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(L,F&E 73) Dark Paths, Dark Choices

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Fan Fiction
(L,F&E 73) Dark Paths, Dark Choices

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kalenath
08.09.2012 , 07:18 AM | #1
Jina Darkstorm was warm, dry, clean and comfortable. So why was she unhappy? She couldn’t figure out why she was out of sorts. She didn’t hurt, she didn’t feel the pain that had erupted when Will had… She froze in place. She thought back to what she could remember. She had been ‘rescued’ from Vandar, if you could call it that, by Imperial Intelligence. She had been under interrogation, the agents had been using drugs and other means to break her ability to resist their questions. So she had tried to escape them by travelling deep into her own mind, to a place that she knew fairly well. Will had been there. He had been sad. He had done…something. It had hurt like mad. And then she had woken up in the care of the imperial agents, but… She had been dying? One of them had said something about a heart attack? There had been someone else there, or had she imagined that? What had happened? She had to know. She cracked her eyes and looked around carefully. What she saw made her smile.

Ona, the healer of the Bladeborn, was snoozing in a chair nearby. Another figure in a medical tunic was working at a terminal and even from the back, Jina recognized her. Jina opened her mouth and spoke.

“Kina…?” A sound more croak than name came out, but the Twi’lek who was the head medic on this ship had acute hearing.

"Jina?" The Twi’Lek spun in her chair and her eyes lit up as she saw Jina looking at her. But then she put a finger to her lips and came to Jina’s bedside quietly. Kina whispered into the Jedi’s ear. “I just managed to get her to sleep twenty minutes ago. She has been pushing herself beyond her limits, trying to heal what was done to you.”

"I..." Jina stared at the Twi’lek. “What? I don’t hurt…” And she didn’t. Nothing hurt. But… She tensed as she realized that her feelings were fuzzy. She was drugged. She looked at herself. She was clad in a patient gown, and her leg… She tensed as she saw a covering over her right leg. She couldn’t see her leg!

"Jina, its okay." Kina nodded slowly and her hand came down slowly to take Jina’s. “We won’t let you hurt, Jina. Pain will slow your recovery.”

"How...?" Jina blanched. “How bad?” From the utter lack of feeling from her leg, it wasn’t good. “I can’t… I can’t feel my leg, Kina…”

Kina froze. “At all?” Her face was intent.

Jina nodded slowly, aware now of a tube under her nose and wires connected to her scalp. “Where is my leg, Kina, Please tell me you didn’t cut it off?” Tears were falling now.

"Oh Jina..." Kina smiled tenderly. “Silly woman. Here…” She took Jina’s right hand in her own and laid it gently on the covering. Beneath her fingers, Jina could feel flesh and blood where her right leg was. The former Jedi relaxed. “You were in surgery, Jina. When we are sure there are no complications, we are going to put a cast on. So you cannot use it.” This last was in a sour tone and Jina surprised herself with a snort. Kina waved a finger at the Jedi. “I know you woman. Give you half an inch and suddenly you are miles away. So I am not going to. Does anything hurt?”

"Oh Kina, you never change." Jina smiled at Kina’s snide comment, but then blinked. She catalogued her body as she had been taught. When she spoke it was careful. “I feel… odd. It doesn’t hurt, per say, but… My chest is tight. What happened?”

Both of them stiffened as Ona spoke softly. “Will needed a diversion to get some allies in place to rescue you. So he killed you by stopping your heart.” Her tone was massively disapproving.

"What?" Jina’s eyes went wide. “I thought I dreamed that. He touched me…” Her hand came up to her breastbone, but her questing fingers found nothing but her skin. “It hurt, but… Why? Wait… Melita said I was dying…She was crying… I… What…?” She asked, very confused.

Ona took one of Jina’s hands in a gentle grip and Kina took the other, both medics careful to avoid the IV lines that went into the woman’s wrists. Ona spoke softly. “Jina, it was the only way to get you out of Imperial Intelligence’s clutches. They had to be distracted and nothing else would have done it. I disagree with the method, but not the results.”

"I... No..." Jina shook her head. “Melita wouldn’t have killed me. She…She wouldn’t have. She still loves me.” Jina was sure the Twi’lek did. “Wait… What happened to her? I…” The Jedi tried to rise, but both Kina and Ona held her down gently.

"Easy." Ona shook her head. “Jina, the Imperial Intelligence team was captured by the people who rescued you. I understand that there is some discussion at the moment as to what to do with them, but we are not going to kill them out of hand.” Ona sounded slightly miffed about that, but then again, she had no patience at all for people who hurt her friends and Jina was her friend.

Jina relaxed a little. She knew Ona did not like lying and pretty much sucked at it. “So… prognosis? Will I dance again?” Her voice was humorous and both medics smiled as they sat again beside her bed.

Kina smiled, but then she nodded to Ona who grimaced slightly. The Bladeborn healer nodded and spoke slowly. “Jina, your knee was shattered. Part of it was a blaster wound, part… looks like it was done with a hammer.” The black furred Bladeborn Bothan healer looked slightly sick at that.

"Yeah." Jina nodded. “Agent Vorren… He didn’t like some of my answers.” She tensed Ona stiffened. Jina hastened to add. “It’s not his fault, Ona. I don't blame him. Want to hurt him, kill him, yes. Blame him? No.”

"Jina... Ah whatever." Ona snarled. “It may not be his fault, but it is his responsibility. You will be in regen therapy for a while, Jina. Then you will need physical therapy. The repairs will hold, but…” She held up a warning hand. “…it may never be as strong as it was. We will do what we can, Jina. But you need to know the odds.”

Jina smiled a little as she lay back in the bed and closed her eyes. “Never tell me the odds.” She was just going to close her eyes for a moment. Just a moment… She never noticed when she nodded off.

Kina smiled as she covered Jina with a light sheet. Ona nodded to her and then to the door. Kina followed the Bladeborn out and then waited while Ona shut the door. Ona’s voice was soft. “Can you stay with her?”

"Yes." Kina blinked, something in the Bladeborn’s voice… “Are you going to get some sleep?”

"Yes." Ona nodded. “I will, but I have to do something first.”

"What?" Kina blinked and then blanched. “Ona… No… He will…”

"Look, Kina." Ona shook her head. “I am not going to fight him. I am simply going to talk.” But her smile was terrifying. Kina shivered and recoiled slightly. Ona flinched and then sighed. “I am sorry, Kina. I am not angry with you. I am really not even angry with Will. From what I understand, he is as much a victim here as Jina was. But I need to talk to him.”

"Ona..." Kina slumped, “I know what I want to do, but I don’t dare.”

"Its okay. I didn't mean to scare you." Ona smiled. “What do you want to do, Kina? I won’t bite you.”

Kina smiled at the Bothan’s tone and then she took two steps and, greatly daring, put her arms around the furred form. “Thank you for trusting me Ona, thank you for helping.” The Twilek sighed. “I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been here.”

"Jina's knee?" Ona returned the female Twi’lek’s hug. “You would have managed somehow. Keeping Jina in the bed… That you might not have managed.”

"You know her well." Kina released her hug and stepped back. “Is it just my feeling that she is…different?”

"No." Ona shook her head. “No, it isn’t just you. She is teetering on the edge of falling to the Dark Side.”

"Oh no." Kina blanched. “What do I do? Is there anything I can do?”

"Yes." Ona sighed. “Be here for her. Be her friend. Be an arm if she needs one, a shoulder if she needs one and a swift boot in the tail if she needs one. She respects you.”

"Jina? Kina blinked in astonishment. “Me?”

Ona smiled. “Yes, you. You and your husband are brave, noble and selfless. All of us admire you. You don’t have our power and yet, you keep going through all the horror that you have endured. Istara told us a bit of what you went through. I am proud to work with you.”

"Uh." Kina grimaced. “Jon isn’t.”

"Jon is a jerk." Ona snorted. “Jon doesn’t like anyone, even me sometimes and I am mated to him. Don’t take it personally.”

"Right." Kina smiled. “I will try not to. It is hard though.”

"Hard?" Ona snorted. “Try living with him. Now I need to go talk to Will.”

Kina smiled as she watched the Bothan healer leave the bay. Then she spoke again, to nothing. “Are you okay with having the Bladeborn aboard?”

A disembodied voice answered her. “I don’t know. I know they are not traitors, but part of me… I don’t know Kina.”

"I am here for you." The Twi’lek medic sighed. “Anytime you want to talk, Dia, you have but to ask.”

The voice of the dead Jedi spoke again, this time grateful. “Thanks, Kina. Now I better monitor. I don’t want Ona or Will blowing out a bulkhead if I can help it…”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
08.09.2012 , 07:24 AM | #2
Will sat alone in a quiet compartment just off the hangar bay. The bay bustled with activity now. The whole ship bustled with activity now. The Bladeborn had been forced to evacuate their own ship when it had become clear that it was infested with microscopic machines. The machines, or nanites, as some had taken to calling them, were essentially tiny droids. They could be programmed for all kinds of things. They could do all kinds of things, everything from transmitting their location to pursuers, to reprogramming a sentient mind to eating a sentient alive from the inside out. Just the thought of that made the hard bitten, tough as nails soldier shiver. But then he heard her. He didn’t have enough of the Force to train, but his hearing had always been sharp, and no one walked on a metal deck silently. Especially not an angry Bothan in armored boots.

Ona’s voice was cool. “Will.”

"Ona." Will didn’t turn from where he faced the small viewport. He bowed his head. “Do what you have to, Ona. I am not going to fight. I am sick of fighting.”

Her voice was startled when she spoke. “What?” Will shook his head and didn’t reply. Ona spoke again, sharper. “Will… What? I know why you did what you did…” She broke off as Will made a sound of pain.

“Do you? I don’t. I…” The soldier shook, trying to remain in control. “I killed her, Ona. I killed Jina. It’s what I do, I kill people. But… Not my friends…” He shook himself, ashamed.

"Oh." Ona’s voice was sad now. “Oh Will… I am sorry. I am not angry with you.”

"I am." Will was crying now. “I am so angry with me. What am I Ona? What am I? If I can kill Jina, someone who I love… What the flarg am I?” He froze as a warm furred arm enfolded him. “No… I…”

Ona’s voice was very sad now as she rocked the man gently. “Oh Will, I am sorry. All I thought about was Jina. I never thought about how you would feel about what he made you do.”

