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(L,F&E 36) A General Pain, A Royal Nuisance

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Fan Fiction
(L,F&E 36) A General Pain, A Royal Nuisance

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kalenath
06.23.2012 , 03:42 AM | #1
<Naboo>

Helen woke. Slowly. She hadn't expected to. Nolikas had been in tears when Helen had last awoken. She recalled fuzzy memories of someone else talking to her. Someone... female? She moved her fingers and toes and they hesitated, but then obeyed her commands, sluggish, feeling as if they were full of lead. She sighed in relief then jumped as a voice came from nearby.

“Helen.” Helen's eyes shot open and she was astonished to see her mother sitting beside her bed. And she wasn't on the ship, no, she was home! Helen opened her mouth, but her body wouldn't obey her. No sound came out. She focused and then spoke. Her voice sounded scratchy and ill used, even to her.

“M...Mother...?” The queen of Naboo made a small sound and then embraced Helen carefully. Helen could see she was festooned with medical gear. But she felt... good. Better than she had in quite a while actually. “What...?” Helen slumped to the bed. Those few words had drained her almost completely of energy.

“It's all right Helen. You will be all right.” Helen moved her arm in a careful movement until it was around her mother's shoulders. She focused on her mother's eyes, which glistened with unshed tears.

“What happened? Nolikas said...” Helen broke off as Firalia shook her head.

“They found a way. I am proud of you, Helen. But at the same time...” Her mother stepped back and now it was the queen who looked at the girl in the bed. “I am displeased with you. That is the same kind of damned fool stunt your dad might have pulled.”

"What?" Helen froze. Nelson hadn't been... “Your majesty, I don't understand.” The whole royal compound was bugged to a fair the well. Security services, media, and others. Why was her mother admitting that essentially to the public?

"Ah..." The queen sat again. Now her face was tired. “They know, Helen. The people wanted confirmation of your condition. One of the scans they did was genetic.”

Helen blanched. Her official father wouldn't have shown up on that. And Will Kalenath's genetic scans wouldn't be on file. And it was doubtful that Firlia could officially claim Will as Helen's dad. Much as she might want to. That made her a bastard child, out of succession. And that...

“Who can succeed then? If I can't?” Naboo was strange in many ways. They had a hereditary monarchy. People raised from birth to rule to place the lives and fortunes of their subject before their own. To serve. As Helen had been raised and trained to do. When a ruler died without an heir, they elected a successor. That was what had happened to Firalia. She had taken the office with the stipulation that she only serve the two four year terms. But then, crisis after crisis came. The Sith, pirate and slaver raids, the Republic acting aloof and superior and not helping. The Gungans being stubborn,a s was their wont. The sacking of Coruscant. The Stormhawk. The list went on and on. Helen wracked her brain but only came up with a few candidates. And most unsuitable for one reason or another. “Majesty... If you don't have a successor...” Helen flinched. Her history studies had been thorough. If her people lacked a strong leader... But Helen froze as the queen grinned. When she spoke, there was humor hiding under her words.

“I understand that is under discussion.”

<Somewhere nearby>

Let me go!” Sara Kalenath held tight to the younger girl as she struggled to keep the infuriated girl from following the court functionary who was, finally, bidding a hasty retreat. The door slammed behind him and the irate youngster turned to Sara with a fulminating look in her eyes. “I wouldn't have killed him...”

"Natasha..." Sara had to laugh. “No you wouldn't have. And yes, I wanted to hurt him too. What an idiot...”

The humor in Sara's tone was too much. Natasha Anastasia Regina, the next in line for the crown of Naboo giggled. There was something slightly unnerving about the girl giggling, but then, she was only nine years old. She sighed and sat. This was just too much.

“I don't want to be queen.” Sara nodded and sat as well. She did stay between Natasha and the door however. Natasha was... in word, dangerous. Having been trained by the Bladeborn sect of the Sith since she was six, the nine year old was lethal beyond belief for a child. The good news was that she respected Sara. The few bouts they had done in a practice ring found them very well matched. Sara had a longer reach, Natasha was fast! The current score was a dead heat. Both were good enough to know that if they ever did fight one another for real hand to hand, both would probably die. Even in armor, Sara wasn't sure she could take Natasha, so it was a good thing they had become friends.

“My initial reaction was [I'holy osik'[/I] myself.” Natasha giggled again. She contemplated Sara and then relaxed a bit. Sara sighed herself but for different reasons. Natasha's training wouldn't let her relax. Ever. “But that isn't all that is bothering you is it?”

“Are you sure you are not telepathic?” Natasha asked with a grin but it faded quickly. “Yeah. I miss them...” She shook her head, mad at herself for showing weakness. But Sara spoke quietly.

“Of course you miss them." The slightly older girl's voice held sympathy. "They showed you the first kindness you had seen in two years.” Blondie had filled Sara in on Natasha's past and Sara had agreed to act as a sort of buffer between the Nabooese and Natasha, at least until Natasha was sure enough on her own. “And they taught you to stand on your own two feet. That is a good thing.”

“They didn't share any secrets with me, why won't these idiots believe that?" Natasha sighed. And I was a student, it wasn't like the grandmaster took me into his confidence all the time...” Sara shook her head slowly.

“They don't know the Bladeborn. And it is common nature to fear what one does not understand.” Sara scoffed. “I know more than many and that just makes me more afraid, not less.”

The dark humor in Sara's voice was too much and Natasha laughed again. “Its all well making me laugh Sara, but... I don't want to remember before they found me. I don't...”

Sara flinched and then stood up. She walked to Natasha's chair and knelt beside her. She took both of the younger girls hands in gentle grips. Natasha didn't pull back. That was a first. Usually she recoiled, then relaxed.

“I understand.” Her simple words were calm and gentle and Natasha shook herself. She had been told what happened to Sara, why Leeto and the other Bladeborn walked carefully around her. “But sooner or later, you will have to talk about it. It helps. It truly does. It hurts, a lot. But it does help.” Without a word Natasha embraced the older girl, tears falling unmarked by either of them.
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kalenath
06.23.2012 , 03:45 AM | #2
<The next day, at a well guarded private estate>

Firalia sighed. This was not going well.

“I don't want to be a queen.” Natasha repeated for the fifth, or was it the sixth time? Firalia had known this conversation was going to be rough. But she had truly had no idea. She thanked the stars she had made sure Sara was there before talking to Natasha. Matter of fact... She snorted quietly at the thought that had just flitted across her mind. Sara stared at her and shook her head.

“Not going to happen. First of all, I am not Nabooese. Second of all, I have unfinished business.”Both the queen and Natasha looked at her. Sara shrugged. “No I am not telepathic, but the thought is obvious. I will support both of you. But I am no planetary leader.”

