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(L,F&E 87) Friends and Foes

kalenath's Avatar

08.15.2012 , 05:29 AM | #1
((This begins eighteen hours after the end of Traps set on Traps))

The first thing Lohas did on waking was catalogue her body as she had been taught. It was so odd. Michelle, Idjit and the others were so odd, but at the same time, they were so kind, so gentle to her. She didn’t deserve that. She was a monster, she knew she was, but every time she started to embrace self destructive thoughts, someone was there with kind words and gentle insistence to keep her from harm, self inflicted or otherwise. She eased herself slightly in the cocoon she had been placed in and a concerned voice spoke from nearby.

“Lohas? You shouldn’t be awake yet, young one.” The bug felt confused. Did she know this being? She wasn’t sure. Nothing hurt, but she was very confused. Then a sense of peace and well being flooded her and she sighed in relief. It came from… She froze in place. She couldn’t see through the cocoon, but it came from her head. Where her antennae had been before being amputated. She was shuddering in reaction. If she had been human, she would have been sobbing. But that same gentle voice and touch soothed her again. “Shhh, Shhh little one. It’s okay. You are okay. It will be fine. You are fine.”

“Who…?” Her voice was scratchy, as if unused. Something soothed her physically now, that same gentle touch was allowing energy to flow in ways that it hadn’t been able to for years. It felt… heavenly…after so long. She thought she knew this being, but she couldn’t remember. She hated not being able to remember. “Who are you?”

“My name is Kicota.” The gentle voice replied. “You were quite a mess when we were introduced, so I do not doubt you are very confused. Sarai wanted to come herself but we persuaded her to remain safe.”

“Kicota…?” Lohas’ voice was stronger now, but she did not struggle. She wasn’t done yet with her recovery from her latest surgery. That was clear. She had gone through this many times. Wake, have people poke and prod her, sleep to heal and then wake to do horrible things for Vandar and Special Branch, things her soul cried out about, but she never had a choice. But these people were much kinder than the Special Branch of Republic Intelligence had been. She was sure she knew the voice from somewhere. Didn’t she? It was familiar. Sort of. “I… I think I remember you…” Her words were slow as she parsed what she could remember. “I think… You were Cota then… I… I think…” Her voice was hesitant but that same gentle touch soothed her again.

“Yes.” Kicota’s voice was still soft and gentle but now held sadness and remembered pain. “I was in Grun’das’ swarm. I was barely conscious of who and what I was until the whole swarm was taken by the being called Bob. He helped us be more than we were and then Samuel saved us all. But I remember you, little one. Oh…” Now the queen’s voice was sad. “I know what they did to you, youngling. They will not get away with it. We will stop them.”

“So tired…” Lohas felt herself fading. “Just want to rest…”

“Rest some more, young one.” Kicota’s touch was hastening her slumber again. “We will talk more when you wake again. I will be here.”

“Promise…?” Lohas hated the whining tone that entered her voice but she could not scrub it out.

“I promise. Sleep now and wake renewed.” Kicota’s gentle voice and soothing touch followed Lohas into slumber. She fell into the darkness comforted.


Kicota took a moment to project peace and calm to the hurt youngling before she retracted her antennae and stepped away from the healing pod the young queen was encased in. Small wonder the poor dear was so confused and hurt. Just the physical memory of the injuries that had been done to her felt awful to the incredibly empathic queen. She was much younger than Lohas, but at the same time, far more experienced. The brain damage that Lohas had taken was extreme. Any other race but a Sitolon with their segmented brains would have died from it. As it was, Lohas wished to die, and many people were working to keep her from it. But Kicota had to remain calm, now especially. She nodded to the other occupant of the room who had acted ready when Lohas had woken up. He took his hand from his gun but she did not relax and neither did her guards.

“She will be fine.” Kicota’s voice was a bit flat, but she didn’t really care. This being was annoying.

“Maybe.” Musano Vorren’s voice was also flat. He did not rise from the chair he sat in. She could feel his pain, but she did not offer assistance. On the one hand, he would not take it. On the other, he was an agent of the Sith Empire, and technically an enemy, no matter what he acted. “They hurt her so badly. Physically and mentally. Can she recover from that?”

“Yes.” Kicoata’s voice brooked no argument, but Vorren did not listen. “Back off, agent.”

“I know your people can repair incredible things, but this…” Vorren’s voice held what for anyone else would have been true revulsion. It was hard to tell with him though; He was trained and very, very good at fooling people. Add to that the fact that his mind was so still as to be nearly impenetrable to the Force and…well… As if he was aware of her scrutiny, he slumped in place. “I am not your enemy, Queen Kicota.”

“She will have healing.” Kicota’s voice was truly hostile now. “As soon as your people let her go.” Vorren looked at her and sighed deeply.

“We can’t do that, Queen Kicota…” He said softly as he looked around the open medical bay of the Sith battleship Deceiver. “Even with her being a victim and a child, she helped Vandar attack us. She…devoured some of our crew.” The hate and revulsion in his voice was palpable.

“We will not let you dissect her.” Kicota’s voice was flat now and more than one of her retinue of guards stiffened at her tone. One did not insult a Sitolon queen. Ever. “You are just going to have to accept the fact that we are not going to let you dissect her in revenge for Mi’ta. Mi’ta was dead anyway. It wasn’t Lohas’ fault.” The man’s eyes cold turned to her and for just a moment, Kicota was reminded of another highly dangerous human male. But there the similarities ended. Will Kalenath would have just blown the entire ship out of space and to hell with the repercussions. “You will not hurt this youngling. It was not her fault. Leave her alone. Do I make myself clear, Agent Vorren?” There was no give in her voice and several of her guards raised weapons.

“Crystal.” Vorren said coldly. Then he rose and left the room. Kicota stared after him for a moment and then sighed.

“How else would he react?” The sole other occupant of the room asked softly. Michelle, Sixth of the Seven, was working hard at her desk, but she had demanded to be put in close proximity to Lohas while the queen recovered. The crew wasn’t entirely sure how to treat her, but most felt awe around her. It wasn’t everyone who could let part of herself die to try and trap a powerful enemy. “How would you react, Kicota? If someone ate a friend of yours?”

“I don’t really think someone like Vorren has friends, but… I know.” The huge silver queen sighed deeply as she sat beside the cocoon that held Lohas. She shook her head sadly. “It’s not her fault. Those butchers…” The queen was nearly sobbing. Not that she could cry as humans did, but she did feel grief and pain. “The things they did to her were as bad as what they did to Sara. If not worse.”

“Kicota…” Michelle said softly. “If they don’t let her go soon…” The healers on the Sitolon homeship were incredible, they had perfected healing over several thousand lifetimes and being able to draw on ancestral memory for healing lore helped a great deal as well. “You know what will happen.”

“I know.” Kicota said softly. “She won’t heal enough. The damage to her brain will heal as it is and there will be nothing anyone can do.” The queen was shaking her head. “Michelle… What do we do?”

“Nothing for now.” Michelle said gently. “She isn’t stable enough to move anyway. We do need permission to take her and the…five beings that Lohas changed.” No one was going to say where the fifth one had come from, not where anyone of Imperial inclination could hear. “Do you think Dia can do something, persuade someone?”

“I don’t know.” Michelle said sourly. “I understand her status within the Empire is under review…”

“Joy…” Kicota said with matching sourness and then resumed her vigil over the hurt youngling in the pod beside her. “I just hope she doesn’t break the ship…” Not a joke. Not when dealing with someone like Dia Ulahadotter.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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08.15.2012 , 05:34 AM | #2
<An Imperial staff room>

“Okay… Let me make sure I have this straight.” The cold female voice silenced everything in the room. “I am listed as ‘dead’ in Imperial Records. I am not dead. But you cannot update my status because there were no witnesses to my death.” The woman formerly known as Oreana Devich and now calling herself Dia shook her head slowly. “I blew up all the potential witnesses with Creon.” She shook her head slowly, her face holding a tinge of humor now. “What am I supposed to do, reconstitute their atoms? I am good, not that good.”

“You are an imposter.” The clerk replied sourly. “You claim to be…” The clerk broke off as Dia growled at him, a sound more akin to an angry rancor than a human woman. When she spoke again, her voice skittered around the room as if on angry claws.

“Let me make this perfectly clear, clerk Bushfeld. I do not ’claim’ a damned thing.” The guards in the room stiffened. She was unarmed, unarmored and clad in a patient gown, but everyone who looked at her suddenly felt a trickle of fear. “My name is not Oreana now, it is Dia. I did not choose this. I did not want this. A very hurt youngling with incredible power felt me dying and brought me back from the brink. I don’t blame her. She was in pain and wanted to keep others from being in pain. Maybe it was weakness on her part, maybe not. But she saved me.” She shook her head slowly and her blue eyes speared the man, who suddenly looked as if he wanted to be anywhere but where he was. “I have spent the last two hours filling out your Force be damned forms. I did it as a courtesy to your captain. I thought you people had suffered enough. I guess I was wrong. You are rude.” Power rang in her words and both guards raised empty hands, but froze as her glare slid over them. “Give me one reason I should not just ‘remove’ you and start over with some new clerk.” Her steely gaze had the clerk wilting.

