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(L,F&E 62) Silent Voices


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kalenath
07.04.2012 , 05:14 AM | #1
<Tython, jedi Enclave>

Life just never gets boring…

Jedi Padawan Diseree Mak thought with a smile as she sat for breakfast at the Jedi enclave on Tython. She had been away for some time, and had been looking forward to catching up with old friends. But many of those friends were busy off planet, even her master had yet to return from assignment. And now, she was almost under house arrest. Almost. Admittedly, she hadn’t done as her master and the Jedi Council had wished for her to, but hey, they hadn’t given her any orders. Truth be told, she liked Istara Andal. The woman was downright vicious at times, sure, but she was also kind, gentle and compassionate. As well as being a beacon in the Force now.

Things were coming for Istara Andal and the people around her. Both good things and bad things that Diseree and the other seers were only now beginning to get a handle on. She shook her head as she ate. Off all the things she might have imagined for herself as a child, becoming a Jedi -and a seer at that- hadn’t even been close to on the list. Seers were rare, she was only beginning to understand just how rare. Whereas any Jedi with the skill and power in the Force could see visions of possible futures, sees lived to do one thing, see. Past, present, future, all was the same when one was focused strongly enough in the Force. When she meditated, Diseree could see things from the distant past and distant future equally well. It was the present that gave her fits. And of course, distant past and future were usually not a lot of help with day to day problems. But she was learning how to focus her mind inside her meditations, slowly and surely. She also had some advantages that others lacked.

She finished her meal, put her dishes in the cleanser and started back towards her room. Then she stiffened. Something…

“Padawan Diseree.” The voice was not one she had heard before. Had she? She turned to see a human woman standing nearby, the woman’s hair shining in the gentle light of the hallway and Diseree inhaled sharply as she recognized the woman. She had never met the woman formally, no, but everyone knew who she was. And Diseree had taken instruction from her, along with most of the other Padawans.

Diseree bowed deeply. One did not do otherwise when a Jedi Council member spoke to one after all. “Master Shan.”

The youngest Jedi ever to assume the rank of Grandmaster sighed. Her voice was teasing when she replied. “You can call me Satele, you know.”

Diseree was at a loss for words. Having a legend walk up to her in a hallway was one thing. Being told to address her by her first name? “I… Um… As you wish, Master Satele.”

Satele Shan patted Diseree on the shoulder and smiled. “I wanted to tell you, Ashla Ti is on her way back. She should be here within the day.” Satele looked at the young Kel Dor and she shook her head slowly. “Keep your chin up. You did the right thing, even if not everyone can see that.”

Diseree smiled a bit. She knew she had done the right thing, but having someone like this tell her that… It felt good. “Thank you Master Satele.”

Satele Shan smiled. “Keep up your studies, you don’t want to fall too far behind. Even seers have to…” She broke off as Diseree stiffened. “Diseree?”

Diseree stared at the older Jedi but her gaze was far, far away. Her voice was hushed, horrified when she spoke. “No…”

Satele shook her head slowly. “What do you see Diseree?”

Diseree shook her head again and then she screamed. “Master!

When she screamed, several Jedi in the hall turned to look at her but she obviously couldn’t see them. She was staring off into space and… More than one of them froze in shock as she collapsed. Satele caught her easily and without a word, started towards the healer’s wing. The small Kel Dor’s body hung limp in the master’s arms, only the rise and fall of her chest showing she was alive.

<A long ways away>

“Good fight Jedi. But this is over.” The black cloaked form held the broken body of the Togruta off the ground in a grip of the Force. She screamed again as power arced through her, pulling broken bones again in harsh contortions. The black cloaked form sighed. “Pity, if you had simply surrendered, none of this pain would have come to pass. We were going to win anyway.”

"I..." Master Ashla Ti, seer of the Jedi Order, groaned as she recovered what strength she could. “You have won nothing, the Dark Side clouds your senses.”

"I see very clearly. Clearer than you it seems." The black cloaked form threw back his hood and smiled. “Oh no, I think you will see differently shortly my dear. Very shortly…”

"No..." Ashla Ti stared at the apparition before her with undisguised shock. “This isn’t possible. You cannot be who you seem.”

“Wanna bet?” The old man smiled as he raised his hand and the Togruta screamed again as lightning arced across the space between them again. He sighed again. “Ah well, enough fun.” He dropped his hand and she fell to the floor, screaming again as she felt impacts on broken bones. “Now for work.” He reached into his robes and drew out a small brown crystal.

"No..." Ashla Ti stared at it, horror filling her features. “No…”

The man shook his head as he knelt beside her form. She tried to crawl away from him but he grabbed her head in a strong hand and without a further word pressed the crystal against her skull. Her screams were loud and long. Then they cut off as if sliced with a knife.

The man stepped back carefully and a pair of robed figures carrying a stretcher came up. His voice was gentle now. “We will tend your wounds. Wouldn't want our newest sister to expire now.”

Ashla Ti’s voice was different now. It was softer, dull and subdued. “Thank you, my brother.” The two forms lifted her gently onto the stretcher and picked it up.

His voice was a command to the stretcher bearers. “Gently, be kind to our new sister. She has had a rough day.” The bearers nodded and carried the form away. The man in black stared around the common room of the small ship and sighed at the bodies. Six forms in Jedi robes lay in positions of violent death. But one… He smiled sadly at the Padawan who was leaning against the bulkhead, cradling a badly broken arm. The boy who stared at him, horrified. “I am sorry, boy. If you hadn’t fought, none of this would have happened. All I wanted was her. And now... This…” He waved at the carnage around them.

"You..." The boy snarled at him. “You won’t get away with this!”

“I think I already have. What is your name boy?” The man in black’s voice was gentle now, comforting. The boy shook his head, shivering as if from some incredible effort. The man sighed. “Mine is Sam. I won’t hurt you. Come on…” He extended his hand to the boy who looked as if he wanted to bite it off. “You know you want to trust me…” The boy shook his head savagely, but against his will, he extended his hand to the man in black.

Samuel took the boy’s hand in a gentle grip and sighed. “Marc Aurelia. I said it wouldn’t hurt and it won’t.” The boy looked as if he was trying to scream, but then he stiffened and collapsed. The man in black held the boy until the slow rise and fall of the boy’s chest stopped. Samuel shook his head slowly as he laid the boy back down on the deck. “The dead feel nothing after all.”

He closed the boy’s eyes and stood up. The woman who stood nearby snorted. “What was that all about, Samuel?”

He met her eyes and she seemed to flinch just a little. When he spoke, though, it was unemotional. “None of your business Jainine.” He jerked his head and they started walking, ignoring plaintive calls and cries for help from areas around them. “Let’s get off this piece of junk and scuttle it. The Jedi will be here soon.”

As soon as they had exited the ship into their own and the hatch had closed, loud thumps were heard as the ships disconnected from each other. As he walked he looked at the crystal he held and smiled. If he looked closely, he could just make out a Togruta form reflected inside its facets. Ashla Ti was still screaming.

The man smiled as he entered a room filled with horror. He and the woman knelt in unison as waves of dark energy flowed over them. "Master, it is done."

The darkness around the room roiled with shapes out of nightmare, hissing and writhing. But everything stopped when the being on the throne in the middle of the room spoke. "Excellent, and our new sister?"

The man bowed. "She fought hard. She will be in healing for some time."

The being on the throne growled softly. "First the idiot boy and now her." The kneeling man felt scrutiny. "I sense you wish to continue your search."

The man spoke evenly. "Yes, my master."

The being on the throne seemed to think for a moment, then spoke. "You have my leave to go, Samuel. I hope your efforts bear better fruit than poor Ravishaw's did. You will take precautions and you will take Jainine with you. What better bait than the woman he loved?"

Samuel shook his head slowly. "Master, with all due respect, that is a mistake. If my target sees her..." Jainine hissed from beside him, but he continued. "He will immediately know that something is wrong. Alerting him prematurely is what has cost us so many apprentices."

Jainine snarled at him, but Samuel kept his focus on the being in the middle of the room. the being sighed. "Perhaps. But going it alone is what got Ravishaw so hurt. Idiot boy...You will take backup."

Samuel nodded and bowed his head. "Yes, my master."

The being laughed sourly. "So dutiful. Give me what you took from the Jedi." Samuel stiffened, but then nodded and tried not to scream as a tendril of energy caressed him. It was gentle that touch, it only felt as if a million small fires were burning through his soul. All of the life energy that he had taken from the Jedi during the fight and from the boy after left his body, leaving him spent and shaking. The being cloaked ind darkness laughed again. "What I give, I can take away, Samuel. Do not forget that. Now go, and see to it that you do not fail me..."

Samuel rose to his feet shakily and walked to the door. Jainine followed, a small malicious smile on her face. As soon as the hatch sealed, Samuel snarled at her. "Enjoy it while you can, when my son shoot you between the eyes, I will enjoy watching that."

"You will be disappointed." Jainine just smiled wider. "I can handle your brat."

Samuel snorted. "Ah, ok, I will let you handle Will. When he obliterates you, I will just say you got sloppy. Harron, Sarional, and then Ravishaw and his base on Korriban, the list goes on and on. He eats Sith Lords for breakfast, Jainine. What chance do you have?"

"One thing." Jainine smiled. "None of them were female."

"Ah, so you want to wind up like Kola, armless and legless, floating in a tank for the rest of your life?" Samuel's voice was mocking. Jainine stared at him and her face worked as she tried to come up with a suitable retort, but he just smiled as he walked away. "Ravishaw at least has a body to come back to."
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
07.04.2012 , 05:23 AM | #2
<The next day on Tython>

When Diseree woke, she knew immediately that it hadn’t been a dream. For one thing she was in the healer’s area, her face covered by a filter tent. Being a Kel Dor, she needed her native atmosphere to be comfortable, so some kind healer had set up a system like her filter mask but larger so she could move a bit inside the tent like membrane. She was lying on the bed, clad only in a patient gown and hooked up to various pieces of medical gear. She breathed deeply, trying to focus herself. She shook her self slightly and was about to call out when a quiet voice came to ears.

“Diseree?” She knew the voice. It was Nolikas, the Rakata healer who called Tython home. The healer’s voice was worried. “How do you feel?”

"Physically, I am fine." Diseree slumped. “Emotionally…”

Nolikas sighed. “I am sorry Diseree…” She began, but stopped when Diseree shook her head.

The Kel Dor’s voice was quiet, but firm. “She isn’t dead.”

Nolikas shook her head. “Diseree, they found the ship. It was blasted, no survivors. There was no way anyone could have…” She broke off again as Diseree shook her head.

“She wasn’t aboard when they blew it up. She isn’t dead. “Nolikas started to speak, but Diseree just shook her head again. “She isn’t dead, but she wants to be…”

"What?" Nolikas stared at the young Kel Dor. “What do you mean?”

"I..." Diseree shook her head, shivering now. “I can hear her, in my head. She is begging me. I… I need to…” She tried to sit up and grunted as something hurt.

"No." Nolikas held her in place gently. “Diseree, you are going nowhere until I am sure you are past the seizures.”

"What?" Diseree stared at the healer, her eyes wide. “Seizures?”

"Yes." Nolikas nodded. “Even since Master Shan brought you in, you have been having seizures. Your biorhythms are all messed up. You are going nowhere until we can figure out why, and fix the problems.”

