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(L,F&E 60) Choices and Consequences

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Fan Fiction
(L,F&E 60) Choices and Consequences

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kalenath
07.03.2012 , 08:17 AM | #1
It was very quiet in the medical bay of the Sith cruiser Bladehome. The black furred Bothan smiled as she finished the connections. She moved to the head of the table and nodded to the girl who was lying on it.

“We are ready Juli.”

"I..." The dark haired girl smiled back, slightly hesitant. The oxygen tube that ran under her nose and the sensors that studded her scalp moved a bit as she shook her head slightly. “Ona, I am scared.”

"I know." Ona nodded slowly and laid a gentle hand on one of Juli’s. She patted it gently. “But you know I won’t let anything happen to you.”

"Ona... I don't know. I want this, but..." Juli nodded slightly, but her expression was still hesitant. Parts of her face were covered with sterile sheeting, ready for Ona to start the corrective surgery on the scars that the girl had suffered from an incident with explosives. “These scars have been who I was, for so long… I don’t know what I will be without them.”

"Juli..." Ona smiled gently. “You will be a very pretty girl, in addition to being a very smart, brave and crazy one.” Her voice was gently teasing and Juli smiled a bit more naturally before relaxing and lying back on the surgical table. Ona’s partner nodded to her and extended an anesthesia mask to the Bothan. Jon would monitor the gas exchange rate and make sure the girl stayed unconscious for this procedure. Ona took several deep breaths. Even with a droid and another skilled medic to assist, this would be delicate work. Juli met the Bothan’s eyes and smiled again and then Ona laid the mask gently over Juli’s nose and mouth. The Bothan became all professional. “Ok, Juli, I need you to count back from ten for me, okay?”

Jon started the gas flowing and Juli started speaking. By the time she was on seven, her voice was fading and by the time she was on five, her eyes were closed. She was asleep before she managed to get to three. Ona looked at the monitors and Jon gave her a thumbs up. Ona nodded and activated the surgical droid before picking up a sonic scalpel. This would be a long day, but hopefully a good one.

<Elsewhere on the ship>

“Have you lossst your mind?” Mama Lizard’s bellow had more than one of the listeners holding their ears. But Trugoy was unfazed. The small class had frozen completely when Mama had stormed in. No one sane wanted her ire to fall on them when she was mad. Which she definitely was.

The small brown alien who was the grandmaster of the order of warriors known as Bladeborn simply sat and sighed. He sat in the small conference room seemingly unperturbed by the enraged Barabel that stood close enough to touch him. “Mama. Listen…”

Mama cut him off, a rare breach of protocol on her part. But no one sane was going to call her on it. Not now. “You know what Issstara went through before. And now… What have you done to her? Ssshe will kill you, and if ssshe doesssn’t… I might.” The green scaled Barabel’s words now were cold and hard. More than one of the listeners swallowed nervously. This was no idle threat. Mama was very protective of what she called her clan.

Barabels were not well known in the galaxy as a whole, most of the ones that were seen were freelance mercenaries or thugs for hire. Barab I was not a common place to visit for several very good reasons. For one, it was fairly inhospitable. The radiation from the star the planet orbited was strong and relentless, forcing all life to move underground during periods of daylight. That made all forms of life on the planet strong, fast and very durable. Another reason Barab was not well known was that the natives were… unpredictable. For thousands of years, a civil war had been going on between faction that shifted over time and as boundaries and allegiances changed. But the slaughter remained the same. Barabels as a result were very clan oriented, totally devoted to their families to the exclusion of almost all else. Mama was no different from the rest of her people in that regard. Just her clan was a bit on the odd side. So everyone walked carefully around her when her clan was threatened.

“What were we to do, Mama?" Trugoy asked softly. "We didn’t know if she was going to wake up or if she was going to be sane. Shar was unconscious, you were unconscious. Ona came to me sobbing. She had done a series of scans on Shar and been devastated by what she had found. So was I. What could we do? We had no idea if she would wake or when. And if or when she did, we all knew what would happen. Do not blame Ona, if you must blame anyone, blame me. It was my decision, one I agonized over. Yes, Istara is going to kick my posterior, and I will let her. But her little girl is alive.”

Mama opened her mouth to speak and then shut it with a click. More than anything else in existence, the Barabel known to the Bladeborn as Mama Lizard loved children. When she spoke, it was quiet, worried. “How long can you keep the little one in ssstasiss?”

“Not much longer." Trugoy said sadly. "We have been, quietly, looking for a surrogate.” Mama looked at him and opened her mouth, but he forestalled her by shaking his head. “The surrogate has to be human, too many changes will cause complications. The technology doesn’t exist to grow children in this way. We let the fetus develop naturally in the tank that Ona designed and Jon built to put it in, but, then we had to put it in stasis. Ona wanted to be the surrogate, but she can’t. She did some tests and they came back negative. Not only is shee sterile..." Trugoy's voice held old pain now. "...but there are missing factors in her blood, enzymes that must be present and are only present in humans.”

"So..." Mama shook her head. “What? You will find a human who is capable, and then what? Snatch someone and hold them until the child is born?” Her voice was quiet but hard and Trugoy flinched.

"Mama..." The small brown grandmaster slumped in his seat. His voice held pain now, old pain. “Do you really think me capable of that? Istara saved my life and my soul. Do you really think I would do that to anyone? The old me might have. But you know how Istara would react if I did. So this is cold pragmatism, I don't want to die.”

"Good." Mama smiled sourly. “Becaussse zhe would not get the chance. I would kill you myssself.” She shook her head slowly. “Doez Idjit know?”

More than one of the listening beings tensed at that. As angry as Sharlina had been when she had miscarried, Idjit’s rage had been worse in some ways. Sharlina’s rage had been hot, loud and bloody. Idjit’s had been cold, icy and very, very scary. It was a tossup which one was worse. Trugoy leaned forward in his small chair and sighed again.

“I don’t know." The grandmaster admitted. "He keeps his counsel close. I wouldn’t put it past him to know, but if he does, what will he say?”

"I will ssspeak to him." Mama nodded slowly. “He iz the father, he will take resssponizbility. I will do it now.”

Trugoy frowned. “Mama…”

Mama cut him off again, a sure sign her temper was fraying. “I am the clan mother. I will ssspeak to him. You, find a zurrogate. Sssoon. And legally.” With that, she stomped out of the room.

Trugoy nodded to empty air and turned to one of his students. The female Mon Calamari jerked as if a hot item had been applied to a tender part. “Tiana, go find Cole. I need to talk to him.”

The Bladeborn nodded and darted from the room. When the grandmaster commanded, one did not dawdle. And for this… She doubled her speed. This was bad. Very bad.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
07.03.2012 , 08:24 AM | #2
<Thirty minutes later>

Cole Shanas sat in the comfortable chair in Master Trugoy’s office and tried not to be so uncomfortable. But this conversation was just…

“..So the one on Correllia is out as well?” Trugoy was bent over his console, looking at the screen as if trying to divine information from it.

“She is an addict." Cole said with a sigh. "I didn’t know until I did some research. She keeps it quiet and it’s not glitterstim, but…” He shrugged. She was unacceptable.

"Of all the..." Trugoy groaned. They had been at this for weeks, trying to find someone who was A) trustworthy, and B) available. Then he started looking through the files again. “There has got to be someone, somewhere in the galaxy who matches this set of criteria. It’s a big galaxy.”

Cole shook his head. “I don’t know, Master Trugoy. We have to keep it quiet to keep imperial Intelligence or any others from trying to sneak in.” he snorted. “Juli may be the only one who meets the…” He broke off as Trugoy turned to him. The Grandmaster’s face was not happy.

The small brown alien’s voice could have frozen liquid nitrogen. “No.” Cole froze. It had been a joke. “There is no way in hell I am putting your daughter in that list. Is she on it?”

Cole licked his lips. “She meets all the criteria, so, yes.” It hadn’t been serious, for him anyway. But Juli did meet all the criteria needed. Young, strong, fit and of the proper blood types.

"No." Trugoy shook his head slowly and the turned back to his console. “She comes off. Now.”

"It..." Cole blinked. He hadn’t been serious, but… “It was a joke, master Trugoy.”

"Cole..." Trugoy’s voice was odd, husky when he spoke, and he didn’t turn to face Cole. “I have already hurt one girl I love doing this. And we all love Juli.” His fingers danced over the keys and then he nodded. “She is off the list as of now. I won’t do that to you, or her. She has suffered enough.”

Cole slumped. “Because of me.” Then he recoiled as a sound echoed through the small room. A lightsaber pommel meeting bone. He reached hand slowly up to his skull and felt a painful spot, a bruise starting to form. Trugoy was partial to that form of correction, rulers tended to break a lot around stubborn Bladeborn heads.

"Enough Cole." Trugoy was looking at him now, and his face was hard. “You have taken responsibility for your actions and you are trying to clean up your mess. Enough with the self blame and the self pity. Clear?”

"Yes sir." Cole nodded slowly. “Clear.” Then his gaze fell on the screen and his eyes went wide as he read it. Trugoy looked at him and turned so he could see the screen. Cole leaned forward to see the screen better. Both read in silence.

Illiana
Bladeborn rank three
Current assignment (none)
Current status (Unavailable for deployment)
Medical status (Memory damaged, possibly removed, possibly by insect race native to Tralus, see file WK 9876.) Note: Answers to the name of Rina.
Martial status: Unattached
Medical profile-
Blood type: Compatible
Enzyme levels: Compatible
Age: Compatible
All other requirements: Compatible

The last line flashed green. Cole looked at the screen and then at Trugoy. “This is going to go over like a Gammorean trying to swim in a lead filled jacket.”

