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(L,F&E 47) First Star to the Right...

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Fan Fiction
(L,F&E 47) First Star to the Right...

kalenath's Avatar

06.29.2012 , 09:22 AM | #1
<Jedi Enclave on Tython>

Will lay back as Nolikas worked. He wasn’t bouncing back this time. And truth be told, he really didn’t expect to. He was getting too old for this. He knew it in his heart, even if he would never admit it to anyone. He didn’t move, or even wince as Nolikas checked his healing injuries. She looked at him and he grinned a bit, and then she bandaged his wounds. She nodded to him as she finished.

“Your wounds are healing nicely. We removed all the fragments of whatever had been stuck inside you. Whoever removed them did a good job, if rushed. The drugs have been cleared out of your system as well.” She sounded... distracted and he arched an eyebrow. The Rakata healer sighed. “It’s been three days. I can’t keep them at bay forever.” Will nodded. It was no small feat that she had managed to keep the various people who wanted to talk to him at bay for so long.

“Thank you Nolikas." The soldier said with heartfelt approval. "How about this afternoon? For the first batch? I am betting there are bunches.” Nolikas snorted.

“You have no idea." The Jedi said with a sigh. "Prepare to be flooded.” At that Will sat back in the bed. He grimaced.

“That bad huh?” He winced. Nolikas shook her head.

“Worse." The Jedi replied sadly. "Bad enough when you were just a pirate, sorry ‘unsanctioned privateer’. Now, you are a hero again. Someone who has thumbed his nose at the entire Sith empire on numerous occasions. Someone who fought at Coruscant and here most recently. An ace pilot who has served in more combat environments than anyone else I have ever met. And… the last person known to have talked to an Islanian.” Will froze at that. He really hadn’t considered that aspect of this. “You are going to be very popular.” Will shivered, he really hadn’t had any idea at all.

“How… bad…?” He gulped. Nolikas shook her head.

“I can and will control exactly how many people you see at first." The healer promised. "Perfectly valid medical reasons. And tomorrow is soon enough. Today, you have some visitors.” Will looked at her and then his eyes went wide as the door to the room opened and his mother and sister walked in, beside them… Will snorted.

“I might have known. Hello Vandar.” The small green Jedi Master jumped up on a chair and smiled at the soldier in the bed.

“I am glad to see you alive, Will Kalenath. I escorted these two lovely ladies here, now I will take my leave before Nolikas gets mad at me.” With that, he was gone. Nolikas shook her head sadly.

“I draw my saber once and everyone starts treating me like I am dangerous…” She complained. Will shook his head slowly and his grin was sour when he spoke.

“Hate to break it to you doc, but you are." He nodded to her stunned expression. "And speaking for myself, after hearing what happened... Thanks.” Nolikas smiled at Will and then took her own leave. Maria sat down in a chair beside Will’s bed and Sara perched on the edge. Neither spoke. Both just looked at him. He shook his head again.

“Mom, Sara, I am okay.” He said hastily. Maria scoffed.

“Pull the other one, Will. I read the reports." His mother scolded. "The unclassified ones anyway. And Trava’s.” Sara didn’t speak, her eyes didn’t leave Will’s face. Will raised his hands and his mother took them in hers. He shook his head, ignoring the twinges in his scalp. The wounds were healing. The physical ones anyway. Maria gave her son’s hands a firm squeeze and sighed.

“I don’t understand. Why did they let you go?" Sara asked, unsure. "Trava and her people almost blasted the pod you were in. Islanians were known for using fake escape pods to get explosives or other nastiness on enemy ships.” Will nodded.

“They didn’t let me go. I escaped, with help. I…”. Now Sara was looking at him and Will met her gaze levelly. “I met someone a long time ago. We liked each other, but life got in the way.” Maria raised an eyebrow when her son didn’t elaborate.

“Someone…. special…?” Maria asked with a knowing smile. Will grimaced a bit.

“Very. But…" WIll sighed and continued. "Oh well, it was the usual problem. We had very little in common. She wasn’t organic.” At that, Maria sat up straight, but Sara actually relaxed. Will smiled a bit in memory. “Let me tell you both a story. It’s about a young dumb kid and a friendly computer he met. It was about twenty five years ago now…” He settled back into the bed. This might be a long day, but they deserved to know. Especially Sara.

<Two hours later>

Sara picked at her food in the cafeteria as she thought hard about what Will had told her. Obviously there were things he couldn’t tell her, even here. Maybe especially here. The Jedi were kind, in their own way, but… careful as well. As if Sara were a live warhead ready to go off. She smiled, just a bit sad at that thought. Technically, that was exactly what she was. But she was learning when and where to go off. She didn’t lack for people willing to talk to her, but at the same time… She looked around at the ring of empty tables in the cafeteria and sighed inaudibly. She didn’t blame people for being a bit leery of her. Hell, she scared herself. She bent back over her food and froze as a young voice came to her.

“May I sit here?” She looked up into the eyes, well the goggles of a young Kel Dor girl. Sara shrugged and indicated the table. The Kel Dor sat. “Thank you. You looked like you could use some company.” There was an obvious smile in her words under her filter mask. Kel Dor needed the goggles and filter to move around in normal atmospheres. Sara looked at her and shook her head.

“You would be Diseree Mak.” Sara said slowly. The Kel Dor bowed her head and spoke quietly.

“And you are Sara Kalenath." The Kel Dor asked. "How is he?” Sara froze. Of all the questions she had expected, that wasn’t remotely one she had expected.

“I would have thought you would know.” Sara asked somewhat dubiously. Diseree snorted.

“Being a seer is not all it is cracked up to be." Diseree said with a small grimace. "I know he is alive and recovering, but they won’t let me see him in person.” Sara froze at that, but Diseree shrugged. “There is worry that whatever the Islanians did to him… Well…” Sara nodded. Islanian slave practices were horrific and thorough. If they had programmed him to do something at a later date, well, the Enclave medics might find it in time. Maybe. So it made sense to quarantine him until they were sure. When Sara spoke it was slow and careful.

“He is… healing." The sister of WIll Kalenath said slowly. "Physically anyway. I know it hurt him a lot when they made him do what they did. I don’t know all of it. And something tells me I don’t want to know.” Diseree nodded.

“They used him to wipe out a Sith fleet." Diseree said quietly as she picked at the food in front of her. Sara swore it looked like paste. Probably easy to eat through the mask. "As a test.” Sara’s eyes went wide.

“An entire fleet? Wow…” Sara shook her head and spoke softly. “And I thought the Empire hated him before…” Diseree sighed.