"I..." Will shook his head, but didn’t resist the Bothan’s embrace. “Did he? I don’t know, Ona…” Ona was shaken by the change in the man. For the first time since she had met him, he sounded unsure. “I don’t know what to think. I don’t know what to do. I can’t be sure that anything in my mind is my own thoughts. I don’t know.”

Ona froze. “Oh…” Her voice was soft, scared almost. “Oh Will…” She hugged the man again. Then she stiffened as the door behind her opened and a recognizable form stepped in. Dargon Darkstorm stopped as Ona snarled. “You are not welcome. Leave.”

"Healer..." Dargon sighed. “Welcome or not, he is my responsibility. I kind of miss being an Inquisitor sometimes. I never had to worry about minor things like responsibility and regret.”

"Bastard." Will stiffened. “I can’t believe a word you say. You are controlling me again.”

"No." Dargon shook his head. “I am trying not to, Will.” He stiffened as something terrible rang through the Force from Will. “Will… no…”

Will spun, throwing Ona to the floor with enough force to stun her momentarily, his blaster was in hand and aimed at the other man as he screamed aloud. “Get out of my mind!”

"Will, think." Dargon didn’t move, which was wise. “Will., I am not in your mind. I swear it to you, I am not controlling you.” He sounded almost desperate, almost. Something rang false to Ona’s ears and Force sense.

Ona rose slowly, so as not to startle the soldier who was poised, ready to kill. But her scrutiny was on Dargon. “You son of a barve… Am I the target?” Her voice was just above a whisper and rage sang through every word. “You would make him kill me? I don’t think so.”

"No." Dargon froze at her words. “No, that is not my intent, healer. I simply want Will to understand that I had no choice. Vorren would have killed Jina, or left whatever was left of her there for Vandar to find. We had no time, and no alternatives that were any better.”

"Right." Will stiffened. When he spoke, his tone was almost normal, but both Ona and Dargon stared at him. “And all it cost was my soul. I see.” Will shook his head. “Flarg you, Sith.” He shoved the barrel of his blaster under his chin and squeezed the trigger.

Ona screamed, but Dargon was faster. His quick Force pull had the blaster barrel out of line when it discharged. He reached out with a Force speed hand and touched Will on the head.

“Sleep Will…” The soldier went down in a heap. But then Dargon jumped back as a meter of razor sharp Force enhanced steel hissed through where he had been standing. “Ona, I…” He started to speak, but Ona advanced, her blade weaving.

"Bastard!" The kind, gentle, compassionate healer of the Bladeborn was nothing like herself. Her fur was all wild and anger sang from her eyes and every pore as she strode forward. Her voice was so cold a star might have frozen in its tracks. “You leave him alone!”

"Healer..." Dargon jumped back again, only to fetch up against the wall of the compartment. “Ona, I am not going to fight you. That is the only way to handle him when he gets that far. Knock him out. That is the only way to keep him from killing himself or others when he gets that angry.” He shook his head and raised empty hands as Ona came close.

Ona snarled, a sound more suited to an enraged gundark than a healer. “You think I don’t know that?” the edge of her blade caressed his throat, but did not draw blood. “But the way you did it, Inquisitor… Because no matter what you call yourself, you are still an Inquisitor. You operate like one. In the shadows, manipulating events to suit yourself, striking from the back, never openly, never cleanly. You don’t care about how many others get hurt or killed as long as you get what you want. You got what you wanted, Inquisitor, you got your daughter back. But if you ever touch him again, I will kill you.” No scream could have been more final than her cold, clear, quiet words.

"No." Dargon sighed and slumped. “You are wrong. I am not an Inquisitor anymore, Ona, healer of the Bladeborn. If I were, you would be dead.”

"Dead?" Ona smiled, a chilling sight on such a normally kind face. “Maybe. But then you would have to explain to the others why you killed me. You are good, but facing Istara, Idjit and Mama Lizard at once… You are not that good.” She backed up a step was the point of her sword waved, just a bit towards the door. “Now leave. I have a patient to tend.”

Dargon didn’t move. “I can help.”

"No." Ona shook her head. “You have already helped more than enough, Inquisitor. Get lost.” She didn’t move from her spot until Dargon, reluctantly, left the room. The she sighed and, sheathing her sword, knelt down beside the still form of a man she admired in a number of ways. “Ah, Will…” She eased his limbs into more comfortable positions and then sat back on her heels. “I guess I better call Mama, I can’t move him on my own. Too tired...”

A voice spoke from nowhere. “Already done, healer. She is on her way. You are crazy, backing down someone like that. He could have torn you apart without trying.”

"Probably, but I won't let him get away with things like that." Ona was too tired to jump. “You would be Dia, right?”

"Yeah." The voice of the slain Jedi who had saved the slaves aboard the ship at the cost of her own life was rueful. “I wasn’t sure Tiana would remember me.” The Mon Calamari Bladeborn had been a mess when Dia had spoken to her.

"As if she would forget?" Ona chuckled softly. “It isn’t every day that someone meets a legend. Should I call you Dia or Oreana?”

“Dia.” The disembodied voice from the ship’s computers said quietly. “Oreana may have been called a hero, but she wasn’t, not even close. I preferred being Dia, even with the bad parts. I find I prefer being a good person.”

Ona smiled a bit sadly. “Me too.” She blinked as the door opened and Mama Lizard stalked in. The Barabel took in the scene at a glance and, wincing, nodded to Ona.

"Drat that man." The Barabel lifted Will easily. “We will get him to a bed, girl. You ssshould find one of your own.”

Ona nodded. “Don’t leave him alone. I don’t know how much of what he did was him and how much was Dargon trying to manipulate him, or me. I just…” She yawned hugely. “Aw drat…”

Mama chuckled. “Go zleep Ona, I will handle thisss one. And I will tell Iztara what happened.”

Ona rose, grateful for once that her mechanical legs were not subject to fatigue as the rest of her was. “I will have a report ready…” She yawned hugely again. “Gah… I will have a report ready in a couple of…”

Mama shook her head as she carried Will out the door. “Ona, you are going to go to bed. Clear? We will handle thisss mezz when you wake.”

Ona sighed. “Clear.” No one argued with the clan mother of the Bladeborn. No one sane anyway.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
08.09.2012 , 07:31 AM | #3
Istara sighed as she finalized the last report and closed her terminal. “If I had possessed one inkling of the sheer amount of…stuff that I would have to handle as grandmaster, I would have told all of you to take a running jump out an airlock.” She shook her head. Being Grandmaster to the Bladeborn was one headache after another. She had known, intellectually, that Trugoy had done a lot of things, but she really hadn’t had a clue. Even without being subservient to the Empire now, she still had dozens of reports to read and file every day. Logistics, intelligence, training schedules, medical reports… The lists went on and on.

"This will drive you crazy." Idjit snorted. “You need a secretary, Istara.” The resident seer of the Bladeborn was perched on the back of a chair, balanced as perfectly as only a Force user could be. His sightless eyes found her face and he grinned. “Of course it will have to be a pretty one.” Istara sighed and then threw a pen at her lover like a knife. The small object flew at high speed only to be caught unerringly by the seer. He kept his balance as he spoke scornfully. “Pathetic Istara… You need to practice your throwing.”

"I know, but..." Istara sighed. “When am I supposed to do that, Idjit? I never have time…” She shook her head. She had been slacking off her training, and that was a bad idea. She shook her head again. “I will squeeze some training in with Ecien later. But it is never enough. I just…” She froze as Idjit moved. One moment he was perched on that chair, the next he was walking towards her slowly. He walked behind her and she tensed, but didn’t strike as she normally would when someone moved behind her. Of all the beings in the galaxy he was probably the only one she trusted completely. She flinched as his hands found her shoulders but then she groaned in pleasure as he massaged her shoulders. “Oh you sneaky man… Oh…” She moaned in pleasure as his hands found lumps of hardness and massaged them away.

Idjit’s voice was soft. “Better?”

"Yes." Istara smiled a bit sadly. “It is sad that the grandmaster of this order is so weak willed as to be brought to her knees by a massage.”

Idjit put his arms around the woman he loved and gave a squeeze. But when he spoke it was serious. “Istara, you are not Trugoy. You cannot do this alone.” He nuzzled her head affectionately.

"I know, but..." Istara slumped and then she raised her hand and stroked the short hair of the man she loved. “All this stuff…” She shook her head. “I know why Trugoy didn’t confide in any of us. Idjit… Most of this stuff is… Well. I wouldn’t burden any of the kin with it, that is for sure.”

"I know, but... you can't do it alone." Idjit sighed. “Istara, I am serious. You need a secretary. You need someone you can trust to weed through this junk and pull out what you absolutely have to see, and then file the rest.”

"No." Istara shook her head. “Idjit… I can’t drop this on any of our kin. We all have duties already. And I can’t trust anyone outside the kin.”

"Well..." Idjit nodded. “I had a thought actually.”

Istara snickered and her voice was mockingly terrified. “Scary.”

Idjit made a rude noise. “Where is the respect for seers that I know you were drilled with? I should do something terrible to you… Ah, I know…”

Istara jumped as he tickled her. Her voice was sharp. “You stop that!” She swatted at his hand playfully and they mock tussled for a moment before Istara sat back with a sigh. “What did you have in mind?”

Idjit sighed. “Jina is not going to be able to walk for some time. The damage to her knee was…extensive.”

"Yeah." Istara snarled. “I would like to take a hammer to Vorren knees, both of them. Then a welding torch.” She meant every word, she liked Jina. Even if Jina hadn’t been a member of the somewhat odd group called the Seven, Istara liked the former Jedi. Istara didn’t have a lot of friends outside the Bladeborn, so she guarded the few she had zealously.

"I know." Idjit sighed. “Me too. I like her to. But the Sitolon have spoken. We need to stay on their good side.”

"So we have an II team as 'guests' for now." Istara nodded. “You know what they are going to suggest.” Idjit nodded. “You know what Dargon is going to suggest.” Idjit nodded again. “And we both know what Will wants to do to them.”