“M…Ma’am…” The clerk tried, she had to give him that. He was not a coward, just focused on his job to the exclusion of all else. “It won’t do any good. Your story is… odd to say the least. We are trying to corroborate it.”

“Good luck.” Dia said sourly. “The only witnesses are either dead or people who want nothing to do with the Empire.” She shook her head. “No, I guess I just have to fight my way out.” She rose slowly and her hands crackled with power now. The guards froze in place, hands well away from their weapons. The clerk met her eyes calmly. He was brave, she had to give him that. If dumb.

“Dia…” The soft voice spoke form the door and Dia turned to find Nira Auralai stepped into the room. “Killing them won’t help.”

“Might make me feel better.” Dia snarled, but slowly relaxed. The power that had been flaring off her in waves dissipated slowly. She growled at the clerk again. “Bureaucratic bull malarkey.”

“It’s needed, Dia.” Nira said gently as she beckoned. “Come on. Let’s get you dressed and let the soldiers and clerk change their pants.” Dia snickered at her tone and followed, casting one last baleful glare at the clerk as she followed. “You can’t blame them for having misgivings.”

“Why?” Dia asked nastily as Nira led her into the main medical ward. The ship’s crew was hard at work on repairing the damage that it had sustained. “You think I don’t have misgivings? I was…” She shook her head. “I can’t quite remember what happened. I know I said goodbye to Michelle. I was floating away when something grabbed me.”

“Did it hurt?” Nira asked softly as she led Dia into a private room. “Here, you didn’t want black.” She indicated a pile of neutral color robes on the bed.

“No….” Dia said softly. “It didn’t hurt. Lohas explained as soon as I was lucid. She was so sad, so apologetic, almost pathetic in her need to explain to me. But powerful.” She stripped the gown off and started dressing with careful speed. “She helped me. She did what she could, I don’t blame her. If I blame anyone, I blame Vandar and his scum.”

“Good.” Nira said sourly. “One person gunning for Lohas is bad enough.”

“Oh?” Dia asked, her shirt half on. She pulled it on and stared at the younger Sith. “What has happened?”

“Mi’ta.” Nira said quietly and Dia froze in place. “Vorren and Mi’ta were colleagues, friends if you can believe it.”

“Oh….dear…” Dia said softly as she started pulling the outer robes only to freeze as a silver hilt appeared under them. “Um… Nira…?” She asked softly, not touching it. “Am I supposed to have a lightsaber?”

“You will need it.” Nira replied evenly. “Lots of people had reason to distrust you as Oreana. Now that you are Dia, well… Your status is unclear and any Sith who comes by… Well…”

“…will have nothing better to do than test themselves against me. Joy…” Dia groused as she finished closing the robes. She put the belt on and hooked the lightsaber to it. “Been awhile since I last used a saber and this body has never used one, so… I guess I better practice.”

“If you don’t mind.” Nira sounded unsure now. “I would be honored to spar with you.”

“I wouldn’t mind at all.” Dia said with a smile. “Come on, they have to have some kind of exercise room around here somewhere…” She paused and shook her head. “You lurk very well, Idjit of the Bladeborn.” A soft chuckle came from a shadowed corner of the room and Idjit unfolded from a chair. “Did you enjoy the show?” Dia asked sourly.

“Ah…” Idjit waved a hand at his bandaged eyes but his voice held humor. “Blind?”

“Sure you are.” Dia said caustically. “Sure you are. I am going to tell Istara that you were a peeping tom.” A wide grin spoiled her harsh words.

“You would, wouldn’t you?” Idjit shuddered a bit. “I didn’t look.” He said defiantly but then he spoiled it with a grin. “Much.” Dia stared at him for a moment and then threw the pillow from the bed at him.

“You are distracting me.” Dia said quietly. “Do I want to know?”

“Your attendance is required in the com section, Dia Ulahadotter.” Idjit said formally. “By the Emperor.”

“Oh… Flarg…” Dia’s face went ashen, but then she stiffened and nodded. She had never backed away from a fight in her life. “Let’s get this done.”

<Twenty minutes later>

Dia was staggering as she exited the secure com booth. All Imperial ships had secure areas to send and receive holo transmissions. Not many had the secure facilities to receive a transmission from where this one had come from. Dia felt pain, she ignored it. She felt nausea, she ignored that. It had not been fun. As bad as she remembered it being the few times she had talked to the Emperor before, this had been worse, far worse.

“Dia…?” Nira’s voice was low and concerned. She turned an both the female Sith and Idjit were standing nearby, out of the way of the crew who were working but obviously waiting for her. “What happened?”

“Captain…Solo…” Dia croaked out. The captain strode forward and nodded to her. “The Emperor tested me. I passed his test. He has formally stated that Oreana Devich is dead.” The captain looked at her and nodded slowly. She had formal status now. “I am Dia Ulahadotter… Ally…of… the Empire…” She felt herself falling, but something caught her before she hit the floor. “I have work to do…” She tried to rise, tried to focus, but her power would not answer her now.

“No, you have healing to do, Dia.” Nira’s voice was gentle now as someone lifted her and carried her easily. “Rest, Dia Ulahadotter, ally of the Empire.” Then she knew no more.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

08.15.2012 , 05:41 AM | #3
Dia had been floating restfully in the kolto tank for some time, she wasn’t sure how long. She knew she had taken damage in the Emperor’s test. It had hurt like nothing else she had ever encountered. Even the torture by surgery that Special Branch had done to her had paled in comparison. Even dying, twice, had paled in comparison. Neither of those time shad actually HURT, now that she thought about it. Both times, she had gone to sleep and woken elsewhere. First in the main computer of a starship, and second in the body of a clone of her old self. Odd that. She had always been told that clones went mad when made from Force users, but somehow she wasn’t. She didn’t think so anyway. She shook her head slowly and stretched a little. It felt…weird not having lekku now. She had taken a long time to get used to them, and one of them had been hurt badly and she had never really recovered full use of it, but she had compensated. Now, she felt unbalanced by not having them. Odd. She was floating and then she was not. Dia felt a firm bed under her and sheets over her. Probably she had lost time due to drugs or such. No problem. She sighed, she had been stagnant long enough. She opened her eyes and sat up. What she saw was a horror, but she smiled.

“Hello, Kicota.” Her grin was small, but there and she nodded to the large silver skinned queen. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“You were hurt very badly, Dia.” Kicota replied gently. She was a healer by trade as well as a queen. “You have been unconscious for two days.”

“Two… days…?” Dia exclaimed. “Lohas? Has the Empire decided?” She blanched as the queen shook her head sadly. “Kicota… She cannot remain in that stasis thing for much longer.”

“I know.” Kicota said in a hard tone. “They are being obstinate. They say they want to help her. Lying scum.” The queen snarled. “Even without the Force, I can tell that they are lying.”

“Oh dear…” Dia said as she checked her extremities. “Vorren?” She asked grimly.

“Vorren.” Kicota agreed with a growl. “He just will not accept the fact that she was not in control of herself. That Vandar took that poor larva and warped her.”

“Neither would I. If someone ate a friend of mine.” Dia mused as she sat up, pulling her clothes to her with the Force and starting to dress. “Kicota… You know…About Mi’ta…?” She did not finish her statement and Kicota nodded. “Okay. Let’s see if I can make him understand.” Steel rang in her tone.

“Dia, you are still weak and sick.” Kicota said gently. “You do not feel it now, but the damage was extreme. We thought we were going to lose you.”

“Weak and sick or no…” Dia replied as she hooked her lightsaber on her belt. “I have work to do. If he kills Lohas, there will be war. If you kill him, there will be war. So… Hmmm…” She shook her head and her tone was rueful now. “Good thing I don’t like easy jobs.” She stopped talking as the queen stiffened.

“Oh Dammit!” Kicota ran out of the room and Dia stared for a moment before following her.

She strode out into the main medical bay to a tense scene. A man in Imperial uniform held a blaster in hand, pointed at a larva sack. The Sitolon guards all had blasters in hand pointed at Agent Vorren. Dia took a deep breath and shouted.

Enough!” The Force came to her call and Vorren’s weapon suddenly flew into the air to land by her feet. “Everyone. Stand. Down!” The agent went for something hidden in a pocket and then he cried out in alarm as Dia raised a hand, grabbed him with the Force and threw him into the air to slam into the ceiling with enough force objects fall off of nearby trays. When she spoke again, it was soft and filled with menace. “What part of ‘Stand Down’ do you not understand, Agent Vorren?” She asked him. He stared at her from his position, plastered on the ceiling. “Well?” She asked almost sweetly, but cold threat rang underneath her tone.

“That… thing… killed my friend.” Vorren said softly, his hand inching towards his pocket. “You of all people have to understand that, Oreana or Dia or whoever the hell you are now.”

“Agent…” Dia sighed and then her other hand came up. The security camera over the door hissed and then broke off the wall, slamming into the floor near her. She did not flinch. “You have the brains of a houseplant sometimes, don’t you?” Vorren snarled at her and Dia dropped her hand. He slammed into the floor hard enough to stun him momentarily. She was on him before he could recover and divesting him of a thermal detonator, two blasters and a nasty looking poison dart thrower. “I doubt that is everything. Hold him!” She stepped back as a Sitolon guard came up and grabbed both his arms and both his legs in strong claws. She leaned close and whispered. “I really hope the mikes are dead Agent, because I am only going to say this once. I know about getting revenge for lost companions, I know it very well.” She looked him in the eyes and waited until he met hers. She leaned closer and whispered into his ear. “She is not dead.”

