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(L,F&E Interlude) Hunting Illusions?

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Fan Fiction
(L,F&E Interlude) Hunting Illusions?

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kalenath
07.06.2012 , 03:43 AM | #1
((This is a co-authored fanfic with Trisskar. It is a sequel to Wild Things which I will be reposting soon. t follows after Progress Through Pain, and nothing is as it seems.))

<On a small ship, in hyperspace>

Istara shook her head. She had known this was going to be rough, but sheesh! Finally, she had heard enough. “Look, according to the Bladeborn, yes, we do have a number of people tailing us. And while they don’t have trackers on the ship, they don’t really need them, do they?” With enough people reporting their movements, there was nowhere they could go that they would remain unnoticed. Nana her Sitolon partner and Gute her pilot looked at her and she shook her head. “Come on, if we lead Darmuk’s people straight to Setsuna, what good does that do?”

"And..." Nana made a human sounding sigh. It always sounded very odd coming from a six foot tall insect. “...this information came from…?”

"Nana." Istara fixed her friend with a glare. “Don’t tell me you were not monitoring me. It was her.”

Gute looked from one to the other and scratched one of his horns. “Wanna clue in the non-Ashla user here?”

"Sure." Nana snorted. “Istara dreamed that her mother told her not to look for her sister.”

Gute stiffened. “Isn’t your mother… uh… dead?” He broke off as Istara nodded. He shook his head. “Just checking.” He sighed. “I so don’t want to know…” The Iridonian shook his head again, stood up and walked towards the cockpit, muttering about crazy women.

Istara barely noticed him going, her focus was on the large bug, who gazed at Istara. Then Istara did something odd. She laid down on the floor and relaxed. Her eyes remained on Nana’s as the bug leaned over her. The insect’s antennae brushed the human Bladeborn’s skull and Istara’s eyes rolled back into her head. For several minutes, neither of them moved, but finally, Nana sank back on her hind legs.

"I am sorry, sister." When the insect spoke, her voice was sad. “I am sorry I didn’t believe you.”

"I know." Istara rolled into a sitting posture and smiled a bit wistfully. “I didn’t believe it myself. I never expected to see her again. And then there she was…” Her voice was tender now. “I… Oh Nana…”

Nana extended her fine manipulator arms, the ones without the large claws on the ends. “Come here, sister. You didn’t tell her about us?”

"No." Istara embraced her battle kin gratefully. “I got the feeling she knew. But… She is a seer, she isn’t going to ask. She isn’t going to pry. Things must be insanely bad if she is asking me not to keep hunting Setsuna. At least for a while. It felt… very temporary. What she was asking.”

"This will be hard for you." Nana sighed as she hugged Istara gently. “I understand. Ecien is on her way, but she is running silent.”

"Right." Istara nodded as she returned the alien embrace. “I think it is for the best if Ecien goes. She is a lot sneakier than me.”

"Oh?" Nana snorted in laughter. “A Rancor with a toothache is sneakier than you, Istara…”

"Ah, true that…" Istara snickered. “Ah well. It is confirmed. Mira vanished from the Jedi Enclave last night. Mom must have seen it or something just as it happened. Chari put the mark on, and she picked up traces of fear and pain, even as far away as she is. If I get close, I can lock onto the mark.”

"Istara..." Nana stiffened. “Be careful. That power is not Ashla. It may have… unpredictable results with you now.”

"I know." Istara nodded. “It’s not Dark Side either, but… Good to know that now. I know how you feel about Jedi. I am not taking you into the Enclave and you are not to follow me.”

Nana stiffened further and her arms fell down. “Istara…”

"Look." Istara did not release her embrace. “Nana… Listen. The man who destroyed your cousins is long dead. His descendants are long dead. These Jedi have nothing to do with what happened. They would be just as horrified as I was, probably more. Since Jolaban was a Jedi, they likely will feel guilt.”

"Good." Nana’s voice was flat. “They should.”

Istara’s voice, in contrast, was gentle. “I agree, but your ancestral desire for vengeance will undo you if you let it.”

"I know, but..." Nana nodded. “I don’t agree. You always get in trouble when I am not there.”

"Nana..." Istara laughed. “And I don’t get in trouble when you are?” The sheer humor in her voice was too much and Nana laughed a bit sourly.

“Good point.” Nana said a bit caustically. But then her voice became sorrowful. “Istara…”

"Sister..." Istara shook her head and squeezed a little tighter. “Nana, it’s okay. What you feel is an echo of the rage you ancestors felt. Of course you are going to be uncomfortable around Jedi. I was amazed that Ecien and the others didn’t rage around Jina. From what I understand, she was bit of a handful.”

"You could say that." Nana nodded. “But… she was different. She is one of the Seven and she was hurt, we could help her and we got to know her. I don’t know how I will react around strange Jedi.”

"Probably the same way I will." Istara nodded. “Cautiously.”

"Right." Nana nodded. “Probably.” Both of them froze as the com chirped.

Gute’s voice came from the com. “We are two minutes out. Ladies and gentlemen, please extinguish all smoking materials and make sure your tray tables are in the upright and locked position…”

Istara smiled, but her voice was harsh when she spoke. “Gute… Just fly the ship.”

Gute’s voice was hurt when he spoke. “What do you think I am doing?”

“Goofing off." She quipped. "What else would you do?” A sputtering came from the com, but Istara as smiling as she strapped herself in. One never knew after all how rough a departure from hyperspace could be. But the deceleration as smooth and problem free.

Gute’s voice was proud now when he spoke. “Ladies and Bladeborn, welcome to Dantooine space. We are currently on approach to the Jedi Enclave. Local time is oh, very dark, and temperature there is a balmy ten degrees. If I may say so, this is not one of your better ideas, Istara. This IS a Sith transport, you know…?”

"Right." Istara smiled, it was not a nice smile. “I am coming forward.”

Gute’s voice was resigned. “Do you gotta?”

"Gute..." Istara shook her head as she unstrapped herself. “You want to get blown out of the sky?”

Gute sputtered something, but Istara was in motion. She carefully moved herself hand over hand along the handholds put in place for just such times. Atmospheric entry was never an easy thing, no matter how easy Gute made it look. And the last thing she wanted to do was acquaint her skull with the bulkhead. Just as she reached the cockpit, the com lit up.

Gute stared at her, and then at the com. “I think it’s for you.” Istara flashed him a rude gesture that had him chortling and strapped herself into a chair before keying the com live.

A modulated voice came over the com. “Unidentified transport, you are violating restricted space. Identify yourself immediately.”

Istara blew out a breath and hit the transmit key. “This is the independent transport Unobtanium Monkey. My name is Istara Sharlina Andal. It is very important that I speak with someone in charge as soon as possible.”

It took a few minutes before the come lit up again, and when it did the voice was the same, but held some emotion she couldn’t quite place. Fear? Anticipation? Worry? She wasn’t sure. “You are clear to bay three. You will be met.”

Istara nodded, silly that, the person on the other end couldn’t possibly see her. “Understood, Bay three, Enclave control, Unobtanium Monkey, out.”

"Istara..." Gute spun his chair to face her. “What the flarg possessed you to call this ship that?”

"That was the name it came with." Istara shook her head. “I know it’ silly, but isn’t it bad luck to rename a ship?”

Gute snarled as he started the landing cycle. “Don’t talk to me about luck…” As he flew, he patted a series of icons and other things that cluttered what free space there was on the control panel. Lucky rocks, a nerf’s foot, all kinds of talismans and charms. He patted the control panel and spoke as if to the ship. “She didn’t mean it, she didn’t mean it…”

Istara shook her head, he was a good pilot, but… eccentric.

<A few minutes later>

Istara had almost expected to be greeted by a dozen Jedi with lightsabers ignited. It hadn’t been so long before that she had been hunted by Jedi, but apparently that had been squelched by the Council, or so she hoped. She hated killing people who didn’t deserve it, and while Jedi could be morons they did usually have their hearts in the right places. She hadn’t always thought so, but her horizons had expanded exponentially since she had cast herself out of Trugoy’s Order of Bladeborn. She had put her silver armor on specifically to cow people so she wouldn’t have to fight. But as always, when she exited the ship and nothing happened, part of her was vastly disappointed. She sighed and started for the exit only to stop short as it opened and two forms came through, one tall and one small. Her face lit up as she recognized them.

"Istara Sharlina Andal..." Anya Hadas, Jedi Knight, strode towards her with a big grin on her face. “You do know how to make ruckus, don’t you Istara?”

Istara nodded, but her gaze was on the small form walking beside Anya. Ina-Ta-Mal was a Cerean, and she was perhaps five. But she was quite powerful and wise for her age.

“Hello, Anya." Istara said fondly. "Yes, yes they have on occasion. Ina, you have grown girl…” Istara knelt down and after a moment, Ina came for a hug. The Cerean hugged once and retreated, her face cautious. Istara sighed. “I am not here as an aggressor. I am here to find out what happened to Mira. We thought you would prefer me showing up than the whole Order.”

"Mira ?" Anya froze. “She is a protected one?” Istara nodded. “Oh dear…”

"Yep." Istara grimaced. “You said it.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
07.06.2012 , 03:49 AM | #2
<A long ways away>

Mira lay back on the bed and tried not to sigh as Tirka worked. His hands were gentle and professional, but the equipment around her gave her the creeps. She controlled her feelings with skill that any Jedi would have envied though and nodded when he looked at her.

"I am fine." Her voice was even, almost unemotional. “Let’s do this.”

Tirka shook his head slowly. “When Master Nira wakes she will be incredibly annoyed. What were you thinking?” His voice held shock, fear, sadness and other emotions.

"You have to ask?" Mira snarled. “I want this crap out of my head.”

