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Queshtionable Reunion

Posted on Sun Oct 18th, 2020 @ 2:28am by Amare

Chapter: Chapter VI: The Last Bastion
Location: Capo Wolph's Compound, Quesh
Timeline: Follows "Queshtionable Intent"; concurrent with " Queshtions and Answers"
Tags: Quesh, Capo

OLD

"I see you are kind to her," Capo said to Thane as the others from the visiting ship entered the facility, another large blast door directly ahead of them leading into the building proper. "Trust me, Human, don't be. You seem a decent fellow, so I will tell you this: she may appear to be sweet and affectionate, helpful and cheerful, but it's all lies. Someday, when you need to rely on her the most, she'll hurt you in the worst way possible, and you'll regret ever trusting her. You have an opportunity to leave her behind and leave now, if you wish. It may prove to be more beneficial to you and your crew in the long-run."

"We shall take our own risks, Mr Wolph," Bomoor swept his gaze over the man, taking in what he needed but not giving the man too much of his attention, "But I'm sure we all appreciate your concern."

...

NEW

After having parted ways with the visiting crew, Capalfin "Capo" Wolph followed his adopted sister, Coda, towards his office. He had offered his sister's companions the opportunity to leave Coda behind and go about their lives. They, unfortunately, decided to stay, which to Capo indicated a certain bond with Coda, a level of camaraderie that revealed she meant something to them. He had always known Coda to have her moments of gregariousness, but making friends wasn't exactly her forte as he recalled, or so he had believed. It seemed five years in the real world brought forth talents in her neither of which were previously aware of during their childhood in the paradise of Glee Anselm.

It was a shame Coda's companions chose to stay; it meant that Joraan would have to give them the tour, which also meant they would see too much, and would have to be...dealt with. Secrecy had to be maintained at all costs. There was too much at stake and too many laws being broken to risk letting word of his operation get out to the galaxy at-large. If the Hutts knew what Capo was doing on Quesh, there would be a bloodbath between his crew and cartel mercenaries within days. As for Coda herself, Capo was still deciding what to do with her, but seeing her on his turf at this most dangerous juncture in his life did not please him one bit. The timing could not have been worse.

When he caught up to Coda, and saw she was heading further down the corridor towards a dead end, he called out to her, "Turn left."

His sister stopped and turned to look at the adjacent corridor she walked past, then looked up and took notice of his disfigured face. He could see the predictable jaw drop of concern written all over her face, but much to his relief, she did not ask the cliched reaction question about what had happened to him. Instead, Coda chose the traditional Nautolan approach of silence and searching for answers in the eyes. Capo indulged her and stopped within Coda's personal space, standing half a foot taller than her, and reading the story reflected upon him within her own eyes.

"You've changed," Capo said softly with a nod. "The melody in your eyes are playing different notes, but I still see some of the old you in there, hiding behind the veil. A slight curve is still there in the periphery, the same one, unchanged even after all this time.”

"We've both changed," Coda remarked, still gazing intently at his eyes. She reached a hand close to the open hole in the side of his face, but Capo turned away. He would not allow himself to be the subject of Coda's unwanted gesture of compassion.

"No,” Capo stopped her as he took a step back. “We have things that need to be discussed before affections can be shared again. He turned and gestured for her to follow him. He then asked without looking back, "Why did your pinkskin friend back there call you, 'Amare', hm? Is that of the those insulting Human pet names?"

"It's the moniker I chose when I found the strength to start my life over," Amare replied as they stepped down the dimly lit rusted metal stairs that led to an underground bunker sealed by a lone reinforced bulkhead with an access panel next to it emitting a tiny square red light above a small display screen. "The only part of my past I'm concerned with now is you. That's why I'm here. I never gave up on you."

Capo stopped at the door and drew in a deep irritated breath. "That's touching, Amare," he said with a hint of derision in his tone. He placed his right hand on the security panel's screen, and the light swapped from red to blue. A small chime bleeped from the panel, and the bulkhead barrier let out a brief pressurized hiss of air as it slid up into the ceiling above.

