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Dammit Harizzo

Posted on Wednesday October 28th, 2020 @ 4:36pm by Sol Harizzo & Rhea Nyx

Mission: When a Hutt Laughs
Location: Sol's Quarters
Timeline: MD4-22:53

It was the first time he had managed to be alone since returning to Havoc Base, he had been inundated with administrative minutiae and bounty hunters demanding to get paid for missed bounties. He stood there in his quarters his flight suit open to his waist clutching a mug of lumin ale that had been imported from some far off climate breathing deeply just trying to centre himself ready to face the next issue.

A bang at his door signalled the arrival of that problem. He didn't even get a chance to say anything before his door flung open to show Rhea Nyx stood there. Not batting an eye at the way he looked, or whether she was interrupting anything important, the Mandalorian strode in a clear target in her sights. Removing her helmet in a swift motion, Rhea ran a hand through her short hair and set the helmet on a table nearby before she turned to face Harizzo, her face not betraying anything beyond mild irritation, which wasn’t atypical for any Mandalorian. But her face also said that it was time for their talk and she wasn’t about to take ‘no’ for an answer.

"Su cuy'gar, Harizzo," she said, “so you're still alive....good," she noted in the typical Mandalorian fashion, she flashed a quick smile before it disappeared and the Mandalorian was deadly serious again.

"I take it didn’t go badly, but I still need to know what happened so I know what needs to be done next," she said, keeping her tone even, leaning against a wall, a hand perched on the table next to her helmet. The Mandalorian watched Harizzo, a look of surprising calmness across her features not betraying how she really felt about what had occurred; especially coupled with how restless she was to know how bad the situation really was given what Sol had said before he left and the information Kieran had provided her with. Silently she was thankful she managed to blow off some steam in one of the long-deserted areas of the base that doubled as a makeshift target range before she came to talk to Sol. Otherwise, she couldn’t trust herself not to use him for target practice, especially if the news wasn’t pleasant.

They had barely spoken two words to each other since he's been back, as relieved Rhea was to see him back she didn’t show it, instead choosing to be satisfied with the fact that the squadron was glad to have its rightful leader back. The last thing she wanted was to be responsible for the entire Grey Wing operation permanently. The Mandalorian had made it clear to everyone on base to wait for Harizzo since she tended to keep a hands-off approach in the area of administrative matters prior to Sol’s trip; had she started carrying out said administrative tasks, it would likely raise some eyebrows and bring up more questions she wasn’t sure how to answer. It was enough of a possible red flag that she stuck around on base longer than a few days without disappearing on one of her own ops.

As much as Rhea would’ve liked to grab Harizzo and have a talk with him the moment he stepped off the shuttle, she knew it was futile and she had to give him time. Patience wasn’t a virtue Mandalorians had in spades, but Rhea found ways to keep herself busy. She had spent the majority of her time working on her Fang Fighter away from everyone as if she wasn't even on the base at all. In a way, this established a sense of normalcy amongst the squadron, but Rhea knew it was just a matter of time before they had to face reality, whatever that new reality was. For her, the reality now included the squadron a lot more permanently than she previously thought it would. The questions she had needed to be answered before she could do anything else about Grey Wing. Set to leave the base for one of her own ops soon, Rhea had to have some answers from Sol before she left.

Sol stood silently for a few moments weighing his words, this conversation would signal the beginning of a process he couldn't stop until everything was done, that he knew from thinking about it could take the next 10 years.

"Bear with me one moment."

Rhea inclined her head in a slow nod in reply her dark eyes watching him as she crossed her arms on her chest.

He walked over to one of the cabinets built into the wall of his room, he tapped a number into a hidden keypad and waited a moment for the computer system to unlock the door. From the compartment, he pulled a very old looking bottle. It was one of the few things he had brought with him from his time in the Imperial Navy it was a gift from some Moff whom Sol had inadvertently saved whilst blasting X-Wings.

He grabbed two glasses and moved over to the table where Rhea's helmet was sat. He placed the cups on the table and poured two generous measures one in to eat glass. He then pulled out a chair and sat down indicating that the Mandalorian should do the same. She raised an eyebrow but pulled out the other chair and sat down across from Sol.