"Well..." Trugoy blew out a long breath. “You said it. All we can do is ask…”

"You cannot be serious." Cole stared at him, shocked. “You want one of us to walk into Cranna’s clinic on Tattooine and ask Rina if she wants to act as surrogate mother for Shar’s child?”

Trugoy winced. Bad idea didn’t begin to cover that. “That… wouldn’t go over well, no… We will keep looking.”

<In another part of the ship>

Idjit, seer of Trugoy’s Bladeborn, smiled as he finished cleaning and changing the diaper of the last child in line. He looked up to sense Nana, the governess, standing nearby. He couldn’t see her, his eyes had been taken by a jealous older brother decades before, but he could sense her distress and worry easily. He tilted his head to the side in question. He wasn’t supposed to talk. He was being punished and had another two weeks of this. He truly didn’t mind so much. Yes diapers and such were disgusting, but nowhere near as bad as some things he had done in his life, and he truly loved kids. Even stinky ones.

Nana spoke evenly. “The kids are all in their rest period, we have an hour. Mama wants to talk to you in room three.”

Idjit nodded and stood carefully. Being blind, he couldn’t see everything around him, even with the Force. But he managed well enough, and his power was such that even if he did trip over something, he was unlikely to fall and hurt himself or damage anything. Nana reached out, but not to offer guidance. She laid a gentle hand on his arm and he felt something. Worry, support and compassion. The hand withdrew and he felt Nana walk away towards the desk where she would work on the latest day’s influx of supplies to feed, clothe and otherwise take care of the large group of orphans that called the ship home. They hadn’t planned on this, but the Bladeborn were nothing if not adaptable. The ship had been built to be modular. And while the bay he was standing in had originally been planned as a troop dormitory, it worked quite well as an orphanage too. He shook his head, squared his shoulders and walked towards the room Mama had indicated. Even without the Force, he could manage navigation fairly well as long as… He smiled and gently kicked a toy out of his path. They were good kids, but they were kids.

Idjit tensed as he walked in the door and the hatch slid shut behind him. Mama was not happy. He stood by the door and waited, he wasn’t supposed to talk. But Mama just sighed. “You can talk to me, Idjit. How long have you known?”

"You found out..." The seer’s voice was rough from disuse and emotion when he spoke. “I have known since I saw Shar laid out the medical bay. When I took the crystal back to Setsuna’s equipment, I saw something. Something that stunned me. I thought the spirit of Shar’s mom had influenced me. I was wrong. It was a little girl that looked like Shar. She smiled at me.”

"I sssee..." Mama’s voice was thoughtful. “That was why you didn’t come back. Wazn’t it?” He had been in big trouble for disobeying orders to return. He had actually just vanished for some time, leaving many to wonder if he had been killed or taken by enemies. That was actually part of the reason he was being punished. He nodded silently. Mama spoke slowly and carefully. “I expected you to be angry.”

"I am." Idjit nodded. “But not with you. Not with Ona, not even with Trugoy. What else could they do? Shar was going to go out, find and save her sister and then, likely suicide for casting herself out of the Order. Our Code is clear. We protect children when we can. They protected Shar’s and…and mine.” A whisper of emotion slid past his control and Mama stepped close. He went into her embrace gratefully. Idjit laid his head on her huge shoulder as he had so many times before. He couldn’t cry physically, but tears were in his voice when he spoke again. “I didn’t even think about it. I was so happy to see her, and then there she was, sad and I could make her happy. I didn’t care at that point that Trugoy was using me to distract her. Neither of us thought to use protection.”

"Oh Idjit..." Mama sighed and sounded disgusted. “I taught you better than that.” She thumped his shoulder gently, and then she held him as he shuddered. “Does Issstara know?”

"No." Idjit shook his head. “And she can’t. Better if no one off the ship at the moment knows.”

Mama’s eyes went wide at that. But then she nodded slowly. “I sssee… We will continue to look for a sssuitable sssurrogate.” Idjit nodded into her shoulder and stepped back. “And you need to get back to the kids.” Idjit smiled a bit sourly, turned and left the room.

Mama stood for a moment staring after him before snorting. “Ah, kidsss…” She obviously wasn’t talking about the small fry as she started for the door herself. “I guesss it’sss time to teach the young ssstudentsss about the birdsss and beesss again…”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
07.03.2012 , 08:30 AM | #3
<The next day>

Juli had been awake for some time, but she just lay quiet. She was thinking. Her dad had not been happy with her stowing away on the transport he had taken to Islan. Her rear end still smarted a bit from his hand, but she didn’t mind. If she hadn’t been there… She shuddered slightly. She still remembered the scared feeling of waking alone on an unknown ship. Gaia, the strange alien who had talked to her, had been kind and gentle, but from what little Juli had heard about Islanians, she was very glad she had convinced that Kushiban mechanic to help her build a hidden slot in her mechanical arm. If she hadn’t had that thermal charge… She bit back a sob and a worried voice came to her.

“Juli?” Ona’s voice was worried and Juli tensed as the lights came up a bit and she saw the Sith markings on the walls. Then she relaxed, she wasn’t a prisoner, and no matter what, Ona wouldn’t hurt her. Ona was nice. Although the girl got the impression that the Bothan would be a very dangerous person to cross, Ona was kind and gentle with her patients. Even ones who displeased her by stowing away on ships bound for dangerous locales. The Bothan had been less than enthused to find out where Juli had been. She had even refused to treat Juli’s aching bottom for several hours, saying that discipline was good for the girl. Juli smiled a bit as Ona came into her field of view. She felt a pull on her face as muscles did something odd but it didn’t hurt. She raised a hand to investigate, but Ona caught it and shook her head. The Bothan’s voice was quiet, but she was smiling. “Don’t touch.”

"Ona..." Juli sighed and nodded. Ona released the hand and Juli lay it back by her side with another sigh and a shy smile. “Did it work?”

Ona smiled, but her eyes were cautious. “We won’t know for sure until the bandages come off. Which will be in about two days. But what I saw was promising. The skin underneath was healthy and whole, and the grafts went in easily.” Juli wasn’t totally sure about this, what she had read about skin replacements hadn’t filled her with a lot of enthusiasm. But Ona was smiling again. “I bet you are thirsty.” Juli smiled and Ona walked away for a moment before returning with a glass that had a straw. “Drink slowly.” Ona cautioned as she held the straw to Juli’s lips.

Juli did as directed and sipped the water. It tasted good, and after few minutes she had finished the glass. Ona took the glass and put it somewhere before sitting beside the girl’s bed. The Bothan’s voice was still gentle. “How are you feeling?”

"I..." Juli thought for a moment. “Aside from very tired, I feel okay. And being tired is because of the drugs, right?”

"Yes." Ona nodded. “Part of it is the anesthesia. Part of it is the fact that your body was used to the way it was, and now suddenly, things have changed.” Ona looked at Juli’s hands and shook her head. “These prosthesis are state of the art. Who did the work?”

"To tell the truth..." Juli shook her head. “I am not totally sure. I know Cranna’s people did a bunch of it. But the docs on the Stormhawk were also very good. Even if they made me exercise.” Her voice was sour and Ona smiled at her.

"Juli..." Ona shook her head. “Physical conditioning is an important facet of our lives, the Bladeborn’s lives that is. I work out every day, and I should work out more.” The Bothan stroked Juli’s hair and Juli smiled at the healer. “We will also keep up your physical therapy. As soon as you are out of this bed.”

Juli groaned but her heart wasn’t in it. “Bunch of bossy bosses.” Ona laughed, Juli actually sounded like kid for a moment. That was rare. Juli smiled again, but then she sobered. “I know I will sleep a lot. But after that, what can I do? I now there are things you can’t let me do.”

"Well..." Ona smiled mischievously. “It just so happens we have a library aboard… And it’s a bit of a mess.”

"I see..." Juli blinked and then smiled. “Well, then… I can help you as you all have helped me.”

Ona smiled at Juli’s tone and then reached for something. “Now you are going to sleep, young lady and when you wake…” She broke off as something different showed in Juli’s eyes. And something totally unexpected flew out from her sense in the Force. Terror. Ona froze. “Juli?”

Juli stared at the Bothan, but obviously didn’t see her, the medical monitors around her started going nuts and Ona, her face hard, reached out and touched Juli on the temple. The girl fell asleep and Ona slumped back, exhausted from using the Force that way. It didn’t come naturally for her.

Ona took several deep breaths before the door to the room opened and Jon came running in, his arms full of emergency medical gear. He stopped on seeing Ona slumped and Juli out cold. “Ona, what…?”

Ona breathed hard, but managed to get words out. “I triggered… a flashback… I think... I am not sure to what. She was terrified. She couldn’t see or hear me.” Jon set the gear down and squatted on his heels beside the being he called mate.

“Crap.” Jon said as he embraced Ona and she slumped into his arms.

The Bothan’s voice was quiet. “Yeah…”

<Thirty minutes later>

Ona sat, a mug of hot caf in her hands as Trugoy, Jon and Cole spoke softly so as not to disturb her. Finally, the Bothan healer had taken enough of sitting passive. She spoke evenly and everyone stopped to listen. “I triggered a flashback, maybe a panic attack somehow, I don’t know how.”

Trugoy’s voice was quiet. “What did you say Ona?” Jon bristled, but Ona waved his concern aside.

Ona’s voice was reflective as she tried to remember exactly what she had said. “I said… ‘You are going to sleep young lady and when you wake...’ that is all I said. Her fear was tangible. It hurt me just feeling it.” She looked at Trugoy and froze. The Grandmaster’s brown face was pale. She looked from him to Juli’s father and Cole was also pale. “What?”

"Ona, it wasn't you." Cole was the first to speak and it obviously bothered him. “When Trugoy interrogated her, she told of what she encountered, among the slavers. She apparently doesn’t consciously remember all of it, thank the maker. It was enough to make me lose my lunch when I heard it, Ona.”

