Qi’ra had never felt more special in her life. As she exited the Senate Building with the sword in hand everyone they passed glanced at her with shock. No weapons, besides the authorized personnel throughout the building, were allowed to have weapons in the vicinity, making her all the more intriguing.
She loved the feel of its weight in her hands. There was something unspeakably powerful about the sword that, as she held it her grip, gave her the guts to pursue her plan of eventually bringing Maul down and showing him who was boss.
When they finally left the Senate Building she heard her name being called. When she turned Captain Peer was racing after her.
“I thought I wouldn’t be able to catch you,” he said, clearly out of breath.
“What is it?” she asked.
It was the middle of the day and Qi’ra was ready to take the rest of the day off as she lounged in her room but clearly, Peer had other plans as he invited her to attend an event somewhere in the city. It was a big-time event with lots of political guests that would be attending. In short, it was a party.
Qi’ra almost declined the offer, until he told her that it wouldn’t begin until the beginning of dusk. That gave her enough time to get back to her room, change, and then attend the event. So, she accepted the invitation and with a smile on his face, Captain Peer bounded off back to the Senate Building.
They hurried back to their rooms to change and make themselves presentable for the event. Qi’ra wore her hair back in a fancy braided bun and her makeup was designed to flatter as she wore dark maroon lipstick and a smoky eyeshadow that made her look dangerously erotic. It was the look she was going for.
She discarded her formal wear going for a sexier look with a corseted strapless black dress with long close-fitting sleeves and a mesmerizing shimmering cape that was actually a part of the dress and flowed behind her in a train. Long black earrings dangled from her ears, completing the piece.
When she found Nienye outside, expectedly sharp in a black and gold jacket that perfectly fit his form, a black V-necked shirt that revealed a bit of his dark muscular chest, and matching pants and boots, his eyes widened as they always did when he saw her.
“You look…magnificent,” he said.
She smiled. “You look very handsome tonight as well,” she replied.
His eyes lingered on hers for a second too long and she found herself wanting to get some air as her face began to warm. When T-38 finally arrived, beautiful but still very formal in her cape and the one-piece black and gold suit she was wearing she was brought to a halt as she beheld Qi’ra.
“And who are you trying to impress looking like that?” T-38 demanded, her one human eye flitting to Nienye while her robotic eye remained on Qi’ra.
Qi’ra glanced at Nienye, blushing, before returning her gaze back to T-38. “No one in particular.”
“Good because if you had said Captain Peer I would’ve immediately called him to tell him you weren’t coming,” she said.
Nienye’s temple bulged with anger.
Qi’ra’s jaw dropped. “What are you talking about?! I don’t care about Captain Peer! And I definitely wouldn’t make myself look like this for him. Are you out of your mind?”
T-38 regarded her mildly as if she didn’t mind being hollered at. “I’m just saying, I see the way he looks at you. You going to the party like this is definitely going to give him something to look at you for.”
Qi’ra stepped closer to the cyborg. “For your information, I can dress how I want, when I want, and I don’t care who’s looking at me or how! Is that clear?”
T-38’s lips quirked in a slight smile. “Perfectly.”
It wasn’t long after the heated moment had ended when a very nice speeder made out of a smooth gold metal appeared as their ride. They entered the vehicle and were then sped away through the city, dusk’s patented sunset glow befalling the capital.
It wasn’t long before they were brought to the top of a stone building whose roof accommodations was a massive entertaining area surrounded by glass walls, offering a panoramic view of the city. In short, it was beautiful.
As they exited the vehicle, Nienye offered Qi’ra his arm and she gladly took it. To be on the arm of a man as handsome as he was just another echelon to her growing status among these political figures. And, as she expected, she was a head-turner, which she wanted to be. Wide eyes, appreciative murmurs, and plenty of compliments were given to her as she passed by those who were having a good time attending the function.
While T-38 lingered in the near distance in her protective motherly way she and Nienye moved through the crowd, conversing with people they recognized from earlier that day in the Senate Building. When she finally found Captain Peer and Moff Arnim their jaws practically dropped to the floor when they saw her.
“My goodness, you seem to get more beautiful every time I see you,” Captain Peer said, obviously unable to help himself.
Qi’ra smiled as she felt Nienye tense against her. “I thank the flattery.”
Nienye turned to her. “I’m going to get us some drinks,” he told her.
She nodded and as he walked away she found herself staring after him a second too long. As she returned her attention back to the captain and the moff Peer seemed upset and stormed off. She gazed after him with a cocked eyebrow.