"Yeah." Idjit sighed. “It would be so much simpler if we could just toss them out an airlock. But we are not Sith. We have to do this by the Code.”

"I know." Istara nodded. “It gets murkier however… The Twi’lek, the one that Jina calls Melita. You know Jina loves that woman.”

"Strongly." Idjit nodded. “I know.” His face was sad. “We need to find out what Imperial Intelligence did to her.”

"Yeah." Istara looked a little sick. “It is being handled.”

Idjit froze. “Do I want to know?” Istara shook her head. “Oh… Ecien is handling it, isn’t she?” Istara nodded grimly and Idjit grimaced. “It is so easy to forget… She acts so polite, so nice, so kind most of the time. It is so easy to forget just how merciless she can be.”

"Idjit..." Istara sighed. “She won’t kill Melita. But I am willing to bet Melita will not enjoy the experience.”

"Right." Idjit nodded. “And the others?”

"They are more complex." Istara sighed. “Vorren goes on ice, the man is simply too dangerous to keep awake. The Sith likewise. Gev… Now that was a shock. I never expected to see him again. And from what Ona reported, he was ‘adjusted’ by the intelligence team. The tech… I don’t know, Idjit. She was just doing her job. Ona reported the blaster wound on her leg is healing cleanly. All of them are loyal to the Empire, for whatever reasons.”

"Yeah." Idjit thought hard for a moment. “What about deprogramming them?”

Istara blinked and then called up a report she had perused earlier. She shook her head as she read through it again. “Vorren, it wouldn’t work. He is too well indoctrinated. The Sith, Olut…” She shook her head. “It is unlikely to work on him either. The others… The bounty hunter, sure we can undo what they did. It will take time and care, but we can do it. The other two…?” She shrugged. “I don’t know. I can ask…”

Just then the intercom chimed. Istara snarled and hit the answer button. “Yes?” She asked quietly.

The voice of her Sitolon friend Nana came out of it. The bronze skinned bug sounded worried. “Istara, did you give that Inquisitor Dargon clearance to go into the detention bay?”

Istara froze. “No… I didn’t. He is there?”

Nana’s voice was sharp now. “Yes.”

"Drat him..." Istara snarled and rose from her seat. “I am on my way.”

"No." Idjit snarled in matching anger. “We are on our way…”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
08.09.2012 , 07:44 AM | #4
Tech Olandas couldn’t understand what had happened. She had been working at her desk, after they had successfully extracted the Jedi from the Special Branch base. There was some kind of commotion in the room they had set up for the interrogation and Mi’Ta had rushed in, her arms full of emergency medical gear. Then the tech’s whole world had gone black. She seemed to remember a soft voice telling her to sleep, but maybe that had been her imagination? She didn’t know.

She had woken here, unable to see. Once she had realized that she was not fettered, she had tried to remove whatever was over her head, but it was locked in place. Not something she could remove without tools. Her careful exploration of her surroundings by touch had shown that she was in a cell. The one and only time she had tried the crackling energy field that barred one wall had laid her out flat. Someone had put her back on the bunk and treated her burns. At least she thought that was what had happened. Not being able to see sucked. Her skin tingled where she had touched the energy field and that hand was bandaged. So… She was a prisoner. But they didn’t want her hurt? That made no sense at all. She was an intelligence agent, admittedly, not a field agent, a tech. but still, she was an intelligence asset… So why bandage her wounds? Why treat her kindly? It made no sense. Why was she not being interrogated right now? She froze as the crackle of energy that encompassed one wall of her cell vanished.

A gentle voice spoke from nearby. “How are you feeling, tech Olandas?” It sounded male and not young to her ears. She turned her head towards the sound and shook her head. Olandas didn’t speak, just listened and the voice sighed. “We are not enemies, tech Olandas. The blindfold is for your protection, not mine. There are things you do not want to know. Things you cannot know just yet.” Olandas didn’t speak and she turned her head away from the voice. She wouldn’t betray the Empire. The voice sighed again. When it spoke again it was sad. “Ah child, you are too young to feel like that. So hard and unbending. You should… relax…” The soft voice was almost inaudible. Was it aloud or only in her mind?

Against her will, Olandas felt her body relax from the stiffness that had taken it as soon as she knew she was not alone. “No…” She managed to say before she was drifting on a sea of lethargy. It felt…good. Nothing hurt and she was hard pressed to focus her mind.

The soft voice was almost crooning now. “We are not enemies of the Empire, child. We are not your enemies. I don’t expect you to believe me, but we will not harm you. And as soon as we can, we will make you more comfortable.” A touch on her forehead had her trying to stiffen again, but whatever held her now was too strong. She had no control over her body at all. She knew what was happening though. Whoever this was, he was trying to turn her, make her betray her oath to the Empire, make her… Something changed and she couldn’t help but sigh as waves of relaxation swept through her body.

The voice spoke again, calming, soothing. “That’s a girl. Better?”

Olandas found she could speak. She spoke softly, she couldn’t seem to muster the energy to speak any louder. “Yes.” She managed to focus for a moment. “Why…?”

The voice was sad now. “Ah, child. You are not our enemy. You are a slave as surely as that bounty hunter was a slave. But you don’t need to be. We can help you, show you a better way.”

"No!" Olandas snarled softly. “I won’t betray the Empire.” Then she gasped as another wave of whatever that was flew through her body. It felt so good… She was gasping as it fled her body, leaving her panting for more.

The same, sad voice spoke softly. “I am not asking you to. Technically, what I am doing serves the Empire, if peripherally. I am not fighting the Empire, and I have no wish to do so.” The hand was stroking her head and its short hair now. Olandas shivered, but couldn’t muster the energy to do anything else. The voice spoke again. “I understand your feelings, better than you could imagine. I am not asking you to betray the Empire. I am simply asking you to let us help you.”

"What have you done to me?" Olandas was shivering hard now. Something was very wrong. Her body didn’t react like this, something was wrong, something was off. “You… You…. No… I…”

That same gentle hand was cupping the back of her head now. “Easy, girl… Easy…. Here… This will make you feel better.” A powerful wave of bliss flew through Olandas and she was buoyed up by it.

"Oh..." Despite her training, despite her knowledge that whatever was happening was wrong, she couldn’t help whimpering when it left her. “No… Please…More…?” She was mortified that her voice sounded so abject, so… pathetic.

The voice was controlled now. “For me to give you something, you have to give me something. That is the way this works.”

"No..." Olandas tried to stiffen, tried to pull away from the hand that still held her head in a gentle grip. “You… You are interrogating me…”

"Ah child..." The voice sighed and another wave of bliss wept through Olandas. “No, I am deprogramming you. There is a big difference. You don’t have any information I want. I want to see you free.”

Olandas snarled as she fought to break the hold that held her. “Free to be your slave?” She grunted with effort as she fought.

The voice was sad again. “No child. Free to be yourself.” This time the wave of bliss swept her into unconsciousness. She was sure she heard raised voices as she nodded off, but she couldn’t resist the power that drove her under.

***

Dargon slowly lowered the slumbering girl back to her bunk and sighed as he turned to face the entrance. If he was disconcerted by the three Bladeborn that stood there, including one Sitolon that had all four of her vibroblades out and humming in all four of her hands, it was unapparent. The insect’s expression was impossible to read of course, but her sense in the Force was a terrible, terrible thing. She didn’t want him dead, she wasn’t that nice. He nodded to the bug. He understood her feelings, better than anyone could guess. Istara and Idjit stood beside the insect, both with blades at the ready.

His voice was calm and soft when he spoke to the bug. “I did not mentally manipulate her, Holianahyatoujikaimnana.” The alien name rolled off his tongue as easily as any other word.

The large bronze skinned insectoid snarled at him. “No, you just addicted her to what you did to her. You know she enjoys pain, so you played off that. You made her brain release endorphins, so she is loopy and ripe for suggestion.”

"Yes." Dargon sighed. “It’s far more gentle than the normal way. Would you prefer I use Force lightning?” He asked acerbically.

The being known to her friends and Nana snarled again and started forward, but Istara put a hand on the enraged Sitolon’s arm and shook her head. “Nana, wait…” She looked at Dargon and spoke coldly. “Your life is measured in seconds right now, Inquisitor. Talk fast.”

Dargon shrugged. “Your threats are meaningless to me, Grandmaster Istara. I did not get to where I am by fearing death.” His posture was relaxed.

"You won't die." Idjit’s smile could have frozen liquid helium. The blind seer’s voice was tightly controlled when he spoke. “You and I both know there are far worse things than death, Dargon. And if you don’t answer her, now, we are going to see a few of them.” The Force was boiling around the blind seer, but his rage was controlled. For now.

"Ah..." Dargon shook his head and sighed again. He looked away from the angry trio and smiled a bit sadly as he looked at the hooded form that slept on the bunk. “She is a good kid. Loyal, determined and by all accounts very good at her job. We can use her.”

Impossibly, Istara’s voice got colder. “Use her for what, exactly?”

"Look..." Dargon sighed. “Grandmaster… You are not thinking clearly.” Now his gaze as intent as it swept over the angry trio in front of him. “Are you fighting the Empire?”

Istara blinked and looked at Nana and Idjit, but neither of them looked away from the Inquisitor. Her tone as still cold, but more thoughtful now. “No. No we are not. We have no wish to.”

"Indeed." Dargon nodded. “You were set up. Whoever did so, wanted you split from the Empire. For what reason?”

Istara shrugged. “We don’t know.”

"Right." Dargon nodded. “And what better way to ferret out information that to use people whose job it is to get information? This is a threat against the Empire as well, they would do well to help you instead of fighting you.”

"Imperial Intelligence?" Istara shook her head. “They won’t help us.”

"Oh yes they will." Dargon smiled thinly. “I can guarantee they will.” He didn’t move as Nana stepped forward.

The bug’s voice was soft, but no less angry. “If you touch that girl again, I will kill you.” Sitolon had no patience at all for people who mentally manipulated others. They tended to get a bit riled about people doing that.

For the first time, Dargon’s face changed expression. Now it was sad. “Holianahyatoujikaimnana, I didn’t hurt her. I didn’t manipulate her. Someone else did that to her before now. She is going to need care, and a lot of help to get past this. But she can do it.”