The Twi’lek sighed. “Mira, listen… The information is bound into your neurons. It is twined around ad through the rest of your memories. Yes, the machine likely can access them, but what the hell do you think you were doing trying to activate it by yourself?” Now his voice was savage, he had come into find her out cold strapped to the machine. “You very nearly gave me a heart attack. Don’t do that.”

"Well..." Mira slumped in her bed. “Seemed like a good idea at the time. Looking back…” She hissed as his fingers fund a sore spot on her scalp and then she relaxed as he spread soothing ointment over the burn. Her inexpert handling of the device had caused the needles that penetrated her skull to burn her skin in several places. At least there were no nerve endings inside her skull.

"Girl..." Tirka shook his head. “It was dumb. Do you have any idea at all how to run it?”

Mira blinked and then her voice changed timbre. “Level seven activation protocol followed by seventeen digit passcode, followed by start-up procedures three through twelve.” She blinked and stared at the healer, who stared back at her. Her voice was scared now. “Was that what I think it was?”

"I..." Tirka stared at her and then he sighed and patted her hand where it lay. “I think so. Somehow you are accessing the data. That shouldn’t be possible if you destroyed the access protocols.” He shook his head. “Mira, listen to me. The only reason you are not dead, or brain dead right now is that I stopped the device from reaching full penetration. Thank the Maker I came in when I did, you idiot child…” He had initially thought her dead when he had entered. And he had freaked. He was still angry and Mira nodded, as far as she could. Her muscles were not responding as they should.

Mira’s voice was soft. “I know… I am sorry. I just…” Her eyes were glistening but no tears fell.

Tirka sighed. “I understand. This cannot be easy for you. But we will not kill you. We will not maim you. We are going to do our damndest not to even hurt you. And not because of what the Bladeborn will do to us either…” he froze as the door behind him hissed open and a startled voice sounded. He spun to see Nira in the door, her mouth agape in shock.

“What the…” Her eyes took in Mira’s condition and her face went hard. She stalked into the room and her hands came up crackling with energy. “What did you do?” She asked in a silky sweet and at the same time utterly frightening tone.

Tirka stepped away from Mira, obviously waiting for a blow. But Mira spoke up softly. “He didn’t. I did.”

"Mira...?" The woman in black froze and the energy she had been summoning vanished. “You… You what…?”

"I want..." Mira was flagging now, her meager stores of energy all but spent, but she choked out words. “This crap… Out of… My head!” To her horror, she felt wetness on her cheeks, and she couldn’t move her hands to dash the tears away.

Nira shook her head slowly, and the energy that had been crackling at her fingertips vanished. Her face was sad as she came to the bedside. She produced a white cloth from somewhere and dabbed at Mira’s face. “It’s okay. You have gone through a wringer. What my master did to you was…” She shook her head. “I am what I am, Natasha Regina. I am a Sith, I live by the Code. The strong take from the weak, but… You are not weak. What you have endured is worthy of anyone’s respect. Go ahead and cry, child. You have earned it, many times over.”

Mira was shuddering now, trying to hold her pain and horror in, but then the woman in black did something odd. She scooped the child up into her arms and held her gently. Mira stared at the woman, unable to muster the energy to form words. Nira smiled gently and started rocking Mira in her arms and a soft song came from her lips. The girl nodded off trying to figure out how the woman knew a Nabooese lullaby.

Nira held the girl until she was sure the girl was completely asleep, and then laid her gently back on the bed. She arranged Mira’s form gently and covered her with a sheet. She bent down and kissed Mira on the forehead and then jerked her head to Tirka. They both left the room. Tirka was obviously scared, but followed obediently when she waved him to the small common area of the ship. Nira waved him to a seat and then sat herself.

Her voice was flat when she spoke. “Report.”

"Yes master." Tirka shook his head. “I went to check on her, she was not in her bed. I was on the verge of calling you when I found her in the machine room. Somehow, she activated it, clambered up on the platform, closed the head restraints and lay there as the needles penetrated her skull.” Nira’s eyes went wide. “She wasn’t sedated. She was awake and lucid when I came in and shut it down. Thank the Maker you taught me how to do that…”

"She wasn't... By the Force...>" " Nira shook her head, awed. “That girl is amazing. If she had the Force, no Sith would be able to stand against her. How deep…?” Her voice cracked little as emotion slipped past her tight control.

"I was in time." Tirka shook his head. “They did not get to half extension. If they had, they would have impacted several of the implants.”

“And that would have killed her." Nira stated with a sigh. "We have problems now. The few agents I have left in the Empire are being systematically rolled up. The Bladeborn are definitely on the trail now. I wish I knew how they track their protected ones, but of course that is a closely guarded secret. What is her condition?”

"Well..." Tirka shook his head slowly. “Physically, she has second degree burns in the places where the needles went through the skull. They self cauterized as designed, and the actual insertion needs are designed to do as little damage as possible, but…” He shook himself. “I don’t know. There is so much we don’t know about what Vxeis did to her.”

"I know." Nira said with as cowl. “I know. If only the access protocols had not been trashed…”

"One thing..." Tirka nodded, but his expression was thoughtful. “Mistress. She knew how to activate the machine. I did not tell her, you certainly did not and there is no manual… so… She must be accessing the stored information somehow.”

"Ah? I will need to think on this." Nira blinked, and then her gaze turned thoughtful as well. “What will you need?”

"Time." Tirka sighed. “She is going in Kolto again, to heal the burns. I hate this feeling. I can’t heal what is really wrong with her.”

Nira sighed. “I know.” She rose and patted him on the shoulder before striding out of the room. She looked in on the girl once before walking to her own quarters. She shut the door behind her and sat on the floor as always. Then she pulled a flimsy out of her pocket and her face was sad as she looked at it. It was a picture of a small human girl, one that resembled Nira. Tears started falling unmarked as she sat and tried to think of how to get out of this mess.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
07.06.2012 , 03:54 AM | #3
<Jedi Enclave, Dantooine>

Pushing on the door's Ahrissa stepped into the small chambers of the council's meeting room. Her Master was there, sleeping in one of the large chairs. The image made Ahrissa smile some, for the healer was very old.

“Masters? You summoned me?” she inquired

"Yes." Thokal Melan, a Bothan Jedi council member sat in his chair and sighed. "Yes, we did Jedi Ahrissa. There have been... complications. The girl you left in our care has disappeared."

Ahrissa stared at the old Bothan for several long moments "W...What?" she stuttered, a bit shocked at the news "What do you mean...disappeared?"

"We don't know." Melan shook his head. "She was hurt in a training accident and the sedatives the healers gave her should have kept her out all night. But when I went to check on her, she was gone. Her door was closed, and the Jedi on guard had seen nothing. There was simply no way she could have climbed out the window with a broken arm. We have been searching, but there is no sign of her at all."

Ahrissa's eyes widened "You gave her a sedative?!" She barked, Causing the old sleeping healer stir in her sleep, forcing ahrissa to lower her voice "First Olivia and now mira? What the frell is wrong with security here?"

"I would like to know that too." The low, but clear voice that spoke from behind Ahrissa was tinged with something. Not menace, not threat, not... danger. But something odd. A woman wearing silver armor stepped into the room, followed by a human woman in Jedi robes and a young Cerean Padawan. "Master Melan, Masters..." She nodded to the Jedi masters but her focus was on Ahrissa.

"Ah..." Melan sighed deeper. "That girl has an amazing tolerance for pain, but others were feeling it. We didn't do it against her will, and we were careful about it. We know she is allergic to certain drugs." He stiffened as the newcomer stepped forward. "Istara Sharlina Andal, be known to Ahrissa. Ahrissa, this is Istara Sharlina Andal, warrior of the sect Born of Blades."

Ahrissa blinked at the introduction "Sect of..." she muttered before her eyes widened in understanding "Ah, Bladeborns." With that she offered as best, and respectful of a bow that she could manage...considering the present situation, before turning on Melan once more "You promised me she would be safe while I was away"

"Yes we did." Melan nodded. "We failed her. But now we have to find her and I bet that is why Istara is here. Right?"

"Yes." Istara nodded slowly. "A seer of my acquaintance saw her being taken. But by whom and for what I have no idea. I am here because the rest of the Bladeborn can't come here without violating the Treaty. Not that a silly thing like a treaty will stop them from protecting someone they care about. But I am here to try and keep the mess to a minimum."

"Well..." Melan smiled sourly. "Thank you for that."

Ahrissa listened with very little patience...which was odd for her, she was usualy one of the more...well rounded..jedi of the school "I should of just taken her with me" she growled mostly to herself

"Ahrissa..." Melan sighed again. "No you couldn't. And you know it. We thought she was safe here." He shook his head. "We were complacent, it won't happen again."

"Whatever." Istara shrugged. "Lock the door after the nerf has run? My job is to find and help Mira. I need to see her quarters." It wasn't -quite- a demand.

"Admittance to failure doesn't solve the problem!" Ahrissa hissed aloud before closing crystal eyes as she forced herself to breathe "Permission to lead the search party...?"

"Ahrissa..." Melan shook his head. "Calm yourself. Getting emotional will not help the girl."

Istara looked from the serene Jedi master to the fairly irate Jedi and shook her head slowly, but she didn't speak. She just watched what was transpiring, it really wasn't her business. Ahrissa remained silent, waiting as patently as she could for the Masters decision

Melan turned to his dozing companion and spoke softly. "Master Emmyth?"

The old Master chuckled softly "I heard the whole thing" she smiled as she opened her brown eyes. Ahrissa never could understand how the old healer could sleep and still know what all went on

"Of course." Melan smiled. "What are your thoughts?"

Emmyth sat straight with a slight grunt from achy bone as she hummed "Let the girl go, we've already learned she can't be stopped from following her heart once before. And she knows little Mira better then any of us"

"Right." Melan nodded and turned back to face Ahrissa. "If the Bladeborn are searching for her as well, then it makes sense to pool our efforts. They do not take kindly to people harming beings under their protection."

