Chapter 1: I Let You Leave… Why?
After Lana and Theron parted ways, Theron looked at Crimsèn and smiled bitterly. “What a ride, huh? If you’d told me when we met all the ups and downs we’d go through together, I’d have called you crazy,” he says and then says lightly, “Maybe I called you crazy anyway. I don’t remember anymore. Between all my family fun with Revan and the Grand Master, and then, well, you…”
Crimsèn cuts in and asked gently, “Care to finish that thought?”
Theron replied, “I won’t lie: You’ve been one of the two real bright spots in all of this.”
“Two,” Crimsèn asks, “What do you mean?”
Theron said sadly, “Well, look, there isn’t any easy way to say this, but… I mean, we both knew this would have to end eventually… The Republic exonerated me, so I’m back in the fold. And they gave me a new job A big one.”
Crimsèn replied then, “I guess I can see where this is leading…”
Theron nods. He says sadly, “Soon as we rejoin the fleet and make the jump to light-speed, that’s it. No more truce. You and I, we probably won’t exchange another word ever again.”
Crimsèn replies, “Who needs words,” before pulling Theron into his arms and kissing him in the darkness of Yavin IV’s jungles. Then… they simply parted ways.
Cold. I am shivering.
My ship feels so cold. It was not cold when I first arrived on Yavin IV many weeks ago. Why is it cold now? It was in the middle of a jungle. I should not be shivering, never mind putting a thicker shirt under my jacket. I hate covering myself up. I worked hard in training to get the figure I have, why not show it off a little?
I look at myself in the mirror. It causes me to pause: Who is this person looking back at me?
I see a tall, muscular Sith pureblood standing in his quarters on the Phantom Ship. His rifle is behind him, and out the door are reports and fresh orders from Lana Beniko, Sith Intelligence’s new head. It is time for duty and normal life, not personal reflection.
Yet, I still do not know who I am looking at. How can I not know who I am? Have I forgotten? How could I forget that I am Cipher 8? The outer appearance of a Sith hides the inner workings of one of the Sith Empire’s elite infiltrators. I have no room for the whims of passion and power. Discipline, focus, and precision rule the Cipher Agent. Whether it is to the people of Rishi as the leader of the Howling Tempest Gang, or hiding in plain sight on Coruscant, I trace the line between truth and treachery. Love is used as a tool in order to get to gain information, get at the right target.
That is why I am here cold and alone, and Theron Shan is back with the SIS. Yes, I am Cipher 8. Romance between myself and one of the enemy is a means to an end, not a blossoming love. Yes, I am Cipher 8 and Theron Shan was a nice thought at the end of the day.
I still do not know who I am. I lean towards the mirror and focus on myself. “I couldn’t just talk him into staying as he and I are both going our separate ways,” I explain to my reflection in the mirror, “I am a Cipher and he’s an SIS agent. There is no fling, and there is no romance.”
I widen my eyes as the realisation dawns: I do not really believe that. If I did I would not be looking at a stranger in the mirror. I would not feel the tingle on my lips where his lips were not even 30 minutes ago. I would not be cold on a warm ship thinking about how good and warm he felt in my arms on Rishi and Yavin. I would not be wishing I could be seeing his smile, hear his laughter, and preparing for another joke. Now he’s gone. He told me the relationship had to end, and I agreed with him. We kissed and then parted ways.
Yet even as I agreed with him and ended the relationship I knew what I was saying was a lie. Even as we spoke, a part of me wanted to say something very different. The part that is not Cipher 8, but the man. How are they different? The Cipher Agent loves so he can gather what he needs. The man loves because he does not want to be cold anymore.
Crimsèn Hevilas is my name. I became an Imperial Agent when I was eighteen. It was the best course of action for me after I stripped myself of the force three years prior. No, I will not go into the details of my choice beyond I was escaping an abusive situation that would have resulted in my death if my sexual orientation was revealed.
I am a Sith Pureblood who has done well as a Cipher Agent in spite of all odds. Check my service records and one will find I was able to ensure Havoc Squad’s defection, our troops infiltration to areas of Coruscant like the Justicar territory, and the ruins of the Jedi Temple, and most recently I was able to stop the Revanite Threat.