Istara shook her head. “Why?”

"To free her from Imperil control. And possibly anything else that might try to control her." Dargon smiled a bit grimly. “I had to be sure I could get through to her. I can. And if I can get through to her, through the mess of programming and blocks that Imperial Intelligence put in her head, I can get through to the others.”

"istara..." Nana looked at Istara. “You are not seriously…”

Istara shrugged. “It is an option, Nana. One we will discuss. But not here, not now.” She turned to the former inquisitor. “You will not experiment without oversight again. Do I make myself clear?”

"Yes." Dargon nodded. “I apologize for the discourtesy. But everyone would have argued for hours. Now I know I can do it, get through to her. It won’t be easy, but I can help her.”

Istara shook her head again. “You haven’t answered my question. Why are you trying to help her? That is out of character for an Inquisitor, and especially for you, from what I have heard and read about you.”

"Well..." Dargon sighed deeply. “That is a long story. For now, she will need someone watching her. She is likely to have mild seizures for a time. I didn’t realize how strong the blocks were. I was planning to stay with her, but I doubt you will let me now.”

Nana’s voice was serene now. “Not a chance in hell.” She put her swords away and waved for the Inquisitor to leave the cell.

As he left the cell, he saw a female human in a medical tunic approaching and he nodded to the woman. He spoke softly. “She is going to go through withdrawal symptoms, probably mild seizures. If they get severe, use dianominol sulfate. Probably four milligrams in an IV push would do it.”

The woman stared at him, obviously unnerved by his words. Nana growled at him and he started off, two of the three Bladeborn keeping pace. Istara stood by the cell and nodded to the medic.

"Stay with her." Her voice was quiet, but Dargon heard it easily with Force enhanced hearing. “Be careful, Irene. We don’t know what he did.” The woman nodded and sat in achier by the force field. It clicked on and Istara strode to catch up with the group. When she spoke to Dargon, it was cold, clear and matter of fact. “Now you are going to explain why you did that and what you planned.”

"Yes." Dargon nodded. “I just hope Will listens this time.”

Idjit smiled, but there was no humor in it. “You keep violating what little trust we give you and Will won’t get the chance to shoot you.”
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kalenath
08.09.2012 , 07:49 AM | #5
Will Kalenath woke up fast. He always had, ever since he was small, he had always been a sleep one moment and wide awake the next. That little quirk had saved his life on more than one occasion. But this time, he wasn’t in danger. Even before he cracked his eyes, he knew where he was. He was in his stateroom on the Dia’s Gift. The room was the same as always, barring the huge Barabel that sat in a chair between his bed and the door. Will smiled a little ruefully as he sat up.

His voice was ironic as he checked himself over out of habit. “That was dumb of me.” He said quietly as he shook himself.

Mama Lizard smiled at his tone. “I’ll sssay. What were you thinking?” Her voice was quiet, calm, and soothing.

"Thinking?" Will shook his head. “I wasn’t. Every time I am around Dargon, it is like my emotions go completely haywire. I don’t know if it is something he does, or something I do, or what… It just happens.” He sighed. He tensed, wondering. “I didn’t hurt Ona, did I?” He liked the Bothan healer. It totally amazed him on numerous occasions that he could like darksiders that had served the Sith, but then again, he was no lightsider, was he?

"No." The Barabel sighed as she stretched to her impressive full height. “Zcared her only. Do you want to talk about it?” Her voice was non-judgmental.

"I..." Will smiled a bit sheepishly. “How do you do that? Calm people so easily? Is it the Force?” He was honestly curious. Mama Lizard was a terrifying being, but she radiated calm and gentleness most of the time. He was so much better at scaring people than calming them.

Mama smiled, a terrifying sight that somehow was also kind and gentle as odd as that sounded. “Sssomewhat. But mainly it iz what I do. It isss az any ssskill. It takez practissse. You have not uzed sssuch zkillsss often. I have.”

"Makes sense." Will sank back to the bed and his gaze was far away. “I assume that Istara is going to want to talk to me.”

"Eventually." Mama Lizard’s voice was calm. “Not before you are ready.”

"Right." Will looked at the huge green scaled form and his grin was sour. “I assume that is why you are guarding the door. To keep me safe and your kin safe from me.”

The ancient female warrior’s sigh was deep. “You know you are a danger, Will. Ezpecially when you get… moodsss. I do not wizh to harry you, but…” She broke off as Will made a noise of pain. “Will…?” Her voice was concerned. The soldier had buried his face in his pillow, but sobs were audible. She came close to the bed. “Ah Will, itsss okay. It will be okay.”

"No." Will shook his head as he rolled over to face her. Streaks of tears were running down his face. But his voice was fierce when he spoke. “No it won’t. Don’t take any chances; I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to hurt Istara or any of your kin. Don’t… Don’t let me…”

The clan mother of the Bladeborn sat beside the soldier’s bed and laid a gentle clawed hand on his arm. A careless swipe could take off his face, but Will didn’t as much as flinch. “Will… Iztara was sssomewhat vague when zhe ssspoke of what happened when you went to rezcue Jina thisss lazt time. Can you ssspeak of it?”

"Yes." Will turned his face to the Barabel, but he was not seeing her. No, he was seeing something only he could. His voice was a monotone when he spoke. “Dargon contacted me. I think he was tracking Jina, I am not sure. He told me what had happened and asked my help. If it had been anyone else in trouble, even one of your sect, I would have told him to flarg off. But not for Jina.”

Mama Lizard’s voice was gentle and soft as a newly fluffed towel when she spoke. “You love her.”

Will grimaced. “Always have. Didn’t know we were related at first. Third cousins once removed or some such. And I was young, dumb and full of myself. She was so beautiful, even when we first found her chained to a wall, naked as the day she was born and with no memory. We had no idea who she was. The two Jedi with us both freaked when we found her, so we knew she was important. But we had no idea.”

The Barabel stiffened slightly, but her hand did not move from Will’s arm. “One of them waz Vandar, correct?”

"Yeah." Will nodded and sighed sadly. “I have no idea if he knew who she was, or if it was just the condition she was in. She was a mess. We pulled her out of there, got her clear.” The soldier sighed again in memory. “We lost three people getting her out, but it was a victory of sorts.” He slumped. “She was, and is, a good person. One I am proud to call friend. I didn’t know we were related until Dargon came back into my life.”

Mama Lizard stared at Will. “Back?” She asked carefully.

The soldier snorted in sour amusement. “Yeah. I first met him when I was seventeen, just after I had been discharged from the hospital after you all dropped me on Alderaan. That wasn’t very nice, sending me into a VA ward as a John Doe.”

The being who was acting mother to many of the Bladeborn sighed. “What could we do, Will? We couldn’t keep you around, not with the Issslanianz looking for you ssso hard. And you were not a model prizoner, not by a long ssshot.” Her grin was wicked, but Will didn’t seem to see it.

"Yeah. I don't blame you now." Will sighed. “But it was still unpleasant. For several days, I had no idea who I was, what had happened, where I was or what was going on. It was… scary…” He admitted quietly. “I was… Well… Not a model patient either.”

"You?" Mama snorted in sour amusement. “Now why doez that not sssurprize me?” He had been a royal pain in the shebs to the Bladeborn on Kuria.

The soldier just grinned. “No idea.” He said with an innocent look. Mama gave him a look that any child would know. The “get on with it’ look. Will winced dramatically and then sighed. “Well, once the Forces figured out who I was, and that Iw as whole and hearty, they reassigned me.”

"Well..." The female sitting beside his bed nodded. “That makes sssenze.”

"Sense?" Will snorted. “Not really. I was top of my recruiting class in marksmanship, sneaking, and piloting aptitude. So they made me a supply clerk.”

"What?" Mama choked in sheer astonishment. “You are kidding.”

"I wish." Will shook his head. “Nope. I was posted to Supply Depot 1876 Alpha as a clerk. And that was only the beginning of my problems…”
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kalenath
08.09.2012 , 07:58 AM | #6
<A little over twenty two years in the past, supply depot 1876, Correllia>

The private braced to attention in front of the battered looking desk and waited. He didn’t have to wait long. A door slammed behind him, an archaic wooden door, if you could believe that. One with hinges, and even a knob. He had seen perhaps three of those in his life, almost everyone had automatic doors, hydraulically assisted, even in subsidence level housing these days. But he had to admit, that it made one heck of an impression, for the sergeant in charge of the small base to come in and slam the door behind her. You couldn’t slam an automatic door.

The sergeant ignored the private who was standing in front of her desk and walked around behind it before sitting. She busied herself at her terminal for several minutes before sighing and looking up.


“What am I going to do with you, private?” The private didn’t respond, didn’t move. The sergeant sighed deeply. “This is the second time in three weeks you have been in front of me, private. Enough is enough, either you talk to me, or you talk to the LT. And if you talk to the LT, you know what is going to happen.” The private swallowed a little, but didn’t move. The sergeant stood up and walked around her desk, then leaned against it. “Do you want to get booted out of the service, son? Because that was where you were heading before you broke the corporal’s arm. Now I know he threw the first punch, and I know Griddleson is a jerk, but this is insane.” The sergeant shook her head and hit a control. “You can speak freely. As of this moment, the recorder in the room is ‘malfunctioning’. I will put in a maintenance request in about ten minutes. So you better speak. I could beat you to death in that time, you know that. And no one would…” She paused as the private met her eyes for the first time. There was no fear in his eyes.

The private’s voice was soft. “You would be doing me a favor, Sergeant Kerner.”

The sergeant grinned. “Well, well, well. It can speak. Why would I be doing you a favor killing you, Private Kalenath?”

"Sergeant." The private’s voice was soft. “I didn’t mean to break his arm, Top. I was just trying to… To get away… I just… I don’t know what happened.”

"Well, let see..." The sergeant shook her head slowly. “By all accounts, he insulted you, spit on you and you just took it. Then he hit you. He was going for a neck lock when you hit him. You took him down with some kind of advanced move. From the description, it was likely Teras Kasi. I didn’t know you studied that. have you private?”

"I..." The private shook his head. “I haven’t sergeant.” He shook his head. “That I know of…”

The sergeant stiffened. “What do you mean, ‘That you know of’?”