Ona stared at him, the man had nerves of steel and a cast iron stomach. But he was talking again. “The H’ran who took her from the RSC… They did things to her. Luckily she was only in their care for twenty four hours, but from what Cranna gave me recordwise… One of them was apparently trying to play doctor. It was a female, human I think.”

"Oh my god..." Ona’s black fur stood straight on end at that and her voice held horror. “By the Force, what have I done?” She slumped and started to cry, but Jon and Cole moved to comfort her. They held her as she shuddered.

Jon’s voice was soothing as he held her. “It’s okay, Ona, you couldn’t have known.”

Cole nodded as he stroked Ona’s back gently. “Ona, you have helped her with other things, you can help her with this.” He kissed the Bothan’s muzzle lightly. “You are better at helping hurt kids than anyone else I have ever met. There is no one in the galaxy I would rather trust.” Jon growled at his kiss, but Cole ignored him. This was serious. “You, we, can help her. But we have to beware of pitfalls such as this. We are going to find more.”

"She was so lost, so hurt and scared." Ona’s eyes were full as she looked from Cole to Jon to Trugoy. “Master…I…”

“Ona, she needs you." Trugoy said soberly. "Now more than ever. We all will help as we can. Unfortunately time waits for no being. We have another problem.”

Ona slumped and sighed, focusing herself beyond her emotions. The men holding her gave her a final squeeze and let go, stepping away. Ona’s voice became professional. “What kind of problem?”

Trugoy sighed. “You remember Raven Markar? The Sith whom Will Kalenath killed on Tralus and the clone that was found on Tattooine?”

Ona nodded and spoke for all of them, her voice confused. “Yes. The clone was on Tython, because of… well… him…” Ona refused to say Ravishaw’s name aloud. She detested the insane Sith Lord so thoroughly. “What does that have to do with us?”

"Ordinarily nothing, but..." Trugoy shook his head. “Apparently the clone left Tython, was picked up by Imperial Intelligence and is now being remanded to us.” Ona felt her facial fur stiffen in place and Cole and Jon were just as shocked. Trugoy sighed. “Standing orders are that anyone connected in any with Ravishaw come to us first.” He had no problem at all saying the name. He simply hoped someday soon to drive both sabers through the man and cut him into quarters.

"I..." Ona blinked and then spoke softly. “Master, I have bad feeling about this.”

"Me too, Ona." Trugoy said sadly. "Me too.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
07.03.2012 , 08:33 AM | #4
<a day later>

She didn’t mind the binders. They were not that uncomfortable as binders went. She didn’t mind the shapeless, formless smock that had been tossed into her cell. It covered her well enough for modesty purposes. She hadn’t even minded the interrogations, as rough as some of them had been. No, what she minded was not being able to see.

“Isn’t this a little much?” She asked plaintively as she was doused, yet again with chemical smelling water. The sticky pads over her eyes didn’t budge. And neither did the device that ran around her head, sending out jolts at infrequent intervals. Impossible to predict, the jolts made focusing to use the Force next to impossible, which was the idea. She had been dragged from her cell, strapped to a seat, then after some time and jolts, pulled from that seat and led here, where her clothes, such as they were, had been removed along with her manacles and she had been showered several times with chemical tasting water. Gloved hands held her in place while others scrubbed her. It wouldn’t have been so bad if someone would talk to her. Anyone. But no one responded to her questions, complaints or whines, the hands just moved her around and she complied. It wasn’t like she had a choice. She tensed as something different happened. Warm air played across her body and she sighed as she realized that whatever they had been doing was done. Decontamination maybe? But that made no sense. She hadn’t been anywhere with sickness.

The warm air played across her for several minutes and then something soft was wiped over her. A towel? And then, her arms were lifted up and something was draped over her before her arms were brought back down and she sighed as she felt manacles click shut on them again. The hands on her arms moved her forward and she sighed as she followed, stumbling.

After several minutes of that, she felt something in front of her, a table? The hands turned her around and she complied as they sat her on it. She was unceremoniously hoisted onto the hard surface and then she froze as her manacles were undone. But then her hands were placed in positions of only slight discomfort and locked into place. Other hands took her feet and did the same. Her voice was plaintive again, although she tried not to whine.

“Aw crap, not again." Raven said sadly, but did not resist. "I have told you all everything I know. Probably more than I know…” She didn’t resist as hands strapped her down on what had to be an interrogation frame. She felt straps across her upper arms, her thighs, her chest and abdomen, as well as a strap across her head. The feelings were too familiar. She had been on several of interrogation tables recently, she wasn’t sure how many or how long it had been. The days blurred quite a bit. She knew she had been drugged and interrogated, sometimes with drugs and gentle persuasion and other times with pain. She had complied with every command, she hadn’t had anything to hide after all. She tensed as a hand touched her face. But it was gentle. She kept her eyes shut as something that smelled strongly was wiped over the pads that covered her eyes. A few minutes of that and gentle fingers peeled them off. She kept her eyes shut as the residue was wiped away. She couldn’t have kept the gratitude out of her voice if she had wanted to. “Thank you.”

She wasn’t actually expecting a reply, not after all this time of only hearing herself. But one came. “Don’t thank us, Raven Markar. You are in deep trouble.”

Her eyes shot open and she stiffened as best she could all tied up as she was on seeing the being who sat nearby. To many, his appearance would have been comical. His three clawed fingers drummed lightly on his arm as he looked her over. His long ears stood out straight to either side of his head and his hair, scraggly and short as it was, proclaimed his age. His brown skin was lined with a myriad of wrinkles and his eyes… So large, deep and blue… They drew her in and she… She started. Her voice was subdued when she spoke.

“Who are you?” She asked. As if the black robes and lightsabers he wore were not enough clues? Raven took a moment to look around. The room was small, as befit an interrogation room. The only furniture in it was the table she was secured to. Another being, this one in a full envirosuit was doing something nearby and Raven froze as the being came close, but the being just bared Raven’s forearm to the elbow, set what looked like a tourniquet and swabbed the exposed area with something that smelled like alcohol. Raven tried to shake her head but it wouldn’t move and then she focused on the face she could see, “I have told everything I know. I swear I have. I don’t have any secrets. I don’t.”

She could swear that the old brown skinned being’s face showed sadness under its mask of indifference. But only for a moment. “I know Raven. I know.”

Raven bit back a scream as the being in the envirosuit came close again, this time something gleamed in its hand and Raven stared at the wall to keep from looking. It was all she could do. A quick stab of pain in her arm, and then another and the pressure of the tourniquet released. She looked at the two tubes that were attached to her now and tears were falling. The envirosuited being placed an adhesive bandage over the IV site and then left Raven’s field of view. She felt something odd and watched as white fluid dripped through the tubes. Raven tried to shake her head again as the small being approached. “What do you want me to say? What do you want me to do? I will do anything. Anything! Just don’t…”

She broke off as the small being smiled sadly at her. “It’s okay, Raven. We won’t let him have you again.” He reached for her head and she was screaming before he touched her.

<Some time later>

When Raven woke again, she bit back a scream. She remembered… bits. Lots of pain. She remembered hearing her voice speaking in a monotone and the other being’s voice asking questions. And… laughter? She sighed, that made no sense. She tried to shake her head and it wouldn’t move. And when she tried her hands and feet, likewise. She opened her eyes and was gratified to see she wasn’t where she had been. No, this looked like a medical bay. Medical equipment hummed nearby and the tubes that had been put in before were still there, but hooked up to bags that she could see. Everything was functional and durable, and in colors she recognized as Sith. The Jedi had been kind to her, but… she had been… There had been something she had to do. So she had left, and the Jedi hadn’t tried to stop her. And then, somehow, Imperial Intelligence had gotten hold of her. She wasn’t sure how long it had been, or what they had done to her, but she still felt slightly sick. Maybe it was whatever they had given her this time, except… was she still in Imperial Intelligence’s care? She wasn’t sure. That small brown form hadn’t looked like any II goon or interrogator. He had looked, acted and talked like a Sith. She thought so anyway. Her brain was so fuzzy, she wasn’t sure what was real and what wasn’t at times. Then her heart froze as she heard a scream. Yong, female, and... angry? It seemed to be coming from an air vent on the wall.

She focused her ears, trying to hear. With the force dampening device still on her head, she could feel the jolts now, she couldn’t use the Force, but the Jedi healers had always commented on her acute hearing. Now she could hear two voices.

One voice was female and sounded encouraging. “That’s it, girl, keep it up. Keep it up, you can do it. Good…” Raven felt her eyes bulge at that, and then another voice answered, the voice that had screamed.

"Ah...!" The girl’s voice, it had to be young, was tart, and weary. “Anyone ever tell you that you are a sadist doc?”

The first voice laughed and sounded a bit sad. “If you don’t exercise those muscles, they stiffen up and freeze in place. I know it hurts, girl, but you should be over the worst. Come on, let’s get you up and fed…”

"Gah! This sucks." The second voice sighed. “I don’t like being a burden, Ona.”

The first voice, Ona?, spoke comfortingly. “Has anyone said that you are? You went through hell. You have earned some downtime, now I need to check on our guest, you okay to eat?” A smile was in her words when Ona spoke again. “Good, if you need me, use the buzzer.”

Raven tensed as she heard a hatch open and then close and then the one in front of her opened as well. A black furred form stepped in and nodded on seeing Raven awake. The Bothan smiled a bit sadly.

“How are you feeling this morning?” It was the first voice Raven had heard earlier.

"Me?" She snorted sourly. “All tied up?”

The Bothan laughed, but Raven noted that the female’s hand didn’t leave the hilt of the word that rode at her waist. “It is good that you have a sense of humor, Raven, you will need it.”

"Why all this?" Raven slumped in her bonds. “Why are you doing this? What have I done to you?”

