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(L,F&E 45) Tribulations and Trials

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Fan Fiction
(L,F&E 45) Tribulations and Trials

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kalenath
06.27.2012 , 08:51 AM | #1
((This is a continuation of the fanfic Regression and Regret))

<Republic Battleship Repulse, courtroom>

If Jedi Knight Markus Sigmundson was perturbed at all from the glares that were sent his way by the board of admirals, he didn't show it. Admiral Klicson spoke in a somewhat respectful voice.

“We cannot accept copies for a court martial. We require the originals.” Klicson said slowly. Sigmundson shook his head.

“I am afraid that the originals are not available for you, Admiral.” Kilcson stared at him and Sigmundson spoke again in a respectful and apologetic voice. “All of the Stormhawk's records are now part of the Jedi Archives, and as such, are available to any who wish to peruse them. But they cannot leave the Archives.” The admirals stared at each other. Sigmundson shrugged and spoke again. “If you wish to travel to the planet and ask to see them, you are welcome to. Our doors are always open to the Republic.” His kind words seemed to baffle the members of the board. Finally, Admiral Gron spoke, for the first time.

“We cannot accept copies for evidence at a court martial." The Admiral said slowly. "These files will be stricken from the record.” Sigmundson shrugged again and sat down. Major Ha Ar Munda carefully didn't smile as he spoke again.

“Then with no evidence to my client's supposed cowardice, I move that charge be stricken from the roll.” At that, all five of the admirals snarled, almost in unison. Klicson spoke sharply.

“We have eyewitness accounts.” The Admiral said sharply. The major looked at the admiral.

“You do? From who and when were they taken? You did not list them under evidence. As the trial has started, under the statue Republic versus Cada 1681, section five, no evidence may be added without it being available for perusal by all parties.” The admiral actually growled at him, but if the lawyer noticed at all it was not apparent. “I would ask to see this eyewitness account, seeing as how it deals directly with my defense.”

“You do not have the clearance.” The admiral smiled evilly. But the major just smiled back, just as evilly.

“That would be... Admiral Gorna's account?” The Togruta asked quietly. At that, all of the admirals looked at him and he smiled thinly. “The one she later said was fabricated by someone on her staff. Correct?” Klicson shook his head.

“You are not cleared for that, consider yourself under arrest Major.” The Admiral snapped. The major just snorted.

“I do have clearance Admiral. As a matter of fact, my clearance seems to be a bit higher that yours. Because I have access to both sets of correspondence.” He pulled a pair of datapads out of his briefcase and set them on his table. The admirals stared at the pads and then at him and he smiled again. Only a truly unintelligent person might call his expression friendly. “This however, I have the originals for.” At that the admirals looked a bit less worried, until he spoke again. “Of course copies have been sent to the supreme chancellor's office, the Judge Advocate General's and several others.”

All five of the admirals exchanged a glance. Finally Vorcan spoke. “We will recess to consider this new data.”

Ha Ar Munda and the prosecutor rose along with all of the other people in the room. Except Will. Vorcan smiled as he looked at Will. “Be careful Captain, or we will hold you in contempt of court.”

Will snorted, and stayed where he was. And silent. Finally, the admirals left the room, leaving Will to be escorted back to the brig by two armed Marines. After he had left Ha Ar Munda shook his head and checked his papers. He was startled when a quiet voice came. He looked up into the worried eyes of the prosecutor.

“I had no idea...” He looked at her and shrugged. She shook her head. “I will still try my darnedest to nail him to the wall.” The Togruta snorted at that and the Twilek nodded. “But for what it is worth, if they keep this up, they can take my resignation.” At that, Ha Ar Munda shook his head slowly.

“Then they win.” She stared at him and they shared a sad nod. Different sides of this particular struggle, but at the same time, united by their disgust at what was happening. The Togruta stood, but the prosecutor didn't move.

“May I have a copy?” He smiled at her respectful tone and extended a folder to her. It was marked 'For the Prosecution'.

“Stormhawk Log copies and a copy of Admiral Gorna's correspondences. Both of them.” The Twilek nodded as she took them.

“He is guilty." She smield at hher opposition. "And I will nail him for his crimes.” Ha Ar Munda snorted and smiled right back.

“He is innocent and I will see him exonerated of these charges.” At that, the Twilek actually chuckled. And then she was gone. He shook his head and started towards the brig. He had a lot to do.

<Twenty minutes later>

“...If I had known what you were setting me up for I would have told you to 'Fisk off'.” The female voice in the shadowed safe room was tart with worry and more than a hint of true fear. Another voice came, male and just as worried.

“Who else could we send?” There was silence for a long moment before the female voice replied.

“You know how I feel about this. This... travesty. Bad enough what the Special Branch was doing, but now these morons have to get involved. And all their 'patrons'.” The male voice sighed.

“You know this is the only way.” Now the female voice sighed.

“I know, I know, but..." She sighed and continued. "It rubs me the wrong way. I want to bust these slimes not a bona fide hero.” Now the male voice was stern.

“How do you think I feel?" He snapped. "I was there.” He sounded sad, angry and tired. She sighed again.

“I will report once we have something concrete. Sir...” She broke off.

“What Major?” When she spoke, it was quiet.

“How far do I push this, sir? If we can't...” She broke off again as the male voice sighed. That was the only answer she got. She spoke again, resigned. “Yes, sir...”

No one saw a few minutes later as the prosecuting attorney left the safe room. And no one saw later when another form left the safe room five minutes later. Although one tech did catch sight of a uniform, she immediately found something to do. Admirals liked their privacy...
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kalenath
06.27.2012 , 08:58 AM | #2
<15 hours later>

Ha Ar Munda didn't smile as the Admirals found their seats. Will hadn't risen again. And it was unlikely that anyone would be dumb enough to press him on it. Admiral Vorcan spoke quietly.

“There are irregularities in the files you submitted, Counselor. Therefore they are inadmissible in this court.” The Togruta stared at the Admiral for a long moment before nodding. The Admiral turned to the prosecution, who looked floored. “You may present your next point, prosecutor.” For a moment, she looked like she was going to spit, but then she slumped and pulled out her case of papers. Major Ha Ar Munda just sat and smiled. Admiral Vorcan looked at him. “Something amusing, counselor?”

"Yes sir." The major nodded. “It is always amusing to see people trying to subvert justice who do not understand it.” At his quiet words a hush fell over the courtroom. All five of the admirals stared at him. When he spoke, it was cold and biting. “It is amazing how some people can push various things far beyond their parameters.” Vorcan frowned.

“If I didn't know better, I would think you just called this court biased, Counselor.” Vorcan said slwoly. Ha Ar Munda actually laughed.

“Admiral, this 'court', if you want to call it that -I will not- is nothing but bias.” The Togruta snapped, his patience obviously gone. At that, everything stilled. “And as a result of the bias you and your colleagues have shown I am asking for a mistrial.”

“Denied.” Vorcan smiled. Ha Ar Munda smiled right back.

“On what grounds?” The lawyer asked reasonably. Vorcan shook his head.

“The Republic needs this trial to go forward. They need to keep a lid on this. They need...” he broke off as he saw the Togruta's eyes holding him tight. He waved for the counselor to speak. When Ha Ar Munda spoke, it was cold, quiet and very, very angry.