"Master Melan..." Istara snorted. "That may be the largest understatement of this year. Working together sounds good, at the very least it will cut down on the mess."

"Then I have the councils permission?" Ahrissa questioned softly

"Yes." Melan nodded. "Stay in contact. We have no idea who did this or how, but it bespeaks resources, planning and ruthlessness. And Istara..." The Bladeborn met his gaze evenly. "Please be as diplomatic as you can."

"Master Melan..." Istara smiled. "I am always as diplomatic as I can be."

"Ah..." Melan grimaced. "That is what I am afraid of."

Ahrissa bowed "Thank you Masters, I shall be going then" she turned to face Istara "If you will follow me Master Bladeborn. I shall show you to her quarters"

Istara moved to follow, her hand was not on her sword hilt, but not far either. "Just Istara or Bladeborn. I am no Master."

Ahrissa nodded as she exited the Council chambers. Istara followed, the two Jedi who had come in with her bid a hasty exit as well.

((Posted by Trisskar))
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
07.06.2012 , 04:03 AM | #4
<Somewhere>

Mira felt odd. It wasn’t so much the things in her head or the bandages there now. It was the attire that Nira had produced for her. She fiddled with the belt carefully and sighed. She shook her head as she smoothed the black robes over her legs and sat up straight.

"I..." Her voice was even, almost toneless. “I know this is good camouflage, but it feels so wrong.” She picked at the food in front of her with her good hand and her host shook her head.

“Natasha, Mira… Uh… I don’t… What do you want me to call you?” Sith Lady Nira Auralai looked decidedly uncomfortable. “I am certainly not going to call you by a prisoner designation. You are not my prisoner. You are my ward until I can figure out how to help you.”

Mira sighed as she tapped the flexicast that was still on her arm. “Call me Mira.” The skin under it itched, but she dealt with that the same way she dealt with the not inconsiderable pain that was still there. She ignored it. The treatments they were giving her here were speeding the healing, but she had messed it up badly. She met the Sith’s gaze evenly. “There is a very thin line there. You won’t let me leave.”

Nira raised her hand in a placating gesture. “You are wrong, you are not my prisoner. I thought it would be a simple matter. Get you, get the data, and set you back there. But then you had that seizure and… Krundas…” Her voice held hate now.

"The guy you tricked." Mira shook her head, aware of aches on it, some from the needle burns she had inflicted on herself, and some from surgical scars. “What did he do to me? Tirka is… um…”

"Tirka blames himself for what happened to you." Nira shook her head. “He is incensed. Krundas took his trust and repaid it in typical Sith fashion. I told that good for nothing slime not to implant you and he did it anyway. Krundas has better gear than we do. It’s more modern for one thing. It did stop your seizures. But how it did that…” She grimaced.

"But why?" Mira shook her head. “I don’t understand.”

The older Sith sighed and sat back in her chair. “Go on, eat, you need your strength.” Mira looked at her for a moment, but then picked up her utensil again. After Mira had taken a couple of bites, Lady Nira spoke again. “Krundas is doing what Sith do. He is trying to find a fast route to power. He found out about a Republic experiment, a fairly nasty one, where they were trying to create weapons out of sentients. And now he is trying to duplicate it, using Imperial tech.”

Mira froze, a bite halfway to her mouth. Then she mechanically put the bite in her mouth and chewed, but her mind was racing. Once she swallowed, she spoke slowly. “So the implants are for obedience?”

“Yes and no." The Sith replied sadly. "From what I and Tirka have been able to determine, most of the implants are designed to interface with whatever systems the insane fools who thought up this idea planned.”

Mira’s voice was quiet. “Large red droids.”

"What?" Nira stiffened. “How do you…? No…” She shook herself. “That is none of my business.”

"I have seen them." Mira shook her head sadly now. “And their pilots. So I will be a droid brain?”

"No." Nira’s voice was sharp enough to cut durasteel when she spoke. “No you will not.” Now her voice turned sad. “We disabled the implants we could. The bomb and the tracker of course we took out immediately.”

Mira bit her lip, but then at a glance from Nira, sighed and took another bite. She had to admit the meal was good. She hadn’t expected a Sith to feed her, and to cook for her, well… That was surprising. After she swallowed, she spoke slowly. “Why are you being nice to me? I know all Sith are not blood, blood, blood… But you didn’t have to be nice. You could have just pulled the information out, most Sith would have.”

"Yes, most Sith would have." Nira smiled a bit sadly. “My daughter is almost your age. I truly hope that the fake identity that I created for her and her father holds up. With so many people hunting me, they would be prime targets, if anyone can find them. So I truly hope no one does.”

"You...?" The girl in the chair stared at the woman across the table. “What…?”

"What ever happens to young adolescents with time on their hands?" Nira sighed. “I fell in love. I was young, although that is no excuse. He was a healer at the academy I attended. He was a good man and we… well…” Her face was a mix of happy and sad.

"I understand." Mira grinned. “But didn’t your superiors object?”

"No." The Sith Lady shook her head. “They couldn’t have cared less. I did all of the things I was supposed to do, indeed, I excelled at the training, even when I got big. So they couldn’t have cared less if I was expecting. I think they were hoping the child would be powerful in the Force, even though Li was not. Another puppet for them to mold to their wills.”

"Ah." Mira slumped. “She wasn’t, was she?”

"No." The older woman shook her head. “She had no amount of trainable ability. I didn’t care, she was beautiful. But then the masters of the school started talking about euthanasia.”

"What?" Mira stiffened, her face a study in outrage. “Why?”

"Mira..." The Sith sitting across from Mira sighed. “Think about it. A promising student, who suddenly has a massive distraction. How would normal Sith react?”

"Aw man..." Mira’s voice was hushed. “Remove the distraction.”

"Yes." Nira nodded. “I managed to learn what they were doing and faked Li and Malia’s deaths in a speeder crash. But then… I haven’t seen her in the flesh for seven years. And it’s better if I don’t. Better for them anyway.”

"Then..." Mira shook her head slowly. “That is why you are acting this way? I thought it was just to keep me off balance.”

"You can't know if I am telling you the truth." The older woman sighed. “I could be. I say I am not, but I could be lying. You have no way of knowing. And nothing I say likely will convince you.” She looked away from Mira, at the wall of the compartment, her face worried.

"I don't care." Mira shook her head. “I just want this junk out of my head. And right now I don’t care if it kills me.”

"Ah, but..." Nira’s eyes were glistening as she turned back to scrutinize the girl. “I do.”

Mira sighed. “I wish…” She broke off, angry with herself.

The older nodded; her face sad. “I know. Listen, we are heading for Tattooine. There is a clinic there with the best medical care in the Outer Rim.”

Mira made a face. “Cranna’s clinic?” She remembered much of what she had been told of the Hutt who didn’t act like a Hutt. None of it was kind.

Nira nodded. “She isn’t in residence at the moment, and the healers there won’t turn you away. I will make arrangements that after you are healed to get you back to Dantooine.”

"But..." Mira shook her head slowly. “But then, the data stays in my head and I keep getting weird flashes.”

"Flashes?" The Sith woman sat up straight. “Of what?”

"I dunno." Mira shrugged. “I really don’t know. They don’t last long enough to examine.”

"I..." Nira bit her lip. “May I touch you?”

Mira shrugged. “Not like I can…” She broke off as Nira snarled.

The Sith spoke clearly and evenly. “All you have to do is say ‘No’. Anytime, for anything we are doing. I… I thought I knew what I was doing. I was wrong.”

"Ma'am." Mira stared at the woman. “Everyone makes mistakes.”

"You are right. Everyone does. But..." Nira nodded. “My mistake nearly got you killed.” She sighed. “I won’t make the same one again.”

Mira shook her head. “Look, if you can’t get it out… is there a way to limit the access feeds? These flashes are driving me nuts.”

Nira shook her head. “I don’t think so. But I don’t know for sure. I… I wish I knew what protocol he used on you.”

Mira felt her mouth open and her voice speak. “Protocol Seven Alpha with a degree Six declination.” She coughed as she regained control of her mouth. “What the frell…?”

Nira looked at her; the woman’s deep brown eyes alight with speculation. “The data is accessible… It shouldn’t be… With the control and access portions destroyed, it should be buried too deep for you to encounter.”

"But..." Mira shook her head, worried. “What does that mean?”

"I don't know." Nira sighed. “I am not sure, but I will find out.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
07.06.2012 , 04:07 AM | #5
<Back at the Enclave>

As they walked swiftly, Ahrissa nodded politely but her focus was entirely on the finding of Mira

Istara kept her eyes straight ahead but her awareness was all around her. She felt scrutiny from all around. The Jedi were curious, most of them. Only a couple were hostile and they seemed to be remaining in the background. She followed the Jedi called Ahrissa, her mind awash with questions, but her face and sense in the Force serene.

Ahrissa walked past several student and doors leading into each indavidual room. Ahrissa made a quick motion to one door "This is my chambers...hers is here next to mine" She explained as she keyed in a code on a wall panel which allowed the door to slide open

Istara nodded, her focus on the room. She took a step in and looked around. Everything was fairly straightforward. She smiled as she stepped to one side of the room and looked under the desk. "Did you know she had an arsenal?” Istara pulled a small but wicked looking blaster pistol out from under the desk.

Ahrissa sighed as she took the blaster "I assumed so, she's good at...sneaking...things. I tend to turn a blind eye, she isn't an actual student here after all."

Istara took the blaster back, replaced it where she had found it and frowned. "She didn't have time to get to any of her weapons. She was asleep..." Istara went to the bed slowly. "They wouldn't have taken any chances with her, by all accounts, she is dangerous. They wanted her alive... But for what...?"

