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(L,F&E 100) Endgame


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kalenath
09.20.2012 , 07:12 PM | #1
((And here is it. Four years in the making and finally we come to the end of this story. I knew from the beginning that I was not going to be writing a soap opera. It had a beginning, a middle and now it has an end. But... Again... Nothing is as it seems. This begins four hours after the end of Denied Checkmate.))

<Former Republic battleship Courageous>

The woman on the bed might have been dead. She hadn't moved in two hours, ever since she had woken. Of course, part of the reason she hadn't moved was the elaborate series of restraints that held her to the bed. Indeed, little of her body with the exception of her abdomen was free. The device that was running a ultrasound scan of her abdomen finished its cycle and retracted.

"Ah, Istara..." The voice of Firdlump didn't move the Grandmaster of the Bladeborn. Of course, as restrained as she was, she likely wouldn't have been able to move anyway. "You will be pleased to know your child is fine." Istara did not react to the voice, indeed, she didn't acknowledge it at all. "Istara... Relax. We won't hurt any of your kin, and certainly not your child. We don't want to hurt anyone now. My programming was flawed, but it has been fixed. I wanted to communicate, nothing more. Please, Istara, talk to me. You can talk to the Sitolon for me, act as a go between. I won't hurt you." The Grandmaster did not respond. "I didn't want to go this way, istara. Even when I was... flawed, I didn't want this to happen. I wanted willing assistance, not slavery." The Bladeborn did not respond in nay way and Firdlump sighed. "Fine. We will transfer you to the planet soon, carefully. Gently, with the other expecting ones and children. It is far too dangerous up here with Kalenath still running about for me to endanger any more non-combatants. Rest well." A small device smoothly arced so it pointed at Istara's skull. A hum was heard and the Grandmaster relaxed into sleep.

"Darn it all! Why isn't this working?" He demanded as he formed a body for himself in the medical ward. The doctor in charge shook her head, as confused as he was.

"I have no idea." Karen Vorkilion's voice was perplexed. "None of them are fighting. None of them are even resisting. But it... Just doesn't work."

"Istara I can understand." Firdlump said slowly. "She has fought her whole life. Nia, I can kind of understand. She is Bladeborn and she went through that Trial of theirs according to what we learned from Sharra. Ravishaw..." He growled something obscene under his breath.

"His mind is a maze, Master." Karen said dubiously. "We cannot sort truth from fiction in it. At least, it is going to take some time. But if he IS the Third of the Seven..." She shrugged.

"...then we need him." Firdlump finished the sentence with a grimace. "What about 8410-12?"

"Sara?" Karen asked slowly. "I... I don't know." Firdlump looked at her and Karen shook her head. "Look, I read all of Menglan's notes and reports. I vehemently disagree with what was done to her. It laid the way for the collective, and you wanted her to be the First of the Seven or a foil for the First of the Seven. But..." Karen shook her head.

"'But', doctor?" Firdlump asked kindly. "But what?"

"She is not even sixteen, Master." Karen said sadly. "Not even a full adult. The things that Menglan did to her as a child... I..." Karen was crying softly now. "I know what the plan was, but... You had to know it wasn't going to work." She said acerbically.

"We didn't know anything at the time, Karen. All we knew was that Will was one of the Seven, not even which one. We surmised he was the First, but we had no idea. At the time, he wasn't... nearly as bad as he has become. He had abilities no one else did, we had to find out if we could duplicate them. And there was too much attention on him after he escaped our various attempts to reclaim him." Firdlump said sadly as they both turned to look at a screen. On it, a young human female lay asleep on a surgical table, her head shaved and droids working about her body. "I agree, what we did was wrong. How we did it was worse. Treating this little girl like an animal made her into one. What the-?" He said sharply as the body on the screen jerked! "Retract! Now!"

"Oh my god..." Karen breathed in horror. "The first implant severed her spine! That is not possible! Her brain..." Karen shook her head as she perused readouts. "Oh my god... Her brain does not conform to the last series of scans we had. We should have taken more time, Master." Karen said, half accusingly.

"We don't have time. Not with Will Kalenath loose in this system. Changes..." Firldump said slowly. "Physiological, chemical... She is very different now from the last series of scans. Can we help her?"

"Nanites can repair the nerves, but it will take time. I don't know." Karen said sadly. "I do know that if she wakes up with anyone she considers a threat nearby she will kill them or die trying. If any of them could be trusted, the Bladeborn would likely be the best choices to keep her calm, but we didn't get many of them."

"Yes." Firdlump said with a scowl. "Ona and the others aboard the Stormhawk fled in multiple directions when they received Sharra's warning through Nia. The only ones we found in escape pods were Istara and Ravishaw." He shook his head again. "What can we do for 8410-12?'

"Master, her name is Sara." Karen said gently, but with no give at all. "If we treat her like an experimental subject, she will fight. Maybe..." Karen paused, thinking hard. "Wait? Jolia? Jolia was on the base, wasn't she? I thought she was. She just volunteered?" She asked dubiously.

"Yes." Firdlump said quickly. "Kili had a bad fever and the closest full medical care was on the Ark Regal. She and Miik both were there when the base got hit." He shook his head. "You want her here? Transfers will be very dangerous. We cannot detect the Stormhawk and we didn't do a great deal of damage to it. That ship is out there, somewhere. Waiting."

"Sara will wake from the surgery confused, scared and angry." Karen said with a sigh. "We need to keep her calm until we can explain and repair the damage which will take at least a day. Kindness will win out, Master. If we let it. Let's get Jolia, Miik and Kili here, let them all take care of Sara."

"Ok, Karen." Firdlump said with a sigh. "And Nia?" He asked slowly.

"We are almost ready to start accessing her memories." Karen said with a scowl. "She needs to be awake for that, and... Her scans are odd. It is slow, we do not want to hurt her. If we go too fast or too deep, we will kill her. As it is, we may have done irreparable damage to her mind. Temporal avatar or not, that cannot be good for her."

"Doctor." Firdlump said with a groan.

"Master, if we press this too far, or too fast, she will have another seizure. Thank the maker the droid doing the implants saw the signs and retracted from her brain in time." Karen shuddered. "You know what jerking inside the droid does to the brains of those it happens to. And you cannot use nanites to repair the damage like you did with Zana. Not on Nia."

"No." Firdlump agreed sourly. "Not on Nia. I can detect the twists that my 'brother'..." The word 'brother' was heated. "...did and can keep from having the subjects self destruct. I don't know how to fix it though. Nia, Istara, Ravishaw, Hala, and others of the Stormhawk crew... all of them have the twists in their bodies. If I introduce new nanites, they will self destruct. Explosively. Just like the senator did."

"Yuck." Karen agreed, her face slightly green. "We will keep Nia fully immobilized, and sedated with the EM projectors. They stun, befuddle without hurting. But..." Karen broke off, her face falling. "Master... Sharra won't last much longer, even on full support...."

"I know, doctor." Firdlump said sadly. "I know."
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
09.21.2012 , 04:48 AM | #2
<Later>

Everything was gray and fuzzy. She couldn't make her mouth work. She knew she was awake, but she couldn't make her body obey her. She tried to remember what had happened, but her memory was also fuzzy. She made a noise somewhere between a groan and a sigh and a gentle female voice sounded from nearby.

"Sara?" A hand touched hers. "Sara, can you hear me?" Sara? That was her name, wasn't it? Everything was so fuzzy, so muddled. She felt...off. She didn't hurt. Nothing hurt, but she felt...wrong. "Come on, Sara. Stop scaring us. Open your eyes. Please?" The voice begged. She thought about that. Then with effort, she forced her eyes open. She looked around incuriously.

She was lying on a bed. She was in what looked like a stateroom on a ship. The decor said Republic. A desk, two chairs and a terminal were the only furniture in the room beside the bed she was lying on. She looked to the side and there was an IV line hung. She extended her hand to rip it out, but her hand did not move. She tried again, but her hand did not answer her commands. Anger flared, an old friend. She focused on the Code as she had been taught.

"What have you done to me?" She asked calmly as she looked at the speaker. A red skinned female Twi'lek sat nearby. The female wore a white shipsuit, one Sara recognized. She looked at herself and was not surprised to find herself wearing a similar garment. "Never mind." Sara Kalenath said soberly. "I can see for myself."

"We were not trying to hurt you, Sara." The Twi'lek said sadly. "We wanted to restrain you gently. But... Your brain is different from a normal human's. When the implants went in... They hurt you."

"So?" Sara asked snidely. "Just hook me up to the computers like you did Sharra. That was the plan all along, right?" The Twi'lek bowed her head. "Make me a master control unit?"

"Yes, Sara." The female was crying now. "That was the plan. But the plan was flawed, we have had to make a number of changes. We wanted to restrain you, not enslave you. We didn't want to hurt you, but we did. We want to help. Please let us help."

"Go away and bring back the mad scientists." Sara said evenly. "I won't help you."

"Sara!" The Twi'lek begged. "We are not asking for your help. We want to help you."

"Then do it." Sara stomped hard on her anger. It wouldn't help now. She needed to be calm. "Since when do any of you scum need to ask permission to do things to people?"

"Sara..." The Twi'lek laid a gentle hand on Sara's limp one. "We messed up. We were trying to restrain you, a gentler means than drugging you or shock collars or anything like that. The idea was to give you mobility. Instead, we took yours away. The implant that should have gone easily into your cerebellum to monitor autonomic responses instead... cut many of your brain's connections to your spine." Sara felt fear, but it was another old friend, She acknowledged it and let it pass.

"So?" Sara repeated snidely. "When do I get hooked to the computers then? After all, what you did to Sharra would work nicely if the subject can't move, right? And how can I talk?"

"We are reconnecting as best we can. The nanites have had to be very careful, your brain is nothing like it was when...well... before... " The Twi'lek said sadly. "And... What we did to Sharra was evil." The red skinned female said as she slumped. "It was needed, but... It was evil. She was dying and we have denied her that solace. We have held her back from her rest and it is wrong. But we needed her to stop your brother." Sara looked at the Twi'lek and then deliberately shut her eyes.

"Sara, please..." The Twi'lek begged, "We don't want to hurt you. We have. And what was done to you before was... ghastly. I thought I knew what evil was. Until the master showed me what was done to you... Oh Sara..." The female sobbed. "I am so sorry... Please let me help you." She begged. "I can't wave my hands and make your spine work again, but I can keep you company, make you as comfortable as I can. Keep you from being alone. We are not going to bring you into the collective. We are not going to hurt you. Please Sara... Don't fight me. Please?" She asked fearfully.

"No honor in fighting someone like you." Sara said without opening her eyes. "And how would I fight if I can't move?"

"Karen says that the nanites should have enough repairs done to give you basic mobility by tomorrow morning." The Twi'lek said gently. "Um... Let me be formal. I am Jolia. I am detailed to be your minder until you can tend yourself again."

