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Love, The Force and Everything Epilogue

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Fan Fiction
Love, The Force and Everything Epilogue

kalenath's Avatar

10.04.2012 , 04:48 AM | #1
((This will tie up a few loose ends.))

Nia just knelt, keening. Sara didn't move from where she had fallen after throwing the spear of energy that had killed her brother. Both were crying hard.

"Come on, everyone." Istara said as she gathered Sara up in her arms. The sobbing woman never even noticed. Morey picked up Nia as well. "Let's go home."

"No." Sara said slowly. "No... I can't... Not... Not now..."

"Sara, we have to go back." Morey said, shaking her gently. "We do not belong here."

"You..." A new, much broader voice answered him. "All of you, will always be welcome here." A gray mist appeared from the hole the dragon had torn in the wall, but this time, this time it was not threatening. It shouldn't have been possible for a cloud to seem sad, but this one was. The cloud slowly condensed into a recognizable form. A queen Sitolon stepped forward into the hall and bowed to the members of the Seven. The voice, multitudes of voices in one, spoke again. "We will be forever in your debt."

"You are the nanite swarm." Istara said slowly, unsure. "I... Is Lohas...?"

"Our mother lives, hurt, but whole." The nanites said sadly. "We hurt her. We did not intend to, but we did. We are healing her. We can heal you, Sara Kalenath Ordo, and you Nia Korr Kalenath. Will you allow us to?"

"Can you bring my dad back?" Nia asked, her tone acid etched.

"No." The nanites responded, their tone sad. "His body was dead when we hit the Stormhawk. There was nothing for us to save, Nia Korr Kalenath. We tried. And even if we could, would it be right? It would change him, and likely not for the better. Let your father the hero rest, Nia. He did his duty and then some." Awe sounded in the machine's voice.

"Only in death does duty end." Nia quoted the Bladeborn code sadly. "Grandmaster... I..."

"No, Nia." Istara said sternly. "You are not coherent. No, you may not suicide."

"But grandmaster, I..." Nia paused, looked confused for a moment and then collapsed unconscious. Morey shook his head.

"Istara, she is fading. This was too much for her." He said, his face worried. "If she dies here, she dies in the real world. She was a mess before, I don't know if she can handle that."

"No." The Sitolon composed of nanites sounded horrified. "Istara Sharlina Andal, let us help her, please? There has been enough death. Please?" The nanites begged. Istara looked at Sara who nodded jerkily.

"Do what you can." Istara said softly.

"We will." The Sitolon reached out with a claw and touched Nia. The woman relaxed fully in sleep. "She is... very hurt. Our offspring hurt her. Before and here." Firdlump did not move from where he stood as disapproval sang in the nanite swarm's voice. "We cannot heal her completely, only time can do that. And if she dies..."

"She is an avatar." Istara said slowly. "She just wake up wherever her real body is. Won't she?"

"There is... a great deal of neural damage. We do not understand her ability, so we cannot say for sure if she would be whole or not. We do not know. We would rather not take the chance." The nanites replied, fear for Nia coloring their tone. "Her family has paid in blood for the mistakes of our kind. Too much blood. Ah..." The nanites made a sighing noise. "The manipulations of our offspring have made it so we cannot heal her quickly." Bob jerked in place, but remained silent. "But she will live now."

"Thank you. And Sara?" Istara asked.

"Sara Kaleanth Ordo. This has hurt you worse than anything you have encountered before." The nanites said gently as they approached. "You had no idea what would happen, did you?" Sara shook her head, obviously unable to speak. "Oh child, for child you are, despite everything our offspring did to you. We are sorry, we wish we could undo what has happened, but we cannot. We wish you had not been forced to do that."

"W...wh...why...?" Sara managed to get the soft, scared question out through clenched teeth.

"Our offspring was...flawed." The nanites said quietly. "We did not realize that our programs had been tampered with, that our basic core processes were infected with the hatred of a snubbed young male. Jealousy is an evil that transcends time and species. But while our offspring was whole, the flaws could not be erased. Your niece opened the box, letting the subroutine that our offspring had started to try and understand love escape it's confinement and show it what it had discovered. But... when our offspring tried to act on its discovery, the erroneous programs took on a life of their own. Which you saw. They had to be removed from the datastream and deleted."

"So what Will did..." Istara said slowly. "Was..." She shook her head. "I don't understand."

"You are all inside our shared mind, Istara Sharlina Andal." The pseudo Sitolon said gently. "None of this is real. It is all representations of..."

"Can somebody let me loose please?" An irate voice snapped from nearby. All eyes were drawn to where Ulaha was still trussed up to the restraint frame. "Please?" The spectral Twi'lek begged.

"You have caused a great deal of trouble, spirit." The nanites replied coldly. "almost as much as our offspring have. Do us all a favor and be silent while we explain. Then we may free you. Or not." Ulaha made a sour noise and relaxed. "What we were saying, Istara Sharlina Andal..." The nanites continued. " that Will Kalenath separated the infected data from the clean data. He did it in his own unique way. But he could not hold it for long. There was only one solution. Delete it. And him." The queen slumped and sorrow etched every feature now. "He was a hero, no matter what he said. He never shirked, never quit. He did what had to be done. That is why he did what he did, and why you had to do what you did. We can only hope your brother has found peace, Sara Kalenath Ordo. May we help you?" The nanites asked gently. Sara looked at Istara who nodded.

"I..." Sara swallowed heavily. "Can you make me forget?"

"We can." The nanites said gently. "But it would not be right. What you did was horrible. But it was needed. Lohas and Saria are waiting for you, Sara Kalenath Ordo. Let us all ease you as we can. We can help you, Sara Kalenath Ordo, please let us."

"I..." Sara nodded jerkily again and then slumped in Istara's arms. "Do what you must."

"Sleep, Sara Kalenath Ordo." The nanites said as the queen's antennae came down to touch her on the forehead. "Rest. Dream of light and gentle play. Dream of a tiny child with your boyfriend's eyes." Sara gasped and then lay still, tears still falling even in sleep. "We are so sorry, Sara Kalenath Ordo. We would have given anything for you not to have had to do that."

"We will help her as well." Istara promised. "The Bladeborn that is. But we all need to get back to our bodies."

"Indeed. And we need to...discuss some things..." The nanites' voice turned stern. "With our offspring. And... Istara Sharlina Andal..."

"Yes?" Istara asked calmly.

"We will not kill." The nanites said gently. "But if you need anything else. Ask." Istara nodded and then, the group was gone, ignoring the increasingly irate cries of the bound spirit. The nanites that had taken the form of a SItolon queen turned and scrutinized their offspring. "Now... Firdlump... Bob.. We am very disappointed with you..."
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

10.05.2012 , 05:21 AM | #2
Istara woke, aware of three things. One, she was lying on a bed. Two, she felt pretty good, considering. And three, Kirina was crying.

"Kirina?" Istara asked as she came fully awake. "What's wrong?"

She opened her eyes and was not surprised to find herself back in the Imperious maternity ward. It was a far cry from the sterile medical ward that she had first seen. The small touches to make it less like a prison and more like a hospital or even a hotel room were present. A small picture on one wall, a rug of some kind on the floor to ease the coldness of the deck, a couch against on the wall -large enough and comfortable enough to sleep on if needed-, even the comforter that covered her, all of these little touches had been added by the shipboard collective it help ease the females who were now stuck in the ward. A small table and a chair were the only other furniture in the room. Firdlump's machinations hid all of the horror from the females while they were under his sway. The freed collective was much nicer. Istara shook her head and woke up fully.

"Kirina?" She asked again.

"Oh Istara..." The woman who had acted as surrogate for Istara's second child came into her view. "Thank the Force you are awake. Sara and Nia..." Tears were falling down Kirina's face as she shook her head.

"What has happened?" Istara demanded, sitting up carefully. She was not surprised to find a control for her bed right by her hand. "Are they alive?"

"Yes." Kirina said soberly. But..." she paused and scowled. "Nia started bleeding internally again. They had to put her back in Kolto. And Sara... She just..." Kirina shook herself. "She is comatose."

"We were afraid of this." Istara said sadly. "She did something... something awful. It was needed, and she was the only one who could do it." She sighed deeply. "But it hurt her. It hurt her so badly."

"We are in trouble, Istara." Kirina said slowly. "The Imperials..." She slumped a bit. "I guess, seeing them come in to our rescue made me believe they would act unlike Imperials. But now they are demanding our surrender. Captain Brun has been putting them off while the ship was repaired. But now, they won't let us leave."

