Part 10: In which the message is born
They met on Alderaan again at the Elysium, which seemed simpler than trying to arrange some other place. Taberon and Standtrae arrived two days after Jaesa had set it up, and she, Quinn and Zier went down to meet them.
As before, eyes filled with suspicion, doubt and dislike followed them through the Elysium to the small secluded room where they'd met before. Zier was nervous, and could feel Jaesa's unhappiness; they communed wordlessly through the Force for mutual support.
To Zier's surprise, Timmns was there again too, but she made no comment on it. After the polite exchange of greetings, they sat down, and the two Jedi and Major Standtrae looked to her.
"Well, Darth Drumelzier, you called this meeting", said Timmns. "We didn't expect to speak again so soon, so we must assume that your purpose is serious."
"It is", nodded Zier. "And something I very much regret having to share with you. Internal Sith politics is a dirty game, and sometimes it spreads a lot wider than we might wish."
Standtrae grinned and the Jedi nodded.
Zier continued. "My former Master was a Sith called Baras. You will, of course, know Baras quite well?" She looked enquiringly at Timmns.
"Not in person, but through my former Master Nomen Karr, indeed." Timmns sighed. "He and Baras were bitter enemies for many years. Ultimately it led to Karr's downfall."
"I was there", Zier commented drily. "But I don't think you can blame Baras. I showed Karr's true nature, that's all. I'm not making any apologies for what happened."
Timmns shook his head. "I regret it, but I'm not blaming you. You showed his true nature, but where did that nature come from if not largely from Baras's influence and rivalry? That - and you - have made me question a few things. Perhaps that is good, perhaps not. But rest assured, I will not fall as my Master did." He stared at her challengingly.
Jaesa was staring silently and unhappily at the floor. Zier glanced at her then looked back to Timmns.
"Enough of this. We may talk about it another time, perhaps, more privately. It's not important right now, what's important is other stuff Baras did. He did a lot of things, and developed a lot of ambitions. I regret to say that I assisted in some of his plans, without realising his true nature." Timmns looked extremely sceptical, but remained silent. "Going into full details would require a lot too much explanation, but to sum up, he was trying to take over the Empire, and he got bloody close before we stopped him." She paused and took a sip of water.
"I could've executed him, but I chose not to. He's now in a secure prison for the rest of his life, at least that was what I hoped. However, Quinn has information which he shared with us. We need to ask for your help, if you're willing to give it. Quinn, over to you." She smiled encouragingly at him.
"Yes my Lord." He proceeded to give a dispassionate recounting of Baras's preparations for his dynasty, with Timmns and Standtrae looking amazed, disgusted and concerned in equal measure. Taberon listened gravely, looking down at the table, his expression hardly changing.
Quinn moved on to the abortive hunt, and finally concluded: "Therefore, gentlemen, we have come to you to ask for assistance in locating Cipher Nine, and through her Dr Lokin, via the so-called Free Traders, and I am aware, Major" he nodded to Standtrae "that your sister is one of them.”
They all looked at each other. Finally Standtrae broke the silence, looking over at Taberon. "Guess we call Deuchar then. We can't deny this is something we've got to deal with, right? And no sitting around either."
Taberon looked up from his contemplation of the table. "Yes, you are right. This could threaten the existence of both Empire and Republic."
"You can be damn sure of that", Zier nodded. "Baras had seriously big ambitions. He wanted to swallow the Empire whole, and I'd be willing to bet if he didn't destroy the Republic, he'd want to eat that too."
"I concur, my Lord", said Quinn. "Darth Baras was very good at concealing his true nature and intentions to others, but those of us who worked with him for any length of time soon learned the extent of his ambitions."
Timmns was shaking his head. "You Sith. I have no idea how you've managed to survive. No trust, no compassion, no peace."
He was clearly going to carry on, and Zier and Jaesa both opened their mouths to start arguing, but Taberon spoke first.
"A historical and philosophical discussion for another time, Master", he said calmly. "For now, we must discover the scale of the threat, and then consider ways and means of dealing with it."
Zier swallowed her annoyance and nodded. "Call your sister then, start the search. Thanks for being willing to help. But this must all remain as confidential as possible. If it gets out what we're hunting for and why, anyone involved in Baras's plans is going to go straight underground and we'll be back to square one." Quinn nodded in agreement.
“The Council must be warned”, said Timmns obstinately.
Zier shook her head firmly. “Not until we know for certain what we're up against. It might be a false alarm, in which case there's no point, it's just worrying people unnecessarily. If it's real, well, Baras may have a spy on the Council.”
“Impossible!” Timmns looked aghast.
Zier shook her head. “Certainly not, Timmns, you know Karr successfully infiltrated the Sith as Lord Retrost, and I've no doubt the Republic has SIS spies all over the Empire. The Sith have been doing the same to the Jedi and the Republic.” She considered for a moment, then added, “Baras had at least one senior Republic military commander in place for about thirty years. I should know, I was the one that had to eliminate him when his cover was blown. And I exposed a senior member of the Green Jedi on Corellia who was one of his too. If he had those two, he certainly had other high-placed people, and where better than the Jedi Council? It's a risk even telling the three of you.” She eyed Timmns. “And you weren't even supposed to be at this meeting, it was only for Taberon and Standrae.”
Timmns shrugged self-deprecatingly. “I don't like to leave our young knights unsupported. And I confess to curiosity.” He sighed. “Very well, I will do as you wish and keep silent. For now.”