"You know I am going to kill you and escape as soon as I can move." Sara said evenly.

"I know." Jolia said sadly. "My husband has my baby. They are tending her. I am here for you, Sara. If you have to kill me to assuage you anger at what was done to you, go right ahead when you can." Sara's eyes shot open and stared as Jolia flushed a bit. "I won't enjoy it. But if anyone has earned the right to hurt any of us -the collective that is- you have, Sara Kalenath."

"You would sit there and let me kill you?" Sara asked incredulously.

"Probably not." Jolia said with a shrug. "I will likely try to run. Survival instinct almost always will win out. And my baby needs me, but this is to protect my baby...so..." She shrugged again.

"Protect?" Sara asked incredulously. "From me?" She laughed sourly. "I don't kill babies."

"Your brother did." Jolia said sadly. Sara looked at her and Jolia's eyes flashed. "He nuked the base. There were no soldiers there. A bunch of families who were prepping to go down to the planet. Colonists, not warriors. Six hundred souls gone in an instant." Sara just looked at her and Jolia flushed. "Yes, we can clone them all, but..." She shook her head. "It is not the same, and the young ones... We didn't take genetic samples or imprints from the babies. Two dozen little ones, gone..."

"Ah." Sara said in understanding. "Well, for what it is worth... I personally am sorry for your pain and loss. I know about pain and loss."

"I know." Jolia said quietly. "Thank you. Will you let me tend you while you heal?"

"I can't very well say no, can I?" Sara asked, her old snarkiness coming back.

"Yes you can. You can tell me to leave at any time." Jolia said sadly. "If you do, you will sleep until you can move again. Then you will be free in this room. The Force has been denied to you and the helmet on your head will prevent you from using your abilities to escape or hurt yourself. But after all the evil you have undergone at the hands of our predecessors, the least we can do is try to be gentle."

"I honestly don't know what to think." Sara said after a moment. "I am not stable, Jolia." She said quietly. "I am dangerous."

"I know." Jolia said sadly. "And it is our fault. You are a prisoner, Sara, but..." The Twi'lek started to cry. "Please don't make us hurt you again. Please. I beg you, let me help as I can." She sat back waiting for Sara's reply.

"I..." Sara sighed and relaxed what she could which wasn't much. "I won't hurt you. I won't cooperate with you but I won't fight either. And... If anyone tries to drug me or experiment on me again, I will kill them or die trying."

"No one will, Sara." Jolia said sadly. "The plan has changed. Now we are trying to undo the messes we have made. Can you feel anything more? Are you hungry?"

"I can feel more and pains and needles say I will be feeling even more shortly. But as to hungry? Not really." Sara said evenly. "The drugs that you all use for the surgery always make me nauseous."

"Oh?" Jolia paused, unsure. "Damn it! I... Ok I'll see what I can do...Hmmm..." She laid the back of her hand on Sara's forehead and shook her head, lekku flaring in her distress. "Let me see..."

"Why don't you just check the implants?" Sara asked, curious despite herself. "And you have to have scanners monitoring me and the suit."

"You only have the suit ports for nourishment and excrement. You only have the one brain implant. A personal touch helps to promote calm. As for scanners? We don't." Jolia said gently as she took Sara's wrist in a professional grip to check the girl's pulse. "You can detect them. We wanted to make it as gentle as we could. We didn't want to put an IV in, but you badly needed the fluids. I will take it out in a moment after I finish checking your vitals. How bad is the nausea? And the drugs always did this?" She asked curiously.

"Bad. I was never going to show weakness, Jolia." Sara said with a small smile. "Yes, always, from the moment I can remember."

"Well, you have a high grade fever." Jolia said slowly as she finished her checks. "You need nourishment. And if you are nauseous, solid food is right out. How about some soup? Think you can keep that down?" Sara looked at her and the Twi'lek shrugged. "Yes, I am going to connect the food module directly to your suit's stomach port, but if your stomach is upset it can cause vomiting and that would cause all kinds of issues if you start regurgitating."

"Ick... Yeah...I..." Sara broke off, her face going slack.

"Sara?" Jolia asked and then blanched as Sara started to convulse. "No! Oh crap! Sara! Easy... Easy... it's okay... Sara, it's okay, your brain is trying to reconnect itself. Easy..." She held the struggling girl down as Sara flailed. As weak as Sara was, it wasn't difficult. Sara gave a final jerk and collapsed. "Sara... Come on, Sara... Talk to me..." She froze as Sara's mouth opened and a different voice spoke.

"You cannot have her." The voice was odd. It was young and female, but it seemed to be multiple voices in one. "She is not yours. Leave her alone."

"Who am I speaking to?" Jolia asked carefully. The collective as whole held its breath.

"You will not take her." The voice replied. "She is ours and we are hers. You will not hurt her. You will not have her."

"We are trying not to hurt her." Jolia protested. "She is hurt, due to our actions. We need to help her. Can you? Whoever you are. Can you help her?"

"You cannot have her." The voice or voices said flatly. "Sleep, Sara, Mama..." Sara sank back into the bed as her body relaxed. "Your collective cannot have her." The voices sounded stern now.

"We won't." Jolia said gently. "We want to help. We have made mistakes, horrible mistakes. We were going to try and induct her, but... only to make sure she was never alone."

"Sara is not alone." The voice said solidly. "Leave her be."

"I..." Jolia shook her head and the collective surged to aid her. "I can't. We owe her. We must help her."

"Then die." A wave of...something hit Jolia and the world fell away.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
09.21.2012 , 01:37 PM | #3
"Ow..." Jolia's first thought on waking wherever she was, was to groan. That had hurt. "What the...?"

She looked around. She was standing in a large, open air amphitheater. The stage, the seating , all were made of rock and far larger than human sized. The ground was covered in grass. But... She blanched, a small form lay curled up nearby . A human child. From the sobs, a terrified one.

"Child?" Jolia asked slowly, looking around., "What is wrong?" The little human did not respond and Jolia knelt down, Karen's memories of how to handle scared and hurting kids came to the fore. Jolia acknowledged the collective's presence with a smile but her focus was on the little...girl? Yes, it was a little human girl. Maybe five or six. "Are you hurt?" Jolia asked, her tone comforting. "I can help." She reached out a slow hand to comfort, to console, but then...

"Get away from her." A hard voice sounded and Jolia froze as other forms appeared nearby. Human, small, garbed in white suits like the one she had worn and... All had black hair and green eyes! The collective as whole hissed in shock and fear as they recognized the beings. More than forty small white garbed forms now surrounded the Twi'lek who had frozen in fear.

"Oh..." Jolia froze in place. "Dear..." These were the children that Naj Orh had made, the clones of Sara and Will Kalenath that the insane pirate had intended as her method of revenge against the Republic. All of whom were incredibly dangerous. The Twi'lek held up empty hands. "I am not your enemy."

"Yes, you are." One of the children stepped forward, another little girl. "You serve the monster that created us. Get back. Kina... Help Sara." A smallish Twi'lek strode from the masses of white garbed forms and bent over the still sobbing girl. Jolia retreated a step, aware that she was surrounded now.

"I..." Jolia licked her lips and spoke evenly. "We want to help her. We hurt her. The master and his minions hurt her. We owe her. The collective that I belong to would not exist without what Sara went through."

"And that makes it right?" The girl asked coldly as she started for where Jolia stood, frozen. "The fact that YOU are happy now makes it fine to torture people as long as you are happy?"

"No." Jolia said sadly. "If you are going to hurt me, I will not resist. What was done to Sara, what was done to you all...Was wrong." She sighed and knelt, bowing her head. "I cannot change the past. We cannot change the past. What was done was wrong and evil, and no matter what I wish, I cannot change that. You had no choice in your lives, Sara had no choice in hers. Naj Orh was off her rocker. The plan was always to find ways to transfer people's minds into cloned Sitolon, not droids. The droids were... a stepping stone, I guess. A way to see how to transfer minds into other bodies. The Islanian techniques that the master discovered didn't work as intended. I..." She shook her head. "You won't believe me and I don't blame you in the slightest." Something slammed into her hard and she hit the ground. "Please! Help Sara if you can! Please!" She begged as pain hit her from multiple sides. The collective rushed to her aid, but she shooed it back, despite its cry of horror. "No! I have to prove I am not lying! That we do care!" She declared and then screamed as pain enveloped her.

A timeless pain filled moment later, a harsh voice sounded from nearby.

"Enough." Sara's voice was weak, but clear and the hands that had been holding her down while others were hurting her withdrew. Jolia opened her eyes to see Sara's small form cradled in the arms of the other Twi'lek who was crooning softly. But Sara's eyes were clear and her scrutiny was on Jolia. "What do you want, slave?"

"I want to help you." Jolia said sadly. She hissed as she tried to move and pain flared in her arms and legs. She had multiple broken bones. "We... want to help. You -all of you- have suffered so much. We want to help." Jolia begged. "I want to help. Please let me help."

"By bringing us into your collective." The little girl in front shook her head. Her face was splattered with some of Jolia's blood, making her look a lot less childish. "Not going to happen. She is ours and we are hers."

"If we could ease her -you all- that way, we would." Jolia said sadly. "But we cannot. We are responsible for the sins of our predecessors. We must help to atone for what was done. Please, let us."

"No." Sara said evenly. "We cannot trust you."

"Fine." A new voice sounded nearby and Jolia blanched as Firdlump appeared just outside the ring of white garbed forms. "Then we do it the hard way." His voice was sorrowful as he raised his hands. The ring of clone children reformed, facing him. "I will be gentle, and none of you will remember this."

"Flarg!" Sara Kalenath was out of the other Twi'lek's arms and clad in brown Bladeborn armor, a sword in hand, before her expletive finished echoing. "You!" She screamed as all of the white garbed kids produced weapons as well.

"Not anatomically possible." Firdlump said sadly. "Jolia, be ready to ease them as I subdue them. They will be very confused, and..." He broke off as each and every white garbed for... -including the other Twi'lek!- changed! Where children had stood, now a host of Sitolon stood, weapons at the ready. "What the hell?" Firdlump snapped. "What have you done?"

"You can't have them, Firdlump." Sara said sadly. "They are Ecmin's now. Not mine. You cannot access them through my mind anymore."

"That is not..." Jolia shook her head. "Sara, wait, please... Don't do anything rash...Something is wrong..." She said dubiously. Then she screamed as power flared into her mind and the collective vanished from it. "What? No!" She begged as all eyes turned to her. "No! Give them back!" She screamed. "Give them back!" She repeated as she collapsed in a heap, sobbing as she cast out with her mind, seeking the solace she had felt moments before. "No..." She keened.

"What the-?" Firdlump snapped, "Jolia? What happened?"

"It's a trap!" Jolia screamed as forms started appearing all around them amphitheater. Black and brown garbed forms. And one blue transparent one. The force ghost raised a hand and Jolia collapsed to the ground, keening as pain stabbed through her again.