Ahrissa folded her arms "I believe that is what everyone wishes to know." She stated "What makes her so special" her words sounded somewhat prodding, as if hoping the Bladeborn could provide some answers to the mystery of Princess Natasha

The Bladeborn scrutinized the small, high set window and sighed. "That is how they got in." She pointed to a small scuff mark on the ledge. "No more than two of them. One to open the window and drop a gas nozzle in, the other to grab her and carry her out. Then the first secures the window again. Clean, and fast. Takes about ten minutes all told." Her voice spoke of experience in such things. "I don't know what is special about her, I have never met her. But the Bladeborn seem to think she... She...Oh..." Istara seemed to flinch. She put a hand to her shoulder and then to her head. "Oh dear..."

Ahrissa rose a brow her expression stated her question

"I can sense her." Istara sighed. "She is alive. And she is not on planet anymore. I felt... great distance, opening up. And such pain. Poor girl..." Sympathy rang in Istara's voice, as well as understanding.

"You mean you can feel that?" Ahrissa questioned with a raised brow "Can you tell if they just left?" she spoke with slight urgency

"No, I wish..." Istara shook her head. "It is imprecise. It... It felt like they were still in system, but I can't be sure. If I get closer I can track them, and given a bit of time to meditate, I can try and 'see' her. It's not my best skill, but I can do it. And I think I need to. Poor kid, the pain I felt was... That was a lot. I would have difficulty passing beyond that much."

Ahrissa narrowed blue eyes "Do you have a ship available?"

"Yes." Istara nodded, but then looked at the Jedi. "I take it you are going to insist."

Ahrissa smiled slightly "Pretty much"

"Okay." Istara sighed. "Understand this, Jedi. The places I am going to go, the things I am going to do, may not sit well with your Order or your Code. I will do the best I can to save Mira, but if I can't... Our Code is clear. No one gets away with harming one of our protected ones. No one." Her voice is cold, clear and matter of fact.

Ahrissa's leaned forward just slightly, a motion to make a point. "Trust me Bladeborn, I will not stand in your way"

"Good." Istara smiled. "I think I like you Jedi, which may or may not be safe for you." With that, she turned to go, but then she stopped. "I am willing to bet it was a Sith that took her. Jedi wouldn't have had to snatch her, and no one else would have been able to do it so cleanly. They wanted her alive, for what reason, I can't guess, but from the pain on the link I have with her, it is nothing good. We need speed now, what is the fastest way to the spaceport?"

Ahrissa smiled "This way" Ahrissa lead the way out of the chambers and to the spaceport

Once at the spaceport, Istara led the way to a battered old freighter whose nameplate said Unobtanium Monkey. She keyed the hatch and beckoned Ahrissa inside.

"Istara...?" An irate voice came to them. “Have you lost your mind?” A huge form out of a nightmare came into view sitting on the floor as they entered the common hold area of the ship. The bronze skinned creature had four legs and four arms. Its antennae waved, sampling the air around it and all six of its eyes focused on Ahrissa, who couldn’t help, even with her Jedi training, recoiling just a little.

"Ahrissa... This is Holianahyatoujikaimnana." The alien name rolled easily off Istara's tongue and the huge bulk of a six foot tall bronze chitined insect stood to greet them.

Ahrissa took a step into the ship, follow Istara...before taking a step back as she raised her sight up to view the alien before her "Greeting...err...." she paused trying to run the name across her tongue...which was not working

The insect made a noise suspiciously like a human snicker. "You may call me Nana if you wish, Jedi. We are ready to leave, Istara. Gute has tracked three likely ships that left the planet during the time you specified."

The look on Istara's face could only be called hungry now. "Let’s go..." She strode towards the cockpit and then paused. "Guest compartment?"

"Istara..." Nana snorted, another remarkably human sound. "Give me break, Sister. Of course I have it ready for her..."

Ahrissa smiled "I thank you for your kindness but..please dont worry about me, Im used to alot of travel, and sleeping in rather strange places... let us just focus on Mira"

"Right." Nana nodded. The small head moved in a recognizable pattern anyway. "Fair enough... Istara...?" But the older woman was gone. Nana sighed. "I don't know this Mira, but I can sense your disquiet. Be at peace, Jedi. If anyone can find and help her, we can."

Ahrissa nodded hands folded in neatly in front of her as she gave a slight bow "I shall trust your talents, do let me know if and when I can help. I wish to see her by my side once more"

"indeed." Nana nodded. "We may very well need your talents. Mine lie in healing and care giving and Istara, well, hers lie in breaking things and killing people. She has divination abilities, but no practice in using them."

Ahrissa nodded "I shall do what I can"

"Well." Nana nodded again. "In the meantime, I suggest we get comfortable...Gute likes to fly this thing like a starfighter." She sat on the floor and her legs went through an odd assortment of straps. On inspection they were an acceleration harness. She indicated a seat with a human sized harness as the engine noise built in speed and power. "Have you eaten?" She asked after a minute. "Knowing Istara, she just took off at a dead run once she had a path to follow."

Ahrissa strapped herself in as she stared out the view port "Snacked...it’s been a busy week"

"Children." Nana sighed, exasperation in her tone now. "It seems all humans are the same, Jedi, Sith, Bladeborn, every last one of you will try to go forever without fuel. How many times must I tell you nestlings? It doesn't work..." She turned her upper body and started working on something. "I will have a reasonable meal ready for you when we are spaceborne which will be..." The ship lurched into the air and a whine came as the inertial compensators struggled to keep up with the demands the pilot was putting on the ship. She shouted towards the cockpit. "If you kill us, we will never find the girl!"

"You try flying this thing!" Came an irate voice from the cockpit. "Especially with Istara growling at me..."

"Istara!" Nana's voice took on a hard aspect. "Istara, leave him alone. Get back here as soon as it is safe, you need to eat and we need to talk."

A few minutes later the rumble of the drives settled as the ship left atmosphere. Istara came back into the compartment, looking weary. Nana waved her to a seat and the human Bladeborn sat without quarrel. Nana got up from her spot and carried a tray to where Ahrissa was sitting before grabbing another and carrying it to Istara. Then Nana sat back in her spot and looked from one to the other. "Well?"

Ahrissa chuckled as she watched the crew work, once food was offered she nodded her head in thanks and took part of the food without hesitation, no need to be rude after all

"Mira is alive, for now." Istara sighed and ate her portions neatly. "It was a professional snatch. They wanted her alive, and I felt pain through the link..."

"I know." Nana sighed. "So did I. That wasn't what I meant. What is your problem? You act as if this is personal. You don't know this girl."

Ahrissa's blue eye's glanced up from her food "And I do." she stated calmly but with some firmness "She is a young child being hunted, that alone should make it…personal"

Nana nodded. "I meant to Istara, your unease is easy to sense. Control your emotions Jedi, they will not help." Her voice was kind, but a command. "Well, Istara?"

"Nana..." Istara pushed her food away and met the insect's gaze. "I know what it is to be restrained and experimented on. She is the same age I was, Nana. I won't let it happen to her. What happened to me..." The human Bladeborn looked away from a moment, obviously lost in memories and from her expression, not fun ones.

Ahrissa sighed inwardly and returned to her meal. It seemed her emotions were in constant question these days. But then after seeing her companion get beat up as he did....and then find out she was to be married to him...and now this...it was no wonder she was so off balanced. So instead she opted to remain silent and eat her food.

"Jedi." Nana’s voice was tart now as she scrutinized Ahrissa. “If you can’t guard your feelings any better than that, we have problems…”

"Nana, don't be rude." Istara sighed. "She has a right to her feelings." Istara smiled sadly. "You love her, don't you?" Istara said to Ahrissa. The human woman's voice was kind. "Mira that is..."

Ahrissa glanced over at Istara before looking into her plate of food "She is like an Apprentice to me...even though I am no Master..and she isn't force sensitive...I have grown a rather fondness for her, yes"

"Right." Istara nodded, her face sad. "We will get her back." She looked at Nana. "And you... Be nice to our guest. I know you don't like Jedi and why, but she is not Jolaban. He is long, long dead." Nana stiffened, and then without a word, got up and left the compartment.

Ahrissa smiled "It's alright, Nana is right. My emotions have been running wild as of late. Lack of proper rest perhaps. I’ll be fine.” Ahrissa trailed off her sentence and watched as Nana left

"No... Its a long story..." Istara shook her head. "She is at best ambivalent about your kind. But we can't let it interfere, and she knows it. She will be fine, just... maybe a bit distant. A Jedi experimented on a group of her people and drove most of them mad. The remnants of her people have been fighting the mad ones ever since. That was fifteen thousand years ago. And her people remember it as clearly as if it happened yesterday."

Ahrissa frowned "I’m sorry to hear it, truly. Even Jedi have their faults. I will try and be...gentle...around her" Ahrissa promised kindly.

"Thanks." Istara smiled. "We have enough problems. The main one is this: I have no idea where this chase is going to take us. I have authority to enter the Empire if needed to pursue my ends, and this is definitely one of those. I have no such authority in the Republic. If the Republic authorities catch me, they will likely be a bit annoyed with me. That may be where you come in; you do have a certain authority from what I understand as a Jedi, correct?"

Ahrissa nodded as she finished off her meal and placed the tray to the side "You need not worry" she smiled "As long as you remain by my side I will be able to gain you access"

"Well..." Istara shook her head. "I hope not to cause any interplanetary incidents, but Mira is what is important." She flinched and touched her head. "What the..." She blanched.

Ahrissa was up and by Istara's side in seconds, a soft, healing hand on her shoulder "Whats wrong?" she questioned gently

"I..." Istara shook her head. "I don't know. It was like my head suddenly was two or three sizes too big. Or..." Her eyes widened. "I can feel Mira, even from here, wow... that is..." She shook her head, grimacing. "That girl's tolerance for pain is incredible..."

