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(L,F&E 41) A Dark Past, An Uncertain Future

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Fan Fiction
(L,F&E 41) A Dark Past, An Uncertain Future

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kalenath
06.25.2012 , 07:20 AM | #1
((This fanfic begins a week or so after Strange Tidings (aftermaths),and follows Jina's attempts to find her way.))

Jina Darkstorm was of two minds. First, these people had executed the man who had been her brother. Not that she had known him or they had any choice in the matter or anything, but... he had been her brother. On the second hand, she LIKED them. But in the end, she was a Jedi and they were Sith. But as she mediated and grew stronger, her feelings of having to be elsewhere grew. Today she was working out, slowly building her strength back up, her speed was just as impressive as it had always been, but her strength, not so much. She was careful to never go beyond what Ona said. And Ona, after a bit of ranting at Trugoy, which had raised Jina's eyebrows, but the Grandmaster had taken it with aplomb, had released Jina from medical. Not without dire warnings of what would happen to the Jedi if Ona found her back the healer's care. And she did enjoy working out. These Bladeborn knew a thing or two about fighting, that was for sure. Jina had actually added few wrinkles to her own style from study with Trugoy. No one else on the ship seemed to want to spar with her.

She knew without a doubt that she was completely outclassed by the diminutive alien. But being disarmed three times in five minutes had been an interesting lesson on just how outclassed. After the first humiliating session she had held her own. She still generally lost, and she was sure it wasn't because he was powerful in the Force either. She snorted. If a swordsbeing lived to see 700 years, well... They were either very good or very, very lucky. And she put Trugoy down in the very good category. So, she was building her strength back up and trying to think of what to do next. It really didn't surprise her when the door chimed for admittance, but she didn't expect who entered when she undid the latch with the Force. Instead of Ona come to glower at her for overdoing things, or Trugoy to wallop on her some more, a man with bandaged eyes walked in. She blinked and then rose and bowed. The man bowed back.

“Well met Jedi Darkstorm.” His voice was calm and reflective.

Jina smiled as she recognized his voice. “Well met Idjit. I was pretty sure it had been you who woke me in time to run from the Enclave. I thank you.”

"You are welcome." Idjit inclined his head in acknowledgment. “May I join you?”

She shrugged and resumed her seat. He sat down beside her. Jina sighed. “I have been thinking about talking to you, but you wouldn't know anything about that would you?” Her voice was ironic, not biting and Idjit smiled.

“I have seen you in my visions of late, but in various places." The seer replied evenly. "Doing various things. You are at a cusp.” Jina nodded and didn't ask. Knowledge of the future was no gift. “I wanted to meet you, talk to you. It's not everyday we have a Jedi aboard.”

"Why am I not surprised?" Jina snorted at his ironic tone. But then she slumped. “I don't know if I am a Jedi anymore. I know I am not a Sith. So... What does that make me?”

"Well..." Idjit's face turned to her and she could feel his sympathy through the Force. But then he smiled. “Does the organization make you what you are?”

"Um..." Jina stopped and thought about that. Then slowly, she shook her head. “No. I am who I am. Because of the teachings of my master and... apparently because of who I was before.”

"No." Idjit shook his head. “The crystal they used on you wiped you clean. Perhaps the affinity for Juyo stayed, muscle memory maybe. But nothing else.”

"I meant to ask." Jina looked at him, and then looked away. Her voice was quiet. “Did you know me, when I was a Sith?”

"No." Idjit shook his head. “I was busy training. I heard of what happened to you of course. And since then I have seen what they did to you.” Jina shivered. Just the memories were bad enough. A hand touched her shoulder and squeezed. “You are going to be dealing with this for a long time. And it will be made harder because you will be alone.” Idjit sighed. “I know a little bit about that.”

“I hate being weak.” Jina's voice wasn't much louder.

"Huh?" Idjit laughed. “You, weak? What universe are you living in?” The sheer humor in his voice was enough for the edges of Jina's mouth to curl up. “I wish you could stay here, be one of us. But you are not.”Jina nodded, silent. Then she kicked herself, he was blind! She opened her mouth to speak, but Idjit beat her to it. “I can see you, you know. This weird energy field called the Force...”

"you are bad, seer!" Jina snorted at the teasing tone. “Here I am trying to be polite and courteous, and I don't have to be... Well, besides the fact that you all could be in grave danger if the Empire finds out I am here.”

"Actually..." Idjit shook his head. And Jina stared at him. When he spoke it was serious. “We would only be in danger if they found out you left. If they found out we let you go. Which we will. Because we gave you our word.”

"I..." Jina shook her head. The concept of a noble Sith took a bit of getting used to. The Bladeborn didn't do politics, they didn't seek power, instead, they sought to improve themselves. And to serve the Empire as a whole. And... Jina froze. Something tickled her memory. Something... She blinked. “How old is your order?”

"We don't know exactly." Idjit actually looked a bit disconcerted. As if he hadn't anticipated the question. But he recovered swiftly and shook his head. “Lots of records have been lost. We do have records going back three thousand years. Why?”

"well..." Jina pursed her lips in thought. “A friend of mine found a set of armor on a remote world. He... well... It was like nothing we had seen before. We fought a Sith, and beat him. And when we searched his citadel for prisoners and such, he found that. It... It was odd. One of the Order's historians claimed it was Sith armor. From well before what we call the Great Hyperpace War.”

"Armor?" Idjit froze. “What did it look like?”

"Um..." Jina blinked at his suddenly intent tone. “Silver mesh. Light helmet, chestplate, bracers, thigh and upper arm guards. And a pair of boot. All in silver. No markings. And no traces of the Dark Side on it. Most Sith armor is...” She broke off at the look on Idjit's face. A strange look, she couldn't define it. Maybe a mix of worry and anticipation? “What?”

“Come with me.” He rose quickly and she followed. He led her out of the room and through a series of twists and turns. So manty that even with her training, she would be hard pressed to find her way back. He led her to a hatch an, after unlocking several locks, led her in.

Jina's breath caught. “Oh... my...” This was obviously an armory. Or a museum. Maybe both. All around the large compartment, weapons and armor were stacked, carefully. All kinds of weapons and armor. She saw Krath battle suits, force pikes, Massassi lanvaroks, Correllian powersuits, blasters, lightsabers, slugthrowers... Light armor, medium armor, heavy armor in all shapes and sizes. She stared in awe at a lightsaber that was obviously at least a thousand years old from the power cord attached to it. She shook her head, amazed at the sheer amount of stuff. But Idjit was moving. She followed him, trying to see it all. This was amazing. The Order had nothing like this. Oh they had museums, but this was obviously all well cared for. And fully functional. She winced a bit as she saw poison glistening on the edge of a Sith dagger.

Better not to touch... Anything...

"Here." Idjit led her to a back section and motioned towards a corner. “Did it look like this?”

"Wow..." Jina stared. The set of armor in the corner was exactly the same as the set Will had found. Exactly. “Yes, that's exactly the same.”

"Hmm..." Idjit shook his head slowly. “This Sith you fought, what was his name?”

"Been a while, but..." Jina shook her head bemused. “Yeah, I remember now. He called himself Darth Naavtlen. Why?”

"You killed him?" Idjit looked at her. “A Lord? Alone?”

"Not alone." Jina snorted. “I had help. What's wrong?”

"Well, nothing... I think..." Idjit shook his head slowly. “No nothing.” He seemed a bit puzzled though. “Did you try it on?”

"Oh yeah." Jina nodded. “I liked it. There was no taint on it and it didn't inhibit my powers at all.”

“It wouldn't...” Jina stared at Idjit. The seer's tone was odd. He looked... pensive?

"What?" Jina shook her head. “Did I do something wrong?”