Sol offering her a drink could mean a number of things: things were really good and this was a celebratory drink, things were bad and he wanted to try to soften the blow, or what he was about to tell her meant it was going to be that one rare occasion where she could *really* use a drink. ‘Haar’chak, Harizzo!’ she thought, her body tense underneath the beskar armour, ‘what are you about to tell me?’ she thought; she eyed the glass Sol had pushed towards her as he began to speak.

"This is a 400-year-old Ithorian Whiskey that was gifted to me by some backwater Moff many years ago after I saved his life in a space battle. It had travelled with me over the years as an insurance policy given that the one bottle is worth over 2 million credits."

He brought the glass to his mouth and smelt the aroma coming off of it before taking a sip and savouring the burn that came with the impressive array of smells they had packed into the whiskey.

"Today I have no compunction about drinking this whole bottle here and now, what had lead to this epiphany? We are engaged in a series of contracts from a benefactor who will not see us fail. The future of Grey Wing is all but secured."

“I sense a ‘but’ coming here,” Rhea interjected slowly, her voice peppered with cynicism “attached to a heavy price tag,” she added her gloved hands wrapped around the glass of alcohol, but Rhea was yet to partake in it.

He took another drink before continuing.

"Let me tell you a story, the story of one man's greed and a scheming Hutt named Narbel Vethen."

‘And there it was...’ Rhea thought grimly, Kieran’s intel was right, the frown on her face a small indication of how she really felt about what was just said. Hutts being involved was never a good sign. She threw a quick look at the glass of whiskey pondering if she should just down the whole thing now or wait until Sol told her more.

Sol began to tell her about the poor decisions taken by Rokenan over the past 18 months and how they have intersected with the machinations of Narbel. Given that it was just the two of them he shared everything unburdening himself of all of the words Narbel had spoken about Sol himself and her plans for the future.

It took a while but he finally finished as he reached for the bottle to top up his glass. Rhea’s glass sat untouched in her hold as the woman felt she needed a clearer head on this for the time being.

"We are in for a hell of a time Rhea, between Narbel's plans and that brother of hers we will have to watch our backs. I plan to share the edited version of this with the Wing later this week, and more with the inner circle" Sol was referring to the more trusted people who had proven themselves to Sol, Rhea and Grey Wing.

She nodded, eyeing her glass of whiskey again. This problem also meant she herself would have to be even more careful with her own ops that the Grey Wing wasn’t even involved in. There were times it was hard to tell whether she was on base at all even if her Fang sat parked in its spot. Now there will have to be another layer to everything she did. She lifted the glass of alcohol up, regarding the liquid in it as she thought about what Sol had revealed to her. Being in bed with a Hutt all this time didn’t sit well with her on any level, especially a Hutt already so intertwined in their operations. For a fleeting moment, she wondered how much the Hutts knew about the Mandalorian herself and her involvement with the squadron. She took a drink and closed her eyes, letting the liquid go down her throat as she pondered their current conundrum and whether she should go have a word with the slugs herself. Her eyes shot open and focused on Sol as he began speaking again.

"This fascination the Hutt has with me, I'm just not sure about sharing that with anyone else as yet. Something about it worries me."

“For all we know, maybe she just has a crush on you.” She spoke in a deadpan tone her shoulders raising up in a shrug indicating she was only half-serious. Rhea was well aware that was probably the *least* likely option, but then again, with a Hutt one never truly knew until the damn worm was staring you right in the face. And even then there were doubts.

“But, I reckon at least until we have more information to go on, keep it to yourself,” Rhea said. “And until we have a clearer idea on what we’re dealing with exactly,” she added. “The knowledge of her fascination with you may put everyone else in danger, or set you up as an even bigger target,” she took a drink of the whiskey to underscore her words. Already Rhea Nyx was thinking from several angles, most of them were going to make her job even harder, but that was nothing new as such.

“So, what is it about her fascination with you that worries you?” she asked.

Sol picked up his glass once more and stared through the liquid he was sure that Rhea would see it for what it was a delaying tactic but he prayed that she wouldn’t call him out on it he needed the moment he was taking before sharing his fears with her. This was the moment where he would either find himself being able to share his worries with her or he would find himself hounded from the outfit for being unsound.

He sighed loudly as he put the glass down again. Rhea raised an eyebrow slightly but otherwise remained silent, masking her thoughts by taking a drink from her own glass and setting it down as Sol began to speak again.