The Bothan sighed. “In reverse order, you have done nothing to us. And we have to do this because of who you served before you lost your memory. My name is Ona, and I am a healer of the Bladeborn.”

Raven sighed. “Raven Markar, apparently I am a former Sith, but I don’t remember it.”

"You are." Ona nodded. “But for now, you are fine and as safe as you can be anywhere. I will get you some breakfast.”

"Well..." Raven sighed again and smiled sourly. “I am not going anywhere…”
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kalenath
07.03.2012 , 08:38 AM | #5
<Two hours later>

Raven simply could not figure these people out. They were Sith, that was obvious from their attire, the insignias that adorned the walls and the general ‘feel’ of them. Not that she could ‘feel’ them. She was still denied the Force. The hated device still sat on her head and she flinched slightly as it jolted her again. But other than that, these people were not mean to her. They were cold, distant, and icily polite. She just did whatever they told her to do, though. She figured it would hurt less.

After a decent breakfast… Ah, who was she trying to fool? The food had been great! After a really good breakfast, she had been strapped to a wheeled chair and wheeled through halls with two armored and intimidating forms pacing her. They had taken her to this cell. That was what it was. The small room had no furniture other than a bunk and the sole entry to the room was via a door that sealed from the outside. They had placed her on the bunk and left her here. The bunk was surprisingly comfortable. And it had been one hell of a day, couple of days, whatever. She laid herself back and tried to get comfortable. The binders on wrists and ankles were bothersome, but she had slept in manacles before. She felt her eyelids grow heavy and surrendered to her lethargy. But then the blasted thing on her head jolted her again. She sighed and lay back, trying to sleep despite the electric shocks, but it just wouldn’t come. Her head was heavy and her eyes grew dim, but every time she closed her eyes the shocks came. Maybe… Maybe that was the point?

She sighed and thought hard. Why would these people, these Sith, be scared of her? It wasn’t fear so much, she decided, as caution. Ona had actually spoon fed her. The Bothan hadn’t had to do that. The healer could have used a droid, or given the prisoner some kind of nutrient fluid through an IV. Both of the tubes were still in her arm, but covered by a bandage now. But Ona had taken the time to give a personal feel and touch to this… this pain in the tookus. There was something about her, Raven, that made these beings paranoid, but for the life of her, she couldn’t figure out what. She was trying to doze off still when the door of her cell hissed open again and another figure in black entered. She jerked upright. This one was human, male and his eyes were bandaged. She wondered for a moment how he could see her with his eyes covered and then slumped. Of course he was a Force user.

The man smiled sadly. “You are very confused about all this.” Raven nodded, unsure of she should answer, but the man just sighed. “It’s okay Raven. I know you are not his, not totally.”

"Huh?" Raven was pushed into speech. “What are you talking about? Whose? And why?”

The man sighed. “Raven, may I sit?” He motioned towards the bunk and she shrugged.

Her voice was rueful. “Not like I can stop you.” The man nodded, but didn’t move and she slid a bit on the bunk leaving space for him to sit down. He sat carefully, not touching her at all and she shook her head. “Why are you all scared of me?” The words popped out before she could stop them and she froze, horrified. She was sure it was a matter of moments before pain came again, but the man just sighed.

"We are not afraid of you, Raven." His voice was quiet. “We are afraid of the being who was and is your master.”

"My..." Raven felt all the blood leave her face, she felt faint. “My what?”

Instead of answering, the man turned his bandaged eyes to meet hers, no, she corrected herself with a shiver, the sockets under the bandages were empty! When he spoke, it was distant. “Why did you leave Tython, Raven? You were safe there.”

Raven tensed. That question and ones like it had been the main questions asked during her many interrogations. She shook her head slowly. “I had to find a friend. I had to help her.” She slumped. “It makes no sense, but I could feel she needed me. I think…” She shook her head, disgusted by her own lack of ability to explain.

The man nodded. “I have acquaintances among the Jedi on Tython. We… Well, we correspond.” He was grinning slightly. But then his face became somber. “I know what happened to you, before Tython and shortly afterward.”

Raven tensed, she didn’t like to remember those things. The awfulness that had happened to her, even if the man who had hurt her so badly had explained and apologized, it had still hurt. A lot. It had taken her weeks to heal and get her stamina back, and she still had the occasional flashback. At least there had been no chance of her getting pregnant from it. She shook her head. “He said… He said it was to break the control of the man who owned me.” She froze as the blind man laid a gentle hand on her arm, but he didn’t do anything else and she relaxed.

His voice was kind now. “It was the only way he could do it. It was very hard on you and him. And I can sense you are not over it, likely you will feel and remember for years to come. But you had moved beyond it. You enjoyed learning there by all the accounts I have heard. Why did you leave?” He asked again, quietly, his hand gripping her arm gently.

Raven shook her head, trying to think, to remember. “Istara… I…” Something hurt suddenly and she flinched as the man’s grip became strong. But instead of hurting her, it helped her focus. Her eyes went wide. “Oh my god…” She breathed as she heard laughter, insane laughter in her mind. Then it cut off, as if sliced with a lightsaber, or a sword. She met the man’s bandaged eyes, horror writ large all over her features. “Help…?” She begged.

The man nodded. “I don’t know if I can, Raven, but I will try. You are a wide open conduit to him. You don’t have implants, but your mind is wide open. If you could have stayed on Tython they could have protected you.” Raven was crying now, and the man gathered her into his arms. “I give you my word, I won’t let him have you. One way or another.” That should have scared her the promise of her death, but her face was full of gratitude.

Her voice was quiet. “What do I do?”

The man’s voice was just as quiet. “Relax and don’t fight me.” She tried to relax as he reached for her head and the Force dampening device fell away. She immediately heard the laughter again, louder and then, the strange man touched her on the temple and the world fell away.

<Somewhere>

Raven blinked as she… materialized. There was no other word for it. Her body phased into being in a very strange place. As far as her eyes could see, the ground beneath her feet stretched out, gray and featureless. The sky above was also gray and featureless. There was nothing, and then… there was…

A human form appeared nearby. A man dressed all in black, with a long black cloak with a cowl that obscured most of his face. Raven felt her guts tighten as she heard the same laughter that had been in her mind coming from the man’s lips. “Raven. Where have you been girl? So good to see you again.” The man reached for her, but Raven backpedaled. “Raven... You know better than that.” She shook her head, terrified. She knew who this being was, what he was. And she wanted nothing to do with him.

“Get away from me!” She declared quietly as she backpedaled again, reciting the Jedi Code in her head seemed to help, a little bit.

The man laughed. “Playing hard to get? Oh, Raven, I have missed our games.” Then he was gone, only to reappear beside her. He touched her and pain flared through her. She ran, but he followed easily. “That’s it, run girl. Make this hard. Make me work for it.”

She was fleeing for her life, running with everything she had, everything she was worth, when another voice spoke. She didn’t know it, but it sounded female and powerful.

Raven

She looked around but no one was there. The black cloaked form didn’t seem to hear the voice.

Raven face your fear

She shook her head and ran harder, but then he was standing in front of her. And try as she might, she couldn’t move! He giggled as he approached, a terrifying sound. “Ah little Raven, Raven. The lickspittle can’t help you. See?” She looked behind him and saw a cloud that somehow she knew was the strange blind man fighting with at least four figures in black.

Raven shook her head slowly. And the laughing man in black grinned. “You are mine. You have always been mine, and you will always be mine.” He touched her and she hissed as pain flared in her again. “You will bring me Istara Andal. Gladly, joyously even. And then…” He stopped as another voice came.

“Ravishaw. I might have known.” Raven’s eyes went huge as a form she recognized appeared on the plain. Istara Andal was wearing armor that Raven had never seen, and her blade burned as hot as a lightsaber. “Hello Raven.”

Ravishaw turned and his grin went wide. He threw his arms wide as if to embrace the newcomer. “Sharlina! How good of you to come.”

Istara’s face was a cold mask, but her voice was mocking. “Well, since you asked so nicely, how could I refuse?” With that, she darted forward and Ravishaw was forced back, Istara’s bade met another and the two fought, evenly matched.

Raven stared at the woman she had met at the Jedi Enclave on Tython and her mind was whirling. An odd voice sounded in her head. Strike her down, Raven, and be free. Raven looked down and a blade was in her hand, a misshapen, ugly thing, all gray and colorless. Raven looked up in time to see Istara take a solid hit and go flying, but the Bladeborn managed to get to her feet and meet Ravishaw’s charge halfway. Strike her down Raven.

All of Istara’s attention as on Ravishaw. It was too simple for Raven to slowly come up behind the woman and raise the blade. Ravishaw attacked again and Istara was forced on the defensive. Towards where Raven waited with the blade raised. But then something changed. Raven blinked and then dove into the fight, blade outstretched.

Ravishaw screamed aloud and everything stopped as he went to his knees, the gray blade shoved completely through his chest. Raven fell to her own knees, retching. She felt as if a million angry fingers were scrambling in her brain. Strong hands grabbed her and pulled her from where Ravishaw was still screaming. Power flowed through her, cleansing, healing. But she was fading. She felt… good, but so weak. She looked up into Istara’s eyes. The Bladeborn smiled.

“Thank you Raven." Istara said with conviction. "Thank you for not making me kill you.”

"Istara..." Raven could barely keep her eyes open. “You knew?”

"I did." Istara nodded. “He is sneaky. But you will be okay. Idjit…” The cloud that was Idjit of the Bladeborn approached. “Get her home and take care of her. And tell the others, she is battle kin.” Raven felt Istara take her arm in a gentle hand. Something changed and she was falling.

