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(L,F&E 92) There are some people you just do NOT tick off...

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Fan Fiction
(L,F&E 92) There are some people you just do NOT tick off...

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kalenath
08.17.2012 , 05:30 AM | #1
((Now for something completely different. Those who fight monsters sometimes don’t care what they become. And when that happens… Run Away. This is the next on my story arc Love, the Force and Everything. It follows after Swirling Force? Or Destiny? And no, Will is not happy.))

It was a quiet day on Ralltiir. While the planet was not nearly as urbanized as Coruscant, it was fairly densely populated, being a Core World settled for nearly as long and well situated on trade routes. But Ralltiir was better known for banking and commercial operations than for high population. Unlike Coruscant, it had some undeveloped areas. Forests, lakes, rivers, all places that people could go to get away from things. Unfortunately, those places were no sanctuary against some very nasty things. And when well trained and armed hunters sought prey that had nothing… Well…

“Keep running, Jolia…!” The male Twi’lek said as he ran through the darkness. “We have to keep going!” He skidded on the rocks as he followed the river, hoping and praying that his pursuers had lost him and his family. His brown skin was pale with fright and fatigue and his lekku drooped with exhaustion, but he kept going, He had to. He had to get his family to safety. It had been pure luck that he had seen the armored forms that had been waiting ahead of them on his first chosen path in time to avoid them, but they had to have scanners. But if he could get to where he was going, there were places to hide that were proof from scanners.

“I can’t… run…” The female Twi’lek said, gasping for breath. Her red skin was not much brighter than his brown and her own lekku hung limp. “…much further…” She had a bundle in her hands and it wriggled a bit as she held it carefully. “Why are they chasing us, Miik? We haven’t done anything.” She gasped as she followed, picking her footsteps with care. “Have we?” She asked, fear and fatigue warring in her tone.

“I don’t know.” The male Twi’lek eased his mate up a particularly rough patch of ground. ”But people have been disappearing from the shelter we were at. Too many to have found work or a legit way out. There are stories going around, bad stories.” He usually discounted such things as hysteria mongering, but now…

“Slavers?” The female asked, terror suffusing her face as she glanced behind her. “Damn this red skin…”

“I don’t think so…” Miik said thoughtfully as he helped her over a set of rocks. “There were some people asking around, suits who looked military, offering jobs that are far too good to be true. But… Slavers don’t ask. They just take. The suits were asking about us specifically. Maybe corporate types, I dunno. I left as soon as I saw them.” He had hoped it was fast enough, but a contact had commed him, saying that his usual haunts had all been visited. So they had run for the countryside. And that had brought them here, being chased through the night.

“We haven’t done anything to anyone.” Jolia said sadly. “We are just poor.”

She and Miik had both hoped to find better work, make a home and stable growing environment for their child. She loved Miik. He could have left her when he found out she was with child. It wasn’t entirely HIS fault she had conceived, but he seemed genetically incapable of doing the wrong thing. They had just had the worst luck imaginable. Her few jobs had always been temporary and he had a distressing tendency to find bosses who treated him like dirt, were less than capable of doing their jobs and went out of business, or were out and out criminals. Every time he had discovered the latter, he had left, often after leaving an anonymous note for local law enforcement. They had always had trouble making ends meet, even before the kid and Kili was not helping matters. But Jolia was not about to give up her beautiful little girl, not for anything.

“No we haven’t.” Her mate assured her. “I have worked hard to stay out of the criminal sector. The jobs available may be slim, but we have our pride. I am not a criminal and no child of mine will be one either.” Jolia smiled at Miik, but then focused on her feet. If she slipped here…

“Where are we going?” She asked after a moment. “Where can we be safe?”

“I know a place.” Miik assured her. “I was told by someone I trust that there are caves nearby are actually safer than the ones in the city and proof from scanners. No dianogas apparently.” Jolia winced, she and her husband had done some seriously disgusting work for various companies during their brief… She paused as her mate froze. She stared at him and he shook his head, listening.

“What is wrong?” She asked quietly. The baby started to whimper and she quieted the waif with a caress.

“I am not sure.” Miik admitted. “But… the animal sounds have stopped. That is not a good sign.” That mean they were not alone. “Jolia run!” Miik started to turn and stopped, a puzzled expression coming over his face.

“Miik…?” Jolia shook her head. “Don’t…” She screamed as her mate fell over with a splash into the shallow water, a small silver thing sticking out of his back. “Miik!” She screamed, but did as instructed. She turned and ran. She made about three steps when something stung her arm and she was falling, slowly, so slowly. She hit the ground with a thud and screamed inside her mind as the bundle in her arms fell out of them and started to cry. She could not move a muscle as armored boots crunched through the gravel nearby.

“Get the male out of the water!” A voice barked, a commanding tone. “We don’t want him to drown or get a chill. I got the kid.” She watched as a pair of armored arms picked up the squirming, crying bundle. She quailed inside as her child was lifted, but then the voice… cooed? “Easy, little one, easy. Your momma and daddy are fine, just scared. We won’t hurt you or them.” The wailing slowed and then stopped. “Easy, little one, easy. See. No one is going to hurt you.”

Hands that were strangely gentle picked her up from the ground. Gentle fingers manipulated her arm, pulling out whatever had hit her. She found herself lying on something hard as someone wrapped something around her. It was warm. A blanket? She couldn’t move at all as her body was strapped to whatever she was lying on. The same voice spoke again, close to her ear.

“I know you are scared, Ma’am.” A warm, wriggling bundle was deposited on her chest. “It is just a paralytic. You have no reason to be afraid. We won’t hurt you, your mate or your child. Sleep and dream of your child.” A hiss, a sweet smell and she was falling into darkness that was oddly comforting. Her head was turned to the side and she saw something move in the distance as consciousness left her. A dark shadow within a shadow. Was it her imagination or was it a man in black armor, watching? She fell asleep wondering why that chilled her.

***

She wasn’t sure how long she had been asleep, but when Jolia woke, she was warm, dry and clean. She had a moment of fear, but then a small bundle wiggled in her lap and her eyes shot open. She was sitting in a fairly comfortable inclined bed and… A young female human in a medical tunic smiled at her. She glanced around quickly. The room was small, and bare. A chair and the bed she was in were the only furniture.