Ahrissa smiled slightly as she leaned back on her heals "You have no idea...."

"Drat." Istara shook her head, and then slumped. "They jumped. But I still..." She grinned ferally. "I still have a link. It isn't supposed to work like that, but I do. Let’s go get her back." Ahrissa nodded and helped Istara up onto her feet. Istara smiled as she took Ahrissas hand. "Um... One thing... I um... Well...I know Jedi don't go for unrestricted violence, and I don't usually either, but if it calls for it....Uh..." She grinned sheepishly. "Just don't get in my way if I look mad please?"

Ahrissa blinked for a few moments before opening her mouth in a silent, but obvious 'Ah' of understanding "I know someone, actually with a rather unique talent, and through her I have learned to stay out of the way." she smiled

"Not a bad idea." Istara nodded. "Good skill to have around darksiders... Although I am not one anymore... mostly... It's complicated..."

"Ah?" Ahrissa smile "No need to explain. Come, let us see what we can accomplish this day"

Istara shook herself. Maybe this wouldn’t be as bad as she thought. Then she winced, Mira's pain increased suddenly and there was a spark of fear and then the trace vanished. "Lost it, but we have a track now." She hit the console. "Gute, follow whatever ship just jumped."
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
07.06.2012 , 04:26 AM | #6
<A few minutes previous>

“Master, we have a problem.” Mira tensed as a man wearing a full flightsuit with helmet came into the room. She had been reclining in a comfortable chair while Nira had been fiddling with things, trying to find answers to the questions they had, but then the door had hissed open and this new man had come in. Mira stiffened, but a gentle touch on her arm had her relaxing. She didn’t –quite- trust Nira, the woman had to have her own agenda, but she found she sort of liked the woman, and if Nira could help her with this garbage in her head, well then…

“What is the problem Luc? You are frightening our guest.” Nira’s voice was cool and the man stiffened. Then he reached up and undid his helmet.

"Ah..." The face that appeared had bright blue eyes, blonde hair and a sheepish look. He nodded to Mira. “I apologize.”

"Accepted." Mira nodded back. “But whatever you have to say must be important.”

The man called Luc smiled at her and then turned to the older woman in black. Now his face became worried. “We have done as directed. We found a stationary orbit on the outskirts of the Dantooine system. But about three minutes ago, a ship launched from the planet’s surface. It is heading on a course heading directly for us. We are just another hunk of metallic rock as far as sensors are concerned. So…”

"What ship?" Nira tensed. “Jedi?”

"No." Luc shook his head. “Its registry says it’s the Unobtanium Monkey.”

Mira couldn’t help it, she laughed. “What kind of a person names their ship that?” Her laugh cut off as Nira turned a worried face her way. Mira tensed. “Whose ship is that?”

“The Bladeborn." Nira said slowly. "Get us out of here, Luc. Set course for Tattooine.” The pilot saluted and left the room.

Mira felt conflicted. Hope for a rescue was eclipsed by the stark fear of being stuck with these ‘things’ inside her head. Injudiciously, she tried to get up, and without thought, she tried to use her splinted arm for leverage. The shock of pain that flew through her system convinced her that was bad idea quickly. She didn’t cry out, but Nira was at her side instantly.

“Mira…?” The older woman’s voice was quiet, worried.

"I..." Mira snarled past her pain. “I am all right.”

"No you are not." Lady Nira shook her head and held the girl down gently. “No you are not. Don’t move.” She carefully picked up the splinted arm and sighed as she examined it with the Force. Now her voice held a tinge of exasperation. “If you keep using it, it will never heal.” She laid it back down gently. They both felt it when the ship jumped to hyperspace. Nira sighed. “I shouldn’t have come back to Dantooine, I should have taken you straight to Tattooine. To the clinic there. But I thought maybe I could drop you here, I hadn’t thought it would be so busy so soon. They must have detected your disappearance just after it happened.”

"Just..." Mira was gasping slightly as Nira handled her arm, the sheer amount of pain threatening to overwhelm even her tight control. “I… I want to be free of this garbage.”

"I know." The Sith woman shook her head in fond exasperation. “Mira, I do understand. You are incredibly tough, young lady. Any normal person, adult or child, would likely be on the floor rolling and screaming in pain from what you just did. Ah girl... You broke your forearm again. Just a minor break, but still…”

Mira was shuddering now, trying to hold herself together and Nira sighed. Without any warning, she scooped the girl into her arms carefully and held her tight to her body. Mira tensed for a moment, but then relaxed as what Nira was doing came through her haze of pain. The woman was singing, and stroking Mira’s short hair. It relaxed her, it felt… familiar, like something her mother might have done.

"Okay..." After a time, Nira smiled and looked the girl in the eyes. “I am going to give you something for the pain. Then you will sleep while Tirka works on your arm. Okay?” She asked gently. Mira couldn’t summon the energy to speak, so she nodded. The woman set Mira down gently in the chair she had been in and then went to a side cupboard. She came back a moment later, fiddling with a hypo. Mira’s eyes were scared, but the woman knelt down slowly. When she spoke, it was quiet, but earnest. “If you don’t want me to do something, all you have to do is say ‘No’.” Then she waited with her hands and body still.

Mira looked at her and then relaxed. Her voice was nearly inaudible. “Yes.”

Nira smiled as she applied the hypo. “Good girl. Rest now. I should have some answers when we reach Tattooine space.” She stroked the girl’s short hair until Mira’s breathing relaxed into sleep patterns. Then she carefully picked the girl up to carry her to Medical.

Tirka was always ready and after a startled oath, started working as soon as Nira set the poor girl down on the medical table. His mouth was set in a grim line as he cut the flexicast off and started working to gently straighten the bone again.

"Poor girl." Nira shook her head. “I wish I could touch heal her.”

Tirka shook his head. “You would put me out of work.” He joked, but his tone was…odd.

Nira looked away from the slumbering girl’s face. “What is wrong?”

"Uh..." Tirka shook his head. “A message just came for you.”

"What?" Nira stiffened. “For me? From who?”

"I don't know." Tirka shook his head. “It bears the Imperial Seal however, so none of us dared look at it.”

Nira nodded and stepped to the small office that served Tirka when he wasn’t working on patients. She was not in it long, and when she came out, her step was unsteady and her face was ashen. Tirka looked up from where he was putting a cast on the girl’s arm again. “Master…?”

"Oh Tirka... We are done." Nira sat heavily, her mind obviously racing. When she spoke it was dead of emotion. “Krundas reported us.”

"He...?" Tirka went still. “Oh no…”

"I..." Nira shook her head. “I knew that slime would, but I had hoped to help this poor girl first. I…”

"Master...?" Tirka finished his work and rose from where he had been bent over beside Mira. He went to Nira. “What did the message say?”

"I am officially on the most wanted list now." Nira slumped. “The Emperor has declared me a traitor. If we are discovered in Imperial territory… we die. He could just rely on the Bladeborn, but apparently he is…most displeased with me. He wants this public and messy. So he is sending a ‘very special emissary’ to hunt me down.”

"Oh no..." Tirka felt his blood freeze. There was really only one being that Nira might call that. “No… Not him…”

"Malgus." Nira nodded. “One of my agents sent a copy of the kill order to me. Attached was a missive wishing me luck.” The word luck came out heated. “I won’t hear from that agent again, if she is alive, I would be incredibly surprised. I won’t contact any of them again. I need you to prepare to evacuate the ship, take only what you need to keep this girl safe and healthy. The good news is that you lot are not named, it’s just for me. I will let all of you off and you can go where you will.”

"No..." Tirka shook his head. “Master Nira… No. I will not leave you. We will not leave you.”

"You have to." Nira shook her head. “Tirka, if you or any of the others are here when he gets here, you will die.”

Another voice answered her. A harsh voice. “We did not expect to survive when you bought us, Master Nira.” Nira turned to look at where her pilot and the Houk were standing now. The Houk had spoken.

“Luc… Cillig…” Nira shook her head. “Please… I am not strong enough to watch all of you die.”

"Easy solution." The Houk smiled. “Then let us all live.”

"Ah Cillig..." Nira sighed in exasperation. “If only it were that simple, my large friend. Look, my duty is to get this girl healed. Cranna’s clinic is the only place in the galaxy where I know they can this kind of damage. Maybe the Jedi enclave on Tython, but… I can’t go there.”

"Master." The pilot, Luc shook his head. “Cranna’s clinic won’t deal with Sith. And if we show up with a girl who has been… tampered with… How will they react?”

"Not well." Nira slumped. “But what choice do we have?”

A strange voice answered her. “Always there are choices, always there are alternatives.” Nira spun. The voice was coming from Mira’s mouth. But the girl was obviously unconscious and it wasn’t Mira’s voice. “You seek understanding.”

Nira blinked, her mouth agape. She recognized the voice. “No… way…” Her tone was pure shock. “She destroyed the access protocols…”

The girl’s mouth moved and the not her voice spoke again. “Damage to primary data retrieval pathways has been circumvented. Secondary access granted.”

"What?" Nira shook her head, still in shock. “What are you doing to her, Vxeis?”

The strange voice spoke again, utterly ignoring the other three beings in the room. “Apprentice, Nira, Female, class Six. Retrieving record seven Aleph Sigma…”

Suddenly the voice changed timbre and all of the beings in the compartment froze as they heard a male voice. It sounded old and tired. “Hello Nira.”

Nira’s face went pure white. “Master Vxeis?”