“And you thing I am?” Natasha stared at her and then flinched as the queen laughed. But it was amused, not sarcastic. Firalia motioned to Natasha and the girl approached, carefully, cautiously. Like a beaten pet, the queen thought with a pang. Firalia did as she would with any scared animal. She held her hand out and waited. After a long moment, Natasha came close and the queen took Natasha's hands in hers. The guards didn't approve, but Firalia couldn't have cared less. This was her daughter. When Firalia spoke, it wasn't the queen talking, it was a mother.

“Natasha, I was raised as an accountant's daughter. My father, your grandfather, was good at what he did. Good enough that he managed to wind up in control of the estate you are on now. As well as four others. The people of those estates trusted him to act in their best interests. And the other nobles really had no choice but make him one of them. He ignored them.”

Natasha bit back a sound of disbelief and Firalia smiled in memory. She stroked the girls hand and sighed inwardly as Natasha recoiled momentarily. But she continued to speak, quiet, calm, and with a soothing tone in her voice and Natasha relaxed, just a bit.

“He ignored them right up until the king sent for him.” the queen smiled ruefully. “When the king says something, you better listen...” At the rueful humor in her voice, both girls smiled. “So he became a noble, very much against his will. I was... four, when that happened.” There was an odd note in her tone, almost wistful. “From that point on, I was trained for service. Not like some people seem to be, trained for self-service, but service to others.” Natasha froze and Firalia let her hand drop. When she spoke it was quiet.

“Is that what the man who sired me thought...” She broke off as the queen's face took on a sad look.

“Yes.” Firalia obviously was troubled but she shook herself and continued. “He felt that it was his due as a noble, to have it better than others. Due to his birth. When the people rejected his claims, he tried extra-legal methods.” Natasha blinked, and then her face got hard as the meaning became clear. But then she shook her head.

“If he did that... then why would I be considered a successor?” There was hope as well as curiosity in her voice. Firalia sighed.

“Because he was known. His records were on file. So they can confirm that you are his daughter and mine.” Sara looked like she was going to say something, but shut her mouth with a click. The queen looked at her. “I know. I asked him, more than once. But he always said that being his daughter would be dangerous, for her and everyone around her. So... I agreed. No one questioned it. She was obviously Nelson's daughter. And after he died...” She sighed. “I should have known that sooner or later it would come out. But he is right. If we acknowledge her as his daughter, the people wouldn't mind. The nobles can go hang for all I care, but the Republic... and the Sith...” Sara nodded. It wasn't fair, to Helen or her dad, but then again, the universe wasn't known for being fair. Natasha slumped.

“So... I am the only choice...?” Natasha's voice was plaintive. Firalia shook her head.

“There are... others...” Her tone was dubious though and Natasha edged closer as the queen sighed.

“What is wrong with them?” Natasha was surprised when the queen laughed without humor.

“What isn't wrong with them is a shorter list. Mostly noble's sons and daughters who haven't had to work a day in their lives. Some of them are actually decent sorts. Not enough of them. And none of them understand the true meaning of service. For them, service is what they get when they ring a bell.” Natasha looked at her. The queen's tone was dark and acid etched. Natasha flinched back, recoiling.

“Natasha?” Sara's voice was worried. Both Sara and Firalia looked at Natasha.

“What's wrong Natasha?” Firalia's tone was worried. Sara moved closer to the younger girl. Natasha looked from one to the other then without a word, she turned away from them. She snarled and slapped herself, HARD. Sara was instantly at her side.

“Natasha...” Sara asked softly. Natasha looked at the older girl, then her face closed.

“I am all right.” Natasha said slowly. Sara looked form the younger girl to Firalia who sighed.

“No you are not." Sara said slowly. "And I don't blame you.” She stepped up and took Natasha's shoulders in a gentle grip. Surprisingly, Natasha relaxed, as if that kind of touch reassured her. “If I blame anyone I blame me. But this is your demon to fight. I can't help you, much as I want to.”

She embraced the girl and for just a moment Natasha was a scared nine year old, and then her mask settled back into place and she slithered out of the embrace and stepped away. The other two let her go and Natasha moved to a window where she could see the outside. Sara looked at Firalia and spoke.

“Can I use your com system? I would like to make a call.” Firalia nodded. Sara walked up to the window, careful to let Natasha see her coming. She stood for a moment, just letting the younger girl see her. Then she nodded to Natasha and left the room. Firalia sat. Worry, sorrow and rage were etched on her features. Worry for her daughter. Sorrow for the hurts that Natasha had endured. And rage that anyone would do such things to a child.

“I am all right your majesty.” Natasha spoke from the window.

“No you are not. I want to help, but all I do is hurt. I...” Firlia broke off as Natasha came from the window and then, in a graceful move, knelt.

“I need to learn more. Quickly. I do understand what you say about service. The Bladeborn live and die in service. That makes them fairly knowledgeable about the various forms service can take. From fealty to slavery.” Firalia nodded at Natasha's soft words. “If you believe that this is needed, I will do as you wish. But I do not wish this...”

“Neither did I, Natasha. Neither did I...”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.23.2012 , 03:53 AM | #3
<Later>

Sara sat at the com cubicle and tried not to fret. Natasha was functional, but... the call went through and Sara smiled as the person she had been trying to reach for the last two hours appeared to the screen. It was a monumental pain to send the signal through so may secure links, but it was worth it to maintain the colony's isolation. The last thing any of them wanted was the Republic or the Empire to find out where the colony was.

“Sara? What is wrong?” Maria frowned as she asked. Sara smiled. As always her mom could pick up on her moods. Even from half the galaxy away.

“Have you been following the news from Naboo?” Sara asked. Maria Kalenath Ordo looked at her daughter and shook her head.

“Not really, I know Helen was going home. And I heard she recovered. Nothing about how. And thank goodness nothing about you.” Sara nodded. If SHE made the holovids, bad things would happen.

“We found Helen's sister. Apparently after Nelson Gan was killed, the Queen remarried.” Maria nodded. “The daughter she had vanished.”

“I remember something about that, a mystery...” Maria mused. Sara nodded.

“A mystery that has been solved now." Sara acknowledged. "The Sith took her after a raid on the ship she was on.” Maria winced. “It gets worse. The Sith Lord who took her used her for things...” Maria's eyes got hard. “Far as I can tell, not for that, but I think it was coming, someday. He kept her locked in the dungeon except when he experimented on her.” Now Maria looked angry and Sara nodded. “I understand completely, but... Anyways, its gets better.”

Maria waved for Sara to continue and Sara smiled. “Guess who rescued her?” Maria's eyes shot open.

“No way...?” Sara nodded.

“Yep, the Bladeborn took her in, even though she isn't Force sensitive.” Sara smiled. She hadn't ever seen her mom dumbstruck before. Maria sat back at that.

“They do feel strongly about children in danger." Maria said slowly. "Sharlina said as such on several occasions.” Sara nodded. She had gotten the same impression from the Bladeborn she had met.

