out something I assumed was for my pain. I shook my head.
“No.” I said. “I don’t want that, it will make me stupid. This pain is the only thing I can feel right now and I need it.”
He nodded. “Very well, but you must rest.”
“I can rest out here.” I said stubbornly.
He watched me carefully for a moment but said nothing.
I got up and went to sit in the Pilot’s chair. I knew that I should go and lie down but I didn’t want to be alone, I didn’t want to sleep. I was certain that sleep would bring nightmares and the thought of those nightmares scared me even more than what had happened on the planet. I cradled the cup of tea in my hands and stared out of the cockpit window. Hyperspace distorted everything and it mirrored how I felt. Thrawn busied himself with something in the common area, mid ship. It was enough that I could hear him moving about and as angry as I had been at him, I was grateful for his presence. I finished my tea and sat with my legs up against the dash of the cockpit. I suppose that after a while I dozed but my sleep was fitful and broken. I did dream but when I woke up, twice, with a start, I could not recall anything. At some point he had laid one of the ship's blankets over me and whispered for me to sleep. “I am here and you are safe.” He had said.
I woke up next when the nav computer signalled we were coming out of hyperspace. I guess he had gone to lie down or meditate or something because I was alone in the cockpit.