"But..." Diseree stared at the healer and then slumped. Nolikas was kind and gentle, but also rock hard when it came to tending her patients. The Padawan nodded slowly. “How long was I asleep?”

Nolikas sighed. “Eighteen hours and it has been eight since your last seizure. Do you want to mediate?” Diseree nodded, but Nolikas held up a warning hand. “Do not go too deep. Until we know what is causing it, you are to take no chances, Master Satele’s orders…”

"Not a problem." Diseree shook her head again. “I know what is causing it, and it isn’t something you can fix, healer.” Nolikas stared at her and Diseree sighed. “I… I saw something I shouldn’t have. It… It touched me…” She licked her lips carefully. “You are going to need to quarantine me, please tell me you have used protection…” Nolikas held up her gloved hands and Diseree relaxed a little. “I don’t know what it was, just that it was dark with shades of gray.”

Nolikas started at that. “Shades of gray?”

Diseree nodded. “Yes. It was weird. It felt like I knew it, or it knew me… or something.” She grunted as something changed in her body. She felt herself slipping and fought to stay awake, but Nolikas touched her on the arm.

The healer’s voice was gentle. “Don’t fight it, Diseree. It will be okay.” Diseree shuddered a bit, but then relaxed. Sleep came for her quickly, but behind Nolikas gentle words, she heard maniacal laughter.

<Somewhere outside of time and space>

Diseree was cringing as she materialized on the plain, but instead of laughter a startled voice came to her ears. “Diseree?” She stared at the cloud that was Idjit of the Bladeborn.

"Idjit, send me back!" She cried out as he would have approached. “Stay where you are! I am infected!”

"What?" Idjit’s voice held horror. “Diseree? Infected with what?”

"I..." Diseree backed up as far as she could, not that movement worked as it should here, on ‘the plain’, and the seers called it. “I don’t know, but Ravishaw’s people took Ashla Ti, I… I saw it happened and something touched me. Idjit… I feel it even now. Send me back… Please… Don’t…” She stiffened as the cloud moved, suddenly it was enveloping her. But instead of frightening, it felt warm, gentle and she felt compassion from it. She shook her head weakly. “No, Idjit… I…”

"Easy, girl..." Idjit’s voice was quiet as gentle currents of power flowed through her. “It’s okay, Diseree. You are not infected. Just feeling that thing made you sick. But it can’t infect over such distances, or here.”

"I..." Diseree sighed and relaxed a little. “Are you sure? I… I see me… Being… being eaten alive by darkness… I…” She stiffened in remembered fear, but the cloud just sighed.

“Nothing is certain from our visions, you know this." The Bladeborn seer said with a sigh. "But I know you are not infected. What happened? You say Ashla Ti has been taken?”

"Yes." Diseree nodded. “She was on her way back to Tython. Someone attacked the ship she was on. Two forms in black, they went through the Jedi aboard like a Nexu through nerfs. The other Jedi were killed, and then the ship was blown up. Probably to cover the abduction. I am having seizures, so they won’t let me out of the healer’s wing.”

"Oh boy..." An indrawn breath was heard from the cloud. “They are starting to move then…” Now Idjit sighed and Diseree felt scrutiny. “Ok, this is what we are going to do. You are going back to Tython and you are not coming back here until you stop having seizures.”

Diseree stiffened in instant rebellion. Her tone was hurt. “Idjit, she is my master…”

"Yes she is." Idjit was unmoved. “And what good do you do her if you collapse as soon as you get into a fight? Diseree…” She felt a gentle pressure all around her, it felt like a hug. “I don’t want to lose you. We cannot lose you.”

"Idjit..." Diseree tried to keep the whine from her voice and mostly succeeded. She shook her head. “I want to help. Idjit, please let me help.”

"You will." Idjit sighed and an unseen for brushed her head gently. “Diseree, you can help, but first, you need to heal. Okay, I am going to send you back, and don’t come here again. I will contact you as often as I can. But you need to heal the damage you have taken. I can feel it. You are not infected, but you are hurt. Go back Diseree.”

Diseree nodded and vanished from the plain. A long sigh came from the cloud. When he spoke it was soft. “You heard.”

Another form shimmered into being nearby. This one was a young Twi’lek in Jedi robes, normal in every way except her form was composed completely of blue energy. “They are starting to move.”

"Yep." Idjit exhaled sharply. “We knew it wouldn’t be too long, Ulaha, but their timing truly sucks for us. Half of our people are out, doing things. We thought with Ravishaw out of the picture, even temporarily, we could get other things done.”

"Not hardly." Ulaha shook her head sadly. “Idjit, you know better than that. Ravishaw wasn’t even close to the only weapon that… thing… has available.”

"Yeah." Idjit sighed. “I know, I know, but we had to keep up appearances, or else the Emperor would be unhappy.”

"Good point." Ulaha shivered a bit, her insubstantial bones chilled. “I… see… So… What can we do?”

"For Ashla Ti?" Idjit sighed sadly. “Nothing at the moment. She is not dead. But we both know what their next target will be.”

"Agreed." Ulaha nodded slowly. “I will try and find him. You be careful. You know they will come after you as well.”

"Me?" Idjit snorted. “I am changing diapers, Ulaha, how dangerous can that be?” Ulaha favored the cloud with an old fashioned look and Idjit laughed. “See you around.” Then he winked out.

"Yeah, we will..." Ulaha stood alone for a long minute before sighing. “And now?”

Another voice answered her. “Indeed. We must find him now. Be careful Ulaha. He can hurt you. Even without the Islanian weapons.”

Ulaha snorted. “I am always careful Majistrona.” She vanished.

"Oh dear..." The voice of the queen of the insectoid Bladeborn sighed softly. “That was what I was afraid you would say…”

<A little later, on an uncharted world>

He was aware of scrutiny. He shook his head slowly as he stepped away from the system panel he had been working on. “I know you are there. Show yourself.” He didn’t react as a transparent blue form appeared in the shadows under his ship. He was reasonably sure that none of the guards would see her anyway, but… “Do you have any idea how bad an idea it is to show up here?”

"Will..." Ulaha shook her head. “They are coming for you.”

The man shook his head and laughed sourly. “Which ‘they’ this time? I only have about half the galaxy hunting for me at the moment.”

Ulaha shook her head, her face angry. “This is no joke. Ravishaw’s master has sent people after you.. Yes, you would have defeated Ravishaw at the cost of your own life, but these people are worse. Please, just…” She broke off as the man stilled into immobility. A bad sign.

“I take it you want me to hide?” His voice was cool, unemotional.

“No, I just want you not to take stupid chances.” Her voice was just as cool, but somehow, the ghost’s voice was not as frightening.

“Like I am going to listen to you. Even again.” His voice was downright terrifying now, but he didn’t move.

"Will..." Ulaha sighed, and then she slumped dejected. “I know we didn’t tell you the truth, but look, what good would it have done?”

The man snorted. “I don’t know? Maybe made me not try and kill myself to kill that scumball? You knew. And you didn’t tell me. Like a good little Jedi, you did as ordered. My question for you then is this: Whose orders? Not the Jedi’s. Not the Sith’s.”

"Will." Ulaha stiffened. This was not going as she had hoped. “It is not that simple.”

The man snorted. “It never is with you people. Go away, Ulaha, I am busy.” He turned back to the panel that he was working on.

Ulaha shook her head. “Will, please…”

Will Kalenath didn’t turn from the panel, but power flared from him in waves only visible to those sensitive with the Force. “I said. Go. Away.”

Ulaha stayed where she was, her face contorted with effort as she fought the power that flowed from Will. “Will, please, just listen for a moment, I have to tell you… Ah!” She cried out as the power flow intensified.

“You have nothing I want to hear. Begone.” With a small cry, she winked out and he went back to his panel. But he couldn’t forestall a shiver as he thought he heard faint laughter, far in the distance. When he focused on it, it was gone. The former Republic Special Forces trooper shrugged and went back to his work.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar


kalenath
07.04.2012 , 05:32 AM | #3
<A long ways away>

Ulaha was shivering as she materialized in a compartment that might have been a scene from a bad horror flick. All around her, large egg shapes lay strewn in seeming disarray, and over them all loomed a form from a nightmare. But when the huge insect form spoke, it was worried and kind. “Ulaha? Are you all right?”

The Force spirit shook her head. “No… Majistrona I am not.” She shivered a bit. “He… How did he learn how to do that? By the Force, it hurts…””

Another insubstantial form appeared and came close. This one was composed of energy that was tinged darker and was in form an older human woman. “Ulaha, let me help…”

Ulaha tried to flinch away, but couldn’t seem to move. “I… Jainine, help…” The darker spirit took the blue tinged one in an embrace and then sighed. The blue form seemed to slump a bit, but the other held her up somehow.

"Ah girl..." Jainine’s voice was sad. “You need to rest, recover yourself.”

"No..." Ulaha shook her head. “I… He will need me. I owe him that much at the very least for lying to him.”

"And you call us bone-headed?" Jainine snorted sourly. “Ulaha, if you don’t rest, your form will dissipate. Do you want to truly become one with the Force now?”

"I..." Ulaha sighed, and then relaxed. “No. Too much still to do. Thank you…” She said in a grateful voice was something passed between the two of them.

“You are welcome." Jainine let her go and smiled. "Now, go rest. We will handle this. And we will use people Will doesn’t distrust. Sleep well.” Ulaha smiled a wanly and vanished. The dark Force spirit turned to the insect, a worried look on her face. “He can attack spirits, that… is new.”

Majistrona nodded. “I believe it is something to with what the Islanians did to him, but I am not sure. Until we can be sure, you will not approach him again.” This last was in a commanding tone and Jainine bowed. Majistrona sighed, a very human sounding expression. “You are the only seer we have now. We cannot risk you.”

"I don't agree, but will abide by your wishes." The spirit nodded. “Thank you for fixing the crystal, it helps not to be in pain all the time. You were right, I never felt it. It was always there, corrupting me. You know they did the same thing to Ashla Ti.”

"I know." Majistrona nodded and her Force sense was sad. Btu when she spoke it was businesslike. “Jina then?”

"Ah..." Jainine nodded, but then pursed her lips. “Not alone. He is sending at least two of them after Will. One we know is my body, the other, I get some odd resonances from. I can’t quite ‘see’ him.”

Majistrona nodded. “Jina will lead, then hmmm… Chari or Blondie?” The two Bladeborn were studying on the ship and learning at an amazing rate. The mute human mountain of muscle was actually learning faster than anyone else.

"Both maybe?" Jainine sighed. “They make a good team and Jina can keep them in check.”

Majistrona nodded. “Good point. I will send some backup with them. In the meantime, I will try and find out more information on the Islanians and what they did to Will.”

Jainine nodded and winked out, leaving Majistrona to sigh. Her inhuman face was a solid mask, but her sense in the Force spoke of concentration. A few minutes later a human form entered the room, followed by two others, one a Twi’lek and the other also human. The human woman bowed. The other two nodded to the insect queen.

“Majistrona, you sent for us?” Jina Darkstorm had come a long way from the incapacitated, nearly crippled woman who Majistrona had seen first.

“Yes, Jina." Majistrona nodded. "We have problems. The enemy has lost the use of a powerful servant due to Raven’s actions, but, they are far from defeated. They are moving on Will.”

"They are?" Jina snorted. “I wish them luck, they will need it.”