“Yeah. Well… Now the Empire has apparently changed policy, galaxy wide. They are no longer trying to capture him.” Sara froze. “It’s a shoot on sight order.” Sara pursed her lips and then shook her head. That was unlikely to change Will’s methods, but… everyone around him was a target now. And Sith were well known for targeting family of troublesome individuals. Diseree shook her head.

“I understand you teach hand to hand?" The Jedi said cautiously. "Could I ask to spar with you? I like learning new styles.” Sara blinked at the abrupt change of subject, and then nodded slowly.

“Sure, when and where?" Sara asked. "I am here for a while.” Diseree nodded.

“We can go now, if you like.” Sara finished her meal and nodded. She took her tray to the cleanser and then followed Diseree out of the cafeteria. She ignored the other brown robed form that stood up from a chair by the door and followed in the distance. It only made sense for the Jedi to keep tabs on her here. She was, in a word, dangerous.

The Kel Dor led her to a training room and, after removing her outer robes, assumed a martial arts position near the center of the room. Sara nodded to her, took in the other girl’s stance and smiled. Diseree was no slouch. This would actually be fun.

<Forty minutes later>

Sara was bruised in a number of places, but she hadn’t felt this good in a long time. People walked so carefully around her, she was never allowed to be herself. To actually try to be all she could be. Diseree was good, no question, but she was learning. Fast. And she didn’t use the Force either. In Sara’s mind that was a good thing. To rely on anything outside of one’s self, if the Force truly qualified as that anyway, was a weakness. She had spent time actually contemplating the Sith Code on occasion and he come to the conclusion that she was far too close to that way of thinking. So she worked hard to stay away from the train of thought that said power was good. That the only thing that mattered in the end was power. The two girls bowed to one another and the sparring match was over. Diseree laughed freely as she straightened.

“I haven’t had that much fun since I got here. Can we do it again?” Sara blinked. Then she smiled.

“Sure, if I am here.” She went to her gear and didn’t freeze as she felt the telltale sign of a datapad that hadn’t been there when she set the pouches and holster down.

Sneaky, sneaky…
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

06.29.2012 , 09:25 AM | #2
<Eight hours later>

“You are out of your mind.” Sara snorted as she continued to work on plans, but the voice of what had become one of her best friends didn’t relent. “Do you have any inkling at all how bad an idea this is?” Sara sighed.

“Yes, Dia, I actually do. But if there is any chance at all of catching this witch…” A silence came from the speakers as Sara stared at one of her terminals. It showed the classified dossier of an intelligence operative. More accurately, it showed the dossier of a slaver formerly in the employ of Republic Intelligence Special Branch. Sara had been hunting Bella Tiner for some time. The woman had joined the ranks of the Special Branch after Sara had… well… escaped wasn’t the right term. Been rescued? Transferred her slavery from the Republic to the Sith and then been rescued?

Sara shook her head. Nothing made a lot of sense these days, except this: She lived to hunt the scum who had torn her family apart and all of their minions. That was all she lived for now. All she had to keep herself going. And this Bella Tiner was a nasty piece of work. The dossier showed the woman a highly capable and amoral sort who preyed on isolated colonies and small ships when she could catch them. She had a small force of fighter class ships as well as a small corvette that she had ‘acquired’ from Republic Intelligence. According to the report, the woman had turned pirate as well as slaver and was operating in an area far from the core of Republic space, following her usual patterns of striking targets that couldn’t fight back effectively. Dia finally spoke quietly.

“Sara, this smells like a trap." Dia protested. "Why would a Jedi would give you a datapad with her location on it…? It doesn’t make sense. This is way too easy, Sara.” Sara nodded.

“I know." Sara agreed softly. "Something tells me we should expect problems, but… I have to check this out, Dia. She wasn’t involved in what happened to my mother and me, but… I have to check this out.” She repeated. For along moment, Dia didn’t respond. When she did, it was resigned.

“Why do I know we are going to regret this? At least bring a Jedi along.” Sara tensed, but Dia was still talking. “I know you and the Order have a troubled history, but… What about Hawkir? I know you like him.” Sara smiled in memory, yes, she did like him. He made her laugh. But…

“He is still being ‘debriefed’." Sara snorted at that and Dia joined her. Then Sara continued. "I don’t know who else I could trust, Dia. It would take time to trust someone else.” Dia made a small sound and Sara waited for her to speak.

“What about… someone not affiliated with the Order?” Dia asked slowly. Sara snorted.

“So, I hand myself over to the Sith?” Sara's tone was teasing though and Dia laughed.

“Not hardly. I was thinking about Kona.” At that, Sara sat and thought hard. If they pushed hard, they could get to Nova Ordo and to the area that the datapad said Bella would be in during the appointed time. Finally, Sara spoke.

“Do you think she would come?" Sara asked slowly. "She seems to be happy there.” Dia sighed.

“Key word there is ‘seems’." Dia replied sadly. "She is not. I think she is bored. She lived her whole life helping others, what do you think she will say? Also, Olana is there, we can pick him up too.” Sara smiled, she liked the huge Wookiee. She nodded, this made sense.

“How soon can we be underway?” Dia replied a bit distracted.

“About an hour.” Sara nodded. Lots to do then. She focused on her work.

<On planet, an hour later>

“She’s away.” The brown clad human spoke quietly, but the other Jedi didn’t respond. “Master Melan?” The Bothan he was addressing sighed.

“I hope we made the right decision. Manipulating that girl is like playing with baradium. Sooner or later, it’s going to go boom.” The human nodded.

“She is terrifying, that is certain. But… I thought we were just getting her away before someone did something dumb. She doesn’t trust us.” The Bothan caught his eye and the human flushed. “With good reason after what happened to her.” The Bothan nodded.

“Indeed. This problem does need to be dealt with and there is a certain poetic justice in allowing her to handle it. But... I am also hoping she will run into Jina, maybe bring her back. Or at least let someone talk to her.” The human nodded slowly. When he spoke again, it was sad.

“I still can’t believe what they wanted to do to Jina. I can’t.” Melan nodded slowly.

“They were scared. Can you blame them? They didn’t have all the information. Heck, WE didn’t have all the information until Vandar released the files to me. And I was scared, still am.” The human snorted.

“Only proves you are saner than most of the rest of us.” At that Thokal Melan laughed heartily.

“Oh well. This is out of our hands now. All we can do is see what happens now. If you could tell Anya I would like to speak with her when she has a free minute.” The human nodded and stepped out of the office, leaving the Jedi master to ponder what was coming. He hoped he had done the right thing, but the future was always in motion. And much of what he saw these days was dark.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

06.29.2012 , 09:28 AM | #3
<Three days later>

The woman known as Kona Lislaw stood beside the commander of the Dia’s Gift and shook her head as they approached the area Sara had been told to search.

“This is a bad idea.” Kona said. Sara nodded.