“What’s wrong with him?” she asked Moff Arnim.
The navy-blue skinned alien, resplendent in a golden robe that perfectly married with the tone of his skin, chuckled. “I think you just broke his heart.”
She chuckled in return.
After that, the evening became a lot more comfortable. There was no plotting or talk of politics. It was a legitimate party with plenty of entertainment and Qi’ra found herself having the best time she had had in years. Even T-38 seemed to enjoy the festivities, as Qi’ra found her flirting with an especially attractive man with greying dark hair.
There were music and dancing for hours and as the evening progressed and the party’s participants grew tipsier with every drink the merriment only grew.
It was nearly midnight when Qi’ra realized she needed to leave the party. As the leader of Crimson Dawn, she needed to maintain a sternness to her persona that she wouldn’t have this event tarnish. So, she began to search through the crowd looking for T-38. It was after an agonizingly long minute with not being to find the cyborg when Nienye grasped her arm. As she turned to him he pulled her close, whispering in her ear.
“Let’s get out of here. T-38 just told me that she’ll catch up with us later.”
Qi’ra’s eyebrows furrowed. That didn’t sound like something T-38 would tell her but then again, Qi’ra had never seen her as the flirty type until tonight.
“Okay,” Qi’ra obliged.
Nienye then proceeded to direct her through the crowd until they found themselves on the landing platform were drivers were waiting restlessly for the party’s guests to arrive for a ride home.
As they boarded one of the vehicles and took off back home Qi’ra sighed a breath of relief as she felt the air on her face. The party had been almost stiflingly hot from all of the warm bodies conjested into the large area. Now, far away from the noise of the function, Qi’ra could finally think again.
She leaned against Nienye, closing her eyes as she took this moment to fall into a quick sleep. And it was glorious. So glorious in fact that she hadn’t even realized they had reached their building until she felt Nienye nudging her.
After tipping the driver they headed into the building, trudging over to the elevators that would take them to their rooms. When they finally reached their floors and were about to part ways to their own separate quarters Nienye grabbed her hand.
“Would you like something to drink?” he asked. When he saw her tired expression he continued quickly, “I know you’re exhausted but…I kind of lied to you about T-38 so I could have you to myself.”
She grinned. “I thought so.”
He grinned in response. “So…?”
She gestured toward her door. “After you.”
They entered her suite and Nienye nodded, looking around with an impressed gaze.
“I knew our rooms were different than yours.”
She laughed. “They aren’t that much worse are they?”
Still looking around Nienye responded, “Well, my room isn’t a suite,” when he reached the balcony he exclaimed, “and it definitely didn’t have a balcony!”
She chuckled, heading over to the small bar in the room where the drinks were being held. Nienye saw her and dashed over, startling her.
“Let me make it,” he said.
She smiled. “I know you are always trying to help me but I can do things on my own.”
He placed his hand on hers. “Please. I want to make something special for you.”
Her cheeks warmed as he gazed at her tenderly. “Okay. I’ll head to the balcony then.”
And that’s what she did, leaving him to make, whatever he was making, over at the bar as she stepped onto the balcony. She took a deep breath as she soaked in the cool breeze and gazed at the beautiful night sky with the twinkling stars and the full moon looking down upon her. Her heart was racing as the realization that Nienye was in her room on such a dazzling night, making drinks, was beginning to dawn on her.
She had known for a very long time that she had grown feelings for Nienye and there were many moments when she knew, for a fact, that he felt the same way about her. But, they retained a professional relationship and with T-38 around nothing so much as simple flirting was allowed between them. Now, he was in her room and T-38 was nowhere to be seen. The thought was exhilarating, and frightening all at once.
She believed she had been in love before and that was with Han. Her feelings for him had made her believe she would go on the rest of her days without committing herself to anyone else. And yet…
“Here they are,” Nienye said, startling her out of her thoughts.
She smiled taking the glass from him. “Thank you,” she said.
She looked at the drink and was appalled by how deep red the liquid was. It almost disconcertingly resembled blood.
“And what is this?” she asked.
He smiled sadly. “On my home planet, Takodana, the elders of my village would make this drink to celebrate important moments. I wanted to make it for you to honor this moment that I get to spend with you.”
She blushed. “Thank you,” she said quietly.
She drank the drink and was surprised by how good it tasted. And yet, there was this strong acrid aftertaste that had her shuddering in response. Nienye laughed.