“The last time I checked, Admiral, we were not Sith.” At that, everybody froze. But he was talking again. “Last time I checked, we had rule of law. A suspect is innocent until proven guilty. A suspect has rights. Oh, I am sorry. Suspects caught by the Sith, Hutts or the Exchange have no rights except the right to die... eventually.” At that Gron, Julian and Vorcan all flushed, but he wasn't done. “Do we work for them? Or do we work for the Senate? I thought I worked for the Republic Navy, which answers to the Senate. Which means, when I see a clear miscarriage of justice, I act.” Klicson spoke now, cold.

“I dislike your tone, Major.” Klicson snapped. But the Major had seen enough.

“I could give a Hutt's backside, Admiral." The Togruta snapped right back. "This is not a trial, this is a mockery. You wish this man and his comrades dead, Admiral? Fine, draw your blaster and shoot him yourself. Don't order it done, do it yourself. You will have to work to find someone who would do it for you now.” Klicson was obviously straining his control. Admiral Hollice spoke.

“You are in contempt of court Major.” The Admiral said quietly. But Ha Ar Munda shook his head slowly.

“I have nothing but contempt for this 'court'.” Will looked at him and he couldn't decipher the look the soldier gave him. The Admiral nodded.

“Fine, Major Ha Ar Munda, you are under arrest for contempt of court. Bailiff...” The Togruta didn't react as the burly human came over, but he didn't resist either as the bailiff drew him to his feet, locked binders on his wrists and led the lawyer away. The Admiral spoke again. “Prosecutor, continue...”

The female Twilek looked at the empty seat, then at the Admiral and shook her head. “If I prosecute with no defense present, any ruling that is given will be overturned on the first appeal. I move for a recess until another defense counsel can be appointed.” The Admirals stared at each other. The wily defense lawyer had outfoxed them.

<Thirty minutes later>

Ha Ar Munda was not surprised to receive a visitor. He was surprised when it wasn't one of the Admirals. He shot to his feet. “Master Jedi...”

Markus Sigmundson just shook his head and sat down just beyond the range of the energy barrier. “We are in deep waters Counselor.” At the Jedi's words, the Togruta sighed.

“I know. But... did the message go through?” Markus smiled. And the Ha Ar Munda finally felt a bit of relief. It vanished quickly as the Jedi spoke.

“They have called for another counsel.” The Jedi said slowly. "That scene, you planned that." Major nodded. “You shouldn't have done that.” At that the Major snorted. He gave a significant glance to the camera on the wall before speaking.

“I figured they would. If they can't control me, they have to find someone they can.” Markus stared a the Major but Ha Ar Munda just shook his head. “No matter what, this is going to be appealed.” Now Markus shook his head.

“If it makes it that far.” The Jedi said sadly. At those words the Togruta froze.

“They wouldn't dare." The lawyer stopped and shook his head. They might, for this... "On a Republic ship. Oh dear...” Markus sighed.

“Accidents happen." The Jedi said slowly. "And if he were to try and 'escape'...” The Major nodded slowly.

“That's why your people are here.” Markus inclined his head, but didn't speak. “Be careful, I don't know about some of them, but a couple of them strike me as the 'hands on' types.”

Markus inclined his head again. Then he was gone, leaving Ha Ar Munda to ponder what was going on in the Republic in general and on the ship in particular.

<Nearby>

“You have got to be kidding.” The voice was female and very upset.

“We are running out of time here. Sooner or later HQ will realize what is going on. If we don't act now...” The first voice cut off the harried male.

“If we do this, we better be able to disappear.” Another voice came, a confident one.

“We can. My contacts have set up channels for just such occurrences. When?”

“Tomorrow morning on the way to the court.” Murmurs of agreement came. Three shadows moved off from the secluded alcove they had been in. Unseen by any of them a hand reached out from an air vent and pulled in a small holo camera.

Finally...
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kalenath
06.27.2012 , 09:02 AM | #3
<The next morning>

Will walked between his guards. He had for the last few days, and nothing had happened. But the guards were on full alert. They knew who and what he was and they knew what he was capable of, so they kept on eye on him as they walked. He kept his eyes on the floor as he walked. But... Something was off. Something was wrong. He didn't look up, didn't look around. But he had the distinct feeling that...

Gun!

The guards had no warning. One moment, their prisoner was walking quietly between the two of them, the next he was in motion, his hands gripped one and flipped her to the floor as he bodychecked the other. The whines of at least two blasters was heard and the guards grabbed for their weapons, but... When they rose, Will was sprawled on the ground. Their weapons were up and tracking. But there was nothing there. One bent over Will and cursed. The other stayed alert as the first called Medical.

<Twenty minutes later>

“It's official. He was shot while attempting to escape.” Complete silence followed Admiral Julian's words. All five Admirals nodded and Vorcan turned to the court. He smiled as he turned to the defence counsel who had been rushed to the ship when Ha Ar Munda had shown his contempt for the entire proceeding. “I guess you made the trip for nothing.”

Both of the lawyers stared at him and shook their heads in unison. The admiral stared at them. The defense counsel looked at the prosecutor and waved to her. She stood up and smiled. A Rancor might have gotten goosebumps. When she spoke, it was cold, calm and matter of fact.

“You didn't kill him.” At her words, the admiral froze. “You should have aimed for the head. Not that it would have helped. Did you really think we were stupid enough to have our star witness walking here without armor on?” Four of the five admirals stared at her in shock. Wonder of wonders Klicson did not. He was...grinning?

“I don't understand Major.” Vorcan finally managed to get out. The captain smiled again, and almost all the officers watching shivered a bit from the sheer maliciousness in it.

“Then I will explain, Admiral. While you and the other admirals here have been so... uh... engaged... Your support networks have been targeted. All of Chonda the Hutt's other employees in the fleet have been detained.” Vorcan froze, but the captain was just getting started. “As well, we have rolled up all of the Exchange personnel that we have identified over the last three years.” At that, Julian froze. “And last but certainly not least, we are about to put paid to a major Sith spy ring.” Hollice and Gron didn't move. At all. Vorcan sputtered for a moment, but finally found his voice.

“What is the meaning of this then Major?” He demanded. The captain smiled again, coldly.

“I lied to you, sir." She said in a vastly different voice. "My name is not Gora Nos, Major, Republic Judge Advocate General Corps. My name is Hara Scarne, Commander, Republic Navy, Counter Intelligence Branch.” Her eyes were cold and her hand was on her blaster. “And you, Admiral are under arrest.” Her gaze swept the bench. “Along with Admirals Gron, Hollice, and Julian.” Vorcan shook his head.

“Not Klicson too?” He asked sarcastically. But the newly uncovered Counter intelligence operative just laughed.

“While I would love to bust him, it would be bad form. He's my boss.” Vorcan's eyes went wide. He turned to where Klicson was sitting. Klicson shrugged.

“What can I say?" Klicson said with a laugh, but with a hint of malice underneath his gaiety. "I hate it when people break the rules.” Vorcan stared at the smiling admiral and shook his head slowly.

“This was all a farce?” Vorcan asked, stunned. Klicson nodded.