“I know. You are not the first to say so, by a long shot." Sara said calmly. "But… That woman needs to be stopped.” Kona sighed and caught Sara’s eyes.

“Does it have to be by you?" Kona pressed. "Sara, you and the children on this ship are unique as far as I know. You have no idea at all what certain parties would pay or do to get their hands on you. Or them.” Sara shivered a just a bit.

“Yes I do." Sara admitted. "I… I do…” Kona looked at her and Sara’s sense in the Force was scared. Kona sighed.

“I think going after this evil woman is a good thing. Doing it with a single ship… is dumb, Sara.” Kona said sourly. Sara flushed a bit. The ship’s XO gave Kona a look over Sara’s head that said he had made the exact same argument. Kona smiled. It was obvious that Roane Dijore had no idea at all who she had been. Which was a good thing to her mind. She knew the Jedi Order hadn’t given up hunting her. Sara sighed, drawing Kona’s attention back to the younger girl.

“I know. We have advantages though.” Sara broke off as Kona shook her head.

“Advantages that this slaver probably knows about. And may or may not be able to counter. Are you willing to take such a chance with the kids?” Sara pursed her lips and then shook her head.

"No." Sara admitted. "We are recon right now. The ship is configured as a freighter. Unless someone gets close enough for a detailed hull scan, they won’t be able to tell we are anything but a normal civilian ship with very powerful engines.” Kona nodded.

“And as long as they are pirates who want the ship, or slavers who want the crew, no problems. Pull them in close and then drop a hammer on them. What if there are enemies who want you and the kids dead?” Sara bit her lip and opened her mouth to respond. But whatever she was going to say was interrupted by an alarm. She nodded to Roane, who hit the intercom and Sara and Kona both sat down and strapped in.

“Reversion to real space in two minutes, all hands, brace for possible combat.” This was always the worst time. When they reverted to realspace and before they could get their shields and weapons online, they were vulnerable. Usually that was no big deal, but this was a completely lawless system they were entering.

The time ticked off. One minute thirty seconds. One minute. Thirty seconds. And… Time…

The blue tunnel outside the forward viewport reverted first to lines and then to pinpoints of light as the ship returned from the odd place that allowed superluminal travel. Sara breathed a sigh of relief. Then a bunch of things happened at once. The ship shuddered and groaned. Roane cursed and stared hitting his controls. Sara brought up her own controls and froze as the sensors showed what lay ahead of them. Instead of an uninhabited system, with maybe a few pirates, an entire Sith battle fleet was deployed near the hyper limit. Sara stared at her screen. A battleship, four cruisers, a carrier, three support ships, and a dozen escorts.

“Flarg…” Sara’s soft curse had Kona grimacing as she stared at the overwhelming array of firepower laid out before them. The ship shuddered again and Roane called from his station.

“The battleship just activated an interdictor field. Osik, Sara…” Sara nodded, but her gaze was far away. She shook her head slowly.

“Too many to fight. Play dumb?” Kona stared at her, but Sara wasn’t talking to her. Roane also stared at Sara, but Sara didn’t look at them. She nodded. “Right.” The girl looked to Roane.

“Captain Kotavas, you better talk to them.” Roane shook his head slowly.

“I hope you know what you are doing, Sara.” He keyed communications to focus on his station. Kona heard her speak in a soft voice.

“Yeah… me too…”

<Aboard the Sith Battleship Garth’s Vengeance>

“Any reason we shouldn’t just blast them?” The Captain of the ship asked his admiral, but the admiral just grunted.

“Who do they say they are?” The captain listened for a moment to the com traffic.

“They say they are a trader out of Tattooine. The Jolly Rancher. ID checks out. Registration is a bit old, but nothing illegal listed in any of the records. This captain, Kotavas, is protesting, saying that they will be delayed. And that will cost them.” The admiral snorted.

“Would he prefer to be blasted? Bring them alongside. Have the ship searched. We are here to kill pirates, not delay traders. But we have to find the pirates first. And who knows, maybe we can get lucky. Catch a smuggler or two. Tell the boarding party I would like prisoners, but if they can't no problem.” The captain nodded and started issuing orders.

<aboard the Dia’s Gift>

Roane killed his com and turned to Sara. “We have a problem.” Sara nodded. “They are going to board us. The moment they get close enough to see past the fake hull over the hangar deck… we are so flarged.” Sara shook her head.

“Which ship is going to board us?” Kona answered.

“If they follow standard Imperial procedure, the smallest ship with marines will. Probably a cruiser. Sara…” But Sara wasn’t looking at Kona, no, she was staring off into space. “Sara!”

Sara focused on Kona seemingly with difficulty. “Do you hear that?” Her voice was odd. Kona and Roane stared at her. Kona shook her head.

“Hear what?” Sara shook her head slowly.

“I hear music… Will’s music…” Kona and Roane shared a scared glance. If Sara was losing it… But Sara was shaking her head. “You don’t hear it? It’s there... Oh… It’s on Channel 5.” She keyed a control and music blasted across the bridge. Kona and Roane both stared at Sara. But Sara’s eyes were on the viewport. “Oh my god…” Both of the others looked out the port and froze.

<Near the Sith fleet>

A shimmering was the only warning the Sith had. One moment there was nothing there, and then next a small, almost invisible ship appeared. It dove at insanely high speed towards the cruiser that was even now moving towards the Dia’s Gift and fired its main weapons. Two balls of green plasma arced towards the cruiser from a totally unanticipated direction. Moments later, both impacted and carved deep into the hull of the large Sith vessel. Belated return fire came. But the small ship was gone.

<Aboard the Garth’s Vengeance>

Islanian Phantom! Cho'fas reports heavy damage to weapons.” Came the shout from the sensor tech, freezing the blood of everyone on the bridge. The captain immediately started barking orders. The admiral likewise started commanding the rest of the fleet to withdraw. In the ensuing confusion, the newly come freighter was utterly forgotten.

<Aboard the Dia’s Gift>

Sara could only stand with her bridge crew and gawk as the Sith fleet turned and ran. The damaged cruiser made its turn and then all of the Sith ships jumped, almost as one. Sara shook her head, shocked to her core.

“Was that what I think it was?” She asked quietly. Kona and Roane both nodded, awestruck. “We better get out of here.” Roane immediately started his computations, but froze.

“Um… Sara… Someone wants to talk to you…”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

06.29.2012 , 09:31 AM | #4
Sara keyed her com and waited for a response. Needless to say, she was terrified. It wasn’t a common feeling for her. But she had a very good idea who wanted to talk to her. But not why. This wasn’t something she could punch or shoot. So she was out of her depth. It came as a massive shock when the soft female voice was kind.

“Good afternoon.” Came the calm voice. Female, and it sounded human. But it wasn’t.