The voice of the dead Sith Lord continued. “If you are hearing this, then I am dead. I knew, when I started this that there was only one penalty for what needed to be done. I figured it was only a matter of time until one of the Emperor’s agents found me, but no matter. Nira, if you are hearing this, then I have failed. I placed information vital to the Empire in the mind of this girl. This girl… This treasure is far more than she seems. No matter what happens, Nira, you must protect this girl. I wish I could have explained it to you, and to her. I believe both of you would have made the proper choice, but there was no time. Every vision I had was of the same thing. Myself. Dead. I cast you loose to seek your own apprentices to keep you from sharing my fate. Your loyalty is unquestioned. Mine… is more fluid, and that is why I will die as I will. A traitor who consorted with enemies of the Empire and conducted horrific experiments on blameless beings in an insane attempt to store data in a living mind. My fate is deserved, Nira, but I hope you may be spared it. You need to know. Inside this girl’s mind is the key to Seven… no… no… wait…! AHHHH!”

A grisly sound, something sharp striking meat, came from the girl’s mouth and then it shut. Nira stared at the girl and then bowed her head. When she spoke it was quiet. “I… I still hate him…”

"Master." Luc stared from her to the slumbering girl. “I don’t understand.”

"Vxies did soemthing insane." Nira sighed. “He hid something in her head. Something that has hidden there ever since. Something that has done its best to drive her mad. I am going to meditate, try and gain clarity. How long until Tattooine?”

"Ah..." Luc bit his lip and looked at his chrono. “Six and half hours.”

"Okay." Nira nodded. “I want all of you to be ready to run or fight when we revert. I have no idea at all what we will find there.”

Luc saluted and turned to go back to the cockpit. The Houk Cillig bowed and turned to go do whatever he would to prepare. Tirka stayed for a moment. “Master Nira, are you all right?”

"No." Nira shook her head. “No I am not. I have hated him for so long. To hear he was trying to protect me…? I don’t believe it. I can’t believe it. He didn’t have it in him to do that.”

"Master?" Tirka sighed. “Do you want me to monitor?”

"Hmmm..." Nira bit her lip and then nodded. “Yes. Monitor both of us. I have no idea at all what is going to happen.” She sat down in a chair beside the bed on which Mira was sleeping and laid a gentle hand on the slumbering girl’s head. Tirka came close and placed a biosensor tag on her shirt, it would allow him to monitor her without touching her, which might not be a good idea if she was in deep meditation. She nodded to the medic and then closed her eyes and immersed herself in the Force.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
07.06.2012 , 04:34 AM | #7
For a moment, everything around Nira seemed normal. The ways that the Force played around and through the mind of the girl were fairly commonplace. But only for a moment. The girl’s mind, even without the Force, was a spiky, dangerous place just like any mind. Nira was good at what she did however and was careful. When a wall of thorns sprang up in her path, she could have cut through it with her lightsaber. But who knew what that might do to Mira? So she jumped high over it. When an ocean appeared all around her, she hovered on the Force just over the water that was now teeming with fins circling hungrily. Ahead, she saw her goal, a small island of dirt. And on it, a small, almost innocuous looking pyramid. And beside it…

Mira was slamming her small fists into the holocron, trying to break it, dent it, damage it is some way. She didn’t look up as Nira landed nearby. The Sith woman didn’t move, instead, she spoke softly but clearly. “Mira… that won’t work.”

"I..." Mira kept up her banging. Her voice was weary. “Don’t care… Tired of these stupid flashes of light… Want this piece of fierfek gone!” She hit the thing again, but nothing happened other than one of her hands making a sick cracking noise. One of the girl’s hands hung limp now, but she kept hitting the holocron with the other.

"Mira..." Nira shook her head. “Oh Mira… Come here girl…”

"Can't..." Mira didn’t look from where she was pounding. “Can’t trust you…”

"No." The Sith lady shook her head and when she spoke, her voice was even, if tinged with sadness. “No you can’t. Even if you had some kind of proof I was on the level, you can’t be sure I am not playing some kind of deep game. Anything I say could be a lie. Oh Mira…” Nira felt her eyes start burning, but controlled herself. “We need to find out what is going on here. There was a message in your mind, for me.”

"What?" Mira stiffened. “For you?”

"Yeah." The Sith woman nodded and spoke slowly, carefully. “I think… I think my former Master was interrupted before he could finish whatever the flarg he was doing. And… I may be able to help you, but it will take both of us.”

"No." Mira’s pounding was weary now. “Just… want… an end…”

"No you don't child." Nira shook her head. “No you don’t. You want answers. You want healing. You want a normal life.”

Mira finally turned to look at the Sith and Nira recoiled slightly. The girl’s eyes were a mass of bloody tears. “Normal?” Mira asked in a quiet but scary tone. “I have no idea what normal might be…” Nira swallowed inaudibly and stepped towards the hurt girl.

“Mira, please listen to me." The Sith said softly. "I can’t undo the past. All I can do is try and help you now. Come here, girl…” The Sith repeated. There was command in this tone, but no compulsion. This time, Mira stood on shaky feet and tottered towards her. Nira didn’t move as Mira stumbled, almost fell, but caught herself and managed to get to where Nira was standing. She fell into Nira’s arms trying to keep from sobbing.

Nira didn’t do anything, just held the girl, speaking softly. “It’s okay, Mira. You can cry here. No one will see you, or hear you. Besides me, and I…” Tears were falling now as she just held this brave little kid. Mira was shuddering, and then the floodgates opened and tears started falling from the girl’s eyes. The Sith held the girl in a gentle embrace as she sat down and made a pillow for the girl to cushion her head on with her arms. “It’s okay, Mira. It’s okay…” She repeated that mantra softly as she stroked the girl’s hair. Here it was long, fluffy and beautiful. Eventually, Mira calmed a bit. Nira’s voice was still kind and gentle. “That’s it. That’s it. It will be okay, Mira. I think I know what to do now.”

"You do?" Mira looked up at her from Nira’s lap and her voice was soft, almost inaudible. “What?”

"I need to access the holocron." Nira sighed. “I am almost completely certain my master put information on what he did to you in there.”

"So?" Mira blinked, confused. “Then access it.”

"I wish." Nira shook her head. “If only it was that simple. I need your help to access it.”

"What?" Mira blinked again, even more confused. “My help?”

"Mira..." The Sith sighed. “It’s your brain Mira. I will not do anything without your permission.”

"i don't understand." Mira looked at her. “You could just take the information. Why are you not? Sith don’t ask. Sith don’t bargain. Sith just… take.”

"Yes." Nira nodded. “Many Sith do. I will not. I told you why I won’t hurt you. I owe you for what happened to you. And you remind me of my daughter.” Then she shrugged. “And, just in case I am a pragmatic, evil Sith... I believe the access is code locked. I may be able to access part of it, but not all of it. But you have the codes I believe.”

"Me?" Mira shook her head slowly. “How can I? He never… He never talked to me. He just…” She was crying again, and this time Nira held her and let her cry.

"Oh Mira..." Nira’s voice was soft and kind. “That’s it, girl. Let it out. Let it out. You have held this in for far too long.”

Mira choked out words between sobs. “Why…? Why did he do this to me…? What did I do to him…?” Now she was trying to strike out, but Nira was careful to hold the girl, both gently and securely. The girl couldn’t get leverage to do anything besides cause bruises.

The older woman just held the girl as she thrashed. “You did nothing to him. I think… I think he knew all along that he would die and why.” Mira froze in mid-swing.

Mira’s voice was stunned. “What?”

"Mira." Nira sighed again. “Whatever answers are available; I believe are inside that holocron. But this is very important Mira, out here, all you do is hurt yourself physically. If we go in… We will be in the deepest recesses of your mind. If you hurt yourself there… The best outcome will be to cause irreparable brain damage. But I think the only place to find answers is in there.” She moved her head to the side.

Mira stared at the woman who was holding her gently. And then she turned her head to look at the holocron where it sat glistening sinisterly in the dim light that came from wherever. When she spoke, it was low, and tense. “I am scared…” For this girl to say that, all of her mental defenses had to be down or at least withdrawn a bit.

Nira nodded. “So am I.” Mira turned startled eyes to her and Nira shrugged. “I have never done anything like this before Mira. But fear or any other form of passion is a step on the road to freedom, or so the Sith Code tells us. We can use it, or let it use us. I choose to use it.”

Mira bit her lip and then scrambled to her feet. Nira let her go. The girl stood up straight, obviously focusing her mind. When she spoke, it was quiet, and focused. “What do I do?”

Nira stood up and extended a hand to the arm with the injured hand. Mira tensed when Nira took her arm, but then relaxed as power flowed through her hand, cleaning, aligning, healing. She stared at Nira, who grinned. “I can’t do that in the real world, but I can do it here, this is all in the mind.”

Mira shook her head. “Has anyone told you that you are crazy, Lady?”

"Oh Mira..." Nira grinned wider and nodded. “Every day.” She held out a hand.

Mira stared at her healed hand for a long moment and then nodded slowly. She put her small hand in Nira’s larger one and both of them turned to face the red holocron. They both stared at it for a moment before Mira spoke softly. “What do we do?”

Nira grimaced. Her voice was thoughtful when she spoke. “Every holocron I have ever seen, Jedi or Sith, has had security systems or safeguards built in. I have heard of Sith holocrons having Force shades bound to them, and that can get… messy. But I…” She broke off, tilting her head as if trying to get memories to fall into the right places.


After a moment, Mira spoke. “But…?”

"I doesn't fell right." Nira shook her head. “I don’t think he would have trapped it. The whole idea of putting it in your head was to hide it in the best hiding place possible. I think he intended me to find it, eventually. So… whatever he did would have been… geared…” She broke off, and her face was a mask of shock. “Wait a minute…” She shook her head. “No… Bloody… way…”

"Nira?" Mira tore her eyes off the holocron and looked at Nira. She was startled to see the woman’s face turn pale. Mira gave the older woman’s hand a squeeze. “What? What is wrong?”