“You lie!” Vorren snarled at her, but was unable to move. “That thing ate her!”

“That ’thing’ as you so impolitely put it, agent…” Dia said gently as she stepped away. “Has a name. Her name is Lohas. You saw the recording. You saw what Vandar did, didn’t you?” Vorren did not want to, but her eyes would not let him go and he nodded jerkily. “He killed your friend, Vorren. He gave her a powerful neurotoxin. She was dead before Lohas arrived. You want revenge, get it from him. Please do, I and a lot of other people will help.”

“That thing ate my friend.” Vorren did not struggle now, but his eyes were filled with hate as Dia sighed. “Don’t deny it!”

“I won’t.” Dia said softly. “You won’t listen to anything I say. Don’t move.” Not that he could, but she wasn’t going to take any chances. This man was seriously dangerous, especially when cornered. He was struggling against the claws that held him, but Sitolon could lift small tanks. He wasn’t going anywhere in the black claws of Kicota’s guard. Dia walked to another door and opened it, and then smiled. “I should have known you would be listening.”

“Wanted to help…” Vorren froze in his struggling as a soft, scared voice came from the door. A blue skinned form wearing a hastily thrown on patient gown came out of the door. Her eyes were covered by bandages and her steps were jerky. Dia took her arm in a gentle hand and the Twi’lek smiled her thanks. “You need me…” Her head was festooned with odd looking machinery and tubes draped from her body.

“You should not be out of the cocoon, Mi’ta. We filled your drug reservoir, but you should not be up.” Kictoa said disapprovingly. “We will have to reconnect all the plumbing again. You will not enjoy that.” Vorren went white.

“Mi’ta… But… I…” His face was as pale as the white patient gown the Twi’lek wore. “That is not possible…”

“What isn’t, Agent?” Dia asked caustically. “That Lohas saved her life or that she is standing here when she should be in bed at the very least? She is nowhere near recovered from that nerve toxin.” She gave Mi’ta a gentle shake. “You crazy Twi’lek.” Mi’ta smiled at her, but then her blind eyes turned to Vorren.

“Boss, please…” Her voice held entreaty now. “Lohas saved me from Vandar’s poison. The poison hurt me, bad. It hurt my eyes, I… I don’t know if they can fix them.”

“We will do what we can, Mi’ta. We will see what we can do about your other problem as well. Brain chemistry is a specialty of ours.” Kicota promised in a gentle tone as she took Mi’ta’s other arm to help steady the Twi’lek who was stumbling worse now. “Whatever we can do, we will.”

“But… Why…?” Vorren asked the room in general, obviously confused. “Why pretend she was eaten?”

“Because Imperial Intelligence will know very shortly who I was, if they don’t already. I must have blurted out things… I was fuzzy…Drug ran out and wore off. I don’t know all of what I said and it was likely recorded.” Mi’ta replied sadly. “Michelle and Idjit were trying to keep it quiet, but someone in the crew found something and took it to the captain. They are…understandably paranoid at the moment. Lohas pretended to have consumed me to keep me safe. I am sorry Vorren. Imperial Intelligence will know what who I was by now or very soon. They won’t know it all yet, Vorren, but they will.” Impossibly, Vorren went even whiter as Mi’ta slumped in place. The only thing holding her up was the strong arms that held her in place. “You have got to get Lorna and the kids safe, Vorren. Now. If your enemies figure out that you helped me, lied to your superiors about me…”

“It’s taken care of.” A new voice came as the door hissed open. Michelle, Sixth of the Seven walked in and sighed. “Dia… Do you have to start on the property damage already? The captain is a bit upset about the mike and camera.”

“Bite me.” Dai said with a grin that was only half whimsical. “He wasn’t going to take my word.”

“What do you mean, ‘It is taken care of’?” Vorren asked cautiously. “They were in a secure facility.”

“And now they are in an even more secure facility. Not as hostages…” Michelle said quietly as his face hardened. “But as potential targets. They know about hiding and security. So do the people they are hiding with now. Right now they are heading for the homeship, but in a few days we will move them to an even more secure facility.” Vorren took a moment to digest that. More secret and secure than the Sitolon homeship? Who the…? Then it hit him and he stared, mouth ajar.

“You are kidding…” Vorren stared from Michelle to Dia, his eyes growing wider. “Why the hell would they take my family?” Only one place in the galaxy might be secure from the Empire, the Republic and Special Branch. The Stormhawk Enclave.

“Will insisted.” Michelle said softly. “He got them out. Apparently he left here and went straight there. He took a hell of a risk, Vorren. He says, ‘The debt is paid’ whatever that means.”

“Tell him when you see him again…” Vorren relaxed slowly. “…that I say ‘It’s paid’. Now what?”

“Now we have to get Lohas to her people before it is too late.” Dia said as she motioned for the Sitolon holding him to let go. Vorren landed on his feet and nodded to her. “Mi’ta and Lohas’ breeders will go as well, for medical treatment. I will stay, I have work to do.”

“Actually…” Kicota said softly. “Agent Vorren and Dia, we have a request for you both.”

“A request?” The two mismatched individuals chorused. They shared a small grin and Dia waved for the queen to continue.

“Yes.” Kicota replied. “We, the Sitolon, need a representative. Someone to be our voice with the Empire.” Dia’s eyes went wide, but Kicota wasn’t done. “We also need help improving our security, as Agent Vorren showed us our lack when he and his people attacked the homeship. A mutually beneficial partnership?” Vorren stared at her and then shook his head in resignation.

“Idjit and I have to remain here.” Michelle said softly. “He still faces Imperial Review. I won’t leave him to face that alone.” All of the others shared a look. Imperial Review as a euphemism for trial by torture, usually fatal to the one being reviewed. “But the rest of you, get out of here. Today.”

“We can do that.” Dia said softly, her mind whirling with plans and strategies. “Right agent?”

“Right.” Vorren nodded to her, his eyes on Mi’ta who was crumpling in Dia’s arms now.

“Come on, Mi’ta.” Kicota said gently as she swung the shivering Twi’lek into her claws. “Back into the pod with you before anyone else comes. I will reattach your plumbing and then you go back to sleep…”

“At least it doesn’t hurt… Vorren…” Mi’ta managed to say as she was carried away. “Bring Olandas…We need her…” Vorren looked at Dia who shrugged.

“Bring your whole team.” Dia said solemnly. “Time we were all on the same page anyway.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

08.15.2012 , 05:46 AM | #4
<Two days later>

“That…is…creepy…” The man in armor’s voice spoke for the entire team as they watched Mi’ta being removed from the pod she had been in. It looked as if she were being ingested by a larger brown pod like thing, but the docs had explained. Mi’ta needed help that only a deep healing could give and they hoped that the healing could fix everything. He shook his head as the pod turned transparent and the Twi’lek was seen, floating in a fluid that was tinged a lighter shade of blue than her skin. “What is that stuff?”

The small Intel team had accompanied Mi’ta and Vorren from the Sith ship. Imperial Intelligence had okayed the Sitolon’s request for Vorren as a ‘security consultant.’ Everyone knew that eventually Imperial Intelligence would figure out who Mi’ta had been, but hopefully Vorren would have time to disappear or make a proper explanation before then.

“Dunno.” Vorren had been a man of few words during the trip from the Deceiver to the Sitolon homeship.

“I…” Olandas obviously wanted to touch the pod and one of the Sitolon nodded to her.

“Go ahead, tech Olandas. You cannot hurt that pod without heavy weapons.” The bug waved her forward and she moved slowly, carefully. “The fluid is a specialized sap derived from a substance that grows on a planet called Thyferra. It promotes even more rapid healing that Kolto. Unfortunately, we have been unable to reproduce it off the ship.”

“Like most of your tech…” Olandas said softly as she pressed a hand against the transparent membrane, snatching it back hastily. “Is it supposed to be… um…squishy?”

“It is alive, yes, Tech Olandas.” The doctor reassured her. “Your friend will recover. As to her eyesight…” Now the doc shook its head. “We do not know. We will do what we can.”

“How long…?” Olandas asked, her eyes never leaving the pod. “I mean… She looks so hurt…So weak…” She gave a squeak as the armored form came up behind her and patted her shoulder.

“She will be all right, Olandas.” The man nodded to the doc. “Right?”

“The Twi’lek will survive.” The doc said gently. “She will need time to heal the damage from the toxin no matter what. There are various things we can do for her eyes. We will need to see how she heals the rest of the damage before we attempt any of those.” Olandas nodded, her eyes on the scantily clad form in the pod.

“Olandas…” Vorren said softly. “Stay with Gev. Let me know what happens. I…” He shook his head and turned, but paused as the doctor nodded to him. “Yes?”