“What do you want?” Sara knew her tone was not respectful, but she was scared. The voice at the other end sighed and spoke in a soothing tone.

“Easy. You should calm down Sara, I am not your enemy.” She froze. There was no way at all… Um…

“I assume I am speaking to Michelle.” A soft, kind laugh came from the speaker.

“Yep, that’s me. A ghost in the machine. Or a ghost of a machine. Not sure which.” Sara surprised herself with a laugh. Michelle’s voice was still kind when she spoke again. “I wanted to let you know that the woman you were hunting ran afoul of that Sith fleet, she’s dead.” Sara shook her head.

“How the flarg…?” Sara demanded. Michelle snorted, somehow still kind though.

“You are good.” The former Islanian slave said soberly. “Your people are good. Your computer security is very good. Your com discipline needs some work.” Sara shook her head slowly.

“You were following us?” Sara asked as she turned to Roane who shook his head, he hadn’t seen anything. Michelle sighed.

“Not… really.” Now the machine intelligence’s voice was sad. “Well, sort of. I don’t know why I went back to Nova Ordo.” Sara tensed, but Michelle was speaking again. “Maybe I was looking for something? Maybe I hoped to get blasted, have the Mandalorian fleet there end my existence? Maybe I just wanted to make darn sure the witch who had my leash was dead. But… I don’t know… I saw your ship arrive and recognized it from Will’s memories. I have never been alone. For a thousand years, I had my partners. Now they are all gone. So is my reason for existing. Of course, the vengeance that Athena sought destroyed her in the end, with a bit of help from Will. I have no interest in gaining vengeance for a dead planet that enslaved me so long ago. I felt something odd from your ship, so I followed. My drives are a bit more efficient than yours, so I got here first. Just in time to find the Sith setting up their blockade. According to their communications traffic, they were looking for pirates. But that could have been a cover. The woman you were seeking tried to run from them. A bad idea.” Sara winced.

“Yeah. But I only have your word for that.” Michelle sighed.

“Do you?” And the world fell away.


Sara came to herself with blasters in both hands. She looked around. Nothing but mist around her. And then a voice.

“I am not your enemy Sara.” She spun in place, seeking the voice, but nothing showed. She snarled.

“Show yourself.” An amorphous form coalesced out of the mist in front of her. She pointed her weapon at it, but it didn’t move. It solidified into a human female of middle age with long blonde hair and blue eyes. She was unarmed, but Sara didn’t lower her weapons. “Why did you help us?”

Michelle smiled sadly. “Because I love your brother.” Sara’s eyes went wide at that, but Michelle was speaking again. “I know it’s useless for me to feel that way, but I do. I know he is married. And we can’t ever be together. But… I want to help him. The problem of course, is what I am.” Sara nodded and then the blasters in her hands vanished.

“You are an Islanian STORM phantom." Sara stated softly. "A sentient weapon. A starship with an inorganic intelligence.” Michelle nodded.

“Yes, all that and more. And I am alone.” Sara froze at the sorrow in Michelle’s voice. “For all my existence, I was part of a group. A collective of sorts. I had no choice but to do what I did. They would have killed us both, or destroyed Will’s mind to make him docile. Now, due to my siding with Will, I am alone, with only a somewhat insane autodoc to talk to. I…” She broke off, as if unsure. But Sara was nodding.

“I know what it is to be a monster.” Sara agreed softly. Michelle looked at her. “If you learned anything from Will, you learned what happened to me.” Michelle nodded, her face impassive. Sara blinked then. When she spoke, her voice was quiet. “Two sides of the same coin…” Michelle looked at her and surprisingly, Sara grinned. “If you had the choice, what would you do?” The question seemed to baffle the artificial intelligence.

“What do you mean?" Michelle asked, her voice tired. "I don’t have any choices, I am what I am.” At that Sara grinned and shook her head.

“But that doesn’t have to be all you are…”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

06.29.2012 , 09:34 AM | #5
Whatever Michelle might have said was frozen on her lips as a flood of forms appeared beside Sara, most armored, but one was a blue skinned Twilek in Jedi robes.

“Leave her alone…” The Jedi broke off as she took in the peaceful scene. “What the hell?” Michelle froze as she looked from one form to another. Most were young, black haired and green eyed.

“Oh my god…” The computer almost cringed. “I… I hadn’t believed…” She broke down and cried. “I saw… I saw that they existed in Will’s memories, but… He never saw them face to face…” Suddenly she straightened and her face was like stone. But tears still fell. “Did you kill that witch?” Sara shook her head, a bit bemused by the fact that her ‘kids’ had come to her rescue. One of the other girls spoke quietly.

“Who are you?” Michelle nodded graciously to the child’s polite question.

“My name is Michelle, I am the ship that ran the Sith off.” The girl nodded. “Please tell me you killed that witch.” The girl recoiled a bit at the vehemence in the computer’s voice.

“Why?” Michelle bit her lip and then spoke carefully.

“May I know your name?” The girl tensed, but then relaxed. She wasn’t sure what was going on, but Sara gave her shoulder a squeeze and the girl relaxed further.

“My name is Marta.” Michelle nodded.

“Marta, then. I was about twelve standard years old when I was ‘rescued’ by the Islanians.” There was an odd inflection on the word rescued. “I don’t know everything your creator did to you, but I do know this. From what I understand, it was horrifyingly similar to what was done to me. I remember all of what happened to me. In all its detail. They bent me, programmed me and then broke me and remade me into the woman you see before you. Then they killed my body and poured me into the ship.” All of the observers looked at her in shock as she looked sick. “I don’t know if that was what this Naj Orh planned for you, but I do know this… I will DIE before I let it happen to anyone else.”

Sara exchanged a glance with Dia, and then pushed her way to the front of the group. Dia shook her head and disappeared. Sara pursed her lips as she thought hard. “You know what happened to me.” It wasn’t a question, but Michelle nodded anyway. “I have a question for you. Now that you have seen my… flock.” At that a snicker ran through the ranks of the forms around Sara. More like a murder than a flock. “What do you want to do?” Michelle slumped.

“I want to be with Will, but I can’t.” Sara smiled, and for once, it was gentle.

“How about us? Would you be willing to hang around us? Obey my orders?” Marta and the other kids stared at Sara, but Michelle froze solid.

“I…” Michelle shook her head. “I would be honored, but…” She snorted. “Having an Islanian gunship at your beck and call might raise a few eyebrows.” But Marta was grinning now, and so were most of the ‘kids’. Marta spoke.

“We raise eyebrows everywhere we go. We can’t help it. Here…” Something flowed between the small girl and the computer and Michelle froze. Then she was crying. Something flew back to Marta and the ‘kids’ looked at Sara, who smiled. They crowded around Michelle who seemed at a loss for words. Sara’s voice brought her back to herself.