“A sting. Matter of fact, your staff has been trying to get in touch with you for the last three days. Seems the Supreme Chancellor finally managed to get a bill past the Senate, with some help from our friends in the Jedi Order.” He nodded to Markus Sigmundson who nodded back. “A bill pardoning the Stormhawk and her crew.”

All four of the other admirals stared at him. “Something about... 'Courage and honor above and beyond the call of duty'.” his voice went cold as space itself.

“Not that any of you would know about that. I have been waiting for this for a long time, 'Admiral'. You are under arrest, for black marketeering, for smuggling, and for murder.” He turned to Julian. “You really should have kicked that habit, Ma'am. You are under arrest for smuggling and distributing spice among the Forces.” When he turned to Gron and Hollice, they shrank from his expression. “And you two scum are under arrest for selling information to the Sith, information that led directly to our defeat at Coruscant.”

Gron just sat there, as if stunned speechless. But Hollice was in motion. Klicson was dodging and going for his blaster when a report sounded and Hollice fell, clutching his arm. Two burly MPs grabbed the wounded admiral and disarmed him, ignoring his cries. Klicson looked up and shook his head.

“You should be in Medical.” Klicson said soberly. All eyes turned to the back of the room, where Will was lowering a blaster rifle.

“The next time you do something like this, leave me the flarg out of it.” Will extended the rifle to a dazed looking MP, who stared at him as if he had two heads. “I am technically still a prisoner, kind of against regs to have armed prisoners running around isn't it, admiral?” The MP took the rifle and shook her head slowly. The admiral laughed at Will's words.

“True... Commander?” Klicson nodded to the former prosecutor who grinned.

“Indeed, sir. I move that this case be dismissed from the books.” The sole remaining admiral behind the bench nodded gravely.

“Case dismissed.” He grinned again. “Lets have a drink...”
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kalenath
06.27.2012 , 09:06 AM | #4
<An hour later>

It was questionable who was the more shocked. Captain Brun was still trying to get her head around what she had seen and Ha Ar Munda was now trying to wrap his mind around it as well. Finally, Captain Brun walked up to where Admiral Klicson was standing and spoke quietly.

“Permission to speak, sir?” She asked formally, but paused when the Admiral snorted.

“Feel free, Captain." The admiral smiled at her expression. "It's not like the rest of these crazy fools don't speak their minds.” Will blew a raspberry at him and the Admiral smiled, but then focused on the Captain. Captain Brun shook her head slowly.

“This was all a set-up to catch the other Admirals out?” She asked slowly. The Admiral nodded.

“In their networks they were pretty well secure." Klicson agreed quietly. "We had to dangle something in front of them that their patrons wanted. Badly. And what could they want more than the Stormhawk?” Mercedes shook her head again. She looked at Will.

“So you knew, when he came aboard, that this was a hoax?” Will shook his head as he cradled his drink. He hadn't moved from the com terminal, but had been told that if he called to check on his wife again, he would be clubbed unconscious. And Sara would do it. Another reason he was sitting was that so the bandages that were almost hidden by his tunic wouldn't slip. The armor had saved his life from the assassin's shots, but he hadn't escaped unscathed.

“The Stormhawk got a transmission a week ago. From a certain commander who shall remain nameless.” Will said with a grin. The former prosecutor smiled as she sipped her own drink. “Someone was looking for us. That happened a lot, so we would have just run, except she sent us a copy of the bill that had been put to the Senate. Needless to say, we were stunned. We hadn't had any idea at all that anyone in the Senate knew who we were or cared.” Mercedes blinked back tears at that.

“Most of us cared.” She said, a little hoarse. Will nodded.

“Anyway, we picked up a liaison in the Taris system and then I met the ship there with Sharra. The docs aboard couldn't help her so we came here. You know the rest.” Captain Brun shook her head slowly.

“Then my Marines aboard the Stormhawk...” Brun said slowly. The Admiral sighed.

“They were not willing to take my ambassador's word for what was going on, so they locked her up. Admittedly, she was only a first lieutenant, but still... I commend their diligence and am appalled that they didn't know before the Sith showed up. It would have been a very different battle.” Captain Brun nodded slowly. If the Stormhawk had been fully operational... She stared at Will.

“So that was how you got to a fighter.” He grinned slightly and didn't answer. She shook her head. Always he had secrets within secrets. She swore he did it just to aggravate people.

“So... now what?” Ha Ar Munda asked quietly.

“Now we take those four scumsuckers back to Fleet HQ and hang them out to dry.” The Togruta couldn't keep a vindictive grin off his face as the Admiral spoke. “And we take some heroes home. Your relief should be arriving any day...” He broke off as Will shook his head.

“I have to find my daughter, Jackson.” Will said slowly. Captain Brun froze and her face went white as she put a face to that name.

“Jackson...?" Brun said hurriedly. "Captain Klick Jackson? The Internal Affairs detective? But... You were killed... at... Coruscant...” The Admiral shook his head slowly.

“Not quite. And not for the lack of many people trying. And not because I didn't fight...” He grinned, forlornly, but Will stood up. The pilot extended a hand and the admiral took it. When Will spoke, it was quiet.

“Those also serve who lie in wait for scumsuckers to make a mistake.” The Admiral sighed, but Will was having none of it. “Listen, you do good work, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. And he did get promoted, despite his best efforts.” The admiral smiled sourly at that. But then the Admiral became serious.

“Thanks for your help, Will.” The admiral said with conviction. Will snorted.

“I will send you a bill, Admiral.” With that the soldier stepped back and saluted. The admiral returned it and Will stepped back. He stopped however when the commander raised a hand.

“Captain, I told my contact that you needed to go and why. I got this back.” She handed him a holocube. Will stared at it for a moment and then activated it. When it did, he froze solid. It was simple text, not even a voice. But what it said...

By Vote of the Republic Senate-

Will Kalenath is hereby pardoned of all crimes committed against the Republic, and reinstated at the rank of Captain in the Republic Navy.

For a very long moment, Will just stood there, silent. Then he shook his head.

“For so long I have dreamed of this... But I never...” Captain Brun walked up to him and nodded to him. Will stared at her. “I...”

“For ten years... More than that, you have run. You have fought alone. But you are not alone now.” He met here eyes and his were suspiciously glistening. “Clear skies pilot.” She saluted him, but he just stood there. She held the salute, and finally, he returned it, picture perfect. When he dropped it, the Admiral spoke again.

“The treaty was never intended to last as long as it has. And now, its falling apart. Both sides are jockeying for position. We have lost contact with three squadrons in the last two weeks. And with this mess... We need all of our people. Especially those with experience fighting the Sith. For now, find your daughter and bring her home.” Will nodded.

The reason the Republic had such a strong fleet presence in this system was that the Sith looked at such a collection of Jedi as a nice big target. Not that it would be easy to attack. But, the Republic knew that their only true chance against the might of the Sith Force users was the Jedi Order. So protecting the Jedi was paramount to the survival of the Republic.

“You have my com, Admiral. All you have to do is call.” Admiral Jackson nodded. With that, the soldier was gone. Once he was gone, the two lawyers and the captain of the Repulse looked at the Admiral and he sighed.

“He doesn't believe us.” Brun said as she shook her head.