“They had her from the time she was six. She is nine now. “ Sara's voice turned compassionate and Maria exhaled and Sara continued. “Yeah, they took her as a student apparently. What's is even stranger is I have it on the best of authority that she can't use the Force.”

At that Maria sat back. “What do you need?”

“Advice mainly.” Sara sighed. “I don't know who to ask about this, and I am not a good guardian for a nine year old.” Maria actually laughed at that. Her daughter did manage to get in a lot of trouble.

“You know about the nightmares, and the flashbacks. Hmmm...” Maria shook her head. “I can't leave right now. This is getting tricky. My best advice, do what Trava did with you. Ask the queen of she can find someone suitable for a guardian.” Sara nodded.

“How is Cyare?" Sara asked slowly. "I felt bad, just dumping him and the others like that...” Maria nodded.

“Not your fault." Maria shrugged. "And they understand it. And Cyare...well... he is busy.” Sara giggled.

“You didn't...?” Sara broke off with a wide grin as Maria grinned widely. “Mom, you evil, evil woman...”

“My time is almost up Sara. I love you.” Sara nodded.

“Give everyone my love, and yeah Mom, I love you too...” Sara sat as the screen went dark. Then she sighed and walked out. Time to get some advice and give some.

<Later, the queen's private sitting room>

“Then she fell asleep. I... I don't know if I am helping or hurting.” The queen sighed as she sipped her drink. Sara nodded as she sipped her fruit juice. She could drink alcohol. But no one in their right mind wanted her drunk.

“Give her time." Sara counseled. "She wants to do the right thing, for you and Naboo. But she needs time to adjust.” Firalia looked at Sara.

“When did you get so wise?” The queen asked with a smile. Sara smiled sadly. Firalia grimaced. “Oh...”

“Yeah, adopting 24 sick kids at once does that to you." Sara said ruefully. "Speaking of sick kids, how is Helen?” Firalia smiled.

“Better. She woke again and ate a full meal this time. Nolikas is taking her off support tomorrow.” Sara smiled and then sobered.

“Your Majesty, I can't stay here. Every moment I am here, you and your people are in danger.” The queen snarled, but Sara was not to be dissuaded. “The Sith and Republic are hunting my brother. The faction of Republic Intelligence that built those droids is hunting me, my mom and my brother while we are hunting them... Too much chance for collateral damage here. I'll be gone in the morning as soon as I say goodbye to her.”

The queen shook her head, but Sara had a point. Having her here was dangerous. She stood and walked to Sara,w ho rose. She embraced the young girl.

“Tomorrow comes too soon, as always. But you will always have a place here.” Sara nodded and her eyes glistened.

“I know.”

<The next morning>

“I have to go, Natasha.” Sara didn't even try and disengage the girl's arms from her. Matter of fact, she hugged the girl back, just as tight. For one thing, she felt the same way. For another, she oved the younger girl as much as a sister, more maybe... Both were holding their tears in by their fingernails.

“I don't want you to. But... I know you have to.” Sara smiled sadly.

“You are not alone, and if you ever need me. Anytime, anywhere, at any price...” She handed Natasha a card. On it was her personal com number. Sara hugged Natasha again, then extricated herself and without a further word, turned and left the room. To hunt again. It wasn't until after she was in her shuttle that she let tears fall.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.23.2012 , 03:58 AM | #4
<The next day>

Helen came awake. She cracked her eyes and smiled. Nolikas smiled back.

“All done?” Helen asked in the weak tone that was all she could manage. Nolikas promised her that her strength would come back, but for now, she was stuck.

“Everything is out except for monitors. Those will come out next week, when I am sure you are recovering as predicted. And won't do anything dumb.” Helen could see the Rakata was still annoyed with her.

“I am sorry Nolikas. I should have...” Helen started to say, but the Jedi interrupted her.

“You should have listened to me. You should have... Oh Helen...” Nolikas sat by the bedside and shook her huge head. “Don't scare me like that. Ever again, young lady. Clear?”

“I couldn't have said that better myself.” Nolikas shot to her feet and Helen turned her head to see her mother and... Helen cocked her head and smiled at the young girl accompanying the queen. The girl smiled back. “Helen, I want you to meet your sister, Natasha.” Helen's eyes went wide and then she lifted her hand off the bed and extended it to the girl, who came forward.

“Nolikas said you were the reason I lived. Thank you.” Natasha took Helen's hand in hers and nodded gravely back. The queen smiled at them.

“I need to talk to Nolikas for a moment, can you two girls stay out of trouble for a while?” Helen grinned and Natasha shared it. The queen shook her head. “Sorry, silly question... Helen. Behave.” This last was a command and Helen nodded. The queen and the Jedi walked out of the room. Helen looked at Natasha and Natasha shrugged. Helen snorted.

“You can sit down. I... You were just a toddler when you disappeared. I doubt you remember me.” Natasha sat, perched on the edge of her chair, as if ready to bolt. Helen looked at her. “I am no threat to you.” Natasha sighed.

“I know, its just... training." Natasha shook her head at Helen's expression. "I can't relax, I always expect attacks.” Helen looked at the younger girl and Natasha sighed.

“I don't remember the attack on the convoy, or before it. Mostly anyway. Just fragments... But I think... I think I remember you...” The girl broke off as Helen hit the bed controls, which obliged her by angling her upper body up so she could see better. Helen looked closely at Natasha and then blanched.

“What... What did they do to you?” Helen's voice was low and filled with horror. Natasha shrugged.

“The group I was part of found me in a dungeon... I had apparently been there for two years... I don't remember most of that... And what I do remember I don't want to...” Natasha's words came slowly, but Helen gave her time. She was trying to sort through her own feelings. Horror, fear, anger... But Helen focused on Natasha again as the younger girl shook her head. “I was a mess when the Bladeborn brought me to their home.”

“The Bladeborn?” Helen asked quietly. Natasha nodded and her face became slightly less frozen.

“Yeah.” Mira's soft word held all kinds of meaning. Helen shook her head slowly.

“So...” Helen winced as sore muscles protested. Natasha looked at her and nodded.

“I was trained by them." Natasha admitted. "I don't think it was originally intended to be real. It was just a way to break me out of the state I was in, but... I enjoyed it. I pushed, I made myself better. But...” Natasha broke off and Helen nodded slowly.

“You can't use the Force.” Natasha nodded her face a mask again. Helen extended a hand. After a long moment, Natasha took it and Helen gave her sister a tiny squeeze. “Neither can I. It never stopped me. I doubt it will stop you.”

Natasha had to grin at the whimsy that underlaid the iron in the older girl's voice. But Helen wasn't done. “You saved my life. I owe you.” Natasha recoiled a bit, letting Helen's hand go. “What?”

Natasha shook her head slowly. But she stopped moving. When she spoke it was low and quiet.