“Welcome home Michelle. We will find a way to deal with this.” The forms of the children vanished, leaving Michelle and Sara alone. Sara embraced the computer and then froze as Michelle did.

“You…. You feel like she did.” Sara looked at her and Michelle shook her head. “Athena. The matriarch.” Sara’s eyes went wide, but Michelle was continuing. “She wasn’t always evil, she could be kind, hard and pragmatic, but… not…” She broke off unsure.

“What do you feel from me?” Sara asked quietly. Michelle sighed.

“You are the master control unit.” At that Sara froze. Her voice was worried when she spoke.

“What do you mean?” Michelle bit her lip again.

“They trusted you, even before they saw you, right?” Michelle's words were not really a question but Sara nodded anyway. “Because they were programmed to.” Sara’s eyes went wide. “That means…” Sara slumped.

“I am a danger to them all." Sara shook her ehad slowly, devastated. "If the people who did this catch me…”

“You can control them all.” Sara shook her head, horrified. Michelle nodded and continued, her voice comforting. "If I can help I will."

“What kind of range…?" Sara's voice held measureless fear now. "I mean… If I can do it across a system… What is stopping them from making another?” Michelle shook her head.

“I don’t know. The only one with the know how to make more like me died when the Mandalorians hit her square with a turbolaser. But… I won’t let it happen.” The computer’s avatar embraced Sara again. “Sister of my beloved.”

“Let’s get out of here; we can deal with the other problems later.” And just like that, Sara was back in her body. Roan and Kona stared at her but she stared issuing commands. They were quickly underway, with another ship hidden in their hangar bay.

<Not too nearby>

The lone figure watched as the Dia’s Gift jumped to hyperspace.

“Drat.” The quiet word had everything on the small ship’s bridge stopping for a moment. But then the woman snarled and everything resumed with great industry. She walked to her stateroom and shut the door. Inside her personal slave pulled her boots off and started giving her a massage while she sat and pondered.

“I will get her. With her I will have my power again. I will be able to rebuild my organization stronger than before.” The slave paused, thinking maybe she was being commanded. “Who told you to stop?” She slapped the human and the woman abased herself and started again. The woman in the chair shook her head and smiled. If she couldn’t get Sara Kalenath to come to her, she would find a way to get to Sara Kalenath. And Bella Tiner was nothing if not patient. Dead people could afford to be.
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06.29.2012 , 09:37 AM | #6
<Back on Tython>

He hadn’t had any idea. Nolikas had warned him, but… This was insane. He had stopped counting after thirty. And from what he had overheard, people had been turned away at the spaceport and at the Enclave entrance. Finally though, Nilokas had returned and... Well, when a Rakata glared at people, they found other things to do. And he was grateful.

“Thank you.” He said with feeling after the last person had left the room and Nolikas had all but slammed the door. Nolikas shook her head. “I had no idea at all.” Well wishers, reporters, intelligence people, a pair of historians, all kinds of people had come by.

“Your injuries are not life threatening anymore, and I am reasonably sure that I found and removed all the remnants of the implants.” Will tensed at that and Nolikas sighed before continuing. “We have scanned you every way we know, and you come up clean.” Will grimaced and she nodded. “But there is really no way to know.”

He nodded. If she couldn’t find anything there likely wasn’t anything. But… He snorted and spoke softly. “If I start growing tentacles, and acting pragmatic, you know what to do, Doc.” Nolikas nodded, but then her face brightened.

“There is one more being who wishes to speak with you." The healer said quietly. "He has been very polite and very patient. Would you like to see him?” Will looked at her and Nolikas smiled. “He is a pilot.” Will nodded and Nolikas keyed her comlink.

A few minutes later a male figure wearing a Republic flight suit appeared in the doorway. The human looked at Nolikas and the Rakata smiled. Then the man approached the bed. He wore captain’s bars and the wings of a senior pilot. He stopped a fair distance away and saluted. Will snorted.

“I have had enough of the kay-det flarg, pilot.” But he did return the salute. The pilot grinned.

“Sorry Captain. Force of habit.” At that Will grimaced, this was going to take a lot of getting used to. He had been on the run for so long, being a respectable member of the Republic military was… different. Then he snorted.

“No problem. This is just going to take some getting used to. What can I do for you Captain…” He broke off, the man wore no name badge, but that was normal. Pilots on duty usually didn’t.

“Captain Mikel Sarras, Captain Kalenath. I am flight leader for Gold Squadron off the Repulse. You saved my choobies and my squadron. I had to thank you.” Will shrugged and winced as his body protested.

“It was a team effort. No matter if the civvies think we fly as a bunch of prima donnas, we are all small parts of the whole machine.” Captain Sarras shook his head slowly.

“You didn’t have to ram that thing. You could have let it blast me and then taken it out before it hit the rest of my squadron. You didn’t. That in and of itself is worthy of a medal in my book, which is why I put you in for another.” Will grimaced wider, and Captain Sarras nodded in sympathy. “Sorry sir, we –The Republic military that is- need heroes now. And you are a hero.” Will snorted and Captain Sarras shared it. “Yes sir, sorry sir.” Will shook his head and waved the man to a chair nearby.

“I understand the reasoning, even if I am going to curse your name for a long time now.” Will smiled to take the sting from his words. Captain Sarras grinned sourly, an expression Will shared, but then the Captain had a puzzled expression.

“What were those things? Nothing I have seen in ONI records of Sith ships is even close to them.” Will pursed his lips. “If I am not cleared for it…” Sarras began, but Will waved and he closed his mouth with a click.

“What do you think they were?” Sarras sighed. “Besides creepy?” At that Sarras smiled, just a bit.

“Scuttlebutt says you were taken by Islanians.” Will nodded. “But Islanians don’t serve the Sith.” Will shook his head.

“Some things I… um… overheard… said that those Sith who attacked Tython were not under the command of the Empire anymore.” At that Captain Sarras’ eyes went wide. “So yeah, it is certainly possible that the Islanians were flying those things. If so, we won’t see any more of them.” Sarras nodded.

“That is good, those things creeped me out.” Sarras said, wincing. Will snorted.

“Be glad you couldn’t hear them.” Will said with a shiver. Captain Sarras stared at him and then shuddered. Then the captain extended a hand. Will took it and they shook.

“Thank you, Captain. I owe you a drink. Not that you are ever likely to have to pay for drinks anywhere pilots hang out.” Will snorted at that. Captain Sarras stood up and saluted again. Will returned it. “I will see you around, Sir.” Will nodded.

“I look forward to it, Captain.” With that, the flight suited figure nodded and took his leave. Nolikas smiled. Her voice was quiet.