“Your baby is fine, Ma’am.” The medic said kindly. “That is a brave girl you have there.”

“Takes… takes after her dad…” Jolia said automatically, trying to wrap her head around what had happened. She looked around. She wasn’t in a cell, she wasn’t restrained. She was wearing a jumpsuit of some kind and she felt… good. “Where… Where am I?” The medic slumped.

“I don’t know.” The medic admitted. “There are six rooms off a corridor. All the same as this. I woke in one myself . I was snatched a day ago. I think it was a day anyway, if they haven’t messed with the chronos. I was on the late shift at a free clinic when a man came in, he asked to see a doc and I was the only one available. I went in and he hit me with something. I…” She shuddered slightly. “I woke up here.”

“I…” Jolia tried to stand up, but her head spun. She sat back with a groan. “What the…?”

“It’s the sedative, Ma’am. I felt the same way.” The doc said gently. “Here…” She held out a glass of water. “This should help the headache too.” Jolia winced, she had been so worried that she hadn’t even realized that her head hurt.

“Dehydrated?” Jolia asked softly. “Or is it a reaction?” The medic looked at her and Jolia shrugged. “Wanted to be a nurse. But… No money for school.”

“Practical experience?” The medic asked slowly. “You look like you make do. Be at ease, you are not showing any signs of reaction.”

“My mate?” Jolia asked after a moment of drinking. The water tasted heavenly. She gave her daughter drink and the little Twi’lek burped noisily. “Is he here?”

“No.” The doctor said slowly. “Besides you and your daughter, there are two humans and a Wookiee here. But… All of us are female…”

“Where are we?” Jolia asked as her mind started to function again. She looked around and paused. “A ship?” The walls were made of metal, and a hum was barely audible in the background.

“I don’t know.” The doctor said, her face falling. “I have never been on a ship. The other three haven’t woken… I… I don’t know what to do…” The woman was almost in tears. Jolia reached out and touched the woman on the shoulder.

“We are alive.” The Twi’lek said gently. “Where there is life, there is hope. We just have to stay strong. They... didn’t… um…” She looked at the clean suit she wore and shuddered.

“I wasn’t.” the doctor said softly. “I don’t know your anatomy very well. I usually have a medicomputer to back up what I know. But you were not bleeding or showing any other signs. I fell asleep and when I woke, you were here. With the little one. She is cute.” Jolia had to smile at the kind tone. Babies often had that effect on females of many races.

“Have you seen anyone?” Jolia asked cautiously. Whoever had them had to be watching and listening. “Who brings the food?”

“Armored forms bring trays of food. They look human.” The medic said softly, her eyes jerking right and left. Jolia looked out of the corner of her eye and yes, cameras showed at two corners. “Three of them, and one always has a weapon ready. I… I know it is gutless, but… I couldn’t…”

“Neither of us are soldiers.” Jolia said slowly. “I assume you feed the sleepers?”

“Yeah. No one has talked to me.” The medic said hastily. “I just did what I thought was right. No gear, no computer, no…” She paused as Jolia patted her arm again.

“It is all right.” Jolia said with a confidence she didn’t really feel. “Let’s go see if we can help the others. If we are all female, I bet they are keeping the males separate. But why…?”

“I can think of a bunch of reasons. None of them good.” The medic said with a gulp. “But… you are right. My name is Karen.”

“I am Jolia, Karen. And this…” She smiled at the bundle in her arms. “…Is Kili.”

“She is beautiful.” Karen said with a smile as she helped Jolia to her feet. “Well, let’s do what we can.”

Despite the best efforts of both the doctor and Jolia, none of the other three woke, even when Jolia, greatly daring, slapped the Wookiee. They ate the food that was put in their mouths, but none woke.

“Strong drugs…” Jolia said with a shudder as they walked back into the corridor.

“Yeah.” Karen agreed, her shoulders slumping. “I don’t know what to do…” Both women froze as a door neither had seen opened nearby. A fully armored form beckoned them. Karen and Jolia shared a glance, and then Jolia picked up her baby and nodded.

They followed the armored form, not missing the four other armored forms that held blasters at the ready as they moved into another room where an unarmored human male sat. He nodded to the pair and waved them to chairs in front of the desk he was sitting at.

“I apologize for the discomfort you both have suffered.” The man said as both females sat. “We cannot be too careful these days.”

“Where is my mate?” Jolia asked, keeping her voice level with effort.

“He is still asleep, Miss Jolia.” The man said politely. “My name is Dun and I am your…well… I don’t want to be your captor, but I don’t have much of a choice at the moment.”

“What do you want with us?” Karen asked, her voice one step removed from panic. Dun held up an empty hand and his expression was conciliatory.

“Ma’am, I apologize for the treatment you have received. But we needed you.” The man seemed honestly upset by this, but Jolia was not convinced. “All of you.”

“For what?” Jolia asked sourly. “You could have just asked.”

“We are building a better tomorrow.” Dun said quietly. “And you are going to help us…”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
08.17.2012 , 05:34 AM | #2
“He is insane.” Karen said softly as the two females were ushered back into the room that Jolia had woken in. “Totally stark raving mad.”

“Yeah.” Jolia said with a swallow. “I… I am scared.” She held her baby close as Karen checked the other females. “Any change?”

“No.” Karen shook her head. “They are all still asleep. This is like no drug I have ever seen though. They are just…out. It doesn’t make sense. Do you feel sleepy? I…am suddenly…”

“Yeah, but… We have bigger problems.” Jolia said slowly as she moved to feed her child. “You noted the uniforms.” It wasn’t a question and Karen looked at her oddly. “Dun –if that really is his name- was wearing a Republic uniform with a major’s rank and Intel markings. But this is not a Republic operation.” She bent her head and caressed Kili’s head gently as the baby fed.

“How can you be sure?” Karen asked slowly, her face worried as she played with that thought. “Pirates and slavers could stolen have Republic uniforms.”

“They could have. But...” Jolia agreed. “I have known a few soldiers, Karen. I worked as a maid on a military base once. I was a maid for the commanding general, before I met Miik and Kili was born. These are not soldiers. Or not…normal ones.” What was wrong with her vision? Why was it blurring? She grimaced and shook her head. Karen stared at her and Jolia sighed. “Soldiers work as part of a team; they are trained to work as part of a team. It… They act a certain way. These do not act that way. I…” Jolia winced and shook her head.

