Heartbreak Bar & Grill
This story was inspired by several overhead conversations, frivolous secrets in the author's past, conversations with muses (thank you MaceVindaloo and Carmen!), an excellent dinner at a great place, and stories written for WookieeHut about our favorite turncoat: As Soon As Possible (rated NC-17), and Makeover For Bubbie (rated PG), which in turn are based on Aaron Allston's "Wraith Squadron" novels. Enjoy, and be careful when she specifies a really expensive place for dinner!
Kirney Slane had been trying not to look bored, and thus may have overcompensated a bit. Thus the man sitting opposite her in the restaurant felt compelled to quickly stand up and put on his hat. He strode out toward the door, and to Kirney's relief, he stopped at the hostess station to pay for their meal before stepping out into the perpetual inky grayness of the Imperial City night.
Happily, the girl's teary, sad gaze at her reported infidelity disappeared as soon as Lieutenant Gaar Heathpaak had left. She breathed deeply, thoughts of the man gone; she was not feeling relief, but was happily smelling the aroma of the food that had arrived just after Heathpaak had made his exit. Kirney savored the aroma of the big platter of shellfish and vegetables in the middle of the table before signalling to the server 'droid to wrap up the feast for her to take home.
She'd share the bounty with her roommates. It would be a delicious re-counting to her teammate-trainees in the subject of "how to dump a paramour on the cusp of popping the question."
Kirney and her classmates were all in training by the Imperial Intelligence division. They had all studied and worked hard to be able to reach the field training level. One would think that in this competitive arena that they would not share their techniques and discoveries, but the Rebellion had become very large and problematic. There was more than enough work for anyone with the talent to be someone they were not. It was known that operatives would often get no downtime before being required to do fieldwork again.
So the sooner they were ready, the better they would benefit the Empire. Thus they were trained in "platoons" and the success of the group was the success of the individual. Thus Kirney and her group swapped notes and advice regularly, the better to "beat" the other groups.
"I KNEW he would want you to 'go steady,' I just knew it!" Clarinna shook her head as she dipped the small crustacean, shell and all, into the hot melted butter sauce. "He's scheduled to go on a tour next week, and he's been spending tons of credits on you! Recipe for a commitment demand!"
"Yeah," agreed Beliida, her mouth full of tapato, "And here I thought you'd win the contest for sure!"
'The contest' was an informal competition between the girls in Kirney's group to see how much they could get a target to spend on them before the girl felt compelled to return something in kind. In this case, it meant spreading her legs for the gentleman in question.
"Hey, I'd lost that part last weekend, remember?"
The other girls giggled, knowing the Kirney had succumbed to a measure of guilt at the number of credits spent by the young officer on entertainments, meals, and sundry frivolities, including the necklace one of the other girls wore; Allani had won it in a secret pool by guessing which day Kirney would end up in Heathpaak's bed.
As the girls cracked the carapaces and shells that made up the succulent meal, Kirney detailed how she'd convinced the young man to leave her. "I told him that I used to date Colonel Jhaanz."
The girls gasped and shrieked their approval. The Colonel was known to have a predilection for younger women, was known to be possessively jealous of his former conquests as well as his current ones. Any officer knew to steer clear of the women who'd been pursued by the senior officer.
"But Kirney, that's cheating!" Maurizzi pouted, even as she swallowed the luscious cheesecake that had been brought back by the 'cheater.' "You've used that one before!"
"So have you," retorted Kirney, picking the meat out from the muscle chambers of the seabeast she'd brought home, "and as Clarinna said, he was really really serious. I had to pull out the big one!"
"Well, that's hard-earned intel," agreed Beliida, "and you know what the instructors say: use what you've got!"
"But he just left, no pleading, no promises?" Allani was the youngest of them and often ended up giving in to men's tearful begging, even after practicing with the other women how to handle any number of difficult situations.
"It's all how you tell him, you know. You can't leave any hope, best to leave him despondent." Kirney licked some gravy off her fingers. "Like you can't do what I just did with your mouth, or he'll be thinking 'just one more blowjob' for sure, and then you'd have to deliver one to have any leverage at all."
"That's right," agreed Maurizzi, "and if you give an Imp a blowjob, he'll beg for a screw, and if you give him a screw, he'll ask you to be his 'one and only,' and if you promise to be true ..."
"... you have to kill him," finished the others, laughing so hard that they all had to stop eating.