“How are you doing?” She asked. Will smiled.

“Better. Time for the next batch?” Nolikas nodded and Will grimaced. Then he shook his head. “Bring them on…”

The door opened and two figures in Jedi robes entered, followed by a figure in a hoverchair. Will stared at them and then at Nolikas. “You set me up…” Nolikas grinned.

“Tomorrow is soon enough. See you in two hours.” With that, the healer was gone, leaving Diseree, Master Ashla Ti and Sharra in the room. Will grinned.

“I am doomed aren’t I?” At his whimsical words, both seers laughed, and Sharra moved closer to the bed. She didn’t look good, but when Will made a questioning gesture to her, she shook her head. So he focused on the Jedi.

“Is this what you were talking about, Master Ashla Ti? When you said I was going to be important?” The elder Jedi just looked at him and Will snorted. “Figured, oh well…” Diseree laughed and sat on Sharra’s lap. Will smiled as he looked at her. She was such a good kid. And a good Jedi. For just a moment, his heart was elsewhere, with another good kid and Jedi on her way to an unknown fate. But then he focused on the now. He couldn’t help Nia if he wasn’t recovered. “I assume you are part of the debriefing.” Both Jedi nodded. “What do you want to know?”

Master Ashla Ti nodded to him. “Well, to start with, do you have any idea how these ’trackers’ operated? What they did or why?” Will shook his head. This would be a long afternoon, but not as grueling, he hoped so anyway.
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06.29.2012 , 09:38 AM | #7

There was no sense of transition. One moment, Will w as talking with Dieseree and Ashla Ti, the next, he was standing alone somewhere else. And where he was… The ground was gray, so was the sky. He shook his head and spoke.

“What do you want?” A dark cloud appeared in front of him. He was not surprised when it spoke.

“I regret this, but your death is ordered. I will make what has to happen painless.” Will shook his head and laughed sourly.

“So I just let you kill me? I don’t think so.” Suddenly he was in armor and his rifle appeared in his hands. The cloud recoiled.

“What have you done?” If he didn’t know better, Will would have sworn the cloud –who had to be a Sith- was afraid. Of him? Will shrugged.

“Survived. It’s all I ever do. Thanks to you people, I know I will never have a life. So all I can do is keep surviving. But if you want my death to please your masters, come and take it. It won’t be as easy as you may think.” But the cloud vanished, leaving Will alone. He blinked for a moment, and then shook his head and focused. What had that Jedi told him about this place so long ago? Oh yeah… Wake up…

The form of the soldier wavered and vanished. Moments later, two more forms appeared on the plain. The cloud sounded… shocked.

“That is not possible. I know that is not possible.” The transparent blue figure wearing Jedi robes sighed.

“Even after all this time, you remain close minded. Where are we?” The Jedi asked tartly. The cloud turned darker, but then a sigh came from it.

“I know, it’s just… You could have warned me he was an adept before I made a complete fool of myself. And now… Now he is unlikely to listen if I try and explain. He thinks I want to kill him.” The Force spirit sighed.

“Then don’t try to explain. Leave him alone. He will play his part. Just as he always has. He is an important player, but not the most important. You know this.” The cloud sighed as well.

“I know, but this duplicity. It… It’s wrong. After what I had to do to Nia, it’s just… It’s wrong, Ulaha.” The female Twilek shook her head sadly.

“I know, Idjit, but it is necessary. And you know why.” A sound somewhere between a groan and a sigh came from the cloud, and then it vanished. Ulaha remained where she was and after a moment, another Force spirit appeared beside her, this one an older human woman. Ulaha shook her head.

“They are beginning to suspect.” The other Force spirit nodded. “We can’t keep it a secret forever.” When the other one spoke, there was measureless grief in her tone.

“I know. But we have to try. And you are both right and wrong. Will may not be the most important player, but he is very important. And not just because he fathered my daughter.” Ulaha stared at the other ghost for a moment and then shook her head.

“You do know what will happen if the Bladeborn find out the truth too soon. If the Emperor figures it out. Heck if the Jedi do. You know what will happen, Jainine.” Jainine nodded.

“I have to get back. If I don’t show up regularly, he gets suspicious. Just try and keep a lid on things. For what it’s worth, I think things are coming to a head. This coming matter is going to test a whole lot of things.” Ulaha didn’t speak, but her disapproval was evident. “I know. I know. But we don’t have a choice. Not now.”

“Go. Before you are missed.” Jainine vanished, leaving Ulaha to stare off into nothing. Her form faded but words were heard. “Somedays I really hate being who and what I am…” Then she was gone.

<On Tython>

When Will woke, he was alone and the darkness from the window showed he had been out for quite a while. HE sighed and tried to make himself comfortable.

Another day in my life. Man I hate my life sometimes…
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06.29.2012 , 09:42 AM | #8
<A very long ways away from Tython>

“How the flarg can you miss with the Force?” Imperial Intelligence Cipher agent Vorren was sure his control had completely fractured, but this being was one who could read him like a book. The man in front of him shook his head.

“I don’t know what happened. But I will find out.” Idjit snapped, obviously upset. Vorren shook his head again. Getting angry with a Sith was never a good idea. Since he wasn’t entirely sure how sane this Sith was, getting him angry was a very bad idea. But Idjit was talking again. “You have chased the man longer than anyone else. Has he ever had training with the Force?” At that, Vorren sat back. He had known that Will was Force sensitive, of course, but…

“No. None of my contacts or sources have said anything about him having training." The agent said dubiosuly. "What happened, exactly?” Idjit snarled.

“I pulled him in as I planned, and he protected himself." Idjit shook his head before continuing. "That is very hard for a seer, let alone some soldier who barely has the Force power to glow at candle strength there.” Vorren snorted, darkly amused, and Idjit turned his head to look at the agent, who snorted again.

“That man continuously redefines the impossible." Vorren said with respect. One had to admire enemies who were competent and capable. "No I didn’t know he could do that. But if you can’t do it the easy way, I have to do it the hard way.” Idjit shook his head.

“He is on Tython. You know what will happen if you go there.” Vorren nodded, but his face was a stone mask.

“You know I don’t have a choice. I was ordered to kill the man.” Idjit nodded, but then he looked a bit confused. At least it seemed that he was confused, without eyes it was hard to tell.

“Wait a minute… Who did you get those orders from? I haven’t heard any change in standing orders dealing with Will Kalenath.” At that Vorren froze.

“The holo was blank, the way I have heard the Emperor contacts people.” At that Idjit froze.

“And where did you hear that?” He shook his head quickly. “Never mind that, but… Let me check before you throw your life away.” Vorren nodded and Idjit was gone, leaving the agent to ponder what was going on. If it hadn’t been the Emperor, then who…?