"No." Idjit shook his head slowly. “No. Not at all. But... I need to... consult. Thank you for answering my questions.” Jina looked at him, but didn't ask. It really wasn't any of her business. Idjit was silent as he led her out of the room and locked the door again. She shook her head. Sith and their secrets...
My stories in order:
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kalenath
06.25.2012 , 07:24 AM | #2
<A week later>

Jina sighed. It was time. She looked at Ona and smiled. The healer smiled back. Jina's voice was soft when she spoke.

“I am sure you will be glad to get rid of me.” The former Jedi said with a shrug. Ona snorted at the comment.

“Oh, I dunno..." The healer replied. "You are better company that some of these gloom and doom sorts.” Jina laughed, but stayed still as Ona ran the final scan. The Bothan smiled. “You are good to go.”

Jina nodded, but waited to move until Ona had moved the scanner. And when she sat up the Bothan hugged her.

“I will miss you.” Jina nodded at the Bothan's words. Her mouth was suddenly dry. She liked Ona. Although Ona was acerbic, judgmental, and totally loyal to the Empire, at the same time she was honest, kind and gentle. Jina shook her head. She wished Ona could meet Nolikas. She bet they would get along famously. Jina's voice was husky as she returned the younger being's hug.

“I will miss you too." Jina said sadly. "Take care of yourself.” Ona smiled, stepped back and helped Jina out of the bed.

Jina felt a bit strange. But that was to be expected. Since she had come aboard, she had only worn the unrelieved black uniform of the Bladeborn. Good camouflage in case someone managed to spy on them. But... It had worried her a great deal at first, but no one had pressed. No one had tried to turn her, or even made any comments to her. She wondered if that was why most had left her strictly alone. She wondered if some of the students had even realized she wasn't a Sith. Students... She smiled in memory.

Now that had been a shock. The students learning to be Bladeborn, she had expected, sort of. But the small village that lived inside the ship...? She hadn't asked. It wasn't her business. Although she had taken a few turns helping to watch and teach the children. Basic lessons only, and she was never unsupervised. And she found she enjoyed it a great deal. It took her mind off her own problems to help other people with theirs, even if their problems had mainly been learning to read and do sums. She had been worried that they would fret when she left but one had spoken as she had made her farewells. The boy had come up to her and spoken quietly.

“We don't say 'Goodbye'. We say 'Good Journey'.” Jina had frozen, unsure, but the little boy, who couldn't have been more than seven, had put his arms around her and smiled. “We don't know if we will see each other again, but we can hope for it.” The other children had gathered around and bid her farewell as well. She had been in tears when Ona had come for her final checkup. And that led her to the Bothan steadying her as she stepped out of the bed.

“Buck up Jedi." Ona said with a grin. "I am no seer, but I think we will meet again. Good journey.” Jina smiled.

“Good journey, Ona.” Jina went to the door and Trugoy was there. He smiled at her and she returned it. He led off in silence and she followed. They entered another compartment and she winced a little on seeing the apparatus arrayed around the room. Trugoy's voice was quiet.

“Are you sure you don't want to be sedated?” The grandmaster asked kindly. Jina shivered, but shook her head. This would not be fun.

Getting onto the Bladehome was easy. You asked to come aboard, or were brought aboard. Getting off...? Not so much. Every time the Bladehome stopped in an inhabited system, there was always somebody spying on them. Sith, Republic, criminals, anyone with secrets, everyone tensed when the Bladehome arrived. It was a distinctive ship. If you were a prisoner, forget it. It just wasn't going to happen. A guest though... And a guest being hunted by the Republic and the Sith... That made things a bit tricky. Hence why they were here. Trugoy opened a cargo container and Jina nodded. Quickly and efficiently, she took off all of her equipment and placed it in the container. Then she stared on her garments. In moments her skin was covered in goosebumps as she stood and sealed the box. Trugoy spoke.

“You are cute, you know that?” Jina snorted. His flirting was never serious and, just as he had probably intended, her fear melted away. She smiled at the diminutive form.

“Master Trugoy. Thank you for all you and your Order have done. I know you were simply keeping your word, but... Thank you anyway.” Trugoy nodded and waved her to the machinery. She took a moment to focus herself. Then she strode to it. A moment of looking and she found the place she was to lie down and she did. She knew without seeing him that Trugoy had come up beside the slab. She hissed just a bit as something cold touched her chest, but then relaxed. She looked down and nodded. A life signs sensor. She took a deep breath. And Trugoy's voice came to her.

“Good Journey, Jina Darkstorm. She smiled and replied.

“Good Journey, Master Trugoy.” Then walls of metal came down around her. She couldn't restrain a wince. A whine, and she tensed as the molten carbonite hit her. Then...

<Sometime later>

She heard something. Something odd. She was asleep, but not. She had been in stasis before, this was different. This was... she was...

Something grabbed her and pulled her free of whatever she was in and she shivered as she felt hands on her. But they felt professional. The hands rolled her on her side and she just lay there, cursing her shivering body. A kind voice came, one she recognized.

“Just relax. You are free of the carbonite.” She smiled. Katherine. Cranna's head medic. She opened her eyes, blinked and sighed. She couldn't see.

“Hibernation sickness, right?” The Jedi asked sourly. The hands held her and Katherine's voice was gentle.

“Yes, it will pass in time. We will give you some things to help, but I want to be sure you are tracking okay first.” Jina looked through the force and turned her head to where Katherina was standing. Her ironic grin had the Cathar chuckling. “Never mind. Silly me. Lets get you fixed up.” A hypo touched her arm and the headache she had been repressing vanished. And her shivering went away as well, but...

“The blindness?” Jina asked. She was sure Katherine shook her head and Jina sighed.

“It will have to pass on it's own." Katherine said apologetically. "Unless YOU can do something about it?” Jina thought about that.

“As I understand, it will pass, that it is simply my optic nerves recovering slower from the hibernation.” Jina sighed as she saw Katherine's aspect in the Force change, the Cathar nodded again. “Better to let it go natural then. Any healing I do wouldn't affect that I don't think, since nothing is really damaged... just sleeping.” Katherine sighed again.

“Cranna wants to talk to you.” Katherine said quietly. Jina nodded and stood up. Too fast. Her head spun. But gentle hands held her steady. Katherine snorted. “You might want to put some clothes on first...”

Jina had to laugh at that.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.25.2012 , 07:32 AM | #3
She hated this. Sure she could see through the Force, but it wasn't the same. She could keep from running into most objects and people, but if her concentration lapsed, as it seemed to do a lot these days, she would run into things or people. The guide did help a bit. Rina had improved quite a bit since Jina had talked to her last and now the girl was getting on with her life. Katherine had said privately that Rina had a bright future as a medic. And Jina agreed. After the third time tripping over things while avoiding people in the halls, she spoke to her guide. And her voice was querulous.

“Do I need a cane or a service droid? You would think the black robes would make people back off.” She sensed shock from Rina and turned to her.

“You are not wearing black.” Rina's voice was calm and sure. Jina's eyes shot open under the eye protectors that the medics had insisted she wear until her eyes were healed and her face furrowed. Jina tensed. If she was wearing Jedi robes, someone would remember her... tell the Jedi she was here... She snorted. As if a Sith in Cranna's domain wouldn't be noticed either...

“I'm not...” Jina turned her eyes downward, but she couldn't see colors through the Force. “What color are they?”

“Grey, but a lighter grey than Sith wear. Kind of a silver color.” Rina replied helpfully. Jina shook her head. That wouldn't be inconspicuous. “With a brown cloak over.” Jina shook her head again.

“These were in the case?” Jina asked slowly. Rina's gentle hand was on her arm now. Jina was sure her voice held uncertainty.

“Those, your belt and lightsabers and your armor.” Rina replied.