“Bladeborn feel that when someone saves the life of one of them, the debt must be repaid. If it costs the life of the debtor, that is all right as long as the debt is paid. I am not going to let you throw your life away.” Helen sat back in the bed and then nodded.

“If I start on that road, feel free to kick sense into me.” Natasha looked at her and Helen grinned. “Gently please?”

The humor was too much and both girls laughed a bit.

<Outside>

“Your Majesty, if she doesn't trust any of us, what can we do?” Nolikas hadn't been sure what the queen had wanted, but this was unexpected to say the least.

“Then we need to show her that some people are worthy of trust." Firalia replied evenly. "She was trained by them. You know what that means.” Nolikas nodded slowly. She did.

“What do you need?” The healer asked, glad to be back on professional ground. The queen sighed.

“I need a full workup. Full physical, whatever you can tell me. The government on the other hand need a genetic scan done soonest. Sara did it on the ship and it is confirmed, but... We need it official.” Nolikas sighed.

“You monarchy types are always so...” The Jedi shook her huge head in exasperation.

“Hidebound?” The queen asked with a sour grin and the Jedi healer surprised herself with a snort.

“Yeah. That works.” But Nolikas was frowning. “If she was abused...” The queen's face set in hard lines.

“Then we need to know.” Nolikas stared at her.

“And if she was tampered with?” The Jedi's voice was barely audible. Now the queen stared out the window.

“Then we really need to know...”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.23.2012 , 04:01 AM | #5
<Three days later>

Natasha tried not to squirm. It was hard. The bed was comfortable. But the scanners trained on her and the wires attached to her made her feel very, very wrong. The tube scanner was state of the art, utterly high tech. And she had no problem with enclosed spaces. So what the flarg was wrong with her? She sternly told herself to behave. She had promised. But she hated this room. Something about it was just... She started as Nolikas' came from a speaker nearby.

“We don't have to do this today.” The Rakata's kind voice was worried. Natasha shook her head as much as she could in the head rest. The healer spoke again. “Natasha...”

“If I don't do it today...” Her voice was strained, even to her ears. “I will never have the guts...” She focused on her breathing and managed to relax a bit. Then she flinched as the platform she was on started moving. “Wha...?”

As soon as her head was out of the tube, she froze on seeing Nolikas bending towards her. The Rakata stopped and then slowly reached for her. The Rakata started removing the lead wires in silence. Natasha let the healer do what she had to, and then sat up on her own. When the girl spoke, her voice held worry. “Why did you stop?”

"Natasha..." Nolikas sighed. “The genetic scans are done. For the rest...” The Rakata waved Natasha to a chair and Natasha sat. She snarled a bit as the gown she was wearing hiked up and she took long minutes smoothing it. Nolikas shook her bulbous head slowly and turned both of her eyestalks to gaze at Natasha.

“The reason the garment is so flimsy is so it will not interfere with the scans.” Natasha sighed. “Your emotions are throwing them off too.” At that, Natasha froze. Nolikas continued in a calm tone. “No one blames you for feeling what you do. No one at all. But...” Natasha shook her head slowly.

“I don't...” She broke off. Noliaks sat, a strange looking statue. Somehow though, her eyes conveyed compassion and concern. Natasha continued. “I know I have to face this. I just...” She shook herself and moved. But Nolikas caught her hand in a gentle but irresistible grip before she could slap herself.

“Stop that. And are you going to hit me?” Natasha froze the counterstrike she had started and Nolikas let the wrist go. It was ingrained in the girl not to hurt healers. Especially since the healer she had known for two years could have easily beaten the snot of out almost anyone she knew. Natasha relaxed, slowly. And not completely.

“No...” Natasha slumped. It seemed that no matter what she did, she did something wrong. The Jedi sighed and sat back.

“It's not your fault." The healer said gently. "But if you can't face this, you will never be able to conquer it.” Natasha bristled, but Nolikas was unmoved. “You need to face this.”

Natasha slumped. Then she started speaking.

“My first clear memory is... It was just before... one of the Bladeborn... one of them found me...”

<Almost four years previous>

Natasha lay on her tiny pallet and tried not to shiver. He had been at her again. She had no idea what he did or why. It just made her feel wrong. He never touched her, no. It was something else. His machines, yes, they touched her, a lot. Sometimes it hurt, sometimes it felt good, and most other times it just felt strange. She thought back. How long had she been here? How long had it been? She couldn't remember.

It hurt sometimes when she tried to remember. But it was one way she could fight. So she kept trying. She could see faces. A woman, a girl, then... soldiers in helmets and the Master. She felt... odd. Maybe she had eaten something bad? She was fed regularly. The food was moderately awful, usually a stew and maybe some bread. It filled her. The water always tasted funny. But she had to drink, she knew that. She was always tired and she slept a lot. But...

She froze as the door of the cell that had been her home for as long as she could easily remember opened. It didn't clang open as it did when the master's droids came for her. No... It eased open. And standing there...

She stared at the apparition, bemused. The man wore black. That made him a bad guy. Didn't it? And his eyes were covered. A bandage? Something came to her mind, a... book? A story? Something about beings who judged. About beings who carried lost souls to their afterlife. She looked at the stranger and spoke calmly and quietly.

“Are you Death then? If so, you took your time...” She could have sworn the man blinked at her. Of course through the bandage it was impossible to tell. When he spoke there was humor mixed in with anger in his words. He walked in slowly, and she could tell he was mad.

“Not yours. What's your name?” She recoiled a bit. Making people angry was never a good thing, especially here. She tensed and spoke in the monotone that the Master preferred.

“A-5.” The man recoiled and she wondered what she had done wrong. But then he went to his knees beside her and touched her on the cheek.

“No child, your name. What's your name?” She blinked at him. Kindness was something she vaguely remembered. She tried to recall, tried to think. Tears came.

“I... I can't remember...” She was so empty. The strange man nodded.

“This will be a bit scary, but don't move.” The man in black said gently. She froze as a black and silver hilt flew by itself into his hand. She stared at it. She knew what that was, she knew, but she couldn't... A loud hum was heard and a red blade appeared. Two swift moves and it vanished. She blinked as the chains... the bonds she had worn for as long as she could remember... and the collar that had been locked around her neck for as long as she could remember... They all fell off. She stared at the man.

“Well, I can't call you A-5. So... how about I call you Mira until we find your family?” He was growing larger? No she was growing smaller... She fell into darkness.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.23.2012 , 04:06 AM | #6
<Some time later>

When she woke, she was warm, dry and comfortable. Parts of her body were a bit tight, but nothing hurt. She opened her eyes and was amazed. She had been half convinced that her imagination had made up the strange rescuer. But no. She was not in the cell that she knew. She wasn't sure where she was except... The black form nearby held something that glistened silver in the bright light. A scream tore from her as she saw the strange shapes and colors around her and she was struggling trying to get out of the bed. She barely felt the tugs as wires and tubes came loose from her body.