“Queen Sarai requests your presence, Agent Vorren.” The doctor said softly, but there was no mistaking the royal command that was implicit in that seemingly innocuous request. “As soon as you are available.” Vorrn nodded slowly and started for the door. He nodded to the being who was waiting for him there. Dia looked decidedly uncomfortable in the formal attire of an Imperial diplomat, but the captain of the Deceiver had insisted. She had made her displeasure heard but had acquiesced eventually. Not without mutterings, mind you.

“Stupid Force forsaken shoes…” Dia was grumbling as the mismatched pair started off. “Why could I not just be in robes?” She asked for about the fifth time. She shook her feet as she walked, trying to get her feet to move properly.

“Protocol.” Vorren said softly, lost in his own thoughts.

“Agent.” Dia said, stopping in mid passage. “We did this to help you. And we are not enemies of the Empire.” Vorren would not meet her eyes. “What is wrong, agent Vorren?”

“I raised my children to obey orders.” Vorren said when it was clear that Dia was not going to budge until he answered. “What kind of father figure am I when I disobey them?”

“And if you had obeyed orders?” Dia asked gently. “What would have happened to Mi’ta, to you and your family?”

“Mi’ta? A year or so of interrogation, then execution. Us? A long interrogation followed by a long stint in prison. Or they would have just killed Lorna and me, sent our kids to ‘reeducation’.” Vorren replied, his voice tired. “Melita Ranol was an enemy, but an honorable one. We faced off a few times, she won a few, I won a few. Then to have her masters toss her away so casually, so… So stupidly… It was wrong. Even for me, it was wrong.”

“And?” Dia pressed, her voice turning hard. “That was not the only reason was it?”

“No.” Vorren said slowly. “I… I wanted to turn her. Prove to my superiors that I could. Then she…well… She grew on me, us.”

“Happens to the best, agent.” Dia sighed and started off again. “Happened to me once too, with a Padawan named Ulaha. Must be the blue skin or the lekku. You think?” Vorren stared at her, but her tone was too much and a small smile graced his features. “Better, agent Vorren. We are not going to let you or your family come to harm.”

“Lorna is going to skin me…” Vorren said under his breath as they entered the queen’s quarters, but he stopped short on seeing the sight that greeted him. Admittedly it was not every day that he saw his kids climbing all over a large insect who was standing patiently and speaking in low tones. If he was not mistaken this was Ecien, one of Istara’s common partners.

“…no, Mathurin.” The large silver bug was saying. “Our bodies may be different, but we share a number of similarities. Please don’t touch that Jula…” The girl snatched her hand from a protuberance on the bug’s thorax and the bug’s voice was gentle. “Not really a problem, it’s just uncomfortable. Ah, Agent Vorren…” Both children froze in place and then slowly climbed down off the bug before bracing to attention. “We were discussing anatomy. Jula and Mathurin here were curious about the differences between humans and Sitolon.”

“I…” For the first time in a long, long time, Musano Vorren did not know what to say. “Is Lorna here?”

“She is feeding your youngest.” The big bug replied evenly. “Come when you are done talking to your kids.” She swept towards the door and the children stayed where they were, obviously uncomfortable. Then she was gone, Dia walking with her. Vorren looked at his children and nodded.

“How have you been treated?” He asked. Neither showed any signs of injury. Both were clean and wore clean, neutral shipsuits that bore no insignia. “Mathurin?” He prompted the eldest when he did not reply. The boy replied in a well moderated tone.

“We are fine, Father.” The boy had great control over his tone, but deep down, confusion was audible. “They have treated us well.” At eight, he was the eldest .

“They gave us each our own room.” Jula said in a tone of worry. “Does that mean we will be in danger…?” She broke off, unsure. Of course, she was only four.

“I don’t know.” Musano Vorren replied softly. “I don’t think so. You have questions. Ask.”

“Father…” Mathurin spoke slowly, softly. “Why did we evac from the base? And the man who picked us up… I recognized him from Imperial records.” Jula looked at her brother and froze at his tone. Confusion and betrayal were right there.

“Secrets are our life, Mathurin.” Cipher Agent Musano Vorren said with a sigh. “But yes, that was Will Kalenath who picked you up. And he did it because of me.”

“He is an enemy of the Empire!” Mathurin exclaimed. “Why did he do that? We should turn him in!”

“Mathurin, that is complicated.” Vorren said gently. He squatted on his heels and extended his arms. Jula came into them gratefully but Mathurin paused, still unsure. “You remember Aunt Mi’ta? The one with the tentacles on her head? The one who made you cookies?”

“Yes…?” Mathurin said slowly. “She was always nice to me. She showed me what to do it anyone tried to hurt Jula, before the training started.”

“I remember.” Vorren said with a smile. That had been a welcome surprise. Mi’ta loved his kids. Anyone who hurt them would face her wrath. “We didn’t tell you the whole truth about her, Mathurin, Jula... She was loyal to people who were not loyal to her in return. They used her and threw her away, I found her, rescued her and brought her home. Your mother and I spent a great deal of time healing her and helping her. In return she pledged herself to me.” Jula looked blank, but Mathurin’s eyes went wide.

“She was an enemy agent?” The boy’s tone was incredulous and Jula froze in Vorren’s arms.

“She was, yes.” Vorren said, nodding to Mathurin. His boy was sharp. “Now she is not. But… I never told my superiors about her.”

“That’s treason!” Mathurin declared, his hands coming up in a warding gesture. “You… no… I can’t believe you did that!”

“Mathurin… Listen…” Vorren said slowly. “It is not treason. I did not act against the Empire. I was trying to turn her into an agent of the Empire. Instead I turned her into an agent for me. I serve the Empire, she serves me. You know her. Will she betray me?”

“Uh…” Mathurin shook his head slowly, thinking hard. “I don’t know. I don’t think so.”

“She won’t. That Twi’lek is almost genetically incapable of breaking a trust, and that was what nearly got her killed.” Vorren said gently. “My loyalty is and always will be to the Empire. But… If this information had come out -and it will shortly-what would my enemies in Imperial Intelligence have done to you, to your mother, to Jula and your little brother before I could explain?” Mathurin grimaced and Vorren nodded. “Exactly. For now, we have to remain hidden. We have to remain secure. I need you two to remain secure. Can you do that?” Mathurin nodded a bit dubiously and Vorren held out the hand that Jula was not snuggling into and Mathurin took it, a handshake, neither too firm nor too soft. “Good kids, is your mom inside?”

“Yes.” Mathurin said softly retracting his hand. “She was… Um… a bit distressed. “

“I bet.” Vorren rose and started towards the door. Jula took his hand and walked with him. Mathurin walked beside him on the other side. “Come on, let’s get this over with.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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08.15.2012 , 05:53 AM | #5
He led his children into the queen’s chamber, but all three paused when they heard an angry voice. The paused just inside the door and looked at the scene that was unfolding. Two human women sat in chairs to one side of the room, Ecien stood near them with Dia beside her. But what drew the eye was the holo that shown directing in front of the Sitolon queen who was standing in the middle, her posture one of boredom.

I might have known… Vorren kept any expression from his face as he recognized the overweight man who was shouting now.

“..and I don’t care what you think. We want him and them. Now.” The loud and obnoxious tone was one that Vorren knew well. Guilio was an agent of Imperial Intelligence, like Vorren, but there the similarities ended. Guilio had been trying to get into fieldwork for over a decade, but had always been stymied by two things. First, he was a much better analyst than he was a field agent. And second, he just did not know when to quit. Case in point…

“Agent Guilio…” The large gold skinned bug said in a reasonable tone. “I have told you my wishes. As I have also cleared them with your superiors, I don’t see how your requests bear on this.”

“You are harboring a traitor and you will pay with him!” Guilio puffed but froze as the queen snarled at him. Jula winced and Mathurin’s hand tightened on Vorren’s hand. Vorren actually found himself agreeing with them all. This being, Sarai probably, was downright scary. “You will surrender him at once, Sarai or face the consequences.”

“Are you…threatening me… agent Guilio?” Sarai asked in a silky voice filled with menace. Guilio did not seem to notice and Vorren winced. Yes, the man was a much better analyst than field agent. “If so… I suggest you rephrase that.”

“It’s not a threat. It is a promise.” Guilio puffed, but he was totally unprepared for Sarai to laugh. Vorren had to smile. When she spoke, her tone was perfect, humor mixed with just a little bit of menace. “This is no laughing matter!”

“I think it is.” Sarai corrected him. “First and foremost, you ‘requested’ this audience. You got it. You have spent the last fifteen minutes of my precious time telling me how I have to do things. How I have to surrender Agent Musano Vorren and his family to you. With no evidence that you will give me, I just have to do what you say.” The scorn in her voice could have cut durasteel now. “You are rude and stupid. I gave you the courtesy of listening to your blather. Now listen to me, analyst.” Vorren had to hold back a laugh at the man’s expression. “If you ever call me again, and waste my time with such pathetic drivel, ever again…”

She cut him off as he started to protest. “I am speaking, analyst third class Guilio!” She didn’t raise her voice. It was just the intensity level, he noted, that went through the roof. The man in the holo actually gibbered and Vorren couldn’t really blame him He had been on the receiving end of a few spectacular dressings down in his own life and they never got any easier. Sarai wasn’t done though. “You waste my time, you insult me, you try to get me to do something that I am not disposed to do and then you have the gall to threaten me?” Her voice calmed and she shook her head. “I have been threatened by professionals, Analyst Guilio. You are, at best, a well trained amateur. You need to work on that. Do not call me again unless you have something important to say. And next time, try being polite.” With that, she hit a control and cut his half formed protest off as the holo faded. She sighed and shrugged as all four females who were situated by the wall burst out laughing. “What?”