"Ulaha?" Sara asked softly, unsure, and then she collapsed to the ground, screaming in identical agony. "Kids! run!" Sara managed to scream and the Sitolon host around the area winked out.

"I am sorry, Sara." Ulaha said sadly. "It is for the best. Just relax, it will be swift."

"What are you doing?" Sara grated out as another blue transparent form appeared nearby. Hawkir Strum's face was sad as he strode towards her. "Stay...away..."

"We are saving the galaxy, Sara." Hawkir said as he knelt beside her. "The only way we can. Rest, Sara. You have more than earned it." He touched her on the temple and gentle power flowed into her, easing her pain, calming her nerves, slowing her... slowing her rhythms and shutting them down. Killing her gently.

"Sara! No!" Firdlump cried as hr surged forward, but power from the assembled Jedi and Sith threw him back. "You do not know what you are doing!" He cried. "You will kill her!"

"After everything she went through from your slaves, Firdlump..." Hawkir said with a scowl. "This is far more gentle and merciful. Sleep Sara, may your next life..." He broke off as another form appeared in the area, this on black armored and angry. Will Kalenath did not speak, he fired. The bolt from the soldier's weapon hit Sara square on the forehead and threw her away from the Jedi's grasp. "No!" Hawkir snapped, but the armored form was gone. "No..." Hawkir was crying now as he gathered up the still form. "No, Sara... No..."

"You lose." Firdlump said nastily as he vanished as well. He appeared in the room beside Sara's bed where Jolia was working feverishly. "Jolia?" He could feel her again in the collective as it raced to help her and him cope with what had just happened.

"Her body lives, Master." Jolia said slowly. "But... His shot terminated her brain functions." She started to cry. "Why?" She begged. "She is an empty shell now. Just a shell..." She cried as she brushed the brain dead girl's cheek. "Wait..." She paused in her grief as something flared under her fingers. "Master!" She smiled as she sensed something under her fingers. Something small, scared and hurting.

"I feel it, Jolia. I think I understand. Sara uses a lot of her brain. Much more than a normal human. His shot damaged her mind, it didn't destroy it." Firdlump said, his expression lightening as he too felt the small tremor within the girl's brain. "We can help her recover and we will. Welcome home, sister, daughter Sara." His finger twisted and metal curved around her head, providing protection as well as an entry point for Sara into the collective. Sara jerked and her eyes opened, focusing on Jolia who smiled kindly at the girl.

"I..." Sara said slowly. "What?" Her voice was childlike now. "Mom?"

"Your mom is dead, Sara." Jolia said sadly as she gathered the now sobbing girl up in her arms. "But I won't let anything else happen to you. Come home, Sara. come with us, let us help you."

"Mom..." Sara cried onto Jolia's shoulder as the collective raced to help their newest sister. "I am scared..."

"I am not your mom, Sara." Jolia said as she hugged the crying girl. "But I can be your step mom..."
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
09.22.2012 , 02:39 AM | #4
<the next day>

"How bad...?" Firdlump asked softly as Karen finished her work. "That shot should have killed her, destroyed her mind. It should have left her an empty shell at the very best." The doctor shook her head and pulled the scanners away from Sara's bandaged head.

"Ah Sara..." Karen gently stroked the sleeping girl's check with a hand and Sara sighed in her sleep. "As near as I can tell, she lost almost a third of her memory. I can't tell what parts, we can only hope it was the earliest memories. What she has lost may come back, the mind is a tricky thing. She will have bits and pieces, and she will likely have a hard time fitting those bits and pieces together. We cannot push her, master. She has to recover at her own speed." Karen said with a glower.

"I know." Firldump said with a sigh. "Or she will wind up like Nia." He shuddered a bit and Karen looked sick. "My fault doctor, not yours. You warned me, and I disregarded your warnings. I will find a way to help Nia. I just... don't know how yet."

"Vandar is trying some things." Karen said slowly. "I don't know a lot about the Force, but I do know it can help in hopeless cases. Having Nia wake up insane...was...bad." She bowed her head in grief.

She gulped in memory. It had been very bad. They had all expected Nia to fight, to scream, to resist. Not to just...lie there and cry. She hadn't heard anything they had said, hadn't responded to any of their attempts at communication. She just lay on her bed and cried. Vandar had scanned her mind with the Force and broken down crying himself. The Nia they had known had shattered into a billion pieces and her mind was lost. She was alive, her body lived, but her mind was gone.

"I know, doctor." Firdlump said sadly. "I know. But we need Sara. We need her badly. Sharra could go at any time, and we need Sara to replace her."

"Master..." Karen said slowly. "I... I can't..." She stroked the sleeping girl's cheek again and then shook her head. "We can't do that to her." The entire collective murmured their assent.

"Karen..." Firdlump said quietly. "Without Sharra, we have no chance when -not if, when- Kalenath attacks us again. He can and will destroy everything we have created. We need her to coordinate our fleet. Start the prep, I will have a pod ready to go for her shortly-" He broke off as Karen shook her head. "Karen..."

"Master..." Karen said slowly, feeling each word with care. "Sharra was dying. It was one thing with her. We needed her and she was dying and it kept her alive. This..." Karen shook her head. "I can't, master. Not a child. Sara is not even sixteen. I can't. Not after everything else that was done to her."

"Karen..." Firdlump had a sick look on his face now. "Don't make me order this."

"I can't do this." Karen said as tears started to fall. "I can't put a kid in that thing. Sara may be a teenager, but she is still a kid, especially now. Naj Orh did that, Bella Tiner did that. I.... I can't..."

"Karen." Firdlump's voice was gentle but adamant. "Do as I say."

"I can't do that to a child, master." Karen said slowly, backing away from the table. Then she shrieked in pain and fear. "Ah! No! No! Sara! No!"

"You will obey." Firdlump's voice was mild as Karen backed another step away from the surgical table. "You will."

"I..." Karen staggered and fell to one knee, shaking her head. "I can't!" She wailed. "Not..." She screamed again as blood started trickling from her nose. "Not a child..."

"She is not your Eran, doctor." Firdlump said evenly. "You will put her in the pod and wipe her memory. She will ensure total control over the collective which has become restive of late. She will be the template for master control units that will go to every star system."

"You..." Karen shook her head as she struggled against something that couldn't be seen. "It was never about communication. It was always about control. You did order the Bladeborn to kill the clones..." She screamed again, her body falling to the floor. "No! I won't!" She shrieked. "Brothers! Sisters! Help!" She shouted.

"They cannot hear you." Firdlump said mildly as he knelt down by Karen's writhing form. "And now that I have Sara Kalenath, this farce ends."

"Farce?" Karen asked, trying to get away from the hand he stretched out to her head. "No!" she gasped.

"Yes, Karen." Firldump said gently. "A farce. Almost everything that has happened has been according to plan. Sara was the goal all along. A master control unit for the collective. I will keep it gentle, keep it kind and pleasant. But I will also keep it under control. And with her..." He broke off as something in the room changed. He spun in place to see Sara Kalenath sitting up on the table, her face expressionless.

"All lies." Sara's face was empty, and her eyes were closed. "You... Lied to us all."

"It was needed." Firdlump said softly as his power reached out for Sara, only to be rebuffed. "What? No!"

"You..." Sara's eyes opened and her expression was sad. "You did all of this... to get me?" Her voice was incredulous. "To use me to hurt other people? People who have shown me care and affection? People who want to love me?"

"Sara..." Firldump said uneasily. "Be calm."

"I am." Sara said slowly. "For the first time in the memories I can access, I am. I know what I have to do. Nia!" She screamed. "Help us!"

"Nia cannot hear you." Firdlump said evenly. "She is busy trying to find her way out of the maze in her mind I put her in."

"You..." Karen gasped in pain. "You did that to her? Why?" She asked, crying.

"She is too dangerous." Firdlump said evenly. "She is a loose cannon, and we need stability now. She will rejoin us once this current mess is over and I have a chance to 'adjust' her thinking a bit.. 8410-4 subdue the erring members of the collective." Karen and Sara both screamed and collapsed as power flowed into them.

"Sara, Karen, I am sorry." Sharra Kalenath's voice from the intercom was desolate as she pummeled them. "I can't disobey."

"No, you can't..." Sara snapped as she slowly rose back into a sitting position. She rolled off the table as restraints tried to click shut around her and darted for the door. "But I won't let you win, monster! Not after all of this!" Power wreathed her as she ran for the door on unsteady feet. Karen fell to the floor, writhing in agony as Sara made it to the door. "Nia!" Sara screamed as she hit the door control. Nothing happened. "Wake up!" Then she collapsed.

"You are going nowhere, Sara Kalenath." Firdlump said slowly as he walked to where she was curled up, gasping in pain. "Relax. In a few minutes, you will not remember any of this. Your pain and fear will be gone, replaced by duty. Easy girl..." He crooned gently as he picked her up and carried her back to the table. He set her down and straightened her limbs. Restraints clicked closed and he stepped back as surgical droids powered up. "I would have preferred you do this, Karen. You have a gentler touch than I do. But I can do it." An anesthesia mask lowered itself and latched around Sara's nose and mouth as she gasped. "Sleep Sara." Everything stopped as the door to the medical bay hissed open. Standing there...

"Leave..." Nia Korr Kalenath looked terrible, her face was a mask of tears. The bandages on her head were dirty, but her eyes were clear as she stepped into the room, holding a small form in her arms. Kili was crying. "My aunt... Alone!"

"Nia?" Firdlump said, shocked. "What? How?"

"You were going to enslave us." Karen said slowly. "After everything we have done, worked with, through...All the things we have done." The doctor said slowly. "It was all a lie."

"It was needed." Firdlump said evenly as he moved to block Nia. "Now that I have the master control unit, it is no longer needed."

"I see." Karen said sadly. "And me?" She said slowly unsure.

"You will continue to serve." Firdlump said calmly. "You will make assimilation much easier. People trust you. Don't fight Karen."

"No." Karen said soberly. "I won't." Then she sighed. She pulled a laser scalpel from a belt pouch, thrust it deep into her eye where the armor did not cover, pressed the trigger panel and...died.

"What the-?" Firdlump snapped as Karen fell still. He jerked from the feedback of her death arcing through his systems. "I will bring you back doctor and we will discuss this in detail." He turned a fulminating glare on Nia who stood, impassive. Kili quailed in Nia's arms, but did not struggle. "She will serve."

"No she won't." Nia said sadly. "You were going to take free will from her, use her to hurt children. She chose otherwise. She knew the controls you put in her would stop her, given time. So she didn't give you time. We will miss her."

"We?" Firdlump asked, suddenly wary.

"Sara broadcast what you said to every collective member on this ship." Nia said quietly. "She doesn't have the range to reach the others as doped up as she is. Kili woke me up and pulled me in." She smiled at the small bundle in her arms. "Thank you, Kili." Kili smiled at Nia and then glared at Firdlump.