“Easy girl, easy...” Strong hands held her down and she stared up into liquid eyes. Huge eyes. “It's all right. You are all right...” The furred form held her down easily, but was obviously trying not to hurt her. She shook her head, terrified. Another voice came.

“Ona back off.” The girl's eyes went to a corner and went wide as dinner plates as she beheld another form looking at her. She barely noticed the furred form releasing her and stepping back. She was too scared to move. Too scared to breath. But the huge scaled from didn't come any close. Instead, it spoke again, gentle, kind. “You are in no danger here. Breath girl.”

But she couldn't. Those eyes held her tight. Her chest constricted and she felt odd, but she couldn't... She recoiled and her cheek stung. She looked away from the larger form to the furred one and suddenly her eyes were brimming. The floodgates opened and she was crying. She wasn't sure how, but in an instant, she was rocking in warm scaled arms that felt oddly soft. Words came to her ears.

“That'sss it, girl. That'sss it. Let it out.” A long sibilant hiss came, seeming annoyed and gentle at the same time. “Ssso young to have ssseen ssso much. Go ahead and cry. It helpsss.” She took that advice, tears falling in sheets.

After a time, it could have been minutes or days, she was all cried out. And she was relaxed enough to look at the strange being who held her. It was the huge scaled form that had scared her so much. But now, she wasn't afraid. Or, not as afraid.

“Who are you?” Her voice was quiet, as if she was afraid to speak too loudly. The being who held her replied just as quiet.

“My name isss long and hard for humansss to pronounccce." The huge scaled form replied. "But, you may call me 'Mama Lizard'.” The girl looked at her, somewhere between shock and bemusement.

“You are not my Mama.” The girl said dubiously. The huge lizard shook her head.

“No I am not. But... Until we can locate your Mama... Can I ssstand in for her?” The girl thought about that for a long moment, and then buried her face in a scaly arm and nodded. The voice of the furred one came.

“My name is Ona. I am sorry for frightening you. I didn't think you would wake so soon. Idjit says you can't remember your name, and that he called you Mira.” The girl nodded again. “Mira then. Mira, we have to finish filtering the toxins out of your system.”

Mira looked up into Ona's eyes. Ona nodded. “You are sick from what the man who had you did to you. He drugged you and poisoned you. We don't know why. We do know we can help you. Will you let us?”

Mira thought hard for a long moment and then relaxed slowly, carefully. She didn't want to leave the warm embrace. But now that her burst of energy was gone, she felt odd, very odd. Light and feathery. The scaled arms deposited her gently back on the bed, and Ona came close.

“You will sleep. When you wake again, you will be better.” Mira smiled slightly on the edge of sleep.

“I will hold... you to that...”

<Later>

“I don't understand.” Mira was still getting used to this. The whole idea of people being NICE to her was odd enough. But people wearing black and carrying red bladed lightsabers being nice to her was even stranger. The man who had imprisoned her for so long had worn black and carried a red bladed lightsaber. But Ona and the others were nothing like the other had been. For one thing, they carried lightsabers, but rarely used them. Instead, they all carried swords. Ona was feeding her. She was simply too weak to do anything but sit upright, and even that tired her. Ona didn't seem to mind.

“There is a cure for that. Ask. What don't you understand?” Ona held out a full spoon and Mira dutifully opened her mouth. Once the girl had swallowed the bite, she spoke carefully.

“You are... Sith...?” Ona nodded as she dipped the spoon into the bowl of soup again. They were staying away from stew after the one time they had tried to get her to eat some and she had been violently ill. Small wonder, she had spent almost two years on various forms of poisons and drugs. Small wonder that she had gaps in her memories as well. It was a large wonder that the girl was sane.

“We are. We serve the Empire.” There was no room for misinterpretation in Ona's words. Ona held up the spoon and Mira sighed and took the offering. Mira sighed after she had swallowed.

“Then why are you helping me? Why did the man with the cloth over his eyes free me? The Master is Sith...” Ona smiled grimly as she held up another spoonful. Dutifully, Mira ate it.

“Was.” Mira froze. Ona patted her hand where it lay on the bed. “He was Sith. He was also, conspiring against the Empire. Which is what Sith do. Fortunately for you and unfortunately for him, he stepped too far out of line and was caught doing it. That's why Idjit was there.” Mira goggled at the furred healer.

“Idjit?” Mira asked incredulously after another spoonful. Ona smiled.

“That is what he calls himself. Would you argue with him?” Mira thought for a long moment and then made a noise. It took her a long moment to realize it was a laugh. She hadn't laughed in a long time. Ona smiled as she dipped the spoon again. “Smart girl...”

<A week later>

“I am sorry child, what you ask is not feasible.” Mira stood at a close approximation of attention. One did not meet the grandmaster of any order without showing respect. This order... She was scared to her toes, but certain at the same time. The fact that this grandmaster barely was tall enough while standing to reach her shoulders was immaterial. He sat, looking her over.

“I am not asking you to make me a member of your order." Mira said slowly. "I simply wish to learn.” Trugoy sat back at that. And she was sure she had startled him. When he spoke his voice was quiet and thoughtful.

“What do you wish to learn?” The grandmaster asked with a small smile. Mira smiled slightly.

“Everything I can.” Mira replied. At that, Trugoy smiled widely, and Mira knew that her life might not be easy, but she would have a place, for now anyway.
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06.23.2012 , 04:10 AM | #7
<Naboo, the present>

Natasha stopped talking and slumped. Nolikas sighed and took the girl's shoulders in gentle hands.

“If you want, you can sleep through the scans. I think that might be for the best.” Natasha didn't look up. “Natasha?” Natasha shook her head.

“I have to face this. I have to do it.” The girl's words were soft, but the determination that underlaid them was easy to hear. Nolikas shook her head. And then she gave Natasha gentle shake.

“No you don't. You have faced it. You have conquered it. All you have to do now is realize that.” Natasha looked up and blinked glistening eyes at her. Nolikas grinned. “Tell me I speak an untruth...”

Natasha stared at her. Then her face lit up. “Thank you.” She said simply.

“Don't thank me yet, we have a long day and a whole bunch of tests to get done.” The humor under Nolikas serious words was infectious and Natasha rose to her feet chuckling.

“Then lets get them done, shall we?" Natasha smiled, more open than she had ever been in the healer's care. "And I will defer to your expertise. If you think I should sleep through this...” Nolikas rose as well and guided Natasha back to the scanner.

“I do.” Natasha lay back down onto the machine and Nolikas hooked the sensor wires back to the leads glued to her scalp and reattached the wires to the other leads. Then she stopped. Natasha sighed and extended and arm. With gentle hands Nolikas inserted a line into her bloodstream, then tied the arm down gently. Natasha exhaled and tried to relax.

“I need you to count back from ten. OK?” Natasha nodded and started counting aloud. By the time she had reached seven, her eyes were drooping, and she lost consciousness about the time she reached four.