“Jolia…” Karen asked quietly. “Are you okay?”

“No.” Jolia said sadly. “You see… I knew one human who did act like these do. He was scary. He was dangerous. He…abused the staff on base, and eventually he was kicked off. He never touched me, but he was looking. I found out later he was with Republic Intelligence. He moved like these guys do. But it is more what Dun did not say that what he did. I can’t really explain it, but I know who they are. These people are with the Special Branch of Republic Intelligence.”

“Special Branch…” Karen went white. “Oh my god… The ones who put children in those horrible war droids.”

“Yeah.” Jolia said sadly. “We have got to get out of here. Somehow…I…” A faint hissing startled her. Then she froze, Kili had fallen asleep in mid meal. That hadn’t happened since the waif was a week old! “Karen! Gas!” She was trying to get to the door, but collapsed before she could make it halfway. Karen caught the falling baby, but could only crawl a meter or so before she too passed out.

***

When Jolia woke, she found herself in a small space. The walls were metal and there was some kind of viewport over her face, but it was opaque, she couldn’t see out. She could barely move at all inside of it. And her daughter was nowhere to be found.

“Kili?” She called, but only the echo of her voice answered her. “Kili!” She shouted. A voice she remembered answered her.

“Ma’am, your daughter is fine. She is asleep.” Major Dun’s voice was calm and cool. “You should sleep. You have a long journey ahead of you.” Jolia screamed again.

“Give me back my daughter, you son of a barve!” She managed to get her hands up and started hitting the inside of whatever she was in with them. “Give me my daughter!”

“It won’t work…” Another voice, a sad voice, said softly. “The sleep process won’t work with her so agitated.”

“Can you blame her?” Dun’s voice was somewhat sad as well now. “Miss Jolia, you are in no danger. Your daughter and mate are in no danger. Just relax, everything will be fine if you relax.”

“Flarg you!” The Twi’lek snarled. “Give me back my daughter!” “The sour voice sighed.

“It is not going to work. She is going to need a trank.” The voice turned sad now. “Open it up.”

“Right.” Dun’s voice was concerned now and Jolia froze as the walls of whatever she was in cracked and a lid of some kind opened up. She was about to move when a blaster muzzle appeared. “No funny business, Ma’am.” Dun said quietly as the lid opened fully.

“Where is my daughter?” Jolia demanded, rage suffusing her face and tone. “Where is she?” She demanded.

“Ma’am…” A figure in a white coat came close, but did not get between Dun’s blaster and the enraged Twi’lek. “Your daughter is in hibernation. She took to the coldsleep fine, no complications. You need to relax. We are going to…”

“You put my daughter in coldsleep?” Jolia hadn’t thought she could get that stiff. “You will kill her! You Bastards!

“Ma’am…” The doctor had a hypo in hand now. “Your daughter is fine. Just relax. If you relax you will see her again very soon…” Jolia snarled, her hands were on the lip of the pod. A coldsleep pod, she realized now. Ancient tech, but still very effective for keeping people secure for long trips.

“Ma’am…” Dun warned her. “Don’t. We don’t want to hurt you.” His blaster did not waver.

“If you think I am just going to lie here and let you Special branch bastards hurt my little girl…”

Jolia was beyond rage, but suddenly everything stopped as a fully armored black shadow appeared behind Dun. Her eyes went wide as silent fire spit from its hand and Dun fell, a red hole in his head. The white garbed human spun with an oath, a blaster coming up but the man in black fired again and the doctor fell, clutching his arm. Jolia shook her head, stunned. A silenced slugthrower, Intelligence agents used such weapons. The man in black stepped forward as the white garbed man whimpered and tried to crawl away. When the man in black spoke, it was as if all warmth fled from the room.

“I know you can hear me, Firdlump.” The black armored man’s voice could have frozen liquid hydrogen. “I hope you can feel this.”

With that, he shot the doctor in the other arm. Then he lifted the man’s chin with an armored toe and shot the man in the forehead. Then he turned and looked at Jolia who shuddered. His voice was just a trifle warmer when he spoke.

“Your daughter is alive.” The man nodded to a wall that she could now see pods attached to. Coldsleep pods. “They took extra special care. Good way to motivate you to do what they wanted. Lousy Special Branch creeps.” Something about this man scared her worse than the Special Branch goons had.

“W…Who…” Jolia asked, scared out of her mind. “Who are you…?”

“Who am I?” The man said idly as he turned to go. “Death.”

“W…wait…” Jolia rolled partway out of the pod, barely noticing that she was not wearing anything. “You can’t just leave me here… Help me…” The man did not pause and his voice was cold and merciless.

“I can’t help you. Death doesn’t help anyone.” Then he was gone. Jolia stared after him, then down at the two very dead men and cried.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
08.17.2012 , 05:37 AM | #3
“He said…what?”

Despite the warm hospital gown she wore, despite the blanket over her, Jolia was shivering as she lay in the comfortable bed of a starship’s medical ward. The droids that had tended her were gentle, but the docs were adamant. And the Hutt who had slithered in a few moments ago and now lounged beside her bed was just downright odd. Since when did Hutts speak Basic? Or act nice?

“He said he was Death…” Jolia winced but relaxed as Kili squirmed a bit on her chest. The girl had not wanted to leave her mother’s side after being gently revived from her coldsleep prison and no one had pressed. “He was so… cold…”

“This is not good…” The Hutt’s voice was very concerned now. “Not good at all. He loved her… This is not good.” The Hutt actually sounded afraid now. Jolia shivered again, despite the blanket they had given her, despite the warm mass that snuggled close, whimpering as she picked up on her mom’s distress.

“He…” She managed to choke out words. “He…just killed them. Bang… and they were dead…” She shook her head. “Who was he? What was he?”

“A man.” The Hutt said sadly. She had introduced herself as Cranna. “A very bad man who has been trying to be good.” The Hutt shook her huge head. “Special Branch just made a serious mistake, girl. A very serious mistake, and it will cost them dearly. He won’t listen to me, maybe he will listen to his wife.” Jolia tensed at the sad tone the Hutt projected now. “I hope so… I really do. I have no love for Special Branch, but what he will do will tear him apart. If it hasn’t already.”