“Yeah, that’s how you’re supposed to react to a Nauut Guzzler,” he said delightedly.
She chuckled. “It’s strange but definitely is tasty.”
“I’m glad you like it.”
He reached over and took her hand. As she looked at him and he smiled at her she realized that yes, this was a special moment.
T-38 didn’t allow herself to get distracted and yet this ridiculous party had done just that; distracted her. Between the lovely man named Ahron’s mesmerizing green eyes and the blaring music T-38 had completely forgotten about Qi’ra. And then, suddenly, as if being struck by a lightning bolt, she realized she had gone the whole evening without keeping an eye on the Crimson Dawn leader.
She began searching for Qi’ra for thirty minutes before realizing that she had probably had left to head back home. As soon as she realized this she also noticed that Nienye was missing as well.
Her jaw clenched. This wasn’t good. This wasn’t good at all.
She hurried into a speeder, barking orders to take her back to their building as quickly as possible.
Even though Nienye was a friend she didn’t trust him. And if anything romantic happened between them tonight Qi’ra would never listen to T-38’s misgivings about him again.
I hope I’m not too late.
One thing that was certain about the Nauut Guzzler, it was strong. It wasn’t until after three sips that Qi’ra found herself sharing with Nienye her entire life story. All the while, Nienye seemed as sober as ever. When she asked him about it he simply stated that he had grown accustomed to the strength of the beverage. It was a valid answer.
When it finally reached the point when Han entered the tale she almost stopped telling Nienye the story until he urged her to continue. It felt weird telling him about another man that she loved but it also felt relieving to have someone to talk to about him. For so long, her thoughts about Han would make her feel sorry for the choices she had made. But, under Nienye’s encouragement, she no longer felt so terrible for betraying him.
Now, leaning against the balcony railing because her legs were starting to feel more and more like lead, she stared at the moon wistfully.
“This is a beautiful planet,” she said.
Nienye agreed before looking at her, his gaze growing more and more tender. He reached over, stroking the Crimson Dawn brand on her neck.
“Did Dryden do that to you?” he asked.
She nodded, tears forming in her eyes as she remembered the agonizing pain. “I thought I was going to die but…he placed me in a bacta tank. That’s where I healed.”
“I wish I could kill him myself for doing that to you,” he hissed.
She smiled at him. “We can’t change the past. We can only do what we can to ensure the steps of our future.”
Nienye stepped closer to her, his hand moving from her neck to her cheek. “You are so very beautiful.”
“You keep saying that,” she whispered.
“That’s because I mean it,” he responded.
She drew closer as if to kiss him when suddenly the whole world spun. The very next second she was lying in Nienye’s arms with the edges of her vision clouded by blackness.
She tried to move but her limbs weren’t functioning. “What’s happening to me?” she drawled.
Even though her vision was clouded she could see the worry on Nienye’s face. He picked her up, hurrying into the suite and laying her down on the sofa.
After suffering through a heat flash and the sudden urge to be sick she drawled, “Nienye, I think there was something wrong with that drink.”
He stroked her cheek, tucked a loose strand of her hair behind her ear, and before she could respond he kissed her. Despite her sudden sickness, she kissed him back, holding him in her arms and hoping that this moment would never end.
Unfortunately, it did, and when he ended the embrace a look of immense sadness was upon his face. “I’m sorry,” he whispered before standing and turning to leave the room.
“Nienye,” she called, trying to sit up, but as another wave of sickness came over her she fell back onto the sofa, doing all he could to stay conscious.
As the elevator doors opened T-38 hurried off of the lift with only one purpose in mind; finding Qi’ra. As she hurried down the hall she began to slow as she noticed Nienye exiting Qi’ra’s room. When he saw her he hurried to her.
“T-38, I’m so glad you’re here. Qi’ra is sick and I don’t know what to do.”
She glared at him. “I’ll handle it.”
He seemed genuinely relieved. “Thank you, T-38. I-I didn’t know what to do.”
She pushed past him, hurrying to Qi’ra’s room and throwing open the door where she found Qi’ra lying on the sofa half-conscious.
As T-38 closed the door of Qi’ra’s room behind her Nienye’s worried expression turned into that of sorrowful acceptance.
As he entered the elevator he pressed the comms device hidden beneath his sleeve on his wrist. “It’s time…do what you have to do.”
The sinister voice of the notorious bounty hunter, Ruthless Kruul, responded, “Good.”