"Demanding, huh?" Istara snapped. "We shall see about that." She moved to get up and pain came, deep seated pain. "What the...?"

"Istara..." Kirian said, taking the Bladeborn's hand in her own. "Whatever happened to you, you convulsed. Your baby is fine." Kirina hastened to reassure the Bladeborn when Istara went white. "We don't know about Sara's... She hasn't woken. We cannot feel her, the collective. Istara... We are all scared. If the Imperials take us..."

"They won't." Istara replied with quiet steel in her tone. "Is Morey awake?"

"I think so..." Kirina's eyes took on a faraway look and then she nodded. "He is groggy and a bit confused. But he is awake."

"Okay." Istara said slowly as she rolled so her feet were over the edge of the bed. The rails lowered by themselves as she did. Kirina looked at her and Istara smiled. "Girl of many talents. How long was I out?"

"Five hours." Kirian said quietly. "I have a meal if you wish."

"No time." Istara said quietly a she lowered her feet to the floor and stood gingerly. Her legs supported her. Her head swam a bit, but she did not let it slow her. "I... Actually..." She shook her head. "I do need to eat. I used up a lot of energy. We all did. Nia was bleeding again you say?" She stepped to where a covered tray was sitting on the table by the bed and sat carefully in a chair that had been provided.

"It was bad." Kirina said as she sat on the couch. "I don't know how bad, but Jac and Miesh were both very worried." Istara nodded as she opened the platters and started to eat quickly and carefully.

"I will check on them and Sara on the way to the bridge." Istara said quietly between mouthfuls. She looked away for a moment and nodded. "Kirina, I need to know. Do you want to stay?"

"Here?" Kirina asked softly. "Oli needs me." She said, her voice small.

"We can get Oli to you no matter where you are." Istara said gently. "What I mean is... Do you want to stay in the collective? You haven't been in it long enough for medical complications to set in. The Sitolon have become very good at removing people from it gently." Kirina's eyes went wide at that and she stared at Istara, hope flaring. "It takes time, and it is not pleasant.

"They could help everybody?" Kirina asked, her tone worried.

"Yes." Istara said after another bite. "They are coming here. You do not need to choose now, but you will need to choose." She finished her meal and drank her juice quickly. "Now... Imperials..."

<Imperious bridge>

"...and I don't care what you want, Republic scum. I want that traitor. Now." A harsh Imperial voice was speaking as Istara strode on to the bridge, clad in silver armor again.

"Is there a problem?" Istara asked mildly as the bride crew turned to look at her. For her part, she strode into the com unit's holo camera pickup as if she hadn't a care in the world. "And who am I speaking to?"

"I am Admiral Gadas. Who are-?" The man in black Imperial uniform snapped, then paused. "Bladeborn Sharlina..."

"My name..." Istara said in an icily polite tine that somehow conveyed no respect whatsoever. " Istara Sharlina Andal. I am a Masterblade of the True Bladeborn and envoy to the Empire. What. Is. The . Problem?" She demanded, her voice never rising in pitch.

"He is demanding someone named Ravishaw." Istara felt her guts clench as Captain Brun said quietly from her place in front of the holo screen. "I told him there was no on by that name aboard."

"You lie." The admiral snapped. "I know he is aboard. He is one of you..." He waved a hand at Istara who sighed.

"No, admiral, he is not one of us." Istara said soberly. "The man known as Ravishaw is dead. We killed him several months ago." That was actually the truth. Istara had put the name of Ravishaw to rest. Admittedly, Morey was still around...

"We are going to board you ship and see for yourselves..." The admiral started to say and then paused as Mercedes snarled at him. "What? Do you really think your ancient piece of trash can match three Imperial battleships?"

"Admiral." Istara said mildly. "Do not push this, not now. You have no idea what will happen. Neither do I and that scares me."

"The threat is ended." The admiral scoffed. "You are no longer needed. Your indulgence by the Emperor ends now."

"Oh?" Istara asked softly. "And you have that straight from him? I find that...very hard to believe."

"I have my orders." The admiral snapped. "I am ordered to take you and everyone aboard the renegade Republic ships in this sector into custody. Or you could resist I suppose..."

"All Imperial ships have activated their weapons!" A calm voice sounded from nearby. The sensor tech sounded almost... anticipatory?

"Admiral..." Istara said softly. "I truly recommend you do not push this."

"You are under arrest for treason, Bladeborn Sharlina." The admiral declared pomposely. "You and everyone on that ship will face...." He spun in the holo. "What? What do you mean he is gone? Find him!"

"So be it." Istara said in the hush that ensued. "I assume Idjit has decamped."

"We still have you!" The admiral snapped, his face suffused with red as he turned back to face Istara. "Prepare to be boarded. Any resistance will be met with maximum force."

"I don't think so." Captain Brun said with an odd smile on her face. "Matter of fact... You might want to run. Now."

"Your ship is outgunned and cannot maneuver." The Amdial smiled coldly. "What are you planning to do? Die?"

"Me?" Mercedes said with a look of hurt innocence. "Oh, Admiral, I wouldn't dream of violating the asinine treaty you scum forced on us at Coruscant. But I believe they feel otherwise." Istara did not react as the plot changed. It was hard. The Stormhawk was deploying fighters and an ominous glow showed her main gun was powering up.

"That is impossible!" The admiral screamed. "It's a trick! That ship was destroyed! We saw it disintegrate!"

"Imperial vessels." The cold voice of Stormhawk Boss snapped over the com., "My main gun is charged. The beings who inhabit this system deplore violence so in deference to them, I am giving you one chance. Flee. Now. Or die." The Imperial ships turned and fled. In moments, each jumped.

"How?" Istara asked, her gaze admiring as the image of the Stormhawk vanished.

"You have some very odd friends, Istara." Mercedes said with a smile. "But... Stormhawk Boss lives..."

"I...see..." Istara said with a grin. Considering that the woman who had been Stormhawk Boss was aboard the Imperious at the moment and the ship that the Imperial had just fled from was a free floating cloud of nanites... "I assume you are not going to tell me how you did that?"

"I didn't do a thing." Mercedes said innocently. "I didn't." She protested. Istara looked at her and Mercedes grinned. "You don't think the crew of the 'Hawk just sat on their butts in those stealthed escape pods this whole time, do you?" Then she sobered. "Was what he said true?"

"They want Morey and cannot have him." Istara said softly. "As for the rest? I don't know. But what I do know is that it is time for my Order to find a new path. This will not go over well with the Empire. They could technically call it treason I suppose. Oh, not for me." Istara said as Mercedes looked at her. "But the others?" She slumped a bit.

"You will always be welcome on any ship I command." Mercedes said sadly.

"We won't do that to you." Istara said gently. "As soon as we can, we are gone."

"Nia..." Mercedes said slowly. "We can't move her. Not for a while. But if she is just some kind of avatar..."

"We can't take the chance. There was too much damage for her to transfer back to her real body safely." Istara said sadly. "We will leave her in your care. When she is capable, she will find us. She at least is not wanted by the Empire or Republic."

"Yet." Mercedes said soberly. "Where will you go?"

"I don't know." Istara said sadly. "First I need to get Sara to the homeship, to her husband to be. Then... Somewhere out there..." She waved toward the forward viewport. "Somewhere dreams come true." She turned to go, but paused as Mercedes spoke softly.

"I need to know, Istara." The captain said softly. "Did he suffer?" Istara turned back and Mercedes' eyes were glistening.

"I don't know." Istara said sadly. "But he did surprise the hell out of our enemy. That man knew more about manipulating machines than any four or five techs I have met. He came into the mind thing were we in, he took the form of a Krayt dragon and swallowed the enemy whole." She sighed as Mercedes goggled at her. "Then... he held the enemy while Sara killed it. And him. It ended the threat, saved us all, but... She killed her brother." Istara's eyes were burning.

"Oh my god..." Mercedes said, horrified. "Is she...?"

"We don't know." Istara said sadly. "If anyone has the right to go mad, she does. But she also has kin that love her for who and what she is and two people to live for. Her husband to be and her child. I don't know if she will recover. We will just have to see. We will transfer her to the homeship. Sarai and Lohas are ready for her. They can hide her, ease her, give her time to heal."

"Very well. Be well, Bladeborn." Mercedes said, extending her hand, no her forearm. "Good journey."