Private First class (for the moment anyway) Will Kalenath shook his head slowly. “Sergeant, I am missing time. I know you have seen my record, what happened to training battalion 762. I know I escaped, I know I blew the flarg out of that hell ship, but I am missing another year, sergeant. I don’t know what happened in that time.”

The sergeant nodded. She was versed as well as possible on her personnel of course. And when she got someone like this, who was essentially a mystery, well, yes she did a bit more of a background check than normal. She wondered, not for the first time, if the private was sane. Anyone going through the hell he had would be expected to have issues. Anyone being literally enslaved and experimented on would have issues. But he didn’t. Or, she corrected herself mentally. Under normal circumstances, he didn’t. This was the fourth conversation she had undertaken with this problem child and she was getting tired of it. But, he was finally opening up to her, maybe. She shook her head. “Back to my first question, private. What do I do with you? You are good at what you do, no question. But you are…” She paused and shook her head. “You are not like the usual beings we get through here. You are a problem.”

Will didn’t move. “Sergeant… I…”

Sergeant Kerner shook her head again. “I was talking, Private.” The private shut his mouth with an audible click and Kerner carefully did not grin. Say what you would about the boy’s impulse control problems, he did have discipline. Of course, given who his mom was… Kerner put that thought out of her head as she focused on the now. She frowned. “No one heard, or is willing to repeat, what Griddleson said to you. What did he say? Before he grabbed you and tried to hit you?” Will stiffened but remained silent. Sergeant Kerner shook her head again, and this time her voice was sharp. “Private, if I have to take this to the brass, it gets official. Do you want it to get official? Right now, we can put it down to ‘accidental’. Injuries happen in training, we all know that. Of course the mess hall is not a normal training location, but we could swing it. So we can cover for you. If you prove to me I should. But that changes if I take you to the LT.” And if that happened, well, bad didn't begin to cover it...

The private bent his head and mumbled something and the sergeant sighed. “I couldn’t hear you, private.”

The private didn’t look up but his voice was more audible. “He said he would like to see me naked and screaming on a table, sergeant.”

The sergeant’s eyes went wide. “He said what?” As far as she knew only two beings on base had access to the files of Private Kalenath’s ordeals. She wasn't technically supposed to, but she did, for all kinds of reasons.

The private didn’t move, didn’t raise his head. “He called me an idiot, he called my parents things I will not repeat. Those are no big deal, sergeant. He was trying to make me angry. I decided not to oblige him. I picked up my tray and he knocked it out of my hands. Then he grabbed my arm and spoke in my ear. He said and I quote. ‘I will see you naked and screaming on a table, you ignorant dirt turner.’ Then I… I don’t know what I did. It was almost as if I wasn’t in control, or…” he paused. “Not totally in control. I could see what to do, how to do it. But… I never learned that, Sarge. I never did…” There was honest to the Force fear in the private’s voice now.

The sergeant stared at the private for a moment and then her hands came up. They moved in precise strikes that flew at the younger soldier’s head and neck. The private seemed to freeze solid for a moment before he moved. He blocked her blows and they were fighting in earnest.

A quick flurry of blows went back and forth, but then the private jumped back, stumbled to and fell to his knees.

“No! I… I won't!” he gasped out as he breathed hard.

The sergeant, slightly surprised but unwinded, kept her guard up. “Won’t what, Private?”

The private’s eyes came up and the sergeant backpedaled a step at the horror that was revealed in them when his green orbs met her blue ones. “Kill me sergeant… Please… I don’t… I don’t want to hurt you… The Jedi, the docs, they say I wasn’t programmed, but I was! I know I was…” He was sobbing now as he knelt, head falling back down. His hands fell to his sides, he was completely open to attack, but the sergeant didn’t move.

"Of all the..." Instead, she spoke, sharply. “Is this the best you can do, private? Is this how far your family has fallen? Your mother would be ashamed of you!” The bite in her tone could have taken chunks out of durasteel.

The sheer surprise had the private raise his head for a moment. “Wha…?”

But the sergeant snarled now, and her posture straightened from a combat crouch to parade rest. “Atten-Hut!” She shouted and the private jumped to his feet, stiffening into the proper position. His left leg did not move as it should, the sergeant had managed to get the knee with a strike early in their tussle. He froze into immobility as the sergeant spoke again. “Of all the lousy, good for nothing, stupid, slack jawed, hind brained excuses for soldiers. I have seen a bunch of miserable excuses for soldiers come through this depot and you by far are the worst I have seen. You are pathetic!”

The private looked as if was going to speak, but then thought better of it as the sergeant glowered at him. “Right, you had a horrible experience. So now, you want to run home to mommy? I will give you a hint, boy."The word 'boy' was heavily sarcastic. "You don’t know horrible experiences yet. You want to die? The Forces have not given you permission to die! You need permission to die, from the Forces, from the LT, and most importantly…” Her voice dropped to a dangerous soft tone. “…From me.”

The private spoke softly, and respectfully. “Permission to speak, Sergeant?”

The sergeant glowered at him for a moment before nodding. “Granted.”

Private Kalenath didn’t move and his eyes did not leave the sergeants. “Sergeant Kerner, I am a threat. To you, to everyone on this base. I know I am. If I was programmed to obey… Ma’am, please. I already killed one person who was trying to help me. I…” He broke off as Sergeant Kerner sighed.

The sergeant shook her head. “Correction private. You think that Mon Cal, who no one seems to have a record of, was trying to help you. And you think you killed her.” The two of them had sat and talked for some time when he had arrived. Well, she had talked, he hadn’t. So she had been forced to improvise to come up with information on him. Fortunately, she was good at improvising. And she had advantages. She knew more about him than probably anyone else in the galaxy at the moment, with the exception of the scum who had hurt him. “You don’t know for sure.” The private didn’t react to her knowledge of his past. After all, sergeants were supposed to know everything. But her next words had him stiffening. “Your mom is worried about you.”

The private froze, but when he looked at the sergeant, her face was serene and serious. “Sergeant… I…” He shut his mouth with another audible click when Sergeant Kerner snarled at him.

“I was talking, private. Stop interrupting me.” But now her voice was almost kind. Almost. “Your mom and I go way back. Both of us served in some hairy situations, and we remember each other, those of us who survived. You are in big trouble for assaulting a fellow soldier, but…” She raised a hand. “If he knew about your past, which it sounds like he did… I think we should talk to Griddleson. You and me.”

The door opened behind the private and a voice from outside spoke softly. “Too late, Sergeant. He just disappeared from the infirmary.” Both enlisted soldiers stiffened as the elderly Twi’lek who ran the platoon limped into the room. He had been injured in an early battle with the Sith and remanded to this backwater base. “And he was not Corporal Griddleson.”

“Sir?” The sergeant asked carefully.

Lieutenant Ku’lio shook his head as he looked at the private and something like concern came over his face.
“Corporal Griddleson was found in Coronet City two days ago. It took them this long to ID him, since the assailant was not content to slit his throat. Whoever it was took his ID and cut his hands and face off. Probably to keep Corsec, and the Forces from IDing him.”

"Uh..." The sergeant stiffened. “Sir, if they, whoever they are… If they had a mole on base…”

"Yes." The LT nodded. “We can expect an attack. Soon.”
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kalenath
08.09.2012 , 08:09 AM | #7
Of course, it wasn’t that easy. The sergeant and LT might have believed the private, but neither of them was in command. Will Kalenath picked up yet another stack of files and moved them to his desk, trying to control a sigh. It had been…bracing. The captain in charge was a jerk. Will wasn’t sure if the man was a racist, power mad or just stupid, but every patient and concise argument that the sergeant and lieutenant had tried had been demolished with nothing more than a casual ‘I am in command, not you.’ The private had almost wound up in the brig, only the fact that the man he had assaulted was nowhere to be found now had saved him from that fate. The captain had been too focused on seeing Will in jail to start an investigation of anything else. Will wondered if his mother had done something to the man, she had been in the service a long time, but… His thoughts broke off as he reached his desk. He put the stack of files down and sat. He started his daily workload, trying not to sigh. He had joined the forces to fight, not to push paper. But if there was one thing he knew how to do, it was obey orders. Even when they made no sense at all.

He was halfway through his first pile when the door to his cubicle hissed open. He looked up and stared, and the jumped to his feet as Sergeant Kerner entered the room. But this was a very different sergeant. Instead of the dress uniform that the captain in charge required at all times, Sergeant Kernar was wearing combat armor, and not just any combat armor… The woman wore no helmet, but otherwise she was wearing the full heavy armor of the Republic Special Forces! Will knew his eyes were bulging, but he couldn’t help it. He hadn’t had any idea the sergeant was Special Forces, they were a legend among the rank and file. Beings trained to go places and do things that other soldiers could only dream of. Beings trained and armed to handle the absolute worst situations; beings who, under no circumstances would quit until the job was done.

"Private Kalenath." The sergeant nodded to him. “Are you armed?”

"Sergeant?" Will blinked, he hadn’t expected that question. “Uh… Yes, sergeant.”

The sergeant snarled, but not… not at him? It was odd, most of her focus was elsewhere. “With what?”

Will pulled a blaster pistol out of his desk drawer and held it out to her, but she shook her head. “That won’t do. Here.” She handed him an odd looking carbine that he took gingerly after holstering his weapon. He wasn’t sure what it was.

"Uh..." Will looked at the weapon, it was unlike anything he had ever seen. “What is this sergeant? I have never handled this type of weapon before.” He didn’t like the thought of using a weapon he was not familiar with.

"I doubt you have ever seen one." Sergeant Kerner grinned sourly. “That is a disruptor carbine, private Kalenath. Don’t point it at anything you don’t want disintegrated.”

Will froze. Disruptor weapons were highly illegal in Republic space. Evil weapons, the beams from disruptor weapons disrupted the molecular bonds in whatever they hit, hence the name. Just having one was an automatic life sentence in many systems. Using one? That was an automatic death sentence in most civilized places.

"Uh?" He stared at the weapon and then at the sergeant. “Sergeant?”

The sergeant sighed. “We have infiltrators on base, Private. One guess where they are heading.” Her eyes, and her blaster rifle, were on the door to the room.