As they wiped their eyes and continued with the platter of seafood, Kirney explained, "That's why you do it in a nice, expensive, public place, so he can't make a scene without embarrassing or exposing himself. And he sure as heck can rape me, either."
Clarinna shook her head, "Yeah, yeah ... all those guys who figure they can 'mark' you with their sperm ..." She noisily slurped something down, possibly to emphasize the point.
Allani blushed, which was really quite becoming on her. "But you already slept with him!"
Kirney shrugged, "An accident. I promise it won't happen again." They all giggled at this. Kirney was crowned "the Queen of Disposable Sex" by the others for the fact that she'd have sex with anyone just to (seemingly) play with their minds.
The instructor had assigned them to gather information about an upcoming battle. The top secret nature of such plans made them very tough to crack; the information, though difficult to discern, was not impossible to figure out if the young women used their wiles. They could use any number of techniques, but the instructor had emphasized that charm and sex were the most effective if trying to get information out of low level and non-commissioned officers. They had to patch together the total picture from their group efforts.
Kirney Slane was at the top of her class, and the hardest working. She not only did her assignments thoroughly and well, but she'd identify gaps in intel, and write reports on her findings. In fact, she was getting ready to submit her report which neatly classified men along broad categories. She knew that her definitions were robust and absolute, and would probably be picked up for textbook use, too! So, after the girls had cleaned up the remains of their feast, she quietly sat up late into the night with her datapad to summarize her conclusions:
She hoped to come to the attention of Madame Director of Intelligence, Ysanne Isard herself, and perhaps if she did things right, she'd have Isard's job someday, too.
* * * * *
At the end of the training assignment, Kirney's group was the only one that managed to get enough information to predict where and when the upcoming battle would be. After reports were delivered, they watched the holonews feeds to confirm their predictions. Their group were declared the "winners" of the exercise and were awarded a week's leave. The women of the other groups had to use the time to assess how they'd erred and how to improve their performances in the future. At the end of that time, all the women would be re-sorted into new groups for a new assignment.
Kirney and the women of her group were sitting around a table at the very restaurant where Lt. Heathpaak has walked sadly away from Kirney's life. They all had a little giggle, wondering if he'd thrown himself in the way of Rebel fire in his grief at losing Kirney. "It's a good thing men are disposable," sighed Kirney, "or who knows what I would have had to do to get him to not to abandon his post! He's the type to throw his loyalties toward whomever had his heart."
Beliida snorted in derision, "Yeah, the mercenary types with the big egos are much easier to handle!" The women talked throughout the long meal disparagingly about men, whom they treated as sources of information and nothing more. It was how they were trained, and the women voiced disgusted that all the men they'd worked over were simply suckers for a pretty face and deft ego-stroking.
Over dessert, they wondered about their next assignments and Allani looked sad, "We won't be together again, I doubt they'll let a successful group stay together."
"No, they won't keep us together, they want to spread the talent around, like they hope it's contagious," Clarinna shook her head. "We won't even be able to keep our names or not even our hair color! It's too bad, I was getting used to being a raven-haired femme fatale!" She giggled again.
"I know!" Kirney characteristically played with her auburn-red tresses. "I love this hair color! And this style suits my features, don't you think?"
Allani looked sadder, "And we won't be as successful ... we did well because of you, Kirney. It won't be the same without you. You're the bright one!"
"Oh, pshaw!" Kirney tried to look disbelieving, but she knew Allani was right. It was Kirney's analyses and field tips that had gotten them the top prize. In addition, the extra report Kirney had submitted had given her top marks, so she was actually placed much higher than the girls in her group, whether they knew it or not. "None of us would be here without each other!"
Maurizzi raised up her sweet-wine glass, "Here, here ... and after tomorrow, we won't know each other anymore. So let's just enjoy what we have together."
As they tapped glasses, Kirney reminded them, "Now, you promised ... this is MY heartbreak break-up place. You have to find your own!"
"But ... but I thought we were supposed to change ourselves completely," protested Allani. "The instructors said that we have to take on completely new lives with every assignment, including giving up habits and preferences. Or else what would happen if the lieutenant came back and saw you as someone else?"
"Of course, silly," Maurizzi jabbed her fork at Beliida's plate, taking the last berry, "She just means that if we do see and recognize each other again, we have to bury it. Isn't that right, Kirney?"