“He wants to, but he has been kicked in the shebs so many times...” The two lawyers nodded. Ha Ar Munda spoke quietly.

“The pardons have been processed. But... The roster we were given for the Stormhawk is incomplete.” Admiral Jackson nodded.

“I know.” He shook his head slowly. Something told him trouble was coming. Big trouble...

<On the Stormhawk>

“All of you can go home.” The crew was gathered around Boss. A cheer sounded through the assembled personnel. All but one. L'trask looked at Boss and there was something undefinable in his eyes. Boss nodded to the doctor. When L'trask spoke, it was quiet and worried.

“What about you?” Boss shook his head and everything stopped on the deck. Stormhawk Nine stepped forward, her face a mask of confusion.

“Boss...” Her voice was worried. And her worry crystallized when the commander of the Stormhawk shook his head again. The armored form turned and left the bay without another word. The crew stared at one another, dumbfounded. The same thought was on each of their minds.

What the flarg?
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kalenath
06.27.2012 , 09:10 AM | #5
<A little less than a day later>

Sharra woke up suddenly and completely. She felt... good. For the first time in along time, she felt whole. She cracked her eyes and froze as the scene around her came into focus. A Republic medical ward, probably on a ship from the bulkheads. She tensed as she remembered pain, but relaxed as she realized nothing hurt now. A voice came to her.

“I wondered if you were ever going to wake up.” Sharra turned her head and stared at the woman who sat down in a chair beside her bed.

“Mercedes?” Sharra's quite question brought a grin to the other's face.

“Yep, for my sins, I am your keeper for now. Welcome back to the land of the living.” Shara couldn't help it, the sheer humor in the other woman's voice had her snorting in laughter. But things had changed from when they had known each other before. She eyed the rank emblazoned on the uniform tunic. Captain. Oh yeah, things had changed. Sharra stiffened into some semblance of attention and spoke calmly.

“May the lieutenant ask the captain what is going on here?” Sharra asked formally. The younger woman, although not by very much, smiled and Sharra relaxed just a bit.

“The Jedi said you were hurt." Mercedes Brun said in her quiet way. "That the implant that they took out of you did some unusual things to you.” Sharra put a hand to her head and felt bandages. But Mercedes was speaking again. “It is good to see you again Sharra.” the captain held out a hand and Sharra took it in hers. Sharra smiled slightly.

“I truly never expected to hear you say that.” At that, the captain actually laughed. A short, sharp laugh, with a trace of old pain, but a laugh nonetheless.

“Can you blame me? I had the plan, I had the time laid out and you swept in and scooped Will right out from under me.” Sharra shook her head, conscious of a buzzing in it now, so she laid it back down. Mercedes looked at her with worry in her eyes, but Sharra sighed.

“Head is buzzing.” Sharra said slowly. Mercedes nodded.

“The docs say it will for while." The captain sighed. "I don't know what they did, but your brain is doing some very strange things at the moment. Not that it didn't before.” She grinned, but sobered as Sharra met the captain's eyes and nodded grimly.

“Keep me under surveillance, just in case?” Sharra asked. The captain nodded.

“Of course, but mainly, I wanted to talk to you.” The captain said sloely. Sharra snorted at that.

“Want to catch up on old times?” At that the captain actually blushed, just a bit. But Sharra froze as the captain then shook her head.

“More a modern day problem.” Sharra's eyes narrowed. “I don't know what you remember, but the Senate passed a bill...” She broke off as Sharra's eyes lit up.

“...pardoning the Stormhawk.” Sharra finished the sentence and the captain nodded. When Mercedes spoke again, there were tears in her voice.

“I am so happy for you, him and them. For so long I feared I would wind up having to shoot you all down.” The captain gave Sharra's hand a squeeze that Sharra returned. But there was something in the captain's voice... Sharra stared at the woman who had once been one of her closest confidantes.

“What's wrong?” Sharra covered the captain's hand with her other and Mercedes sighed.

“Mace won't accept the pardon.” Sharra froze. The captain spoke again. “Can you talk to him?” Sharra shook her head slowly. “Sharra...”

Sharra shook her head slowly. “I... I can't Mercedes. It is his choice. I... I want otherwise, but I can't gainsay his choice.” The captain of the Repulse looked her old friend in the eyes and pain showed in the depths of both.

“Sharra...” But Sharra let go fo the captain's hand and turned her face away.

“I am sorry Captain.”

<Elsewhere aboard>

“You are out of your mind.” Markus Sigmundson had expected many things, but not this. To have all he had tried to fix unravel in such a fundamental way now of all times, just... sucked. The being he was speaking to didn't acknowledge him at all. “Why...?”

The armored figure didn't respond. Something was off about it, but it may have just been the Jedi's internal discomfiture. Sigmundson tried again.

“For the sake of the Force, please, talk to me. Let me help. Let me undo what I did.” But nothing came from the armored form and he slumped, defeated. The Jedi didn't speak again, just left the detention block, his entire form projecting dejection.

<A private stateroom, at about the same time>

“I have to go.” Will tried to disengage the arms that clung to him and he looked helplessly at the Togruta Jedi Master who sighed. Master Ashla Ti nodded and spoke softly.

“Diseree...” Her quiet word had the young Kel Dor freezing and then releasing Will. The very young Jedi seer looked at her master and something unsaid passed between them. Ashla Ti spoke quietly.

“You should do it.” With that the Togruta stood up from her chair and left the room. Will stared after her and then looked at the young Kel Dor. Diseree shook herself.

“I need to tell you. You are going to...” She broke off as Will reached up and laid a finger across her filter mask. She stared at him in shock. When he spoke, it was weary.

“Knowledge of one's future is a terrible burden. I prefer not to know.” She stared at him and then in a convulsive move, embraced him again. He returned it. After all, he genuinely liked this girl, no matter that she was the granddaughter of a being he hated. They had only known each other for a short time, but he knew she would be a great Jedi one day. She shook her head and let go. She bowed to him and he to her. Then he stepped to the door and was gone. When Ashla Ti came back in, she found Diseree crying. The Togruta seer nodded and enfolded the younger seer in her arms. When she spoke it was quiet.

“A very wise man." Ashla TI admitted sadly. "Far wiser than many Jedi I have known.” Diseree looked at her Master and calmed herself.

“What can we do Master?” Diseree asked, sacred. Ashla Ti's voice was soft when she replied.

“Watch and wait, and hope he makes the right choice.”
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kalenath
06.27.2012 , 09:17 AM | #6
<The next day>

“...What do you mean he's gone?” Ha Ar Munda stood at the hatch to the detention block on the Stormhawk and tried not to swallow in worry. Of all the things he had expected when he had arrived to talk to his client, Mace Shin AKA Stormhawk Boss, this was not it. After all, one did not just vanish from a secure holding cell, did one?

“Cameras still show him in there. No one looked physically until you did.” The lieutenant on duty was braced to attention. She knew she had messed up. But how? She had done everything right but something was very much out of wack. The JAG Captain shook his head slowly and his head tails drooped.

“So... He could have been gone from... When?” The major asked, dumbfounded and the lieutenant swallowed.

“Last physical check when he was fed eight hours ago." The lieutenant shook himself and continued. "Sir... If he... How...?” The Togruta snorted.