They became bathed in the stark shades of light piercing the ocean blue. The walls of the room, originally designed to serve as a reinforced vault for storage and for safety in times of catastrophe, were covered in holo-projection material which surrounded the space with the illusion of being underwater somewhere. Even the floor was projecting the image of a beautiful coral reef beneath their feet. There was a hidden sound system which played the ambient sounds that added to the feeling of being within their native environment. The sound of water and the images of the varied sea life swimming about brought them both a very primal sense of comfort…and alertness.

“The Genessi Shallows near our old home,” Capo stated as he stepped forward to his white plasteel and wood combination curved desk and plopped himself down on his black high-backed executive style office chair complete with its own hovering mechanism.

“I remember,” Amare said, her cheeks ever so softly creased with a short, but delighted smile. “I spent so much time playing there. The hairline scar from that coral cut on my left leg is a reminder of all the fun I had swimming through those hidden passages under the reef. Sometimes the children from Clan Saburo would swim out to play with me.”

“Until father caught and grounded you for leaving the island,” Capo reminded her as he pressed a button on a small console on the desk which triggered a small flat-screen monitor to rise up from the desk’s surface. “By the time you were old enough to return to the Shallows, the Saburos had already left the archipelago to go live in the new deep sea settlement near the Hobis Trench. Your friends never looked back. They never tried to contact you, even to say hello. You were always so good to them, and in the end, they abandoned you.”

Amare let her gaze fall to the image of the reef on the floor, then gazed up at Capo, “I know all of that. Are you trying to make me feel bad on purpose?”

“It wouldn’t be the first time,” Capo said with a wry grin as he reached down to a side drawer on his desk. He tapped a button which unlocked it and it gave off a subtle hiss of air escaping and he withdrew a clear bottle with the label of a cheap brand of rice alcohol. He placed two shot glasses on the desk. “Join me?”

Amare eyed the glasses for a moment, tempted to sample the nectar-like taste of Jekuiya wine again, but she shook her head. “No…it’s as you said, ‘we have things that need to be discussed’ first. This visual setup…wasn’t this one of father’s prototypes?”

“His Holo-Lab, yes,” Capo said as he poured himself a snap of the wine. “There are setups like this in other places, but father wanted to go a step further and use hidden projectors to create actual autonomous holograms driven by A.I. to exist within the space of the screens. And not just any holograms, but ones you could touch and feel like real creatures. He just couldn’t get the force fields to work right, and programming convincing A.I. is hard and expensive work.”

“Money he used instead for the colony project,” Amare said as she approached the side of Capo’s desk to find a familiar wooden instrument.

“We all make mistakes,” Capo said as he quickly downed a shot of wine, then poured another. “Captain Vorgunn decided to keep the old guitar there. He made me try to teach him how to play. Hmph…the man was cunning, but he was all thumbs and had no sense of musical tone. So he smashed it and gave the pieces to me before laughing and spitting in my face. After we relieved him of his burden of life, I took it to Rishi and found someone who helped me restore it for a reasonable price. What do you think?”

Amare sat on the front edge of the desk, partially turned to Capo, and she began to strum the tight fibrous wellowurk strings which came from entrails of a mollusk of the same name native to Glee Anselm. The guitar was an original creation that passed from one generation of the Wolph clan to the next over the ages. It was simple in its construction yet pleasing to the eyes and its laminated wood added to its durability.

“You’ve tuned it well,” Amare said softly as she began to play a composition that had a brisk tempo, but sounded almost mournful, as if it were a song lamenting the loss of innocence, or the loss of loved ones.

Capo sat back and started to listen, hesitating from taking another swig of wine, astonished that his adopted sister hadn’t lost a shred of her old fondness for the guitar. But then, just as Amare started to hold his captivation, she stopped abruptly nearly a minute into the song. Capo stared at her, his expression, which had melted for a moment into nostalgic joy, had hardened back into one of restrained contempt as he gulped another shot of the wine.

Amare gently laid the instrument back where she found it, and in a moment of awkward silence, glanced up at the waving surface of the image of water above.