I look in the mirror and whisper words I am saying too late for them to mean anything: “I love you, Theron Shan. By all rights in the galaxy, I should have used you up and then moved on to my next mission! Instead I left my heart open. I let you glimpse behind the agent to see the man, and I fell. And I let you go…”
No wonder I do not know who the mirror is showing me. Am I looking at Cipher 8 or am I looking at Crimsèn? “Cipher 8 and Crimsèn are the same, aren’t they? Cipher 8 is my title, but I am the one pulling the trigger. I am the one who let it become a different entity within me. And in that entity I let Theron walk away… How can I love him?!”
I lean my forehead against the mirror and sob a little. “How could I fall in love with him? We are on opposite factions, and share different views. He knew that, I know that.”
More words I know are not true as I speak them. I breath in through my nostrils and speak real words for a change: “Faction differences do not sweep away our similarities. Sith Intelligence, SIS… We’re both spies at the end of the day! And we are spies that broke away from expectations: His mother is the Grand Master of the Jedi Order! Whatever his reasons, he walked away from the life of a Jedi. Similarly, I walked away from the life of a trained Sith. We shirked familial expectations to follow our own path.”
I sink to the ground as my façade collapses around me to reveal the man. I hold my hand to my heart- It is a miracle it is still there after years. Crimsèn Hevilas may have found his soulmate, but as Cipher 8 Crimsèn sent Theron Shan packing. And why? The Almighty Factions commanded the good Cipher to. Factions that are irrelevant right now, as our former Emperor sees the Republic and Empire as a giant feast for him to consume.
This is stupid. Theron is gone now, and I doubt we will ever speak again. Because I was foolish. I cannot afford to wallow in it. I need to get back to work. Sith Intelligence needs me!
Slowly, I get up. I head out of my room as thoughts ruminate out loud: “Why did I not fight for you, Theron? If only I had fought more, and showed you I did not care about factional divides. Maybe I should have tried to convince Master Shan and Darth Marr that now is not the time for war when we have too big of a common enemy? Why did I not tell Theron we could have stayed together and met on neutral worlds?”
I need a drink. I rummage through the tiny fridge and grab some bloodwine. I yank off the cork and just start drinking. It was all I could do to numb the pain. Numb my desires…
I was a coward back on Yavin IV, who would rather be the good Cipher 8 than the real Crimsèn Hevilas. Do I know who that is anymore? Do I know who I am anymore?
I think I do. I remember back through our shared history: I think Theron was the first time I genuinely flirted with a man. No plotting, no deception, and no ulterior motives.
He was cute and I flirted with him. It was refreshing. It was as if the first lock to the real man was unlocked. And then it was another flirt, and another. And then we spoke alone on Rishi. That conversation… For a brief moment I think the faction walls were opened and we were just two men. Although Theron liked to keep reminding us the walls were there. I wonder- Was he reminding me or reminding himself?
Then we kissed. His lips were warm and firm, like him. Yet gentle and loose, like him. It felt good. I felt his heart beating against mine, and his hands on my back. And when we parted on Yavin… He said I was a bright spot during the conversation- a bright spot. And I let him go because Crimsèn Hevilas is the good Cipher 8 at the end of the day.
I do not want to be the Cipher Agent anymore. I have done my time with Intelligence, and it robbed me of who I want the most. Therefore, I will rob it of what it wants the most: No more Cipher, no more locking my feelings away, no more deception behind a casual flirt.
Unfortunately, I have to pretend to be a Cipher for a little bit longer. I’m still in Sith intelligence and stuck with Lana Beniko. Though it will not be forever. I will bide my time and wait until the right moment to put my Cipher title aside and allow myself to be a man. Perhaps at the end of such a path, I will find Theron? Until then…
I turn to HK-51: “HK-51, set a course to Dromund Kaas. Sith Intelligence awaits rebuilding.”
The former Cipher 8 couldn’t help but look at his companion underneath the dome with some fondness. Deep fondness. He was with Theron Shan again, a man he still cared for. Deeply. It’s just unfortunate they’re meeting at the end of a world. Ziost is never a good place to meet people, truthfully.