“He helped build this ship lieutenant." The major sighed. "Better believe he knows ways around it that no one else does. Was anyone bothering him?” The lieutenant shook her head.

“No, sir. No one would have dared." The LT said with a grunt. "I mean, this is Stormhawk Boss we are talking about. he... I mean...” Ha Ar Munda nodded slowly.

“He's a hero." The major responded. "And his armor...” He smiled as the LT snorted.

“Sir, he had so many traps installed in that suit that all our ordnance people took one look at it and said 'Hell NO' to any attempt to disarm. He did give us his weapons and his remote.” Ha Ar Munda had to laugh at that and after a moment, the LT snorted as well. But then the LT frowned. “Sir... I have to report this...”

"I know." Ha Ar Munda nodded. “But... Right now, we are the only ones who know he isn't in there. Right now he is probably safer where he is anyway, right?” The LT nodded slowly. There were a whole lot of people who wanted Stormhawk Boss dead. And not all of them had been rooted out when the Admirals had been arrested. There had been no less than three attempts to penetrate the brig to get at Boss. None had come any further than the outer hatch of the detention block before being discovered and stopped, but... The Togruta sighed.

“How long can you sit on this?” The major asked. The LT goggled at him.

“Sir?”

“I am going to ask around. Maybe I can find someone who knows something. We need to get to the bottom of this, and fast. And before some bounty hunter or nut with a cause gets to him first.” the LT nodded again, slowly.

“The only people who know right now are myself and my sergeant.” They turned to the Wookiee who wore sergeant's stripes on his shoulder fur and the sergeant assumed a 'I'm stupid' expression and shrugged. Both of the officers grinned at that. But then the LT sobered. “I can't stall people forever, sir.”

"Do your best, Lieutenant. " The JAG captain nodded.”I will be back with or without answers in two hours.” The LT nodded and Ha Ar Munda left the detention bay, thinking hard.

If I were a wanted fugitive with more bounties on my head than almost anyone else in the galaxy, where would I go if I couldn't leave a ship?

<An hour later>

Ha Ar Munda had questioned a lot of people in his career. Politicians, soldiers, press, drug smugglers, slavers, Hutts, the list went on and on. But none had ever made him feel quite like he was banging his head against a stone wall as trying to get an answer from the Stormhawk crew. They were polite, oh yeah, they were very polite, but... uninformative. He shook his head. Living alone with no one to trust but themselves had taught them all a high degree of self control. A much higher degree than many Internal Affairs personnel he thought with an amused snort. He keyed a hatch and froze on seeing the vista laid out before him. Part of his mind took in the observation blister, the panels for manual local control of weapons systems in case of power failure, the backup navigation instruments, the young woman seated on a small bench. But most of his brain was lost in the grand view of space in all its terrifying emptiness laid out before him. It was a long time, somewhere between minutes and centuries, before he could tear his eyes from the view and look at the young woman who sat looking at the stars.

“I am sorry, I didn't know anyone was in here.” She nodded to his words. His brain cataloged her automatically. Human female, age about 20. Brown hair, blue eyes. “I'm...” He broke off as she snorted.

“You are the JAG captain who was trying to defend Will in that mock court fracas. You did a good job.” The Togruta blinked at that. The girl smiled, no it was a grin, before continuing. “Yeah we were watching and laughing out tails off.” Ha Ar Munda had to smile at her tone.

“It wasn't very funny at the time, but looking back...” He had to smile in memory as well. “Yeah, I am Ha Ar Munda.” the girl blinked and then, in a single sinuous movement was standing braced to attention.

“I apologize Captain. My military courtesy is a bit rusty.” She saluted. He gravely returned it and then snorted.

“Like you have had a chance to practice around here?” He looked closely at her and blinked. “Wait a sec... Where do I know you from?” The girl pursed her lips and spoke slowly.

“Corporal Hala Shinn.” the JAG captain froze. Yes, he remembered now. The scandal of a prisoner escaping from a Special Forces base, some said with the connivance of members of the Special Forces. Nothing had ever been proven, and with the demise of the Special Branch of Republic Intelligence, no one was interested in prosecuting any minor irregularities. But something puzzled the lawyer.

“You were not on the list. Of repatriations.” Hala nodded at his query.

“Some of us, well..." Hala sighed. "We have reason to be distrustful of strangers bearing gifts.” The Togurta nodded. But his eyes narrowed.

“Are you okay? You look a bit...” Hala didn't respond, but the lawyer was sure. “Sit, Corporal. I would like to talk to you if I could.” Hala looked at him for a moment and then did as instructed.

“I have missed few therapy sessions, L'trask is likely going to flay me.” The corporal said sadly. Ha Ar Munda looked at her as he squatted on his heels. She flushed. “I'm fine... mostly...”

“What happened?” the captain's voice was quiet, and kind. Hala sighed.

“Special Branch ambush. I walked right into it. I took five hits, two major. I... Well, I haven't bounced back as I had hoped to.” Ha Ar Munda nodded. He understood that for sure. Being in JAG didn't keep one out of fights, not by a long shot. And being in JAG during a war meant one went into harms way a lot.

“Hala Shin..." The lawyer mused. "That makes you Mace's younger sister, right?” Hala nodded, but spoke quietly.

“I don't know where Mace is.” She said in a hurried tone. Ha Ar Munda nodded slowly. Variations of that were all he had gotten from any of the other crew he had spoken to.

“Do you have any idea where he might have gone?” Hala sighed.

“My best guess is that he will leave the ship as soon as he can. You see, he isn't my brother any more. He is a symbol. Stormhawk Boss. I doubt he wanted to be this. But its what he is, a symbol of hope, of freedom fighting for his convictions against all who would oppress. It kind of makes having any sort of normal life pointless. Even if he wanted to, I bet he wouldn't be able to now.” Ha Ar Munda looked at her for a long moment. Then he nodded.

“Fair enough. And the legend of Stormhawk Boss will only grow I bet.” Ha Ar Munda said slowly. Hala grinned at that. “And I am taking you to medical right now. I like to think I am a good judge of humans and you look like you are about to collapse.” Hala's face fell.

“Shoot me?” Her voice was plaintive. The lawyer laughed as he helped her to her feet.

“No, this fight you have to face.” She sighed but allowed him to lead her out of the hatch.
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06.27.2012 , 09:21 AM | #7
<A few minutes later>

Hala was weaving and only a strong arm kept her upright as the JAG captain led her into Medical. A startled exclamation was heard and then L'trask was hurrying towards them. The doctor took her other arm and they led her towards a berth, brushing off her half formed protests.

“I am all right.” She said for the third time as they moved to lift her into the bed and she shook their hands off. She climbed into the bed on her own as Ha Ar Munda stepped back. L'trask snarled.

“No you are not. You know you skipped therapy three times. And where the flarg have you been?” He asked as he took in her filthy shipsuit and flinched. Ha Ar Munda spoke quietly.

“I found her in a dorsal observation blister.” The girl glared at him, but was obviously too exhausted to do anything else. “You didn't have to hide you know.” Hala shook her head.

“I wasn't on the pardoned list. I... I wasn't on the...” She broke off as L'trask came close with a hypo and she snarled at him. “I'm fine.” The Trandoshan snarled right back.