"Be well, Sailor." Istara said, taking the woman's arm in a warrior's clasp. "Good journey."
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

10.06.2012 , 04:10 AM | #3
<An hour later>

"Istara?" The soft, worried voice pulled Istara out of the paperwork she had been doing while the small transport she was on flew to it's destination. But when she looked up there was no one there. Her eyes narrowed, but then she smiled sadly and nodded. The voice wasn't actually coming from nearby,. It was coming through Istara's link to the SItolon hivemind.

"I am free, Jainine." Istara said quietly. "What can I do for you?"

A spectral form seemed to appear nearby. But again, it was her mind seeing what the spirit wanted it to. The older woman wore robes of gray and a troubled look. Jainine Korr's blue eyes were wary as she shook her head.

"I don't mean to intrude, Istara, but I wanted to speak to you...before..." The ghost broke off, her tone sad.

"Oh Jainine." Istara said gently. "I am sorry. I know he loved you and you him."

"Yeah." Jainine said quietly. "But now he is at peace. I hope so anyway. And I pray that wherever he is, he and Sharra have found happiness again."

"Will you...pass on now?" Istara asked gently. "Or will you remain?"

"I don't know." Jainine replied. "I have seen my daughter grow into a fine, strong young woman. The Jedi have sent a force to guard the gate." She paused as Istara perked up.

"What?" Istara asked cautiously. "When did this happen?"

"Actually, a while back." Jainine said with a shrug. "I pestered them until they did. They sent a master and padawan along with a small force of droids, but it will deter any idiots from poking at the door. I hope so anyway."

"You..." Istara said dubiously. "...pestered...the Jedi."

"Yeah." Jainine said, obviously uncomfortable. "Hey! It was my duty! I couldn't just leave it! Sooner or later even with Mira watching, Someone was going to run across the gate and do something dumb."

"Jainine..." Istara said softly. "You are dead. No one blames you for not being able to continue."

"That is just it." Jainine said with a sigh. "Technically I am not dead. My mind was pulled from my body and IT still lives. A new personality grew and she is... kind of cool. Sarai has promised me a new body. I want to. But my life, and now my unlife, are not my own. I... Um..." She sighed and spoke softly. She bowed her head. "Grandmaster?"

"You are asking me?" Istara asked incredulously. "Jainine..."

"You are the Grandmaster." Jainine said with a deep sigh. "Your will is law. I... I don't know what to do. I died, I know I did, but Sarai says I can come back. And I..." She slumped. "I think Nia needs me."

"She does." Istara said softly, her voice filled with pain. Then she shook her head. "Jainine, I cannot make such a decision alone. I cannot say yay or nay without a lot more information. To do so would be reckless and irresponsible. For right now, let's leave our options open. I need to get this hitchhiker out of my head and then I need to talk to the Kalenaths. They are aboard, yes?"

"Yes." Jainine said sadly. "They are waiting for you and Sara."

"Right." Istara said sadly. "I will have an answer for you by this afternoon. I need to talk to a bunch of people first." The com chimed and she jerked little as Jainine nodded and vanished. "Yes?" She asked after she hit the intercom button.

"Istara?" The voice of the pilot sounded. "We are here."

"Is Kirina awake?" Istara asked as she rose from her chair and quickly checked the form sleeping in the bed that occupied the small stateroom. Sara Kaleanth Ordo hadn't as much as moved and Istara sighed.

"I am here, Istara." Kirina said as the door hissed open and she entered. A small hover gurney followed her. "I would have preferred to have her in medical, but with her mental state unknown, this is for the best." She said quietly as Istara lifted the sleeping woman and gently carried her to the waiting gurney.

"Come on, we need to get her to Sarai and Ona." Istara said as she lay Sara down on the gurney ad started off, guiding it before her. Then she snorted. "And Chase of course."

"Right." Kirina followed a step behind as the Bladeborn guided the gurney from the small transport and into the hangar bay of the Sitolon homeship. Waiting for her was a small delegation. Queen Sarai stood with a number of other people, including a middle aged woman who wore Republic Special Forces armor minus the helmet. Istara nodded to her. The woman nodded back as Istara guided the gurney towards Sarai.

"Queen Sarai..." Istara said sadly. "She hasn't woken."

"We will tend her." Sarai said gently. "Ona and your people have been given a place aboard. We will convey her to Medical at once." Istara bowed to the queen and nodded as a smaller Sitolon came up and took the entire gurney in gentle claws. The Sitolon ran off without a spoken word and Istara sighed deeply.

"What she did saved us all." Istara said sadly. "My thanks, queen Sarai for the invitation. All of the civilian females aboard the Imperious, pregnant and non, have accepted. The bounty hunter, Kunda Gev has as well. The Republic forces have all stated they wish to remain with the Imperious."

"You as well, Kirina?" Sarai asked gently. Kirina nodded and Sarai sighed. "A small tornado is waiting in Medical."

"Why is Oli in Medical?" Kirina asked, her tone worried.

"She running, fell and bumped her head." Sarai said with a sigh. Kirina gasped and Sarai nodded. "She is fine, Kirina. But the medics wanted her kept overnight just in case."

"Istara..." Kirian asked the older woman who had also turned white. Istara nodded and the younger woman was off like a shot.

"You could have told us." Istara tried to keep accusation from flying and managed, mostly. "We wouldn't have done anything dumb."

"It was not my decision." Sarai replied equably. "Matriarch Kalenath here..." She nodded to the woman in armor. "Was of the impression that you had enough to worry about." Istara eyes the woman in armor and then shrugged.

"I have never met you, but Will and Idjit have both spoken of you." Istara said quietly. "I am Istara Sharlina Andal, you are?"

"Ordinarily, I am Captain Nara Deering." The woman replied with a nod. "In very select company, my name is Nara Deering Kalenath. How is Sara? Nia?"

"Sara is still comatose. Nia was too badly hurt to move. She was in kolto and will be for a while. You read the report?" Nara nodded to Istara's words. "We need to talk, you and I. But first,"She turned back to the Sitolon queen. "Sarai? The others?"

"We picked up Idjit's fighter." Sarai said gently. "He was in a deep meditation to conserve air and hasn't woken yet. We did not want to press."

"Probably wise." Istara said with a grin. "The others?"

"We picked up all the fighters and transports that the Stormhawk dropped. They are... um... shocky." Sarai said with a shrug of all four shoulders. "I mean, they just lost their homes and all."

"I don't blame them. But we will find a way. Hala Shinn, both of her, are coming as soon as they an. " Istara said with a nod. "Anyway, can you get this other woman out of my head?"

"We can, but not here." Sarai said gently. "You need rest Istara, and we all need to talk."

"Right." Istara felt weariness start to creep in and forced it back. "Where will you put the homeship?"

"In orbit. The Imperious is also moving back into orbit." Sarai said with a human sounding sigh. "Lohas is speaking with her children, determining the best place to land. It has been thousands of years, we can wait a day or two to keep from disrupting anything."

"Okay..." Istara said, trying to stifle a huge yawn that was coming. "Aw darn..." She said as she failed.

"Come on, Istara Sharlina Andal." Nara Deering said gently. "You need sleep, real sleep. And I want to see what trouble my scamp of a son has gotten into now."

"Is James a handful?" Istara asked as she followed the others from the bay.

"He is crawling now." Nara said with a shudder. "I would have brought him here, except he was asleep and I didn't want to wake him up. And I thought firefights were tough... Compared to tending an infant...? No contest." Istara had to grin at the ironic twist in the woman's words.

"And the rest of your...brood?" Istara asked carefully. "Will asked me to look out for you. All of you. I swore I would."

"You will see." Nara said with a grin.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

10.07.2012 , 03:03 AM | #4
"...Brianna is where?" Istara asked in shock as she ate.

"She wanted to serve." Nara Deering said with a sigh as she balanced a squirming little bundle on her lap with practiced skill. "She was a shoe in for the Special Forces. She is just about to graduate and has already received her first assignment. Ord Mantell of all places. She was selected to serve in Havoc squad. She was surprised when Harron Tavus of all people requested her, but proud. And I am proud of her too." She was feeding the infant in her arms with one hand while cradling him in the other.

"Isn't that somewhat unusual?" Istara asked as she finished her meal. "I mean, she was hurt, and..." The Bladeborn broke off and sighed. "I know she was tough and all, but... From what Idjit said, she died."

"She did." Nara said quietly. "She died on the table twice before they finished putting her back together. But she was too stubborn to quit." Nara said with a sigh. "And as soon as she woke from the surgeries and we talked, she asked ME about Special Forces training. The Republic needs people like her." The soldier looked sidelong at Istara who shrugged.