<Reality>

Raven came back to herself, her throat burning. She was lying across the lap of the blind man in black and other forms stood or crouched nearby. She looked up and Ona’s face, which had been so cold before, was smiling widely. Raven thought her heart would burst. Ona’s voice was kind. “Welcome sister, you have a great deal of healing to do.”

Raven stared at the healer, but Ona touched Raven’s arm, the one that didn’t have the IVs and Raven’s eyes went wide as she saw something on it that hadn’t been there before. A tattoo of a stylized sword. Someone was singing as she fell asleep. But she wasn’t afraid. Not now.
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kalenath
07.03.2012 , 08:44 AM | #6
<An indeterminate time later>

This time when Raven woke, things were very different. While she was in the medical bay, she wasn’t bound. And she felt good if very weak. She was sure she hurt in places, but when she focused her mind on those places, she didn’t. She wasn’t fettered and the Force answered her, matter of fact… She blanched as she realized that the Force answered her far easier than it had ever before. Was this the Dark Side? It didn’t feel dark, it felt clean and pure. She froze as a voice she was sure she recognized came to her ears.

“Have no fear sister.”She looked to the side and stiffened as a form unfolded from the floor near one of the walls of the room. It should have been terrifying to her, but somehow, somehow Raven knew this being. The insect being towered over her bedridden form, and four arms moved in complicated patterns and antennae moved, tasting the currents of power that flowed through the room but Raven felt no fear now.

Her surprise had passed and she smiled a bit. “I do not know your name, but yours was the voice I heard telling me to face my fear. You know who I am, but we have never been introduced. I am Raven.”

The insect bowed formally. It was odd, seeing a four legged and four armed creature bow, but it was easily recognizable as such. “I am Stuiamlanakolatalinecien. But you may call me Ecien. It has been long since I have met a sister not of my race, now we have two. Istara and yourself.” The insect extended an arm and a mark showed on the carapace. A stylized sword.

"Sister?" Raven blinked and stared at the tattoo that graced her arm now. It was an almost exact copy of the one on the insect’s arm. She poked it experimentally and it didn’t hurt. She shook her head. “What happened? It’s fuzzy. Like I was there but… not… I… I was trapped… Istara was there… Wasn’t she?”

Ecien nodded and sat so her small head was on a level with Raven’s. Not that it made her any less intimidating, Raven thought with an inner smile.

"Yes." Ecien’s voice was calm. “Istara went as soon as she realized what was happening. Which was his plan.”

"I..." Raven blanched. “I… I was going to… I was going to kill her…” She shook her head horrified, but Ecien extended a clawed hand and touched Raven’s arm gently with it.

"That was his plan." Ecien’s voice was proud now. “You did not. You resisted his compulsion. Not many could. And you struck down the dark servant. Well done, sister.”

Raven blinked. “Is he gone then?”

Ecien sighed and shook her head. “Unfortunately, such a weapon as you used will enslave the soul of the one it is used on, not kill. But that had to hurt him. And for that, I salute you sister.” Two of Ecien’s arms tapped her chest in a manner that was undeniably a salute.

Raven thought about that for a moment. “So… he wanted me to enslave Istara rather than kill her. The blade would have bound her soul?” Ecien nodded and Raven shivered a bit. “I feel… dirty…”

Ecien nodded and her arm that was touching Raven caressed the girl lightly. “Such weapons cannot be used without cost. And such an enemy cannot be struck down without exacting some manner of revenge. The power feedback from the weapon you hit the dark servant with hurt you severely. You have been unconscious for three days. Istara wanted to be here, but her mission is urgent. She must find her blood sister before the Empire does. So she asked me to ward and educate you, sister.”

Raven tensed. “You call me sister, but…" Raven sighed and continued. "I am a clone, my life is measured in months maybe…”

"No." Ecien shook her head. “You are not a clone.”

Raven blinked at that and then her mouth fell open. “But… the Jedi said I was, and they did all kinds of tests…”

Ecien’s voice was kind. “Raven, my people have been doing biosciences since before the Jedi Order existed. You are not a clone. I have seen the reports of the other you that Will Kalenath killed on Talus. She must have been a copy, perhaps an alchemical clone, perhaps something else. You are not a copy.”

Raven shook her head slowly at that. It had been part of her life ever since the Jedi had told her. The fact that she was a clone had bothered her at first but then she had dealt with it and accepted it. Now, to find out she wasn’t… She shook her head. “Now what?”

Ecien nodded. “Now you have more healing to do, and I need to teach you some things. So…” Ecien sat herself down, carefully folding her legs and arms into what looked like a formal pose. “What do you know of Ashla?”

Raven blinked. “I know a being named Ashla Ti, but I assume you speak of the ancient way of describing the Light Side of the Force.”

Ecien nodded, but her voice took on a more studied aspect. “Not exactly. You know of course that what you call the Force is an energy field generated by living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us, binding the galaxy together.” Raven nodded. This was taught to all Padawans and apprentices at an early age. She had relearned it. Ecien continued. “Ashla is in some ways what you would call the Light Side, but more balanced in aspect in many ways, such as…”

Raven sat back and listened, focusing totally on learning what she had to do and how now that she actually had a future ahead of her.

<Nearby>

“Master, this is ridiculous. We are never going to find someone who meets all the criteria in time…” Ona’s voice was worried as she scrutinized the readouts on the side of a tank. Inside a small sack floated, barely discernible to the naked eye. “I wish one of the human students had been compatible, they all volunteered for testing, but all negative.”

"Dang it!" Trugoy nodded sourly. “I had thought it would be a simple matter of searching myself. But no one we found is compatible. Or available. They are either one or the other. Rina was probably the most likely choice and she, well…”

Ona froze at that. “Master, Illiana, er, Rina… yeah, that would not be easy to ask, would it? Um… wait a moment… I think I saw something this morning…” Ona sat at her terminal and started pulling up files. She flinched at what she found. “Oh… no…”

Trugoy stepped towards her and looked past her shoulder at her screen. He too flinched. It was a news story from Tattooine. It stated a nurse known as Rina, last name unknown, had disappeared mysteriously from the clinic formerly run by Cranna the Hutt. “Maker help her…”

"I should have… " Ona shook her head. “I should have insisted she come back with us. We could have…” Ona was crying softly now and Trugoy laid a gentle hand on her arm.

The grandmaster’s voice held pain. “You couldn’t have known." He said gently, patting the disconsolate Bothan's arm. "And who knows, maybe… Maybe it wasn’t Ravishaw. Maybe…” His voice held doubt though and he slumped. “I will talk to Idjit, we will find her.”

"Maybe." Ona slumped. “Master, even if we do, we have no time. We have maybe three days now. I… I could implant it in myself, that would give us some time I think…”

"No, Ona." Trugoy shook his head. “If something happens to you, who would treat you?” he slumped. “We have three possibilities aboard at the moment, no, make that two. Juli is out. Miriam, you could make work, even with the lack of that one enzyme. And Raven, that was a shocker. And I wonder if someone was planning that…? Hmmm… I need to think on that.”

"Okay..." Ona nodded slowly. “Miriam or Raven. Do you want me to talk to them?”

"I want this mess not to exist in the first place." Trugoy shook his head. “No. It is my responsibility. I will talk to them. I dread what Ecien is going to say though.”

"She might surprise you." Ona smiled sadly. “She has surprised me on several occasions.”

"I know." Trugoy snorted. “That is what I am afraid of. I like my head where it is.”
My stories in order:
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kalenath
07.03.2012 , 08:50 AM | #7
<Medical bay on the Bladehome, three hours later>

Raven sat stunned after Trugoy had finished speaking. She was still very nervous around him, even if Ecien sitting nearby would have let anything at all happen to her. And Trugoy, to his credit, hadn’t tried to excuse his actions or sugar coat them. Her interrogation had happened. It had been necessary at the time, if brutal. And she understood that Bladeborn did what had to be done. But this...

Raven found her tongue and managed to speak slowly, trying to wrap her head around what the small brown alien had said. “You want me to do what?”

"We need you, Raven." Trugoy winced a bite from her tone, which surprised her. His voice was quiet. “I wouldn’t ask if we had any choice in the matter. We have been trying to find a suitable surrogate for some time. But now, we are running out of time. If we can’t find a suitable host within the week...”

Raven tensed. “Istara’s baby dies.” She couldn’t believe she was discussing this so calmly. This... obscenity that Trugoy had done would have been unspeakable to almost any female of child bearing age. But she was seeing through a different set of eyes than she had possessed the day before. She was both calmer and more frightened now. And now, she was upset again. But not for herself. She liked Istara, the woman had helped her. Indeed, Istara had put her life and soul in jeopardy to help Raven. But to do this... She turned to Ecien. “Sister?”

It felt very odd to call anyone sister, but Ecien was not offended. Far from offended, Ecien reciprocated the familiarity and devotion that Raven felt. Ecien extended an arm to Raven and Raven took the horrific looking claw in a gentle grip. If anyone had told her that she would feel kinship with a two meter tall insect even a week before, Raven would have laughed in that person’s face. Raven felt a sense of compassion and concern from the insect, but when Ecien spoke, it was to Trugoy.

"Trugoy?" Ecien’s voice was thoughtful. “Why didn’t you tell Istara?’

“I should have." The Grandmaster admitted. "After she saved me, I should have. But there was no time. I was... a mess. The zygote was stable in stasis. I...” He broke off as Ecien shook her tiny head.

“No." Ecien said slowly. "I mean why didn’t you tell her as soon as you did it? She knew.” Trugoy’s eyes went wide at Ecien’s calm words. Raven looked from one to the other and then sat back in her bed, she was still not even close to fully recovered.

"She... what...?" Trugoy’s words were quiet, stunned. “How? She was out of it. She was so angry, and then she cast herself out. She wouldn’t have heard anything we told her. How could she...” He broke off and a stunned, incredulous expression crossed his face. “She.... knew...”