He says in a soft voice, “I… I thought we’d never meet again. It’s nice to be wrong.”
Theron smiled a little at that despite his injuries. He looked down and nodded in agreement: “Despite all the awfulness on Yavin IV, it did have its moments.”
So does Ziost, but like Yavin, moments on Ziost do not last. The Sith Emperor had other ideas than allowing for a pleasant reunion. Darth Vitiate has an entire planet to devour, and he did not let a couple of spies get in his way…
Ziost was a lovely planet. I was trained on Ziost. Oh yes, Intelligence has a training facility there. It was so if Kaas City was attacked, Intelligence would have another leg to stand on. And if Ziost was attacked, Intelligence’s newest recruits could test their skills. It is a world with history long gone, and cities becoming more and more modern. Many of my people live there. So much so, any Sith would blend in.
Now it is no more. I stare out the viewport at a barren world. It was once filled with life, and a great world in the Empire’s arsenal. Then the Revanites awoke Vitiate at Ziost’s expense. Now, it is nothing but ruins and desert.
This is why I abandoned the Force. My people attack their own all in the name of the dark side! My biological parents abused me to the point of death, masters and students murder one another, and now Darth Vitiate destroys a planet in the name of self preservation. I watched a world die today because someone so powerful saw everything as a threat. How different he would have been if the darkside was a nonissue?
It sickens me. The Force sickens me. Darth Vitiate, who was originally a pureblood, sickens me. The Sith Empire threw its lot in with a monster all those centuries ago. Why did it have to be at our expense- At Ziost’s expense?!
I rush to a refresher to relieve my stomach of its contents. I served the Sith Emperor too. I had to gather information for intelligence to better serve him. To serve him was to serve the Empire, right? And it was all deception. Sith deceive, like those in Intelligence deceive, and I helped ensure it would happen. All those people I interrogated, tortured, helped enslave, among other things were in order to help further his goal. The goal to annihilate every last living thing on Ziost.
I leave my stall and try to clean my face. I glance in the mirror: Who am I? I am Crimsèn, yet I cannot shirk what I did under the guise of Cipher 8. All of us cannot shirk off how much we practically worshipped a man who betrayed us. Worst of all it killed Theron!
Wait, actually, no it didn’t. It killed many Republic people because their current Chancellor has her twi’lek head up her ***: Jedi, troopers, and others. Yet, Theron did not die. I let him go with the Sixth Line Jedi leader, as opposed to letting Lana take her into Imperial custody.
Then he left. He got in a ship and escaped, along with Lana and I after the Emperor had a word with me. I hate him; when he spoke the words, I knew they were true. I tried to stop it all and I failed. I failed Ziost, and I failed our people. But Theron is still alive. The Emperor has not moved on to another world yet. There is still hope.
I saw Theron again. I looked in his eyes, and he looked back. We shared some words- I could be wrong but I think he still has some feelings for me. In the months since Yavin IV, I took steps to pull out of Sith Intelligence. I tried to contact Theron, but stopped when I remembered he and I parted ways. He probably doesn’t need me bothering him. Yet, late at night I dreamed. The dreams were in contrary to what my mind was telling: I was over him, and ready to move on.
And then there he was. He was battered and bruised, but to me he was just as handsome and as much the agent as when I first met him. On Ziost, helping, and allowing me to flirt. Allowing me to watch him, and seemed relieved I chose what I did with the Sixth Line Jedi.
That is why I must find a way to contact him. In spite of what my mind is telling me, I have to contact him. I was too close to losing him again. We were both too close to death to walk away from it! I have to write to him, reach out somehow.
The next day I go to Republic archives, and find nothing. I go to Intelligence’s records and find nothing. I decide to try digging deeper a week later (I searched in between documenting all that was left of Ziost). Thankfully I have free access to old HQ’s records and computers. I search for over a week- No Theron. I guess Lana Beniko couldn’t be bothered to keep track of one of the SIS’ top men? Nostalgia or incompetence? I am amazed she hasn’t resigned as head of Intelligence.