“My lightsabers...?" JIna stiffened. "Armor...?” Rina's voice held puzzlement now.

“Yeah, we didn't touch any of it, just scanned for traps and left it for you.” Rina paused as Jina shook her head slowly. “You okay?”

“Yeah, I am. But.... I only have one saber. And I didn't have armor. Why would they have...?” She snorted. As if anyone would be able to tell her that. “Don't worry about it. I am sure I will figure it out someday. Lead on, we don't want to keep Cranna waiting...”

<A few minutes later>

Jina sat, bemused. It wasn't every day that a Hutt cooked for someone after all. What was even more amazing was that the food was incredibly good. If a bit spicy. Jina took another mouthful, carefully. She still couldn't see, but between her skill in the Force and Katherine's subtle prompting on occasion, she was managing quite nicely on her own. She shook her head slowly.

“I didn't think Hutts ate the same things humans did.” Jina said after her tongue stopped screaming at her. Cranna laughed.

“Normally no. We can." Cranna said with a laugh. "But most consider it beneath their dignity to do so. They have to have it their way, and now...” There was old bitterness in Cranna's voice, but it vanished quickly. “You like?” Jina nodded.

“I do." Jina admitted. "I hadn't... well...” Katherine and Cranna both laughed and another voice came.

“You expected her to serve raw worrt.” Rina's voice was teasing and Jina grinned.

“I don't know what I expected, but this isn't it.” Jina took another bit of the casserole and grinned as the spicy flavor seared her tastebuds. “This is good, but it tastes... Mandalorian?”

A series of snorts came from around the table she sat at and Jina smiled. Cranna spoke, and it was affectionate.

“You haven't lived until you have had real Mandaloriam Tingiilar. Mine isn't even close.” Jina looked down at the table and winced dramatically.

Of all the things she had expected from this strange Hutt, this wasn't on the list. But then, there was a lot to Cranna. A lot more than Jina was ever likely to know, and she wouldn't pry. Jina sighed as she scraped the plate and found no more food. Time to get business done. She put her fork down and turned to Cranna.

“I need to disappear.” JIna said soberly. Cranna sighed.

“I know. I have had three delegations of Jedi come through looking for you.” Jina tensed, but Cranna laughed. “They were very polite.”

At that Jina laughed. Only a complete idiot would irritate Cranna on her own turf. A complete idiot who wouldn't live long. But then Katherine was speaking.

“It would take some doing, but we HAVE done similar things before.” Katherine said softly. Jina snorted.

“Some of the Order are still trying to figure out who that Twilek you had working for you was.” Jina smiled then, a knowing smile. But then she sobered. “Which is why I came here. If you can hide her so well, you can help me.” Cranna spoke, and it was thoughtful.

“We can change your physical appearance easily enough." Cranna said slowly. "But Jedi or Sith can sense you, and that can't be changed, can it?” Jina sighed and shook her head.

“I do know some tricks." Jina admitted. "But no, if they track me, they will find me. So I need to find somewhere far away, off the beaten path. I would prefer somewhere where I can be of assistance to people, but if not, I just need to stay out of people's way for a decade or so.” Katherine hissed.

“I don't understand. Why?" The medic demanded. "You are not a Sith What did you do wrong?” Jina slumped.

“I survived." Jina said sadly. "This is going to be a long story. And you need to hear part of it Rina.” Jina felt a hand take hers and give a squeeze. Cranna spoke softly.

“We have all night. It will take at least that long to prepare the tank properly. Why don't we get comfortable and you can tell us what you need to?” Jina nodded and smiled as Rina's hands guided her to her feet. She didn't resist as she was led to and sat down on what felt like a small couch. A weight settled beside her and she grinned again as Rina's arm went about her shoulders. She wasn't usually a touchy type of person, but she liked Rina. She took a deep breath and began.

“I went to Tralus." Jina sighed. "I had no idea what to expect. I certainly didn't expect the Sith to blast your freighter. Sorry about that Cranna...” Cranna snorted.

“It was insured. And droid run so no one was hurt.” Cranna replied evenly, but under her composure lay tension. Jina nodded.

“As soon as I landed, I felt that I knew where I had to go. I started off towards some mountains I saw in the distance...”

This would be a long night.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.25.2012 , 07:36 AM | #4
<Two hours later>

Rina was crying. Jina had finished her tale and was now holding the younger girl while she sobbed. She couldn't see. Although she was sure her eyes were getting better. Instead of a big dark blur she saw a big light blur. But she didn't need eyes to comfort Rina. Rina finally quieted, although she had the hiccups. Jina held her as she tried to stifle them and failed. Rina chuckled sadly and Jina smiled and stroked her hair. Finally, a blur came close in Jina's field of vision. She felt Rina move and surmised that someone, probably Katherine, had given her a glass of water. Her surmise was confirmed when she heard Rina drink, and then exclaim.

“I don't need to sleep.” Rina protested. Katherine spoke from nearby, kind but rock hard at the same time.

“Yes, you do." There was no give in the Cathar medic's words. "You have had enough emotional shocks for one day. Drink up.” Rina tensed in Jina's grip, but then acquiesced. She drank it all and Jina held her as her hiccups subsided, followed by her breathing calming into sleep patterns. She laid the girl down on the couch and moved carefully out from under her. A hand found hers and she allowed the other to pull her to her feet. Truth be told Jina wasn't much better than the younger girl, emotionally. She was better than she had been. Familiarity and comfort aided recovery. But it was still raw. A hand on her arm guided her out of the room and she leaned against the wall for a moment.

“Why can't I focus?" JIna asked quietly. Katherine's hand gave her arm a squeeze.

“Maybe because you were sick? Maybe because everything you have been told about yourself turned out to be only partially true?” The sarcasm in Cranna's tone was muted by the worry. “Jina, you have been hammered. Hard. Jedi or no, I am amazed you can function.” Jina slumped for a moment before she responded.

“What else could I do?" Jina said sadly. "There wasn't anything left in me for them to study. But they probably would have torn me apart trying. The Bladeborn actually were nicer than my own Order. A group of Sith. I can't go back. I can't.” Cranna was a long minute in responding.

“I know. You know you are welcome to stay here. Even the Ubese, when they were told what happened to you, said that.” At Cranna's words, Jina blinked. Ubese detested the Republic and the Jedi. She wasn't entirely sure why, but it had something to do with the devastation of their homeworld and lack of assistance from either the Order or the Republic. Her confusion must have shown on her face because Cranna laughed sourly. “They don't like it, mind you. And it might be best if you avoided them. But they do understand.”

“I can't stay here Cranna. Sooner or later one of them would come close and figure out who I am. And that would cause you all kinds of problems.” Cranna sniffed at that, but Jina was unmoved. “I won't do that to you.” She felt the other two presences come close and then a pair of very different hands took hold of her shoulders and squeezed. Nothing more needed to be said. Katherine transferred her hand to Jina's arm and Jina nodded. They started off in silence. She was looking forward to a bed now. Maybe a refresher first. Maybe.

<The next morning>

Jina woke and smiled. She opened her eyes and smiled wider. She could see. She looked around the room and froze. The female human standing by the door was unknown to her. The robes were not. Jedi. Jina sighed. Her voice was steady when she spoke.

“Do I know you?” The woman looked at her, and Jina felt the woman scanning her with the Force. Jina shook her head. “That is rude.” Jina blinked as the Jedi looked... ashamed?

“I am sorry.” The woman moved closer. “You have no taint of the Dark Side on you. I...” The woman was obviously kicking herself. Jina sighed and sat up.

“Are you hungry?” She kept her focus on the Jedi, not the lightsaber on the table beside her bed. She didn't want to fight. The woman sighed.