"Infil-?" Will stiffened. “Oh my…” He blinked and shook his head. “This area is not defensible, sergeant. What are your orders?”

"Right." The sergeant nodded. “Its going to be a slaughter. No one else will be armed, the commander in his wisdom locked the main armory. Luckily I had a stash. We need to fort up. I sent out a mayday, but they jammed the coms. I don’t know if it got through. I have some more firepower and some armor stocked in bunker twelve.”

Will nodded, falling back on his training. “Yes, sergeant.” He moved to a supporting position and the sergeant nodded approvingly as she moved to the door. “Do we have any intel on the opposition?” He asked as he covered her.

Sergeant Kerner shook her head. “No. The daily transport landed, the team went out. The LT was supervising. The hatches opened and guys in armor with heavy weapons came out. They have assault droids as well.”

"Oh..." Will blinked, his blood running cold. “That sounds… familiar.” The same kind of thing had happened to his training battalion on the way to Onderon. None of them had possessed a clue anything was wrong until the ‘pirates’ had opened fire. “The LT?” The sergeant shook her head and Will snarled. “They are not going to get away with this…”

Kernar nodded. “Yeah.” She pulled a helmet on, opened the door and looked quickly both ways. “Clear. You know where Bunker Twelve is, right? In case I go down?”

"No." Will shook his head. “Nothing is going to happen to you, sergeant. Not while I am breathing.”

"Don't be a fool!" Kernar snarled at him, her voice distorted by her helmet. “Focus, kid! This is a firefight situation. People die. It happens. If I go down, you keep going. Do I make myself clear?”

"I... No..." Will shook his head stubbornly. “Sergeant, I left everyone behind once. I won’t do it again.”

"Idiot..." Kernar snarled at him again. “We don’t have time to…” Her voice broke off and she moved in front of Will as fire came from a corner nearby. Her rifle snapped into firing position and several shots sounded almost as one. A high pitched scream came from nearby and a body fell out of cover. From the look of it, it wasn’t going to be a problem, not with half the cranium missing. The sergeant cursed. “They know where we are now. Move! She shouted as fire started coming in from other directions.

It was a nightmare. Will fired his carbine a few times as they made their way to the sergeant’s chosen redoubt. But he wasn’t sure he had hit anything. The sergeant on the other hand, every time she fired, something died. It was odd, she seemed to be singing something under her breath. He couldn’t quite make out the words. When they reached the bunker, Will covered the area with suppressing fire while the sergeant made sure it was empty. A burst of fire and then she was waving him in. He made it just ahead of a spray of blasterfire and sighed in relief as he slid into heavy cover.

"No lazing about on duty." The sergeant had a grin in her voice when she spoke. “Get off your butt, Private, and get dressed.” She waved towards a rack of armor nearby. She slammed the blast door shut and started readying a heavy repeater as Will started pulling on the armor. It was Republic issue, not nearly as good as the sergeant’s, but better than the cloth he was wearing. By the time he had it on and sealed the helmet, she was uncrating a grenade launcher and blaster fire was pinging against the walls of the bunker. The sergeant snorted. “It will take a lot more than hand weapons to pierce these walls.” But something was wrong.

Will moved to the heavy repeater that the sergeant had emplaced. “Sergeant?” She didn’t move from where she was leaning against the wall. “Sergeant?” He asked again. His eyes went wide under his helmet as the armored figure collapsed. “Sergeant!” He ran to the other armored form.

"Sarge..." He rolled the sergeant onto her back and stiffened as he saw a large black burn mark on the stomach of her armor. “Sergeant… Where is the first aid kit?” There had to be one. She wouldn’t have stocked the place without one.

"No." The sergeant shook her head slowly. “Don’t bother, private. They tagged me good. Kill the bastards, private. Use the… Use the heavy weapons…” Will shook his head, he couldn’t… “Keep them away from the bunker or we are dead, private. If they get a thermal in here…” It wouldn’t matter what kind of armor they were wearing if that happened. The sergeant snarled weakly. “I gave you an order, private!”

Will was crying inside his helmet as he stood up and went back to the heavy repeater. Then his eyes went cold as he saw a number of armored forms approaching the bunker. “Die! You bastards!” He shouted as he held the trigger down. The enemy were caught in the open by fire intended to defeat vehicle armor. They had no chance as the hurricane of blaster fire swept over them. A dozen of them went down in just a few seconds. He hosed the area, concentrating on the few that had managed to scramble back into cover. He started as the sergeant’s voice came from behind him.

"Don't hold the trigger down..." Her voice was low, but clearly audible even over the racket of the repeater. “Short controlled bursts, private. Don’t overheat the gun. Take care of your weapon and it will take care of you.” He spared a glance at her and saw she had managed to crawl to where the grenade launcher was. She pulled herself up to the controls and fired it. A chorus of screams came from outside as the grenades detonated. Then his gaze was drawn back to his front as an armored form darted out of cover with an object in hand. Will waited until the lone enemy was too far to dart back before firing, tearing the legs out from under the soldier. The screams that sounded were female, but Will just waited. Sure enough, fire came from other enemies as another darted out of cover, trying to pull the wounded one back to cover. Will killed that one. Then he smiled grimly as one of the other enemies shot the wounded one. Fire came in and he ducked as it pinged through the firing slit.

He growled, a sound more suited to a rancor or maybe a wampa than a human. “Scumscuckers. What kind of person shoots one of their own?” There was no reply and Will turned his head. The sergeant was lying on the floor, not moving. Will turned back to his front as enemies tried to rush. He snarled, but kept his bursts short as the line of enemies reached grenade range and objects flew. Most of them fell short. One flew through the firing slit. Will grabbed it and threw it out of the bunker. But instead of an explosion, it detonated with a hiss. Will stiffened. “Gas… Son of a murglak, they are using gas!” He stiffened as a voice sounded behind him.

“Don’t let your mother hear you talk like that, boy.” He spun and the sergeant had her helmet off. He dropped to his knees beside her and she smiled. “You are a good kid… You will go far, if you survive this mess.”

"I..." Will stammered. “Sergeant, what do I do? How can I help you? I know first aid.”

Sergeant Kerner’s gaze was kind. “You can’t Will. I am gutshot. If we had a hospital right here, maybe… But I don’t do miracles.” She waved a weak hand at the wall. “Mind your gun, boy. Kill the bastards.”

"I..." Will went back to his gun, but no enemies showed themselves. There were so many questions he had, but only one came to his forebrain. “What were you singing, Sergeant?”

The sergeant laughed a little. “Old tone, works well for situations like this. Ancient tune actually. No one knows where it came from. We all just call it ‘The March.” She coughed, and Will stiffened as he saw red on her face. “It goes… ‘Axes flash, broadswords swing, shining armor’s piercing ring…”

Will saw movement at his front and opened fire again as enemy forms tried to rush close. But there were more of them this time, there was no way to get them all. “Sergeant!” He couldn’t spare any attention, and the grenade launcher didn’t go fire. He tried, he cut them down by the twos and threes, but there were just too many of them. Then it happened.

A form in gray appeared behind the armored forms and Will watched in astonishment as a blue blade appeared in its hands. A lightsaber! Caught between his fire and the Jedi, the armored forms had no chance. In seconds, it was over.

The voice of the Jedi was soft but clearly audible in the bunker. “That is the last of them. Fare ye well.” Then he was gone.

"Holy..." Will stared after him for a moment before turning back to where the sergeant lay. “See Sarge, miracles do…”

He paused as he saw her eyes. They stared at him, unseeing. He slumped and sat down beside her body. That was where the heavily armed team of Republic Special Forces found him when they arrived twenty minutes later, summoned by the sergeant’s distress call. He wasn’t crying. It would be years before Will Kalenath would cry again.
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kalenath
08.09.2012 , 08:19 AM | #8
<the present>

For a long moment after Will finished speaking, there was silence in the small stateroom. He lay on his bed, eyes staring off at something only he could see.

"Oh Will..." Finally the Barabel sitting beside his bed spoke. Mama Lizard’s voice was soft. “Did anyone elssse zurvive?”

"Only one." Will snorted sourly. “Captain Skywalker was found holed up in a personal bolthole. Apparently he had dashed for that as soon as the firing started. The Forces were… um… unhappy with him.” His grin was sad.

"I bet." Mama shook her head. “And the ‘Jedi’ was Dargon?”

"Yes." Will nodded, but his face was set, as if he was holding onto his temper by his fingernails. “Didn’t find out who he was until four years later. A mission went bad, bunch of people died, I got hit hard and he showed up again. I have no idea why he saved me either of those times. He has shown up since, every so often. Sometimes helping me out of bad situations, sometimes asking for something. But there is always a hook in whatever he asks.”

"Easssy..." Mama gently stroked the soldier’s arm, calming, soothing. “What do you mean?” She asked quietly.

Will took a deep breath before speaking again. It was easy to see that simply remembering bothered the soldier greatly. “You know I was sent to Korriban, by the Republic. To act as a double agent?”

Mama nodded. “Yez, you made a number of powerful enemiesss with that ztunt.” Her tone was disapproving. The Bladeborn had served the Empire, and he had lied about what he was doing and why and the Bladeborn disapproved of lying in general. Odd in a Sith society, but then again, they were not Sith, were they?

"I know." Will looked away. “I was under orders. If I had possessed any alternatives, I would have taken them. He found me on Korriban. I don’t know how, but he knew what I was doing. I don’t know if he wanted to help, to hinder, or what. I very nearly shot him when he showed up, but then again…” He shook his head. “I don’t know. Every time I am around him, my emotions go haywire. He knew that, somehow, and kept me from blowing my cover. I have no idea why. He knew I was marking items for theft, and he wanted one of them.”

Mama blinked. “Oh? I thought you returned them all.” That had been a shock to hear, that Will had returned everything he had stolen from the Sith simply to gain the attention of an Imperial agent. Of course, it had worked.

"Most." Will shook his head. “All but one. A small crumbling stone tablet marked with Sith runes. I have no idea at all what was on it, and truth be told, I don’t care. I just wanted him to leave Sharra alone. She was…” he bowed his head. “…a mess.”

Mama nodded. “You were protecting your mate. But I don’t sssee a hook in that.”