“He saved me…” Jolia said slowly. “He saved me, and Miik and Kili. Can I help?”

“We have to keep you in isolation for now, Jolia. We don’t know what they did to you.” The Hutt said gently. Jolia nodded. She reached out and tapped the clear transparisteel pane that separated the Hutt from her. “Your mate lives and is waking. He shows no signs of tampering. But… The doctor does.”

“Karen…?” Jolia said, stunned. “What do you mean?”

“They did something new to her, Jolia.” Cranna said quietly. “We don’t know what. The moment she woke, she was complaining of ‘voices in her head’. Until we can get her to someone with more knowledge than us in such things, we will keep her asleep. She complained of odd dreams too. You haven’t had that problem, have you?”

“I don’t think so…” Jolia said slowly. “No…” She shook her head. “Nothing like that. No dreams that I remember. Odd… Usually I remember dreaming and I do it fairly regularly.”

“Of what?” Cranna asked curiously. “Or are they too awful to remember?” She paused as flush crossed Jolia’s face. “Oh, that kind of dream.” Cranna said with a smirk. Jolia nodded, her face embarrassed. “It’s okay, girl. I am over seven hundred years old, you youngsters don’t know dirty…” Her tone was too much and Jolia giggled. Then the Twi’lek sighed deeply.

“I have said this before, but I will say it again. Thank you.” Jolia shook her head as Cranna tried to wave it off. “No… You could have just dropped us off, dropped us in a hospital or shelter or whatever when your people came in after us. You didn’t. He cleared the way for you, but you helped us. Thank you.”

“Get some rest, Jolia.” Cranna said kindly. “I bet your daughter will have difficulty sleeping for while after such an ordeal. If you need help sleeping, hit the call button.”

“Thank you.” Jolia said again as she lay back and closed her eyes. The bed was so comfortable, so clean and dry and… She never noticed when she nodded off, her daughter falling asleep at the exact same instant.

Cranna looked at the slumbering pair and her eyes were sad as she started for the door. The medics outside nodded to her and their faces were also sad.

“The baby too?” Cranna’s voice nearly broke and she took a moment to control herself. “The same readings?”

“Yes, Ma’am…” The head medic replied. He was very good, if not in Katherine’s class. Cranna kicked herself once again mentally for leaving her good Cathar friend behind where an insane mass of nano machines could abduct her. “This is like nothing I have ever seen. They are all…for lack of a better word, on the same wavelength.”

“I know.” Cranna said sadly. “I need to consult with some allies. No sign of nanites, have the droids put the doctor back into her pod. We keep the rest in the coldsleep pods until we can find away to help them. If needed we can put Jolia in one as well.”

“Ma’am…” The doctor protested. “If we do…”

“I know.” Cranna said in a resigned tone. “I don’t know how they didn’t kill the baby putting the poor thing into coldsleep, but… We can’t take the chance. My responsibility. If it comes to it, I will do it. We will see if we can get a stasis unit big enough for the both for them. But… Any sign of Will?”

“Just the bodies of the Special Branch team, Ma’am.” An armored mercenary said uneasily. “Dead. None of them knew what hit them. We are good, Cranna… but…” He licked his lips.

“You are not in his class, Dron. Nowhere near.” Cranna said sadly. “Thank the maker. One of him is more than enough.” The Hutt sighed. “At least Jina got a warning off to us, so we didn’t fly into the ambush too.” She shuddered. “She was a good woman, even for a Jedi.”

“We don’t know she is dead, Ma’am.” Dron said quietly. “If she is not…”

“If not, she is praying for it.” Cranna said quietly. “I want to help and I can’t. I am sick of running. From this Magga punk, from Firdlump, from everything that is chasing us. But we can’t stop. Not now.”

“What do you think Will is going to do, Cranna?” Dron asked softly as the Hutt slumped in place.

“Don’t ask that, Dron.” Cranna’s voice was resigned now. “You really don’t want to know.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
08.17.2012 , 05:40 AM | #4
<Dantooine>

A bloodcurdling scream rang through the forest as the armored form fled for his life. Trooper Rob Jax had been a soldier since he was a teenager, he had fought in many places, spilled more blood than he had ever thought possible, but this… This was… Something slammed into his side and he was falling as the report of a blaster sounded in the distance. He hit the ground hard and rolled as he had been taught, but the distant shooter fired again. His knee spasmed as coherent energy slammed into it, dropping him back to the ground. Nobody could shoot like that! Nobody! This guy was unreal! He scrambled for his rifle that lay nearby, but another shot hit it reducing the firing mechanism to so much wreckage. His pistol was in hand as he rolled to a sitting position, starting out at the night, his visor showing… nothing. Something slammed into his helmet and he saw stars. Was this it? He thought back…

It had been a simple job. Not even a snatch, just a pickup. His bosses had changed their tactics, and he was glad. Snatching people felt wrong. He obeyed orders, he always had even before that evil doc had injected him with something that burned and made him a slave. Then… Well... Things got fuzzy, but he was part of something now something wonderful. Even the evil doc had mellowed a bit and she had even apologized to him! But to spread the good word they still had to get recruits and that was where his team had come in. Before, they had snatched people. Hundreds of beings went missing daily in every world, this was nothing new. But the abductions had drawn too much attention, so they had started hiring people. Not that any of their hires really had a clue what they were actually being hired for. Not that most of them minded. Since the teams went to homeless shelters, orphanages, hospitals and other places that the disenfranchised hung out, there was no shortage of volunteers seeking a better way. And it was a better way…

But that had led him here. To this place. His team had been tasked to get a shipload of recruits ready for their journey to new lives. None of the recruits had been any trouble at all. Usually there had been one or two per shipment who were leery, suspicious or just plain nuts. This group had been mostly kids, and with the promise of a better life than the evil orphanage where the team had found them… He swallowed. He knew what evil was, and the people running that orphanage definitely counted. The team had ‘rescued’ half a dozen orphans from the grasp of the pedophile who ran the place. Jax just wished he had been able to pop a few rounds into the scumbag. But the team leader had said ‘No’. Orders were orders and eliminating scumbags usually drew attention. So they had settled for tying the scum up, making the man incredibly uncomfortable and posting his private video collection over the planetary holonet. Someone would take care of the scumsucker.