“My name is Anya, Master Darkstorm. Forgive my rudeness.” Jina blinked as the woman bowed to her. Anya was a young female human with brown hair and blue eyes, probably not a Padawan, she seemed young though. Maybe on her first solo assignment. “And I should not stay.”

"Don't." Jina shook her head and smiled at Anya. “I am willing to bet that if you step out that door, you will meet a wall of blasters.” Anya looked at her and Jina indicated the camera set in a shadow where it could see the whole room. Anya blinked and slumped.

“I knew it was too easy. But I had to see you. I had to see for myself.” Jina sighed and rolled out of the bed. She found her outer robes and put them on. Jina didn't pick up her saber. She sat down at the small table and indicated the other chair. After a moment, Anya sat.

“What do you know about what happened to me, Jedi Anya?” Anya looked at her and shook her head.

“Only that you were on Tralus, and were hurt. Nothing else.” She tensed as the door opened, but then relaxed as Rina came in bearing a tray. She snorted as he saw it had two meals on it. Her voice was rueful when she spoke to Rina. “I bet I was under surveillance the whole way in wasn't I?” Another voice answered and all eyes went to the door. Cranna stood there.

“She is my guest and under my protection." The Hutt said softly, but with steel underneath. "So yes, we let you in. We would not have let you out.” Anya slumped, but then straightened.

“I had to know." The Jedi replied. "I had to see. And I believed you would turn me away as you had the others.” Cranna nodded but Jina looked at her.

“What did you need to know?” Jina asked kindly. Anya looked at her and there was shame in her eyes.

“If you were the threat to the Order we were told you were.” Jina went stiff. Anya continued. “We were told that you were sick and falling to the Dark Side. We were supposed to apprehend you on Coruscant. But we missed. We encountered a dangerous Rodian Force user and... Arathos...He ran off without us. He was hurt, I could see that, but I couldn't follow him.” Jina nodded. “We found him, later, near a dead Sith. He was a great Jedi.” Jina sighed and nodded.

“Most of what he did will never be known." Jina said sadly. "He walked in the shadows. He lived in the shadows. And he was my friend. He attacked the Sith to save me. And buy time for the people who were trying to help me to get me away. Or so I was told by people who had no reason to lie to me.” Anya nodded.

“That fits with the scene I saw.” The younger Jedi turned to Cranna. “I don't care what you do to me. I wish to tell my Order the truth of this. Then I submit to whatever punishment you require.” Cranna blinked at her and Jina sighed.

Just what we need... Another complication...
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
06.25.2012 , 07:40 AM | #5
<Later>

When Jina woke, she wondered for a moment where she was. Then she snorted. She was still in the tank, wearing the garment she had been given, a loose, flowing thing that covered her for modesty purposes, but allowed the fluid that filled the tank to circulate easily. She opened her eyes and shook her head, slowly. The resistance from the warm fluid was significant. Of course she couldn't see. It wasn't uncomfortable, per say, since they had deadened the nerves on her face, but it was odd to have things between her eyes and her eyelids. Cranna and Katherine had promised that they could change her eye color as well as her skin color, but Jina hadn't really believed them. She could wear contacts if needed. But something was happening inside her eyes. She could feel an itch there. As well as the itch she had been warned about all over her skin. She was glad that she felt it however. This brought back too many memories of being in a fluid filled sac with a bug about to make her an involuntary mother for it's race. She shook her head again and winced a bit. She even felt it it her hair, which was odd, since she was sure hair had no nerve endings.

She sighed into the tube that came out of her mouth and relaxed. Jedi training came back to her easily as she tried to take her mind off the crawling sensation that was all over her body. She figured this was as good a time as any to plan, try and figure out what to do next, where to go. The problem was, she had no idea at all.

Most of the places she knew were frequented by Jedi or Sith. And since she wanted to avoid both, well... That left someplace else. She could go off into the wastes of Tattooine and become a hermit, but that didn't suit her very well. She snorted. She would probably last a week of doing that before she had to get out and do something. So, it had to be somewhere off the beaten track, preferably somewhere she could help people out, and not as a Jedi. But... She wouldn't give up her lightsaber. Lightsabers.

She controlled her pain and loss with the skill of long practice. The Bladeborn had given her Mikol's lightsabers. She had spent some tie recovering when she had recognized them in the box of stuff. And she had crystals for them too now. She had been astounded buy the amount of stuff that came with the armor. Parts, power packs, food packs, lightsaber crystals. All packed neatly in the pouches attached to the armor. And the armor...

She had lusted after the set Will had found. No other word even came close. She had wanted it. She had reveled in it when she had tried it on. But... The Jedi frowned on wearing armor. The idea of seeking fights, well, that wasn't very Jedi-like. She snorted. It wasn't as if Jedi didn't find fights often enough and Jedi robes were not exactly made of cloth and leather either, but... The set Will had found in that locker in the dead Sith's citadel hadn't been, quite, right for her. It had felt, off a bit somehow. She still would have worn it. And loved it. But it wasn't quite right. So she had reluctantly given it back to Will and she had heard that Nia wore it now. She hoped it worked for the girl. The set the Bladeborn had given her though. It felt JUST right. Made for her almost. That had worried her, when she had put it on the first time. But there was no taint in it that she could sense. It just felt right. Every piece was just the right size for her, every pouch was positioned exactly where she would need it to be. And her belt fit over it just fine. It was odd, but she felt like she recognized the armor. Which was silly, there was no way she could. Even if she had been a Sith, how could she have seen or worn Sith armor that had been in the Bladeborn's armory for who knew how many years?

She felt something change in the tank and realized she was nodding off again. They must have sedated her again. Maybe time for another bout of surgery... Maybe... She nodded off before she could finish the thought.

<Sometime later>

Jina woke up fast. Part was training. Part was her well earned paranoia. After all the Jedi and Sith WERE looking for her. But the main part was the blasted ITCH! Everywhere she could feel, she itched. It felt like her skin was crawling off. She tried to scratch, but her hands were covered in gloves of some kind. Small wonder if this was what normally happened...

“Jina?” Katherine's voice was soft, and Jina focused on it. Trying with all her might to get her mind to focus on anything but the itch. Jina winced.

“You warned me. I had no idea.” She breathed in and then out slowly. “No idea at all...” A hypo touched her on the shoulder and blessed peace spread from that part to the rest of her body quickly. “Thank you...” Jina sighed in relief. Katherine's voice was apologetic as she spoke.

“It won't go away completely for a couple of days, but I am told that it does diminish in severity after about four hours.” Jina winced and a warm hand touched her on the cheek. “Hold on, let me get these out...” Jina nodded and remained still as careful fingers pried back her eyelids and pulled the covers out from underneath. There was a bit of space between the covers and the eyes, but her subconscious kept insisting that her eyes were being flattened. After the second one was out, a moist cloth wiped her eyes. She waited until Katherine spoke again. “Okay, easy does it, you can open them now.”

Jina did and was unsurprised to see blurry images for a moment, but then they stabilized to a darkened room and a worried looking Cathar, who smiled on seeing Jina focus on her. Jina grinned. “I guess it worked...” Jina smiled.

Katherine nodded and keyed the lights up. Then she handed Jina a mirror. Jina's eyes went wide. She hadn't really believed. But here was the evidence staring her in ... someone else's face. The hand not holding the mirror came up to touch her jaw and she shook her head slowly. “This is...”

Her formerly pale face was darker now. Still not the coffee color that many had, but much, much darker than she had been. A common skin coloring on humans. Her face was... different, subtly. The cheek bones had been changed a bit and her nose was just a bit out of alignment. Her jaw was narrower now as well. But far from being ugly, it just made her seem a bit more human. And her hair... Where before it had been brown and close cropped for convenience, now it fell to her shoulders in long red waves. She stared at the reflection of her eyes, now a piercing blue and smiled. She was striking looking. She laughed. “Wasn't the idea to make me less conspicuous?”