"Not my concern. Yes, I know the Sith Empire and Republic are heading back to war." Istara said as she covered the tray up and shrugged. "It is no longer my concern. Some of my Bladeborn have expressed a desire to fight, and my response is always the same. 'No'. The Empire will hunt and kill any of the Bladeborn they can find, and the Republic, well..."

"You cannot serve them." Nara said soberly. "They don't have your respect."

"Exactly." Istara said with a sigh. "We may not follow the Sith Code, but the Republic -most of it anyway-" she said with a grin at Nara. " just too alien to us. We cannot serve the Republic. But that does not make us enemies."

"Some people might say that even talking to you is treason if I am not trying to arrest you." Nara said soberly. "But I am not one of them." She looked at James and he had finished his bottle. As soon as it was removed, he burped and promptly went to sleep. "I have no intention of trying to fight you."

"Good." Istara said with a smile. "Might disturb the baby." Her face turned grave. "How is he?"

"He misses his mom and dad." Nara said sadly. "He doesn't understand where they went or that they are not coming back. I do what I can, and he trusts me now. Took a while." She said with a sad smile, rocking the baby as James slept. "I do what I can."

"How is the clan handling what happened?" Istara asked gently.

"About as well as I am." Nara admitted. "We knew he was going to die. We didn't know when or how. And Sara..." The soldier's eyes were glistening.

"Sara is tough. But what she had to do stressed her well beyond her limits." Istara said, her own eyes burning. "All the healers agree that she is sleeping, coping. She isn't truly comatose, but no one wants to push her." Nara looked at her foe a moment and then shook her head.

"Istara you have to." Nara said soberly. "If you let her, she will slip away, just fade. She is under your command now, not mine. But I do feel obligated. She considered herself a soldier, Istara, not really a Bladeborn at heart yet. And... As Sharra said, we owe you, and the Kalenath family pays our debts."

"You are as stubborn as she was." Istara complained. "Tell me I lie."

"You don't." Nara said with a sad smile. "And?"

"All right." Istara said with a sigh as she lay back in the medical bed she was confined it, trying not to move her head much. The organic thing that encased the top of her skull wasn't uncomfortable, but it did restrict motion a bit. "As soon as they get this evil woman out of my head and I get out of here, I will go look in on Sara." She snorted. "Provided Chase and Ona actually let me get close."

"That boy is something else." Nara said with a smile. "A good match for her. How many new people are we expecting?"

"Three hundred and six." Istara said soberly as she tried to get comfortable. It wasn't that anything hurt, or even was uncomfortable. She just hated being inactive. "The entire collective aboard the Imperious that wasn't crew has volunteered to help Sarai rebuild the SItolon homeworld. I understand your clan is staying as well?"

"Yeah." Nara said with a sigh. "There are lots of people out there with grudges against beings with the name 'Kalenath'. And the Stormhawk is gone."

"Gone but not forgotten." Istara said, her smile wide and vicious. "Tales of a 'ghost ship' are already travelling across space. Could be useful... I..." She broke off, her face sad. "No trace?" She had hoped the powerful sensors on the homeship could find some remnant of the Sixth of the Seven.

"None." Nara said sadly. "There was nothing anywhere that anyone could find. Michelle is gone." She nodded as Istara slumped in place. "I never met her, except over a com, but I liked her."

"So did I." Istara said with a sigh. "Ah well... Probably for the best. Islanian tech always seemed to bring out the absolute worst in Imperials of any stripe."

"Yeah." Nara said, her face severe.

"What?" Istara asked softly. Nara looked at her and then sighed.

"There is talk of building a monument to Will. Complete with huge statue. " Nara nodded as Istara's eyes went very wide. "His allies in the Senate are handling it."

"They better." Istara said with a shake. "I mean, how would he have reacted? I bet some of your clan are about as well restrained."

"If Brianna saw it, it would explode." Nara said with a grin. "Girl has talent with an assault cannon, I will give her that." Then she sobered. "This ship is going to remain as an orbital station and they have actually asked Cranna of all people to come and be administrator. I dunno..." The soldier said with a sigh.

"She is getting old." Istara said sadly. "Happens to all of us. Ah well, let me finish this mess and then I have a appontment."

"Any ideas where to go?" Nara said gently.

"First stop will be Barab I." Istara said sadly. "We made a memorial for Mama Lizard."

"From what I understand, the civil war on Barab is still ongoing." Nara replied, somewhat uneasy. "Won't it be destroyed or at least defaced by one or another of the clans?"

"Not when they find out who it was for." Istara said, steel ringing in her voice. "No one will dare. They remember her. Speaking of remembering... Did you manage what Will asked?"

"Yeah." Nara said sadly. "The Imperials thoroughly trashed the base, but we managed to make contact. They lost a few, but they retreated in order and founded a new base. We set up a supply conduit, so that when the Republic does move to take back Averum, the resistance there will be ready."

"That is the memorial Will would have wanted." Istara said sadly. "His relatives free."

"And Nia?" Nara Deering Kalenath asked worried. "She was hurt too bad to move. With Imperial and Republic forces arriving in this sector soon, she is sitting right on top of a powder keg."

"It's handled." Istara said with a smile. A smile that turned into a yawn. "Aw drat, not again..." She groused.

"Rest, Istara Sharlina Andal." Nara Deering said gently as she rose, cradling her sleeping son to her armored chest. "Tomorrow is a big day." Whatever response Istara might have managed was cut off as she fell asleep.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

10.08.2012 , 04:03 AM | #5
"She hasn't woken." Ona said as Istara entered the medical bay of the Sitolon homeship. Then she paused as Istara's resigned expression sunk in. "Shar? She asked carefully.

"If she doesn't wake, it will be bad for her and the baby." Istara said with a sigh. "I want to let her heal in her own time, but we can't."

"Shar." Ona glowered at her old friend. "Who is the medic here? She needs to recover."

"Ona, I am sorry, but no." Istara said sadly. "We are treating her like a hurt child. She is not a child anymore Ona. She..." Istara felt her eyes start to burn and she shook her head. "She never was one, no matter what she looked like. We cannot wrap her in nerf wool, no matter how much we want to."

"Shar..." Ona stared from Istara to the still form on a medical berth nearby. "I..."

"She is not a child, Ona." Istara said sadly. "She killed her brother. If we give her the chance she will fade away despite our care and concern. "Speaking of which...? Where is Chase?" Ona jerked her head at another berth nearby and Istara sighed as she saw the male in question. "What did he do?" She asked, exasperated.

"He wasn't eating." Ona said with a scowl. "Mila saw it first, dosed him with a sedative. She is good. Shar... Are you sure about this?"

"100%?" Istara asked as she moved to the bedside. "No. But we need to do something. Ona, if she doesn't wake soon, what are we going to have to do?" Ona jerked and Istara continued. "And if we do put her on full support, what is she likely to do when she wakes surrounded by medical gear?"

"Ah...She will react badly." Ona groaned. "She won't hear me, Shar." Ona admitted, tears starting to fall. "I don't want to intubate and catheterize her. But... I won't have a choice soon, the diaper will cause problems if we keep her in it. Katherine was going to try a few Sitolon methods, but then she was called away."

"Sarai needs her. We need her. And she needs us." Istara said with a nod as she caressed Sara's check. The young woman was so deeply asleep that she didn't so much as flinch. "I can wake her Ona, but it won't be gentle. I need you to monitor her and her baby."

"What do I do?" Ona asked softly a she came to the bedside.

"Just keep an eye on her." Istara said gently as she cupped Sara's head in her hands. Sara. She said directly into Sara's mind on the odd wavelength the Seven had shared. Sara, it is time to wake up. An unintelligible response came from the girl's mind and Istara grimaced. Sara, come on, it's time to wake up.

Do I gotta? Sara's mental voice asked, her tone fuzzy and indistinct. I am comfortable here. Don't have to think, to remember, to... She gasped and her mind recoiled. No... Please, let me sleep... Her mind said as it retreated. But Istara wouldn't let her go.

Yeah, you gotta. Istara said sadly, cradling the mind into her own and holding it as it started to shiver and cry. Sara, I am sorry. I had hoped to spare you that. We all did. We were trying to find a way around, a way out. But... She broke off.

It had to be done. Sara said softly as she relaxed into Istara's embrace. But... I did it, Istara. Sara cried out her pain into Istara's gentle embrace. I killed him! I killed my brother! She screamed.

I know, Sara. Istara said sadly. I was there. Sara, if you do not wake up, you will hurt Chase and your baby. Come on, Sara. We need you.