“All this time,” Amare said with a heavy sigh as her gaze fell to the floor and she shook her head. “You’re still angry with me.”

“I see your sense of smell has improved with age,” Capo remarked, not denying his sister’s observation. “The pheromones make it that obvious, eh?”

“I could be standing on the other end of this room and still feel your hate,” Amare said, trying to keep the emotions welling up inside her at bay. “You’ve tried to hide it with your usual dismissive and mocking ways until now, but I think the wine has pulled the veil back from you.”

Capo slammed the shot glass hard on the desk and glared up at Amare. “Hate is such a strong word, little one,” he quietly countered, his own rage being held in check, but only barely. He tapped another key on the console and all the projections turned off. The walls, ceiling, and floor all became plain matte white and ambient fluorescent white light filled the room in a soft glow.

“If this is about what I did to father, I—” Amare started to protest before Capo held up a hand to stop her mid-sentence.

“Let’s not go there just yet,” he said firmly. “I have something for you. Something that was intended for you to have on your sixteenth life cycle.” He opened another desk drawer and withdrew an obsidian black box, turning its front end to face her with a single round white depression on the seal. “Press your thumb on the white scanner there. It’s coded to yours and my DNA.”

Amare hesitated glancing skeptically down at the box, then focusing her confused eyes back at her brother. “What is this? You’re giving me something now when clearly you haven’t let go of what happened?”

“If you want to yell at me, that’s your prerogative,” Capo said, bits of irritation seeping into his voice. “But I am fulfilling one of mother’s dying wishes. Vorgunn made me watch her die. Did you know that? He held me down and forced me to witness every slash of the Trandoshan’s sword carve her to pieces while alive and conscious and screaming for mercy. The least you can do is quietly accept one last gift from her. Can you do that? Can you listen to your elders just this once without lies or disobedience?”

There was a tense moment between the siblings related only by law, heavy breathing from Capo, and stunned silence from Amare. The latter silently relented and pressed a thumb on the scanner which popped open the lid of the box. Inside were three rows of seven round bands of gold-plated Nautolan jewelry, twenty-one in all, each intended to be worn on the head tendrils of a Nautolan maiden.

“Th-this…? Mother wanted me to have these? They’re…they’re beautiful.” Amare was cautiously smitten as she plucked up one from its slot and beheld it in her hands. She had never known her adopted mother to have worn or kept anything so opulent and striking. Mother Wolph was always modest in her dress, and her headbands were made of simple tanned animal hide.

“Pure electrum,” Capo said with a nod as he saw a video feed of Amare’s companions on his desk monitor. He began to discreetly key in a quick message to be sent to one his men on the production floor who would relay it to Joraan. “This is the first I’ve seen of them in years, since before our capture. I know they’re not family heirlooms, and I have no idea where or how she got them. Vorgunn never went through all of the things he stole from us. I managed to save and hide what I could for he no doubt would have pawned them off somewhere long ago for a small fortune if he found them.”

“This…this is wonderful,” Amare said gratefully with a pensive smile and a sincere bow of her head to her brother. “Thank you.”

“That’s not all,” Capo said as he bended down to reach for another drawer and withdrew yet another box, this one coloured a distinctive maroon red etched with gold lining. This time, he stood up as he placed the box close to himself and removed the lock with the contents facing him, the opened lid blocking Amare’s immediate view of what was inside. “Father wanted you to have this.” He brought into view a short-barreled silver custom sporting blaster with an advanced scope attachment, keeping its business-end pointing safely to the side of the room. “He called it Wolph’s Lament. Before you were even born, father’s first career was as a police patrolman on the streets of Coruscant. Did you know that?”

“No…he never told me,” Amare said, warily eying the pistol with sudden concern.