“No you are not. You have been pushing yourself too hard. I told you to take it easy, so what do you do?” He deftly caught her arm, even as she tried to recoil and with a hiss, the hypo did it's work. He laid her arm gently down and spoke in a kinder tone. “You push yourself too hard. You need time to heal. Time you haven't been giving yourself. I know you feel in debt to Mace, but... Hala, please listen to us.” The girl stared at him and then, slowly nodded as the drug took effect and she slumped back into towards unconsciousness. Her voice was slurred as sleep took her.

“Too much... to do...” L'trask sighed as he watched her readings stabilize on his monitors. Then he turned back to the JAG captain and sighed.

“Idiot girl.” The captain smiled a bit at his tart tone and followed the doctor out of the berth. A medical droid entered as they left. The doctor led the JAG to a small office and waved the captain to a seat. “Thank you.”

"My pleasure." Ha Ar Munda sat and smiled. “She is a good person, if scared. And I don't blame her in the slightest.” L'trask nodded and the lawyer continued. “Will she be okay?” The doc grinned a toothy Trandoshan smile.

“Give her a day or so and she will be chomping at the bit again. She is just not as strong as she wants to be. I have told her and told her it takes time to rebuild such endurance, but she just has to keep trying.” Ha Ar Munda nodded slowly.

“She is Mace's sister. That makes her a tempting target. For all kinds of people.” L'trask nodded slowly. The lawyer sighed. “Doc, I am not your enemy. And by 'your' I mean the Stormhawk.” L'trask nodded again.

“I know that. But... It will be hard enough for me. And I haven't been anywhere except this bay for... well, years...” Ha Ar Munda looked at him and L'trask sighed. “I am needed and I really didn't have anywhere else to go.” The captain smiled at him.

“Cranna wouldn't take you back?” The doc looked at him and Ha Ar Munda shrugged. “JAG keeps a close eye on Cranna the Hutt's dealings, after all, she is a Hutt. And it was suspected for a long time that she had dealings with the Stormhawk.” L'trask didn't reply and the lawyer sighed. “Look, I am not after her, or you. I am trying to help here. I need to find Mace.” L'trask could have been carved from stone for all the emotion he showed. “Please doctor, help me. The Senate is not going to take no for an answer. He is probably the biggest symbol of this ship, and they are going to want to know where he is.” L'trask looked at him for a long moment and he was afraid that the Trandoshan would not reply at all. But finally, the doctor stood up.

“Come with me.” The lawyer followed with unaccustomed look of bemusement on his face as the doctor led the way.

The doctor led the puzzled lawyer through the ship until they came to an unadorned small hatch which L'trask unlocked. Without a word, the doctor waved the lawyer towards the hatch. Ha Ar Munda looked at L'trask for a moment, then he entered the small compartment. As the door closed, the lights came up and he froze solid.

The small room was bare. No furniture, no nothing, except... Ha Ar Munda drew a swift breath as he saw the armor of Stormhawk Boss racked neatly on the wall, and beside it, a list. He looked at it. Names and dates handwritten. His eyes went wide as the names and dates started to make sense. The first one was Mace Shin. The date was a little over seven years in... the past! Mace Shin was... dead?

“No...” His voice held horror and sorrow. Another voice came to him.

“Now you know.” He spun to see Hala step out of a concealed door. She slumped a bit, but then stood straight. He shook his head, shocked beyond speech. “You are the only person outside of this crew who knows.” Finally, he found his tongue.

“You... I... Oh my god...” He shook his head. “How...?” Hala nodded slowly.

“When Mace died, he didn't want his legacy to die with him.” She waved to indicate the ship. “His successors took up his armor and hid their faces. The last...” She waved towards where the name Serrina was scrawled on the wall. “She chose me to carry it on. You can't kill hope. You can't kill freedom. You can kill the people behind the ideas, but you can't kill the symbols. Not when people care about them.”

Ha Ar Munda stared at the young human and then slowly shook his head. “No. No you can't.” he straightened and then, saluted her. “How can I help?”

Hala grinned a bit sourly. “Well...”

<Twenty minutes later>

“...Sir?” the LT in charge of the detention block had been going out of her mind. He relief on seen the JAG captain had died a sudden death on his words.

“He isn't on the ship. I don't know how, but he got away. My report will say that there was literally no way at all that you could possibly have stopped him. Which just happens to be the truth, so you are covered.” The LT shook her head savagely.

“This isn't about me, sir." The LT said with a grimace. "What will happen to him?” Ha Ar Munda sighed.

“You can't kill a symbol lieutenant. No matter how hard you try, all it does is make it more symbolic. It is out of our hands now. And... For what it is worth... I think Boss is going to be just fine.” The LT ljust looked at him and he sighed.

This is going to be rough, I do not look forward to explaining THIS to my superiors...
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06.27.2012 , 09:25 AM | #8
<A very long ways away>

The man wearing a tattered grey jumpsuit looked up as the force field across the door of his cell vanished. Injuries old and new showed through the tears in his clothing. He didn't react as a human in black robes came into the cell. The newcomer shook his head.

“So it has come to this. Pity.” The being who had occupied the cell didn't respond. After a moment, the robed being spoke again. “There was a time you were one of the best, now... You are just pathetic.” he paused as the other man raised his head and they locked eyes. A red blade ignited in the robed being's hand.

“Too bad you couldn't have taken my offer, none of this would have been necessary. One final chance. Serve me.” The man on the floor didn't respond and the Sith shook his head and smiled grimly. Without another word, his saber was in motion and the tattered man didn't react. But before the blade could reach its intended victim, the Sith seemed to hesitate. Then he collapsed in a heap on the floor. The tattered man stared at the being and at the pair of dagger hilts that stood out from Sith's back.

He still didn't move. Another form became visible as a stealth field generator deactivated. A Rodian. The tattered man's eyes widened fractionally and then he nodded to the newcomer. The Rodian nodded gravely back and then, he was gone. The tattered man stared after him. The cell door didn't reactivate. The tattered man shook his head and slowly with obvious pain clambered to his feet. Outside his cell, he was only slightly surprised to find bodies. A lot of bodies.

He started towards where the armory would normally be, wondering. As he went, he found nothing alive, just smashed droids and bodies. Arriving at the armory he snorted. The secure hatch was ajar. He shook his head slowly and went in. On entry, he froze. Whatever he had expected, this wasn't it. He had been only partly certain who had killed the Sith that had been about to execute him. But now, his suspicions were confirmed. The two beings in front of him were a miss match. A small Bothan with mechanical legs and a absolutely huge human with scars all across his face. Neither carried lightsabers, the Bothan had a sword and the human a Massassi Lanvarok. He shook his head slowly and knelt. A gentle voice spoke.

“He lied, commander.” The tattered man looked up and the Bothan's eyes were glistening. If he remembered right, this woman was empathic, that meant he couldn't lie to her if he had wanted to. Not that he did. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He snorted quietly. It had been so long since he had allowed himself to speak. The two beings in black waited for him to speak and finally he forced his mouth to function.

“He... lied...?” The tattered man asked. The Bothan nodded. When she spoke it was quiet.