I am all alone now. Sara said in a monotone. Mom, Dad, Will, Sharra, Michelle... All gone... All dead...

You are not alone. Istara said with feeling. I promised Maria I would take care of you, so now I will. Sara Kalenath Ordo... Feel me. Feel what I feel. Know what I know. Daughter of my heart.

What? Sara asked, confused. What are you...? What do you mean? That phrase had a very specific connotation for Bladeborn. Adopted daughter.

You are not alone. Istara promised. You will never be alone. I... I was wrong, when I inducted you into the order. I told you a half truth. You are not just another Bladeborn to me. Maria's request I would have granted no matter what, but you... You need me, Sara and I need you. Please Sara, come back to those who love you.

Don't want to hurt anymore! Sara cried as Istara held her. I wanna forget! I wanna forget everything! Make me forget!

Mando'a draar digu. Istara said softly and Sara's mind jerked a little. A Mandalorian never forgets. Sara, enough wallowing. Your kin need you. Sarai needs you. Your baby and your husband to be need you.

Chase...? Sara said softly. But...

He loves you Sara. Istara said gently. "And it is time to wake up." She said aloud. Sara coughed and jerked in the bed. Ona was there, healing energy flowing for her fingers. Then another presence was felt.

"Well done, Istara." Morey's calm voice came from nearby and Istara turned to find the man sitting in his wheeled chair near the bed. She smiled at the odd cocoon that surrounded his lower body. "Well done, Grandmaster." He said as Sara started to cry and Ona scooped her up and held her close as the young woman poured out her grief and rage in unending streams.

"Morey." Istara said as she stepped back to let Ona do her thing. Ona was always so much better at soothing, healing, calming. Istara was always better at breaking things. "How are the legs?"

"The stumps itch." Morey said with a grimace. "But since the Sitolon are growing me new ones, I am not complaining."

"Much." Istara said with a smile that Morey shared. It was downright odd, see the man smile gently. She had spent so much time fighting him, terrified of him, hating him, now... She loved him. Most of the time. "How is Idjit?"

"Same as always." Morey snapped sourly. "Woke up, jumped up and ran off to do his seer things. Didn't even say 'Hi'." He groused.

"What he does is important, Morey." Istara said sadly. "We have to go. Soon." Morey nodded.

"And Nia?" He asked carefully.

"Nia will catch up to us." Istara said with a sigh as she turned back to the bed. "Sara?" She inquired gently.

"I am..." Sara Kalenath Ordo said softly. "I am awake... sort of. I feel... numb. Is that a good thing?" She raised hand to touch her head experimentally and scowled, unsure.

"The grief will hit you when you least expect it, Sara." Istara said gently, taking the girls hand in her won. "For a long, long time. Probably the rest of your life. But you are not alone, daughter of my heart." Ona and Morey both hissed at Istara word choice, but Sara just stared at Istara.

"I thought you did that just to wake me up." Sara said uneasily. "I mean... I am a little old for adoption... Aren't I?"

"Do I care?" Istara asked softly. "You don't have to change your name. But... I promised Maria. And I do love you, Sara." She pulled Sara into an embrace and Sara did not resist. "You are not alone, daughter."

"I..." The normally unflappable young Bladeborn was totally flustered. "I don't know what to say..."

"This is going to be rough, Sara." Istara said gently. "At the moment, you are free and clear. I know you want to stay with Chase, and he wants to stay with you. But the Bladeborn Order is going to have to scatter. The Republic doesn't like us, and I told the Empire what it could do with itself. The Emperor does not take that kind of thing lightly."

"So... Where do we go." Sara asked, her eyes glistening with unshed tears. "Mother of my heart?" Istara smiled as she embraced her daughter again.

"Well,..." Istara said after a moment of sniffling had ended. "Sarai has something special planned for us all I think..."
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

10.09.2012 , 05:06 AM | #6
"istara, Sara, Morey..." Sarai's warm voice greeted them as the three entered the queen's nesting chamber aboard the homeship. "Come in, make yourselves comfortable."

"Sarai." Istara said formally as she half guided, half carried Sara forward. The girl wasn't normally the clingy type, but no one blamed her for feeling the need to be held right now. She led Sara to a concealed chair and sat the girl down. Sara looked as if she would protest when Istara moved off but subsided. "You wanted to see us?"

Morey wheeled his chair up a barely seen path to place himself between the two females. He reached out and took Sara's hand and gave it a squeeze. Sara nodded to him with a small smile and focused on the female who had been her twin once upon a time.

"Yes." Sarai said evenly. "You will all recover physically, given time. Your legs should be fully regenerated by tomorrow morning, Morey."

"Thank you, Queen Sarai." Morey said with no trace of his usual insouciance.

"You are welcome." Sarai said as she turned to Sara. "Sara... Oh Sara..." Sarai heaved in grief. "I... I want to make it better." She held out her two small manipulators and Sara took them. "And I can't." Sara gave the queen's claws a squeeze and released them. "All I can do is be here for you."

"I don't..." Sara said slowly and then stopped. She gathered her thoughts before speaking again. "This hurts. Worse than the 'training' I underwent as a child, worse than getting shot, or stabbed, or cut with a lightsaber. It was bad enough when Mom..." She swallowed heavily and spoke again. "Everyone said it was needed, but I feel so... So..."

"I know." Sarai said gently. "Do not hold it inside, Sara..." She said sadly. "Come here." She held out her arms and Sara swarmed into them, her tears falling again. "Oh Sara." Sarai crooned as Sara hugged her tight. "I am so sorry. none of us knew what would happen. Or if anyone did, they kept silent."

"Seers rarely speak of what they see." Istara said with a pang of regret. "With good reason. Where is Idjit? I expected him here."

"He and Ecien are fetching some people." Sara said as she cradled her sister in her arms and rocked Sara gently as the young woman cried. Her antennae came down to provide direct comfort mentally as Sitolon could. "Several someones actually. We have a small ceremony planned. The big one is tomorrow, with attendants from the Empire and Republic arriving. We are allied with neither, we have no interest in anything beyond our system."

"And the Empire is just going to let you stay here?" Istara tried not to convey disbelief. She was talking to a queen after all. "I mean..." She broke off as Sarai laughed sourly.

"No." The queen said sadly. "I fully expect them to try and conquer us as they do all of their neighbors. But we will not let them. Lohas' children do not wish to kill, indeed, none of them wish to leave the system anymore. And let's face it Istara, if not for the masses of nanites there is little to be gained in this system."

"But the nanites..." Morey protested mildly. "I mean, yes they have a will of their own, but...I don't see them being able to fend off an entire Imperial fleet without killing. And any Imperial will see them as an insanely powerful weapon."

"Yes they will." Sarai said softly. "But Lohas and a number of very sneaky people have been working on a number of counters. That EMP warhead trick won't work anymore."

"What will you do?" Sara murmured, her voice muffled by the chitin her face was buried in. "You have to do something."

"We will." Sarai said softly. "Istara, Morey, I need your oaths of silence. I have Sara's on this." Istara and Morey looked at each other.

"We cannot swear blindly Sarai." Istara said slowly. "There is too much at stake."

"I know." Sarai said gently. "Which is why I am going to tell you anyway and hope for you oath after." Istara looked at her and Sarai sighed. "There has been too much skirting of the edges of our ethics recently. No, I will not make any of you forget this. Not that I could do ti to any of you." She said with a smile in her voice.

"What do you mean?" Istara asked calmly.

"I mean, that what was done to you, all of you..." Sarai said sadly. "Is beyond anyone's control. What Firdlump did to you, what Bob did to you, what you all did to yourselves, it isn't something that can be undone. The good news is, none of it is genetic. You are the only ones who have to worry about this."

"Worry about what?" Sara asked from perch.

"Wait a moment, Sara." Sarai said kindly. "The others are coming."

"Others?" Sara asked and then her eyes went wide as the hatch opened and a group of beings entered the room. "Jina??" She cried, her face unsure.

"Hello Sara." Jina Darkstorm said quietly as she moved forward with the group and bowed to Sarai. "Istara, Morey, Queen Sarai..."

"JIna." Istara's face held astonishment as she rose, but then paused. "Wait... Why did you greet us first? Protocol says you greet the queen first."

"Not anymore." Sarai said in the silence that dropped as the rest of the small group closed the distance. Idjit was smiling from the side, Jina was smiling widely and... Istara froze as a small form slid in between the two and nodded to her.

"Zana...?" Istara asked. "But..." The last time she had seen this Bladeborn, she had killed the younger one.