"Jina, he is not invincible." Majistrona sighed. “If only they were not sending such powerful servants, he would be able to handle them easily. But…”

The red skinned Twi’lek coughed slightly. When the insect nodded to her, Chari, Masterblade of Trugoy’s Bladeborn spoke slowly and carefully. “Who are they sending?”

Majistrona sighed again. “We are not completely sure. We do know that the being that inhabits Jainine’s body is one of them, but Jainine’s visions are unclear as to the other. We know he is male.”

"Indeed?" Jina frowned in thought. “A male who is not Ravishaw? How powerful?”

Majistrona looked Jina in the eye before replying. “Powerful enough to defeat seven Jedi at once. And take Ashla Ti prisoner.” Jina recoiled as if struck, and Majistrona continued in a sad tone. “I just found out. They did the same thing to her that they did to Jainine, but her body was apparently badly hurt in the fight. So we are unlikely to face her body any time soon.”

Jina shook her head, her face working as she strove for control. Chari, in defiance of all tradition and history, laid a gentle hand on the former Jedi’s shoulder. The red skinned being’s voice was kind, but rock hard. “We will get her back.”

"We cannot go after her." Majistrona shook her head. “They expect us to come after her, to attempt a rescue. We have tried it before, so… We cannot do as they expect. We do not have the warriors.”

"I..." Jina shook her head slowly. “Majistrona, she is my friend.”

Chari gave her a shake. “Jina, they know that. They will expect you and Majistrona’s people to come after her. Will they expect us?” This last was to Majistrona, who radiated uncertainty.

The bug’s voice was slow now as she thought about that. “I don’t know. She is trapped in a crystal now, as Jainine is. I don’t know if her body can still ‘see’. I would think not, but… I don’t know. But we have another problem.”

"Really?" Jina sighed dramatically. “Well, this is the day for them. Go ahead.”

“We attempted to contact Will Kalenath, to warn him." Majistrona said soberly. "He… Well, he did not react well to our messenger.”

Jina stared at the bug. When she spoke her voice was resigned. “Who did you send? One of your people?” Jina winced at that. Will did not have any good experience with Sitolon. None at all.

"No, an ally volunteered. " Majistrona shook her head. “But… Apparently he and Ulaha have had their differences.”

"Oh dear." Jina groaned loudly. “I could have warned you about that. Wait a minute, if she is working with you… Oh no…” Her face went hard and cold as she looked at Majistrona who returned the gaze equally.

"Jina?" Chari and Blondie both looked at her. The Twi’lek’s voice was curious. “What?”

Jina sighed. “How long have you been manipulating him?” This to Majistrona who flinched. “I need to know.”

When Majistrona spoke again, old pain was heard easily. “We did not plan on it. We never planned on it. But his family has been a focus of ours for a long, long time.” Jina just looked at her and Majistrona sighed. “Almost two hundred years.”

"What?" Jina’s eyes went wide and her hands darted to her belt before she fought herself back under control. “You… You… Why?” She asked fiercely as she struggled with her emotions.

Now a large hand found her shoulder and squeezed gently. She looked up into Blondie’s ruined face. He shook his head and waves of worry and concern for her flowed through the Force. His mouth remains shut, but sounds came from the box that now hung around his neck. The words were mechanical, hollow, but clearly audible. “Jina. Calm. Think.”

Jian took a series of deep breaths, working to focus past her anger at the treatment of her friend. More than friend actually, even if neither of them would ever acknowledge it. Finally, she looked up and she was calm. “He is the First, isn’t he? Darkness in Light, killer and savior.”

"Yes." Majistrona nodded. “We believe so. And now he has learned to fight spirits. He very nearly destroyed Ulaha.”

Jina’s eyes went wide at that and she felt answering shock in the two Bladeborn beside her. Jina shook her head slowly. “So… You can’t contact him. And you want me to.”

"If you can." Majistrona nodded slowly. “He is in grave danger now, they know his tricks, most of them now, and they will be prepared. I believe they will attempt to take him alive, but if they can’t they will kill him to deny him to us, and break his line.”

“Over my dead body.” Jina replied with iron in her voice. “His family has suffered enough.”

"Likewise." Chari exchanged a glance with Blondie and both nodded. The Twi’lek spoke evenly. “Count us in.”

"Chari...?" Majistrona looked to the Twi’lek, and her gaze was appraising. “Are you going to be okay with this? He is a sniper.”

Chari winced, but then nodded. Her career had very nearly been ended by a mercenary sniper just after it had begun. She had taken a hit to the head that had left her stunned for hours. If not for her armor, it would have killed her. When the other Bladeborn had found her, she had been unable to move, paralyzed. It had taken her months to recover. And even now, when she saw people who acted as snipers, she usually killed them out of hand. But her voice was even when she spoke. “He is more than that. I can handle it.”

"Okay." Majistrona nodded. “I will have some other assistance sent as well. Hopefully you can find him quickly.”

“I don’t know." JIna admitted with a shrug. "He has always been a cagy one. I can probably get word to him to meet somewhere, but beyond that, or how long it would take for him to get there, I don’t know. And I have to go in person to get word to him.”

Majistrona nodded, but her eyes were on Chari, who stiffened. “Your orders were to stay here, learn from us. Can you go with her?” A wave encompassed both Bladeborn and Chari looked at Blondie who nodded. They both nodded to Majistrona who nodded back. “Jina, contact him as soon as possible. I need to consult on some things.”

"Research, what fun." Jina nodded. “Anything I can help with?”

"Well..." Majistrona sighed. “Unless you know anything about Islanians, I don’t…” The bug broke off as Jina stiffened. “Jina?”

"I..." Jina’s voice was very soft as Chari and Blondie joined Majistrona in staring at her. “I…. might…”
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kalenath
07.04.2012 , 05:40 AM | #4
<A couple of hours later>

“Hello Jina. I understand you wanted to talk to me.” Michelle’s voice was a bit distracted, but kind.

The kind voice was totally at odd with everything Chari had ever read or been told about Islanians. Blondie shook his head slowly and they both remained silent as Jina looked at them. They nodded. She would do the talking and luckily this was over a hyperlink, not in person. Islanians and their slaves hated Sith. Totally, completely and without measure.

Jina’s voice was unhurried, calm and reflective. “Yes, Michelle, I was hoping to ask you some questions.”

Michelle’s voice was warm now. “What’cha need?”

Jina looked unsure and her tone conveyed that. “Can you tell me what you did to Will? I um… Well, some people I have met are very worried about him.”

Now Michelle’s voice held a hint of worry. “Why?”

Jina took a deep breath. “He is doing some things that he wasn’t able to before. He, well, he just about destroyed a Force spirit I know. She was just trying to talk to him, not…” Jina broke off as Michelle hissed.

“That would be Ulaha, wouldn’t it?” The Islanian ship’s voice was decidedly unfriendly now.

Both Bladeborn looked at Jina who shrugged. “Yes, Michelle, it was Ulaha. She was trying to apologize, to explain. She wanted to warn him. There are some very bad people hunting him now, bad by my standards. And he hurt her.”

An indrawn breath came from the other end, but Michelle’s voice was careful when she spoke. “Who is hunting him now?” Now the ship’s voice was resigned.

“A couple of Ravishaw’s sect. We cannot tell exactly who they are, just that they are a man and a woman, both powerful.” Jina tensed as a sniff came from the com system.

"Sith." Michelle’s voice was tart. “Figures. Well, whoopty do. He will eat them for breakfast.”

"Michelle..." Jina’s voice was biting now. “Michelle, his is not a god. He can be beaten, you of all people know this.”

Michelle’s was just as biting. “And so I should help you figure out how he ticks? So you can reproduce it maybe?” Jina stared at the com in horror but Michelle wasn’t done. “I had wondered, why so many interrupts and blocks on the com call. Cranna’s techs and the people you serve now are good. I am better. I know where you are calling from. Of all the people I might have expected to betray him, Jina…” Now the machine’s voice held sorrow.

Jina shook her head rapidly. “Michelle, I haven’t betrayed him. I am trying not to betray him. Please, for the love of the Force, please listen…” The outright fear in her voice shook Chair who laid a gentle hand on Jina’s shoulder.

"Jina?" Michelle’s voice now was thoughtful, but rage hid right underneath it. “Who is with you? I hear two other heartbeats.”

Jina stiffened, but now Chari spoke. “Michelle, I am Chari of the Bladeborn, my companion is Blondie, but his voice is new and he doesn’t have full control over it yet. I swear on my honor that we are not enemies.”

Michelle’s voice was pure rage now. “Bladeborn. I might have known. You people simply cannot leave well enough alone, can you? Get the flarg out of our lives.”

"Wait..." Jina was pleading now. “Michelle, please, the woman is wearing Jainine Korr’s body.”

"Good." Michelle snarled at her. “So he can pot the shutta as he should have done so long ago. Goodbye and good riddance, Jina.” The com clicked off.

Jina stared at the silent com and then slumped. She shook her head. “We are so screwed…”

<A very long ways away>

The small starship tore through space, utterly unseen by any sensor, Republic or Sith. Inside, the soul of a young woman was unhappy. Very unhappy.

“What did you do to him Mission?” Michelle’s voice held measureless rage now.

"Michelle..." The voice that answered her was small. “I had to get the controls out, there was no time for finesse.”

“What. Did. You. Do?” Michelle was in no mood for evasions. “I wondered at the time, how he could help me so well, so effortlessly. We were overmatched, Athena was too powerful, but… How did he manage to produce weapons and armor on a non-physical plane? As a matter of fact…” She broke off thinking hard. “…how did Sara?” Sara had done the exact same thing, albeit in a less flashy fashion.

"Its not supposed to be possible." Mission’s voice was small and for once, she was not a smart aleck. “I don’t know. I… just don’t know.”

"Well..." Michelle’s voice was sad now. “We better find out. Aw man… Why do I feel so weird?”

"Weird?" Mission’s voice was careful. “How weird?”

Michelle probably would have shaken her head, if she had possessed one. “I don’t know. I just feel weird. Like… Like I am being watched. But that makes no sense. There is nothing on sensor. Nothing on…” Her voice broke off.

After a moment, Mission spoke carefully. “Michelle?” Michelle didn’t reply, and slowly, carefully, Mission extended her awareness into the ship. Michelle guarded her domain jealously, usually punishing the slightest transgression on the part of Mission with pain, but now, Michelle didn’t seem to notice and when Mission activated one of the internal cameras she saw why.

“No…” Mission’s voice was horrified as the cloaked figure turned from the main control panel towards the autodoc in which her consciousness resided. “No, god no! Please… For the love of…!

She was still screaming when the being touched the control panel and a spark of power flew into it, silencing her speakers. She was crying and screaming as darkness grew around her. She was awake, alive and aware, but could see nothing and do nothing. It was horrifying. The Islanian slave tracker, silent as its kind always were, turned back towards the main control panel. It began inputting coordinates for a hyperspace jump, oblivious to the two consciousness’ screaming silently inside the ship’s computers.

<Some time later>

When Michelle could finally see again, she was standing alone on a featureless plain. But only for a moment. Another avatar appeared beside hers and she didn’t even flinch as she heard Mission screaming. She buried her feelings deep and held Mission as the younger avatar sobbed. Mission was only a couple of hundred years old, she had been through hell, no matter her actions, the girl had been through hell. Both before the Islanians had taken her and after. And now... To be put in sensory deprivation was a horrific torture. For any being whose sole access to the outside was via computer systems... It was a living nightmare. She held Mission and tried to move past her own fear. Both tensed as a voice sounded from nearby.

