Friday, January 20, 2017

Ghosts (Part 6)

Given enough time, Maria Hayworth had been told she could convince anyone of anything. She just had that sort of personality. It was a useful skill to have, when one happened to be in charge of people. Her natural talent for conversion had allowed her sway enough people to have established a small foothold for the Rebellion in this sector of the Outer Rim, and had kept defections low and AWOL soldiers to a minimum.

At other times it had helped her convince people that what they were doing was worth it in the end. Such things needed to be done, especially when people were bound to question their orders. Few people liked to be the type of person who had to do what was best for the Rebellion most of the time. Because few people realized that what was best for the Rebellion wasn't what their moral code told them.

The stories spread about the Rebellion were obviously meant to give them the appearance of a number of white knights among a growing darkness. A champion of the people, for the people. It was a propaganda piece, often enough. Not to say they weren't trying to achieve such goals, and that they weren't fighting for the people. Just that no one was likely to join if they knew coming in that sometimes allies of the Rebellion had to die, if it meant that the rest of them could go on as usual.

What that meant was that she had to be able to appeal to enough types of people so that they would join, and afterwards be able to convince them that some of their more questionable orders were for the greater good. Most could be convinced that killing Imperials was alright, given their hatred for them. Things like having to set up explosions in public places with a risk for collateral damage, was harder to pull off.

All of that said, sitting down in a room with what essentially amounted to an overeager assassin wasn't exactly something she was used to. Trained killers, sure. Hired guns, oh yes. Both of those the Rebellion had probably contacted at one point or another. But someone who had a decent sized track record of Imperial deaths already, without having been hired or inspired by them, was not something she was necessarily used to. Considering the look she was getting from said individual, her guest wasn't used to the idea either.

She sat rigidly in the seat they had found for her, staring off at the door to the room they had left her in. Her hands fidgeted with each other. Her lips were moving as though muttering to herself. Watching from the observation window, Maria couldn't help but be on edge as she finally convinced herself to enter the room. Not that she showed it. If she showed that she was on edge, that would mean her guest was a step up on her in the conversation. No one was ever a step up on her in a conversation.

The moment she stepped into the room, Maria knew that she was never going to be out from under those yellow eyes until she departed. In all her life, she had never met someone with eyes like that that she felt like she could trust. They were cold, detached from everything else. Usually they belonged to the type of person who was never bothered by the dead. Any more, she worried that she had a similar set in her own head.

Taking a seat opposite the woman, Maria leaned back in her chair, smiling casually. Were she to be completely honest, she had no idea how to approach someone such as this. In many ways, she felt worlds apart from the woman. Whens he had read Grell's profile on her people, that gap only seemed wider.

From what she had been told, the woman was a child of somewhere called Dathomir. Tales of the planet always involved stories of magic and spells, witches living in bogs, and any number of ills befalling those who happened to cross them. How much of it she actually believed, she couldn't say. She wasn't partial to stories of the Force, either. So for the most part, she tossed the witches of Dathomir into the same category. People who had managed to fool a number of people into believing they possessed power beyond that of normal individuals. Far as she could tell, the woman before her was just that. A woman. She was not some magical being, nor was she a witch, regardless of whether or not she had grown up in a bog.

"Was the flight over to your liking?" she finally decided to say. There were few other ways she could see starting this conversation. So it might as well be in a manner that was friendly.

The pale woman barely seemed to make note of her words. She stared into her, almost through her, as though she could see something more than flesh and clothes. So long was her silence, that Maria wasn't entirely certain that she had even understood what had been said. Surely the woman spoke Basic? Something like five minutes had passed before she leaned forward, stating with a guarded tone, "You are this coven's Mother?"

Maria blinked, grinning at the comment. Never in her life had she thought she might be described as such. She didn't think she ever would again. "Not exactly how I'd describe it," she said calmly, taking the comment in stride, "But I guess that's close enough. I'm in charge around here, wouldn't exactly call us a 'coven' though."

"And what do you want of me," the pale woman said in hissing voice. She was not going to sit here and wait for Maria to get around to an explanation.

Taking her turn to pause, Maria considered the question. Bringing her hands together, Maria took her time picking her words, "We understand that you are skilled when it comes to attacking the Imperials." The word 'Imperials' seemed to be enough to get a rise out of the woman, but Maria tried paying it no mind, "But we feel it might be best to explain the consequences of your actions."

"The consequence of my actions are dead Imperials," the woman said flatly, "I wish for no more, and no less."

"Except that your dead Imperials have a rather negative impact on everyone else," Maria said flatly. It was enough to finally catch the woman's attention. "Do you know what happens when you kill so many Imperials in one place? Do you think that the people there are suddenly free?"

Those yellow eyes narrowed at her, and the woman's scarred lips fell into a frown. Good. Now Maria had plenty of doubt to work on.

"What happens," she continued, "Is that Imperials move into those areas in larger forces. The people are even further oppressed. So we tend to seek to remove their footholds in other manners."

"Then what would you have me do," it was the second time she said such. Maria didn't really want to know how annoyed she might sound if she had to say it a third time.

"We want you to lend us your skill set. We can put it to use in more useful manners. Instead of hitting large targets, hit small targets that will allow more impact. Help us cut off supply lines, not small outposts."

The long pause between them felt less uneasy. Maria felt as though her guest was doing less thinking on how to potentially kill her and escape the room, and more serious considering of her offer. She laughed to herself internally. Convincing a so called witch to join the Rebellion. Now all she needed to do was convince a Jedi and she would have hit almost all of the high marks in the 'mythical creatures' category. Though based on rumors she had heard, some pilot was apparently close to a Jedi. So she might have missed that opportunity.

"Very well," the woman finally said, falling back in her chair and staring at her.

Maria lit up like a light, "Oh how nice it is to hear that. Welcome aboard, my friend. Now, first we'll have to show you around. Get you introduced to some people. Find you some proper place to sleep." She stood, making for the door, waiting for the woman to follow.

She did eventually follow. Maria could practically feel her slowly rise behind her, like the killer in a bad horror vid.

"Whatever you say, Mother Maria," the woman's low voice muttered.

A chill ran down her spine. Turning to look at the woman would have fed her. She just knew that it would. In the way that she spoke, Maria could just picture some terrible smirk on her face. Something about the way she spoke implied amusement. Amusement at the fact that she knew her name.

They hadn't really made introductions. She hadn't given her name, and she hadn't asked for the woman's. At some point she had probably seen it. Grell had probably included it on the file she had sent, but she couldn't recall it. Of course, it was possible that the woman knew her name in the same manner. Grell could have told her.

But something in the back of her head told her that wasn't the case.

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