“Remind me never to get you mad at me.” Sharra Kalenath said quietly as she rocked a small bundle in her lap. “At least you come by it honestly.” Vorren stared at her and then at the woman who sat beside her. His wife smiled at him and held out the hand that was not holding the baby. Dia and Ecien watched silently.

“Come in, Musano. Queen Sarai…” Lorna Vorren nodded respectfully to the Sitolon who nodded back. “…has granted us asylum for the moment.” She shook her head. “I knew it would come, sooner or later.”

“We did not betray the Empire, Lorna.” Agent Vorren said slowly as he walked to where his wife was sitting. “And this is Helmo?” He smiled at the baby as he looked at his son for the first time in the flesh. “You do good work, Lorna.”

“Was there ever any doubt?” His wife asked suspiciously, but then she grinned sadly. “It was a surprise when Will showed up. But I am glad he did. He explained.” Musano Vorren did not move as his wife rose. He did not move as she stepped to him, the children letting go of his hands and falling back an ordered step. She smiled at him and held out the bundle. “Come, meet your son.”

“I…” Musano Vorren, the suave and cool agent of Imperial Intelligence, found himself at a loss for words as he took the small, sleeping infant. “He is going to be heartbreaker.” The little boy murmured in his sleep and the man rocked the baby boy until he subsided.

“Yeah.” Loran agreed quietly. “I am proud of you, Musano. I have always known that you were a decent sort, but you could have just given Mi’ta to Intelligence. When you brought her home, bleeding and incoherent, I thought you had flipped. But I am so proud of you.” She hugged her husband, careful to avoid jostling the baby and ignoring the audience.

“I put you and the children in danger, Lorna.” Vorren sighed softly. “And now I have done it again…”

“We agreed what to do.” Lorna gave her man a squeeze. “We debated while she was still unconscious, remember, you wanted to turn her. I wanted to throw her to Intelligence. And then, she woke up and swore herself to you…” She shook her head. “You were not going to throw her away, no matter what you threatened her with when she was obstinate.”

“We are being rude.” Vorren said softly as he turned to the Sitolon queen whose posture looked amused. “My apologies, Queen Sarai.”

“No offense taken, Agent Vorren.” The queen replied gently. “Your first glimpse of your baby boy? I would be amazed if you were not a little distracted.” Her tone turned serious. “Idiots like Guilio aside, most of your agency will understand that you had a reason for doing what you did. They may not agree why you did it. It is doubtful they will give you time to explain, or care about why. Your superiors…” She shrugged all four of her shoulders. “You will need to file a report.”

“And what am I to say, Queen Sarai?” Musano Vorren asked slowly. “I mean…” He shrugged, careful not to disturb the baby.

“You can tell the truth.” Lorna said gently. “Melita Ranol is dead. Mi’ta is as well as far as the Empire is concerned.” Her smile was self satisfied now, and Vorren suddenly had an image of a shark. His wife could be vicious, especially when people threatened her family, of which Mi’ta was a part.

“Oh?” Musano asked slowly. He knew that tone. “What did you do?” She wouldn’t meet his eyes and he pressed. “Lorna…?” He asked with suspicion in his voice.

“Well…” Lorna had the grace to look sheepish. “He was still trying to find dirt on you. I needed to do something, so I hacked his systems.”

“And did what?” Musano Vorren felt his stomach start to flip flop. Imperial Intelligence had no sense of humor when people started hacking their secure files. “Lorna…”

“I managed to get a worm in through his system.” Lorna grinned as her husband stared at her. “They will likely think he planted it. It was designed to go through the secure files and change the data that Imperial Intelligence had for Mi’ta so that the name in the files is Melita. It will show her being a triple agent, working for Republic Intelligence and spying for Imperial Intelligence under the name Mi’ta, which she is… Sort of…”

“Lorna…” Musano’s voice was horrified now. “Do you have any idea what the high command will do?” The baby in his arms whimpered a bit and he rocked it gently.

“I did it on orders, Musano.” Lorna said stiffly. “The upper command knew about Mi’ta, Will somehow managed to contact them and they sent orders with him. What is the universe coming to, Musano? Enemies of the Empire working with us…?” She shook her head. “Anyway, they knew… Somehow. They never said anything. Maybe only Jadus knew… You never know what that man knows, or why.”

“So…” Vorren was relaxing slowly. “They will detect a worm, but it did not do anything.” He snorted in sour amusement. “It will drive the security people nuts. It added information?”

“Yes.” Lorna grinned. “It was actually a legitimate records update, just not through channels.” She grinned again, like a Nexu that had just found a snack. “It also added some obviously fake information that looks like someone tried to hack the system sloppily. Almost like Guilio’s work. Odd that, huh?” Now her grin was vicious.

“You evil woman…” Musano kissed his wife. That was typical Lorna. Guilio had tried to use her kids to get at her husband. A big no no in her book. Guilio would not be enjoying his life in the very near future. Provided of course he wasn’t shot trying to escape. He was just dumb enough to try that. He shook his head and turned back to the Sitolon queen who was watching in amusement. “So… Now what?”

“Now? We have plans to make, security to upgrade, people to see and lives to change.” Sarai said quietly. “All in a day’s work.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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08.15.2012 , 06:01 AM | #6
She was warm, but she felt cold. She was clean, but she felt dirty. She didn’t hurt, but memories of pain burned her. Lohas woke from dreams of terror and pain to soft light that filtered through the covering over her eyes and gentle pressure on her scalp and thorax. She shifted a bit and found she couldn’t, she was restrained. They had strapped her down for the surgery, for fear of her moving during it and hurting herself. They had been gentle, but thorough. Cool gas was playing over her abdomen air holes, probably oxygen by the smell. But her mind was still fuzzy and fragmented. She sighed deeply. It hadn’t worked. Her voice was flat when she spoke.

“It didn’t work.” It wasn’t a question. A voice she had never heard answered her. She stiffened as a gentle touch rubbed the back of her thorax. She hadn’t expected the brain damage she had taken to be fixable, even if the docs had hoped and given her their best efforts.

“No it didn’t. Oh Lohas…” The voice sounded so sad. “I am sorry.”

“You… You are queen Sarai, are you not?” Lohas did not try to move. She knew that she was still restrained in the surgical frame. “You should not be here.” Fear colored her voice, but it was not fear for herself. If she hurt or killed queen Sarai, most of her people were doomed.

“Easy, child… One of my people –a young one- is in pain, in fear and unable to join with us. Where else would I be?” The gentle touch was back, soothing, calming. “Yes, I am Sarai. It’s all right, Lohas.”

“With all due respect, queen, no it’s not.” Lohas replied in a sad voice. “I killed one of your people. Your people do not kill each other. Because the penalty is so well know.” The penalty for murder had been unchanged for centuries. Convicted murderers had their minds wiped. All memory was removed, and the body would be given medical care to live a new life. “I am…” She shook herself. “I am ready to accept punishment.” She braced herself, but the touch that came was that same gentle soothing caress.

“Lohas…” Sarai sounded disturbed now. “You were a tool, no more. Vandar and Firdlump used you to kill Nana to try and destabilize this hive. They failed. I do not blame a sword or a blaster for what it’s wielder does. I blame the wielder. You are not to blame for that.”

“I hurt people…” Lohas’ voice was small and young now. “I hurt them so badly you won’t be able to heal them.”

“Yes.” Sarai’s voice was a little harder now, but her caress was still gentle. “We will do what we can for them. We have already undone the modifications you made to their bodies. Their minds…” She made a noise of disquiet. “You know they can’t be repaired.” With the actual memories completely gone, no healing the universe could fix what had happened. They would have to be retrained, taught how to live again. “But we can and will help them.”

“I did it.” Lohas’ voice was sad. “I didn’t know what I was doing. Vandar said it was a simple matter. They were drugged, they felt no pain. He said to put the crystal on and make them forget… I… I… Thank goodness Ravishaw took the crystal…” She was heaving now as grief overcame her. “I might have hurt more people…”

“Lohas…” Sarai’s voice was gentle again. “It is past. You cannot change the past. Yours was horrible. How old were you when they took you?” Her touch was soothing, and her voice concerned.

“Ten summers.” Lohas replied softly, her voice full of remembered fear and pain. “I was… I was hunting, on Tralus. I remember that. A sand panther caught my eyes, I was moving to catch and devour it when something hit me. I do not remember what it was, but I woke up on a table. They were… They were…” She was heaving again and something hugged her. “She said she was sorry, but then she… she…” Her entire world rocked on its axis as she heard a voice she had tried so hard to forget.

“I am so sorry, young one. I had no choice.” Lohas hadn’t known her body could get that stiff but she managed at sound of the voice of Agnosa, a Sitolon who had worked for Special Branch. Then the black bug found her voice.