"Of all the...!" Nira shook her head. “That son of a barve! Don’t let go of my hand Mira…” Nira strode towards the holocron and after a moment’s reflection, touched it. Nothing happened, but she shook her head again. “Put your free hand on mine…” Her voice was somewhere between shock and awe.

Mira looked at her, and then did as instructed. A powerful pulse of red light erupted from the holocron and…
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kalenath
07.06.2012 , 04:41 AM | #8
Ahrissa grumbled some "Are you sure about this? I wasn't exactly top of my class in this...."

"Jedi..." Istara snorted as she knelt. "You have to be better than I am. Yes, my mom was a seer, but the only visions I have managed to have... have hit me completely unaware."

Ahrissa sighed "My Master was a healer...my duty to the republic as Guardian, and my Ambitions are to be a weapons Master... Divination and those similar are more for councilors...still, I have managed it a few times in training...I just..don’t want to make any mistakes. Mira is far too important to me."

"True." Istara nodded. "I have never met her, but she is important to me too. The man I ... loved... feels strongly for her. If she is hurt or worse... Well... You don't want to see what will happen. Idjit has all the subtlety of a stampeding herd of Rancors when he gets mad."

Ahrissa rose a brow, the name sounding familiar to her...but after being unable to make the connection she merely sighed and folded her legs beneath her "Well, lets get to it then"

"Okay." Istara leaned into her meditation. "Yes, let’s do this." She cast out with her mind, seeking Ashla, and finding it. The power flowed around and through her as always, drawing her along in its currents. It was very similar to the Light Side as was taught to the Jedi, but not... quite.

Ahrissa closed her eyes and breathed, attempting to clear her mind of doubt and simply...focus. A brief thought flickered across her mind, one she deemed worthy to try if she failed, Trisskar might be young but she was better at this sort of thing... 'no..focus' After a time her breathing became more relaxed and her heart rate slowed as she allowed herself to drift into the folds of the force

Istara was lost in a sea of power, but then a sour feeling swept over her and something that felt like claw pulled her back to where she needed to be. She smiled. "Thank you Nana..." She said quietly, maybe only in her mind.

An image appeared in front of Ahrissa. A hospital bed with medical gear all around it. A form in black robes sat nearby, her -yes definitely a her- hand on the forehead of the girl in the bed. Mira lay on the bed, her eyes open, but seeing nothing. Her left arm was in a cast, and her skull was shaved and bandaged, but she was breathing. What she was wearing was odd. Sith robes!

In Ahrissa's hand the silver hilt of her saber appeared as she made a cautious step forward "Mira?" she questioned gently

Mira's eyes closed for a moment and then shot open. "Ahrissa? Ahrissa! No... No... Stay away... Danger!" She couldn't seem to see the Jedi.

Ahrissa tensed at Mira's frightened voice but her jaw set firm "I am not leaving you!" she confirmed as she made towards the bed

"Ahrissa..." Istara's voice came from somewhere nearby. It was calm. "It is a vision. What do you see, Ahrissa?" Was the voice aloud or only in her head?

Ahrissa growled as she forced her feet to halt and closed her eyes, she hated how real these visions could be. After a few moments her voice croaked "There performing experiments on Mira..." she then went about describing the scene as she opened eyes and watched the helpless form laying upon the bed, trying her hardest not to rush by her side, rip the wires and computers away, and swoop the girl up to safety.

"Ahrissa." Istara's voice was hard now. "Can you see anything else? I can't."

Ahrissa sighed as she took a cautious step forward in an attempt to try and see anything she may have missed in her description. The room was small, obviously a shipboard compartment. But it looked fairly comfortable. There were no obvious implements of torture anywhere and the only other occupant of the room was a female in Sith robes.

But then the Sith met the Jedi's eyes and spoke. "You know not what you do, Jedi. Beware." There was honest fear in her voice, but... Not for herself? For Mira? Then the vision vanished.

Ahrissa gasped as crystal eyes opened in the physical realm, her torso bending forward as she placed a hand on the floor to steady herself, strawberry blonde hair spilling over her face and shoulders as she gritted her teeth and forced herself to relax, feeling completely drained from the experience.

"Whoa." Istara was there, her hands gentle as she assisted the Jedi. "Easy there. What happened? I couldn't get any inkling, just that you were surprised by something."

Ahrissa took in a deep breath and sat up straight "Thank you." she said with a re-assuring smile "I didn't get any real sense that any harm or danger is being inflicted on Mira..." she said "In fact the girl tried to warn me away.." Ahrissa then described the whole scene to Istara carefully to be sure she didn't leave anything important out.

"She...?" Istara blinked, shocked. "She what? Oh joy... She must be being controlled. Or something. The girl I heard about would never let a Sith do anything to her without fighting."

Ahrissa frowned some "I..." she then paused; obviously looking confused about the whole thing "Perhaps she’s just being concerned for me more so then herself...she is known for that..."

"Maybe." Istara shook her head slowly. "It... That doesn't feel quite right somehow. You say there was a woman there? Can you describe her? Knowing our opponent will help."

Ahrissa shook her head "She was hooded and cloaked from view....typical Sith fashion...but...her eyes..." She shook herself. "...a deep, piercing blue..."

"What?" Istara flinched. "Blue...? Oh no... I thought i recognized that feeling..." Ahrissa raised an inquiring brow as Istara spun and moved quickly to a terminal on the wall. After a few minutes of tapping, she brought up a picture. "Is this her?" The woman on the screen had a scowl, and her bright blue eyes seemed to pierce deep into one. The caption under the picture read 'Sith Lady Nira Auralai'.

Ahrissa leaned to the side so that she could see over Istara, her own crystal eyes meeting the blue of the Sith "Yes...that’s her"

"Oh dear." Istara sank back on her haunches, obviously thinking hard. "Then we have massive problems..."

Ahrissa rose a brow "She's Sith… That’s not problem enough?"

"Yes." Istara shook her head. "She was an apprentice to a nasty piece of work named Vxeis. That was the Sith lord who experimented on Mira. She is known for mental manipulation. And just in the last day or so..." She keyed another command into her terminal and another caption appeared under Nira's picture. 'Enemy of the Empire'. “She enters Imperial space and they will blow her away. They won't care who else is aboard the ship."

Ahrissa's crystal eyes hardened "Where then would she go....not Republic space surely...she may of made it past our securities once...but twice?"

"I don't know." Istara nodded. "Maybe one of... wait a moment..." Istara typed some more and then stared at the console in disbelief. "She cannot be serious... There is no way at all... I knew her course took her to Tattooine, but why? It didn't make sense. Cranna hates the Sith. Any Sith entering her domain don't generally leave and the Empire leaves her alone. Oh they could take her, but it would cost more than it would gain and they know it."

Ahrissa sighed "It doesn’t matter why...we just need to get to Mira"

"Indeed." Istara nodded. "Now more than ever. This ship is faster than it looks. We should arrive at Tattooine shortly after they do. The question is what we do when we get there. If I had my druthers, I would board that piece of junk and slaughter everything until I find Mira, but... if she is being controlled..."

Ahrissa frowned for a bit in thought "Killing isn't the answer if we can help it. Perhaps there’s a more diplomatic solution... In any case...the force will provide us with an answer. For now our first priority is getting there."

"Maybe." Istara shook her head slowly. "But I am not going to hold my breath. They had to know how the Bladeborn would respond. And... Wait a minute.... Who sent in the report on her activities?" She scrutinized the console and then hissed in disbelief. "Sith Warrior Marek Krundas? You have got to be kidding me... That guy is slime...Why would he suddenly start acting all patriotic?"

Ahrissa remained silent, her lore in Sith politics and history was not so great.

"Well..." Istara sighed and stepped back from the terminal. "Well, now we wait." She grinned sourly. "I hate waiting..."

Ahrissa nodded "patience is a virtue...even if it may seem like torture"

((Posted by Trisskar))
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kalenath
07.06.2012 , 04:48 AM | #9
Mira coughed hard and struggled to sit up. Suddenly a hand was underneath her shoulders, helping her sit up to ease her breathing. She managed to grate out words. “Tha… Than… Thank you…” The hand held her as she shuddered.

“It’s okay Mira. I had no idea…” Nira Auralai smiled as Mira met her eyes. “How are you feeling?”

"I..." Mira slumped. “Like I got run over by two or three landspeeders. Oh… Did you…?” She looked at Nira and stiffened when the woman nodded.

“I saw.” The Sith woman confirmed. But then she hit a control on Mira’s bed and the bed inclined to let Mira see easily. It also allowed the older woman to check her vitals without leaning over the girl too far. Mira tried to sit up further and Nira held up a warning hand. “Easy there…”

"Nira." Mira blinked and then slumped. “You felt them, didn’t you?” While the two of them had been deep in meditation, Nira pulling the girl deeper into her mind than was normally possible. Mira, though not Force sensitive, had sensed two powerful presences while in the grip of that meditation. The Sith nodded. Mira spoke slowly. “One of them was Ahrissa, a Jedi posted as my guardian, the other… I don’t know… She seemed so familiar, but I don’t think I know her.”

"Well." Nira sighed. “Either she is a Jedi or she is a Bladeborn. Either way… Can you still…” She broke off as Mira’s face went cold and remote.

Mira’s voice was soft and unemotional. “I have access. Data storage files One Hundred Sixteen Alpha through Two Hundred Three Sigma and Three Thousand One Kilo through Three Thousand Four Delta corrupted, replacing from backups.”

The Sith took the girl’s hand in a gentle grip. “Mira, focus… Focus on my voice. You are not a droid, you are not a computer.”

The girl’s blank eyes turned to face Nira and her voice faltered. “I am recovering data… I… Ugh… Nira… I…” Her eyes changed to focus on the Sith and her voice became fearful. Nira nodded slowly. “Nira… help…?”

"Mira." Nira shook her head, frowning. “This is going to hurt…”

Mira grimaced. “Do it!” She groaned out.