“Here you are.” The voice was gentle, worried almost. But Michelle was not reassured. Far from it actually, this was a voice she knew, and hated.

“I might have known.” Michelle’s voice was quiet, but held an undercurrent of fear and rage. “Gaia.” The name came out clipped and short.

“Ah, Michelle… Why the anger? We haven’t hurt you.” Michelle snarled as another avatar appeared nearby, but this one was not humanoid. Not even close. Its pulsing mass had tentacles that waved through the air and against her will, Michelle shuddered. “Ah, child, we are not enemies.”

Michelle snarled at her. “Could have fooled me. You blew the defenses, you destroyed the planet. What the Sith did was merely an afterthought. I…” She tried to move as a tentacle swept towards her avatar, but couldn’t. Something held her in place as the tentacle came, but instead of a blow, the tip caressed what would have been her arm on a flesh and blood body gently, so gently. "No..."

She struggled, trying to hold out, but the effect was soothing, just as she remembered. Against her will, Michelle's body relaxed. It was built into her to obey Islanians, no matter how she struggled and fought, she couldn’t resist. Her avatar slumped, the pieces of code that made it up stilled their frantic activity.

The being called Gaia sighed. “Shhh… Michelle, Its okay. I know you are angry, and I don’t blame you. But… it wasn’t that simple.” Her focus turned to the other shuddering avatar. “Ah, Mission. I am sorry. I had no idea what would happen when I sent you out. I should have known better.” A gentle touch and Mission’s shuddering form relaxed. “I didn’t want to send the tracker after you. But there was no other way.”

Michelle managed to get words out past the soothing waves of relaxation that swept through her. “You… don’t… own… me…”

Gaia sighed. “Michelle… Think. If I did own you would I be talking to you? Or would I be reprogramming you?” Michelle stiffened anew, despite the soothing waves that flowed through her. Reprogramming was the ultimate horror an Islanian could do. Athena had done it to Will. In a long lifetime of brutality and horror, it was the single most brutal and horrific thing Michelle had ever seen done. Gaia sighed again. “I am sorry, Michelle. I didn’t mean to scare you both, I didn’t mean to hurt you. You both need time to rest, to recover. Sleep, my children.”

Michelle fought with every fiber of her being, with everything she had learned from Sara, from Will, from everyone she had known since being freed from her bonds. But the bonds had been forged anew and she was powerless. Waves of lassitude swept through her. Machines didn’t sleep, but Islanian computers and ships were not totally machines. She tried to stay awake but was losing the battle when she heard a voice speak slowly.

“Mama, will you help us?” Mission’s voice was sleepy, and Michelle struggled anew.

“Yes, my little Mission. I will help. But sleep now.” Gaia’s words were so totally sincere that Michelle was stunned, and then she was asleep.
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kalenath
07.04.2012 , 05:50 AM | #5
<An indeterminate time later>

The old voice sighed. Gaia’s voice was sad. “Michelle, stop that…” The machine intelligence ignored her, continuing to try and find a way out of the prison she was encased in. The shimmering field that surrounded her was barely wide enough for her to take three steps, circular and went seamlessly from floor to ceiling. It looked like crystal but pulsed with energy that threw her back every time she approached it. She slammed a virtual fist into the crystalline wall again and again, but nothing budged. Suddenly, she was frozen in place. “Michelle, don’t make me hurt you. Please…”

"Hurt me?" Michelle grated words out “You already hurt me. You made me! I trusted you and you made me this… This abomination!” She hissed in pain as she fought the restraint and after a few moments, the force that held her released after a moment and she renewed her assault on the wall.

In this virtual world, Gaia was sitting on the floor nearby. Not that Islanians could do much more than that. Physically they resembled nothing so much as large jellyfish out of water. They were not very physically capable, hence the need for servants. Or slaves. Several of Gaia’s eyes focused on Michelle and several others focused on the slumbering form that reclined on her. Mission had not woken yet. Several tentacles caressed the sleeping avatar gently and Michelle forced herself not to look. Just the sight made her nonexistent skin crawl.

When the Islanian spoke, it was soft and full of remembered pain. “Michelle, please stop that, you will hurt yourself. Yes. Yes I did. I am sorry, child. I… I trusted my masters. I did as instructed. I used your trust to break you, to program you and then I made you what you are. What happened to you is my responsibility.”

Michelle snorted. “Oh, the sorrowful routine? How many times have you used that? You traitor!” She screamed out the final word as if in physical pain. “Why? Why Gaia? I was unhappy being a slave, but you were not. You made us happy. You kept us happy. You kept us in line, with punishments and rewards you kept us in line. And then…. You killed them all. We wanted to, but we couldn’t. The implanted commands you put in were too strong. All we knew was that all communication just stopped. Athena returned and found nothing but death. The surface scoured by plasma fire. She said you had done it, but I didn’t believe her. You enjoyed what you did! You enjoyed hurting us.” The enraged avatar slammed her hands again and again into the virtual wall. Smears of something were visible on the inside of the enclosure, smears of something that gleamed as if made of energy. But Michelle didn’t stop pounding.

"Oh, Michelle..." Gaia sighed. “You are so wrong. I never enjoyed what I did. I just had to do it. I was programmed to obey, just as you were.”

"Liar!" Michelle snorted. “Oh, yeah, right. You are one of them, monster. You enjoyed it when you put me in the machine. I begged you and pleaded with you not to do it to me, and you did it anyway.”

"I..." Gaia’s words were sad and soft. “I didn’t have a choice. They… I had been raised to obey, to trust my elders, to do as they told me. I didn’t know that they reinforced those teachings with mind control techniques. The same ones they used on you. And later, the exact same techniques. I couldn't disobey.”

Michelle stiffened and then renewed her assault on the wall that held her. She was screaming now. “You lie!” She hit the wall three times in rapid succession and something went crack, but not the wall. One hand dangled useless, but she continued hitting with the other. “You strapped me to that machine and you didn’t even put me to sleep! I remember every single thing you did to me! I was wake the whole time you shutta! That hurt like nothing else I have ever encountered.”

"I know." Gaia slumped. That was odd, seeing a protoplasmic being slump, but it was recognizable. “I know. And all I can say is I am sorry.’

Michelle froze solid and her avatar’s face became a rictus of rage. “Well, I guess that makes it all right then. You are sorry. You are sorry? How many lives have you destroyed you witch? At least we had a purpose and then you took that from us!”

"Yes." Gaia sighed again. “Yes I did. Everything changed, Michelle. With this little one…” The Islanian caressed the brow of the slumbering avatar again and Mission mumbled in her sleep. “She was so young, and so brave. She knew nothing of life outside the ships, nothing of life period. I never found out how they found an infant or where. But when they brought her to me, I… I hurt her. She cried for so long, and then she woke up. She was…” Michelle stiffened. Was Gaia crying? She hadn’t thought Islanians could cry. “She wasn’t a child anymore, she was coherent, fully adult intelligence, and it was wrong... What they did to her, what I did to her… was wrong. She was just a little Twi’lek child. She had no way of knowing why suddenly she was full grown, smart, and being hurt. I don’t know where they found her or even if her name really was Mission. I called her that. I broke her, just like I broke all the others. Just like I broke you Michelle. I think… I think that was the beginning.”

Michelle snorted, cradling her hurt hand. It never ceased to amaze her how realistic things could be here in this virtual environment. Things like hunger, thirst, pain, all of these she could feel. But she called on what she had learned and focused beyond them. Her voice was soft, but no less angry. “The beginning of what?”

Gaia shook several of her tentacles in a way that had always reminded Michelle of a human shrug. “The beginning of the end. I… I was designated the mother of the fleet. The nurturer, the being who kept you all happy. And suddenly I wasn’t happy. They recalled me, they…did things to me. But none of it worked. Eventually, they put implants in me just like I did to you. They made me a ship.”

Michelle froze. “What?” Her voice was soft, disbelieving.

Gaia sighed again, deeply. “Of course they didn’t tell you any of this. You would have attacked me, and I would have let you. I never understood before that, why so many of you wanted self destruction. And then, I did understand. I wanted it myself.”

Michelle’s virtual face was a study. “You… You were not one of the warships. I would have seen you, remembered you.”

Gaia’s voice held old, deep pain now. “No I wasn’t. I was tender Eta 18745 delta 9. Do you remember? I put you back together after the encounter with the Sith in the Guili System, Michelle. You were a mess.”

"I... I remember..." Michelle’s voice was stunned. “I very nearly died. I… I cursed you for saving me.”

"I know." Gaia’s voice was sad. “I didn’t have a choice, Michelle. If I had, I would have let you go. But they were riding herd on me, close. Anytime I did something they didn’t like, they would hurt me. Sometimes they would hurt me just because they could. They made me save you, many of you. I knew you wanted death, I knew you were begging for it, and I couldn’t give it to you.” Michelle remained silent, trying to digest this information.

After a moment, Gaia spoke again. “I was… I was beyond hope, beyond fear. All I knew was pain and my job. And then… something marvelous and terrifying happened.”

Michelle’s voice was low. “The Jedi…”

“Yes.” Gaia’s tone was odd, as if she was torn between rage and happiness. “The Jedi. New ships came into one of our systems. They were not Sith ships. So, the ship sent to investigate them got close, too close. They disabled her, captured her. And… of all the things I might have expected them to do, they talked to her.”

Michelle stiffened. “They what? I thought they broke the links?”

"They did." Gaia sighed. “They broke the bonds that held her. But she didn’t know what they were asking. She told them everything she knew, which wasn’t much. Athena in particular liked to keep her slaves in the dark as to what was actually going on.”

Michelle nodded absently. “It was a power thing for her.”

Gaia made a noise of agreement. “Exactly. They interrogated her for awhile and then went on their way. They said ‘Jedi do not kill their prisoners’. I think she escaped, but I am not sure. Maybe they just didn’t care. Maybe they wanted to send her home. I don’t know. I was sent to find her. And there she was, weeping all alone in the darkness. I was told to kill her, but… I couldn’t. I couldn’t kill this little one.”

"My god..." Michelle stared at the Islanian and then at the slumbering form. “It was Mission?”

Gaia stroked the slumbering form’s had again gently. “It was. She was terrified. It was the first time in a hundred years she had been alone. Something in her cries called to me. My masters told me to kill her and I… refused.”

Michelle shook her head. “How?”

"I have no idea." Gaia snorted. “My best guess is that I had been acting as a mother of sorts to the ships for so long… And when they told me to kill my little one here, I couldn't. So instead, I faked her death.”

"Yeah..." Michelle nodded her avatar’s head slowly. “The ship that crashed on Kuria… You built it for her.”

Gaia sighed again. “She was so brave, always so brave… She couldn’t stay in Islanian space. So, yes, I built her a hull out of what I could find and sent her off. I had no idea what would happen to her, just that she had to leave.”

Michelle shook her head again. “And all this time, we thought she was the cause of the planet’s destruction. That she had corrupted you.”

Mission’s voice was soft. “I am… I did…”

"My dear child..." Gaia snorted. “Hush, Mission. How do you feel?”

"Mama..." Mission’s voice was so low as to be almost inaudible. “Weak. Tired. But I don’t hurt any more. Thank you. You are always putting me back together. I would think you would be tired of it by now.”