“You…You lying evil witch! You said it wouldn't hurt! You cut off my antennae!” Lohas screamed and tried to fight the restraints but they were well beyond her ability to break. “You took my claws, you took my antennae, you left me alone in my mind… You demagolka! You evil, evil barvette!” She was sobbing now, her body heaving. The gentle touch from before was back, soothing her, trying to get her to relax.

“Lohas… Easy… Lohas…” Sarai’s voice was calm, and gentle. “She didn’t have a choice. As bad as what they did to you was, they did worse to her, for longer.”

“And that makes what she did right?” Lohas asked incredulously, and then froze as she realized she had just insulted the queen. The gentle touch didn’t change, it soothed her and she found her body relaxing against her will.

“Nothing could make what they had me do to you, and so many others, right, child.” Agnosa said with quiet sincerity and sadness so deep it seemed an ocean. “I want to help. Let me help. Please?” The naked entreaty in the ancient queen’s voice brought Lohas up short.

“I…” Lohas took a deep breath and sighed. “Queen Sarai?” Her voice was oddly formal now.

“Yes, Lohas?” The queen asked softly, her voice gentle.

“Will you kill me?” Lohas asked, somewhat dazed by the care and compassion that the queen was giving her. “Or mindwipe me?”

“Neither.” Sarai said gently. “The debates have ended. We have decided. We do not kill each other. You have been hurt enough. Mindwipe is restricted for specific cases which this does not qualify. You have been hurt enough.” The queen repeated, her touch soothing.

“Pity.” Lohas replied, her tone defeated. Then she stiffened. “What happened to Mi’ta?”

“She is healing well. You did a wonderful job with her, child.” Agnosa replied for the queen after a moment. “Have you ever studied healing?”

“I think I wanted to. When I was a larva…” Lohas replied after a moment’s thought. “It is so fuzzy. Between the madness and what they –you- did to me… I can’t… quite…remember…” She shook herself. “So… What is my punishment, for killing Nana, for breaking the minds of those four females, for…?” She broke off as the queen’s touch came again, still gentle and soothing. “Don’t…” She begged, her voice breaking. “I don’t want to hurt anyone else…”

“You won’t.” Sarai said, her tone still gentle. But then it turned formal. “Sentacakilohas, by consensus of the people, you have been found guilty of breaking our laws, of assisting in the murder of one of our people, of removing the minds of four females who had done nothing to you, of genetically altering said four females to serve as unwilling hosts for reproduction. You abetted the construction of Special Branch’s war machines. You assisted in the murder of Dargon Darkstorm, Emily Darkstorm and Sofruitploniun.”As each charge was spoken, Lohas slumped further into the restraints that held her gently. The queen’s voice moderated now, her tone still formal, but less severe. “It is noted that you also assisted in the recovery of the Imperial battleship Dark Deceiver. You stole Mi’ta, an agent of the Seven from Vandar and healed her even though she was at the point of death. You kept Dai Ulahadotter, a friend, from passing away. These actions do not undo the evil that you have done, but they do add some measure of clemency to your sentence. What say you, Sentacakilohas?”

“I do not deserve clemency, queen Sarai.” Lohas replied evenly. “I am evil. I am…lost…”

“You are also…” Queen Sarai’s voice turned very gentle now. “…Less than forty summers old. Not even a full adult. By our standards, you should have barely exited your larval pod. What Special Branch did to you was awful. Your body matured much faster than our people were supposed to because of what was done to your people so long ago by that ignorant Jedi. It is decided, Sentacakilohas. You will live.” Lohas stiffened, but Sarai was not done. “You will be sterilized, and serve as a worker. After you exit your larval pod, of course.”

“I… Wait… What…?” Lohas would have shaken her head, but it was still restrained. “What do you mean?”

“I mean…” Saria’s voice, impossibly, turned even gentler. “Your body cannot be repaired, Lohas. There is too much damage even for our technology.” Lohas slumped, she had expected no less. “But…” A strange bubble of delight echoed in Sarai’s voice. “That does not mean we cannot clone you another and put you in it.”

“But…” Lohas protested. “I am evil…”

“No you are not.” Sarai replied, her touch soothing again. “You were abused, hurt and alone. You survived the only way you could. No one blames you for that.”

“I…” Lohas thought about that for a moment and then voiced another concern. “If you clone my body, it will be fertile. And every time I molt, it will regenerate.”

“No, it won’t.” Now Sarai’s voice was sad. “Because every time you molt, you are going to go to the healers and have them remove your reproductive organs.” Lohas froze but then sighed in agreement. A fairly lenient sentence all told, they could have wiped her mind. But Sarai was not done. “Due to the nature of your previous moltings and the fact that you were alone, your name is also invalid. Customarily, it is your nest mates who give new parts of a name. You gave them to yourself for you were alone.”

“But…” Lohas started to protest and broke off. What could she say?

“You will have had two genuine moltings when you emerge next time. Your name is Lohas and will be until your next molting. Now I am going to put you to sleep so the transfer into the crystal will not hurt you.” Sarai said gently. You are not alone anymore. You are mine. You are my daughter now. Rest now, my daughter. No one will harm you again, Lohas. No one! This was directly into her mind. She took those powerful but gentle words into slumber with her. But she had to say something before sleep took her. Sleep that would see her renewed in many ways. She focused herself and spoke in a way she hadn’t been able to in years.

I understand… my queen… Thank you…

The darkness that greeted her was comforting, many minds grasping her gently and buoying her up, holding her as she wept for joy at finally not being alone in her mind.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

08.15.2012 , 06:03 AM | #7
A group of robed beings met in a nicely appointed compartment. It had been set up for their use, and while they all knew they were under surveillance, none of them took it the wrong way. These people had been attacked, recently. They were not about to take any chances, not again.

“I have to say I was surprised.” The young female voice sounded hesitant. “As angry as they were, to show mercy like that to someone who had killed one of their own…”

“That wasn’t mercy, Min.” The sole male in the room shook his head. “Think. Killing Lohas would have been easier for them. Easier for her too. Now she has to live with what she did, it is a life sentence at hard labor if half of what I have seen about the worker caste is true.” Michael Jonal shook his head slowly. “Sarai chose a harder path, but… It gives Lohas a chance to repay her debts. I disagree with some of what the sentence was… Sterilizing the poor child…”

“Michael…” The Togruta who sat beside him shook her head. “Lohas needed to be punished for her own sanity. She would not accept mercy from anyone. Her whole life has been pain, fear and regret. She was just a child when Special Branch took her. She knows no other way to be. She will learn a better way I think as Sarai’s daughter. Sarai has consistently surprised me with her clarity of thought. Majistrona chose her successor well, even if I do disagree with the methods.”

“Master…” The blonde haired human beside the Togruta shook her head. “I did not agree with what Majistrona did. I know that I did not see all the paths, but what she did was wrong.”

“I do not argue that, Diseree.” The Togruta said with mild reproof. The human bowed her head, to accept the rebuke. “It was the best choice available to Majistrona at the time. I argued at the time, I was afraid that things would get worse. But Sarai surprised me. She has a habit of doing that. For someone who did not have the Force strongly before her change, she has consistently surprised us all I think with her compassion, clarity of thought and desire to see all sides.” All three of the other Jedi in the room nodded to her.

“So Lohas will be reborn into Sarai’s swarm.” Min said softly. “Where does that leave us? I mean… I feel…” She paused, her voice trailing off as all three other Jedi looked at her. “I know I am involved too much. I am too attached. Should I go back to Tython?”

“What do you want to do, Min?” Jedi Master Ashla Ti asked gently. “It is your choice, really.”

“I don’t know.” Min replied quietly, rubbing her chest over where a blaster bolt had torn through it. Her hair had finally grown back over the scalp wound she had taken at the same time, and while she still got tired more easily than she might wish, she was on the mend. “I assumed I would be sent back, to face the Council. To face punishment for my crimes.”

“Min…” Michael said gently. “We have explained. The only thing you are guilty of is being a pawn. You had no way of knowing. Heck, Vandar fooled us all. You didn’t hurt anyone, and you were hurt, badly. It is not your fault.”

“But I should have said something.” Min protested. “Done something…”

“Done what? And spoken to who?” Diseree asked quietly. “Vandar is rogue. Melan was rogue. You had no way of contacting the Council. Min, it is not your fault.”

“I know.” Min agreed quietly. “But I see them, all of them. Dreaming or awake, I see the others, lying there, gunned down by Will Kalenath. I see his blaster pointing at me and ….” She broke off and gave a small squeak as Michael laid a gentle hand on her arm. “I…”

“Min, this will haunt you for some time.” Michael said carefully. “It was a traumatic experience. But you need to move beyond it. I know you can. You can face your fear, face your past. You have met Will since then.”

“He apologized.” Min said in an undertone. “It wasn’t him in control, I know that. I just…” She shook her head. “I should go to Tython, meditate on this, try to find my way.”

“No.” Diseree said quickly and froze as all three others looked at her. “I…” She shook her head. “I had a really bad feeling when you said that, Min. I don’t think Tython is safe for any of us at the moment. Any of us who have had close contact with the Sitolon anyway.”

“What makes you say that?” Ashla Ti asked, her expression and tone neutral.

“They got to me in the middle of the Enclave.” Diseree said with a shudder. “If they hit you, or Michael or Min with those nanites away from the Sitolon, you could be used against Sarai and the Seven.”