"Yeah." Will sighed. “Neither did I. When we ran, he was on the ship somehow. He knocked me out, he carried us …somewhere. I don’t know what he did while I was unconscious, but I was sick as a dog when I woke up. Sharra wasn’t lucid enough to talk to me, so I don’t know if he did anything to her either. He wasn’t aboard and the cargo hadn’t been touched. I tore that ship apart looking for trackers, bugs, recorders, anything. But there wasn’t anything. I have no idea what he did, but I know he did something.” His voice held hate now.

"Will." Mama looked at him, her eyes worried. “Will… Calm yourssself. He iz not here and I am not your enemy.” Her voice was soft and gentle.

"I... I am sorry." Will slumped back in the bed with a gasp. “I am sorry. He pushes all of my buttons. All of them, at once. And then he told me we are related. Of course I didn’t believe him, but then I met her…” Will’s face suddenly lit up. “She was…” His face fell and he slumped.

“Who Will?” Mama prompted when he didn’t speak.

"Karli." Will smiled. “My great, great, great aunt. She was old and tired, she was confined to a support wheelchair when I met her, but she was an incredible woman. She ran that family like an army. She was always…” He paused. “No way…” His face held shocked surprise now.

The Barabel looked at the soldier, a question in her eyes. After a couple of silent minutes, she spoke. “Will…?”

Will was shaking his head. “I don’t believe it. I can’t believe it. There is no way in hell.”

The female sitting beside his bed made a sour sound, half growl, half sigh. “Will, make sssenze.”

Will shook his head. “I have heard her voice, since she passed away. But that is impossible, she didn’t have the Force. I… I don’t think so anyway…” He corrected himself carefully.

Mama blinked slowly. “What waz ssshe ‘always’ doing, Will? You zaid that.”

Will smiled a bit in memory. “She was always singing. All kinds of songs. She was hard, but fair. She didn’t always tell the truth, but there was always a good reason. You remind me a lot of her, she could be gentle one moment and vicious the next. But only when given reason. The family lost a massive treasure when she died.”

"I would like to know..." Mama looked at him. “How big isss your family, Will?”

Will shrugged. “I don’t know for sure. And if I did…” He paused, gauging her reaction.

"Oh... Right..." The Barabel sighed. “You wouldn’t tell me. I underssstand. Family muzt come firssst. Then friendz and then alliesss.”

"Right." Will nodded. “And now, I have to do something very, very hard.”

"Indeed." Mama nodded. “You get to explain all of thisss to Jina.” Her voice held sympathy.

"Yeah." Will nodded and his face took on a haunted look. “And to say I am not looking forward to that would be a massive understatement.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
08.09.2012 , 08:24 AM | #9
The Jedi lay quiet, trying to relax, as two medical professionals worked on her leg. She could feel a little now, and she reminded herself that was a bit of an improvement. She did so even as a stab of pain flew from her knee through her body and she bit her lip to keep from crying out. Ona stopped what she was doing and looked the Jedi in the eye. The healer stiffened from whatever she saw there.

"Jina?" The Bothan healer looked apologetic. “I am sorry, Jina. We are trying to be gentle.”

"I know." Jina nodded slowly, trying to move beyond the waves of pain that still crashed upon her brain like a vast tide. She gasped as it doubled, and then redoubled. She gasped out words. “Just… Do what you have to… I can handle it…”

"Crap." Ona stared at her and then tapped her compatriot’s shoulder. Kina immediately withdrew from the knee, her face worried. Ona shook her head and took Jina’s limp right hand in both of hers, the left was festooned with monitor and IV lines. “No, Jina.” The Bothan said quietly. “If this were a normal situation, I have no doubt that you could. But this situation is not normal. You have enough drugs in your system already. We don’t want to sedate you, but we may not have a choice.”

Kina looked from the Jedi to the Bladeborn healer and then picked up a hypo from a tray. Jina winced.

“No… I don’t want to be fuzzy…” The Jedi protested.

"Idiot." Ona shook her head as she gave Jina’s hand a squeeze. “Jina, you have a dozen different pharmaceuticals running through your veins right now. The fact that you can feel anything at all is somewhat surprising. The fact that you are conscious is somewhat surprising.” Ona’s face took on a resigned aspect. “Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised. You are just a little stubborn, aren’t you?”

Jina slumped in the bed and sighed. But when she spoke it was humorous. “Pot, meet kettle.”

The Twi’lek in a medical tunic laughed at Ona’s expression. But then she patted the hand that Ona had in a gentle grip. Kina’s voice was soft and kind.

“Jina, we are trying not to hurt you." The Twi'lek said slowly. "Ona and Irene did wonders to repair the bones of your knee, but if we don’t make sure the tendons and ligaments remain where they should…” She broke off and her face was slightly sick.

"I... I know, but..." Jina slumped. She was unused to being weak in any way. “I… I feel so helpless… Like such a leech.”

Ona sighed and sat down beside the bed, never letting go of the Jedi’s hand. “Jina, you were hurt. Badly. Mind your feelings, woman. Come on, you know better. Even drugged, you know better…. ‘There is no emotion’…?” The Bothan’s words were kind, but took on a serious aspect.

Jina stared from one healer to the other before sighing and closing her eyes. “…There is peace.” Slowly, she relaxed. “There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony. There is no death, there is the Force.” By the time she was done reciting the Jedi code, her voice was calm and collected. When she opened her eyes, they were haunted though. “Ona?” She asked carefully.

The kindly Bothan nodded. “Yes, Jina?”

"Tell me true." The Jedi’s voice was calm, but underneath lay terror. “I am falling, aren’t I?”

"You are close, but..." Ona shook her head as she leaned over the bed and gathered the Jedi into a hug, careful not to jar the injured leg. “Not on my watch, Jina.” Ona gave the Jedi a squeeze and then smiled. “Let us work on you, okay? Then there are some people who would like to talk to you. Including Will.”

"Will..." Jina stiffened, but then slowly relaxed. “Yeah, I need to talk to him. But… I have no idea what I am going to say.”

"Well..." Ona’s voice was kind as she laid the Jedi back on the bed. “If you want, I will stay with you. I nearly lost you. I don’t want to lose you. You are my friend. I don’t have a lot of friends outside the Bladeborn.”

Jina’s voice was small. “Can you? I… I don’t want to be a burden.”

"Aw geez..." The head healer of the Bladeborn sighed and tapped the Jedi’s nose lightly in reproof. She smiled as Jina’s eyes crossed to follow her finger. “How many times must I saw it? You are not a burden. You were hurt. We are helping you heal. But to do that, we have to stop the pain in your leg from overwhelming you. I am going to deaden the nerve, but I need you to tell us, immediately, if you feel anything wrong, okay?”

"Okay, okay..." The bedridden Jedi smiled a little as she looked from Kina to Ona and then back. “You all are a bunch of tyrants, the lot of you.”

The Twi’lek medic smirked. “Guilty as charged Ma’am. But you haven’t seen anything yet. Wait until you start physical therapy.” Jina winced but didn’t speak as Ona laid her hands on the right leg above the knee. The effect was immediate, Jina’s face relaxed as the pain from her leg, which was substantial even through the painkillers, subsided. Kina nodded to the Jedi. “Better?” The hurt Jedi could not restrain a sigh of relief as she relaxed from the control she had been under to keep the pain at bay. “You won’t want to watch this. We are going to have to move some of the tendons and ligaments, and then drain some fluid.”

Jina clamped her eyes shut and then she sighed as pressure built around her knee. It didn’t hurt, per say, but she knew it should have. She could feel the damage that had been done to her body, the repairs, and what the healer was doing. Even if it didn’t hurt, it was sickening. She spoke evenly. “Can I ask a question?” Then she smiled, there was a surefire answer from the Bladeborn to that. Sure enough...

Ona snickered. “You just did, but I will give you another. Ask.”

Jina bit her lip as she opened her eyes and looked at Ona. She felt pressure on her knee, but no pain. She would not look. “Melita?” Ona nodded. The Jedi had strong feelings for the Twi’lek who had been captured with the rest of the Imperial Intelligence team.

"She is alive, Jina." Ona laid a gentle hand on the Jedi’s brow. “We won’t hurt her, Jina. You have my word.”

Jina stiffened. There was something… off about the Bothan healer’s answer. “What?” She asked. “What?” She demanded when Ona didn’t answer.

"Jina." Ona sighed and sat back by Jina’s bedside. “We need to know exactly what happened to her, to make sure she is not a threat. To you, and to us. She is being interrogated, Jina. Gently, but thoroughly. She will not be hurt, but she will not enjoy the experience.”

Jina snorted. “Good luck, you are going to need it. That Twi’lek has all the give of a rock.” She looked up to see Ona’s eyes looking sick. “What?”

"Jina." Ona’s voice was soft. “We are not doing it, Jina. Ecien is.”

Jina’s eyes went wide, but then she stopped herself before she could move. “I… see…” The Sitolon known as Ecien was very good at mental scans of all kinds. Melita would not die, but would be very uncomfortable. The hurt Jedi shook her head. “Ah, well… Nothing I can do to help her now.” She slumped and then straightened her shoulders and looked both medics in the eye. “No time like the present, huh?”

Both nodded. Ona smiled and patted Jina’s hand. “No time like the present. I wish I could just touch heal this, but it is too much for me. So we will do it the long way. If anything hurts, tell us. When the block starts wearing off, tell us, okay?”

Jina nodded and lay back as Kina and Ona both reached for her leg again. She carefully didn’t watch as Kina readied the hypo again. This would not be pleasant.

<Elsewhere>

The Twi’lek known to Imperial intelligence as Mi’Ta was floating. She could feel nothing, hear nothing , see nothing. But it didn’t feel like a sensory deprivation tank. It felt more gentle and less at the same time, as odd as that sounded. Something impinged on her awareness and she cringed back, but the touch was gentle. It felt…welcoming. It felt gentle, kind and worried. She relaxed slightly, not an enemy then. But then a stab of pain erupted in her skull. She screamed and passed out.