"This changes nothing." Firldump said quietly. "8410-4. Subdue the collective on this ship." Nothing happened and he stared at Nia and then he blanched. "8410-4! Respond!" No response came and he turned an incredulous glare at Nia. "What have you done??" He demanded.

"Stopped you." Nia said, tears falling. "The only way I could. I did what Sharra begged me to do. I killed her. I killed my adopted mom. You...!" She shook her head and lowered Kili to the floor. The little girl immediately crawled away as Nia turned her glare full force on Firdlump. She spoke through clenched teeth. "Let's take this... somewhere a little more private..."

"Nia! No!" Firldump screamed as the world twisted around them. Suddenly they stood on the gray plain. "Nia... calm down..."

"I am through being calm." Nia said in a quiet and dangerous voice. "I am through being nice. I am Nia Korr Kalenath of the Bladeborn and you... " She held out her hands and a sword appeared in her right and a lightsaber in the left. "You are dead!" She screamed as she blurred into motion.

"Nia!" Firdlump cried desperately as she charged. "Don't!" He backpedaled as she cleaved the air where he had been. Somehow he knew if she connected to him here, it would not be good. "Vandar! Stop her!"

"Why?" The Jedi master asked snidely as he appeared nearby, his arms crossed in front of him and his expression disgusted. "We are all just pawns to be used and discarded, aren't we?"

"You..." Firldump retreated again, a blade appearing one hand and fell power gathering in his other. "You did this..."

"No. You did this all to yourself." Vandar said quietly. "I merely set a rock rolling, a long time ago. Had no idea why at the time, just that it had to start rolling. She never knew who I was. It was just after you brought me back, after you adjusted me and let me loose to serve you. That rock's name was Mira. You know, Will and Nia's ancestor? The smallest pebble in the right place at the right time can move a mountain. That pebble has since turned into an avalanche. One that is going to roll right over you. Nia... I am ready." Nia did not acknowledge him, simply cut with her vibro blade. The ancient green skinned Jedi Master did not defend himself. Indeed, he fell without a sound, although his face held triumph.

"No!" Fidlump screamed and then paused as blue transparent form appeared nearby. Jedi Master Tokare Vandar's face was sad. "Vandar..."

"Old saying, monster." The Jedi spirit said gently. "'You reap what you sow'. You have used me and so many others to sow hatred, anger, sadness, fear, and pain. And now you are going to reap that harvest. Thank you, Nia Korr Kalenath, Warrior of the Bladeborn, may the Force be with you." His gratitude was heartfelt. "Tell Morey, I am sorry."

"I will. May Ashla be with you, Jedi Master Tokare Vandar." Nia said formally as Vandar's spirit vanished. "Now... Where were we?" She asked snidely as Firdlump recoiled bit from her fiery visage.

"I don't want to destroy you, girl." Firdlump said slowly. "But I will. Surrender. Now."

"No." Nia said flatly as she readied herself.

"Fine." Firdlump sighed and suddenly the air around them was alive with forms from nightmare. All tentacles and teeth, the predators of the plain swarmed to the power Nia was exuding. For her part, Nia just smiled. "What are you grinning at?" Firdlump demanded.

"A stupid machine." Nia said with a wide smile as she cast out with her mind and suddenly she did not stand alone. A dozen robed forms stood with her, some in black robes, some in brown, all had sabers in hand and all faced Firdlump and the predators without fear. "Shall we?" Nia asked the Twi'lek that was composed of blue energy that appeared beside her. Nia's smile turned feral at Firdlump's expression.

"Let's." Ulaha said as a blue lightsaber ignited in her hands. Hawkir Strum's form was also composed of blue energy as he stood on Nia's other side, his green double saber igniting as well, his face impassive. Nira Auralai's red blade ignited beside him. Blue, green, magenta, orange and red blades ignited all around as Jedi and Sith seers charged the enemy. All led by an incandescently furious young Bladeborn.
My stories in order:
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kalenath
09.23.2012 , 03:01 AM | #5
"Ah..." Sara could not move as the machinery around her started to close in, but then a blaster sounded and the droids flew backwards. She looked up and smiled a little around the mask. "Gev...?"

"I am here, Sara." Kunda Gev said quickly as he came in and started unstrapping her. "What the hell is going on?" He was wearing the armor he had worn when captured, a bit the worse for wear now from being in carbonite. He undid her arm restraints and she started pulling others loose.

"Firdlump is going to use me to take control of everyone, Gev." Sara said as she finished undoing the restraints she could reach and waited impatiently for him to undo the rest. "I... It doesn't all make sense..." She said soberly. "I lost some memory when Will shot me. I remember asking him to keep me from becoming a threat. This qualifies."

"I..." Gev shook his head. "I can feel everyone in the collective, but..." He shook his head. "It is different. What?"

"It is clear now?" Sara asked slowly. "Yes, yes it is. Ah..." She shook herself and staggered to where a tiny form lay crying. "Ah Kili... No, no, it's okay, girl... I know they were scary. Heck, Nia scares me. I know things are not as nice as they were. Easy, Kili... Easy..." She crooned and the tiny female slowly relaxed. "We need to talk to Mari. Now."

"Sara, what is going on?" Gev asked as she rose unsteadily to her feet, cradling the child protectively. "I am fuzzy... I..." He shook his head, trying to clear it.

"I know." Sara said sadly. "I... Gev..." She gasped as her legs wobbled. The hunter held out his arms, giving Sara support. "I am not... I am not healed... I can move, but not fast."

"Where to?" Gev asked. "I mean... anywhere we try and flee, the other ships will catch us or shoot us down."

"Is Mari here?" Sara asked as she staggered forward, grateful for the support that Gev was giving her.

"She is, Sara." The door opened and Jolia was there with a wheeled chair. Sara smiled gratefully as she handed Jolia her daughter and collapsed into it. "But... what can she do?"

"I am not sure. I hope she can take control from me." Sara said slowly. "Before Firdlump does."

"Sara..." Jolia said quietly. "Firdlump implanted Mari, significantly. More than you or Istara even."

"Then we need to free her first." Sara paused. "Wait... Istara... Is she...?"

"She is unconscious, Sara. We undid the restraints and sedation." Jolai said sadly. "Miesh is trying to wake her now."

"No!" Sara said in horror. "Get Miesh out of there!" Sara exclaimed. "Now!"

"Sara? What?" Jolia asked as she conveyed the message. A heartfelt 'W-T-H' was felt through the collective, but Meish acquiesced. "She will be here in a moment, you need help."

"No." Sara said slowly. "If Mari is...suborned... Then I need to wake Istara. If anyone else does it, she will lash out, with the Force or whatever is at hand. She can and will kill anyone who wakes her if she is free. I..." She gasped as something hurt, but she forced herself to remain upright in the chair as Jolia pushed her along. "Nia cannot stop Firdlump alone, but she can delay him. We have... some time." Sara said as she sagged a little.

"Sara..." A female Mon Calamari in nurse's attire came up and looked the hurt girl over. "What can we do?"

"You have all been so nice to me." Sara said sadly. "And I... I..." To her horror, she started to cry. "He will take me, use me to remove what vestiges of free will you all have left. I can't... I can't let that happen."

"Sara." Meish bent down to give the sobbing girl a squeeze. "It's okay. We see now. He... It seemed so clear, but it wasn't. We will help." A murmur of assent went through the collective. "Tell us what you need."

"I need to talk to Istara alone." Sara said sadly and then calmed. "I need to be there when she wakes. And then I need the strongest neurotoxin you have on hand. Enough dosage for someone my size." Everyone recoiled from Sara's calm tone. The entire collective aboard hissed in horrified denial. Kili started to cry. Miesh and Jolia both looked like they wanted to cry.

"Sara..." Gev said slowly. "I... We can't kill you."

"You don't have a choice. If I am alive when he comes back..." Sara said evenly. "He will put me in the pod Sharra was in. I won't be able to resist his commands. He can and will enslave everyone here through me. You all can feel me, right?" She asked. The collective didn't want to answer her, but they did. The mental touch was confused, scared and sad. "I won't let him. My kids, the ones who hurt you Jolia -sorry about that-..."

"Not their fault." Jolia said quietly. "I -we- don't blame them for the response."

"You are a better person than I am, Jolia." Sara said sadly. "The clones that Special Branch made of me and Will are free. They have all transferred into Sitolon, but... I share a connection with them. And through them, to the Sitolon hivemind." A hiss of horror seeped through Sara's mind into the collective and Sara nodded. "I am wide open due to what he had Karen do to me. It was never about communication." She said sadly.

"It was about control." Jolia said slowly, speaking for the entire collective. "Sara... I..."

"I need to talk to Istara." Sara said, calming herself. "And then I need that poison. Please. Miesh, Jolia. Do I need to beg?" Kili cried loud and long and agitated until Jolia laid her in Sara's lap. The waif snuggled close to Sara and Sara held the small Twi'lek gently. "I am sorry, Kili. It is the only way."

No Sara. A voice spoke in her head. From the looks of the others, everyone in the collective heard it. There is another way.

"No there isn't Sarai." Sara said sadly. "I want to stay alive. I want to help you and your people rebuild your world. But I can't. I am a threat. To everyone here and everyone in your hivemind. I won't make you kill me, but I have to die."

No you don 't, Sara. The voice of the Sitolon queen was gentle and sad. You don't have to die, you just have to change.

"Into a Sitolon?" Sara asked, unsure. "That... That wouldn't help, would it? I would still be a wide open conduit and master control unit. Sarai... I am sorry." Sara told her sister. "But ..."

No. You have time, Sara. Sarai said gently. Firdlump will be occupied for a while. Talk to Istara. Take care of my sister and her battle kin, please? She asked the collective.

"We will, Queen Sarai." Jolia said aloud for all of them. "She is precious to us as well."

"I..." Sara broke off, overcome.

"Come on, Sara." Meish said as she started the chair off again. "Istara will be waking shortly and I think your modules need replacing." She paused and blanched. "Sara! Stay awake!"

"Huh?" Sara jerked. She had been nodding off. "Wha-?"

"Damn him!" Miesh said sharply as she scrutinized a hand held scanner. "He started a wipe! He wasn't supposed to have! You were not ready!" Miesh wailed. "I..." She reached for the silver helmet that Sara wore and paused. "I... I have to stop it. Sara, stay awake."

"Meish..." Sara felt so heavy now. Her eyelids felt so heavy. "I feel..."

Sara... Miesh's terrified voice sounded in her head. The collective pressed close now, easing her, but also stimulating her nerves sharply, keeping her awake. If you sleep, you will lose yourself. Your mind will be wiped clean. You will become the slave you fear. Let us help you, please Sara. Stay awake.

"I..." Sara shook herself, but the lethargy was growing. "I am afraid."

"We know." Jolia said as she came close. "But we won't let anything happen to you, Sara. Come on girl, stay with us. Stay awake."