Katherine snorted. “Everyone expects Jedi to be dowdy types. How many will look at you now and think Jedi?” Jina had to smile at that.

“No, but I will have to beat drooling idiots off with a stick.” Katherine grinned at Jina's tone, but then spoke quietly.

“If you want, we can change some things, now. Before the quick heal takes hold.” Jina thought about that and then shook her head. This was what she needed. Something completely unlike her.

“How much of I owe you for this?” Jina asked, then froze as Katherine shook her head. “This has got to be expensive.” Katherine grinned.

“You need a place to stay." Katherine said with a smirk. "We did you one better. I think we found you a job.” Jina looked at Katherine and arced an eyebrow. “One you will like.”
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06.25.2012 , 07:43 AM | #6
<A day later>

Jina, or Kona Lislaw as she had to keep reminding herself now, knew Cranna was not a nice being. But the pitiful wrecks of beings who were led out of the prison to a preparation room so they could travel with her were horrifying, to say the least. Admittedly, she knew without a doubt that the five people wearing tattered medical garb and three in ruined uniforms were guilty of crimes even some Sith would find abhorrent, but... Cranna slithered up beside her and spoke quietly.

“You know I don't enjoy it Kona.” Jina, who had chosen the name almost at random, nodded. She couldn't help but wince as one of the doctors fell over in the line. But instead of beating her, the guard simply lifted her back to her feet and chivvied her towards the door gently. None of them looked like they were tracking well, and while many showed marks of obvious torture, none were in danger of their lives either.

“Do I want to know where you are sending them?” Cranna shook her head. Jina sighed. “I need to know though don't I?” Cranna sighed.

“The doctors match the descriptions that Maria gave us.” Jina -No Kona, she kicked herself mentally and focused on remembering her new name- froze. Maria Kalenath had been a prisoner and guinea pig for Special Branch doctors for more than twelve years. The things that had been done to her...

“Cranna if you give them to her...” Jina actually felt a bit faint. Horrific didn't begin to describe what that woman would do. Not that Jina blamed her. Having lost her husband and having given birth in captivity, Maria was lucky to be as sane as she was. But if she tore them apart by inches they wouldn't get answers. Cranna sighed.

“I know. But, she deserves some kind of closure. So, I am shipping them to Coruscant, freight class.” Kona's eyebrows went up at that. She was still getting used to the bushy things. She looked at Cranna and Cranna grinned evilly as only a Hutt could. “The Senate convened a 'special' inquiry into Republic Intelligence's activities. A legitimate one.” Kona looked dubious, but Cranna nodded. “I have been cultivating a few contacts here and there within the Senate, nothing illegal. And they have asked me if I knew anything about these horrendous assaults on Republic Intelligence property. And the actions of Special Branch. And as a dutiful and loyal subject of the Republic, what could I say but 'yes'?”

Kona had to laugh at the Hutt sounding like a political pundit. “Anyway, I sent some records to certain individuals who sit on certain committees and they asked for more information. Apparently, they also asked the Jedi.” Cranna nodded to where Anya was standing. The Jedi looked repulsed and worried all in the same expression. It was obvious to everybody that she had no idea who Kona was. “She will accompany them to Coruscant. And make sure they get a proper hearing.” Kona looked at Cranna.

“You are not sending her freight class, are you?” Cranna snorted.

“No. It won't be comfortable, but she will ride instead of being shipped.” The first carbonite slab came out on rollers and Kona sighed as she saw the terrified face frozen on the top. Cranna shook her head. “Better than they deserve. Much better.” Kona shook her head. “You ready to go?” Kona nodded. She hadn't been told where, just what. She was to be a teacher at a small enclave. And it was something she would be good at. She just hoped she could leave her past behind her. She really did.

<Several days later>

Kona woke up to a strange woman bending over her, pulling out tubes and helping her sit up. She had agreed to being sedated for the trip. So she had no idea where she was. Which was the whole point. The woman was dressed as a nurse, her tunic bore markings very similar to Republic military insignia. Looking around Kona saw the room was outfitted like a Republic military medical ward.

“Kona, my name is Leia Rendish. How do you feel?” Kona blinked, and then smiled.

“Not too bad. Is this my stop?" Jina quipped. Leia grinned.

“It is. Welcome to the Enclave.” Kona stretched. She was stiff. But she felt her body waking up. “We need to ask you some questions.” Kona raised an eyebrow. “The containers that were shipped with you contain some... odd things.” Kona slumped. Cranna had been quite clear however. Honesty here.

“I was a Jedi." Kona replied sadly. "I'm not with the Order anymore. I follow the Light Side of the Force. But I am wanted by many on both sides. For reasons I can't discuss. As long as no one attacks me, I am no threat to anyone. Cranna changed my face and gave me a new name.” Leia nodded. Kona continued. “I will serve as needed. If you do not wish me here, say so and I will leave. Well, I will let you all ship me off.” Leia grinned at her tone, but her voice was matter of fact when she spoke.

“Jedi or no, we need a teacher for our younger people and you came recommended. You will be under surveillance at all times. We all are. I understand about being hunted. Everyone here does.” Leia's face was grim, but then she smiled. “We can definitely use another trained teacher.”

"Well..." Kona grimaced. “I am not trained to teach anything except the Force, I have done it though.” Leia nodded at her words and Kona continued. “I like teaching younger people. It... Well, I enjoy it.”

“We can use you." Leia said gratefully. "At the moment we have one hundred and twelve children here, ranging in age from two months to eighteen years. Many of them have deficiencies in history, literature and mathematics. All are tech savvy.” Kona pursed her lips.

“No teaching droids?” Jina asked, unsure. Leia shrugged.

“Not even close to enough.” Leia responded. Kona sighed and swung her legs off the edge of the bed. They wobbled a bit, but she stood carefully and her balance was sure.

“When do I start?” Kona asked and Leia nodded approvingly.

“Tomorrow you can meet you classes. Today we get you settled. We need to get you signed in, checked out and assigned a room. Meals are communal, times will be posted. You can also make your own. The food can get a bit boring at times, but we are not going to starve.” Kona nodded as she took a cautious step and grinned as she didn't fall on her face. This might work. It might just.
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06.25.2012 , 07:49 AM | #7
<Far, far away from the enclave, at just about the same time>

“I cannot believe you just let them freeze these people.” Anya ignored the heat in the words, here eyes were on the line of people on medical beds being revived. When she spoke her voice was calm.

“There was only one 'let' involved, Master. It was assist in any way they would 'let' me, or be transported the same way.” Her words were matter of fact, but there was a bite to them. Her companion had the grace to be silent. Then the Bothan sighed.

“I know, Anya. I know. I just...” He shook his shaggy head and sadness was evident on his features. She looked at him and winced.

“I am sorry I didn't report in, when... When we found Arathos, but...” Thokal Melan sighed again. Losing that Jedi had been a devastating blow, in any number of ways.

“You had to know.” Anya nodded silent at Master Melan's words. “Now you do.” She nodded again. “What will you do?”

“The council was wrong, to order what they did." The Jedi shook her head. "I will serve as needed, but... not there anytime soon. I have seen the scans Cranna's people did. She didn't have any traces in her.” The Bothan looked at her and she shrugged. “Cranna's people were kind. But... I will not return there.” Melan snorted.

“I don't blame you. She is a law unto herself. But... a decent sort. Odd for a Hutt.” Anya snorted at the understatement.

“I have turned over all the records to you. I assume that you will take them to the Council.” The older Jedi looked at her, and then looked out the window into the recovery ward of the prison they were in.