"Males..." Ecien snapped and Raven actually giggled at teh sour tone. “You are old and mostly wise, Trugoy. You are not female. Istara knew that according to tradition, she was dead already. She thought that you would take care of her little one. She believed at the very least, that you would find a good home for the child.”

"I..." Trugoy stared at the insect. “I...” He laughed, just a bit hysterically. “She knew... And she left the child with us to raise. But... We couldn’t find a surrogate. We have been looking...”

"Like I said..." Ecien sighed and her voice held amusement and resignation when she spoke. “Men. Always taking the hard way. A surrogate has been found and is on her way.” Trugoy and Raven stared at Ecien, who laughed. “You don’t think we have spent the whole time since she told us just sitting around, do you?”

Raven shook her head slowly. She hadn’t seen a humorous side of Ecien before. But she smiled. She liked this part of her teacher, instructor and protector. Her voice was quiet. “So... You don’t need me to do it?”

"No, Raven." Ecien nodded. “The designated surrogate is already enroute. We shall continue your instruction of course, but both of us are detailed to guard and protect the surrogate Istara chose.”

"Huh?" Trugoy stared from one to the other. ”Shar chose the surrogate? When did she have time?”

"Trugoy." Ecien drew herself up to her full height and her voice was crisp and cold when she spoke. “Your informality to my sister is unacceptable. She may accept you calling her whatever you wish, I will not. Do not do so in my presence. Do I make myself clear?”

"You do." Trugoy winced. “I give apology, Stuiamlanakolatalinecien…” Raven stared at him as the alien name rolled off his tongue as easily as Basic. “…I was… startled. That is no excuse. Istara Sharlina Andal is a treasure to all of us, and I…” He looked away. “I will mind my words and manners in the future.”

"Good." Ecien nodded and there was still something cold and formal in her tone. “See that you do. It is handled, Trugoy. The surrogate will be arriving shortly on the scheduled ship from my people. She has been briefed and will be ready as soon as she arrives and passes through decontamination.”

Trugoy looked at her and his face was grave. “I must ask this. Is she… Well…” He shifted uncomfortably.

Ecien couldn’t smile, but something in her sense in the Force spoke of sour amusement. “As if any of my people would dream of enslaving a sentient? She is being well compensated, and is fully aware of everything that must take place. She has been on a daily regime of… Ah, I will get the records sent to Ona as soon as I can. It is not my area of expertise.”

Trugoy nodded slowly. “What is her name?”

"The surrogate?" Again, Ecien radiated amusement. “She answers to the name Kirina.”

Trugoy nodded slowly. “But that isn’t her real name is it?” Ecien shook her head. And Trugoy sighed. “Why such secrecy?”

Ecien sank back on her haunches and spoke slowly, to both Raven and Trugoy. “Istara knew from the beginning that she was no longer pregnant. She assumed that you and the Bladeborn would find a suitable surrogate. But she took precautions, asked around hypothetically for potential surrogates. The Jedi apparently were most helpful in researching that. And when Istara was here last in Medical, after the incident with the soul catcher, she saw the tank. It is distinctive.”

"I see." Trugoy shook his head slowly. “And how did Istara find a suitable surrogate? we have been scouring the galaxy for months."

“That is Kirina’s tale, to speak or not." Ecien cautioned. "And I don’t believe it is any of your business. Word of advice, Trugoy. Do not push her in any way, or you will answer to me. She has been hurt enough in her life. She hads put her past behind her, you should not pry it out.” Trugoy stared at Ecien for a long moment and then his mouth fell open. But Ecien waved a claw at him. “For once in your long, long life... remain silent. She is under mine and Raven’s care while she is here. She may remain, she may not. But it will be her choice. Am I clear?”

Trugoy nodded, his face pale. “Is there anything I can do?”

Ecien shook her head. “I don’t know. If she chooses to speak with you, that is fine. But, only if she chooses.”

Trugoy nodded again and then, after bowing to Raven and Ecien, left the room quickly. Ecien snorted. “I have wanted to pull the rug out from under him for so long." Ecien laughed at Raven;'s expression. "Just seeing the look on his face was worth the secrecy.”

Raven stared at Ecien and her face was pensive. “I don’t know what good I will do.” She waved a hand at her legs. The nerves hadn’t recovered yet, and while she could feel things now, which was a definite improvement, she couldn’t move under her own power. Ona had promised that Raven would be able to walk again, and Raven believed the healer, but until then... Being immobile was bad enough. Being hooked to mechanical plumbing was downright embarrassing.

Ecien nodded. “Ona will have you up and about as soon as possible, she says she has found a new nerve stimulation technique that should work better. And if all else fails, we can send you back to the healers on our ship. THEY will have you walking. Have no fear on that sister.”

Raven nodded, but her face was pensive. “I know. But I feel... Like a Geonosiian leech. Just lying here while people do things for me.”

Ecien nodded. “It is hard, to be immobile. But I will see what we can come up with for you to do. The body is nothing without the mind after all, and we don’t want yours stagnating.”

Raven nodded her thanks. “Ok, where were we? Ah, yes... I still don’t understand, Ecien. You asked me to think on known powers, and I think I found one that does not have a light side form. If the Dark Side has Force Lightning, what is the corresponding Ashla ability? Is there one?”

Ecien moved so her arms crossed and her voice was quiet. “There is, but it is rarely used. It has limited function when one is fighting non-lethally. Tell me, Raven, electricity is a known force, correct?” Raven nodded. “And there are non-lethal applications, correct?” Raven nodded again. “So... What do you think might be done with Ashla in that way not to kill?”

Rsaven thought about that and smiled. She liked to learn and here was font of knowledge willing and eager to teach. “Electricity can stun as well as kill, it depends on the amplitude of the current from what I remember from my learning. But if the current is off, too strong or even, too weak, it can kill or injure badly. I don’t see how that can be Ashla, or even Light.”

Ecien nodded. “Yes. Control, as in every power used by Ashla, Jedi, Sith or whoever, Control is the major defining factor. You have to maintain...”

Raven listened with her whole being. After all, what else did she have that she could do at the moment but learn? Luckily she loved to learn.
My stories in order:
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kalenath
07.03.2012 , 08:55 AM | #8
<Several hours later>

Ona was waiting in the decontamination room when the figure stepped from the transit tube for the shuttle. The female human nodded to her and proceeded to do as ordered. The decontamination was just as lengthy and disgusting as ever, but the woman didn’t complain, matter of fact, the woman didn’t speak at all, just nodded to acknowledge each instruction Ona gave her. She knew what she was doing as well, anticipating some of the instructions. Ona finished the sequence and nodded to the woman, who pulled on the shipsuit Ona had provided for her. Ona helped the woman clamber into it and woman smiled her thanks and Ona was sure she had met the woman before. But the brown hair and hazel eyes were common in humans. Ona smiled.

“Kirina? I am Ona, head healer of this ship.”

The woman nodded. But then held out a pad, on which she wrote something. She showed the pad to Ona. 'Throat injury. Unable to speak.'

Ona blanched as she read it, her fur went wild and she took a moment to smooth it. “I am sorry, we were told nothing about you. May I see?” Kirina shrugged. She bared her neck, and there was a mass of scar tissue where a human would normally have a voice box.

“How did you survive that?" Ona asked, horrified. "Never mind, none of my business. I am sorry… Blasted secrecy.”

Kirina nodded and wrote again. 'For the best. Istara said less who know the better?'

Maybe..." Ona nodded and sighed. “But it was still impolite of me. I apologize.” Kirina shook her head and then shrugged. The question was obvious. Ona nodded again. “Medical first. I need to do some additional scans. The ones that were sent with you were sufficient, but…” She broke off as Kirina nodded.

The human’s face took on a stern mein. She wrote again. 'Take no chances.'

Ona nodded. “Not with this." The healer agreed. "No. Come on, are you hungry?” Kiriana shook her head and Ona smiled. “I just ate a good sized meal myself. Well, no time like the present, huh?”

<A few minutes later>

Ona was working the scanner as Kirina lay quiet on the scanner table. The human obviously knew her way around a medical bay, she had made a beeline for the canner as soon as Ona had led her in. Ona was shaking her head at the readings as she compared them to the records. “Everything looks good. Hormone levels are synced, enzyme levels are good, blood pressure is up as is heart rate… Are you ok?”

Karina nodded and reached for her pad. Ona came close and read what the woman wrote. 'Scared.'

Ona patted her on the shoulder. “I don’t blame you. I was told that you were told what would happen.” Kirina nodded and Ona sighed. “There really isn’t any reason to wait then. I wish I could heal your throat.” Kirina shook her head sadly. Whatever she had endured had been both a while back and total. It looked like her entire voice box had been removed. Ona smiled. “Otherwise you are in perfect health. But I have to know, are you okay with this? Hosting someone else’s child? Bearing it to term?”

Kirina smiled sadly and then wrote again. The woman’s eyes were glistening as she showed the pad to Ona. 'Your concern touches me deeply. Thank you. I can do this. When?'

Ona nodded and looked around the bay, her eyes lighting on the tank that held a small, barely created life. “About thirty minutes to set everything up. We had most everything ready for you as soon as we knew you were coming. The actual implantation shouldn’t take long. So you want to sleep through it?”

Kirina pondered that for a moment and then she nodded. She wrote 'I don’t like pain. Please what drugs you can without endangering the baby.'

Ona nodded with a smile. “Never fear, brave mother to be. I will be right back.” The healer walked quickly to the door and exited, leaving Kirina to look around.

A few moments later another door opened and a vision of horror walked out. But Kirina just smiled and held up a hand. Ecien bowed to the woman on the scanner table and moved close. An antenna brushed Kirina’s hand and the two could speak in the fashion of the Sitolon, mind to mind.