<Nearby, not much later>

Helen stood. It felt good to be out of the bed. Very good. The rest of this though she could have done without. The woman who had been speaking continued.

“I am afraid your position is nonnegotiable, Helen.” Helen looked out the window. She was sure that somewhere out there, somewhere across the lawn of the planetary capital's hospital, SOMEONE was having fun. She certainly wasn't. It seemed that nowhere she went these days did she not run into somebody giving her more bad news. She understood a lot of it, but not this. She turned to face the speaker and almost all of the people in the room flinched bit from her regard. She focused on the woman who had spoken. Aime Something or other from some bureau of personnel management. A book keeper in other words. The woman looked away, refusing to meet Helen's furious eyes. Helen turned her gaze to the only person in the room who would meet here eyes. Her commanding General.

“Helen...” His voice was soft, but unyielding. She met his eyes and she saw a spark of sincere appreciation for her dilemma in those cool brown depths.

“Let me make sure I understand your position, Miss whatever the flarg your name is.” The woman started an angry retort and froze when her eyes met Helen's cold ones. “Because I refuse to name my father, you are denying me the chance to serve my planet. And threatening me with incarceration, 'for my own good of course'...” Her gaze swept to the other two people in the room. Now she made her disdain quiet clear. 'Captain' Jeril and 'Attache' Molop from the Republic Embassy had offered themselves as themselves available to her at 'any time'. Essentially, because they both served Republic intelligence, that was a somewhat veiled order for her to be debriefed on where she had been with the fleet. She had been less that polite in telling them what they could do with their 'order'. That had kept them away for a day, then they had returned with her commanding officer and this... person. “Because I will not answer their illegal questions?”

The woman stammered something but General Right silenced her with a wave. “What do you mean Helen?”

Helen nodded to her commander. “I told these Republic Intelligence pukes that I wouldn't answer the questions they posed to me. They made some comments that could be construed as threats directed at my ability to continue in service. They offered me amnesty and a somewhat dubious 'pardon'. For what I am not sure. Since I don't think I have broken any Naboo laws.” The general cast a sidelong look at the two Republic officers, who looked a bit less confident now.

“I see.” The general sighed. Then he stood and made his way towards the door. Attache Molop made a sound of protest.

“General?” When the General turned to regard the staffer, both of them shrank back from the older man's regard.

“I had my doubts about both of you, but since your credentials checked out, it was no big deal. Of course now that I have heard both sides, I want you both off planet on the next ship.” Both of them went wide eyed at that, but he wasn't done. “And since you have obviously suborned this idiotic witch.” He waved his hand at the bureaucrat and she stiffened. “You can take her with you. And you can tell your Special Branch masters, that the next time I see one of you scum I will have you shot.” The attache actually gibbered a bit. But the general still wasn't done. “I know who her dad is, you know who her dad is. The fact that she refuses to tell you even after such a grilling as you and your pet nincompoop here have spent all afternoon wasting her and my time, means she has more honor and integrity in the little toe of her left foot that your entire service can muster.”

His voice didn't raise. His face was almost serene. But all three of the others froze.

“Get off my planet and take your pet with you. In two hours I am issuing a shoot on sight order.” All three stared at him and he literally barked. “Now!

All three were out the door and Helen could only stare after them in amazement. “You wouldn't really...” The general turned and grinned at her and she slumped in relief. Much as she disliked certain factions within the Republic, causing an interstellar incident over this would be a bad thing. General Right came back in and sat down. Suddenly he looked a lot less like a general and more a tired old man.

“This is a problem, Helen.” Helen nodded. “You are not exactly secure here. But the Militia does not leave its own hanging. And you are one of us.” Helen found here eyes filling and turned away quickly. The general continued. “I have laid some groundwork, both on planet and off.”

Helen shook her head. “General, I don't want anyone else killed because of me...” The general snorted but there was no humor in his laugh.

“Its not really for you. Do you have any idea what your dad would do?” Helen nodded. She did. And it worried her. A lot.
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06.23.2012 , 04:18 AM | #8
Natasha woke quickly. Something had changed. It had been, as Nolikas promised, a long day. But it was done. The tests that Nolikas had done, the Rakata had explained in detail. And while she was sore in a number of odd places, it didn't hurt nearly as bad as after a training bout with... say... Chari. She sat up and smiled. Nolikas had been true to her word as well. Comfortable clothes, not gowns this time -she had made her opinion of the height of court fashion quite clear- were waiting folded on the chair beside her bed. With the skill of long practice, she was up and dressed in minutes. After a quick trip to the refresher, she was back in her room and wondering what she should do. She had no real idea what a princess was supposed to do. So she didn't immediately go for her weapons when the door opened and a stranger walked in. Her trained eyes took him in quickly. He was confident, that was in his step, but untrained. She stared at him, bemused. This wasn't the type of person she had ever dealt with. He nodded to her. Something about him was off, but she couldn't put it quite to mind. She did put her back to the bed, and thence to the wall.

“Princess Natasha, I am glad to make your acquaintance. My name is Rolan Humgrie.” He stopped and Natasha shook her head slowly.

“Should that name mean something to me?” Natasha couldn't be sure but was there a hint of something like worry in his eyes? "Should you be here?"

“I knew your father.” Natasha's face was an emotionless mask, but inside her mind was racing. But her voice was quiet as he came a bit closer.

“Oh?” It was noncommittal but he moved a step closer, sizing her up. He smiled, and it was a smile more suited to a Nexu or a Retu than a human. But Natasha had lived among really scary people and she wasn't impressed.

“A great man, but so misunderstood. I can be of great help to you.” The man seemed to ooze slightly. It was likely only perception, but he was... There was something wrong about that man. Natasha sniffed, she really wasn't impressed.

“Mister, I don't know you and I think you should leave. Now.” Natasha tried to keep[ her voice polite. The man's face suffused with anger and his hand lashed out taking Natasha by the wrist.

“Now you listen here, you little...” His voice cut off in a sound that was more squeak than scream as Natasha grabbed him. Her left hand effortlessly twisted the wrist until to let go of her, the right grabbed him between his legs. Natasha might have been small, but she was strong. With a quick twist he was on the floor sobbing. When she spoke, Natasha's voice could have frozen a sun.

“I don't know who you are and I really don't care. I don't play your games. Would you care to play mine?” She twisted her right hand and he screamed even more loudly this time. A pool formed around him, but Natasha didn't let go. “Do I make myself clear?” Now her voice was sickly sweet as the door slammed open and a pair of guards came running in with drawn blasters. They both froze with identical looks of astonishment on their faces. The sergeant, Jen, looked at Natasha and grinned.

“You want some time alone?” The sergeant asked with a definite lilt to her voice. Natasha looked at the sergeant and sighed.