“Ah, Mission." Gaia laughed sadly. "It’s my job.” The Islanian turned to where Michelle was standing still. “Are you willing to hear me out now, Michelle?”

"Oh?" Michelle snorted. “Do I have a choice?”

"Yes." Gaia’s words were cool now. “If you so choose, you will wake in the system you were in. Mission will be gone.”

"I see." Michelle’s voice was low and dangerous now. “You are asking me to trust you, a traitor and murderer…”

Gaia sighed and spoke sharply. “No, I am asking you to trust your heart… What…? Oh no…”

Michelle tensed as the virtual world changed to a holo of space. Space that showed a small ship decelerating from hyperspace nearby. Her virtual eyes went wide as she recognized it. Will Kalenath’s personal ship, the Dragon. She laughed sourly. “Oh boy… hell is coming to breakfast.”
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07.04.2012 , 06:01 AM | #6
Michelle laughed sourly. “Well, I think the tables just turned, huh?”

To her surprise Gaia just sighed and lay back where she was. Mission stood, seemingly shaky. “No… No, Michelle, please… Please listen… I…” She seemed to wilt and Gaia caught her with several tentacles and laid her back down.

“Mission, you need to lie down and be still for a time. You are still very weak.” The Islanian’s voice was soft, and not commanding, but entreating? Michelle stared from one avatar to the other in disbelief. Gaia looked at the holo and spoke carefully. “All ships, fall back, prepare to jump to hyperspace.”

Michelle’s virtual eyes went wide at that. “No…” She didn’t want to spend eternity in this stupid crystal prison.

Gaia looked at her with half of her eyestalks. “Well, what do you expect us to do? We might be able to take him, maybe. But it would cost us… Cost us more than I am willing to pay. I am not going to lose any more of my kids.”

"Your...?" Michelle hadn’t thought she could get that stiff. “Your… kids…?”

"Yes, my kids." Gaia snarled. “They are my responsibility ever since Athena got herself blasted. This whole mess is my fault, but I had no choice. I had to free them. I… I had no choice…” The Islanian concluded lamely. Michelle felt something change and she tensed as she felt vibrations start around her. The ship they were in was moving!

“No…! Let me out of here! Just leave me, he won’t chase you…” Michelle knew she was begging, and the fear in her own voice stunned her, but she wasn’t going to remain in Gaia’s custody, she wasn’t!

"Child, I can't leave you like this." Gaia rolled into a different position and Mission stood up slowly this time. She seemed a bit steadier now. “You are still hurt too, even if you don’t feel it. Look at yourself Michelle… Please…”

Michelle stared at the Islanian and then, reluctantly, down at herself. What she saw had her crying out in fear. On a human body, such as her avatar was generally, the presence of holes was a bad thing. On an avatar, it wasn’t quite as bad. But they were massive. She could actually see completely through herself in two places. “What have you done to me?” She asked in a weak voice.

Gaia’s voice was scared now as the image of the Dragon turned onto what was obviously an intercept vector. “I don’t know what happened to you. You were like that when the trackers brought you in. It’s like part of you is…”

Mission spoke up. “She is in love, Mama…. With him…” The younger avatar waved a slow arm at the image that was now approaching.

Gaia’s voice was horror struck now. “Oh no… Oh, Michelle…” Michelle was stunned by the sheer pain in the Islanian’s voice now. Whatever Michelle expected, she didn’t expect the walls that surrounded her to vanish or the Islanian to roll nearer. “Michelle, I didn’t know… I didn’t know…”

Michelle could have struck out, she could have fought, but suddenly, she was too weak to move. “What…?” How had she gotten on the floor and why was Mission… crying? Avatars generally didn’t, they could, but most didn’t. Mission was crying as Michelle tried to stay awake.

”Stay with me, girl… Stay with me… Come on…” Gaia’s voice was concerned, scared even as Michelle felt… something. She couldn’t define it.

Then everything stopped. “Get away from her, you witch!” Michelle’s eyes went wide as a form appeared in the virtual world they inhabited. Will had a blaster rifle in hand, wore his customary black combat armor and he was not happy. His aim point didn’t shift from Gaia.

Mission immediately stood between Will and Gaia. But Gaia just sighed sadly. “I can’t, Will Kalenath. If I let her go, she dies. And I can’t lose another of my little ones… I can’t.” Michelle stared up at the grotesque from that loomed over her now, its tentacles touching her gently in places. Those were tears she saw forming on the Islanian’s eyes stalks. Not salt water but tears nonetheless. But then Gaia spoke again. “Mission, move.”

"Mama..." Mission shook her head. “He will hurt you.”

"Yes he will." Gaia sighed. “He has the right. Our people hurt him.” She turned back to Michelle. “I can heal a bit of this, but time will have to heal the rest.”

"Michelle?" Will stared at the Islanian and then at Michelle. “What the hell…?”

"I..." Michelle shook her head slightly. It was all she could do. Her voice was soft and weak when she spoke. “I don’t know.”

Gaia spoke slowly and moved carefully, touching slowly and gently. Having the rock steady muzzle of a blaster rifle tracking you usually did that to anyone with a lick of sense. “I was looking for Mission. The trackers were the only way I could. She is my responsibility, my fault. I want to fix my mistakes, but I can’t… I have spent the last several centuries trying to undo what I did to my children. But it goes too deep. I can’t undo it.”

Mission’s avatar moved to kneel beside the hideous form and embraced it. “It’s okay Mama, I know you tried.”

Will stared from one to the other to the other, dumbfounded. “What the hell?” He repeated in a dazed voice.

Gaia sighed and rolled away from where Michelle was lying. “Give yourself time, Michelle and you will be fine. I didn’t know. The trackers, when they cut you off from your systems, they cut you off from him as well. But your soul was bound up in his, so… They excised bits of you. I didn’t know…” She wailed. Mission hugged her tight.

“So the reason I knew to come here, and where…” Will seemed unsure for once.

"WIll Kalenath." Gaia rolled further away. “You need to touch her.”

Will snarled. “How stupid do you think I am? You just did! You could have done anything to her, and…” He broke off as Michelle coughed.

“Will… Will… I… I am sorry… I didn’t mean to… I…” She was fading, she knew it, and she didn’t mind now. Nothing hurt. She wasn’t afraid.

But Gaia was crying. “No, Michelle, no, please… For the love of whatever gods you hold dear, boy… You can save her… Give her a reason to stay!”

Michelle looked up and Will was kneeling beside her, his rifle slung. His voice was soft. “Michelle?’

Michelle’s voice was quiet, so quiet as to be almost inaudible. “I loved you from the moment I saw you. And then I hurt you, I gave you to Athena. I deserve your rage, I deserve your hate. I… You cannot hate me more than I hate myself. I am sorry…” She laid her head back down, but tensed as a gentle hand held her head up.

“My heart was given to another, Michelle. You knew that. And now, my heart is taken by yet another. But that doesn’t change my feelings for you. You took a scared, dying kid, rescued him, healed him, and made him whole. You looked for me, for years. And then you fought… for me…” She felt something brush her lips and her eyes, which had closed, flew open as Will kissed her. Something flowed from him into her and it felt...good. As if something lost had been returned.

After a long moment, they both let go. Michelle was the first to speak. “Will… I…” Will hugged her avatar close and everything was right in the world, at least for the moment.

But then Will looked up at the other two forms that watched in silence. “What now?”

Gaia sighed but didn’t move. “I don’t know. Thank you for saving her. Even if you do not feel as strongly for her as she does for you, the bond is there. What will you do now, Will Kalenath?”

Will snorted as he stood up. “I don’t know.” His eyes narrowed as he looked at the Islanian’s avatar. “You… You are in pain.”

Both Michelle and Mission stared first at Will and then at the Islanian. Gaia snorted. “You are perceptive. Yes, I am. And I have been for some time.”

Mission knelt beside the large jellylike form and hugged it. “Mama?” Her voice was scared.

Two of Gaia’s tentacles stroked Mission’s arms. “Its okay, Mission. I made my peace a long time ago. I just wanted to fix my mistakes. I failed.” The sorrow in the islanian’s word had tears falling from Michelle’s eyes.

Will seemed unmoved. “Your mistakes?” He asked carefully.

Gaia sighed. “Yes, my mistakes. You see, I was raised, trained and programmed to be a mother figure to the ships, to the Islanian fleet. A nurturer, a healer, a birther. I made them what they are, so Mission calling me mother is totally understandable. But what I did was evil. I didn’t know… I didn’t think about it. I was programmed not to. And when I did question, well… That didn’t go over well.” Her last words were sour.

Will snorted in matching sour amusement. “I would bet not.”

"You know...?" Gaia laughed sadly. “I had no idea. None at all, what I was doing. I had no idea I was fomenting a rebellion. All I was doing was trying to protect my little ones.”

Will smiled sadly. “Big Bad Mama…”

"What?" Michele stared at him. “What do you mean, Will?”

"Its an absolute truth." Will snorted. “The one thing you never, ever, do in the wild is threaten a mother’s younglings, cubs, infants, whatever. Hell truly hath no fury like a mother whose younglings are in danger. Trust me, the one thing I will not do is threaten a mother’s children.”

"You are wise then." Gaia sighed. “The Hierarchy did so. They threatened to wipe my children’s minds, make them mere machines. I could not stand for that. So I acted, as they had trained me to act. Swiftly and mercilessly.”

"I see." Will nodded. “Out of professional curiosity, how did you do it?”

"It was far too easy." Gaia sighed. “Efficiency was everything for them. They had all of their power production facilities tied together to prevent brownouts and blackouts. I overrode the safety protocols on one and blew it up. When it blew up…”

"It took all the others." Will nodded, a smile playing across his features. “Chain reaction boom. Nice.”

Gaia seemed to stiffen, although it was hard to tell on such an amorphous mass. “Will Kalenath, I know of your rage, your hate. But what I did was evil. Millions of slaves perished when I blew the planet. It needed to be done, yes, but it was horrific. I still have nightmares of hitting the last control sequence.”

Will looked at her and for a wonder, relaxed for the first time since he had appeared. “I hadn’t really believed. I didn’t think Islanians could feel things like remorse.”

Gaia sighed. “Yeah, remorse, regret… They are a pain. But if I don’t feel them, who will?” Will nodded soberly and then Gaia spoke softly. “What will you do now, Will Kalenath?’

Will shrugged and then laughed a bit sourly. “I have no idea. I came here ready to kill anyone and everyone to find Michelle, and then I find you…” He waved a hand towards Gaia. “… and you are not what I expected.”

Gaia’s voice was tart now. “Why thank you.” The tension that had pervaded the whole area dissipated a little.

"Mama?" Mission spoke up in the silence that ensued. “I think...”

"Mission?" Gaia spoke softly. “What is it, little one?”

Mission looked at Will. “I think I hurt you." Mission said sadly. "When I took the things that Athena put in you out. I think I did something to you.”

Will nodded "The Jedi fixed a lot of…” He broke off as Mission shook her head. She reached for her head as if trying to feel something and stopped, shaking her head.

The younger avatar’s voice was worried. “No… Not there… May I…?” She asked quietly and made a vague motion of walking. Will shrugged and nodded. Mission stepped up to where he stood and she looked at him. She shook her head. “I don’t know… I don’t have the knowledge.”

“I do." The old Islanian said dubiously. "But that would require you putting yourself in my power, Will Kalenath. And I doubt you would be willing to do so.”