“Did you know I’ve never dreamed in my life? I’ve spoken to several medics about it over the years including Igehr, it's abnormal for a human not to remember their dreams but not unheard of. About 3 months ago though, I started dreaming at night. Well, not every night some nights often when we have a mission on the go.”

“Igehr told me that it was probably my subconscious worry manifesting itself in my dreams.”

He lifted his glass again and took a sip. Rhea nodded, she was familiar with the concept, except it was rarely her worries that manifested themselves in her dreams when she did manage to sleep and end up with what could be called ‘dreams’. She pushed the thoughts away; her hands briefly tightening around her glass focusing on the present moment instead.

“What I didn’t tell Igehr is that often my dreams have later matched reality, at least a not so insignificant portion has matched. Enough to unsettle me somewhat.”

Another sip was taken from the glass before he replaced it on the hard table the silence in the room causing his glass to sound heavier than it was as the noise generated permeated the silence in the room. Rhea threw a cursory glance at her helmet, out of everything she thought she would hear from Sol today, what he’d just revealed to her wasn’t even on the list. ‘Dammit, Harizzo’ she thought, turning to look back at him, her face not betraying what she felt or thought.

“I’d dismiss it if not for last week.” He placed his hands in his head “Last week I dreamt about a tête-à-tête with Carlist aboard the shuttle I escaped Horizon Base on. This week it happened he and I had that discussion that led me to the Hutt.”

“Coupling that with the cryptic comments from Narbel about me not truly knowing myself it has got me thinking, worrying, even obsessing about what is going on.”

Sol looked into Rhea’s eyes he couldn’t immediately pin down her feelings on the subject; as always she was a hard nut to crack. Not knowing how she was taking this information yet he kept the blackouts to himself.

She was silent, but her eyes didn’t shy away from looking back into Sol’s. For a brief moment, the Mandalorian let him see the side of Rhea Nyx very few people got to see over the last decade or so of her life. The side that wasn’t all closed off, hard-assed, guarded, standoffish and other adjectives that tended to keep people at a distance.

“Then maybe we should both see what is going on.” Rhea’s voice was calm as she spoke. “Unless there’s another reason why you told me about this,” she said, leaving the rest of the question to hang in the air between the two pilots as she reached for her glass. In a swift motion, she emptied the contents of the glass and set it back down on the table next to her helmet.

Closing her eyes, the Mandalorian let the liquid burn at her throat as she swallowed the drink getting lost in her own thoughts briefly. There could be many explanations for what Sol’s just told her; him being off his rocker was always an option, most pilots were at least a little insane, Rhea Nyx included, but Rhea suspected this wasn’t the case here. There were better odds someone messed with Harizzo on any given level. Granted it could very well be her own personal brush with things talking, but given there was a Hutt involved, one who was pulling all the strings all along and was overly curious about Sol specifically, the theory of someone messing with him in some way seemed like a better option at this point. Rhea wondered if she’d have to confront Narbel herself to find out, this wasn’t exactly something she could ask her contacts about. Not directly anyway. She pushed that thought aside for the moment as she let herself feel the burn of the alcohol; Rhea took a deep breath and let it out opening her eyes at the same time, she knew there was no going back for her now. ‘Dammit, Harizzo,’ the familiar thought floated up in her mind as she zeroed in on Sol once again.

“What was going on 3 months ago before you started dreaming?” she asked. “And how often did it happen since the first time? Try to remember the times that may not have seemed significant at the time as well.” She said, looking for some sort of a pattern to establish between his dreams and the certain reality they ended up as.

Sol thought back to that time.

“Just a few milk runs” He smiled “And me collecting the Duchess” He referred to his personal fighter that he was sure no one in Grey Wing currently had seen perhaps maybe Rhea. “It had been fixed for me.”

Rhea smiled slightly, The Duchess & The Fang, now there was a team-up she thought absently playing with the empty glass for a moment.

“After that, it was a series of battles out towards the core supporting Imperial forces against the New Republic.”

He shook his head.

“Nothing else springs to mind. Only that when things match it is normally a high-stress moment.”

Rhea nodded. “How long before said high-stress moment do the dreams usually occur?” She asked, wondering if they were a warning so he could do something to try to change the outcome. She wondered how many of those high-stress moments did she show up in her Fang to help swing things the squad’s way only to disappear again. She grunted softly at the thought, her face a shade paler. Briefly pinching the bridge of her nose, she pushed away those thoughts for the time being. This wasn’t about her.