The kids had been easy. The unemployed had jumped at the job offer. Everything had been going like clockwork, and then it had happened. One of the team had gone down. No noise, no cry for help, no nothing. One moment the woman had been standing there, helping get the kids calmly in the van and fed the sedative that would start their acclimatization into the collective, the next she had been on the ground. He had been closest, and what he had found when he rolled her over had made him gag. She had been shot in the head. The kids had screamed and the team had reacted as planned.

The door had closed, even with kids still out of their seats and taken off like a bat out of hell. THEY were the important ones. The team… well, dying would suck. But he knew he had died at least once before and had been cloned. The team had fanned out, trying to hunt the shooter. But HE had been hunting them. Every so often a shot would ring out, from somewhere far away. Another armored form would fall. The medic was the second to go, shot through the head trying to tend a fallen comrade. After two more had fallen, the team leader had given the order to break contact, but…

He screamed as something hit his hurt knee. His blaster was no longer in hand and he was sure he was losing blood. A voice came from nearby.

“Name.” The voice… so cold, so mechanical… It was male, human if he wasn’t mistaken and so very cold. Jax knew he was fairly good at what he did, but this…

“Jax, Rob D.” The soldier grunted. “Serial number 11DI-“He screamed again as whatever had hit his knee did it again.

“All I wanted was your name, boy.” The male voice sounded darkly amused now. “Does he contact you or can you call him?”

“What?” Trooper Jax asked incredulous. He screamed again as something grabbed his knee and gave a squeeze. It felt like an iron vise. “What do you want?” He grated out between clenched teeth.

“You are dead, boy.” He could barely see a black armored form now, squatting nearby. The figure was blurry through the haze of pain and fear that Jax felt. “Call your team leader. Tell him to get the kids off the transport.”

“Flarg you!” Jax managed to snarl. “Won’t help you!” The black armored form shrugged.

“Fine.” He pulled something from his belt and hit an illuminated button. An explosion was heard in the distance, followed by two more. The man chuckled evilly. “Gotta love secondaries.”

“What…?” Jax stared and part of his visor suddenly went dark, showing terminal lifesigns from all the rest of his team, the ones who had escaped in the van with the kids. He felt sudden loss in the collective as well. “No! What have you done?” He demanded. “What the flarg are you?” The same iron vise gripped his throat and pulled him close to the armored form. Something flared from the man’s hand and he felt odd. “No…” He gurgled as the man dropped him. The nanites inside him… He couldn’t feel them anymore! The collective came to him, easing his fear and pain but they all shared the same horror. They couldn’t help him. But he knew who he faced now. Only one being wore black heavy combat armor and could disable nanites with a touch.

“Your transport just had an unfortunate engine malfunction.” The man in black said in an utterly dead voice. “No survivors.” The visor of the helmet was impassive, but Jax had the sinking feeling that the face under it was just as disinterested.

“They were kids!” Jax screamed as he tried to rise, only to be slammed back down by an armored boot.

“No, they were slaves that I just freed. I don’t know whether Firdlump can feel you at this range or not.” The man in black said conversationally. “I don’t particularly care, but I hope to find out sooner or later.”

“Kalenath…” Jax said, feeling something wet bubble out of his mouth. “She’s… alive…”

“Yeah, right.” Will Kalenath said quietly as he rose and walked a few steps away. “I really hope you feel this, Firdlump. I really, really do.” Jax stared as the man drew a pistol, a disruptor pistol! Jax was breathing hard as Kalenath fiddled with the controls on the side.

“No…” The downed soldier begged as the man in black aimed at his good leg. “No… Please…”

“How many of your victims begged, Jax?” The man in black asked softly, almost silkily. “Your master made me what I am. I wanted to be a soldier and he made me a monster. He had help, lots of it. But in the end, he made me what I am. First of the Seven, killer.” Will Kalenath shrugged. “Doesn’t really matter. We have all night; you are the last of your team. I don’t need anything from you except this. I want you and your filthy collective to hurt.” Jax was pleading as Kalenath took careful aim at his foot and squeezed the trigger.
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08.17.2012 , 05:45 AM | #5
<Alderaan>

“Both whole teams?” The armored form asked the robed one incredulously. “I felt the last one… He… Jax…” The hard bitten bounty hunter swallowed and actually looked green.

“The recruiting bases on Taris, Correllia, Coruscant and Tattooine are gone. No survivors. No combatants in any of them. Just workers. He killed them all. The team on Ralltiir had evacced, they started the in-processing then apparently he got aboard somehow. He killed them all. He left the ship and all the people aboard for Cranna’s people to find. Just left them all sitting there. Then… Dantooine… He blew up the transport.” The robed man said heavily. “Five troops, twelve recruits, eight of them kids. He took out the rest of the team and then, well, you know…”

“Jax lasted two hours. We did what we could to ease his pain, but… We have got to stop Kalenath.” Kunda Gev said with a wince. “We have got to find a way to stop him, Brakon.”

“I know, but that man has more lives than a Correllian Sand panther.” Brakon Darshiel said slowly. “Every single trap we have tried has failed. Every single time we have tried to stop him, we have lost people, lots of people. What I don’t get is why he would kill kids. That is… so unlike what I know about him.”

“I met him, once. Aboard the Sitolon homeship.” Bakon looked at the hunter as Gev shuddered. “He… I swear he wasn’t human, Brakon. He may look it, act it… But he isn’t. Not anymore. I have hunted a lot of bad people, Brakon, but that man… There was nothing behind his eyes. Nothing at all. Whatever the master did to him as a teen… He isn’t human anymore. And Jina… People do strange things for love.” The bounty hunter said with a sigh. “He loved her and he thinks we killed her. Every person who has tried to tell him, he has hurt and then killed.”

“Would you believe him if the situations were reversed?” Brakon said sadly. “And I don’t know if you can call what she is now alive or not. She has apparently bonded to Ecmin, won’t leave her side. At least they have managed to get her potty trained.” The Dark Jedi and the bounty hunter shared a grimace of disgust.