“Master...?” Anya's voice was worried and Melan sighed.

“They won't listen.” He replied. She froze.

“I won't be party to hunting her." Anya said solidly. "She hasn't done anything wrong. Except be a victim, and refuse to stand by while other people were hurt in the same way.” Her voice was calm and Melan nodded. His voice was sad.

“They won't listen. I have tried, all my colleagues have tried. But that faction is so sure she can breed more of those... things...” Anya shivered. The records had been bad enough. She couldn't imagine what Jina had gone through. Melan's hand found her arm. “I know.”

“Master, how can they not see?" ANya said sadly. "Those things wanted to breed Force sensitive versions of themselves. Using her as a template. How many of them were there?”

“Probably millions." Melan shivered a bit. "But without the queen, they will wither and die. I hope.” Anya froze solid.

“You hope?” Anya felt her world shudder as she spoke. Melan sighed.

“We have no idea if Tralus was the only colony." Melan said sadly. "And we have no idea if someone bred them. The thought of US breeding them is repugnant, but what if the Sith did?” Anya shook her head slowly.

“There is nothing in any of our records about that, but then, there wouldn't be would there?” Anya asked rhetorically. Melan shook his head.

“All we can do is be ready. And pray we can react in time if it happens again. But that is the future.” Anya shook herself and Melan nodded towards the window. “This is the now. The Senate is going to scream bloody murder that these people were tortured.”

"Well..." Anya nodded. “Technically, they were not.” Melan arced an eyebrow.

“Technically?” Melan asked dubious. Anya blew out a breath and explained carefully.

“The marks on their bodies are from implants that were removed. In the cases of the Intelligence operatives, bombs and other suicide devices. In the case of the doctors... each had a bomb in his or her head.” The Jedi Master blinked and then winced. “None were tortured in the usual sense of the word. They are all disoriented, and obviously they have been drugged and interrogated, but...” She broke off, unsure.

“But...?” Melan prompted her.

“The few I have talked to have been willing, eager almost, to confess their crimes. In all of the horrid, graphic detail.” Anya shivered and Melan did as well. The testimony of the freed prisoners from the Republic Intelligence base was enough for most people. The records were sealed and would likely be sealed for along, long time. It wouldn't be long enough for wither of them. “One of them spent thirty minutes explaining to me exactly how she had carefully inserted an implant into a child's brain to subvert the will and make the little girl compliant. She remarked that it was easier on a child than on an adult because the bones healed much faster. I... I had to stop that interrogation...” Anya took a long moment to focus herself. Melan nodded approvingly. Then he sighed.

“This horror will test us all. But we have to remain objective. They thought what they were doing was for the greater good of the galaxy as a whole.” Anya nodded, her face tight. “So do we.” At that Anya froze.

“Master...” Her voice held worry and disbelief in equal measure. Melan sighed again, deeply.

“In all things, it boils down to point of view. We think they were doing evil, they think they were doing good. Who is right? I personally believe that they are evil, for doing what they did to so many, including younglings. No matter their reasons. But my personal beliefs are irrelevant. We must stand for rule of law.” Anya nodded silent. “So they will be given a trial. But I do think that the treatment they received from Cranna will not help our case.” Anya looked puzzled and he waved for her to speak. When she did, it was low and quiet.

“It wasn't Cranna they were terrified of.” He blinked at her tone. “It was someone named Meeliee.”

<Back on Tattooine>

The screams had tapered off to whimpers now as the Republic Intelligence soldier, who hadn't been needed for the trial, tried to recover. He froze as the silky voice came again.

“Don't you dare pass out on me, we haven't begun to have fun yet.” He stared at the Bothan and started to scream again even before she touched him.
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kalenath
06.25.2012 , 07:54 AM | #8
<The Enclave>

Kona smiled as she sat. These children were a marvel. She loved kids, and these, well, not all were genius level. But none were stupid. And all wanted to learn. She knew a few of them however and worked hard to keep recognition off her face. She now knew where she was. One of the Stormhawk's hidden colonies. She knew that the crew of the renegade cruiser had set up hidden places for family and friends to live in safety. Not a small consideration when both large governmental organizations in the galaxy were hunting for the ship and her crew. But the faces she knew were from elsewhere. She nodded to the last child who introduced themselves politely and smiled to the class as a whole.

“My name is Kona Lislaw and I will be your instructor for the foreseeable future. Can anyone tell me what you have covered so far?” She carefully did not let her eyes linger on the black haired girl in back. Or the nine others scattered around the room. She nodded to a cute little girl in the front rank whose hand shot up as if propelled by a piston.

“Yes Leena?” Kona acknowledged the girl with a smile. The girl smiled at her and she smiled back.

“Miss Lislaw, we were studying the history of the Republic." The girl said brightly. "The settlement of Naboo.” Kona nodded.

“Where did you stop?” Another hand shot up and she hid a smile. These kids were well disciplined. Very well disciplined. Not that she expected anything else. She nodded to the tousle headed boy who had raised his hand and he spoke.

“We ended on page 84, Ma'am.” He said softly. Kona smiled as she looked at her screen and the children followed suit.

“Thank you. Well, the lets see... Ah, yes, who can tell me the name of the Gungan chief who united the clans to bring about peace between the rival Gungan city states?” A number of hands shot up and she smiled as she started her lesson. She would enjoy this.

At the rear of the class, the black haired girl sat quietly. She wasn't sure who this woman was, but one thing was certain. Marta knew her from somewhere. The question was where. And what to do about it.

<After class>

Kona was actually not surprised to see several of the students remain after class was done. A couple of them just wanted to say hi, but... She grinned slightly as the black haired girl she had seen before approached slowly.

“Hello Marta.” The girl nodded. She looked different. Better. For one thing, she wasn't thin as a rail anymore. Which came from being fed nutrient paste her whole life. For another she was wearing a civilian child's jumpsuit. While Kona was sure there was at least one weapon hidden in it, it wasn't the white flightsuit that Marta had worn when they had met. Add to that her skull wasn't shaved. Kona could see lumps on the girl's head through her long hair and sighed. “You are looking well.”

“Who are you?” The girl's hands were in her pockets and Kona sighed. She glanced at the camera and sighed again. It would soon be common knowledge, she was sure. She looked at the other black haired kids who, coincidentally, covered all the exits. Kona spoke slowly, making sure to keep her hands in plain view.

“I know I don't look anything like I did." Kona said slowly, keeping her hands in plain sight. "But neither do you. That jumpsuit is much more flattering than the white you wore when you ambushed us coming off of Cranna's first shuttle. And you talk a lot better now too. I guess the Commander's lessons helped. Please don't shoot me. I don't have my lightsaber.” It was almost a joke. Almost.

"Wha...?" Marta froze. When she spoke, her voice was soft, disbelieving.“Jina? Jina Darkstorm?” Kona sighed.

“Not anymore." Kona admitted. "I... I got in some trouble. I disobeyed the Council. They wanted me to do something I couldn't do. I...” She broke off as the girl ran to her. But instead of an attack, Marta was crying. Kona caught her and held her as the little girl sobbed.

“We thought you were dead! You just up and vanished on Coruscant." Marta sobbed into Kona's arms as Kona held her. "We thought the Sith had you... We all thought...” The other children had come close and Kona found herself kneeling in a group hug. After a long moment, Kona looked up into Marta's eyes. Marta reached to Kona's face and took a lock of hair in her hand. “And you say I look different?” She was smiling and her tone was happy. Kona grinned back.

“My name is Kona Lislaw now." Kona replied softly. "I... I can't say what happened. Just that a lot of things went wrong. People helped me. And I needed a place to hide. Cranna sent me here.” Marta nodded. “Is Sara here?” At that Marta sniffed.