The red-head flipped her hair back with an apparently careless but carefully practiced movement of her fingers, "You have no idea how great it will be not to have to do that with these tresses again, as good as it looks! But you're right Allani, I'll need to find another 'bar and grill' to lay out my heartbreaks!"
When the bill came, they all regretted not having a paramour with them to pay their share. This place was no tacky 'bar & grill,' after all, but one of the most expensive places on the capitol planet! Still, it held good memories for them, for they'd shared many expensive meals with the men they'd used and discarded here.
They all smiled, wondering if they'd ever see each other again, and who they'd be when they did.
* * * * *
Gara Petothel had garnered a plum assignment to slice misleading information into a Rebel database, thereby insuring the destruction of the so-called Talon Squadron. The X-wing group was new and inexperienced, and a complete loss of equipment and specially trained personnel would call into question the enemy's training techniques of this and other elite squadrons.
In a past life, this woman had been Kirney Slane and Resilla Gamin, but after writing a brilliant categorization description of male targets to be exploited, then identifying and capturing a rebel spy, she'd come to the attention of Director Isard. She shed her previous identities for her new infiltration assignment she'd been personally appointed by Madame Director for this job. The spy restored herself, using the name she'd been born with: Gara Petothel. It was an ugly-sounding name, and Gara supposed it was something a Rebel might name their child.
Gara had no real memory of her real mother, and wondered if the woman was still alive. She would have asked her why she couldn't have been given a beautiful name like hers: Edallia Monotheer. Gara had been identified and taken by Imperial Intelligence at a very young age and trained as an operative, so had never managed to ask her.
Gara was so skilled in becoming someone else, that when she ran across Lt. Heathpaak, her hapless beau from several training exercises ago, he did not recognize her. He had defected to the Rebel side, so distraught and distracted had he been by Kirney Slane's rejection. Worming her way into his heart and mind as Gara Petothel was an easy and entertaining thing. He had not changed at all in terms of his devotion to the woman he loved, and knowing as much as she did about him and about men in general, she was playfully able to get him to kill himself in distress over one thing or another. Gara knew she should have noted down what it was that pitched the man over the edge, but she had been busy arranging her escape from her cover at the time.
After the successful conclusion of the job and her subsequent disappearance, it was discovered that the Rebels who now called themselves the New Republic after they'd captured Imperial City found out that she had been the person to slice in the bad data that had resulted in the loss of Talon Squadron. Her name was put on a list of persons wanted as a traitor, and she imagined that her sloppiness was due to the effort she went through to toy with the suicidal Heathpaak. She had let her sideline hobby distract her from doing a complete job of the slicing.
Not that it mattered in the long run, for there was no Empire for her to go back to. In the time she'd been undercover, the Rebels had captured the capitol.
With Imperial City in Rebel hands, Ysanne Isard was no longer head of Intelligence, and Imperial agents found themselves without a command structure to follow. So, when Gara literally jumped ship, she offered her services to Apwar Trigit, one of the new warlords seizing power in the chaos following the new galactic political situation resulting from the death of Emperor Palpatine.
And then when Trigit's ship was captured, she created a new persona and called herself Lara Notsil, the sequestered, glitterstim-addicted sex-slave of the warlord. He could not deny her claim, as the duplicitous agent ensured he was dead before she could be "liberated" and "saved" by the Rebels.
That was how Lara managed to implant herself with the New Republic forces again. Through various machinations, she found herself under the command of Wedge Antilles of the newly formed Wraith Squadron. And through a complete coincidence, she found herself spending time with a Corellian named Myn Donos, the disgraced former commander of Talon Squadron! She looked forward to extending her hobby in order to destroy him, too.
Lara was was very good at her work, but this relationship was starting to eat at her, make her question herself. True, the Empire that had trained her did not exist anymore; it was scattered and broken. Pieces of it were commanded by warlords and traitors. The former were out to claim Imperial powers through subjugation and terror; the traitors didn't even bear thought. Lara found herself confused by who and what she was serving, and found she didn't understand the term "traitor."
Also true was that she felt no guilt or remorse over what had happened to Talon Squadron, and her connections to Myn's distress. So what was she feeling toward this man who had been their commander?
She thought back on the document she had created that had catapulted her to the top of her class, the one about how to treat and dispose of men, as categorized by age. She supposed the men of Wraith Squadron ranged from their early 20s to their late 20s, and thus should have been self-absorbed and arrogant. They did act that way, at least from what she observed initially, but they all defied her carefully researched categorizations.