“Good point.” Ashla Ti shook her head slowly in thought. She thought hard and shook her head again. “It is… unclear…” She shrugged. “I don’t know if that is good or bad.”

“Well…” Michael was deep in thought as well. “I know Nolikas is still aboard, healing the Dragons. We could talk to her.”

“She is busy.” Min protested as Michael rose. She did not resist as he took her hand and drew her to her feet. “I don’t want to bother her…”

“It won’t bother her, Min.” Michael said with certainty. “What would bother her is you being too proud or stubborn to ask for help. Everyone needs help sometime.”

“I…Very well.” Min said, clasping her hands in front of her. She walked to the door, Michael following and was gone. Diseree turned to Ashla Ti and smiled.

“Are you going to tell him?” Ashla Ti shook her head and Diseree nodded. “Didn’t think so. I think he will make a good teacher for her though.”

“Diseree…” Ashla Ti’s voice was cautionary. “Be careful.”

“I will.” Diseree said softly. “But I need to talk to Sarai. I think… Yes, I need to do it alone.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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08.15.2012 , 06:05 AM | #8
“Hello Diseree.” Sarai’s voice was gentle as she moved a new larva bundle to its resting place. Diseree wasn’t sure if it was Lohas in the bundle and she wasn’t going to ask. This whole chamber rang oddly in the Force, and that was intentional. It was shielded from the outside by an odd layer of something that Diseree had no words to describe. It wasn’t a jelly, or a paste. It wasn’t plant, animal or mineral. It wasn’t leather, or scale. It was all of those and none. What it did was cut off mental projections, allowing the larva to sleep in peace, since they had no mental shields of their own while in this form. As a six foot tall bug, Sarai could not smile any more, but she had one in her voice when she turned back to face the young Jedi Seer. “What can I do for you?”

“I am not entirely sure.” Diseree admitted a bit sheepishly. “It’s kind of…weird.”

“Diseree…” Sarai said with a small laugh. “Come sit…” She put words to action, squatting on her legs to make herself smaller, less imposing. She indicated a spot beside her and Diseree sat carefully. “Ah Diseree… ’Kind of weird’ sort of defines our life these days. What can I do for you?”

“I…” Diseree shook her head slowly. “You know this is not the body I was born in, yes?” Sarai nodded and Diseree continued. “I don’t know what happened. I cannot ‘see’ it in the Force. When I try to look, all I get is static and a headache. I thought Firdlump had done it… but… He didn’t and Bob didn’t.” She broke off as Sarai looked at her.

“How do you know they didn’t do it to you?” Sarai asked gently, one of her smaller claws tracing Diseree’s shoulder. Diseree looked at the floor and Sarai’s voice turned sharp. “Diseree…?”

“I have been trying to see what will happen. It never works. So I have been trying to see what has happened, and…” She shuddered suddenly, fear coming from deep within. “I…” She froze as gentle claws pulled her into a soft embrace.

“It’s okay to be scared, Diseree.” Sarai crooned gently. “No one, not even Master Jedi can be brave all the time. If we didn’t know fear, how would we know what courage was?” She gave the girl a squeeze and let her go. Diseree retreated to her spot and sat again.

“I am not scared for myself.” Diseree said softly. “I have been watching and listening. On the plain and elsewhere. Someone injected me with nanites that were changing my body. Bob couldn’t stop them so he took my mind out and put me in this blank clone.” Sarai hissed in disapproval, but Diseree shook her head. “I don’t blame him, he was actually trying to help.”

“Diseree, he has his own agenda. One that may or may not be beneficial to you or us.” Sarai said in a tone that indicated she was trying hard to be fair. “What do you want from me?”

“I need to find out what happened to my body, the old one.” Diseree said slowly. “I think it’s important. But I don’t know why. We brought the carbonite blocks that held the changing ones, didn’t we?”

“You did.” Sarai said dubiously. “We have them in a stasis pod attached to the outer hull. We are not about to open them up on the home ship.” Diseree shuddered a bit. No that would not be a good idea. Microscopic machines loose on ship of living technology? No, not a good idea at all.

“I need to know, queen Sarai.” Diseree said softly. “I need to know what happened to my body. I can learn to be human, to act human, but… I need to know…” She finished lamely. Sarai scrutinized her and when the queen spoke it was cautious.

“What makes you think this will help?” Sarai asked softly, her claw tracing Diseree’s shoulder again. “If they nearly killed you before…What is to stop them from doing it again?”

“I don’t know.” Diseree admitted. “But Vandar and Firdlump had no idea…” She broke off as Sarai recoiled slightly, all of her eyes boring into the young Jedi seer.

“Diseree, what have you done?” Sarai asked softly, fear etching her voice now. Diseree would not meet her eyes and the queen’s voice took on a harder aspect. “Diseree… What have you done?”

“I…” Diseree shook her head. “Master Ashla Ti doesn’t know. I think she guessed. But she doesn’t know. Vandar was the only source of information! I had to…” She broke off as Saria snarled at her. Diseree did not move as a lightning fast claw divested her of her lightsaber. “He didn’t do anything. We just talked.”

“Just… talked…? With Vandar?” Sarai’s voice was very hard now. “Don’t move Diseree. This is going to sting.”

“Wait!” Diseree said quickly, but a sudden pain in her arm had her squawking and then she was falling into darkness. “No… wait…I need to… I need… to…tell…” Whatever the queen had injected her with was both potent and fast acting. She was fading too fast to get coherent words out.

“Sleep, Diseree.” Sarai’s kind voice came from far away. “It will be okay. We won’t let them have you.” She was floating now or being carried.

“You… don’t… under-…” Then she was asleep.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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08.15.2012 , 06:09 AM | #9
“…no evidence of nanite infection in this form.” The clinical words were from far away. “There is no further evidence of mental manipulation that we can detect. The blocks have been removed. She is waking.”

Diseree Mak was scared. The fact that she could not move so much as a muscle was not the most frightening thing. The fact that she had tubes in her mouth and couldn’t speak was not the most frightening thing. No, the feelings she had now, many minds scrutinizing her were absolutely terrifying in their dispassion and utterly merciless regard. She opened her eyes and found herself floating in some kind of fluid. It was warm and felt very safe. But she was floating in a transparent pod, surrounded by large insectoid forms. She calmed her incipient panic and tried to speak into the tubes, but nothing came out.

“Jedi Diseree, relax.” The voice of Agnosa came into her ears. She must have been wearing some kind of headphones. “We will remove you from the testing pod shortly.” A gold skinned form came up to the side of the tank and Diseree tried to recoil at the gaze of the queen. Sarai’s sense in the Force was cold and remote now. “Easy child. It will be okay.”

Something changed and she was fading again. She took that cold, gold skinned gaze into slumber with her. Something in that cold regard scared her worse than she had even been scared in her life.


“What were you thinking, girl?” Ashla Ti’s sour voice brought Diseree back to full consciousness. Then the Jedi Master’s voice turned somewhere else. “Is all this needed?”

“Yes.” Queen Saria’s voice was quiet and calm. “Just because we cannot detect a threat does not mean she is not one. You know this, Jedi.”

Diseree tried to move, and found she couldn’t. Soft, but very firm things held her body in place. She tried to open her eyes, but they wouldn’t. Something held her eyes shut. She opened her mouth and it worked as it was supposed to.

“Master… I am sorry…” Diseree said into the sudden silence that greeted her words. “I tried to tell you. I couldn’t…” She felt her eyes burn under whatever was covering them. “He did something to me… I couldn’t speak of it to you…”

“Diseree…” Ashla Ti’s voice, for once, was not distant or serene. No, it held deep sadness now. “What happened?”

“I was trying to contact Idjit or Istara.” Diseree hated even remembering this but she didn’t have a choice. “Before Lohas, Dia and Vorren arrived, I was meditating. I saw something… Something awful… I can’t…” She paused, trying to think. “I can’t bring it to mind now…”

“Easy, Diseree.” Ashla Ti’s voice was gentle now, a balm to the scared young female. “Don’t fight it. Relax…” Something flowed into her, not a drug, but something in the Force that calmed and soothed her. “What happened?”

“I was on the plain. I saw something…” Diseree shuddered a little. “I freaked. Whatever it was, it was bad. I must have attracted one of the predators, because the next thing I knew one was on me. I tried to flee, to hide, but it followed, it sniffed me out. It had me…” To her horror, she started to cry. Something gentle rubbed her cheek.

“Easy, Diseree…” Sarai’s kind voice came again. “I am sorry I scared you, but you scared me. It’s okay, you are safe. What happened?”

“I…” Diseree relaxed slowly. “I fought, but it overwhelmed me. It was bringing me into it’s mouth to consume me when he appeared. I knew who he was immediately, but he… Somehow he drove it off. Somehow he managed to pry me from it’s tentacles.”

“Vandar?” Ashla Ti’s question was soft, concerned. “What happened then?”

“I don’t know.” Diseree admitted softly. “I was so weak, so sick, I think from the mental poisons the predator gave me… Ulaha was there. She demanded me. Vandar told her to shove it. He was… he was kind…” Her voice was dubious now. “I don’t understand.”