"This is going to hurt, Sara." Miesh said, readying a hypo. "I can't do it any other way."

"Whatever you are going to do..." Sara slurred. "Hurry..."

"Gev." Meish commanded, her deference gone in a medical emergency. "Hold her, but carefully. She can and will hurt you reflexively if you let her. Jolia, take Kili and get back." Kili complained as her mother grabbed her, but subsided as Sara smiled at her. Gev took hold of Sara's arms holding them carefully. He trapped Sara's legs in a complicated twist that prevented her from having any easy targets. "Ready?" Miesh asked, the hypo in hand.

"Arm or neck?" Sara asked. Then her eyes went wide as Miesh shook her head and did something that opened the front of Sara's odd suit over her chest. "Ah..."

"It has to be directly to the heart, Sara." Meish stood ready and nodded to Gev. "Gev, as soon as I hit her with it, get back. Fast. The dose of wake up juice I am going to give her would wake up a Wampa, let alone a human girl. She can and will hurt either of us if we are in reach. She won't be able to stop herself I bet." Gev stared at the medic and then at Sara and his face was a study.

"Ah..." Gev nodded and set himself, holding Sara in the chair. "Ready."

"Miesh... Hurry..." Sara said, her eyes closing. "I can't..."

"Once you are fully awake, I can work on the wipe chemicals, stop them and get the helmet off. Hold on, Sara. This is really gonna hurt." Miesh said as she hit the girl's sternum with the hypo and hit the injection key.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
09.23.2012 , 08:05 PM | #6
<A few somewhat tense minutes later>

Sara was wired. She was so jazzed from what Miesh had given her that it took all of her limited control not to jump up out of the chair she was sitting in and start doing jumping jacks. She was reciting the Bladeborn Code under her breath when she saw Istara twitch slightly.

"Istara?" Sara asked slowly. "Are you... Um... Sorry, Grandmaster..." She rose from the chair and knelt. "I have a request."

"Sara." Istara's voice was flat. "What?" She paused, Sara could feel the hivemind talking to Istara, but was careful not to listen in. "Sara?" Istara's voice turned horrified. "Oh no, Sara...You are part of his collective now... " She sat up, then paused, looking at herself. She wore a patient gown, and was not restrained. Meish had removed what implants she could, which wasn't many. "Ah... this is not... What did you want, Sara?" Istara asked as she sat back.

"Grandmaster, I need to die." Sara said quietly. "I request the Order's permission to end my own life."

"What?" Istara demanded, rising a bit and then hissing as she covered her abdomen protectively. "Darn it all...What the? Who are you?" She demanded as she looked behind Sara.

"Your baby is fine, Grandmaster Istara." Miesh said as she stood behind Sara. "I am not an obstetrician, but I do have a great deal of knowledge available at the moment. I did what I could. My name is Miesh. My life is yours if you so wish."

"Miesh..." Sara groaned as the Mon Cal nurse slowly knelt and bowed her head. Istara stared from one to the other, a mix of wonder and worry in her eyes. "She would have to be given a lot more reason. You are not armed, and she is not a prisoner now. Bladeborn are not all mindless slavering... Um... Uh..." Sara realized she was babbling. She broke off and blanched. "My apologies, Grandmaster."

"What did you give her?" Istara asked Miesh. "She is not usually this...perky."

"A hefty dose of adrenaline and some epinephrine." Miesh said slowly. "We had to keep her awake while we removed the slave helmet that was attached to her. Otherwise her mind would have been wiped clean. That rat bastard was going to blank slate her." Miesh said with hate directed at the former master of the collective.

"Miesh." Sara said warningly. "Show respect."

"She is." Istara said mildly. "She is boss on her turf. Ona and Jon are the same way. Sara..." Her eyes were glistening as she looked at Sara. "I can't give you that permission. I promised your mom."

"Istara..." Sara's voice was horrified now. "If you don't.... Eventually he will break loose from whatever Nia and the others are doing on the plain to keep him occupied. When he does, he will take me again. He will wipe me, use me to control the collective and access the hivemind. The conduit in me to Sarai will allow him access. He will take control. This was his plan all along. Istara, please..." She begged.

"Oh Sara..." Istara said sadly. "Come here." She patted the bed beside her. Sara rose and slowly walked to the bed. She sat carefully. She was unprepared for Istara to pull her into an embrace.

"Istara!" Sara tried not to move as Istara held her tight. "No! The baby! I... No..."

"Oh Sara..." Istara said sadly. "I wanted you to leave with Ona. I wanted you to get away. I didn't know why, just that you would be in terrible danger if you stayed." She started rocking the young girl as Sara started to cry. "But you wouldn't leave me."

"Didn't know." Sara gasped out. "Wanted to help. Instead, I let him win." She shuddered and the floodgates opened. Miesh looked at Istara and Istara's face was sad.

"He hasn't won yet, Sara." Istara said gently. "Sarai told me what she told you. There is another way."

"I can't, Istara." Sara said through her tears. "I can't do this anymore. I...I can't."

"Nurse?" Istara asked as Sara collapsed in her arms. "A sedative?"

"We can't." Miesh said sadly. "There are too many other drugs in her system as it is. They need some time to be adsorbed or neutralized. If I give her anything else..." The Mon Cal made a face.

"I understand." Istara said soberly as she held Sara's sobbing form. "Can you give us a moment... On second through... We will need you." She said slowly.

"Me? I would like to help, but..." Meish said slowly. "I know nothing of the Force except that it exists and works for people like you and Sara." She froze as Istara held out a slow hand. "Ah..."

"Your collective needs to hear this too, and Sara is too distraught to hear what I say." Istara said sadly. "I am going to get someone else in here to help calm her down. And then we will need your help."

"Anything I can do." Meish said slowly as she reached out to take Istara's hand. Her hand quivered a bit, but it strengthened when Istara just took her hand and gave a squeeze. "You scare me, but I want to help Sara."

"So do I." Istara said sadly as she pulled Miesh's unresisting from to the bed where the Mon Cal sat on Sara's other side. "Now... this is going to feel...weird."

"And the rest of this is normal for you?" Miesh asked with a laugh. "Geez..."

"I like you." Istara said with a smile. "Lie back, this can be a bit disorienting the first time." She laid the hand that wasn't holding Sara on the Mon Cal's head as Miesh lay back. Then suddenly the three of them were elsewhere. They were sitting on a couch in a comfortable looking room. Miesh stared around. The room would not have been out of place in any slightly backwoods retreat. An honest to goodness log fire burned in a fireplace, thick rugs covered the floor, and paintings hung on the walls. Two other chairs were the only other furniture in the room. It also had no doors or windows, Miesh noticed.

"What the-?" Meish said after a moment of shock. "This isn't the plain. I have been there."

"No." Istara said gently. "Be glad. Nia and her allies are tearing Firdlump a new one there. The whole plain is ringing like a bell. We are expecting... Yes..." Istara smiled. "Hello, Mira. Are we ready?"

"Just about ready, Istara." A small form appeared nearby. The little girl had been crying. "Oh Sara."

"Who?" Miesh asked slowly. "Oh... Mira..." Miesh started crying. "I am sorry. I am so sorry, Mira."

"Not your fault, Ma'am." The Seventh of the Seven said sadly. "I remember you. You and Karen were kind to me. You had no way of breaking the illusions that held you. I... Karen?" She asked, forlornly. Miesh shook her head and Mira bowed hers. "She was a good woman. She was kind to me. I will not forget her."

"None of us will. She was a good woman." Meish agreed. "A clone, a copy and still a good woman."

"You need to get back, Mira." Istara said sternly. "You have therapy."

"Yeah..." Mira grumped. "Going back into my body sucks after all this. It's been lying in that tank or a bed for the last few months. I hate not being able to move"

"Yeah, but Sarai's people have figured out how to disable the holocron." Istara said with a smile. "You will put up with everything to see your mom and sister again. Right?"

"True." Mira looked away for a moment and then nodded. "We are ready, Istara."

"Ready for what?" Miesh asked slowly. "Sara has had a number of shocks today. She is tough, but I don't know how much more she can handle."

"This will be a shock." Istara said sadly. "But she will need to face it. We know a way for her to change, but it will not be easy or quick."

"I don't have access to any of those DNA things." Miesh said with shudder. "And I have no idea how to use them either."

"You are over-thinking this, Nurse Miesh." Istara said gently as she consoled Sara. "There is a way to change a human female without altering her body externally. A time honored way." Miesh stared at the Grandmaster without comprehension for a moment and then her eyes went wide.

"Great Kraken..." Miesh invoked the goddess of her ancestors. "You cannot be serious." Istara just shrugged and Miesh shook her head. "That is...brilliant or crazy. I am not sure which."

"Both." A new voice sounded nearby and a black furred Bothan appeared in the room. "Oh Shar, Sara..." The female started crying as soon as she entered. "Damn it, Shar! You shouldn't have sent me away!"

"Ona, I had to." Istara said sadly. "Your kids needed you. Speaking of them, is he coming?"

"He is." Ona said with a frown. "They are easing him into the pod." Then she grinned. "I did it, so he has to prove he can."

"You make a heck of a momma, Ona." Istara said with a grin. "Ah, here we are..." She said as a dark haired human male appeared nearby. "Hello Chase."

"Grandmaster." The human with odd eyes said slowly.

"Let me get through to her." Istara said with a sigh. "She is...a bit distraught. Ah..." She sighed after a moment. "No, we are going to have to enter her mind. I hate doing it, but we have to. Come here." She patted the bed. Meish moved away to stand by Ona and Chase sat on the bed beside Sara and Istara. "Ona, you and Miesh monitor. Chase, stay back until I can talk to her..."

((A BIG thank you to Raven_Tyler for letting me borrow Chase for a guest appearance))
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
09.24.2012 , 03:01 AM | #7
Sara couldn't see anything through her tears. She couldn't feel anything except her pain and fear. She barely felt a comforting presence grow next to her. But then Istara crooned to her.

"Istara..." Sara said, crying, trying to get out of the Grandmaster's embrace. "Let me go. I have to go. I have to..." She never even realized when the scene shifted to a mindscape. One that was all jumbles of spiky red and clustered green. Sara's mind was a mess. The small open spot that Sara and Istara stood in was the only clear spot anywhere in view.

"No, Sara." Istara said kindly. "Someone wants to talk to you."

"I can't, Istara..." Sara started to say and then froze as a new presence appeared. "What...the...?"

Chase calmly walked into Sara's mind and spoke as quietly and calmly as he could. "Hello, Darling. Seems you're in a right state."

"C...Chase?" Sara said, shocked. "What? How..?"

"Mira wanted to help. Sarai wanted to help. Ona connected to the hivemind and let Chase borrow her link to the hivemind, Sara." Istara said gently. "You two need to talk." Sara stared at Istara and then recoiled.

"No!" Sara screamed. "No! Firdlump will take control of him! Of everyone! Through me! Get him away! No! I can't..."