I leave and sneak to the space just a bit away from Ord Mantel. It is a long shot, but I am willing to risk getting captured. Republic space may lead to means I would never have to contact Theron.
I smile as I get a lead into the SIS’ databanks! I will contact you soon, Theron. Perhaps I could go to him? Perhaps comfort him for witnessing the death of a world, and the trouble he is in with Saresh? Perhaps he would let me kiss him again- Would he kiss my skin next? I say to HK-51 as I am about to message Theron, “Any messages for me, HK?”
“Answer: There is a message from Darth Marr’s ship. It claims he is making leads on the location of the Sith Emperor, and we should be ready to leave at any moment. The second message for us to rendezvous at his destroyer immediately.”
“Answer: Yes, Master. Darth Marr has ordered us to rendezvous with his star destroyer immediately. He was found the Emperor.”
I sigh. I need to find Theron, yet if I go now we could risk the Emperor making another world suffer Ziost’s fate. “Very well, we will go to his ship.” I look at the readings about Theron. I whisper, “Don’t worry, Theron, I will come to you later. But the galaxy needs me now.”
“It’s going to be a short trip. Might want to start briefing your friend here on what’s being going on the last 5 years. HK, make yourself useful. Check the stabilizers.”
“Five years? Five years… where are my people? Where is my family? Where is Theron?”
I am currently on the Gravestone. After being in carbonite for 5 years, I awaken to Lana Beniko. She saves me, and her friend Koth bring us to the Endless Swamp on Zakuul. Zakuul… The planetary home of Emperor Arcann, the man who imprisoned me five years ago. I went to Darth Marr’s ship to investigate Valkorian, and it lands me in carbonite prison with the Sith Empire’s old Emperor in my head under a new name.
So much to take in, and so much to do. I should be resting, seeing a counselor, and/or trying to find my ship and droid. I should be trying to put my life back together. But I cannot do that as Arcann ripped it a part. I yawn as exhaustion washes over me. Exhaustion and remnants of hibernation sickness. Five years gone. Five years I could have spent winning back Theron Shan. Instead, I am here repairing an ancient ship on the off chance it will save us from Arcann and the Eternal fleet.
I stumble around the area I’m working like a drunk: Where is that hydro spanner? Why is it dark out already? Does the endless swamp ever see the sun? I make a face. All this ship fixing with the occasional song playing. I’m too tired to try and repair another wire! I need to get rest. I need to search the ship. Search the ship. Search the ship.
I finally find a room with a bed. It’s not made and it is a bit rough but it’ll do. Ever since getting out of the carbonite, I have been running around all day, all week, and all month. No time for me to rest after getting out of my 5-year nap. No time to really process what has happened and no time to even attempt to find those I love.
Are any of them still alive? Is my brother still alive? My adopted parents? What about my grandparents? What about Theron?! Where are my crew, and what happened to intelligence? Does it exist anymore? Does anything I have ever worked for still stand, or am I grasping at things long been turned to dust? So many questions whip through my mind. I have to try to… sleep. I close and breath deeply. My thoughts slow, and my eyes begin to slide close. Then they open again- I shiver. I really shiver. It is so cold in here and I am so alone.
Five years without any contact: No good conversation, no warmth, no love, and no touch. Lana is too focused on my rescue, and Koth is more focused on the ship than on being a new friend. Perhaps it is just as well. I will never feel anything beyond friendship for a woman, and Koth isn’t Theron.
Of course I am holding out on a very thin hope. Five years… From his letter, I know Theron would never forget me, but that does not mean he is waiting for me. I’m sure he met someone else and he is making them happy. Serves me right for letting him walk away!
I shake my head- I need sleep. The Outlander is a mortal being. He needs his beauty sleep once in a while. More than that he needs to remember what it’s like to be out of hibernation. I take a few more breaths and let rest come to me. I toss and turn. I am still in my clothes- No wonder I am uncomfortable. The bed is cold but it does have blankets and a pillow. I remove my shirt, gloves and boots; I re-arrange the pillow and blankets; and I lay back down again.