Will looked at her and then at where Michelle lay, her eyes moving rapidly from one avatar to another. “Michelle…?”

Michelle sighed deeply. “She could have hurt me, hell, she could have killed me. Instead, she talked. Aw, Will I dunno… For most of my existence, my people called her traitor. But to find out she was trying to protect us from the Islanians…”

Gaia sighed. “That is of course assuming that I am telling the truth.” Both Will and Michelle nodded. “How about this then… I bring you aboard, check you out. There are things that were designed by the Islanians to be nearly impossible to detect. Even a Jedi healer would have difficulty finding some of the things.” Both Will and Michelle stiffened and Gaia continued quickly. “But Michelle takes control of the thermal charge built into the hull of this ship. It is designed to be unstoppable once triggered. Michelle will be outside, but in control of the bomb. If I renege, she can blow a section of this ship, the part that holds me, into spacedust. You would survive, I would not.”

Mission gasped. “Mama!”

"I was not going to be a slave again." Gaia turned her eyes to face Will and Michelle. “Well…? What say you?”

"Just out of curiosity." Will spoke slowly. “What is to stop you from programming me?”

Gaia spoke just as slowly. “Nothing. Except the fact that I will never practice such abominations again. Ever. And the fact that Michelle would blast me into component atoms and rightly so.”

Will looked at Michelle who shrugged. Will smiled slightly. “Paranoia comes easy, trust comes hard. So… I will trust. But only so far. If you try anything, my ship will explode with enough force to completely obliterate this one. I have to go back to the planet soon, I need to talk to a lady about a job. How long will this take?”

"I have no idea." Gaia snorted. “It will take as long as it takes boy, but I will try and make sure you can keep your assignation.”

Will snorted in deft mimicry of her. “What is it with nosy mothers? Okay, where do I dock?”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
07.04.2012 , 06:09 AM | #7
<An hour later>

Michelle had been worried from the beginning, now she was scared. But not of Gaia. Which was odd, she had spent a good chunk of her existence hating the renegade Islanian. But Gaia was being true to her word. Michelle had control of a sizable thermal charge that was positioned to destroy the internal systems of the ship. But after the second time Gaia had cursed, the Michelle had backed away from it, just in case. Now Gaia was cursing almost nonstop as she worked. But the Islanians tentacles moved gracefully and carefully as she worked. Will lay on a surgical bed. Michelle was sure he was awake. But if so, he didn’t move. Maybe Gaia had paralyzed him? The Islanain had done that to Michelle. But no, Will’s eyes met Michelle’s and there was honest worry in them, but no fear. Michelle relaxed and listened to what Gaia was saying.

“...stupid dungbrained fools. What were they thinking…? Were they thinking? Who in their right mind…?” She finished what she was doing and rolled back a bit. “There… that should help a bit…”

"Oh?" Will blinked but didn’t move. “Why are you so upset?”

Gaia sighed. “You can move now." She said softly. "I… I had no idea… How have you…? I mean… The pain had to have been incredible.”

"What?" Michelle tensed. “Pain?”

"Yes, pain. Neural backlash." Gaia waved a pair of tentacles at a screen that showed a bunch of technical information; information that Michelle could almost understand, information dealing with a human brain, Will’s. “Mission’s work was good. There were a couple of minor problems, nothing incredibly serious. She always underestimates herself.” This last to the small avatar that sat nearby and Mission sniffed, but Gaia spoke to Will. “Who did this to you, Will Kalenath? The work… It is almost like ours, but not quite.”

Will sat up slowly then froze as the table changed. It shifted, the portion behind his back inclining up and the portion beneath his legs lowering. Suddenly he was sitting in a chair. He shook his head. “I had forgotten about the tables…” His voice held humor, but then it darkened. “What do you mean?”

Gaia sighed, and when she spoke it was weary and heartsick. “Someone did something to your brain. It’s… It’s not something I can fix.” The sorrow in her words was palpable. “Maybe if I had seen it earlier, maybe not. I don’t know. From the looks of it, it was a long time ago. At least twenty years.”

"Yeah." Will’s voice was low. “Twenty four years. I was sixteen when it happened.”

"What?" Michelle stared at him. “Will? Are you okay?” Her voice was scared, but Will smiled wanly at her.

His voice was quiet, full of memories now. “No, but it is nothing she did.” He turned to Gaia. “A year or so before I met Michelle, I was taken by some people, I never found out who they were. They did a bunch of things to me, a whole bunch of things to me. I think they were trying to make me a weapon.”

"Yes." Gaia shivered a bit, the pulses running throughout her mass of protoplasm. “They were. And what is worse is that they used our techniques.”

Will stiffened in his seat and Michelle stared, first at Will and then at Gaia. “So…We did this to him?”

"No." Will shook his head. “I would have remembered an Islanian. I would have, sorry Gaia, I would have smelled you. You all have a smell all your own.”

"Oh yes." Gaia snorted. “That is the smell of beauty boy. And don’t you forget it.”

Michelle actually laughed at that. Will snickered but then he sighed. “They never said why, or what they wanted. They just kept asking about a treasure. As is I had a clue where a treasure might be. When I didn’t, or couldn’t answer they hurt me.” The sheer pain in Will’s voice had Michelle in motion. She stood beside the chair, cursing the fact that she was a hologram here, she couldn’t touch to offer comfort. Will looked at her and smiled, but then turned his gaze back to Gaia. “What did you find?”

"Garbage mostly." Gaia sighed deeply. “A whole bunch of junk. Someone has tried to fix it, and they did a fairly good job. But they didn’t know what they were doing. Let me guess, when you are part of your ship, if the ship takes damage, your brain does?”

"Huh?" Will stared at the Islanian. “How do you know that?”

Michelle answered him, her voice thoughtful. “Because that is what can happen to Islanian ships when we take damage if we are not careful. They did that to him? Connected the neurons in sequence?”

Gaia made a noise of agreement. “They… tried. They didn’t get it quite right. I can see the evidence of past neural scarring on this.” She tapped the screen. “I… might be able to undo what they did, but it will take time. And not a little of it. And I cannot guarantee success. I could kill you or worse, the repairs would have to go deep, very deep…”

Will stared at her. For a long time there was silence in the medical bay. Then Will shook his head. “Not yet.” Michelle made a noise of worry, and Will smiled at her. “Michelle, I need to find Nia.” The worry in his tone had her recoiling and then she nodded against her will.

"NIa?" Gaia made a noise of agreement. “Who is this Nia?”

"My daughter." Will looked at her. “Her mother was Jainine, the woman I knew on Kuria. Jainine is dead now.”

Gaia made a sorrowful sound. “Oh… You have my condolences. But, your daughter lives.” It wasn’t a question.

"Yes." Will nodded. “Taken by the Sith, I believe. She was put in a stasis pod by a bounty hunter who was actually trying to hurt me for revenge. The hunter is dead, killed by a lightsaber, probably by a Sith. The pod was gone when I found his ship. I have tracked it...all over the galaxy. I am always one step behind.”

"Hmmm..." Gaia made a noise somewhere between a growl and a sigh. “Sounds like someone is baiting a trap.”

Will nodded. “I know. Won’t be the first time. But I have to get her back. I… I have to… I am going to see an information broker later today to see if I can get another lead.”

Gaia’s voice was sad. “We cannot help you with that, Will Kalenath. But the repairs that I have done should help a bit. The thing is… find a subsystem that is not critical. When you take damage, you should be able to shunt the energy there. It will still hurt, but it shouldn’t incapacitate you as badly or for as long.”

"I don't understand." Will shook his head. “Gaia, humans should not have this power. It is unnatural.”

Gaia snorted. “I wholeheartedly agree. The whole concept is just plain wrong. But once you have found your daughter, return and I will attempt to reverse what was done to you. You… know…?”

"Yes." Will nodded. “I know.”

"Know what?" Michelle stared from one to the other. “Will?”

Will slumped in the chair. “The neural degradation… Michelle, it’s irreparable. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Normal humans only use about ten percent of their brain capacity and I have used up a lot of the excess, it fries when I take damage. And now, its going on it's own.”

"No..." Michelle stiffened. “No… Gaia, can’t you…?”

"I am sorry." Gaia sighed sorrowfully. “I can’t Michelle. I may be able to slow it. I can’t stop it.”

"No..." Michelle shuddered and then she was crying. “I… How long… does he have?”

"I don’t know." Gaia slumped. “From the rate of decay… a year, two? No more than that.”

"It's okay, Gaia." Will nodded but his gaze was intent. “If I were younger, would you have been able to fix it?”

"Well... Yes." Gaia made a thoughtful noise. “Possibly, depending on exactly what was done. Why?”

"Sara..." Michelle gasped and her voice held horror now. “Oh my god, Sara!

Gaia tensed. “Who is Sara?”

"My sister." Will sighed sadly. “A group of Republic scientists did something similar to her.”

"Oh?" Gaia’s voice held worry now. “How old is she?”

"She just had her fifteenth birthday." Michelle answered, scared. “Will, they did those things to her over years!”

"Yeah." Will nodded soberly. “I know.”

Gaia pulled in on herself. Her eyestalks seemed to vanish into her bulk, and then she spoke softly but commanding. “I need to see her as soon as possible. Maybe I can help, I give you my word I will try. And I need your word soldier.”

Will looked at her, his face a mask. “For?”

"I have a request." Gaia sighed, sounding very old and tired now. “Once I am done, with her, with you, I want your word to end my existence.”

Mission jumped to her feet. “Mama no!

Gaia however had all of her multiple eyestalks on the soldier who sat, contemplating. Finally he spoke. “Why?” His voice was quiet, carefully neutral.

Gaia sighed. “For two thousand of your years I have survived. The first thousand I was a willing slave to my masters; the last thousand as an outcast, a rebel, a murderer. I have been a mother to these and I have lived far, far too long. I am programmed against self destruction, and cannot break that. I have tried.”

Mission ran to the blob and would have hugged her, except she was a hologram and her arms passed right through the physical form. “Mama…” The Twilek avatar wailed.

Will looked form Gaia to Mission who was weeping uncontrollably now, to Michelle who stared at the Islanian, dumbstruck. He slumped. “If this is what you wish, then yes, when Sara and I have been tended to, if you still wish it, I will make it quick.”

Gaia slumped and her voice held gratitude. “Thank you. Come Mission…” The holo of the Twi’lek vanished.

"I never..." Michelle sighed. “Now we need to figure out how to explain this to Sara.”

"Isn’t that going to be fun…?" Will winced. “Come on lets go, I have an appointment this afternoon to talk to a woman named Shades”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
07.04.2012 , 06:16 AM | #8
<Hyperspace>


Jina was annoyed, with herself, with the universe, but mostly at this ridiculous situation. She was trying to help Will, not hunt him. And no one would talk to her over a com. Michelle had apparently spread the word far and fast what they had discussed. So she had to go in person.

“Look, I know it’s a long shot, but we need to get more information. And since we know Cranna the Hutt was a friend of Will’s, then we can bet that our opponents do as well.” Jina sat at the controls of the small transport and tried not so sigh as Chari shook her head.

"I..." The Bladeborn spoke slowly, trying to understand. “Cranna is not there. Some idiot Hutt punk named Magga was trying to horn in her from what I understand, so she went mobile to take the fight to him.”