“He told you that you had been declared a traitor for that mess on Jodaka." The female Bothan said sadly. "We know you are not a traitor. He tried to make you one, and you refused.” The human's eyes went wide. The Bothan grimaced just a bit from the emotions that poured off of him. “We couldn't act without proof, you know who we are.” It wasn't a question, but the tattered man nodded slowly.

That made sense. No matter the provocation, no high rank Sith could just go and kill another high ranked Sith without repercussion. The strong ruled, yes, and the weak fell. But the Emperor ruled all. And yes, he had heard of these beings. Servants of the Emperor,as he was. If... different. The Bothan waited for him to work through his thoughts. Finally, he spoke.

“Why all this then?” He asked, unsure. The Bothan sighed.

“We need you.” She said soberly. He stared at her. Then he laughed, mirthless.

“The Bladeborn need me?” The sheer disbelief in his voice almost covered the pain in it. But the Bothan just nodded.

“We need the best hunter the Empire has. That is you commander.” He would have demurred, but she shook her head. Now there was humor in her words. “How many other people could have tracked Will Kalenath across a planet's surface and not been shot for their trouble?” The tattered man winced a bit, that had not been fun at all. His voice was quiet when he spoke.

“Any loyal Imperial would jump at the chance to serve you.” The Bothan nodded. “Why me?”

The Bothan's voice was clinical when she spoke. “First we have ample proof that you are loyal. Second, you are available and deniable.” He nodded to that, but then froze as that percolated through his brain. To be deniable, well... The Bothan nodded. “This base will blow up in approximately ten minutes. Reactor core mishap. But most important of all, you know Will Kalenath. Let me ask you this, if his daughter gets taken and turned, or killed, what will he do?” The tattered man's eyes went very wide at that. He did indeed know the man.

“His daughter...?” The man's voice was hushed. “Oh no...” the Bothan nodded.

“Exactly." Now she looked sick. "As bad as his depredations against the Empire have been in the past, the Empire can scarcely afford the sheer carnage that will result. Not now. Not with the war heating up again. Well commander? What do you choose?”

"I..." The man on the floor shook his head slowly. But then he met the Bothan's eyes and nodded. “I serve the Empire. This will serve the Empire?” The Bothan nodded back.

“It will, in several ways. Some concrete, some not so easy to see. He may be an enemy...” She broke off as he snorted.

“A person is judged by the quality of his or her enemies." The man said slowly. "And he is honorable. What do you need from me?” The Bothan smiled.

“We will get you someplace safer, where you can heal and restock. Then we need you to find a bounty hunter named C'trask. He has proven somewhat... difficult to track.” The tattered man nodded, but then the floor came up to meet him.

Ona waited until she was sure he was unconscious before moving to check his injuries. Imperial Agents were dangerous at the best of times. Which this was not. She sighed in relief as she determined his injuries were not life threatening. She waved at Blondie moved to pick the man up. They had to get out of the base before the reactor overload that Leeto had initiated went off. Then they would have to get him to the ship, heal his injuries and send him on his way, preferably without him learning anything other than what they had told him. Tall order. Commander Vorren was no slouch when it came to espionage. No slouch at all.
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06.27.2012 , 09:31 AM | #9
<Some time later>

Vorren woke instantly, as his training demanded. He didn’t move, open his eyes or change his breathing, but a voice came to him, one he recognized.

“We did not introduce ourselves properly. I am Ona of the Bladeborn. How do you feel?” He immediately discarded subterfuge. It didn’t usually work with Sith. He opened his eyes and was not surprised to find himself lying in a bed in medical bay. From the looks of it, he was on a ship. And from the black clad Bothan who was smiling at him, he could only be on one. He catalogued his body and smiled ever so slightly himself. The rumors of the skill of a certain Bladeborn healer were not overdone, if anything, they were understated. He nodded to her.

“You know who I am, but courtesy demands I introduce myself. Commander Vorren, formerly 3rd Regiment Imperial Infiltration Corps. As to my condition...” He thought about it for a moment and nodded. “Optimal. No degradation.” He flexed his fingers and toes and didn’t bother to restrain a smile as previously broken bones answered his commands. He nodded to the healer. “I am in your debt, healer.” At that, she froze. Those words were not lightly spoken among Sith. Vorren smiled, this time it was an almost natural one. “A member of your Order did save my life. And while I dislike owing people, from what I understand, you Bladeborn are more loyal to the Empire than many in II.” This last came out slightly bitter, but Ona just nodded. It was the truth.

“Even though we are... different?” Her quiet question brought his eyes to latch onto hers. They shared a long, understanding look. Vorren looked away first and snorted quietly.

“Some Sith may equate different with weak. I do not. But you didn’t know that did you?” The humor in his words brought a grin to Ona’s face but then she shook her head.

“We were looking for you, ever since you disappeared from the transport on the way back from Jodaka.” At the name of that planet, Vorren winced slightly. That had not been fun. The fighting had been the least of it, his master’s wrath when he had come back empty handed had been... impressive. “It wasn’t your fault. We know that.” Vorren looked at her and Ona smiled, just a bit. “We have some... how shall I say...? Unusual abilities in our ranks.” Vorren snorted.

“Your seer looked for me?” Ona looked at him and he smiled slightly. That was admission enough for him. “Never mind, I know you won’t answer that. What I don’t understand is why you need me. You have plenty of people who would work for you to find, capture or kill Will Kalenath.” Ona licked her lips for a moment but another voice came.

“Ona...” Vorren’s eyes went to the hatch which had opened soundlessly and his eyes went wide at the short figure that entered the medical bay. He nodded from the bed -it was all he could do- as the diminutive grandmaster of the Bladeborn hopped up on a chair to stand beside his bed. Master Trugoy nodded to the Imperial agent. “I am glad to see you awake, Commander. We do need to talk.” A flip of a finger and Ona left the room quietly. Vorren looked into the eyes of this being who was older than anyone else he had ever met and a small trickle of fear wafted down his spine. He acknowledged it. No one sane would face this being, knowing who and what he was, and not have misgivings of some kind. But he was an agent of Imperial Intelligence, trained by the best to handle the jobs no one else could. So he banished his feelings under a mask of training and nodded to Trugoy.

“How may I be of assistance, Master Trugoy?” Vorren asked. The master of the Bladeborn nodded to the agent.

“What do you know of the Sith council member named Darmuk?” At that name, Vorren went still. Trugoy nodded. “We do not know what he is doing. We do know he is plotting against the Empire. But we cannot prove it.” Vorren raised an eyebrow and Trugoy shrugged. “Not even we can simply ‘remove’ a council member without proof.” Vorren nodded. “There is something bad coming. That we are sure of. And he is in it up to his shifty eyes. But we can’t prove it. We do know, thanks to our resident seer, that Nia Korr is also involved somehow.” Vorren’s eyes narrowed and Trugoy nodded. “Yes, Will Kalenath’s daughter.” When Vorren spoke, it was careful.

“Is that all she is?” Trugoy looked at him and Vorren nodded slowly. “I did some checking, before going to Jodaka. The colony on Kuria was not founded by Republic forces.” Trugoy shook his head slowly.