She wondered if something aboard the Duchess could’ve triggered Sol’s predicament. Or was there something else?

“Narbel is likely playing mind games with you,” the Mandalorian said, “you worrying and obsessing over things may be just what she needs,” she added. But for what, Rhea wondered, and why now? Why, indeed…

She looked at Sol, “at the same time, we can’t dismiss that she does know something about you that you don’t. So maybe we need to find out what it is she knows via means other than her dangling it in front of you,” she said, well-aware this wasn’t going to be an easy walk in the park kind of task. “What do *you* think is going on?” she asked him her gaze steady yet the intensity toned down, this wasn’t an interrogation she reminded herself.

“I really don’t know” He took another sip of his drink “It feels like I’m watching a holovid but I can see things and feel things. Boy are those feelings real sometimes. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve woken up drenched in sweat and panting from the exertion of my dreams.”

Rhea nodded, being too familiar with those kinds of dreams herself. She chose to stay quiet about those, for the time being, hers weren’t exactly the ‘prophetic’ kind that Sol talked about.

“Sometimes I’d even say it feels like I’m losing me.” He shrugged and finished his drink feeling the warm buzz throughout his body.

“I don’t suppose I’m making much sense at this point am I?” He gave a wry smile and a chuckle at the absurdity of the situation he was in.

Rhea watched him finish his drink, her brow creasing in deep contemplation before she spoke again. “Oh, you’re insane, Harizzo.” she said flatly, then she smiled, the warm smile making her dark eyes gleam slightly in the light, she’s seen him fly, after all; “but not because of what you’ve told me today,” she added, her voice serious again as she inclined her head in a nod.

“You make sense, at least based on what you told me so far,” she said, her eyes steady on Sol. “Why *did* you tell me all this, anyway?” she asked point-blank, her eyes narrowing briefly as they drilled every so gently yet deeply into Sol searching for answers.

Sol shrugged.

“Honestly? Who else could I tell? Over the months there hasn’t been anyone other than you who has stuck around long enough for me to confide in, I know it makes you uncomfortable to be needed but slowly you’ve become a very valued part of this organisation” He lowered his voice “And a friend to me whether you can cope with that fact or not.”

Rhea raised an eyebrow, “Wouldn’t call what I do as ‘sticking around’, Harizzo,” she said, turning her head to look at her helmet again before facing Sol again, “I drop in and out to lend a hand, that’s all,” she added. “Somebody’s gotta help you folks even out the odds up there,” she flashed a smile, the same predatory smile she reserved for the cockpit when she was zeroing in on a target. ‘Not all Mandalorians have forgotten their honour and obligations,’ the smile disappeared as the words of her own Squadron Leader said during her very first sortie at Mygeeto, said over two decades ago, echoed in her mind as if he’d said them yesterday.

“Dammit, Harizzo,” she spoke, her voice barely above a whisper as she forced the memories of her past aside and focused on her current predicament. She really didn’t have much of a choice, she just knew; she knew the moment he left the Squad in her care before he disappeared to chat with the Hutts; she knew the moment she stood up to brief Grey Wing on where they were going next, Rhea Nyx knew she was going to be sticking around much more permanently. She stared at Sol, her eyes not betraying everything she felt inside, “I can cope with that fact. Can you?” she asked, a smile tweaking at the corners of her mouth, her voice gentle, surprising even her.

“You are an easy person to like despite your efforts to keep the galaxy at arm’s length.” He sighed and put down his glass. Rhea shook her head. ‘Easy person to like’ wasn’t a description applicable to many Mandalorians, but she didn’t want to debate that point with Sol right now.

“I have no problem at all with needing or wanting you within the Wing and my life.”

Rhea was quiet for what seemed like a lot longer than a few seconds, she reached for the bottle and poured herself another drink. Swirling the liquid in the glass and letting the scent hit her senses, the Mandalorian remained silent as she thought this through. Things were so much easier when she was in her Fang or otherwise dealing with a problem that involved weapons or making things fly. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath letting the aroma of the alcohol assault her senses. Opening her eyes and zeroing back on Sol she took a drink before she said anything else.