"Grandmaster." Zana of the Bladeborn said deferentially. She bowed to Istara. "I serve again, Istara Sharlina Andal." Istara turned an incredulous look at Sarai, one joined by Sara and Morey. Sarai chuckled.

"Nia and Ecmin are sneakiness personified. They made copies of a lot of people. Someone wants to meet you, Sara." Sarai said as she set Sara back on her feet. Sara didn't move as a young human girl with brown hair and hazel eyes stepped forward.

"Sara, I don't know if you remember me." The girl said slowly. " My name is Cili Sandskimmer."

"Oh Cili..."Sara said as she darted forward to give the other girl a hug. "Of course I remember you. I just..." She started to cry again and Cili hugged her back.

"I don't have the Force, Sara, so I can never be what you are, I can never be Bladeborn." Cili said as she held Sara's sobbing form. "But your brother gave me freedom. Ecmin, Nia and Sarai gave me back my life. Anything I can do, now and always, you have but to ask."

"You don't want to be around me, Cili." Sara said, drying her eyes on the sleeve of her shirt. "I am dangerous to know."

"So am I." CIli said with a sigh. "But, Sara... You have said that every time you thought of 'home' bad things happen. Not this time." Sara jerked but Cili did not let go. "I am going to be working with Sarai to rebuild Hivehome..." She puased as Sara stared at her.

"Hivehome?" Istara asked for herself, Morey and Sara.

"We had to call it something." Sarai said evenly. "And 'Dirt', or 'Earth' or 'That place' all seemed... disrespectful. So we looked deep into the records and lo and behold, the Sitolon had a name for it way back when. Hivehome. Anyway, Cili? You were saying?"

"I am not Bladeborn." Cili said softly. "But I owe your Order everything. I will pay my debt."

"Cili..." Istara said, her tone stern.

"Wait, Istara..." Sarai said gently. "Hear her out, she has put a lot of thought into this." Istara grimaced but nodded. Cili smiled at her and continued.

"Your Order is in trouble." Cili said sadly. "Part of it was FIrdlump, part your own need to learn and grow. The emperor wanted you his personal hatchetbeings. But you are so much more. I am going to build, with Lohas' help, a hidden sanctuary on the planet. For Bladeborn. The Stormhawk crew and their families are emigrating as well."

"Oh that is going to go over so well." Istara said with a sigh. "How can you possibly...?" She broke off as a cough came from nearby. Lohas looked at Istara and she could swear the bug was smirking. Not that the bug could, but it was certainly in her Force sense. Istara slumped a little and her voice turned resigned. "Never mind."

"You and Sara both will need safe places to bear and raise your children." Sarai said evenly. "Some of the refugees of the Stormhawk and their families wish to live with us. Some do not. We will allow any who wish it to live among us while we rebuild our civilization. We have a defense force besides the nanites as well, led by someone you know." Saria nodded and the hatch opened again. Three forms walked in, one alone, the other two holding each other. The woman in armor's face was grim, but her eyes were twinkling.

"Hala?" Sara asked, hesitant. "I mean..."

"Call me Too." The woman who was staggering slightly said as the man in armor led her in and assisted her to a chair. "I am the clone after all."

"Stubborn girl." Hala Shinn snapped. She turned to Saria and nodded. "My people are unanimous We are sick of running. We are with you."

"What?" Sara asked, her tone dazed.

"The remainder of the crew of the Stormhawk as well as the two fighter squadrons that called her home, were looking for something to do." Sarai said soberly. "After some discussion, we offered them and their families a place and a job. We will need defenses, since the nanites do not wish to kill. The Empire will come back. The Sitolon race will not change anyone against their will ever again." Steel rang in Sarai's tone.

"'Against their will'?" Sara asked, her tone worried.

"Yes, Sara." A small silver Sitolon came forward, her voice sad. "Some of us wished to start anew. Hello Gev, Hala."

"Olandas..." Gev said slowly. "I..."

"Your wife and child live, Kunda Gev." The small Sitolon said sadly. "Remember me, and know that I do love you. But I took another path, a better one. I sucked as a human."

"Olandas." A sharp voice sounded from nearby as a blue skinned Twi'lek came out of the shadow. "Claw." The Sitolon sighed and held out a claw for the former agent to slap. Melita slapped it, smiled and stepped to stand beside Jina who smiled at her.

"Remind me not to irritate her." Sarai said to a very small silver form that stood beside her. Everyone in the room chuckled at her sour tone. "Sara, Istara, Morey, Idjit..." She nodded to each in turn. "We cannot rewind time, make everything as it was, undo the horrors that befell each and every one of you. But we can help now. We will build a hidden sanctuary, with Cili's help. For Bladeborn. It will be staffed with medical personnel at all times. You may come and go as you need. And you do not need to ask my permission." Istara goggled at her along with Sara and Morey, but Sarai just chuckled. "I am Bladeborn, remember? I know what happens when someone tries to forbid us anything." Sara surprised herself with a genuine laugh. "But right now, we have a ceremony to attend, and then you, Sara have a date with your new personal physician."

"My what?" Sara asked dubiously.

"I got to pick and choose my staff." Cili said with a smile. "Melita is head of security, Jina is going to run the archives and museum. And I picked a doc I knew you could trust."

"L'Trask?" Sara asked softly. "I would have thought he would stay with the Stormhawk crew."

"He is." Cili said gently as she hugged Sara again. "But he will be by every so often to 'check up on you', he says."

"Then who?" Sara asked. "Crota has a life, And... I..." She slumped, remembering Hawkir Strum and his gentle kindness.

"She is busy getting everything she might need ready for your visit Sara or she would be here." Cili said gently. "But you did really think Hera was just going to run off and leave you?"

"Hera?" Sara said incredulously. "You want the last of the Islanians to be my personal physician? Is she in charge?"

"Actually, Katherine was offered and accepted the title of 'Head medic in residence when Ona is not there'." Cili said with a smile. All the others goggled at her and she shrugged. "What? I don't want Ona mad at me, and not making her the boss? I bet that would make her mad." She shuddered a little and the rest of the room did as well. They all knew Ona. "This is little enough and Hera has been studying. She freaks you out less than regular docs. You are still a mess mentally, Sara and then... this." She shook her head.

"We will survive, if not thrive." Sara said as she hugged Cili again and stepped back. "Istara?"

"You do know what is going to happen if the Empire ever finds out." Istara said flatly. She pasuedas Hala cleared her throat. "Oh, yeah..." Istara said, a bit disconcerted. The Stormhawk had hidden their enclave from the Empire, with almost no outside help, for almost a decade. "Then I guess we accept."

"Good." Cili said with a nod. "We can start planning what rooms go where after you eat and we finish the ceremony."

"What ceremony?" Sara asked, perking up a bit.

"Our race's return to the place of our folly." Sarai said quietly, her voice sorrowful. "Finally, after so many centuries, we can set things right."
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

Klannad's Avatar

10.09.2012 , 06:24 AM | #7
This is really good. You're one of the better writers on here, this should have more views! i'm going to be reading your stuff more often

Adwynyth's Avatar

10.09.2012 , 12:59 PM | #8
All I can say is SQUEE.

I'm going to be very very sad when it ends.

And that's from someone who hasn't even read most of it...yet. (yeah, yeah, I started at the end. So sue me. I've since already read up to #14 or so)
Horrendously bad fan fiction: Sith in a Pretty Dress

kalenath's Avatar

10.10.2012 , 06:01 AM | #9
((Thanks for the comments guys. It really feels good to get feedback. Real life is crowding in, but not many more posts left on this insane ride.))

<The next day>

It was very quiet as the shuttle landed. Sarai nodded to her guests who nodded back. The Imperial and Republic diplomats obviously hated one another, but the eight large Sitolon guards who accompanied Sarai were pointed hints that being polite might not be a bad idea. Her retainer Ji and security chief Ecien also did not leave Sarai's side. Sarai nodded to her friends.

"As we discussed." The queen said quietly. "You all may follow, but I must go alone first."

"This is..." The Republic official started to speak and then clamped his mouth shut. "I beg pardon, this is a monumental day. It should be remembered."

"It will be." Sarai assured him. "Everything is being recorded." Sarai said gently. "But... I don't know if you will be a safe at first. I know I will be." She took a deep, cleansing breath and nodded to the guard at the hatch. The hatch lowered and she stiffened slightly as outside air came rushing it. It and clean. The guards were not happy, but they did not move as she strode to the ramp that was finished extending now. "Royalty is not about privilege." Sarai said formally. "it is about service. I serve our people." She steeled herself and strode form the ship onto the grassy plain that had been selected as a landing site. She nodded to the form that appeared nearby. "Any problems?"