“No, I guess I wouldn’t believe it either. And Jina bonding to Ecmin? That does not bode well.” Gev said with a grimace. “If what she said is true…”

“Zana shared the fragmented memory when we helped her find it buried in the mess inside her skull, Gev. I know you saw it.” Brakon winced and the bounty hunter nodded with a shudder. “What makes matters worse is that Jina has apparently decided that she is Ecmin’s ‘retainer’ or some such. She says she is a guard, she has even been pushing get armor made so she can protect her ‘stepmom’…”

“Armor like she was wearing in the vision.” Gev said with a sigh. “I hate the Force… I truly do…”

“I do too sometimes. Everyone from the master on down has been trying to convince Jina to allow the docs to work on her. But every time they come close, she starts screaming and fighting.” Brakon winced. “She may not have her lightsaber or knowledge of how to use her higher abilities, but she is damn powerful. Menglan tried to sedate her secretly and Jina threw Menglan into a wall with the Force hard enough she gave the doc a concussion. Ecmin won’t let anyone else touch her now. Jina hears the collective and she listens, but she only obeys Ecmin.”

“Great, an insanely powerful Jedi with the mindset of a mentally challenged kid…” Gev shook his head. “Maybe we should just give her back to Kalenath…”

“No consensus on that as you know. And Ecmin….” Brakon said softly. “Ecmin is totally against the idea. Says Jina is her responsibility. And Jina listens to Ecmin. No one else, just Ecmin.”

“Not even Maria?” Gev asked slowly. “I thought they bonded?”

“They have. A bit.” Brakon said with a sigh. “We think it is their past associations, ones that included affection. But Maria has been incredibly careful not give Jina any instructions. Just love and affection. She is trying to just be there for Jina. She explained it, and I have to say I agree. Jina needs the care Maria and the collective can give her, but she doesn’t trust anyone but Ecmin and maybe Ren, a little. It will take a direct order to Ecmin from the master to let the docs even examine Jina and for now, everyone is just trying to keep the poor woman stable. What?” he asked caustically as Gev looked at him oddly.

“Isn’t she the one…” Gev said slowly. “…who killed you…?”

“Yeah.” Brakon said with a wince of remembered pain. “I was… Well, I had gone rogue. I thought if I ran far enough I could avoid the Jedi. Then I found Oreana. I figured if I could train Oreana right, maybe…” He shook his head. “I don’t know what I was thinking, or IF I was.”

“Oreana turned out fairly well.” Gev said neutrally. “Didn’t she?”

“Sort of.” Brakon said with a groan. Then he stiffened. “Hmmm…”

“What?” Gev asked slowly. “I know that look. What did your devilish mind just come up with?”

“How many teams do we still have out?” Brakon said slowly, his mind obviously racing at lightspeed. “Six?”

“Yeah.” Gev said dubiously. “Half in Imperial space, being very careful. Half in Republic space, not sure about where they are at the moment. Every base and recruiter has shut up shop and gone into hiding, trying to ride this out.”

“We need to conference. I may know a way to stop him.” Brakon asked quietly. “Is this place secure?”

“No, but I know somewhere nearby that is.” Gev started off, with Brakon following an instant later. “Follow me and TRY not to stand out too much.” He led the way from the dingy alleyway to a…

“You have got to be kidding…” Brakon said slowly as he came to a sudden halt in front of the small house. “Here…? You can’t feel it but I can. There is a Jedi in there. This is a bad idea.”

“You have been out of touch.” Gev said slowly. “Come on in.”

Brakon followed but had his hand on his lightsaber as they entered the small dwelling. The figure in brown robes nodded to him.

“Well met, brother Brakon.” Brakon’s eyes went wide as the human nodded to him. “I see my return to this existence is still a secret, huh Gev?”

“Somewhat, Jarrel.” Gev said sourly. “I sincerely hope so anyway. The last thing we need is for the Stormhawk to come back here. It took months for the situation here to settle after their little incursion.” The man in Jedi robes shuddered.

“I agree… Did they ever… Um… remove my progenitor’s body from the front of the ship?” Jarrel Strum asked uncomfortably. And who could blame him? The being he had been cloned from had been tortured to death and then turned into a gruesome figurehead for the renegade battlecruiser by the simple expedient of throwing his corpse in space and then strapping the remnants to the front of the ship. “I understand I ticked them off, but sheesh…”

“According to reports most of your… remains… were blasted off during the fracas with Zelkin Infinium.” Gev said slowly, his face sick. “I know they were mad at you, but…that was extreme.”

“What I did to that poor girl Nia was unforgivable.” Jarrel said sadly. “If only we had known then what we know now…” He shook his head and sighed. “The master’s methods are better now. Gentler and less invasive at the very least. What bring you to my humble abode?”

“You have heard that Kalenath has gone on a rampage.” Gev said slowly. Brakon nodded agreement. “We have to stop him, but fighting him won’t work. All that will happen is we lose more people.”

“No one is invincible.” Jarrel said slowly, thinking hard. “But he is cunning, sneaky and utterly merciless.”

“Brakon here said he had a thought he wanted to share with all of us.” Gev said slowly. “Are we secure?”

“In here, yes.” Jarrel said assuredly. “I maintain the image of a harmless old coot. For situations like this. My penance for what I did to Nia Korr.” He slumped.

“You were obeying orders.” Brakon said slowly. “Just like I was when Vandar told me to face Jina.”

Vandar told you to face Jina?” Gev exclaimed in surprise. “What the heck? Why?”

“I don’t know.” Brakon admitted. “He promised me backup and it came. Just a little too late to save me. The master brought me back, but…” Brakon shuddered.

“What did it feel like?” Jarrel asked softly. “If you can talk about it.”

“Always the doc? Sorry, no time.” Gev asked sourly. “We need to contact the collective, warn the other teams.”

“I’d rather not talk about it, Jarrel.” Brakon said with a gulp. “It was seriously unpleasant.”

“Fair enough.” Jarrel said softly, disappointment coloring his features for a moment. “This area is secure. Go for it.”

Brakon slowly calmed himself, sending his mind out to greet the two nearby minds. They welcomed him and then they sought more minds. Few on planet, but as they passed further and further out, more and more joined until they were one huge swirling mass of mental energy. Brakon smiled widely as they all merged into a mind mass the likes of which the galaxy had never seen, all compassionate, all hopeful, all caring deeply for each other. He put forth his idea and the expected reaction hit him like a hammer.