“I already show up when and where I’m needed,” she replied with the typical Mandalorian bluntness, she cleared her throat to get rid of the edge in her voice, “figured it’s better if Grey Wing has a Mando on their side rather than on their arse,” she added with a slight shrug, attempting to diffuse the seriousness of things, but somehow it sounded flat even to her. She stared into her glass, then back up at Sol. She wasn’t sure what else she could say so she chose to take another drink instead and focused on the liquid burning down her throat as she swallowed it.

Sol smiled as he put his glass down on the table, he stood and placed his arm on Rhea’s shoulder.

“If it makes it easier to tell yourself this then go ahead.”

He knelt down so as to be at eye level.

“I don’t suppose that you even realised you’ve been here for 2 months after your last paying gig. You could have jetted off at any point and taken a new contract but something in you chose to stay.”

He held his hands up to stop any response.

“I know you’re going to tell me, no contracts blah blah blah. But I’m telling you, I know deep down inside you it's bantha poodoo and you should too.”

“Nope. Couldn’t risk jetting off with a busted engine on the Fang,” Rhea said, shaking her head. “Besides I wanted to make sure Elam Tash settled in alright here,” she added, her voice shifting to one with a hint of concern as she ran a hand through her short hair. She’d rather not have to remember the events that led up to Tash ending up here. It’s been two months since she brought the engineer to Grey Wing, but it was clear Tash had made himself far more comfortable in the squad than she did; but then again, Elam Tash wasn’t what Rhea Nyx used to be.

“Some of my contracts take longer to plan and execute,” she spoke looking at Sol, “It’s not just about flying in and shooting everything to smithereens, y’know. Even if that may seem like my go-to strategy at times,” she added wryly, a lopsided smile crossing her lips. “I mean, sure that’s how it usually ends up, but there’s strategy involved leading up to all that flying and shooting.” The Mandalorian said with a wink.

“But,” she trailed off, stealing a glance at her helmet, the Mandalorian headgear a potent reminder of everything that made Rhea Nyx what she was today and the responsibility that rested on her shoulders. “I gave you my word I’ll take care of Grey Wing,” she said looking back at Sol, her eyes sincere and serious, “I have no intention of going back on that. Especially given what we are facing right now,” she said.

Sol smiled.

“That was almost a smile there. I believe you, I’ve never doubted anything you’ve said to me.”

“Everyone else sees you stalking the halls and runs away and for the most part I’m happy for you to cultivate that persona with the Wing, but if I’m ever going you’ll need to soften in ways I don’t think you’re ready for. Otherwise what’s left of the Wing will be ejecting you at blaster point.”

“I’m a Mandalorian, we do stalking the halls exceptionally well, amongst other things,” she said with a shrug. “And I wouldn’t call it stalking, more of...focused walking at a quick pace.”

He laughed and gently tapped at Rhea’s armoured shoulder, Rhea raised an eyebrow fixing him with a mild glare that could pass for either annoyed or amused.

“Thankfully I’ve no plans to go anywhere for a long time.”

“Oh, I don’t know. I did alright getting folks from the bolt hole to the base, all things considered,” she said with a shrug, throwing a quick glare Sol’s way. “Said hi to all the new people to make sure they settle in. I didn’t start fights, didn’t shoot anyone,” she said as she glanced over at Sol, “I wouldn’t do that to those I’m meant to be keeping safe,” she added, her tone just a notch quieter yet still on point as she looked directly into Sol’s eyes letting him see exactly what kind of a person Rhea was.

“I mean,” she switched gears slightly to break any tension “Rhea Nyx. On a welcoming committee that *doesn’t* involve explosives and weapons fire and end with the other party dead?” She shook her head, shrugged and threw her arms up in the air. “Whatever next? Me and you finally having a chat?” she slowly looked his way, “oh wait…” she raised a semi-amused eyebrow at Sol.

The tension Sol had been feeling finally drained from his body as he smiled back, he poured himself another drink and topped up Rhea’s glass.

He raised his glass, the smile still plastered on his face.

“To paydays and dead Hutts,” he said as he raised his glass in salute.

Rhea held up her own glass, her face devoid of any humour she felt earlier, “dead Hutts I can drink to,” she said as her glass met his.

“Let me tell you some more about my time with Narbel and afterwards you can catch me up on what has been going on since the Bolt Hole, it feels like weeks ago but I know it was what less than a week?”

“Something like that,” Rhea spoke with a shrug settling in glass in hand as they caught each other up on what’s been going on.

 

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