It shook her confidence to encounter men who didn't fit her prescribed patterns. Even the alien males were different from what she knew about their species.
How could I have been so completely wrong? It bothered her to be wrong. It ate at her confidence and made her doubt her abilities. It made her re-visit her past, something she was not ever supposed to do; what if Resilla or Kirney bubbled up from the past to the present?
Lara had not accepted for a moment that this was a "last resort" group, made up of wash-outs and losers about to be decommissioned. They were too good, and why would the likes of Wedge Antilles and Wes Janson be commanding them? And yet, that's what they claimed it was. It was so confusing, did she simply not understand the information going into her brain? Actually, everything about this squadron ran counter to what she knew, against everything she'd been trained to know, and she didn't like it!
Especially this Myn Donos. He should have had a bloated ego, and he should have been covering up for his failures with brashness. He obviously had such an ego when he was commanding Talon Squadron perhaps that was why he had gone temporarily insane and was now still irrational and inconfident. Maybe losing every member of his command really had cracked his psyche. So why was he admitted to this exclusive commission? Maybe this really was a group full of losers ...?
She even thought she saw the young girl she knew as Allani as one of the members in this Rebel squadron. But Allani didn't exist beyond that training exercise, so many lifetimes ago, so many identities ago. It did make sense; Shalla has been billed as an Imperial infiltration specialist ... Who was Allani? Who was Kirney?
Could Shalla Nelprin have once been ... Allani Nucasse?
Lara doubted. She didn't feel the concept of "truth" anymore. She was no longer in control, and she didn't like how unmoored she was feeling ...
Maybe this is how the men I used saw me ... maybe this is what they felt like when I took them to the 'heartbreak bar and grill' ...
* * * * *
Kirney Slane found herself sitting in a restaurant, looking across at the ridiculously named Bubbie Striker. She smiled, pretending the coquettish grin was for him, rather than at the inept attempt at a cover.
Bub, of course, was Myn Donos, who had come to Corellia to see her at her invitation. Why had she invited the man who tried to kill her? Why had he come?
He thought of her as Lara Notsil, so at least, they were even in their perceptions of one another. They were probably both equally confused.
Lara had been forced to run away from Wraith Squadron when her cover had been compromised; Myn had tried to kill her upon this revelation and she'd run away. She had surprised herself by first offering her services to another former Imperial warlord, and then again when she betrayed this Admiral Zsinj by aiding her former (Rebel) squadron. The trauma of all that had happened to her gave her a path to follow, for which she was grateful. Any path was comforting.
That path led her to taking the name she loved most, of the fresh-faced, ingenuous, confident girl named Kirney Slane. It had been the last time she was absolutely sure of who she was, she realized. And that meant it was closer to the truth than anything else she'd known.
So, Kirney Slane found herself in a restaurant, wondering how to break it off with Bubbie Striker. She had contacted him after she'd settled on his home planet. She hadn't liked how things had ended between them; she had had no control of the situation, and she wanted to see him again, to break it off properly.
This is my new 'heartbreak bar and grill', she told herself. I need to do this properly!
Though now, sitting together in this place, she wondered why she needed to do this "properly." And what did that actually mean? She found herself genuinely smiling back at the shy-looking man.
After eating, they'd taken a walk to a local park and had stopped at the edge of a little lake. The weather was warm and clear. Beneath this blue sky ... we'll kiss goodbye, Kirney promised herself, even as she remembered the passage she wrote so many lifetimes ago:
As she kissed the man who had once tried to kill her, she remembered some words spoken by someone, like a distant echo:
"... and if you give an Imp a blowjob, he'll beg for a screw, and if you give him a screw, he'll ask you to be his 'one and only,' and if you promise to be true ..."
I'm just kissing him! Kirney protested in her head. And if ... when ... when I have sex with him ... I'm just doing this to break his heart!
But the words echoed hollow.
She knew she was out of practice. Or perhaps she was getting older and was becoming sincere and needy herself.
She heard Myn mumbled against her lips, "I'm no mercenary ... have some mercy ..." and her confusion lifted for a brief, clear moment. Something about big mercenary types being easier to handle than the romantic ones? Did Myn know?
So, after the blowjob, after the screwing, after being asked to be his one and only ... Kirney Slane never went looking for a "heartbreak bar and grill" again.
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