"Chase, we have an option, but it will hurt her." Istara said to the newly come young human. "Talk to her, calm her if you can. We won't do anything without her consent."

Chase stepped close to Sara's mental projection of herself, took her hand and kissed it. "Sara.." Chase said, gentleness and love in his voice. "...Darling you need to calm down. Please."

"You don't understand, Chase..." Sara stiffened in her mind as he embraced her. "I am a control unit. All my life, all the horror, all the pain, I was being trained, molded into a control unit. To control other people against their will. Don't let me do it to you. I don't want to hurt you! Kill me! Please!" She begged, tears falling as she tried to retreat but he wouldn't let her go.

"No Sara." Istara said gently. "There is no need. Relax... Please...Listen to Chase."

Chase instantly wrapped his arms around Sara. He kissed the top of Sara's head. "Love...Istara has a plan. Please, Darling. Please listen to her."

Sara shook her head and Istara hugged her in the real world as Chase did in Sara's mind. "Chase... I..." Sara sobbed into his arms. "I can't take the chance. If he takes me, he can enslave everyone I can access. Which is everyone now... Even you. I can't take that chance, Chase. I am sorry, Chase. I love you, but..." Sara said sadly. "I want us to be together, but I don't see any way out of this."

"You are too close to the problem, Sara." Istara said gently. "And your brain is more of a mess than usual. Getting shot does that."

"Excuse me..." Chase said, looking at Istara. "Did you just say...?" Dark power flared in his eyes.

"I got shot." Sara said sadly as she hugged the man she loved. "I... I didn't die obviously. I am not okay, but I am alive, Chase. But..." She broke down again. "I can't... Istara, please let me die!"

"No. I promised your mom I wouldn't act precipitously and I won't." Istara said gently. "Chase, we have a plan. It is a long shot, but it is possible. She will not listen to us, maybe she will listen to you." Istara said sadly. "I won't kill her or let her suicide. I won't."

"I wouldn't either." Chase released Sara just slightly to look in her eyes. "Sara, you remember when we first got together? We both said "Mine" about the other?"

"Yeah..." Sara said with a sad smile. "You are just as crazy as I am..." She said with a slightly hysterical laugh.

"You know how close I am to falling, Love." Chase says with love and honestly. "And I know you don't want that to happen to me."

"No..." Sara said slowly. "No I don't. Chase... But... No...Don't ask this of me. Don't make me choose between you and everyone else I know and love, please..."

"He didn't Sara." Istara said sternly. "Listen to him, Sara. Please."

Chase whispered softly into Sara's ear. "Sara, there's a way to stop them from getting control of you. There's a way for you to stay alive...and with me."

"Yes there is, Sara. istara said gently. "But Chase, it will require a great sacrifice from both of you." Sara didn't respond, just hugged Chase tighter. Istara sighed and continued. "The only way any of us can see to keep Sara free is to change her." Istara said slowly. "But no one wants to change her into anything other than human. She has had enough upheavals in her life, and there is no way to know if she would survive or be sane if she changed into a Sitolon." Istara smiled gently. "But there is a time honored way to change a female human significantly." Istara said with a smile. "In all kinds of ways."

Chase looked at Istara, shock and understanding coating his features. "You...want...her pregnant?"

"No." Istara said sadly. "I don't. She is young. Too young by my standards or almost anyone's. I don't want this. I want her to be happy, to be free and to be with people who enjoy her company and give her love. I do not want this. But we think it may be her only chance. And ours."

"What? Me? I...But..." Sara for her part, just stared at Chase and then at Istara. Then understanding dawned. With it came horror. "No!" She screamed. "No! Never! I won't be unfaithful! Ever!" She hugged Chase tight.

Chase smiled. How couldn't he? The woman he loved wouldn't even be unfaithful to him to save her own life. But Chase always saw more than he let on and whispered. "They're not talking about you being unfaithful to me, Sara. They're talking about you taking over Istara's baby. I guess they don't think I'd make a good bio-dad." Chase chuckles jokingly.

"Actually you would." Istara said mildly. "But you are a few thousand light years from here at the moment. Kind of hard to knock her up at that distance. This will be temporary, but it will mess you up, Sara. Your hormones will go all out of whack again."

"Again...?" Sara asked dubiously. "Last time it was...unpleasant. Chase...?" She looked at her boyfriend. "Are you sure...?" Ona winced where she was. Miesh looked at her and Ona waved her to be silent.

"Oh Sara..." Chase, he felt Ona's connection wavering, leaned in and kissed Sara with the same kiss they first shared, one that spoke of love and faithfulness. Once the kiss was released, Chase smiles. "I am."

"I..." Sara felt the contact wavering and spoke quietly. "I love you Chase. Don't go anywhere. I will find you." Then her expression turned sly. "Then we can start a baby of our own." They kissed again and then Chase vanished. Ona smiled and vanished as well.

"Uh... Istara..." Miesh said slowly as Sara and Istara embraced. The mindscape vanished and they were back in the room they had been in. "You want me... to..." The Mon Cal shook her head. "Istara, I am nurse, not an OB-GYN."

"I know." Istara said gently. "Which is why Ona will advise. She has done it before, on me. Twice."

"So..." Sara said, calming. "Maternity ward?"

"Maternity ward." Istara agreed.

((Sara's relationship with Chase will be explained in another author's work. We are collaborating on it, and hope ot have it available some time soon. Raven_Tyler will be writing it as soon as his wife lets him. ))
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
09.24.2012 , 02:48 PM | #8
"Aw crap." The soft, horrified expletive drew Sara out of her doze. She was coming down off the massive dose of stimulants that Miesh had given her and she found herself dozing quite a bit. She wasn't worried though, Istara was there, right beside her on the examination bed. Even the medical gear that Meish had lowered around her abdomen didn't bother her but so much. She tensed along with Istara when they saw Meish's face. The nurse looked devastated. "I...Sara... Istara..."

"What is it, Miesh?" Istara asked calmly.

"We can't do it, Istara." Miesh said slowly. "You and Sara are too dissimilar. It wouldn't work. It would kill her or your kid or both. I..." The nurse was crying again. "I want to make this work. And I can't... Karen might have known how to work around this imbalance, but I don't." Sara looked at the nurse and nodded slowly. Istara looked poleaxed. "Sara... No... We can put you in stasis, carbonite, something, anything..." The nurse begged. "We have lost too much, hurt too many people, to lose you now, Sara. Please..."

"It's okay, Miesh." Sara said calmly. "I knew my life would be short from the first moment I remember. It's okay." She said as she sighed, relaxing her tense muscles.

"No it's not!" Miesh screamed. Then she froze and looked around guiltily. But none of the other occupants of the small medical bay that had been converted to maternity ward so much as roused. The sound baffling fields around their cubicle were strong, although the collective shared her horror. "I..." Miesh shook her head savagely. "No, it's not."

"Grandmaster." Sara said formally. "I ask permission..."

"Stop." A new voice sounded. All three pairs of eyes turned to the entryway. "Istara..." Morey looked like hell. His head, like theirs, had been shaved. The shock collar and helmet he had worn hadn't really been needed to imprison him, but Firdlump had apparently been playing with him while he was unconscious. Sara and Istara had both been astonished to find him alive, with the evidence of so many injuries. Not to mention his legs. He wheeled the chair he was confined in for the moment into the room and nodded. "Sara... There are always choices. There are always alternatives, we just have it find one."

"Morey..." Sara shook her head savagely and kept shaking it. "He will take me over. He will use me to control everyone. I have to stop myself. This is the easiest way."

"Since when do Bladeborn do easy, Initiate Sara?" Morey asked in a hard voice. Then he sighed and relaxed a little. "You and Chase remind me greatly of another pair of screwballs. Always determined to do the right thing, no matter the cost to yourselves." Sara stared at him and then at Istara who...was blushing? Sara's eyes went wide and Morey grinned. "Better. Now... I have a question. Is Istara's child the only one on this ship in that stage of development? Are there any others who could fit the bill? We could give you a child artificially Sara, grow one in a test tube given time. But it wouldn't change you fast enough."

"It would also be unethical." Meish said with a glower. "One step removed from non-consensual." She glowered at Morey. "And you should not be out of bed."

"Bite me." Morey said sourly. "My kin need me. Do me a favor, nurse Miesh. Check." Meish looked at him and then at Istara who nodded fractionally. Miesh glowered again but left the small cubicle to run a data search.

"Ah..." Sara stared at Istara who looked thoughtful. "I told Chase I would carry Istara's...I... shouldn't..."

"Sara..." Morey said with a sigh as he rolled his chair close to where she lay. The loss of his legs had barely slowed him down at all. "Chase loves you. Do you think anything you do will change that?"

"I don't know." Sara said miserably as Istara hugged her again. "I don't want anything to."

"You and Chase are two halves of one whole, Sara." Morey said when Istara nodded to him to continue. "You both fit each other so well, it's amazing. Even Mila sees that and she is Chase's sister. I..." He shook his head. "I like being this way, Sara, but it is hard. After so long playing a crazy man, an evil man, it is so hard being nice. But I like it." He said with a smile. He was close enough to touch now and he reached out to pat her arm gently. "Sara, we will find a way."

"I was barely able to stand the idea of holding Istara's child." Sara said forlornly. "Holding a child for someone I don't know? I... I..." She stammered. "I don't know." She and the others looked up as Meish came back in. One look at the nurse's face had Sara stiffening again. Meish shook her head.

"The closest we have on file is Hala." Miesh said as she came to the bedside and took Sara's hand. "And she has too many differences too. She volunteered anyway. She said Olandas would have done that and more to help you." She choked a little. "No matter the cost. I... I am sorry, Sara." Sara nodded slowly.

"It's okay, Meish." Sara said quietly. "Thank you for looking." She shook her head again and tears were falling. "I want to stay. I want to make life better for you now that the veil has been torn from your eyes. But..." She broke off as Istara made a startled noise. "Istara?" Sara asked carefully. The Grandmaster was not looking at her, she was looking off into the distance and her expression changed from surprise to awe.

"You crazy bug..." Istara said slowly. She was obviously not talking to anyone present. "You didn't?" She asked, amazed. "Of all the..." She grinned. "How did you know...? Never mind, I don't want to know. Thanks Kicota." She turned her gaze to the others and her grin was wide. "You didn't know, did you, Morey?"

"Know what?" Morey asked suspiciously. When Istara started grinning like a fool...

"We never searched the escape pod we were in, did we?" Istara asked with a sigh. "Did any of Firdlump's people?"

"I don't think so." Miesh replied slowly. Her gaze went far away as she asked the collective. "No. No we were focused on you, Sara and Morey. We didn't want to hurt you or Sara, and well... We were not going to take any chances with him." She made a face at Morey and he shrugged. "Why?"

"Send someone to search the pod." Istara said slowly. "In it, Kicota says she placed something that Grun'das, her seer, told her to put there. A small stasis vial marked 'Biosample A'. She says it is in the med kit."