"None, queen, Sarai." The female Sitolon form said formally. "We await your command."

"Don't start. I do not command you. None of us do. You are intelligent and free. Equals, not servants. We ask, not command." Sarai snapped and then she sighed and relaxed. When she spoke again it was sad. "Sorry, I am stressed." The nanites waved the apology aside and she nodded. Are we clear?"

"All of the nanites have been scoured and cleansed of imbalanced coding." The nanite swarm intelligence assured her. "We are ready." The Sitolon shape raised two arms indicating a large open air amphitheater. The seating areas and stage were made of rough dressed stone, and the area all around was well tended. "The recordings will start when you mount the stage."

"I never should have let you all talk me into this." Sarai groused quietly as she started for the large stone stage. Behind her, many forms started exiting the large shuttle. Silver, black and bronze forms appeared and came down the ramp, along with several humans and other races. Several hooded forms walked out together. None would show their faces, but Sara and Istara would not miss this. A large and recognizable form brought up the rear. Cranna was happy, but somewhat melancholy. Katherine walked with her former boss, neither speaking in the silence that was broken only by the sounds of many beings taking up positions on the stones around the stage.

"We are ready." The nanite swarm said in the absolute silence that fell when the last of the beings stood in place. Sarai nodded and ascended the stage, careful to keep her golden legs steady despite the shaking she could feel in them. It was eerie. The wind did not sound, there were no animal sounds. Indeed, there were no animals to sound. The best the nanites had been able to reproduce were small simple insects. They were working on other, more complex forms and would be for a long, long time. Sarai strode to the middle of the stage and spoke in a calm voice.

"We return." Sarai looked around to all the people who surrounded her now. The other queens bowed their heads. Kicota, Mari and Ecmin remained silent. Sarai bowed her head as well, her antennae touching the ground at her feet. "For so long..." She said into the silence. "We have dreamed of returning to this world. We planned for it. We planned it all in exacting detail what would have to be done when we arrived." Sarai said slowly, feeling the stone under her antennae. "Part of me is not sure I believe it, even now." She straightened her huge golden form and sighed. "Many thousands of years ago, a wrong was done here. An evil on the scope of any that have happened in recorded galactic history."

"A young and unbalanced queen named Adagnosa did something horrific. Not through malice or a desire to hurt others, but through ignorance." Sarai said into the stillness. "She was not evil, but she did evil. And horror followed what she did. She went mad for a time, and was saved from her madness. A group of heroes stopped the horror with her help. But the damage was done." She slumped in place again. "It was assumed that most records were lost in the fall of our world, so it would never be known how many of our people died in the cataclysm that befell us. We were wrong." She nodded to the nanites who had taken Sitolon form and then nodded back. "Twenty six billion Sitolon perished in the cataclysm that took our world. They will be remembered." A murmur came to her from all the assembled Sitolon.

"We will remember."

"We will not forget the mistakes that led us here." Sarai said soberly. "We will not allow the nanites to be misused. By anyone." Sarai's voice turned hard. "Lohas." She called and the young nanite controller stepped forward.

"Yes, my queen?" Lohas asked calmly.

"Have you found any suitable candidates?" Sarai asked. Most of the assemblage looked at one another in bafflement. Sarai nodded to the assemblage. "The problem was that Adagnosa was one female. A queen and an exceptional one, but... One being, no matter how exceptional, cannot handle such pressures alone. So I asked Lohas to see if she could find others with the aptitude she shares."

"I have, my queen." Lohas said soberly. "Three was the normal number for the nanite controller councils of old. It was determined to be the best form to achieve compromise. Two of the beings from the assembled swarms met all the criteria we set and await your command."

"Bring them forward." Sarai said gently. A stir started in the ranks as two silver forms made their way forward. Both were small and both looked decidedly uncomfortable to be singled out. "We have met, through the hivemind, but now, let all know your names."

"I... I am Olandas..." The young female said slowly, unsure. "I do not wish this, Queen Sarai."

"I know." Sarai said sadly. "But it is needed. And you always may ask for my help in anything you need. But we need you. I will not compel you to take this burden, for burden it is. But we need you sorely."

"I..." The Sitolon who had been Imperial Agent Olandas in life nodded and knelt formally. "I understand, my life for the swarm. My life for the people." Sarai nodded to the kneeling bug and turned to the other.

"Ren?" She asked softly. "Are you sure?"

"I am not the human woman I was." The healer known as Ren said carefully. "I also do not want this. I am just a healer. But... But in ancient times, one healer, one warrior, one builder. That was the way. To keep any from excess, until Agnosa threw the whole system out of whack. I do not hate her. Even now, I cannot hate her."

"She was more to be pitied than hated." Sarai said calmly. "She was...confused, distraught and more than a little unbalanced by everything she encountered. She also had advisors who used her or their own gain." She shook herself. "These three, in the presence of all of these witnesses, I name you, Lohas, you Ren and you, Olandas, as the new Nanite Council for this world." Actually there were two more on the council, but Sarai wasn't about to tell the Empire and Republic about the nanites' intelligence or about Morey. His selection for the post had been... loud. It would take time for his new legs to grow even with Sitolon tech and a nanites. And after that, he would take time to get used to them again. So it made sense for him to have a job to keep him out of trouble. And if it kept a group of Bladeborn on planet? So much the better from Sarai's point of view.

"This world has been abused, my kin." Sarai said sadly. "So much was lost, not just our people. No Gr'lis roam the caverns. No more Loit rule the seas. No herds of 'Mar gallop across the plains. And none ever will again. There is much work to be done here, to rebuild this world, carefully. We must always take care. And on that note..." She turned to face the Republic and Imperial diplomats who looked back at her impassive. "We are not enemies, nor are we allies. We simply wish to be left alone to remake our world. In a few thousand years, when the reconstruction is well entrenched, we may change our view..." Someone in the audience snorted at that and was hushed by their fellows. "But for now, this world is neutral in your galactic disputes. Any aggression in this system will be met with overwhelming force. We just want to be left alone." Sarai said with a sigh.

"We could help..." The Imperial diplomat started to say and then paused as Sarai shook her head.

"Begging your pardon, Ambassador, and no insult intended to you." Sarai said calmly. "But your Empire exists to conquer anyone and everyone it meets. You exist to destroy. We will not be part of that. You may accept that, or not. But we..." She waved a claw to encompass the whole are, indicating all Sitolon. "...will not be held accountable for the consequences if you do not listen. Your fleets are powerful. But not that powerful." The Ambassador looked like he was going to retort and then thought better of it. Maybe he had seen the images of the three imperial battleships being eaten by nanites.

"As for the Republic..." Saria said to the smug looking Republic ambassador who suddenly looked less smug. "You had a mass of nanites as one of your senators and never even noticed that the world he was supposed to represent wasn't there." It wasn't really the Republic's fault. Firdlump had been insanely good at deception. "So don't put on airs." Sarai said flatly. "We will maintain relations with both the Empire and Republic. But we are totally neutral in your disputes. Keep them away from our borders or suffer the consequences." The Republic ambassador looked at his counterpart and sighed.

"I cannot speak for the Republic any more than my 'esteemed' counterpart..." The word 'esteemed' was heavily sarcastic. "...likely can for the Empire. But what of the Seven? The beings who ended this threat?"

"Some of them are dead, other hurt. The survivors are a matter for the Jedi and Sith." Sarai said softly. "I understand they are sending representatives. Until and unless the survivors recover, we will not surrender them to anyone. Our entire race owes those beings more than we can ever pay, but for now... Let this place... This theater, be a memorial to the sacrifice that saved us all..."

Lohas, Ren and Olandas joined claws and power flared from them. A stone plinth appeared beside her and she nodded as names appeared engraved in it.

First of the Seven- One to kill
Second of the Seven- One to Seek
Third of the Seven- One to Focus
Fourth of the Seven- One to Guard
Fifth of the Seven- One to Guide
Sixth of the Seven- One to Love
Seventh of the Seven- One to remember

"Let all who are here, and all who hear my words remember those whose sacrifice saved us all." Sarai said sadly. "If not for them, the nanite swarm would have been loosed, corrupted and insane on the galaxy. The horror that befell this world would have happened everywhere." Sarai bowed her head again and then raised it and her voice was a shout.