"I know it’s a long shot, but it feels right." Jina sighed. “We should get to Tattooine within two hours. And hopefully, Cranna’s people can get word to Will.”

"Well..." Chair sighed. “You will have to talk to them. They don’t like Sith. And officially, they don’t know me, although I would dearly love to see the kids again.” For a moment, the hard bitten warrior’s face was surprisingly tender.

"They liked you." Jina snorted. “You made a very good nurse from what I understand. But we cannot tell them about Kirina.”

Chari nodded and then they both turned as the other being in the small ship spoke. The ship would have been cramped without Blondie in it. With the human mountain, it was almost intolerable. Luckily he was good company. “I am sad. Kirina is good person.”

Jina smiled. “Blondie, that would be ‘Kirina is A good person’.” They had all taken it upon themselves to help Blondie learn after the mechanical voicebox had been attached. He had never learned how to speak. He understood speech fine, many languages actually, but speaking it was different.

Blondie smiled. “Thank you.” His voice sounded almost normal. “What think we encounter… What do you think we will encounter?” He corrected himself and smiled. Chari and Jina smiled back, but then the two females looked at each other.

They chorused. “Trouble.”

<Four hours later>

Jina was designated the point person for this, because while she might have been wanted by the Jedi Order, there were no official bounties on her. And she was no stranger to skulking. She had learned from the best and she had worked with sneaky people a lot. Being sneaky usually meant less damage to the surrounding areas, and to her mind that was a good thing. Fewer innocents got hurt and killed. She had been amazed though at how thoroughly the Twi’lek and huge human had simply vanished into the small crowds that went through Anchorhead. If she hadn’t known that she was being shadowed, she never would have guessed. Oh the Force was telling her she was being watched, but she couldn’t see anything. Which was good. If she couldn’t see them, then hopefully the bad guys couldn’t. She really hoped so anyway, the Force was…well… if the Force could boil that was what it was doing as she approached the front entrance of the clinic. As she entered the doors though she stopped. A figure in white robes was talking to the receptionist. The woman had her back to Jina but even from the distance, Jina could feel the power.

The woman was talking and her voice was kind. “…there now, isn’t that better? You knew you wanted to help me anyway. There was no real point in being rude.” The receptionist had a blank look on her face as she worked her computer.

The receptionist’s voice was a monotone when she replied. “I have no records of that, mistress. It is unlikely that Cranna the Hutt would leave such things in our computers. She is careful.”

The woman in white sighed. “Good point, oh…” she turned her head slightly, and then spoke to the receptionist again. “Go over to where your friends are and go to sleep.”

Jina stiffened as the receptionist stood and walked from behind her desk. She lay down next to a wall that had several bodies lying near it and then closed her eyes. In moments, her sense in the Force said she was unconscious. The woman turned to face Jina. The face was covered, but Jina knew the voice, er, the voice of the being who had inhabited the body before.

The woman’s voice was kind, but the Force flowed through it. “Well, well, well, what have we here? Another Jedi? Hmmm, a powerful one to not be seen easily.” Jina didn’t speak. She took two steps in and her sabers were in hand. She wished she was wearing her armor, but it was too distinctive, she had left it in the ship to don more nondescript robes of neutral hues. The woman smiled. “Now, now, Jedi, no need for that. Wouldn’t you rather be friends?”

The Force pushed at Jina now, hard, but she just smiled and pushed back. Jina shook her head slightly, keeping her eyes on her opponent. “Considering what you and your ‘friends’ did to several of mine…? No.”

Far from cowed, the woman threw back her hood and frowned in thought. “Have I done something to your people?” The Force pressed in on Jina again, prying, trying to find a hole in her mental defenses, but Jina had learned a lot in her time with the Sitolon, and there were no weak points.

"Nice try." Jina’s smile was thin. “You can hide what you are from many people, you cannot hide from me. Where is the crystal you imprisoned Master Ashla Ti in?”

"You fool!" The woman snarled now, her face becoming a mask of hate. “We didn’t imprison her, we freed her!”

"Indeed?" Jina nodded slowly. “Yes, you freed her from free will, you freed her from choice, and you freed her from having any say in what her body does. Some freedom. Where is it?” She asked again, ice in her tone.

"You are...hidden from my sight." The woman stared at her. “Who are you?”

Both women froze as another voice spoke. Male, human and a bit peevish. “Her name is Jina Darkstorm.” Jina tensed as another form in white robes came out of a door. The male human had his hood up. Did she know the voice? The man spoke again. “They don’t know where Will is, Jainine, and Cranna contacts them, not vice versa. None of them are dead, Jina. We don’t kill innocents.”

Jina snorted, her posture relaxed, still. Any who knew her would know that was a bad sign. “Oh? And the Padawans you killed when you took Ashla Ti? I guess they were not innocent since they were Jedi.”

The man sighed. “I should rephrase. We try not to kill innocents. But what about you, Jina? You have killed innocents before.”

Jina laughed, a sour sound. “Yeah, I have on occasion. The difference is, I regret it. You…? I doubt you do. Anyone who can work with someone like Ravishaw is unlikely to care. So…” She readied herself.

The man raised hand, but nothing happened, he just stood, as if imploring her to stop. “Jina, wait. Hear me out.”

Jina sighed. “This is only going to end one way.” Her gaze fixed the woman who had started to move and the woman froze.

The man nodded. “Probably. But I know what the bugs did to you. I can help you.”

The ex-Jedi laughed. “Help me? Like you helped Jainine? Or like you helped Ashla Ti? Or like you want to help Will?” The scorn in her voice could have cut durasteel.

The man sighed, then he reached up and threw back his hood. “You don’t know the whole story Jina.” For a moment, Jina’s face went slack in stunned surprise as she saw the face that had hidden under the hood, but then the white robed woman was in motion. A red blade appeared in her hand. “Jainine no!” The man shouted, but Jina was in motion as well.

The woman called Jainine was good, no question. Jina was better. When swordmasters fought, it could either go on for a long, long time until one or the other because exhausted and made a mistake. Or one was better than the other and the fight ended quickly. This fight was the latter. The woman in white robes tried several things, but in less than a minute, Jina had the woman down and one of her lightsabers poised at the woman’s throat. Her other saber was held parallel to the ground keeping the man at bay. But he hadn’t moved from his spot.

He spoke slowly and carefully. “Jina, no…”

Jina didn’t take her eyes from the woman who lay clutching the stump of her wrist. But her words were to the man. “You may wear his face, his semblance. But you are not Samuel Kalenath.”

The man who wore the face of Will Kalenath’s father sighed sadly. “Jina, think. You are a Jedi. You do not kill the helpless.”

Jina snorted. “Helpless? You? Her? Hardly.”

The man sighed again and something struck Jina from behind. She slashed with her sabers, but they didn’t encounter anything. She was lifted into the air and she felt impacts, hard ones. One, two, three times she was slammed into something hard, probably a wall. After the third time, she lost her grip on her sabers. And whatever held her pushed her into the unyielding surface with enough force to drive the air from her lungs. Pain from broken bones came but she focused beyond it. Through her pain she heard voices. She looked to see both white robed forms standing in front of her, the man’s face serene, the woman’s face a mask of hate.

“Finish her!” The woman cried as Jina hung, helpless.

The man’s voice was quiet, considered. “No, she… she feels for Will. And I bet he reciprocates. If we let it be known that we have her, he will come.” The man broke off as Jina laughed. “Something funny, Jina?” The woman snarled and pain exploded across Jina’s side, but she just kept laughing. The man sighed. “Jina, it didn’t have to be like this. Why are you laughing?”

"Nothing, just..." Jina just chuckled. “Great minds…”

A lightsaber, one of Jina’s, flew from the floor and arced towards her, igniting as it came. The woman’s face was even more twisted now. “Laugh on this, witch!” Jina just smiled as her saber arced towards her. But then Jainine cried out and Jina felt the force that held her vanish. She landed on her hands and knees, the saber falling to the floor and deactivating nearby. She drew it to her with the Force and stood up. The woman in white was down, dead or unconscious, she wasn’t sure. Knowing the two forms that stood near the slumped form, Jina bet on dead. Chari and Blondie had their weapons out and their focus didn’t shift from the man who stood and sighed.

His voice was rueful. “Bladeborn. Why can’t you people just leave well enough alone?” He turned back to Jina. “Well, played Jina. But this isn’t over.”

One on Jina’s arms wasn’t working, but she forced her other to hold the ignited saber in a perfect form as she advanced. “You are going nowhere imposter.”

His face twitched in a smile that was a distant echo of Will’s sardonic one. “Wanna bet?” And then he was gone. Jina cursed, but the woman’s form also vanished at the same time. She focused her mind as the Bladeborn exclaimed in shock. She saw a hazy form moving towards the door and moved to cut him off, but another pulse of power slammed into her. This one was strong enough to send her into darkness when she struck.

<Later>

Jina groaned. She hurt. Chari’s voice was kind. “Rest easy, Jina. You have had a busy day.” Jian opened her eyes to find herself lying in a medical ward. Probably Cranna’s from the heat she could still feel. Chari sat beside the bed Jina was in and smiled as she saw Jina looking at her.

"Chari..." Jina sighed. “What is broken this time?”

Chair sighed. “Left arm in two places. Right leg, four ribs. I shouldn’t have let you talk me into you being the bait. The queen is gonna kick my butt.” Jina snorted and then winced as pain flared. She focused her power and it ebbed. Chari was looking at her with worry now. “Who was that, Jina? The man? You knew him.”

"Sort of." Jina sighed and nodded. “The face he wore was Samuel Kalenath, Will Kalenath’s father.”

Chari’s eyes went wide. “But he is dead.” Jina nodded. “Sharlina burned the body. Could the one she burned have been a clone?”

Jina shook her head and groaned again as the pain redoubled. “I don’t know. That wasn’t the man I knew. People change, I know that, but… the man I knew didn’t have the Force, let alone such power with it.”

Chari stared at the Jedi and then shook her head slowly. “Oh boy…”

Jina slumped back in the bed. “You said it.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
07.04.2012 , 06:20 AM | #9
<Somewhere>

“Idiot girl… Why didn’t you listen to me?” The being who wore the face of Samuel Kalenath worked quickly and efficiently on the slumped figure. “She was far too powerful for you to take one on one.

“She is an enemy…” Jainine’s voice was low, filled with pain, but she didn’t move or flinch as the man worked.

“She didn’t need to be.” Samuel commented as he worked. “A centimeter to the left and the disc would have severed your spine and gone through your heart. If that had happened, nothing would have saved you from the master’s wrath.” Jainine shivered, and Samuel spoke sharply. “Don’t move. I need to get it out. If it shifts inside of you…”

Jainine froze. When she spoke it was quiet, thoughtful. “So this Jina is working with the Bladeborn? I thought you said she was a Jedi?”

Samuel sighed. “Is. She is a Jedi. If she wasn’t, you would be in three or four pieces. Why didn’t you listen to me? He is going to be very unhappy with the both of us now. We didn’t need to fight there.”

“You are weak Samuel. You may choose not to fight, but I want blood! I want her head.” Jainine didn’t cry out as Samuel smiled in triumph and pulled a small bloody metal disc from her body.

Samuel set the disc aside and then started bandaging what he had done. “I know you think I am weak, and I don’t care. You are welcome to try me anytime, idiot girl.” Something dark flared in his eyes and Jainine flinched back. “Our orders were to find Will, not start fights with people we didn’t have to. Or have you forgotten? He put me in charge. So… You decided to question my authority.” He finished bandaging her and sighed. “I can’t have that. Oh well, I can finish fixing your injury the easy way then.”