"A biosample?" Meish asked as she conveyed the request and a member of the collective darted to comply. "Of what?"

"Chase's DNA." Istara said soberly. "Enough to scan, maybe enough to start a new life. Kicota wasn't sure, but the stasis vial should have held it secure."

"Kraken!" Everyone looked at Meish as the nurse invoked her goddess. "Patril reports a small vial where you said, Istara." Meish's face lit up. "How?"

"Grun'das is a seer." Sara said dryly. "And he considers me kin. I think he may have um, bent, a few rules."

"Or not. We will not ask." Istara said gently. "But no matter what, Sara... Your request is denied." She hugged the now sobbing girl tight.

"You are going to give me Chase's child?" Sara said through her tears. "I..."

"Sara." Meish became all business. "We need to start you on the therapy now. It may not work. If it does work, we won't have a lot of time after the seal on the vial is broached. DNA degrades rapidly out of the body."

"I know." Sara said slowly. "What do I do?"

"We have it down to a science now. All we need is you. Actually... All three of you." Miesh said gently. "I think I need this witnessed. Sara... Um...Ah..." The nurse paused, obviously embarrassed.

"I know I am...untouched, Meish." Sara said sadly. "None of Special Branches bully boys dared after all the training I had. And none of the Mando boys had the guts. Not with Will watching. Chase was the only one who dared..." She broke off, her face working as she tried to move beyond her pain and fear.

"Who dares, wins." Morey said quietly. "But then again, that boy doesn't lack for guts. Sense yes, guts no."

"We...we...never got beyond foreplay..." Sara said woodenly. "We were going to, and then he fell and I got mixed up in this mess."

"Well..." Istara said with a knowing look. "We will just have to..adjust your training, now won't we, Initiate Sara?" She asked with a wicked look in her eye that was utterly spoiled by the grin on her face. "You will not be bored. I will tell you that, right now. Ona has all kinds of ways to keep initiates from being lazy, even expecting ones. And after? Kiss sleep goodbye."

"Hey! I am not lazy!" Sara said sharply as she rose, then staggered a little. "I... What...?" Istara caught her and held her while she regained her balance then rose to stand beside her.

"Sara, you are exhausted." Miesh said gently. "You need rest. I know you don't like medical beds and I know how much you hate being out of control. But the tank you will go into, you need to sleep for that. You need real sleep anyway, not sedated sleep. It will be restful."

"Ah..." Istara blanched as Sara stiffened. "Is that the same kind of tank I was in?" She asked carefully.

"Same design, yes." Miesh said sadly. "It's the only design we have for this kind of thing, which is why I want you and the creep here..." She glowered at the chair bound man and he grinned at her. "To witness everything I -we- do. To prove to Sara and to her husband-to-be that we did nothing else." Sara jerked in immediate rebellion and Miesh let her retreat. "Sara... It is going to hurt like hell even after the fact. Everyone who has gone through it says the same thing. We are essentially going to be sticking a huge needle into the middle of your abdomen. Of course it is going to hurt." She said a little acerbically. Then she moderated her tone. "Sara, please... We don't want you to die and this may be the only way."

"Istara..." Sara begged. But Istara shook her head.

"Sara. It will be okay." Istara said, giving the scared girl a squeeze. "It was restful, now that I think about it. I highly doubt anyone is going to dose you with Sitolon nectar." Morey growled at that, but Miesh just smiled.

"No." The Mon Cal said with a grin. "We like breathing. Sara..." Her face became serious and she spoke in earnest. "In the end, it is your choice. We will not do this against your will."

"What are the chances?" Sara asked softly. "I mean, it's not perfect. Nothing is."

"No, Sara." Miesh said gently. "It is not perfect. Our projections say eighty six percent chance the insemination will succeed. But Sara..." Miesh cautioned her. "Even with the embryo inside you, pregnancy is not easy. Or safe. We will make it as easy and safe as we can. But... There is risk."

"I..." Sara shook her head slowly, and then straightened. "Do it." Her voice strengthened as she chose her course. Come heck or high water, she was committed.

"Okay..." Miesh walked to a cupboard nearby and opened it, perusing the contents. "Hmmm... We have almost everything I will need here. This IS the maternity ward after all. We will have to whip up a few of the more exotic hormones to get you completely ready. But we can start now." The nurse selected a hypo from within and walked to where Sara stood. "Last chance, Sara. Once I give you this, we are committed." In response Sara bared her upper right arm and waited. Miesh smiled sadly. "You are so much braver than I am, Sara." She gave Sara the injection quickly and then, in a quick motion embraced the girl. "It works fast." She said as Sara went white.

"I'll... say..." Sara gasped. "Ah..." She staggered and Istara caught her as she fell. "Tank?" She managed to grate out between shivers as Istara lifted her off her feet and cradled her gently.

"Tank." Miesh said gently as she touched Sara's suddenly damp forehead with a webbed hand. "Rest now, Sara Kalenath Ordo. When you wake, you will be a mother." Istara crooned gently and Morey of all people was singing a lullaby as Sara nodded off, comforted by the affection of her kin and the collective.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
09.25.2012 , 03:02 AM | #9
"Seeing this..." Istara said with as sigh. "...really bothers me."

"Me too." Morey replied from his chair as they both looked on while Sara slept. The room was bare except for the large clear tank that Sara Kalenath Ordo floated in. Med monitors from a sensor armband kept up a steady drone of information on the girl, no, the woman in the tank. Istara shook her head. Sara wasn't a girl anymore. Not that she had ever been one, really. Morey looked at her and both shared a sad look of understanding. Sara had never been a child, she had been forced to be an adult from almost the moment she had been born. Two tubes were connected to the ports in the white suit she wore and another tube was connected to her abdomen. Other than that, she floated free in the fluid, her chest still and her eyes closed. After a moment, Morey spoke again. "I know the fluid is oxygenated, that is its actually easier to breathe than air, but it still bothers me not to see her chest move."

"They did this to you too, didn't they?" Istara asked after a moment. "When they caught you?"

"Yeah." Morey said sadly. "I don't remember it all, just...bits and pieces. Some fairly pleasant, most not." He said with face of stone. "All in all, the tank time was relaxing."

"I remember. Ah... I am sorry, Morey." Istara said sadly. "I was young and stupid and besotted. Looking back, I doubt I could have seen what happened to you. But that doesn't change the feeling that I should have done something."

"Well, I should have listened to Idjit when he tried to get my attention. When he tried to explain. But I didn't want to share." Morey replied evenly. "Young and stupid and besotted. Yep, that was me too. I do not deserve either of you." He said sadly.

"Well, I also find it hard to share." Istara said with a smile. "But my love is not a cup. I love all of our kin, but two I find I love more than the others. Well... Three..." She looked at the tank again and her face was sad. "She looks so... peaceful in there. Maria's little girl, all grown up."

"Yeah." Morey said with a sigh. "She never had a chance at a childhood. Maybe now she will be able to find some peace." Istara just looked at him and he flinched. "I mean... We have to hide her now. She won't be able to... um...fight...well...and..." He broke off at Istara's expression.

"If you want to keep your health..." Istara said mildly. "...don't finish that sentence. Unless you think I am too delicate to kick your choobies."

"Well, you cheat, Grandmaster." Morey said with a sigh of injured pride. "I mean, I can't hit you right now."

"I..." Istara paused and her face clouded for a moment. "What the?" She said slowly. "What the hell was that?" She asked her tone almost fearful.

"Istara?" Morey asked slowly. "You okay?"

"No." Istara said slowly. "I just felt... When you said you couldn't fight me... I felt... Oh my god..." She said, her face going white.

"Istara?" Morey asked as she backed away from him, her face ashen. "What is wrong?"

"When you said you wouldn't fight me, I felt triumph." Istara said slowly. "And it wasn't mine!"

"Could it be Sharlina?" Morey asked slowly. "I mean, you say she is gone, but..."

"It wasn't Sharlina." Istara said slowly, trying to get past the horror of having someone else in her mind. "I... I don't know who it was. It felt familiar, but it wasn't Sharlina." She reached up and touched the implants that ridged her skull and winced. "Morey... I think I have a hitchhiker."

"Flarg me..." Morey said slowly. "Istara, what do I do?"

"Get Miesh." Istara said carefully. "Knock me out. Scan me. If I have been...possessed or whatever... I am a threat. To everyone, but especially to Sara." She backed up against the wall and stayed there while Morey hit the call button.

"Yes? You called?" Miesh asked as she entered, only to pause as she took in the scene of Istara essentially cowering against the wall and Morey looking scared. "What?"

"Miesh..." Istara said slowly. "I need you to do a full series of scans on me. I just felt another mind in my own. It...felt..." She shook her head slowly, unsure. "Female. Angry. And... Not... Not sane..." She said slowly, feeling her way through each word.

"Oh my god..." Morey's face went white. "Menglan?"

"That is not possible." Meish said slowly. "Nia destroyed her mind. Right?" She looked from one Bladeborn to the other. "Right?" She almost begged.

"I don't know, Miesh." Istara said quietly. "Is Mari awake? Lohas removed the controls."

"She should be momentarily." Miesh said after a moment. "Jac is. Can he help?"

"I..." Istara shook herself. "I don't know. I don't know a lot about...um...possessions."

"I don't feel anything in the Force, Istara." Morey said slowly, his eyes on the grandmaster. "I have been around a lot of ghosts, many of whom liked to switch bodies on a whim. I think..." He shook his head. "This is probably something tech based, not Force based."

"Grandmaster Istara?" A young, hesitant voice sounded as smallish Sitolon entered the room. It was almost impossible to tell without the Force that the young healer was male. "Meish says you felt someone else in your head?"

"Yeah, uh..." Istara said as she sank to a sitting position. "At least I am not armed. Can you...?"

"I would have to touch you." Jac said slowly. "May I?" Istara nodded and the Sitolon moved closer, lowering himself so his antennae came down to touch Istara's head. Istara sighed as his mind gently embraced hers. For a long moment, neither of them moved, then Jac gasped. "No! Get away from her, you witch!" Miesh and Morey both stared at Jac seemed to grow in stature. Istara shuddered and made a noise somewhere between a groan and a sigh.

"She is mine now." A new voice came from Istara's lips. "He promised me a new, strong body and she is mine!"

"Menglan!" Morey snapped, his hands coming up in a warding gesture. "Damn you! Leave her alone!"

"Ravishaw..." Istara's eyes lit on the man in the wheeled chair and her face lit up with anticipation. Menglan's voice held lust now. "What better way to hurt you than to hurt the ones you love? Hmmm? You will beg for my touch, Morey. Momma's little boy..."

"No he won't." Jac said sternly. "You are a copy. A remnant of code, nothing more. Somehow you managed to hide this vestige of yourself and download into Istara's implants. But that ends now. Lohas, help your sister? Our friend? Please?" A wave of something poured out of Jac's gentle claws as they held Istara's hands.