Kirina’s mind voice was sad. I don’t like deceiving them.

Ecien’s was tired. We are not. We are just not telling them everything. Because if we did, they would insist on you staying, which would put both you and the child in grave danger. You are very brave.

Kirina snorted out loud. I am very scared.

Ecien’s mind voice was warm now. And that is true courage, Kirina, to be scared and do what needs doing anyway. Or should I call you Illiana?

Kirina Came the rapid response non verbally. I don’t remember the other name or them. Although, some of them… I wish I did. Best to stay in cover until I get back to the homeship. Less chance of dangerous slips. Less danger to Istara’s child.

Ecien bowed her head and nodded. I will be nearby while you are aboard, Kirina. And if you need us, call.

With that, Ecien walked back to the door she had come out of and vanished back into the room, moments before Ona came back into the bay, her hands filled with medical gear. Ona smiled as she started setting things up.

“Well, here we go…” Ona helped Kirina off the scanner table and then waited while the woman changed into a patient gown. The woman moved to the surgery table and jumped up on it. Ona moved to beside it and started hooking things up. Kirina just lay there and Ona paused for a moment. “Are you sure we haven’t met? You seem very familiar.”

Kirina shrugged and shook her head. Ona sighed and continued hooking up sensors and life support gear.

<Some time later>

Ona slumped back from the table and smiled. It had gone almost perfectly. There had been a minor problem with a lower layer of epidermal tissue that hadn’t wanted to go where she had wanted it to, but she had managed and now, it was done. Jon gave her a thumb’s up from this spot by Kirina’s head and Ona let out a breath she hadn’t known she was holding. It had worried her greatly, this transfer. But everything had gone without a hitch. She had managed the incisions with her usual skill and likely the woman wouldn’t even have a scar. A scar… Ona tensed as she looked at the bare arm that was laid out on front of her. Something was wrong. Something was off. Something was not as it should be…

Ona sighed and shook her head as she started prepping the patient for transfer to a recovery room. The operation was a success, and now all they had to do was wait for Kirina to wake up, to be sure that the implantation had taken. But she couldn’t help feeling that she had missed something. Something important. It would bother her until she found out what it was, but for now, everything was fine.

<An hour later>

Ona sat at her terminal and tried to focus. It had been a very long day. A tiring day. But it had been a good day as well. Raven’s leg nerves were finally showing signs of improvement, Juli had managed to do all of her physical therapy exercises for once, and Kirina had come through her procedure with flying colors. The woman had woken and eaten before sleeping again. And gentle scans both with the Force and medical gear showed the fetus right where it should be with no complications. So why was she bothered by the woman. Something was off. Something was bugging her. Bug... She tensed.

“No flarging way…” Her fingers flew over the controls as she pulled up another set of records. Older ones. She pulled up the images of a wound that she had seen on someone who had almost been a friend and her breath caught. She pulled up the images she had of Kirina’s throat and she tensed. The wound on Kirina’s throat and the one Jina Dakstorm had suffered on Tralus had been caused by the exact same kind of implement. A serrated claw. She spun for her comlink, but stiffened as one of the shadows of her office seemed to come alive.

“Ona, no.” Ecien’s voice was adamant.

"Ecien!" Ona snarled at the insect. “What did you do to her?”

Ecien shook her head. “It’s not my story to tell. Sleep Ona…” Something that was almost the Force gripped Ona in gentle bonds that were at the same time irresistible. Her energy fled through those bonds and lassitude sucked at her eyelids, pulling them down. The last thing Ona saw as she fell unconscious was a human form at her door. Kirina’s face was sad.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
07.03.2012 , 09:01 AM | #9
When Ona woke, she couldn’t move. She was not restrained, but she had no strength at all. She opened her eyes and froze. Mama Lizard stood beside the bed she was in and the Barabel as not happy. A voice she recognized came to her ears.

Ecien’s voice was calm. “She has not been harmed. I knocked her out, nothing more.”

Mama Lizard snarled. “And why then has ssshe not… Oh…Ona… You are awake. We were worried.” Mama looked down at her and Ona tried to speak, but her lips wouldn’t move. Mama snarled and turned back to where she had been speaking before but Ecien spoke again.

Now the large insect’s words were clear and concise. “Do not push me on this, my orders are clear. I didn’t hurt her.”

Mama’s voice was cold. “Could have fooled me. I come in to find you ssstanding over her unconsssciousss form. And ssshe is unresponsssive, as if poisssoned. What ssshould I think?”

Ecien sighed. “Bra-Thana of clan Nor, I am not your enemy.” Something in the insect’s voice had Ona trying to move, to speak, to do anything. Someone was about to die… She struggled against her weakness, trying to… She stopped as another form came to her bedside. Kirina ‘s face was pensive now, sad.

Ona stared at the human and didn’t indeed, couldn’t, move as the human took the Bothan’s limp right hand in both of hers. Power flowed into her, clean and fresh. It felt… good. Like a nice day in the sun. Ona relaxed, stiff muscles releasing as she slumped. She breathed easier, and Kirina smiled at her. An expression Ona returned.

Ona’s voice was soft, but strength as returning to it. “Thank you.” Kirina bowed her head and stepped back. Ona took a moment to recover more of her energy before speaking again. “Who is going to explain?” She looked around the room and was unsurprised to find herself in one of the private recovery rooms of the medical bay. Jon stood nearby glowering at Ecien and Kirina, but his expression lightened when Ona’s gaze met his. He smiled tentatively and Ona returned it. Mama of course was standing near the bed, her hands on her axe handles. Kirina was standing near the door, her body language fearful, and Ecien… the insect had four blades out in hand. And she wasn’t moving, the huge bug exuded a stillness that said she was probably the most dangerous being in the room, even more than the enraged Barabel.

The tableau was broken by another voice, a weak one. “Ecien, enough…” Ona’s eyes went wide as Raven staggered into the room. The woman’s legs were obviously not working right, she was pulling herself along by her arms and managing to balance somehow by holding onto the wall.

Ona sat up, ignoring her body’s protests. “What are you doing out of bed, Raven?” The Bothan’s trained eyes didn’t miss the trail of muck that followed the woman. Raven had apparently disconnected the plumbing, but hadn’t managed to shut the tubes off. She was leaking nasty stuff all over the place.

Raven met Ona’s eyes and smiled. “Keeping the peace…?” Ona couldn’t help it, she laughed. And just like that, the tension in the room vanished. Ecien’s blades vanished back to wherever she hid them, Mama removed her hands from her axes and Jon relaxed. Jon ran forward as Raven collapsed, her stamina finally drained. Ona tried to get up, but Mama held her in the bed with a hand and a glower. Ona sighed. Jon was working fast and Raven let him, her head hanging low. Then he cursed. Ona was out of the bed and across the room in a heartbeat. Her eyes went wide as she saw the girl’s presence in the Force fading. Raven smiled and closed her eyes, her spirit trying to fly free. She had lost too much blood, dripped form the IVs that where still open.

No!” Ona shrieked as she grabbed Raven’s hands in her own. Power flowed from her into Raven, but the girl didn’t respond. Ona was crying. “No… No…” She was shaking her head slowly as she tried again to pour her own power into the girl. But it seemed to be swallowed up by a black hole for all the good it did. But she wouldn’t let go. She heard Jon talking to her, and hands pulling on her, but she just couldn’t let go. The something gentle and at the same time incredibly strong took hold of her. A voice spoke in her mind.

Let her go Ona, she made her choice

Ona shook her head and redoubled her efforts, trying to find wherever it was Raven had gone. Then…

<Somewhere>

Ona coughed as she landed on her hands and knees on a hard surface. It looked like a floor. A tart voice spoke up from nearby. “You idiot…” The Bothan looked up into the eyes of the human woman who she had been trying to save. Raven shook her head. “Of all the crazy, stupid, heroic things… You just won’t let me go, will you?”

Ona shook her head and stood slowly. The two were in a small bare room. It had a door that showed nothing but darkness beyond it. Ona stiffened. They were in Raven's mind, and if the woman went through that door... “I can’t. I… I have lost too many kin already. I can’t lose you too.”

"Healer..." Raven shook her head and looked longingly at the door, but didn't move. “Ona, I was dead the moment I got out of that bed. The moment I bled out on the floor. Tell me I lie. You have to go back.”

“I could have helped you…” The Bothan was sobbing now, and she collapsed back to her knees. She tensed as warm arms took her shoulders in an embrace. “I can help you…” She tried to embrace the form, but her arms seemed to encounter nothing but air.

"Ona..." Raven sighed sadly. “You don’t have the power Ona, you are a Bladeborn, not a god.” the woman took a step towards the door. Ona tried to get between her and the door, but her body wouldn't move.

Everything stopped as another voice came and Ecien’s large form appeared. “She doesn’t, sister. But this is not your time.”

“I am tired Ecien." Raven said sadly. "I am tired of being scared. I am tired of hurting. I am just tired.”

“You are not a quitter." The healer snapped. "You are braver and stronger than most of the beings I have met. Setsuna was of your caliber, no one else I have met. Raven, don’t give up. Please…”

“You are going to insist, aren’t you?" Raven asked sourly. "Figures…” The human woman shook her head slowly. “On one condition…”

"Raven..." Ona stiffened. “I…”

Raven was unmoved. “I need your word, Ona.”

"You have it." Ona slumped and then nodded slowly. “I swear on my honor as a Bladeborn, by the sword I carry, by the code I follow, by the clan I heal for, that what you wish, I will do or die trying.”

"Ona...That is a little extreme." Raven smiled sourly. “Luckily it’s something fairly simple. Listen to Ecien. If I don’t make it, listen to Ecien. You must not blame her for what she has had to do. If I do make it, listen to her anyway. She knows what she is doing.”