“She tested out of everything, if she was in school it would be upper level education. But she scares people.” Kona had to laugh at that. Yes Sara did. And with good reason. She didn't know Sara well, a few meetings here and there and scattered, blurred memories from when she was aboard the Dia's Gift. “Can... Can we tell her?”

Kona sat back at that. She thought hard for a long moment. And then she nodded. “I don't like lying to people, even by omission. I have had to do it, too often. But I have never enjoyed it. “ Marta's eyes went distant. Kona froze. That she hadn't ever seen before, but then Marta looked at her and grinned.

“We have learned a few things outside of school too.” Marta smiled and Kona grinned at that and ruffled the girl's hair. She felt the raised bumps that were Marta's implants and sighed.

“They never took those out?” Kona's voice was sad. But Marta took the had in her own and smiled.

“Nolikas would have, but... We chose to keep them. We are useful.” Kona's eyes went wide with horror as she remembered the other reason they didn't leave the ship, but Marta hugged her again. “No...” Marta reassured her. “ We aren't sick anymore.” Kona's face lit up and she embraced the girl. And the others embraced her.

“I had hoped, but... Nolikas said...” Marta grinned at Kona's shocked words.

“She found a way. With some help.” Marta replied soberly. The door of the classroom opened and Sara Kalenath was standing there looking at them, her face a mask. “Sara, meet Kona.”

Sara's face lit up and she smiled. “I am glad to meet you, 'Kona'. You look a lot better than when I saw you last. If... different...” Kona held out her arm and Sara came into the hug.

“You know, I think I will like it here.” All of the children grinned at Kona's words. “I really think I will.”
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kalenath
06.25.2012 , 08:00 AM | #9
<Two days later>

Kona enjoyed teaching. It was similar to the training she had done with Padawans, yet different. The child commandos as she called them were fast learners and intelligent. But they all lacked something. None had ever experienced a proper childhood. Growing up as essentially clones had robbed them of parents, and the fact that they had been trained, harshly, to pilot those droids had robbed them of any innocence they might have had. Kona sighed. She loved them, one and all. Marta, Nik, Mak, Loki, all of them. They were good kids. But try as she might, enjoy it as she did... She was not a teacher. She knew she had to stay and there were some perks of being here. Kona licked her lips as she finished off the food on her plate. Sara smiled at her.

“You like?” Sara asked. Kona smiled and nodded. Mandalorian cooking had to be experienced to be believed. They approached cooking the same way they approached everything else in life, with determination and great gusto. She didn't hold with a lot of what they believed, but only an idiot said they couldn't cook. And only a complete idiot said it to their faces. When Sara had offered the meal, Kona had been a bit dubious. Food to her was fuel for the body, nothing more. She appreciated good food and disliked bad food, but she had eaten both, and would again. But THIS meal. Cranna had been right, whoever had cooked this casserole had known what they were doing. She sat back and smiled. The room she had been assigned was small. A bed, a desk, a food preparation area, a table and a refresher. Every single possible sitting place was taken up by a black haired child. The child commandos piled their plates high with gusto, packing the meal away with they enthusiasm of youth. But Sara was barely picking at her food. Kona's eyes narrowed. Sara saw her scrutiny and smiled, but there was something off in it. Kona sighed. No time like the present.

“What's wrong Sara?” Kona asked bluntly. Sara looked at the older woman and all the children went silent.

“Mom's not getting any better.” Sara said quietly. Kona's heart froze. She remembered Maria from before the woman and her husband had disappeared. She had met them once while Will was in the hospital after a mission gone bad. She hadn't met her since the woman's return. She had hoped to. And in her original body. But... She owed Will and Maria. Kona shook her head slowly.

“I am not a healer, but... Do you want me to talk to her?” Kona asked. Sara looked at the former Jedi, hope warring with despair in her eyes.

“Could you?" Sara asked, hope warring with despair in her voice. "I mean... I know you are in hiding...” Kona snorted sourly.

“The day I don't help one of my friends' family members, or at least try, I hope they plant me.” Sara grinned sadly at the joke, but looked away. Kona stood up and carefully made her way to where Sara was sitting. She sat beside Sara and held out her arms. Sara leaned into the older woman's embrace. “What is wrong with her?” Sara bowed her head and spoke quietly.

“She's tired. She fought for so long. I think... I think she did break. And more than once while we were...” Kona gave her a squeeze when Sara broke off. The girl was stiff as a plate of durasteel. “She won't... She won't hear me... Or anyone...” Kona held the young girl as tears started falling.

“She will hear me. I promise you that. She may not listen, but she will hear.” She held Sara as the children cleaned up the minor mess left over from dinner and took their leave. All that mattered to the former Jedi was her friend needed her. And she was here for Sara, now matter what.

<Three days later>

Kona was nervous. No, she corrected herself. She had to be honest with herself. She was terrified. Will had been a friend. A comrade in arms. A confidante, and on more than one occasion, a shoulder to cry on. They had fought together, bled together, nearly died so many times together. And his mother terrified her. Maria always had. From the moment they had first met. There was always something about the woman that spoke of barely repressed violence. She was military and had outlets for it. But still...

It had been a long morning. When she had asked for the day off, no one had asked why. Of course she knew she was under round the clock surveillance, but something about the feeling she got from her supervisor and the others nearby said that they knew what she was going to do. And prayed she would succeed. Sara had picked her up in an unmarked airspeeder and they had travelled here, wherever here was, in silence. Her few attempts to make conversation had been answered in short phrases, almost monosyllables.

When they had arrived, she had been led through darkened corridors to a door. She had been ushered into this room, the guards in full armor had searched her thoroughly, not that she had carried any weapons. She wasn't that dumb. She had actually gotten a chuckle out of one when she said it was a bit early for a first date. She called upon her training and sat in one of the chairs that had been in evidence. This was obviously a conference room of some kind, and a comfortable one. She sat and waited, and tried to control her tension. But she couldn't help but jump when the door opened and Maria stood there. The old woman looked terrible. Kona jumped to her feet and nodded. Maria walked in and nodded back. The door closed behind her. For a long moment, the two women stared at each other. Then Maria spoke.

“You asked for this meeting.” Kona nodded. “Sara told me who you were before. So the least I can do is talk.”

“I wanted to apologize." Kona said slowly. "I wanted... to beg your forgiveness.” Maria stared at the other woman. “When you disappeared, Sharra and I made Will stop looking for you. He was sure you were not dead, but we believed. We believed what we had been told. And you suffered for it.” Maria flinched.

“It's not your fault.” Maria demurred. Kona shook her head.

“I have to say this." Kona continued. "You scared me, you always have. I think you always will. But I had no right to make him stop, to give him a mission immediately after... But he was tearing himself apart. He was my friend and he was tearing himself apart, blaming himself for not being there, for not flying you himself.” At that Maria tensed. “But the worst part? Part of me was relieved when he stopped looking. When he gave you up for dead. At my behest.” Kona's words were quiet now.

“It wasn't your fault." Maria replied her voice a little stronger. "You had no way of knowing. They covered their tracks so well. I thought they were legit for almost a year myself. Until Sara was born.” Kona winced, and then she was sitting back in the chair with her face in her hands, tears falling.

“I was so scared of you. I... I wanted you gone.” Kona stammered as she sobbed into her hands. Maria stared at her. “And suddenly you were. And I was... Part of me was happy.” Maria looked at her, impassive. “I am sorry. I am so sorry. All I can say is I am sorry. And if you want to hurt me, or kill me. I won't stop you.” Kona fought for control, and suddenly she froze. Warm arms enveloped her. Maria wasn't wearing armor.