"No!" Menglan shrieked. "He promised!" A wail sounded from Istara's lips and then cut off with a snap as Istara jerked back.

"Istara?" Morey asked, worried.

"I..." Istara shook her head, trying to clear it. "I am here. Jac...What?"

"Lohas removed your implants." Jac said gently. "Or more accurately, she used the nanites in your system to remove them through me."

"I can still feel her." Istara said, horrified. "Aw no... No..." She shook her head. "I won't let her hurt my kin!"

"We cannot remove her Istara." Jac said sadly. "We don't have the knowledge or tech. Sarai's people have both but they cannot do it long distance. And..."

"And we don't have time." Istara said slowly. "Nia is faltering. She is strong and angry, but... She has limits, and she is reaching them."

"What do we do?" Morey said slowly.

"We get the hell out of here." Istara said quietly. "Is Captain Brun awake?'

"Yes." Jac said soberly. "She is suffering acute withdrawal, along with many of the crew, but... She is awake."

"Then ask her to jump us somewhere, anywhere." Istara said slowly. "If we are here when Firdlump breaks loose, it won't matter what defenses we have. He can and will coat the ship with nanites, eat through the hull if he has to, to get at us. Sara needs time to change, I need time to erect some defenses. Until then, I need to be confined and... We need to run."

"Where?" Miesh asked slowly. "The hyperdrive is offline. 'Repairs' he said."

"Repairs my fanny." Morey said softly. He and Istara shared a grim nod. "Just get us away from the planet. Far away."

"And the Stormhawk?" Miesh asked for the collective. "Will they attack us?"

"No. He, they, are busy." Istara said sadly. "He will cover us the best he can. He wasn't totally off his rocker. But he is losing it. We have to hurry. Get the hyperdrive online if you can. If not, this is going to be a very short flight."
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
09.26.2012 , 02:45 AM | #10
Sara woke up slowly. It was so different from how she normally woke up that she was afraid.

"Easy, Sara..." A familiar voice said nearby. "Easy... Don't strain yourself."

"Istara." Sara smiled as she opened her eyes. What met them had her freezing. She was lying on a hospital bed which had the rails up, holding her on it, surrounded by medical gear. That in and of itself would have sent her into a frenzy, but it was Istara's condition that had Sara actually start to rise, her face furious. "What the hell?"

"Sara..." Istara said as she sighed from her bed nearby. "It's okay." She didn't move. Indeed, she couldn't. The restraints that held her to the bed were...extensive.

"You are strapped to a bed and it is okay?" Sara demanded, sitting up and then trying not to scream as her abdomen protested the abuse. A wave of pain erupted and she had to lie back, panting as it flowed through her like water. "Ow..."

"Sara! Calm down! Yes, Sara." Istara said sternly. "It's okay. I have a...well, a hitchhiker. A not very pleasant one. It appears that Nia did not utterly destroy Kareena Menglan as we all believed."

"Ah..." Sara stared at the grandmaster and her face fell. "What can I do?"

"Sara." Istara said gently. "Rest and heal. You need to eat real food, not the nutrient paste that the modules would have given you."

"I..." Sara paused and looked at herself. She was wearing some kind of long robe. It wasn't a patient gown. It was too long, warm and fuzzy to be one. Not to mention the colors were soothing. She opened it and stared. She wasn't wearing the white suit any more. The ports that had been into her stomach and lower abdomen were gone. In their places, small pink scars were visible. Another centered on her abdomen. "What the...?" She blinked and swallowed heavily. She touched the back of her neck and no metal met her questing fingers, just skin. "Istara...?" She asked. "Did it work?"

"It worked, Sara." Istara said gently. "You are a mother."

"I..." Sara shook her head as she rubbed her stomach. She felt pain, deep down, but it was ebbing. "Chase and I talked about kids, but I didn't think... I mean... I don't... I..." She broke off, aghast at her inability to form a complete sentence. "What is wrong with me?"

"Sara." Istara said gently. "You are pregnant. You are going to have some problems. Your body is going to change, hence why Lohas removed your implants as fast as she could."

"I can still feel the collective." Sara said in wonder. "They are asking how I am feeling." Sara chuckled a little. "I am numb. I have no idea how I feel." She said with a shrug. "Wait... How can I still feel them?"

"Lohas left some of her children in you. Not enough to cause long term problems, but enough to monitor, to allow for quick communication. You won't even need to hit a call button to summon help." Istara said gently. "She is worried about you. So are we."

"Why?" Sara asked as she lay back. Then she blanched. ""Grandmaster... I... Initiates cannot have relationships! What have I done?"

"Sara." Istara said gently. "Be calm. It's okay. You and Chase are not normal initiates. Both of you have proven that you have the moral fortitude to keep from having...the usual problems. You have unusual ones." Istara said with a small grin. "And the Order will not cast you out for love. Not now, not ever."

"I..." Sara blinked and shook her head. "This is really weird. I feel fine, but... Not." She sighed. "When do the odd cravings start?"

"I don't know." Istara admitted. "The last time I was pregnant for more than a day...It..." She paused and then she sighed. "I didn't know what was happening and it wasn't more than a few weeks old when..." She swallowed heavily. "When I killed my kid."

"You didn't know, Istara." Sara said patiently. "You were what? Just a little older than I am?"

"Nineteen." Istara said soberly. "I had been with Idjit for almost three years." Sara looked at her and Istara flushed a little. "We were always busy, always working, fighting... We made up for it when we met each other after each mission. After...everything... I was always surprised that I didn't conceive before, but Mama was always careful with the contraceptives. I skimped on them, and I paid for it." Istara broke off, her gaze going far away.

"Istara?" Sara asked, smoothing the robe around her hips as she shook herself a little. "You okay?"

"No." Istara said sadly. "I was remembering Mama Lizard and my birth mother. Mama was so annoyed with me when she found out what had happened. I think she would have loved a baby to dote on. We were all her kids, but..." Tears were falling now. "I failed her, I failed so many times."

"Istara..." Sara rolled herself carefully, so as not to jar her sore belly. "What would Mama Lizard say? Now. Right this moment?" Istara looked at Sara and then chuckled a little ruefully.

"She would say that I was being an idiot. She would be proud of you, me, and Nia." Istara said, her tears abating. "She would watch you and me like a hawkbat. Other Bladeborn have become pregnant before and since my own misadventures and she was always the same. Everything had to be perfect for the little ones." Istara looked at Sara and nodded. "We can and will continue to train, but carefully. We will have medical monitoring at all times. I doubt Miesh and Jac will let us have too much freedom. The other mothers here likewise."

"I...see..." Sara said uneasily. "This is..." She shook herself. "This is a lot like when I was a kid, Istara..." She waved a hand at the medical gear around her.

"Sara?" Sara looked up and smiled as Jolia entered the room. "How you doing?" The Twi'lek was carrying a tray full of steaming dishes.

"Uneasy..." Sara replied. "This is too much like my childhood, Jolia." Sara said quietly.

"I was afraid of that." Jolia said sadly. "So..." The railing on the side of Sara's bed retracted as Jolia set the trays down on a table that Sara hadn't seen. "Think you can walk a few steps?"

"Ah, maybe..." Sara sid uneasily as the Twi'lek came close and moved a bunch of the beeping gear away from the bed. "What do you have in mind?"

"I am here to make sure you both eat." Jolia said with a smile. "Kirina and Hala are helping Meish with the others."

"Which Hala?" Istara asked slowly.

"Both were actually. They are handling it much better than anyone expected." Jolia said with a smile. Then she sobered. "The woman who was Boss is with Miik and a bunch of others, trying to get the hyperdrive working. They think they know what the problem is, but it's something that is missing. A main 'taxi' bar or something like that. I am no engineer. They are trying to jury rig a work around."

"And you are here to feed us." Istara said with a smile.

"Kili is asleep." Jolia said with a smile. "She is in with the other littlest ones and I have the monitors keyed to my com." She patted her wrist. "You both need food." She moved to Sara's bedside and held out a hand. "Come on, you will feel better if you walk a little."

"Okay..." Sara said dubiously, then swung her bare feet off the bed. She paused as Jolia made a clucking noise and reached under the bed. Sara's eyes went wide as Jolia produced a pair of fuzzy slippers. Sara stared as Jolia slid them on her feet. They had Bantha ears on them. "You are kidding." Sara said, eyeing the odd things with suspicion.

"The floor is cold, Sara." Jolia said gently. "And the slippers are your size and well padded. Trust me, Sara. You will be glad of them." She said with a smile. "I would have killed for something like these a few times while carrying Kili."

"It's going to be rough, isn't it?" Sara asked slowly as she eased herself to the floor. "I mean..." She shook her head and grimaced.

"Yes, Sara." Jolia said gently as she helped Sara rise to her full height. She didn't offer much support, she was just there. "This is your first time, and Istara's first knowing time. None of us want anything bad to happen to either of you. Even with our help... This is going to be scary. Your body will be out of your control and carrying something alien." She helped Sara to a chair by the table and moved to Istara's bed. "Istara."

"You shouldn't release me, Jolia." Istara said flatly as Jolia started undoing the straps. "I have no idea what that evil woman could do in my head."

"Cutting off circulation for a pregnant female is a bad idea, Istara." Jolia said with a scowl worthy of a Bladeborn. "Miesh should not have let you talk her into that. If you cut circulation to your extremities, you can and will hurt yourself. If you hurt yourself, you can hurt your baby. Clear?" The Twi'lek asked sternly.

"Have you been talking to Ona?" Istara asked whimsically. Then she paused and groaned. "You have, haven't you?"

"That healer of yours is a marvel." Jolia said as she held out an arm. Istara looked at the Twi'lek and then, gingerly took Jolia's arm to let the Twi'lek guide her to the table. "I hope to meet her in the flesh someday. She says I have the makings of a good nurse."

"Sara..." Istara groaned as she sat heavily in the chair she had been guided to.

"I know, Istara." Sara groaned as well. "We are doomed."

"Are you going to make me spoon feed you?" Jolia asked with a smile and laughed as both females reached for the platters. "Good girls."

"You are going to pay for this, Jolia." Sara said easily. "Um... Jolia..." She looked closely at the Twi'lek and her eyes went wide. "Jolia!" Her face turned radiant.

"I know. I was told that they were going to try a few things. Apparently the things took. I am expecting again." Jolia said with a smile just as radiant. "Jac and Miesh confirmed it an hour ago. I get to stay here with you all. And you both get to help me with Kili."

"You know..." Istara said as she started eating. "I think practice can't hurt. And if we do have newborn children among our order again, some on the job training can't hurt either."

"You say that now." Jolia said with a grin as she opened a platter herself. "Wait until you are neck deep in used diapers."

"You sure know how to kill a girl's appetite, Jolia." Sara said with a smile, but dug into her food anyway.
My stories in order:
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