I do not fall asleep. Instead I glance down at my body- I have not really seen it in five years. I see it has new scars to go with the ones my biological parents gave me.Where did I get the new ones? Ziost? Battle with Revan? Fighting Zakuul’s forces when they attacked Marr’s ship? Perhaps it was on Marr’s ship- I did stumble a bit and got shot at during the battle. Perhaps some are from the medicines Lana and HK-55 have treated me with. HK-55… He reminds me so much of HK-51, and yet they are different enough that he is not HK-51. Where is my droid? What happened after I told him to flee into hyperspace?
I lay down again and whisper out loud, “Theron…”
I woke up out of carbonite to Lana Beniko. It would have been nice to get at least a hug from her. Words that it is all going to okay. It would have been nice for her to tell me someone I care for is alive and well. Instead all I get is her berating me for choosing to save the people of the city instead of allowing millions more to die- Haven’t enough died in this conflict?
Theron would have appreciated my choice I think. Hell, I can see one of my cousins nodding in approval for it. In fact, I can feel their arms around me when they see I am okay. Lana said it verbally, of course, but have you ever been locked away with no contact from anything and anyone? If not, you will have to trust me in the affirmation that after five years of total isolation touch goes much farther than words.
I should have gone to Theron instead of running to Marr’s side. Then we could have faced this terrible conflict together. Instead I obeyed orders like the good Cipher Agent, again, and now I do not even know if he is alive. I bet he would have hugged me when I was thawed out. He would have let me touch him for a moment, maybe even briefly kissed me.
Since I cannot ask Lana or Koth to hug me, I rub my chest as my eyes finally close. They are too heavy from everything that has transpired, and I need sleep. I mutter as waking gives way to dreaming: “Theron… Theron… where are you? I’m sorry I didn’t come to you before going to Marr’s ship.”
I look up in surprise to see him. “Theron? Theron?! You’re alive… How?”
“Come now, Crim, it takes more than an Eternal Fleet to kill me.”
I see him crawl into the bed next to me, watching me with his small smile. I reach over and rub his face and smile. “Theron…”
Theron smiles back. “After five years, Sith intelligence is still hard at work.”
I laugh. “Hardly working more like. Can’t you see I’m catching up on my beauty sleep?”
He says in a low voice, “Is that a fact?” I nod and smile. He continues, “Allow me to ensure your dreams are good ones.”
His face then leans down and kisses me. It was more passionate than the ones we exchanged on Rishi and Yavin. It felt good, I wanted more. I open my mouth more and deepen the kiss. I allow my tongue to taste him. His mouth was just like I remembered- He is so warm and so firm. I pull his body more against mine. The bed is not cold anymore. I want more- Should I dare ask?
I did not need to as his lips left mine and trail down to my neck. He goes lower and lower until I look up in surprise when I hear him unfasten my pants. “Theron, are you sure? Aren’t I the first man you have been with? We should not rush things…”
“Shhhh… Don’t ruin it, sexy. First or not, you need this.”
I then feel his mouth below my waistline and I cannot help but let out a moan. He took me in his mouth and moves at a fast tempo- His mouth is hot, and his tongue is smooth. I do not last long and climax with a start. The force of it makes me open my eyes. I sit up and look around: “Theron… Theron… Theron?!”
No answer. I am alone. Theron is not here anymore, just cold and heartless reality. I look down and blush a little- my hand is still on my member. I frown at the warm stickiness all over my hands, chest, and the bed. I get up use part of my discarded to clothing to wash away my seed. I only look up from my task to hear giggling.
“What?” Koth says, “What’s so funny?”
Lana is the one giggling. “Oh nothing; it’s just I think our Outlander is having a good dream.”
I look down and shake my head, hot tears begin sliding down my face. “I use to be,” I answer quietly. This shuts them up, and I am left to my own sorrows.
I lay down and just cry. No life, no Theron, no love, and no real friends. Just a galaxy Lana has decided I have to save. Eventually I do fall asleep and my dreams are mostly of the Emperor and his nice little spot in my head.
Over all that the Emperor says to me I must cry out: Where are you Theron?