“You want to know something? I scare myself.” Maria sighed. Kona nodded and Maria continued. “I... I know I am at the brink. I know I should pull back, but I can't. I don't know how. But... I forgive you, for not being a Jedi for once. For acting human. If you can forgive me. For blaming you and the other Jedi for trying to get my son killed every single day...I forgave your order for the actions of the ones who hurt me and mine. And I forgive you...” Kona hugged the older woman.

“I am so sorry Maria." Kona said sadly. "Everything that happened to you, I would gladly have taken on myself. Your son was the most amazing man I ever met. If I hadn't been a Jedi I would have married him in a heartbeat. I was so jealous when Sharra got him.” Maria snorted.

“When she bushwacked him.” Maria corrected with a grin. "Kona had to laugh at that. That WAS pretty much what had happened. But then she sobered.

“You know that Cranna sent the prisoners she had to the Senate.” Kona said slowly. Maria pursed her lips. She hadn't been happy about that. Kona hurried to finish. “I got an encrypted message from Cranna yesterday. The Senate committee wants to talk to you and Sara.” Maria's eyes went cold, but Kona wasn't done.

“Republic Intelligence Special Branch is mostly out of business now. But some of their people are still loose. If you were to go, they would be certain to try and silence you. Or trap you.” Maria grinned evilly.

“Traps work two ways.” Maria said flatly. Kona nodded. her grin was just as evil.

“That they do.”
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kalenath
06.25.2012 , 08:06 AM | #10
<Coruscant, A week later>

“... Honored Senators, I must protest. These beings have been abused. Tortured. And now you question their loyalty?” The human stood in a posture of rage and shock. “This is barbaric. How can we call ourselves civilized when we do such things to the beings who are supposed to protect us? And if we do abuse those who protect us, can we trust them to do so?”

The room was silent for along moment. The special inquiry, it was not called a trial, had convened in a small secure antechamber in the main Senate building. The fifteen members of the panel, chosen for their dedication to the Republic, as well as their support for various persons and projects that would likely never see the light of day, looked at each other. Then the chairman of the inquiry sighed.

Thokal Melan had initially refused to take the position, saying that the Jedi Order had to remain outside this whole dispute. He had, privately, spoken to the inquiry board and explained the the Order had been involved as well, and the guilty parties discovered were being punished. That revelation had shaken the Senators. Badly. But the worst was coming. Melan took a long moment to calm himself before he spoke.

“Your attempts to confuse the issue are becoming tiresome, Counselor.” More than one person in the small audience drew a deep breath at that. Melan was not popular. But only an idiot would say he was disloyal. He was also rather blunt at times. “You have seen all the evidence we have. And you claim these beings...” He waved a hand at the row of prisoners shackled to chairs along the wall. More than one flinched under his steady gaze. “...are innocent parties. Innocent pawns in the games of criminals and subversives.” The councilor drew himself up.

“I do. These beings have been abused enough. We should let them get on with their lives.” At that more than one of the Senators looked angry , but none spoke. Finally one did. Jacquelyn Organa of Alderaan. A well known, and oftentimes outspoken voice in the Senate, Organa was considered a bit odd by many of her peers, but none doubted she believed in what she did. She wasn't actually a senator. Her planet was not part of the Republic. But she HAD held the post of Senator before the planet had withdrawn and she was still respected. Her planet was embroiled in a vicious civil war and she was here for hem, even if many didn't want her here. Her voice was soft, but there was no give in it at all.

“Let me make sure I have this straight. You believe these people are innocent. After seeing the evidence. The large amount of evidence.” That was a massive understatement. It had taken the combined staffs of no less than twelve senators to sift through the masses of documents, flimsies and recordings that had been provided. Oftentimes, having to run to the refresher to keep from making a mess on the documents, but then, as one, every single staffer involved had returned to the gruesome duty. Shock, horror, outrage, all of these had brought the staff of various Senators together like nothing lesser could have. And, she carefully hid a smile, the information hadn't been leaked to the press. No one besides the accused and the board knew the whole truth. Of course, rumors were flying. But most paled beside the horror. “And now you want us to release these people, so they can resume their 'duties'...?”

There was an odd note in the Senator's voice as she looked at the human. But then, she had just adopted two children of her own. They had been scared of her, but she and her husband had taken them into their hearts. And knowing that only the smallest mischance had prevented the two of them from suffering the same fate made her remarkably intolerant to anyone who suggested that these perversions continue. The counselor nodded to her silent and Jacquelyn shook her head slowly in disbelief.

“We have heard testimony from the accused. What they will tell us.” Her dry words sped through the room and more than one murmur started. Most of the accused refused to speak at all. The few that did, were careful in what they aid and when. Obviously they had been coached, in defiance of instructions. The Senator waited for along moment and then spoke again. “Yet we have heard nothing from the victims.” The councilor tensed,

“Honored Senator, there is really no point...” He broke off as the Senator actually snarled at him.

“No point?” Her voice was sharp, and he froze. “Your clients tortured, murdered and drove mad dozens if not hundreds of Republic citizens. And you say it is not important?” Her face was flushed now and she was visibly restraining herself. The Jedi at the table sighed.

“Senator.” At the quiet word, Senator Organa exhaled sharply. She turned her head and nodded. She relaxed slowly and carefully. But her eyes did not leave the Councilor, who winced. The Jedi looked at the councilor. “I think you should rephrase that, counselor.” The councilor nodded.

“It will take some time for the witnesses to be available.” Melan nodded. Emboldened, the councilor continued. “We should not keep these people incarcerated for indeterminate periods of time, that is uncivilized.” Melan looked thoughtful and then nodded.

“Yes it is. Unfortunately, most of the victims are undergoing therapy and will be unavailable for some time. Barring the few who will not recover.” Those quiet words sent a murmur around the room. The subjects who had been rescued from the detention bays of the Special Branch bases had, for the most part, been somewhat lucid. If weak, and hurt. But many had also been driven mad by their treatment. The councilor straightened, just a bit.

“Then I recommend...” He broke off as Melan raised a hand. His voice was cold when he spoke.

“I said most. Not all.” He looked at the Senators and as one they all nodded. He spoke out clearly. “I call new witnesses to the stand. I call Maria and Sara Kalenath.”

At those words every single prisoner went pasty white. A stir started in the back of the room and two figures approached the committee. A woman and a young girl. Both had black hair and green eyes. And both were staring intensely at the prisoners. Sounds and smells came from the prisoners, disgusting ones. Melan did not smile as the councilor looked blank. He also did not smile at the terrified looks the prisoners gave the two newcomers. They arrived at the small table for speakers, and he waved for them to be seated. The councilor shook himself.

“May I ask who these people are?” Melan nodded. He handed a paper to a staffer who carried it to the councilor. The councilor started reading and froze. One of the prisoners spoke.

“You can't be serious. She is a psychopath!” The former doctor snapped. Maria's expression might have been called a smile. But even Melan flinched a bit from it. When Maria spoke it was as if the temperature in the room plummeted a few dozen degrees.

“That is rich coming from you Doctor." Maria said in a tightly controlled tone. "I killed several of your orderlies and assistants. You killed my husband. Who won that exchange?” The doctor flinched back from Maria's regard but it was Sara's that held the others silent and motionless. As if afraid to move at all. Melan sighed and spoke.

“Mrs. Kalenath, Sara. I am sorry for what you endured. And sorry I have to bring it back to mind. But to ensure justice is done, we need to know what happened to you both. In your own words.” Maria and Sara nodded in unison. Maria spoke. Her voice was more human, filled with emotion.

“Senators, Jedi." Maria sighed and spoke evenly. "I was on my way back from a vacation with my husband. I woke in a hospital. I was quiet worried as I was pregnant with my daughter at the time...”

Kona sat in the back of the room and tried not to shiver. This would not be fun. For anyone.
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