“My... surrogate family... told me about people like this. I have never met one before now. Get him out of here or I will kill him.” Jen nodded and then she saluted. Natasha dropped the courtier on his rump and stepped back just in time to see the queen enter with an angry look on her face that changed to astonishment and then amusement as she took in the scene.

“Humgrie... I might have known... Turn him over to the local law. Charges, being an idiot for starters. Setting a false fire alarm for another, and I bet we can find some others if we look hard, can't we Councilman?” Natasha stayed where she was as the guards hauled Humgrie out of the room, none to gently. The queen sighed and then smiled. “Thank you for not killing him. While he is scum, he is also on the Noble's council.”

"You asked me not to." Natasha sat on the edge of her bed and shook her head. “He said he knew my father.”

"Yes..." Queen Firalia nodded, her face sober. “He did. He surrendered after the rebellion was put down. There are all kinds of rumors about him, but none that we have been able to prove.”

"Um..." Natasha shook her head. “He is the kind my.. The Bladeborn told me about. The kind who enjoys hurting people who he sees are weaker than him. Like many Sith actually.” The queen nodded, then she sighed.

“Helen will be leaving shortly. Its not safe for her here anymore.” Natasha started at the queen and her brave front collapsed suddenly. Suddenly she looked young and vulnerable. Firalia sighed and sat on the bed beside her daughter. Her arm went around Natasha's shoulders. When Natasha spoke, it was quiet and sad.

“Mother... I... Sooner or later someone will push me too far. If that man had commented on what was in his eyes, I might have killed him. Bladeborn,... They take in children who are broken, hurt or alone. Like they did with me. They... We... I can't just stand by and watch someone get away with hurting a child because he or she can.” The queen gave her daughter's shoulders a squeeze and sighed again.

“Sara recommended something. A guardian. Someone to keep you out of trouble.” Natasha stared at the queen and the queen tweaked her nose. Natasha giggled a bit. “Try to anyway...”

"I..." Natasha shook her head. “I want to make this work. But I don't know if I can.”

"Okay." The queen nodded. “Let me see if I can find someone suitable. Give me a week. It will take at least that long for any of the other idiots to work up their nerve. Out of curiosity, what would you have done to him?” Natasha glanced towards the window and the queen smiled thinly. They were on the thirtieth floor. “The guards will be a bit overprotective now.”

“As long as they let me go to the refresher alone...” Natasha trailed off and grimaced as the queen snorted.

“Don't bet on it...”

<Nearby>

Nolikas sat at the com console and thought hard. This was a tough assignment, but maybe one of her friends at the enclave would have someone suitable in mind. As she sat the smiled a bit. Whoever they found better be young and flexible.
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06.23.2012 , 04:22 AM | #9
<A day later>

Helen didn't want to let go. Natasha was clinging. The guards, who were a bit more noticeable than usual, watched impassive as Helen tried to extricate herself from the younger girl's grip. Finally, Helen took Natasha's shoulders in her hands and squeezed, that always seemed to calm her down. It worked this time too. Natasha released her and then would have collapsed, except Helen caught her. They both wound up on their knees, looking at one another. Helen spoke quietly.

“I don't want to go. You will need all the help you can get. I grew up here and I still make mistakes. But you will learn.” Natasha stared at her and nodded. Her eyes glistened but no tears were falling, yet. Helen's eyes burned as well.

“I... Why is everyone leaving?" Natasha asked softly. "Sara, you...” Helen hugged her sister again.

“I don't want to. All I ever wanted to do was live my life and serve as I had been taught. Now a lot of my life is... Well, not lies, but half truths. And one of those half truths is that my biological father is someone that a whole lot of people have reason to hate.” Helen said soberly. Natasha nodded slowly. They had discussed that the night before. “That is the same reason Sara couldn't stay. He is her brother.”

Natasha buried her face in Helen's hair and now she was crying. Helen stroked the younger girl's head slowly, carefully. She was not calm herself. Reminding herself that the universe didn't care if it hurt her or the ones she loved didn't help. Well, she cared, and that was enough. She let Natasha cry for a long minute and then turned the girl's face so she could see Natasha's eyes.

“I know you are strong Natasha. You are going to have to be. Humgrie wasn't the only idiot around.” Helen had to smile at the vindictive look that came over Natasha's features. It was already the talk of the capitol that the well known and somewhat notorious Rolan Humgrie had been incarcerated, albeit briefly until his lawyers could spring him, after receiving medical attention of a 'personal' nature.

“I don't know how to act... This isn't what I was trained for...” Natasha's quiet words made Helen snort.

“I wasn't trained for it either. I was taught, yeah, but trained? No. You have the basics, guard your feelings. Learn all you can. And when you make a decision, make it. You are actually better prepared for this that I was at your age.” Helen said with a sad smile. Natasha stared at her. “I am going to give you some advice though. Listen to Mother.” Natasha snorted.

“As if I would dare not...” The humor in her mock scared tone brought grins to the faces of the guards and Helen laughed. But then the older girl took her sister in another hug.

“Find someone you trust. It may take a while. But once you find people you can trust, guard them. Don't trust absolutely, but don't fall into the trap of assuming that everyone is out to get you either. Not everyone will be. Of course, not everyone will have your best interests in mind, even the good ones...”

Natasha nodded slowly. One of the Bladeborn's basic teachings was good and evil. Of course it was a bit skewed from a lot of the rest of the galaxy's view. But one of Trugoy's teachings was apt. 'Good people may do evil either from thoughtlessness, laziness or simple stupidity. Evil people may do good, to serve a long term goal, or because they are trying to confuse people, or because they want to do something different for a change.... Their actions alone do not define them.' Natasha hugged her sister tight and let her tears fall. The night would come too soon. Far too soon.

<That night>

Helen couldn't sleep. She knew it was just nerves. But she couldn't sleep. She was always this way before a mission. Even if this wasn't really a mission per say, it felt like one. Of course her briefing for said 'mission' had been a note that read: Be ready. She barely noticed when she nodded off.

The snatch team leader sighed inaudibly as the target was secured. She was worried. This was way too easy. The guards at the door had been competent, the roof guards likewise, but... There were no other guards, anywhere on this floor of the hospital. Her four man team, well, man was wrong, one was a Bothan and another was a Mon Cal, were good, no question. They had managed to get by the guards with no problems at all. And that that bothered the team leader as well. The Royal Naboo Militia was not incompetent. Matter of fact, in many ways, their training and equipment was superior to regular Republic military forces. And some of their people were Special Forces caliber. So it didn't make sense. She shook her head, time for that after egress. They had infiltrated as a team of medics coming to pick up a patient, and they would egress the same way, with a patient unconscious on a gurney. The gas and the gentle sedative they gave her should keep her unconscious. The mask over her face would obscure her features. They had all the right documents. So why was her danger sense, the sense that had kept her alive on more battlefields than she could possibly count, going into overdrive?

<Nearby>

The brown haired woman sighed in relief at what she saw on the monitors. The liaison turned his head and she smiled thinly.