The Sith grimaced as well and laid two gentle hands against either side of the girl’s skull. Purple tendrils of energy crackled from her fingertips and the girl convulsed. But she did not cry out. The girl slumped back to the bed and the Sith patted her arm gently. “Mira…? Come on girl. Talk to me, please…?” The woman pulled a clean cloth out of a cupboard and started drying the girl’s face with it.

"Holy..." Mira kept her eyes pressed tightly shut. “I really don’t want to go through that again if I can help it. We really need to find a better means of access.”

"Yes." Nira sank back in relief. “Yes we do. Don’t scare me like that.”

"You..." Mira looked at her. “You had no idea he put the access paths in you, did you?”

"Me?" The older woman snorted. “He never told me anything. The message I uncovered in your mind, well, you saw it…” Mira nodded slowly, her head felt two or three sizes too small for her skin at the moment. That had been… interesting, to hear another person’s voice coming from her mouth. Nira had shown everything that she had found out and heard. It was literally impossible for either of them to lie to the other now.

"So...?" Mira sighed. “Now what? Together we make a full holocron. But we still have next to no idea what is in it.”

"We know a little." The older woman sighed as she sat beside Mira’s bed. “He said something about something called the ‘Seven’ whatever that is.”

"Yes..." Mira nodded, but then flinched a little. “He thought I was one of them, didn’t he?”

"I don't know." The older woman sighed. “It is probable, but… Mira, we can’t go looking again. Not soon.”

The girl stared at the older woman. “But…”

"You are too weakened by the ordeal." The Sith shook her head. “No ‘buts’. I need to make some calls.”

Mira blinked and then she spoke softly. “Will this new information be worth your life?” She didn’t trust Nira, she wasn’t that stupid, but she did like the woman. And thanks to her, Nira was under penalty of death in the Empire at the moment.

"I doubt it." Nira shook her head. “But I have to try. What Vxeis did… Sith as a whole do not care about hurting others as long as there is a benefit to them. The Nabooese are going to be royally aggravated. And no, not just your mom.”

"You..." Mira shook her head. “You argued but he was your master.” The older woman looked at her and Mira smiled. “That record is here. You were um… verbose.”

"What?" Nira shook her head, baffled. “Why would Vxeis give you that record? It makes no sense.”

The girl in the bed shook her head. “I don’t know. There are no similar files anywhere I can find.” She winced a bit and slumped further.

The Sith lady smiled as she patted the girl’s arm. “Rest, Mira. We have a busy day coming up when we reach Tattooine.”

"Nira?" Mira’s eyes were becoming heavy, but she spoke evenly. “What are the chances?”

"Slim." Nira sighed. “Of my convincing him not to kill me? I don’t know. Probably nil. But I have to try. There is too much chance of you being caught in the battle. And you are far more important now than I ever was.”

"Nira..." Mira shook herself, struggling against sleep. “Don't…”

"It's okay, Mira." Nira patted her arm again. “I am not going out looking to die, child. I have plans and contingency plans. Sleep.” Mira took the Sith lady’s kind words with her to slumber. Nira waited beside the bed until the girl was fully unconscious before setting the medical monitors and stepping out of the small compartment.

The Sith lady strode into the common area to find two of her people talking quietly. They both braced to attention as she entered. Her voice was calm and professional. “Report.”

"Master." Luc spoke first. “We are on course and at full speed. We will reach Tattooine in four hours.” He nodded to his companion.

"Master." Tirka spoke evenly. “I have managed to map the locations of two more of the implants. Master… I have done all I can.”

"I know." Nira nodded. “Get her ready for transport. I will make a few calls as soon as we revert to realspace.”

"Calls?" Tirka stiffened. “Master…?”

“Tirka, I am dead." Nira said quietly. "It is only a question of where, when and how much it hurts. But no matter what I have to see this girl safe now. Cranna’s clinic can remove the other implants, and get her back to Dantooine. The question is getting her there intact. And gettign you three somewhere safe as well.”

"Master?" Luc stared at her. “What is so important about this girl?’

"You don't want to know." Nira shook her head. “You really don’t want to know. Be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice. All of you, with her.” Luc and Tirka stared at her and she nodded slowly. “It has been an honor.” Without another word, both bowed to her and left the room.
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kalenath
07.06.2012 , 04:54 AM | #10
<Tattooine space, a little over four hours later>

Nira’s small ship reverted to realspace. But not alone. Luc’s voice was scared when he called over the intercom. “Master…? I think you need to see this…”

Nira ran to the cockpit and then froze in midstride as she entered and could see through the viewports. A dozen ships were arrayed around the system. All of them were Sith Imperial Navy vessels. A dreadnought, four cruisers, a carrier and six escorts. Nira blanched as she saw a squadron of fighters moving towards the position of her ship.

“It’s him…” Her voice was low, scared. “Can we jump again?”

I..." Luc checked his instruments and shook his head. “No. Even if the generators have had enough time to cycle… Which they have not had… They have an interdictor field up. I might be able to skim it, but those fighters won’t just let us go… I… I‘m sorry…”

Nira shook her head and patted her pilot’s shoulder. “Not your fault Luc.” She smiled a bit wanly. “I only punish subordinates when they make mistakes. This isn’t a mistake. This is enemy action.”

"I don't understand." Luc shook his head. “How could they possibly have known where we were going?”

"Krundas." Nira sighed. “That bastard Krundas. He told them what he did to the girl. How many other places are there where doctors can undo such brain damage? I should have guessed, but she is so weak, she wouldn’t survive going anywhere else first. And he likely knew it.” She froze as the com lit up. She shared a glance with her pilot, and then hit the control.

An arrogant sounding human voice came over the com. “Nira Auralai, by order of the Sith Empire, you are to surrender immediately. If you attempt to resist or flee, you will be destroyed.”

Nira hit the mute and looked at her pilot. “If I confuse them, can you get us to the planet?”

"Ma'am?" She smiled evilly and he nodded. “Yes, Ma’am.”

Nira smiled grimly and sat, strapping herself in. Then she opened herself to the Force. She could feel the minds of the pilots in the fighters approaching her ship, a minor tweak here and there and…

<Aboard the battleship Deciever>

A bridge officer was shaking her head slightly as she pored over her readouts, watching the newly come transport. The name was meaningless. Harvest Pride was almost certainly a fake transponder code. She scrutinized the readings. It almost completely matched the description that had been given to them, but she wasn’t totally sure. Then something odd happened. The fighters that had been closing quickly on the nondescript transport suddenly veered off. She stared at her screen in shock, and then hit her com.

“Sigma lead, what are you doing?” She had to wait a moment for the transmission to reach the fighters and then for the pilot in question to respond.

"Base!" The pilot’s voice was dazed. “This is Sigma lead, that is no transport. It’s a Republic anti-starfighter weapons platform. We very nearly flew into its guns. It’s putting out enough fire now to wipe out half the wing.”

The officer stared at her screen, where the ship in question was accelerating smoothly. There was no anti-fighter fire. “Sigma Leader, you are mistaken, that is…” She broke off as she felt a dark presence move to behind her. She looked over her shoulder, her face worried. “My lord…?”

The cloaked and cowled figure that strode up behind her nodded. “That is her. That woman is well known for mind tricks. Tell the fighters to maintain their distance, and monitor her approach. And put me on.” The officer hit a control and nodded. The cowled figure spoke, a soft hissing heard now from under the cowl. “Lady Nira Auralai, you will surrender to Imperial justice at once. Or I will remove your ship from the stars no matter your tricks. You have… two minutes.” He cut the communication and turned back to the officer. “We are prepared?”

“Yes Mi’lord.” The officer nodded. No one sane questioned this being. She turned back to her console. “Sigma Lead. Maintain observation distance. What the…?” She stared as another ship reverted to realspace not very far at all from the transport the fleet was now chasing. The name on the ship had her doing a double take. Who in their right mind called a ship the Unobtanium Monkey?

The cowled figure nodded. “I wondered when they would show up. Send to the Unobtanium Monkey. ‘I would be pleased to have you aboard while we sort this out.’ And instruct the troops to be polite. The Bladeborn can be a bit touchy at times. It can get rather messy and I would prefer not to have the decks knee deep in gore.” The officer gulped audibly and nodded before relaying the commands.

<Aboard the first transport>

Nira had not expected the fighters to withdraw. She had not expected the Sith commander to invite her aboard. And she had certainly not expected the Bladeborn’s transport to arrive so quickly. She shook herself, trying to focus.

"Master?" Luc’s voice was stunned. “What can we do?”

"Nothing." Nira’s voice was tired now. “Do as instructed. Land us. Do not resist.”

"But..." Luc’s voice was scared now. “Master…?”

"Luc..." Nira slumped. “He could have just fired, blown us out of the sky. He didn’t. I don’t know what that means. But if it will save Mira and the rest of you… I will do it.”

"No..." Luc sounded as if he was almost in tears. “Master Nira…”

The Sith patted her slave’s shoulder. “It’s okay, Luc. We played, and we lost. I just hope they don’t blame you for my actions. I will take full responsibility if he will let me.” Luc looked at her and then focused on his flying. Unseen under his helmet, tears collected.

<Aboard the Unobtanium Monkey>

“Um… Istara…” Gute’s voice was scared. The woman shook herself where she sat, her face impassive.

"He is not hostile, that is good." Istara shrugged. “He has invited us all aboard, it would be rude to say no. Buck up, Gute. You are with us.”

"Ah...?" Gute shook his head slowly. “And that is supposed to reassure me… how…?”

"Easy." Istara snorted and patted the high strung Iridonian on the shoulder. “Relax Gute. We are not his target.”

“Yet…” The Iridonian’s voice was quiet as he followed the path dictated by the battleships flight operations.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here