The meter and half tall insect being known as Stuiamlanakolatalinecien, Ecien to her close friends, withdrew slightly from the form restrained to the bed and let out a human sounding sigh. She was getting nowhere with this. Maybe if she tried another tack… Her antennae came down and she cautiously let her mind flow into the prisoner in front of her again. She would not harm this being permanently, and it would take as long as it took. But it would not be pleasant, for either of them.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
08.09.2012 , 08:32 AM | #10
Jina was dozing now. Her leg throbbed, but it didn’t hurt. She looked through slitted eyes at the cast that Kina had put on her leg. It was light, but incredibly strong and ran from her ankle all the way up to her hip. She ran a slow hand across the material that she could reach without moving and sighed inaudibly. She wouldn’t be able to use the leg for some time. Kina and Ona had both promised that not only would the Jedi walk again, but she would have very limited impairment. Jina trusted them both, so, that wasn’t the problem. There was no physical pain now, so that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that she had a lot of time now, to think. And she did not like where her thoughts were taking her. She hadn’t seen Sara. She was pretty sure that Sara was aboard, but she hadn’t seen the girl. Something was wrong, something was very wrong. Even the wonderful meal that Kina had provided for her hadn’t taken her mind off the feeling of something terrible coming. It really sucked being a Jedi sometimes. Often, knowledge of the future was no blessing. The Jedi stiffened slightly as the door to her room opened and then relaxed as Ona came in. But then the Jedi tensed again as Ona’s expression registered. Disapproval.

“Jina.” The Bothan healer’s voice was tightly controlled. “Are you up for visitors?”

The former Jedi looked at the Bothan and nodded. “Will?” The healer nodded.

"Yeah." Ona sat down beside her friend’s bed and took Jina’s non encumbered hand in a gentle grip. The other was still festooned with IV lines and monitor cables. “You don’t have to do it now. The interrogation drugs are out of your system, but you still need rest.”

"Ona." The Jedi shook her head, but squeezed Ona’s hand. “I… I need to do this. I don’t know why, but I need to do this.”

The furred healer nodded, unsurprised. “If he hurts you, I am going to hurt him.” This was no joke or idle threat, not from a Bladeborn, and especially not from this Bladeborn. She looked to the door and Jina tensed as it opened again. This time Will came through, his hands in plain sight and… Jina tensed. He was wearing a jump suit, not his armor and he wasn’t armed. At all! That was a first in her experience.

The bedridden woman’s voice was soft, scared almost. “Will?” He wouldn’t meet her eyes. He sat in a chair near the far wall and his hands never left her view.

The soldier’s voice was…odd. Sick and scared and… Lots of emotions played through the tone. “Jina… I am sorry…There was no time.”

Jina blinked and looked at Ona, but the healer looked as confused as Jina felt. “Will…?”

He wouldn’t meet her eyes. Again, that was a first. He was so self assured, so confident. He had always had to be. He had been alone, worked alone, and fought alone, for so long that he had to be totally confident in what he did. His voice was sick now. “We had to distract them so the team could gain entry without sounding any alarms. That safehouse was covered in alarms. We had to get their attention, but not in a way that would make them double tap you and run. I argued… But it was the only way we had available at the time. I am sorry, Jina.” He repeated softly.

The hurt Jedi stared at her old friend and shook her head slowly. “Will… Vorren would have killed me, wouldn’t he? To keep me out of Vandar’s hands? If Vandar had arrived, he would have shot me and fled, right? That is standard Imperial Intelligence procedure, to deny an intelligence asset to the enemy, right?” Will nodded. Jina’s voice took on some of her old sharpness. “Will, look at me.” When Will did, obviously reluctant, Jina smiled sadly. “Thank you.”

Green orbs met Jina’s brown ones and tears were streaming down his face. “Jina, I killed you… I…” He bowed his head and shook it violently.

"Ona?" Jina looked at the healer who sat beside her bed. “You don’t want me to move. Can you bring him here?”

"Yes." The Bothan stared at the Jedi before smiling a bit sadly and then she rose. The medic walked to where Will was seated and then took his right ear firmly betwixt her fingers. Will gave a startled yelp, but rose as Ona gave a yank. “Come along, boy.”

The Jedi had to smile, Ona’s tone was a perfect ‘Mother is not amused’ voice. Jina snickered at the expression on Will’s face, but then schooled her features as the healer led the soldier to her bedside like an errant schoolboy. A small shove and Will was sitting in the chair Ona had so recently vacated. He looked poleaxed and terrified, so Jina took pity on him. She reached out her hand as far as it would go.

“Will…” Jina said quietly. “Come here.”

Very, very slowly, Will reached out and took Jina’s hand in his. As soon as he had, she pulled him into a weak embrace. Will stiffened, trying not to jar the hurt woman, but she wouldn’t let go. “Jina… I…” He stared, but then she pulled his hand to her mouth and kissed it.

The man leaning over her bed looked utterly dumbfounded and she pulled the hand close to her and cradled it on her chest. “I am not saying it didn’t hurt. I am not saying I am not angry with you for doing it. I am not saying that I won’t shout at you or bring it up later when I need something to clout you over the head with when you are being obstreperous. But…” She sighed. “No one can hurt you like the ones you love. You hurt me, to save me. I understand Will.”

"Understand?" The soldier looked like he wanted to cry as Jina cradled his hand gently. “I don’t. I am a mess, Jina. I have always been a mess, but… especially now.”

"What?" Jina gave the man a squeeze and then let him retreat. “Why now, Will? What has happened?”

"I..." The soldier looked like he wanted to back away from the bed, but the Bothan healer scowled at him and he sat abruptly in the chair. His gaze was on the floor again, but his voice a bit steadier when he spoke. “After the mess with the bugs on Tralus, you asked me if I knew anything about your family. From before the bugs took you and mindwiped you. You asked because you met your brother. I am sorry about Mikol, Jina…”

"Yeah." The hurt Jedi sighed. “I know he was following orders. I know the Bladeborn didn’t have a choice but to execute him. But it hurts…”

Will nodded. “I know.” Now he met her eyes and his gaze was sick. “I lied to you, Jina.”

"You...?" The Jedi’s face went slack. “You what…?”

Ona stared from one to the other and then at her monitors. She scowled at Will, but he didn’t seem to notice. Will didn’t take his eyes away from Jina’s. “You asked me, flat out if you had any more kin that you didn’t know about. I told you I didn’t know. That was a lie. You do.”

She felt faint. “I… I have family…?” She shook her head. “Jedi should not attach… I… No…”

"I have to tell you." Will shook his head as well, but his eyes never left hers. “Jina, you need to know. You are going to be angry with me, and I do not blame you in the slightest.” He licked his lips. “You know about Mikol, you have another sister who uses the Force. Her name is Cina.”

The bedridden woman blinked. “Cina and Jina…? Someone lacks imagination.” She laughed a little sharply and Ona came to her bedside. The kind healer took Jina’s hand in her own and compassion poured into the hurt woman.

"I didn't want to lie." Will snarled softly. “I wanted to tell you, but I couldn’t. I tried, so many times, but I couldn’t.”

"Will? What?" Jina controlled her feelings and stared at Will, and then her eyes went wide as she sensed something. “Who did this to you?” Her voice was horrified at what she sensed. There were blocks in his mind, she could sense them now that all of his defenses were down.

Will didn’t meet her eyes. “Your father.”

Jina felt faint again and she couldn’t speak. Finally she stammered. “My… My….” Her emotions went wild. She knew that was bad, that it would cause all kinds of problems, but she couldn’t control it.

Ona blanched and the grip on Jina’s hand became tight. “Jina… Jina look at me… Focus, woman…”

Jina forced herself to focus on Ona’s face, nothing but the scared and sick look on Ona’s face. She was shaking, cold and hot all at once. She gasped out. “Ona… help me…”

But then something odd happened. Will started singing. Not a battle hymn, not a warrior tune of any kind. No, this was something else. It was sad and lonely. Both women stared at him as his voice soured through the chamber.

Friends all tried to warn me,
But I held my head up high
All the time they warned me
But I only passed them by
They all tried to tell me
But I guess I didn't care
I turned my back and
Left them standing there

((Mike Curb Congregation ‘Burning Bridges’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhKnEo9ZyEs))

By the time he had finished the last refrain, Jina was crying. Ona was as well. Will bowed his head and rose. Jina was still crying and she held out a hand, but his face was on the floor. Her voice was scared. “Will, no… I am sorry… I am not mad at you.”

"Yes." Will was shaking slightly. “Yes, you are Jina and you have a right to it. I haven’t told you the worst part. We are cousins, you and I.”

"What?" Jina froze. “Cousins?” Her voice was soft, disbelieving.

"Oh Jina..." The man was crying again. “I couldn’t tell you. I wanted to and I couldn’t. He put… things in my head. Blocks, he called them. He wouldn’t let me go otherwise. I couldn’t fight it, Jina, I tried. I couldn't tell you. I tried. I tried so many times. But I couldn’t.” His voice was sorrowful now. “I don’t blame you for hating me. You can’t hate me as much as I hate myself.”

Jina blinked and then her face hardened. “Will. Stop.” The sheer command in her tone had the soldier freezing, his hand outstretched to hit the door panel. Her voice was calm now. “Look at me, Will.” He did and her face was serene. “Come here, Will.” He didn’t want to, but Ona was scowling at him again, so he came to her bedside. Neither of them was prepared for Jina to reach up and embrace both of them, pulling both down into a group hug. She hissed, but then spoke firmly to them both. “I don’t know what is going to come of this, but it is not your fault. I need your help, Will. And I think… I think you need mine.”

"No..." Will was shaking his head, but the firm grip that Jina had on his arm prevented him from retreating. “No, Jina, I will hurt you again.”

The Bothan smiled grimly. “Oh, no you won’t.”

"Good." The soldier turned his gaze to the Bladeborn. “I will hold you to that, Ona. If he put in a block to keep me from talking, there are likely other controls.”

Everything stopped as another voice spoke. All eyes were pulled to the door which had opened while they were all distracted. A small nondescript human stood there. His voice was quiet. “No I didn’t, Will. Hello Jina.”

Jina blinked and her eyes were wary as she looked at the being. Something was off about him, he wasn’t human no matter what he portrayed. And… he didn’t radiate in the Force, but she got the sense that he should have.

Her voice was flat when she spoke. “Hello, father.”
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