W T F?
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08.17.2012 , 05:49 AM | #6
“What the fu- Where is she?“ The angry voice startled many beings in the medical ward of the Sitolon homeship as Sharra Kalenath stormed out of a room and more than one Sitolon backed away from her incandescent fury.

“Where is who, Matriarch Kalenath?” One of the head nurses said in a calming tone. “Is Brianna not in her room?” Sharra froze in place, her face turning from angry to scared.

“Brianna isn't in her bed! You don’t know where she is?” Sharra asked her tone halfway to begging. “Oh my god! James! Sarai!” She barked as she ran for another room. She glanced in, sagged in relief on seeing her son sleeping in his crib and turned towards the lift.

“She is not aboard, Mom.” Sarai said as she exited the lift. “We just confirmed. I was on my way to speak to you.”

“Then where is she?” Sharra was now very scared. “She wouldn’t have just left, not without telling someone.”

“Two other patients are missing.” The huge golden queen said quietly. “Cili Sandskimmer and Jan Kolis, the trooper that Will captured when he went after the Islanian slave trackers.” She paused and them she seemed to slump in place. “A transport is missing as well.”

“What?” Sharra was almost in tears. “We have to get her back.”

“We will.” Sarai promised her human step mom. “Come on, let’s go talk to Ecien, get some plans laid. I know we have trackers on all our transports, I just hope we can find her before it is too late.”

“Why would the three of them leave?” Sharra asked as she followed Sarai, somewhat dazed. “Cili is a good kid, I don’t know the trooper.”

“I don’t know, Mom.” Sarai said quietly as they walked. “All three had implants, Lohas removed Brianna’s and Nolikas removed the implants from Cili and Jan. Jan was waiting to have her legs regrown. It took us a while to convince her to let us do it.”

“Cili was still waiting for new eyes, wasn’t she?” Sharra said dubiously. “And Bri… She has issues as well. She is still sick.”

“I don’t like this, mom.” Sarai said with a shudder that traveled up all four of her legs and traveled down all four of her arms. “I don’t like this at all.” She paused in midstride as a large silver bug ran towards her. “Ecien?”

“My queen, I have checked the recordings. Brianna took the transport.” Both females stiffened in shock. “But… I don’t think she was in control of herself. Cili was pushing a wheelchair with the prisoner in it, but she was also acting odd. “

“Some kind of long range control mechanism?” Sarai said a moment of fear. “Is Lohas free? She can answer that quickly is she has time.” Ecien shook her head.

“No.” Ecien was angry, but tightly controlled. “She and Melita are busy. Melita thinks she can spoof some of what Firdlump’s collective is doing. Maybe if she can, we can keep them off the homeworld for an extra six months.”

“That is worth it.” Sarai said with a sigh. “But we need to find Brianna. Hopefully before she and the others get to wherever they are going.”

“No note.” Sharra said with a grimace. “If she had a choice, Brianna at least would have left a note. She is nothing if not thorough, she would know we would be worried, that we would come after her. Would she want that?”

“Maybe.” Sarai said, musing. Then she stiffened. “Oh my god!” She darted into another room and the other two followed her. She shook her head as she took in an empty bed. “How the hell did she get Mira out of here without us seeing her?”

“We are missing something.” Sharra said flatly. “The ship’s systems have been hacked, obviously. The security cameras, except for the standalone ones in the hangar bays, are unreliable. But by who?”

“We don’t need cameras.” Sarai snarled and Ecien nodded and left the room. “We are doing a headcount. We should have… Oh my god…” The queen froze in place. “You lousy lying barvette-

“Sarai!” Sharra exclaimed. “What?”

“Jainine just confessed to me that she did it.” Sarai snarled, her tone cold. “She hacked our systems and got Brianna, Cili, Jan and Mira to the ship. And not alone…”

***

“Where are we going, Master Jedi?” Brianna asked in a confused tone. It was all she could manage as dazed as she was. “I shouldn’t have left…” She tried to get up from the bed and collapsed. She was very weak from her ordeals. Lohas had saved her life, but she was still recovering.

“Easy, Brianna.” The Togruta in Jedi robes said sadly as she eased the girl back into a resting position. “It’s okay. We are going to see your Dad.” The Jedi Master touched a hypospray to her arm

“This is wrong.” Brianna said in a confused voice. “Why are you…?” She sighed and relaxed back into sleep.

“I am sorry, Brianna.” Jedi Master Ashla Ti said with a sigh. “We don’t have a choice now. I hate this. I hate this…” She brushed a gentle hand across Brianna’s brow and the sick girl murmured a bit in her sleep.

“I know.” A form composed of blue energy appeared beside her. The blue skinned Twi’lek’s face was sad. “But it is the only way to stop Will.”

“We don’t know that, Ulaha.” Master Ashla Ti said quietly. “Visions are not perfect. You know this.”

“Yes I do.” The dead Jedi said sadly. “How are the others?”

“Still asleep.” Ashla Ti said with a wince. “Have you heard from Jainine?”

“They are holding her.” Ulaha said quietly. “They are angry.”

“We kidnapped Brianna and Cili.” Ashla Ti said sadly. “I think they have just cause to be angry.” She checked on the poor little girl and sighed as she found Cili unchanged. “Poor kid. I just hope there are medics wherever we wind up.”

“Why are you doing this?” A voice asked her from the other side of the small medical bay. The human woman was propping herself up on the stumps of her legs and staring at the Togruta. “This doesn’t make sense.”

“Yes it does, Jan.” Ashla Ti said with a sigh. “I am trying to stop Will from kicking things off too early, before anyone else is ready. He is angry, furious actually. He won’t listen to anyone. This is the only way to stop him.” Ashla Ti surreptitiously hit a control with the Force.

“Where are we going?” Jan asked, her eyes dulling as painkillers started her slide back into unconsciousness. “I don’t want to face him again. He is…scary…”

“Sleep, soldier.” Ashla Ti said sadly. “We are going to Alderaan.” She moved to a small tank nearby and sighed as she looked at the still form that floated inside. If not for the small amount of movement on the medical monitors, the little girl in the tank looked dead. “I wish there was another way, Mira. But there isn’t.”