“It wasn’t the happiest time of his life,” Capo recalled the stories his father shared with him as he lowered the blaster to his side, gripping it firmly, “but then again, that is where he met mother. That’s also where he met a reclusive, yet very wealthy Nautolan family called the Velori. Saved the life of their patriarch while on patrol during a hostage crisis. The Velori…those are your people. You are a granddaughter of the rich and elite. Industrialists who act as silent partners in many ventures across the galaxy, profiting off the backs of the poor and unfortunate.” Capo started to slowly and casually step around his desk, his legs a bit wobbly, and his hands were shaking whilst keeping his grip on the pistol. “Did you know that your kin are so reviled,” he continued, his voice growing a bit more steeped in anger, “so despised and unwelcome to others of our kind that they are permanently exiled from Glee Anselm? Even Her Majesty, the Queen of the homeworld herself declared Clan Velori as betrayers of the Great Ocean Spirit, no better than the greedy and decadent Anselmi filth of ancient times. That is you. That is what you represent to the poor and to the unfortunate. Those like father, like mother, and like me and all the men that work with me in this compound. People like you use us, step on us, and strip us of our hard-earned wealth, our freedom, and even our very souls, and then you cast us aside like ash from a furnace when we’re used up.”

Amare started to back away slowly as Capo raised the blaster, leveling it at her chest. “Capo, what are you doing? I came here to help you, to make things right for us.”

“To help me?! Hahaha! That’s rich coming from you, little Za’ri.”

“Stop it!” Amare shouted at him. “Capo, please! Come with me. We can leave this place together. I’m willing to do what’s within my power to help you out of whatever situation you’re in. Please, just let me in. Let your sister come home with her brother in peace. That’s all I’ve wanted all these years!”

“More Velori lies!” Capo countered. “This is what your kind does. You lie and negotiate your way to victory and power. Us poor saps fall for it all the time. We buy into the smooth speeches, and blindly accept the bad deals and broken promises. Even your damn mother lies to you. She changed her surname to Sozo to cover up her guilt for being born into privilege, and yet lives the life of a powerful Jedi. They let Zendakra Velori make herself a laser sword and taught her to use incredible powers that can kill others with just a thought or flick of the wrist, as if her having wealth and comfort weren’t enough! And then she gets to enjoy breaking the Jedi rules, swims into the arms of a drug-addled spice trader, and spawns you, and as a final act of elitist selfishness, dumps you into our hands, only for you to grow up and shoot one of us down.”

“What was I supposed to do that day?!” Amare asked with extreme worry and frustration, her hand lowering to a concealed possession on her waist.

“You were supposed to fight back and try to save father, not shoot him!” Capo screamed at her.

“If I shot one of the pirates, the others would have killed both of us and father! He wanted us both to live!”

“You should’ve at least tried!”

“Look, there’s no use shouting at each other like this! It isn’t respectful to father or mother. You’re right, they’re your parents, and what I did to your father was terrible, and I’ll never forget what happened, but we have to get past this! We have to move on together, for them. For the future. Let’s go home together, you and I. Please…I’m begging you.”

Capo looked ready to pull the trigger, his hand shaking visibly, deep grief crossing his face and tears slipping from his eyes. He knew this young female for most of his life, and at times loathed and teased her simply for the colour of her skin, her’s being blue, and his being green. But in spite of their differences, she was right about moving on. It was the only way forward. It was the only way to escape the pain. He lowered the weapon and saw the visible relief on her face. Amare held her hand out to him, palm up, a gesture of forgiveness and acceptance. She was welcoming him back into her life. He could read the sincerity in her eyes, the warmth on her face as tears rolled down her high-boned cheeks, the tension loosening from her shoulders. The one he knew as Coda was long gone back on Nar Shaddaa. This so-called Amare had taken her place, and she seemed incredibly genuine and mature. There was a degree of strength in this woman that far exceeded Coda. Their voice was the same, the memories were the same, but Coda had truly blossomed and transformed, became a grown female both attractive and resolute. He could almost get behind someone with such spirit…

Almost…

“You’re right,” Capo said with a few nods, eliciting a smile from his unsuspecting sister. “I can move on…”

He then quickly raised the blaster and fired a single shot which struck home. When Amare fell hard to the floor, he added calmly, “…I can move on just fine on my own.”

...

To be concluded in “Quesht Complete”...

 

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