“Neither do we, Diseree.” Ashla Ti said softly. “You said as you were passing out…” Her voice held disapproval now, directed at Queen Sarai probably, but her tone moderated. “You said that you needed to tell something? What?”

“Vandar did not know about me.” Diseree said slowly. “Maybe he was lying. I can usually tell, but he is Vandar…” A soft noise of agreement came from nearby and Diseree continued. “He said that he didn’t know what had happened or why. He said that none of his agents had been in the Enclave on Tython at that time. He wasn’t sure if Firdlump or Menglan, the evil doc, had managed to do it to me. But he didn’t think so.”

“Bob didn’t do it to you, did he?” Queen Sarai’s question as directed at Ashla Ti who did not respond. “We need to find out.”

“I don’t think it was him, it, them, whatever.” Diseree said in the silence that descended. “He seemed genuinely distressed that he could not help me. At least before I woke up in this body.”

“Ah child…” Sarai’s voice was concerned now. “Master Ashla Ti? Thoughts?”

“Ordinarily, I would say that it is my problem, and that I can handle it.” Ashla Ti said quietly. “But this is beyond my abilities.” A deep sigh came from nearby. Diseree thought it sounded like Sarai.

“Well, until we have some idea of what else he did to you, Diseree, you will remain in Medical. We have more tests to run, but now, we know you are not an immediate threat.” Sarai said kindly. “I am sorry I scared you, but like I said, you scared me.”

“I tried to speak of it, master.” Diseree was almost begging as waves of lethargy started to sweep through her. “I really did…”

“I know Diseree.” Ashla Ti’s voice was gentle as a hand brushed Diseree’s brow. “It’s okay. It will be okay.” She took those kind words into slumber with her.


“So he manipulated her mind.” Ashla Ti said quietly as she followed the queen from the isolation room where Diseree was ensconced for the moment. “Why?”

“He left a message in her mind.” Sarai said harshly as she stepped towards the door. “For me.”

“Sarai…?” Ashla Ti stiffened. Why was Sarai suddenly so angry? “What?”

“I need to talk to Nolikas.” Sarai said as she stalked away. “Something on Tython stinks…”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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08.15.2012 , 06:14 AM | #10
Sarai stopped at the end of the hall and stiffened as she saw medical personnel hurrying back and forth. The sense of horror and, sadness and fear was overwhelming. The medical wards were shielded so that empathic beings, such as Sitolon, would not be overwhelmed by the pain and fear that usually dwelt in medical places.

“What the…?” She asked softly. One of the medical Sitolon came up and Sarai queried softly. “The Dragons?” The nurse nodded. “What happened?” Sarai demanded, her voice harsh with worry.

“It is bad, my queen…” The nurse said quietly. “Nolikas removed the implants easily, but there apparently was a delayed trap implanted in their brains. All of them.” Sarai’s froze, but the nurse hastened to explain. “We don’t know what happened. It acted like a massive allergic reaction, fast. Too fast. None of us caught it… Until…” She shook her head. “…until it was too late. None of us caught it. I am sorry…”

“When did this happen?” Sarai asked, horror pervading her senses. “Is Brianna…? Dragon Ten, my human sister. Is she all right?”

“It happened so fast. We got the first alert less than five minutes ago, and then they all started crashing. Dragon Ten is fine, she did not have the same implants.” The nurse said quietly. “The others… Only one woke after the surgery and she…” The nurse bowed her head again. “She didn’t live long…”

“Not your fault, Oputma.” Sarai said gently. “Where is Nolikas?”

“She is trying to resuscitate Dragon Six…” The healer said, obviously in shock. “She... She threw us out…”

“Is there anything I can do?” Sarai asked in a quiet voice. This was bad, very bad. These healers were not used to losing patients and losing four of them at once? “Anything at all?”

“Dragon Ten is awake, my queen…” The healer said, jerking her head at a door. “She is confused and scared. Can you talk to her?”

“Of course.” Sarai said, starting for the door indicated. “Keep me appraised. And when she has a moment, I need to talk to Nolikas.” The healer bowed and returned to her work, but she seemed less disturbed. Still sad, and horrified, but not as disturbed, if that made any sense. She opened the door and spoke gently. “Hey, Bri.”

“Queen… Sarai…” Brianna Makarian Kalenath, also known as Dragon Ten, met the queen’s gaze calmly. Her voice however, was befuddled. “I…”

“Easy, Bri.” Sarai said as she moved to stand beside the bed. “Have they told you?”

“They did.” Brianna said quietly, her face still the impassive silver mask of Dragon Squadron. “It wasn’t needed though. I felt them… I felt them pass on…”

“Oh, Bri… I am sorry…” Sarai said, her small manipulator rubbing Brianna’s right arm where it was uncovered by medical gear. “That had to have been…” She broke off as Brianna snarled.

“I am not sorry.” Brianna said harshly. “None of us wanted this. None of us wanted to be… this… monstrosity that the Republic, that Special Branch turned us into. There are limits even to fanaticism. We talked about it, all of us… Before…” She bowed her head. “The machinery that cloned the others has been destroyed. There is no coming back this time.”

“I… I understand, Bri.” Sarai nodded slowly. The slavery that the Republic had, knowingly or not, subjected their best and brightest to had been horrifying to everyone who knew about it. Desperate times or no, it was wrong. “Has Nolikas talked to you?”

“Yes.” Brianna said simply. “She gives the procedure about a sixty percent chance of success.” There was something odd in her voice.

“Define success.” Sarai said sharper than she intended. “Bri?” She prompted when the pilot did not answer her. “Bri… Please, you know how Will is going to react when he finds out.”

“Success removes these things from my head and leaves me at least a bit of brains left. And... Dad... He knows.” Brianna said quietly. “He is on his way back. Don’t worry. No matter how he acts, he is not angry with you or Nolikas.”

“How can you know that, Bri?” Sarai asked, trying hard to keep disbelief from her tone. “He was in another system. You don’t have FTL coms built into your implants.”

“No.” Brianna admitted, shifting little in the bed. “But he knows. I am not entirely sure how, but he does know. I…” She slumped in place. “I felt it when they died. Somehow. I don’t have the Force, but I felt them each finally pass away. They…” She was crying now and Sarai soothed her gently. “They died peacefully, even Surioa. They all died without pain. That is more than any of us could have hoped for, Sarai. I just feel so alone now…” She gave a yip as Sarai lifted her out of the bed into a gentle embrace, careful not to jar any of the gear attached to her.

“You are not alone.” Saria said heatedly. “Not now, not ever.” She gave her adoptive sister another hug. “We are not going to leave you alone, we are not going to just let you slide away into oblivion. We will find a way to save you.”

“Sarai…” Brianna did not fight the embrace, not that she likely could have. Her hand rubbed the queen’s carapace slowly. “You don’t understand. I was… I was part of them. Part of the whole that was the Dragons. I thought I understood what happened to Will at Coruscant. I didn’t. No one does. He…” She was fading and Sarai laid her gently back onto the bed. “We were almost like your people, almost a group mind. I knew them all, and they knew me. Now… They are gone… And I am alone.” The sadness in her words was gut wrenching.

“No you are not.” Sarai said gently as she lowered her antennae to touch Brianna on the head. “Come to me, sister, and I will take care of you.”

“Sarai…” Brianna’s voice was scared now. “No…” She tried to push the queen’s antennae away, but then she collapsed as Sarai soothed her fear and pain with love and affection.

“I know what you were, and I don’t care.” Sarai said softly as her mind made contact with Brianna’s. “You are my sister, in very way that matters. I will take care of you.” Brianna’s voice was small when she answered.

“You have enough problems, Sarai. I will be all right, it will just take time. I…Oh…” She sighed in relief as her pain and fear were absorbed somehow by Sarai. “I… Thank you…” Her voice was low and tired now.

“Will went through this horror alone.” Sarai said quietly. “I will not leave you to do the same, sister.” She held Brianna’s hand in a gentle claw until the human woman fell asleep. Then a voice at the door had her turning to look. She relaxed a little. She had backup, the best kind for this kind of thing.

“I came as soon as I could.” Sharra Kalenath’s voice was sad. Sarai nodded to her as the human matriarch came in and sat in a chair by the bed. “I will stay with her.”

“I need to talk to Nolikas.” Sarai rubbed Sharra’s shoulder with a gentle claw and Sharra smiled at her. “If you need anything, anything at all, hit the call button.” She nodded to the emergency button beside the bed.

“I will.” Sharra said with a sad smile. “But you better get to Nolikas before she gets ensconced in something new. It isn’t her fault…” Sharra said as she ran a slow and gentle hand down Brianna’s arm. “Special Branch planned this. All of this.”

“I know.” Sarai said softly as she started for the door. “This and lots more. We will need to have Brianna tended and protected now. She is vulnerable in many ways, being alone.”

“You think Special Branch will try and subvert her again?” Sharra asked cautiously.

“I know they will.” Sarai said as she paused at the door. “The question is how and when. I will be back later, Mom.”

“You don’t have to call me that, Sarai.” Sharra said softly so as not to disturb the slumbering girl. “You don’t have to all me ‘Mom’.”

“Yes I do, Mom.” Sarai said with a shrug as she left and her voice was pensive. “Yes, I do.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here