<An hour later>

“Speak.” The quiet voice from the holo terminal was cool and unemotional, and Idjit fought back a shiver.

“Standing orders have been changed, my Emperor.” Idjit didn’t move from his spot where he knelt. For one thing, it would have been disrespectful. For another…. He froze as the holo spoke again.

“I did not order this.” The voice was silent for a long moment, and then it spoke again. “According to my advisers, none of them have ordered this either.” At that Idjit went completely still. That meant trouble. BIG trouble. Idjit waited, one did not interrupt the Sith Emperor after all. “Speak.”

Idjit swallowed a bit before he did. “My Emperor, do you wish me to investigate?” A dark chuckle sounded from the holo.

“No. The bureaucracy is a pain, but they are needed and having a Bladeborn slaughter his way through half of them to get answers, while it would be amusing to see again, would cost the Empire dearly. This Cipher, Vorren, he is there? I would speak to him.” Idjit nodded and keyed his com by touch. A moment later, the hatch hissed open and Vorren entered. On seeing Idjit kneeling, Vorren followed suit. The holo spoke to Vorren, who shivered. “Imperial Intelligence Cipher Musano Vorren, Number 181546AT772. You talked to this impostor.” It wasn’t a question, so Vorren didn’t reply, just nodded slightly. “What were your thoughts?” Vorren took a moment to think, to remember before speaking.

“Fear, your Excellency. Voices can be duplicated through technology or the Force. But there was something…” He broke off for a moment and after a minute; the voice from the holo spoke again, a bit sharper.

“What did you hear?” Vorren focused on his memory and when he spoke it was in the trained monotone of an imperial agent recalling important facts. They were trained for perfect recall.

“The voice was too unemotional. It was as if a droid was speaking.” The voice from the holo snorted.

“And this one?” Vorren shook himself as something washed over him, something dark. He nodded.

“No comparison, my Emperor.” A dark laugh came from the holo.

“Very well, Agent. Your loyalty is proven. Find who has subverted the High Command. You are cleared to use whatever means you deem fit. The attack on Tython was not ordered by myself or the High Command, and this change in Imperial policy could only have come from the High Command as well. So… Find who is responsible, bring them to me. The Bladeborn ‘s seer will be your sole contact with me. And you will report to no one else. Do I make myself clear?” The quiet voice was… well, terrifying was the closest word, but it didn’t do it justice.

Vorren nodded, although his flesh crawled with reaction to whatever was surrounding him now. “It is clear, my Emperor.” The holo spoke to Idjit.

“For now, continue as you have been, Idjit of the Bladeborn. You know what to do.” Idjit bowed his head and the holo vanished. Vorren stared at where it had been and then at Idjit. Idjit shrugged. It took a few minutes for Vorren to find his tongue.

“A hunt through politicians and other assorted slime. Some days I almost wish I was a common trooper.” Idjit smiled at the agent's words and Vorren shook his head. “No, not really, but… You have to admit, life is simpler for them.” At that Idjit laughed.

“True agent, very true. So… Where do we begin?” Vorren nodded.

“I will start tracking the orders sent to Kolan to attack Tython, there has to be some kind of a trace, even the Islanians leave traces.” Idjit nodded.

“You need anything, call.” He handed Vorren a card with a number on it. Vorren nodded and both left the com room with a purpose. To find the truth, no matter what it was. Behind them unremarked, a presence lingered in the air, more sensed than seen.

And so it starts to unravel… Joy…
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06.29.2012 , 09:43 AM | #9
<Later that day, Tython>

“No.” The word was quiet, but it cut through the politician’s words like a lightsaber. The well dressed man froze in mid word.

“Excuse me, Captain?” Will sat up, it was hard. His body simply wasn’t capable of a lot yet, although he was working on it, both with the physical therapist and on his own.

“What part of ‘No’ do you not understand Senator? You are asking me to join your ‘gang’. And the answer is and always will be the same. ‘No’.” The politician goggled at him.

“but…” He seemed at a loss for word, but then shook himself. “I understand that you are weary, that you need time to recover…” Will shook his head.

“I understand your reasoning just fine. YOU don’t understand. You are a politician. I am a soldier. We speak two different languages. We live in two completely different worlds. You want me on your staff, right. As a… how did you put it? An analyst? Someone you can use as a talking head on the holo-vids to show that you actually have a clue what you are talking about? The answer is no.” the politician shook his head, but then had the grace to nod.

“If that is your answer, then so be it. But times change. People change.” Will just looked at him and the politician left the room. Only after the man left did Will allow himself to groan. The door opened again and he stiffened, but it was Nolikas carrying a tray. He looked at her.

“Aren’t you kind of the head healer type around here? What are you doing waiting on me?” His voice was teasing and Nolikas smiled.

“It doesn’t quite work that way. I am a senior healer, yes, but I can pick and chose my patients. Most of the time anyway. Emergencies wait for no one.” Will nodded. That was certainly true in his own experience. “But, I enjoy helping people. I enjoy helping you. And…” She paused and Will smiled a bit ruefully.

“I scare the other Jedi.” It wasn’t a question, and Nolikas sighed.

“Not scare so much as make very nervous. They can feel your sense in the Force and well…” Will nodded slowly. If his sense felt dark to his own Force scans, then what did others see?

“I know. I have learned a bit from you, from Jina and from Nia…” He broke off, his face a stone mask and Nolikas set the tray down and sat beside his bed.

“She is alive Will, hold to that. Where there is life,…” Will nodded.

“…there is hope. I know. It is hard a lot of the time, especially when dealing with morons.” Nolikas grinned at that.

“We need to talk about what happened last night.” Will pursed his lips and waited. After a moment, Nolikas continued. “The official story is that you collapsed from over working your system. But three seers say you were not in your body. Is this true?” Will looked at her and Nolikas sighed. “Will, work with me here…”

The soldier shook his head and tried to put it into words. They came out halting, almost disjointed. “I don’t know what happened. One moment I was talking to Sharra, Diseree and Master Ashla Ti the next I was… somewhere else…” He broke off, thinking hard. “It was odd. There was nothing there. Except a Sith who said my death was required. I didn’t cooperate.” Nolikas had to laugh at that. Will shrugged, although it still hurt. “I managed to get back. I THINK it was something a Jedi once told me about. A great endless plain, all gray. Sky, ground, everything gray. I don’t want to go back any time soon.” Nolikas nodded slowly.

“I have heard of that place, if it is the same place. The seers who visit it frequently just call it ‘the plain’ and I think it fits. I have never been myself, but…” Will nodded slowly.

“So, how do I keep this Sith from pulling me back?” Nolikas shook her head.