“Don’t go there, commander. I know that telling an intelligence person not to go somewhere is normally tantamount to an invitation, but... Ravishaw is involved.” At that, Vorren goggled at him. Ravishaw was a very dangerous Sith lord, yes, but he didn’t normally use a lightsaber, no he fought with an ancient Sith... sword...

“He is...?” Vorren asked, then paused as Trugoy shook his head.

“He is not Bladeborn, although he has a brand, apparently he put it on himself. To mock us.” Vorren shook his head at that.

“What is he, crazy?” Vorren asked, astonished. Irritating the Bladeborn was a bad idea. Trugoy shook his head slowly.

“Yes. He has toyed with things that did not appreciate it." Trugoy sighed and continued. "He is insane. And incredibly powerful. And he is looking for Will Kalenath for his own reasons.” At that Vorren snorted.

“I wish him luck then, all it will get him is a shallow grave.” Trugoy didn’t smile.

“You need to hear the rest of it. But first...” Trugoy reached into a pocket and pulled out a device that Vorren recognized, a jammer. Small and compact, it was top of the line Imperial issue. His eyebrows rose and Trugoy shook his head as he turned it over in his hand. “I have clearance to tell you this, but once I have, you will be one of five people in the Empire outside of the Bladeborn who know that information. And that number includes the Emperor.” At that Vorren froze. Trugoy thumbed on the jammer and all of the monitors in the bay went dark, as well as the surveillance camera over the door. “Now... Will Kalenath is far more important than anyone outside of a select group knows. There are a number of reasons, but...”

Vorren listened, sure in his bones that this was putting him deeper and deeper into waters that teemed with predators. Predators that he might not be able to fight.
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kalenath
06.27.2012 , 09:32 AM | #10
<Bothawui, a week later>

Will shivered, just a bit, as he stepped off his ship. Of all the planets he had never wanted to return to, this planet was high on the list. For just a moment, he was years in the past hearing the screams, the shouts, the battle cries of the Sith and their forces, punctuated by the artillery fire that rained down on the forces protecting the shield generator. He remembered the last time he had seen the great hero Belth Allusis and the brave men and women who had sworn to fight beside the Jedi Master. Part of him railed to this very day that he had been ordered to leave. He had fought hard to harry the Sith, notching dozens of officers including two Sith generals, while trying to aid the beleaguered defenders. But all for naught. The Sith onslaught had been slowed, stopped for a time by the sheer courage and determination of the defenders, but numbers eventually won out. It had cost the Sith dearly however. He remembered clearly the feeling of helplessness he had felt as his ship had boosted for orbit one step ahead of the Sith blockaders. Belth Allusis had known, going in, that there would be no retreat, no surrender, and no mercy. The men with him, likewise. Let the talking heads on the holovids say what they would about ‘stupid or idiotic last stands’, Will knew otherwise. Morale was to material in war as two to one. You needed material to win, no question, but without the will to win behind it, it was pointless. Republic morale had taken a serious hit in the disastrous campaigns before Bothawui. After...?

Will shook his head slowly. This was no time for wool gathering. The Sith dockmaster approached and he slipped into character. Time to hunt.

<On a high perch not very nearby>

Vorren shivered, just a bit as he looked through his scope. The imperial agent could only shake his head slowly at the sheer audacity that Will was displaying. To fly right in to a Sith outpost, as if he didn’t have so many bounties on his head that every tow bit bounty hunter or Sith apprentice would be literally drooling with anticipation took some major courage. Or stupidity. Vorren grinned slightly. In many cases, there was remarkably little to choose between the two. What might look like sheer insanity with Will often wound up being some kind of deeply laid plan. But there was simply no way Will could possibly know he was expected, and that Vorren’s job was to keep him alive. Said task would not be easy. His contacts on planet had informed him of the presence of several other interested parties. The bounty hunter had picked this place of all places to turn in the bounty.

Vorren hadn’t been in the forces that attacked Bothawui. He had been involved elsewhere. But he had heard, oh yes, he had heard. Try as the Sith might, they couldn’t stamp out rumors and gossip. The grapevine was just as prevalent in the Sith forces as it was in the Republic. To be outnumbered to such a degree and fight on, that took something that Vorren couldn’t help but admire. The Jedi and the Republic forces on planet had inflicted a staggering toll on the Sith invasion force. It hadn’t helped that so many of the Sith commanders were far more interested in jockeying for power than in winning battles. Imperial Intelligence had been hard pressed, afterward, to find and punish all of those responsible for such a humiliating display. Vorren had actually dealt with a few of them himself, and had felt nothing but satisfaction in the deeds.

He shook his head, no time for wool gathering. He watched with amusement as Will completely bamboozled the unsuspecting dock master and walked out of the bay as if he hadn’t a care in the world. He moved to his second position and waited, but Will never came out of the entrance to the bay. At least, not visible. Vorren sighed. This might be a long day...

<A cantina in the spaceport>

C’trask was rapidly losing patience. His contacts had put him off, again. He was out of money, and he was absolutely certain that his pursuers had followed him here. Admittedly this was a Sith held world. Anyone causing a ruckus would wind up facing more firepower than any mortal being could handle. But still, he had the feeling that people were watching, even if surreptitious glances around the bar had shown none of his former pursuers. He was the only Trandoshan in the bar as a matter of fact. And that might actually be a problem, now that he thought about it. His contact had decreed this bar, and the patrons were obviously unhappy about his presence. He was quiet, and he was paying so the staff left him alone, but several of the patrons were now looking at him. He returned their gazes levelly. Two of them stood up and he didn’t move his upper body. Under cover of the table, his claw found his blaster however. They reeked of alcohol and snarled as they approached.

“What have we here? A lizard?” The Trandoshan bristled at the insult, but this was not the place to gun these fools down, not with two members of the local police sitting at the bar and watching. He decided to play dumb; it was unlikely any of these fools realized he spoke Basic. He ignored them and picked up his drink. Of course his other hand didn’t move from where it rested on the handle of his blaster. The thugs didn’t take the hint. The larger of the two spoke again, moving closer. “I am talking to you lizard breath.” Now C’trask looked up and both thugs took an involuntary step back from whatever was in his eyes. The bounty hunter put his drink down and tossed a coin to the barkeep. The two thugs stared at the Trandoshan and then at the barkeep. The elderly Bothan smiled at the thugs. It was not a friendly smile.

“I think he just bought you both drinks.” C’trask nodded and the Bothan snorted. “I would take them if I were you...” For a moment, it looked as if the thugs would do something dumb anyway, but then they moved off, towards the bar. C’trask didn’t react as a cloaked figure entered the cantina. The figure moved to where he was sitting and nodded to him. A small coin appeared on the table and he nodded back. The cloaked figure motioned with its head towards a booth and C’trask nodded again. The bounty hunter rose slowly and followed the cloaked figure to the booth. Once inside, the newcomer produced a small jammer and C’trask nodded. They both sat at the same time. The curtains of the booth closed and the newcomer activated the jammer. Then the figure removed the hood of his cloak and C’trask froze solid. Will Kalenath’s dead eyes looked across the table at the Trandoshan. C’trask shivered a bit, he was more used to causing fear, but this being’s eyes were as cold as space itself.

“Your ‘contact’ met a misfortune. Let’s talk...”
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