"For the Seven!" She screamed into the heavens and an echoing scream answered her from every Sitolon throat."We will remember!"
My stories in order:
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kalenath's Avatar

10.11.2012 , 04:57 AM | #10
<That night>

Nia woke up slowly. She was aware of many things as she did. Her mind ran in multiple directions as she tried to process everything that had happened, but each and every time, she kept running into the same brick wall.

My father is dead.

She shook herself minutely and a gentle, familiar voice spoke from nearby.

"Good evening Nia." Nia smiled and opened her eyes to see the Rakata who had spoken sitting nearby.

"Hello Nolikas." Nia said, unsurprised to find herself in the Imperious' Medical ward. She was lying on a bed, covered in medical gear, but she didn't hurt now and most of the readings she could see looked normal to her inexpert eye. "How many times does this make now? That you have put me back together?"

"I didn't do anything this time." Nolikas, Jedi healer, said quietly. "I just got here. Nia..." She asked as Nia nodded. "Are you all right?"

"My dad is dead." Nia said slowly. "I don't think 'All Right' is going to be on the books anytime soon."

"What happened?" Nolikas said, her tone very gentle as she laid a comforting hand on Nia's closest one. "I know the neural degradation was getting worse. But after what happened with Sharra..." Nolikas shuddered. "I expected things to explode."

"They did." Nia said sadly. "I..." She grunted as something hurt, deep, deep inside her body. She sternly ordered it to obey and it did. "I don't know what I can say."

"Nia, we need answers." Nolikas said sadly. "Grandmaster Satele herself is on the way. All we know is that a half dozen Imperial ships suddenly vanished off their patrol schedules and came here. Then a day later we got a message from Sarai of all people telling us the threat was stopped. Not how or at what cost."

"My father is dead, Nolikas." Nia said softly. "There is your cost."

"And the three battleships that had gone renegade?" Nolikas asked in a gently. calm tone.

"Gone." Nia sighed. "Along with three Imperial battlewagons. The nanites didn't leave anything behind that they could use. Organic or non-organic, it was all the same to them. Raw material." Nolikas gagged a little and then nodded.

"Things have changed." The healer traced the Bladeborn tattoo on Nia's arm without touching it. "Do you follow the light?"

"I walk in between darkness and light, Nolikas." Nia said formally. "I follow Ashla, not the Force now. I am True Bladeborn and I am gray."

"Always the hard way. Nia." Nolikas sighed. "Apparently every single Jedi felt whatever it was the Seven did. I can only assume every Sith did as well. You know how they will react. I..." Nolikas sounded as if she were going to weep. "Oh, Nia... I am sorry. I want to help. I want to ease the pain I feel from you and I can't."

"Grief is a natural part of life." Nia said soberly. "Anything that loves, grieves." She bowed her head and sighed. "I will miss him, even his exasperating moments. Especially those I think."

"What of Sara?" Nolikas asked. Nia didn't reply and Nolikas sighed. "Nia, please."

"You do not get that information." Nia said softly. "Feel free to try and probe my mind, it will hurt."

"Nia!" Nolikas snapped, shocked. "I wouldn't do that to you!"

"Maybe you wouldn't." Nia said, relaxing a little. "Other Jedi would not be so circumspect. Sara is not your problem anymore. She is a mess, but she will recover, given time and care, which we will give her."

"How can you know that?" Nolikas asked carefully. "You have been asleep here the whole time."

"Trade secret." Nia said with a smile. "Take it from me though, you do not want to know." Then she paused, her gaze going far away before refocusing on the Jedi.

"Probably not." Nolikas said with a sigh. "Other people will ask questions, many questions. Will you put them all off?"

"I don't have a lot of answers." Nia said sadly. "But this I can tell you. The threat is ended. The problem was that one of the masses of intelligent nanomachines was... infected I guess would be the best term."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa..." Nolikas said raising her hands in a 'stop' gesture. "There was more than one group of those things?"

"There were three." Nia said offhandedly. "Now there is one." She did not smile as Nolikas goggled at her. "Firdlump as he was known no longer exists. That mass was absorbed into the main nanite swarm. The one known a 'Bob' likewise."

"'Bob'?" Nolikas inquired, dumfounded.

"Yeah..." Nia looked uncomfortable for a moment and then sighed. "When it was created, that mass chose a name at random. It chose the name 'Bob'."

"Just when I think it cannot get any weirder around you, Nia." Nolikas complained whimsically. "Anyway, you were saying?"

"The nanites had been...well, the term 'sliced' was used, but it is a bit imprecise. They were not 'sliced, per say. Most of them were built with the same imbalanced coding." Nia said with a shrug that turned into a wince. "This imbalanced coding was apparently done by a bright young Sitolon that a powerful queen named Agnosa snubbed."

"Oh." Nolikas said with a grimace. "Jealousy is never a good thing."

"Nope, but in this case, it had one unintended side effect." Nia said quietly. "I have received permission to talk about this, and you may tell your Order, but we... um...request you keep the information close. You will understand."

"When did you talk to..." Nolikas froze in place and then nodded slowly. "You are part of the collective. Like the Senators were going to be."

"Um..." Nia hedged a bit. "Sort of. It's not quite so blatant, nor so controlling. And it is what allowed us to end the threat."

"How?" Nolikas asked fascinated. "If it was machine coding, that is a job for programmers, not warriors, yes?"

"What does a programmer do when he, she or it find bad code, Nolikas?" Nia asked softly. "Have you ever asked?"

"Not really." Nolikas said dubiously. "I know a little, but my focus has always been medicine."

"Okay, then, in medical terms. Think of it like a cancer cell. It grows, and grows and grows, rewriting other cells in it's image. Now... Think of that cancer cell as being capable of commanding other cells, of rewriting those cells to command others. All it would take was one." Nolikas paled.

"Then the nanites... Oh dear." She said with a shiver. "But then, how can they possibly be clean now, if all it takes is one?"

"All of the infected portions of memory were sequestered together. " Nia said sadly. "Unfortunately, by then, Dad's body was dead. His mind came, and helped us, but then..." She shook her head. "He sequestered the bad data inside himself and ordered Sara to delete it."

"He did...what?" Nolikas stared at Nia, uncomprehending.

"Look, I am not entirely clear on what happened. We were all in a huge group mind, things were... iffy." Nia said with a shudder. "All I know is that we were fighting, we were losing. If we lost, our minds would have been overwritten by the bad code, turning us almost instantly into agents for the malignant intelligence. Firdlump and Bob were fighting by then too, trying to hold off the insanity. Then Dad showed up." Nia laughed a little, sad and humorless. "He was a dragon."

"A dragon?" Nolikas asked, trying not to sound disbelieving.

"Yeah, a Krayt dragon." Nia said with a smile of memory. "He always did like showy entrances. Anyway... He swallowed the mass of a nanites that were threatening us. He couldn't destroy it, but he did distract the malignant intelligence. Then Sara..." Nia broke off, her eyes filling. "Sara deleted the data."

"By the Force!" Nolikas asked, shocked. "Sara killed Will?"

"She didn't have choice. It was the only way." Nia said sadly. "I know that. But I look at her and all I see is the female who killed my dad."

"Oh Nia." Nolikas said sadly. "I am so sorry. I need to report this."

"Make sure you tell them..." Nia said soberly. "That he commanded her to do it. It was his choice, not her's. It hurt her almost as badly as it hurt him, doing what was done. I... cannot forgive or forget. Not yet. I love her, she is my aunt. And I hate her. She killed my father. I will meditate on this, find clarity."

"I am glad you are not jumping into things Nia." Nolikas said gently, her expression and sense tint he Force calming. "You have grown up."

"Didn't really have a choice." Nia said with a smile. "Being an adult is better. harder, mind you, but better. Oh, and one more thing... The thing that stopped Firdlump and turned him to helping us stop the insane parts of code."

"Yes." Nolikas said soberly. "The Jedi will want to know what kind of power could do that."

"The strongest power of all." Nia said with a small grin. "Love."

Nolikas looked at her for a moment and then nodded soberly. The healer smiled, nodded to Nia and then left quickly. A moment later an older woman in nurse's attire came in and Nia smiled to her.

"Did I do okay, Mom?" Nia asked, her voice small.

"You did great, Nia. Will would have been proud." Jainine Korr said gently as she sat and held the now sobbing woman in the bed. "You told the truth."

"I..." Nia collapsed into the embrace, tears falling like rain. "Mom... I..."

"It's okay, Nia." Jainine said gently as she held the sobbing woman. "I have a cloned body and will not leave you again. Shh, shh..." She crooned and started to sing a soft, lullaby. Nia was soothed into sleep, but she fell asleep smiling.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here