"Why thank you Raven." Ecien’s voice was amused. “But we must hurry…”

"Anything I can do." Ona promised. “What do I do?”

Ecien extended a claw to Ona, who took it gingerly. The insect extended another to Raven who took it gratefully. The insect’s voice was quiet. “See Raven as she was when you first saw her, minus the restraints of course. And hold that image in your mind.”

"Huh?" Ona blinked and spoke incredulous. “That’s all?”

"There is a bit more to it than that, but I will do the heavy lifting." Ecien’s voice was seriously amused now. “I need you to be the conduit by which she returns to her body. Sister, if you are ready?” Raven nodded and turned her back on the door which closed. Then…

<Reality>

Ona was first aware of a muted voice at her side, crying. Jon never cried. She opened her eyes to find her mate’s face buried in her shoulder fur. “Jon…?”

The Human jerked and then his eyes met hers and his face turned from abject sadness to radiant joy in an instant. “Ona! I lost you! Don’t… Don’t ever do that again…” He hugged her tight.

Ona’s voice was soft, scared. “Raven?”

Jon smiled. “She is stable. For now. Idiot girl nearly bled herself out.” He hugged her again. "You poured so much into her, I couldn't feel your heart beat..."

Ona smiled and kissed him. She couldn’t have cared if the Emperor himself had been present. Her eyes went over the top of his head and met Ecien’s compound eyes as the insect withdrew a few steps. The bug nodded to her and she nodded back. But then she focused on her mate. Later could take care of later, this was important.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
07.03.2012 , 09:05 AM | #10
Ona finished setting the IV bags up and mock snarled at Raven. “This time, don’t pull them out.”

Raven smiled at her from the bed. “Yes, mother.”

Ona grinned as she sat, weary to the bone now. Whatever she had done to try and save Raven had drained her significantly. Jon was hovering and she grinned at him before turning to the other beings in the room. With so many people in the small room, it was filled to overflowing, but no one was going to suggest anyone leave. Not now. Raven lay in her bed, Kirina sat in a chair opposite from Ona, Ecien stood in a corner, looking for all the world like some kind of alien spider creature… Wait a sec… Ona smiled at that image, but shook her head and looked at the others. Mama Lizard stood by the door glowering and Trugoy was perched on a counter nearby, kicking his legs like a small child. Ona smiled at him wearily and then nodded to Kirina and Ecien.

“What can you say?" Ona asked softly. "I realized Kirina’s throat injury was the same kind as the one Jina Darkstorm had suffered. That is, the same kind of weapon had done it. A claw similar to yours, Ecien. Obviously you didn’t do it.”

Ecien looked at Ona and then turned to face Kirina who shrugged and nodded. The insect slumped. “I don’t like discussing this, but you deserve to know. We rescued Kirina from the dark cousins less than two months ago. She was… a mess.” Kirina laid a hand on Ecien’s arm and smiled. Ecien snorted. “Yes, I was going to say that. Kirina says she doesn’t remember most of what happened to her and is glad for that.”

"You..." Ona stared from the human to the insect and her face was thoughtful. “You can communicate mind to mind.”

Ecien nodded. “Kirina, well, the dark cousins cannot reproduce now, so they are dying out. But they are seeking alternatives to natural reproduction.” At that Ona felt her face freeze. She knew many, many means of unnatural reproduction, most of which were horrific. Ecien nodded. “We found Kirina aboard a ship that we took. One that the dark cousins had overrun. We try to keep abreast of what they do, to curb them, to contain them. It is our duty. We did not expect to find survivors. They generally don’t leave any. But in this case, we think it was because this was not the first time they had held and hurt her. They took her and wiped her mind. And then they took her again and did it again. It will not happen a third time.” Ecien’s voice rang with conviction and Kirina’s face was somber.

For along moment, Ona looked confused and then she tensed. The Bothan’s eyes went wide and her voice was hushed. “Illiana?”

Kirina slumped and looked at Ecien with a beseeching expression. Ecien shook her head in obvious negation. “She doesn’t remember being Illiana, or Rina. We had to call her something, so we chose the name Kirina. In our language, it means ‘little lost one’. We didn’t know who she had been until Istara went to Cranna’s clinic with the children and asked after Rina. We were told she had disappeared on a transport of the same class as my people had found. We took her in, helped her, taught her and trained her. And she decided to help Istara. Istara… took some convincing.” All of the Bladeborn in the room snickered at that, and Kirina grinned sourly. It was probably the largest understatement in quite a while. Istara had all the give of a Corusca gem at times. Ecien continued soberly. “Istara knew her child was here, and that you were having trouble finding a surrogate. We knew as well, from the first time Istara joined with us. So Kirina said she would take the duty. We argued, but she is also very stubborn, the little one is.” Kirina made a face at the insect and Ecien shook her head. The human swatted the insect, playfully it seemed, and Ona smiled. It was a bit odd, but the affection that Ona felt between the two of them was genuine.

Ona looked around the room. Jon was dumbfounded, Mama was standing slumped with her eyes glistening and Trugoy, he was shaking his head slowly. When the small brown alien spoke, it was quiet. “So… You knocked Ona out because you were protecting Kirina?” Ona felt her guts clench at Trugoy’s words.

The black furred being stared at the grandmaster. “You knew…?” The hurt, betrayal and pain in her own words startled the Bothan, but she kept her eyes on Trugoy. The grandmaster of the Bladeborn Order, well one of the Bladeborn Orders, shook his head.

Trugoy met Ona’s eyes and pain shone in his. “Idjit and I looked for her. We could sense that she lived, but not where. We could sense that she was in pain, but not from what. We thought… We thought Ravishaw had her.”

Kiirna shook her head and touched Ecien’s arm again before withdrawing. The bug nodded. “She doesn’t remember much of what they did to her. Impressions mostly. It took some time for us to calm her down when she woke the first time.” Kirina made a face, sad and sick, and Ecien extended her arm. Ona could only watch in astonishment and a little envy as Kirina hugged the insect. A person would have had to be blind and completely lacking the Force to miss the affection that Kirina felt for Ecien. Ona smiled a bit sadly. The woman she had called sister didn’t remember her and now was in the care of others. But Ona remembered the bright cheery girl and her heart was sad.

The healer’s words were quiet. “May we know your story, Kirina? If you don’t wish to speak of it…” She broke off as Kirina looked at her. The human’s eyes were glistening. Kirina looked at Ecien who nodded again.

Ecien’s voice was even, but held something. Worry maybe? Or compassion? “She can’t speak, and it will take a while if I have to translate for her.” One smiled and Ecien stopped talking.

“We can do better than that…”

<An hour later>

Ecien was obviously amazed. Ona smiled as she finished the connections. “This is crude. We can come up with something better given time.” Kirina looked at her from the chair she was sitting in and Ona smiled. “Give it a try, Kirina.”

Kirina stared at her and then a scratchy sounding mechanical voice came from a box nearby. “I don’t…” The voice broke off as Kirina flinched. Kirina’s eyes went wide. The mechanical voice sounded hesitant now. “Is… Is that me?”

"Yep." Ona smiled gently. “Nothing wrong with your ears. Yes that is you. The connections are fragile though, so, try not to move too much, okay?”

Kirina stared at Ona and then at the wires that ran from her neck to the set of equipment beside her chair. Ona had been working or some time to fashion a voice for Blondie, her mute brother. But the damage he had suffered as a child had been far more extensive than Kirina. Prosthetic voice boxes were known. Hundreds of years before, Darth Malak, the evil Sith who had usurped the role of Dark Lord from Darth Revan, had possessed an artificial voice. But, since each person was different, each had to be made specifically for the user. The one Ona had pulled out of a locker was built for Blondie whose sheer size made it hard for him to go through some doors. So there was simply no way it would fit on Kirina’s tiny frame. Ona, with a little help, had managed to jury rig a connection between the artificial pharynx and Kirina’s throat muscles. And it worked. Ona smiled a bit but then tensed. The human was crying.

Recognizable sounds came from the speaker, sobs. “I… Ona, thank you… They wanted me mute, a thing, a toy… You… You shouldn't have... I...” The human was sobbing hard now and Ona knelt beside the chair. Ona hugged the human gently and then she froze as a claw touched her shoulder. She looked up into Ecien’s eyes.

She heard Ecien’s voice in her head. She would not accept such a thing from us. It was too much like what the dark cousins did to her. Thank you, Ona of the Bladeborn. Perhaps she is finally moving beyond her maiming. It cannot be too soon. From all of us, thank you.

Ona nodded and focused on Kirina. “It is not perfect. I believe Ecien’s people could probably do better. But this will allow us to communicate easier.” Kirina nodded and hugged Ona tight. Ona winced dramatically. “Easy there… Don’t pull out the wires, or you wind up like Raven…” Her voice was teasing and Kirina smiled a bit sadly as she sat back. Ona secured an emergency collar around the woman’s neck. Uncomfortable it might be, but it would keep the tenuous connections secure for the moment.

Kirina sat and let Ona fiddle some before smiling. The voice from the speakers was stronger, more confident now. “I guess I can get used to this.”

"if you want me to still like you..." Ona grinned, “You better.”

Kirina sighed as she looked around the room. Everyone who had been there earlier was present now, barring Raven who was asleep hopefully. Raven was a mess, her body trying to recover from losing so much of its fluid. But Ona understood. No one else could have stopped Ecien and Mama from fighting and mess didn’t BEGIN to cover that. Trugoy, mama, Jon, Ona, all looked at her and she sighed again. Ecien stood beside her and she smiled ta the insect. “I guess I should begin at the beginning…”

Ecien radiated amusement through the Force. And it colored her tone as well. “Never hurts.”

Kirina laughed. Even from the mechanical speakers, the sound was distinctive. “I don’t remember a lot, mainly flashes of red and darkness moving around me…”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here