Part 17: In which the original message is finally sent
The bar droid had just brought their drinks to them when a door across to the left slid open and the woman who'd called Corso in the docking bay appeared, followed by Cademuir.
Deuchar had taken a mouthful of her spiced nerf milk and promptly choked on it. Standtrae froze with his Corellian Sunburst half way to his mouth. Taberon hadn't yet touched his water, but he stood up, which was pretty much a shout of astonishment from him. Timmns, who hadn't been privy either to the holo image of Cipher Nine from Zier's ship or the description circulated by Deuchar, looked at them with surprise.
Deuchar coughed and spluttered a few times then looked accusingly at Redsike. "You never told us you found her!"
"That's 'cause he didn't", said Cademuir, looking resigned. "Risha, go sort that stuff out, I'll see you later. And no monitorin', this is strictly private. I've got the dampener fields up anyway."
Risha nodded, without changing her sulky expression, and left via the turbolift.
"What's going on?" asked Timmns. "Someone explain, please."
"That is Cipher Nine!" said Standtrae. "I'd swear to it in front of the Senate! Perfect match, even the scar."
Cademuir eyed Redsike coldly. "I'm guessin' you didn't exactly tell 'em, then?"
Redsike grinned jeeringly. "My line of work, you kinda get used to surprising people. Call it habit."
"You little rat", grumbled Deuchar. "I swear you'll be lizard food before I'm done with you." Redsike only grinned again.
She looked at Cademuir. "So what exactly is going on? If you aren't Cipher Nine, who are you?"
Cademuir joined them at the table and Taberon sat down again. She signalled the bar droid, who brought her a bottle of something which quite clearly had the Imperial symbol on it, and then retreated into a niche behind the bar and shut down.
"All right, what Red didn't tell you ...", she paused and glared at him again. "I'm not Cipher Nine, I'm her sister. Twin. That's all you're gettin' until you tell me everythin' 'bout what's goin' on." She cracked open the bottle and took a drink from it. "No, wait ... just one thing. Is there a Sith called Jadus, Darth Jadus, he's on the Dark Council, involved in this?"
Deuchar looked at Standtrae and Taberon. "Not a name you mentioned."
Standtrae shook his head. "Nope, it's a problem with a Darth Baras and it's a Darth Drumelzier, also known as the Emperor's Wrath, that's looking for the agent."
Cademuir nodded, but didn't drop her pr1ckly suspicion. "If it turns out Jadus is involved, none of you ain't leavin' this room alive. Just so you know."
"Captain Quinn did mention that he had suggested seeking out Darth Jadus to find Cipher Nine", said Taberon. "However, Darth Drumelzier stated that neither she nor anyone else knows where Jadus is."
"Heh. Jadus is the last person who'd find her", said Cademuir cryptically. "She might explain, if you meet her. Get on with the story then." She leaned back in her chair and took another drink from her bottle.
As before, Standtrae did most of the talking, giving a concise and straightfoward military-style report, laying out Quinn and Zier's suspicions, their reason for wanting to find Cipher Nine, and the abortive search history to date. Taberon, Timmns and Deuchar contributed a few extra comments and clarifications occasionally.
Cademuir listened without interruption or any change in expression, just sipping from her bottle occasionally. When they finished, she sat still for a moment longer, then leaned forward and put the now empty bottle on the table.
"So, let's say I can get a message to her. It'll take a while, she ain't easy to get hold of right now, but I can call in a few favours. It don't sound to me like you're makin' this all up, and if a Sith can convince the Jedi and Rep military to help her, there's got to be somethin' in it."
She leaned back in her chair again. "But, I ain't puttin' all that stuff in a message, however much I encrypt it, and I ain't callin' her into a meetin' with Sith straight off either. You can explain all this to her yourselves, convince her that she's got to talk her doctor sidekick into helpin' here. Got it?"
All of them nodded. "But," added Standtrae, "got to say it's not the Jedi and Republic Military involved. It's just us here, doing a favour. No-one else knows, all strictly unofficial at the moment."
"Not my choice", said Timmns. "I still think the Jedi Council needs to be warned. By extension, you should be informing your military superiors too."
"You agreed to the necessity for secrecy, Master Timmns", said Taberon. "Remember, "there is no ignorance, there is knowledge". But as yet we are still ignorant, we cannot act before we have knowledge."
Timmns eyed him. "I wonder how your Padawan copes with having a Master who is always right. I found Master Karr's mistakes reassuring occasionally."
"Apart from the last one, I guess", Standtrae grinned a little meanly. "Falling to the Dark Side, losing that nice young Padawan to a Sith, nothing reassuring about what happened there."
Timmns bristled. "You know very well I wasn't referring to that. In any case, what happened with Padawan Jaesa was complex, and it was Darth Drumelzier who was responsible, not Karr. On Baras's orders, of course."
"You can finish your arguing later", said Deuchar, looking slightly exasperated.
Cademuir abruptly stood up. "No worries. I'll send the message then, let you know when I get an answer. Meantime", she looked at Deuchar, "get the Jedi and Trooper out of here, please. No offence, they seem decent enough, but this ain't where they're wanted. Next time, make 'em take the uniforms off."
After they'd all gone, she went back into her office and thought for a while. Eventually, she switched on the holo and made a number of calls. When she'd got all the answers she wanted, she set the holo to record, and began: “Hey sis, bet you were never expectin’ to hear from me like this....”