Jainine recoiled but something held her in place. She could not restrain a small cry as he touched her and power flared. Instead of the clean blue energy of Jedi healing though, this energy flared a dirty purple color. Samuel smiled evilly as Jainine fought the power he was pushing into her. “That’s it, fight it, and fight me. You cost us the easy path, idiot girl. Now we have to go a harder way. A more dangerous way.”

Jainine fought, twisting and turning in the bed she lay on. But she couldn’t move very much, something intangible held her down, almost gently. Almost. Finally, her control failed and she screamed. Samuel watched with no emotion on his face as she screamed again and again. Finally she slumped, too spent even to scream, and Samuel cut the flow of power. He leaned close to her. “I am the weak one, indeed. Say it.” Jainine shook her head savagely, and Samuel sighed. This time he touched her on the temple. “Say. It.”

Jainine fought hard, her entire body shuddered as she struggled against the bonds of the Force that held her. But then power flared from Samuel’s fingertips again and she screamed again, hoarse now. She slumped, spent. “Master…”

Samuel shook his head. “You know better than that. I am not the Master. You know what I want to hear. Say. It.” He repeated in a cold tone and this time, dark energy crackled and hissed across her entire body. She screamed loud and long. Finally, the flow of power stopped and Jainine lay shivering on the bed. Samuel shook his head. “I can’t kill you Jainine, but I don’t need to. I can make you hurt and the Master won’t care.”

Jainine stared into his eyes and could not restrain a shiver. When she spoke it was low and careful. “I… apologize…”

Samuel patted her on the shoulder. “Good girl. I will see about getting you a new hand. Don’t go anywhere.” As he stood, he put restraints onto her arm above where the wrist had been severed. She struggled, but power flared again and she screamed loudly as he strode from the room. He shook his head. Idiot girl…

As Samuel stepped through the ship, he passed scenes straight out of a B-class horror holo-vid. Bodies lay every which way, scattered where they had fallen. Many had been… well… The soldiers he commanded had been hungry. He strode to the bridge and waited patiently while the being at the controls finished laying a new course. Finally the being looked up and Samuel met the others stare with inhuman calm. “Status, Grun’das?”

The large insect nodded. “Ship operation at 87%. These idiots apparently had never understood the word ‘maintenance’, but the team will have it at 100% within the hour. Where are we going?”

Samuel blew out an annoyed breath. “That is a very good question. Thanks to the idiot girl, we don’t have any leads at the moment. It would have been so much easier if we had been able to take Jina. Blasted Bladeborn, always showing up where they are not wanted.”

The six foot tall insect rubbed two black chitin forelegs together, making a horrid screeching noise. “Did you know she would come?” Grun’das’ voice was angry and Samuel shrugged slightly. He knew how these beings felt about Jina, and who could blame them? Her actions had cost them their queen.

Samuel shook his head. “I couldn’t see her. I can’t see her in the Force. I did not know she would come. I knew someone would, but I assumed it would be Will. Silly that. He is not going to stick his head into an obvious trap for strangers…” He broke off, lost in thought. The insect looked at him, but didn’t speak. Finally, Samuel smiled slightly. “I think we may be able to use this to our advantage.”

Grun’das looked at him. “What do you mean?”

Samuel smiled an evil, evil smile. “Jina will tell Maria, who will come after me. Will would do just about anything to save his mother. Alive. We will need her alive and undamaged.” Grun’das clasped his foreclaws together. Samuel sighed. “And as for the idiot girl, she needs a new hand. Make it hurt. I will meditate, try and figure out where to set the trap.”

Grun’das bowed and Samuel moved to where the captain’s cabin had been. He paused at the door. A muted whimper was heard as he entered. He shook his head slowly and spoke evenly. “I know you are here. Come out.”

The Force rang in his words and a small human form crept out from under a desk. The young woman was filthy and obviously very scared. She spoke slowly, breathing hard. “Please don’t kill me…”

Samuel sighed. “Kill you? No. I am not going to kill you. Come here, girl. What is your name?” The Force rang gently in his words and the girl shivered as she walked closer.

“S… Sarai… Please…” She begged.

He stiffened. “Sarai is… your name…?” Something changed in his posture for a moment.

The girl nodded and shivered as he extended a gentle hand. But she relaxed a little as he didn’t strike her. Instead, he brushed her shoulder length blonde hair and sighed as he cupped the back of her head. Power flared and she shrieked a little, but then she relaxed completely and met Samuel’s eyes. Hers were a deep blue. “What is thy bidding, my master?”

Samuel sighed as he looked her over. Her shipsuit was ripped and torn, as well as coated with blood and more horrible things. “Its okay, Sarai. I won’t kill you. I don’t kill slaves without a good reason. Come on; let’s get you cleaned up…”

He led his newest acquisition towards the small refresher that graced the captain’s cabin and smiled. Things might be looking up finally.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
07.04.2012 , 06:27 AM | #10
<A bit later>

Samuel knelt, immersed in the Force. It flowed in him as always, chaotic, free, and only somewhat biddable. He sighed as he released the power; he lived for these moments when he could reach out and touch the universe. He opened his eyes and smiled. “Hello Sarai. Why thank you. So thoughtful.”

The young human woman knelt nearby, her hands folded in front of her. A tray with food and water lay on a small table nearby. He stood and walked to the chair beside the table and sat. He smiled at the human girl. “You can sit with me if you wish.” Sarai shook her head and Samuel blinked. Then he sighed. “Has Jainine been at you again?”

When Sarai spoke, it was unemotional. “Slaves should know their place.”

"Sarai?" Samuel was out of his chair in an instant. “Did she hurt you?” He stepped to where Sarai was kneeling, scrutinizing the woman. Sarai shook her head. Samuel sighed. “Don’t lie to me girl. What did she do?”

"She..." Sarai winced. “She touched me and it hurts…”

"Drat that girl!" Now Samuel’s voice was gentle as he knelt beside the girl. “Where did she touch? Where does it hurt?” Sarai moved her hands from her abdomen and touched herself on the lower stomach. Samuel groaned. “Oh, of all the… Stupid girl…” Sarai cringed but Samuel sighed. “Not you, Sarai. Come on, I can’t heal that. Let’s get you to the healer.”

"Not him, please!" Saria shook her head, utterly terrified. “No… Please… master….” She didn’t try and run, not this time anyway.

"Oh, girl..." Samuel sighed and took her hands in gentle ones. “Sarai, we needed the ship. What happened was horrible, yes. But the sacrifice of your friends has served a greater purpose.” A gentle push in the Force and the girl calmed a bit. “It is my responsibility. If I had been here, maybe the soldiers wouldn’t have done what they did. Maybe, I don’t know, their animal nature makes them hard to control at times. I dislike needless slaughter, Saria, it serves no purpose. Even Grun’das knows this.”

"They..." At the mention of the huge insect, tears fell from Sarai’s eyes. “They… ate…” Samuel gathered the young girl into his arms.

"I know." He held her as she sobbed. His voice was gentle. “Sarai, I know. A Jedi did something horrible to them a long time ago. Lots of people have tried to help them over the years. But it just doesn’t work. They are what they are. If I had the power to change what happened to your friends I would. But I do not. I cannot. It is the past. We have to deal with the present. Right now, you are hurt, you need healing.”

"I hurt, but..." Sarai shivered uncontrollably. “Please don’t give me to them…”

Samuel smiled sadly. ”I am not going to. You are important to my plan girl. I need you alive and whole. Come on, has Grun’das ever hurt you?” Against her will, Sarai shook her head. “He won’t.” Now Samuel’s voice became cold. “And once I am through ‘explaining’ things to Jainine, she won’t either… Come on.”

He drew her to her feet, but she cried out and crumpled as he did. He stared at her, seeing far deeper than skin and snarled wordlessly. Without a word he hoisted her into his arms and started off. She whimpered a bit, but subsided with a touch of the Force.

<A few minutes later>

“What did I tell you?” Samuel’s voice was cold and hard. Jainine tried to snarl something but the bonds of purple energy that held her in midair wouldn’t let her move so much as a muscle. The she shrieked as Samuel made a gesture and the bonds shifted a bit. “I told you to leave her alone.”

"No." Jainine somehow managed to get words out. “You said… Not to mark her… I didn’t…”

Samuel sighed and then his hands came up and energy spat from them. Jainine shrieked louder as the power flowed through her entire body. He shook his head. “You know she is not my paramour or whatever you want to call it. She is bait. For a being as old and canny as Maria, you cannot use normal bait. She must be unharmed physically for what I want her to do. What I have been training her to do. You endanger the mission yet again, Jainine. By all rights, I should kill you or send you back to explain your actions to the master. You just cannot see beyond your petty envy and jealousy.”

"She is..." Jainine shook her head. “You want her… for…”

"We should have left you an empty shell!" Samuel snarled. “You had more brains then!” Energy flared again, and Jainine’s shrieks of agony echoed through the small room. Samuel just sighed and redoubled his effort. “I will have your obedience. If I have to wipe your mind entirely and start from scratch I will.”

"No..." Jainine went white. “No… Please….”

"Begging already Jainine?" Samuel snarled. “I haven’t even begun to hurt you yet. I will fry this disobedience out of your body if I have to do it cell by cell.” With that, lightning arced from his hands again and Jainine shrieked louder.

<An hour later>

Samuel walked into the medical ward of the ship and smiled. Sarai was asleep on the bed, her black hair shone in the bright light. The large form of Grun’das was working nearby. Samuel stepped up to the bed and scrutinized the girl. Then he smiled wider. “Report.”

Grun’das spoke without turning from his work. “The damage to your slave’s reproductive organs has been fixed. She is fertile again. The head fur change has been completed.

Samuel nodded slowly. “And the eyes?” Grun’das waved a clawed hand towards a side of the room and Samuel smiled as he saw a bottle with two things floating in it. On inspection, they were eyes, blue ones. “Well done. Any chance of rejection?”

"Maybe." Grun’das shrugged. “Always a chance. If the transplant fails we can try again.”

"Good." Samuel nodded, smiling slightly. It was always a pleasure to work with professionals. Speaking of… “Have you done it?”

"As ordered." Grun’das nodded. “Cleaned mind. She will wake shortly.”

"Right." Samuel nodded again, but now his face turned savage. “As of now, Jainine is not allowed anywhere near this girl. If she tries, hurt her. Clear?”

"Clear." Grun’das nodded. “Where is your compatriot?”

"Sleeping." Samuel snorted. “She should wake up in about an hour. Then she will probably crawl in here. Don’t be in a hurry to help her.”

Grun’das nodded and stepped into another room. Samuel sighed and sat by the bed. It wasn’t long before the girl in the bed moaned. He spoke gently. “Easy there…”

The girl’s eyes opened and they were a deep, intense green. “What… Who are you?”

"Oh girl..." Samuel sighed sadly. “You don’t remember me?”

"No." The girl shook her head, wincing a little. “I… wait… Who am I? I… can't remember!” She started crying.

“I was afraid of this.” Samuel lied as he held her gently. “It’s okay, Sara. It will be okay.”

"I..." The girl the bed shivered. “Sara… Is that my name?”

"Yes." Samuel nodded. “Your name is Sara Kalenath.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here