“They aren't Special Branch. Those idiots probably would have blasted or blown their way in, tried to anyway... These... Hmmm... These are acting like regular Special Forces. I mean look at them.” She waved at the screen. “They were gentle with her. And fast. Their plan is obviously well thought out, well prepared, and well rehearsed. Look, they are already egressing.” The team was moving towards the door with Helen secured, unobtrusively, to the gurney. The liaison blanched.

“We can't let them take her.” The woman sighed.

“We won't.” With she walked out of the small command post leaving the three Militia to stare at each other.

<A few minutes later>

This is too easy...

The team lead was tense. Egress was always the hardest part of any mission. But, the plan was to find a guard and get an escort through the posts out front until they could reach the airspeeder ambulance that they had acquired. But there were no guards... And then it clicked. No staff either! She froze, her team did likewise. Then their attention was drawn to the elevator ahead chiming. It opened and a brown haired woman walked out. The team lead froze solid as she recognized the woman from her briefing. Sharra Kalenath sighed as she stepped a bit to the side, showing the soldier with a heavy repeater behind her. Doors opened and blasters cycled up all around them.

“Care to explain where you are going with my step-daughter?”
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06.23.2012 , 04:28 AM | #10
<Eight hours later>

Helen woke up, sure something was wrong. She didn't move or change her breathing. And when she cracked her eyes she was only slightly surprised to find herself in the stateroom of a small ship. The surprise however... Her eyes shot open and she was sure her jaw hit her sternum.

“Good morning.” Teh soft, somewhat amused male voice had Helen stiffening. Of all the people she had expected to come get her... She hadn't expected this!

Her birth father sat down beside her bed and smiled. Helen shook her head, it buzzed a bit.

“Did you have to gas me?” She asked quietly as she took the glass of water he offered and sipped carefully.

“We didn't." Will Kalenath said soberly. "A Republic Special Forces snatch team hit the hospital just as we arrived to pick you up.” Helen's eyes went wide and she struggled to sit up. Her father helped her into a sitting position before speaking again. “Nobody was hurt. Their orders must have been to snatch, not kill. And they might very well have succeeded if we hadn't been right behind them. They were good.” Helen shook her head and took another sip of water.

“So I was to be their bargaining chip or their next test subject?” Helen asked, unsure of this. Will shrugged.

“None of them are likely to talk, but its odd." Will mused a little. "They don't act like the scum from Intelligence Special Branch. They act like regular Special Forces.” Helen thought about that for a long minute.

“Requisitioned troops?” Helen asked softly, sipping her water. Will shrugged again. Impossible to tell. Special Forces were trained better than almost anyone else in the galaxy, and that training included resisting interrogations. He was somewhat surprised that none of them had suicided when captured. Anyone could be broken, given enough time and effort. From her face, Helen's thoughts mirrored Will's own. Then Helen shook her head. "I thought you were chasing the scum who has Nia...?” Will snarled.

“Yeah, he is hiding out on a planet full of slavers at the moment, but I WILL catch him as soon as he leaves." WIll's smile was feral. "I have people in place watching him. He can only go two places from there. And I can get there faster from here, than he can.” Will's grin was feral. Helen shook her head slowly, the buzzing was going away. But she still felt a bit off.

“I want to talk to the snatch team you caught.” Helen said, unsure about any of this. Will nodded.

“I figured you might. Once you have eaten, we will go.” She looked at him and he smiled. “No ration bars this time...” Another voice came.

“Like I would let him get away with that.” Helen's face lit up as Will's wife Sharra came into the stateroom carrying a pair of platters with obvious skill. She set the platters down on a table beside the bed and gave Helen a kiss.

“He IS better than he used to be, mind you... I never want to eat monkey lizard on a stick again...” Will looked hurt and both women laughed.

“If you put enough hot sauce on it...” Will protested. Sharra glowered at him and cut him off.

“...It is still monkey lizard on a stick.” Helen had to laugh, then Sharra opened the platters and they started on the serious chore of eating.

<An hour later>

Helen was staggering slightly from the after effects of the sedatives, but with the careful assistance of Sharra, she managed to make it to the central compartment of the ship and sit down. She wasn't sure what ship they were on, but it obviously a small one. The refresher she had used had been tiny. She thought the layout was similar to a Deliverance class freighter, but it was different. It also was not Will's ship, the Dragon. She remembered somebody saying that the Dragon was in for repairs. Helen smiled as large furred form came into the main hold. Olanagychew smiled at her and she smiled back. She liked the Wookiee. The being that followed though, she didn't know. She tensed. Full armor, Mandalorian armor. The Wookiee and the Mando led the four manacled soldiers in. Helen looked at the people who had tried to abduct her. A Bothan, a Mon Cal, and two humans. They looked at her with no expression on their faces. That changed when Will shimmered into being beside her after deactivating his stealth field generator. All of them blanched. He didn't move, or speak. Helen did.

“You were not trying to kill me. You are a snatch team, not a kill team.” Her voice was quiet. “Although I bet you can and have done both.” It really wasn't a question. The female human looked at her and Helen shrugged. “You are soldiers. Like me. Like him.”

Now Will spoke and all eyes went to him. “I don't know what your orders were and I don't care. My quarrel is with the Special Branch of Republic Intell. For what they did to my mother, father and sister. You are not with them, or if you are, they have improved their training a few thousand percent in the last couple of months.” Something like a snort came from one of the humans, but it was too abrupt for Helen to figure out if it was a laugh or not. But Will was talking again. “Here is the deal. You step out of line on this ship and you are dead. Behave and I will drop you at the next safe port of call.” None of them moved and Will grinned mirthlessly. “Your call.”

All four of them looked at each other. Finally the human woman nodded, silent. Will nodded back then he jerked his head and the Wookiee and Mandalorian ushered the prisoners out of the room. Helen sighed. She hadn't really expected anything else, but... She looked at Will, who sighed as well and sat down beside her.

“Where are we going?” Helen asked. Will nodded to her.

“A highly secure location, which is why I want them off the ship before we go.” Helen nodded, her head though started to pound. Will looked at her. “You need more sleep, non sedated sleep.” She nodded and accepted his help in getting to her feet.

<Starboard dormitory, sealed>

“Sir...” the Bothan spoke quietly, but the team lead shrugged. It only made sense for the people who had them to be monitoring them. Add to that the fact that she had IDed herself as the leader... Not that she had really had a choice. The team lead took a deep breath and then blew it out. Then she nodded.

“We do as he says. He isn't stupid. You see the gas vents.” All of her team nodded. “Maybe we can salvage this, I don't know. I do know if we step out of line, what will happen.” All of her team nodded. The poison gas vents were only the most visible anti tampering systems in the small dormitory.

<Surveillance room>

Will looked at the screen and nodded.

“I will talk to her, alone.”
My stories in order:
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