“I don’t know enough about it to say one way or another. You say you managed to protect yourself there. That probably came as a hell of a shock to that Sith.” Will snorted.

“You could say that. I have never seen a Sith back off so fast… Although… he sounded… odd.” Nolikas looked at him and Will shrugged, grimacing slightly. She moved to up his painkillers and he stopped her. “Pain is a good thing, doc. Lets me know the nerves are still working. I have been hurt worse.” Nolikas nodded but hit the slider anyway.

“You are not nineteen anymore Will. Don’t try and tough this out.” But then she slumped, and Will looked sharply at her.

“She is not getting any better, is she?” Nolikas shook her head slowly. Will bowed his, lost in his grief for a moment. Nolikas left then, leaving the tray for him to get to when he had worked his way through his pain. For a long, long time, Will sat motionless. Then, mechanically, he began to eat. The body needed fuel to heal, and he had a lot of thinking to do.


Sharra could barely raise her head off the pillow as Nolikas came in. “Is he okay?” Nolikas nodded. “I am glad. Time for another session?” Nolikas nodded again and Sharra lay back and relaxed as the Rakata healer sat beside her and placed strangely shaped hands on the woman’s skull. She closed her eyes, but spoke softly. “Don’t exhaust yourself, he will need you… If…”

Sharra stopped talking and was instantly unconscious as Nolikas worked her way through the Force into the deep injuries inside the woman’s brain. What she found made her want to weep. Instead, she focused her power again to heal the damage that was spreading, slowly, insidiously, working its way through the stricken woman’s brain . Eventually, it would reach her memories and then, she would cease to exist. Even if they could keep her alive, what good would it do? Nolikas focused on doing what she did best. Healing.
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06.29.2012 , 09:49 AM | #10
<A day later>

He knew. Nolikas could see as soon as she walked in that Will knew what she was going to say. But she had to say it anyway.

“I am sorry Will, I tried.” He nodded to her. He had known that the damage that had been done to his wife’s brain had been bad. But… he had hoped. Especially after Nia had bounced back from worse. “Everyone tried. Hawkir tried and almost drained himself trying… We can’t help her. I am sorry.” She slumped as she came nearer the bed.

“How long?” Nolikas shivered. It was as if a droid were talking, not a human she dared call friend. She shook herself. When she spoke, her voice held measureless sadness.

“I don’t know. If she wakes again, it will be a minor miracle. Will, she wanted me to make sure you were okay. Are you?” He just looked at her and she flushed before continuing. “Silly question…” The healer sat and tears were falling now. “I tried, Will, I tried…” He extended a hand and she took it. He kissed it and let it go. The Jedi healer stared at him.

“Thank you for trying, Nolikas." Will said softly. "No one could have done more. Can I see her?” The Jedi stared at him for a long moment and then nodded.

“Yes, but…" Something about his expression bothered her. "What are you planning?” Will shook his head.

“Nothing.” She looked at him and he shook his head as he amended. “Nothing now. I had an idea, but… It likely wouldn’t work and even if it did, she wouldn’t be my Sharra.” Nolikas stared at him, horror written across her features.

“How can you even contemplate doing that…" She actually stammered. He had been contemplating using Islanian tech on his wife? "...that horror to anyone, let alone… Oh…” She broke off, stunned.

“Yeah. We do the damnedest things when we are in love.” Will said and for a moment, his armor cracked. He controlled himself quickly though, sat up and started pulling medical gear off. Nolikas sighed and started helping to unhook him. “But you are right, it wouldn’t have been Sharra. Not the Sharra I love.”

Nolikas shook her head and with the force, pulled a wheeled chair close to the bed. Will slid into it and Nolikas started pushing it towards the door. When the door opened, a flash blinded them both for a moment.

“Captain Kalenath, Karl Hollian, GCN News, would you care to comment on…” Whatever the reporter was going to say next was cut off as he flew backwards. His camera hit the wall and shattered. The reporter hit the wall with a thump and landed in a way that suggested his sleep would be uncomfortable. Will snorted.

“I know you didn’t have anything to do with that man’s unfortunate accident, but… thanks…” Nolikas gave him an innocent look, and Will sighed. They made it the rest of the way in silence.

A few doors down, Nilkas propelled Will’s chair into a comfortable room decorated gentle colors to promote healing. On the bed, festooned with medical gear, Sharra lay as if asleep. But he could see from the equipment just how deep that sleep was. One step removed from eternal… He slumped and then looked at Nolikas.

“I need to touch her.” Will said slowly. Nolikas froze.

“Will, if you merge with her and she dies…” The healer trailed off as she looked at him. His face was set. Will shook his head slowly.

“I have to… I have to say goodbye. Please Nolikas…” The healer looked at Will and then at Sharra. Without a word, she wheeled the chair within reach of the bed. He took his wife’s limp hand in his and…


He stood in a room, a standard compartment. Sharra was packing. He sighed and she looked up and blanched.

“You shouldn’t be here." His wife said flatly. "I… I have to go…” His eyes burned, but he just looked at her.

“I know. I… Sharra, I have to tell you." He said slowly. "I could save you…” He broke off as a frown crossed her face.

“Wait, what…? I took massive neural damage… like…” Now a look of rage and horror crossed her face. “Oh no Will… You know better…” He nodded.

“You are right. I can’t do that to you." He stammered a bit, undone by her look of concern and love. "But… I had to… I had to say goodbye.” Sharra smiled then, and his heart lifted. She took his hands in hers and then they were embracing.

“Will, you were the best thing that ever happened to me.” She was crying now. “I will miss you, but… I think… maybe … we will see each other again.” Will shook his head.

“If there is an afterlife Sharra, you know I am not going to a heaven.” He paused as Sharra grinned.

“Neither am I." She laughed at his expression and continued. "Bets on how long till we take over the joint?” He couldn’t help it, he laughed.

“No. No bets.” He laughed sadly. “Not with you.” She snorted.

“Spoilsport. Ah, Will. It has been a good run. Grieve for me. But do not let revenge cloud your mind.” Will’s face went cold.

“I won’t let him get away with this Sharra." Will said quietly. "I won’t.” She held him at arm’s length and shook her head.

“Will, do what you must. You always have, and you likely always will. But… remember me.” her voice was soft now and Will tensed as he saw her spectral form dissipating.

“No… no... Sharra… Please… stay with me… Please… I… I can’t do this alone…” He was crying hard now. Her voice came as if from a long ways off now.

“You are not alone, Will. And you will never be alone. I am with you…always……” But she was gone and with a snap, he was back in his body and tears were falling unchecked. He felt a hand on his shoulder and a gentle voice came to him. Maria.

“She has gone to a better place, my boy. Oh my son…” She hugged him tight and their tears merged together.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here