“She knows.” Ulaha said quietly from nearby. “But you better hope that Firdlump’s people have their act together. If you face Will…”

“I die.” The Togruta Jedi Master said flatly. “It is what he does. Especially now that he has gone off the deep end.”
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08.17.2012 , 05:55 AM | #7
“This is a trick.” Brakon Darshiel had been a lot of places, done a lot of things. But this… “What is she doing here? Any ideas Gev?” He asked as he stared at the bounty hunter’s tiny image on his screen. He had a camera feed on his main monitor and was talking to Gev on his scrambled com. On the main monitor a Togruta Jedi was seen leaving the hangar spaces, heading into town.

“This is weird.” Kunda Gev said softly. “Ship is still positive for three life forms, but all are faint. Should I check it out?”

“Carefully.” Brakon was scared. “Something is wrong. Holy flarg…” He stared at as the camera shifted and tracked the Jedi’s progress. She was walking towards the residential section. The section of town where he and Jarrel where hiding.

“You don’t think…?” Jarrel asked softly. “I mean, she IS a seer, but this is nuts.”

“Maybe I should try and lead her away?” Brakon said dubiously. “She is a seer and likely will know if I try and deceive her.” He stiffened. “She is heading this way. This is not good.” The he stared as the Jedi…sat on a bench. “What…the…hell?”

“She couldn’t hear you, could she?” Jarrel asked softly, even more scared. His eyes went wide as the Togruta shook her head slightly. “She knows she is being monitored.” The Togruta on camera nodded slightly. “Holy flarg…”

“You don’t want to fight.” Brakon said slowly, totally unsure of this. The Togruta on screen shook her head. “You want to talk?” She nodded. “This makes no sense.” The Togruta shrugged and sat in a meditation position. Passersby looked at her oddly, but Jedi were not that rare around these parts.

“Brakon, we have a problem.” Gev’s voice was odd when it came over the com. “Ship has four beings aboard, all female, none of them are hale.”

“Four?” Brakon stiffened. “Why would a Jedi bring four hurt females to Alderaan and leave them in a ship in the middle of a hangar bay?”

“It gets worse.” Gev sounded nearly poleaxed. “One of them is the Seventh of the Seven.”

Mira's body is here?” Brakon actually felt faint. “According to what Jina told us, she is a shell, her mind caught up in the nanite swarm.”

“Yeah. She is in a tank, some kind of stasis I think” Gev agreed softly. “Two human females, one with missing legs, one…” He broke off. “Oh frell me…”

“What?” Brakon demanded. “Don’t keep me in suspense. WHAT?”

“Brianna Makarian, the girl that nut Jaken tortured, is lying in a pool of her own filth.” Gev’s voice was scared now. “I need help! She is convulsing! What do I do?”

“Jarrel…” Brakon turned to his companion who nodded.

“Merge your mind to the collective, Gev.” The Jedi said quietly. “Those of us with medical training can help you. Holy…” He said as his eyes went far away. “Oh poor kid. Ok, Gev, lets help her. We are going to be busy, Brakon.” He sat in a meditative posture and nodded to the Dark Jedi before closing his eyes and focusing his mind to help the bounty hunter tend the hurt girl.

“I guess I will talk to Ashla Ti.” Brakon said softly, his posture dejected. “I do not understand.” He was very careful to stay out of plain sight as he left the building and started towards where the Jedi was still sitting. His own Jedi robes drew a few looks, but no one said anything. Indeed, most of the passersby hurried along their way. He sat down near her and assumed a meditative pose.

“Brakon Darshiel.” Ashla Ti said softly. “You have a problem.” She could have been discussing the weather for all the emotion she showed.

“Maybe.” Brakon said softly, his eyes roving. “What do you want, seer?”

“I want to stop Will.” Ashla Ti said sadly. “You need bait for your trap. I brought it.” Brakon froze, but Ashla Ti was not finished. “My life is probably forfeit now. Will or one of his allies is going to kill me. But we can’t have him starting things too soon. If he pushes your master too hard, your master will do something rash.” Brakon scoffed, but inside he was quailing. “Don’t lie to me, fallen one.” Ashla Ti said softly. “You know what the nanites will do if they suddenly lose control. You know.” Brakon swallowed. Their last command was ‘consume’ so, yeah. He knew.

“We can’t trust you.” Brakon said quietly but firmly. “You lie better than anyone else, seer.”

“Isn’t that what you said to Jina?” Ashla To said, her face sad. “And you people have the gall to wonder why Will is angry?” She shook her head in disbelief, her montrails sweeping in a graceful arc.

“She is not dead.” Brakon said slowly, unsure. ”We are trying to help her.”

“Yeah.” Ashla Ti said with a sigh. “Sure you are. She might as well be dead for all the good she is going to do you. The four on that ship need medical attention. And this is so you do not do anything else dumb: Brianna’s full name is Brianna Makarian Kalenath.” Brakon felt his breath leave him in a whoosh. The collective as a whole rocked on it’s axis. Wonderful bait, but… He managed to focus on the Togruta as she spoke again. “A ship will be landing shortly. I need to meet it, get my apprentice before any of Will’s allies catch us. Cranna is going to be after our hides.”

“Why?” Brakon managed to choke out past his fear. No one sane hurt one of Will’s adopted kids. No one. The last time someone had killed two of his adopted children, he had killed three people on the Stormhawk. He had tortured two of them to death and tossed another out an airlock while still alive. All of this on a ship that Will had been affiliated with until then. “That Hutt defines vindictive. What did you do to her?”

“She couldn’t help the recruits -willing and otherwise- into your collective that she found on Ralltiir, so we stole them from her. You can save them. They are innocent in this struggle, pawns. Cranna and Will would just sacrifice them to keep you from growing stronger. I find I cannot.” Ashla Ti shook her head. “I had hoped to keep Diseree out of this, but…” She shrugged.

“And we should trust you, why?” Brakon asked softly.

“Because in about two hours, this entire area is going to be crawling with Special Forces, ordered to look for Brianna Makarian.” Ashla Ti did not look at him. “They don’t know she is Will’s adopted daughter. If they did, they would be here now. And you know what they would do.” Special Forces pretty much defined overkill on occasion. In this case, diplomatic niceties would go out the window, they would search house by house if that was what it took. And anyone who resisted, well…

“You could come with us.” Brakon said slowly, his senses at their sharpest. “We would welcome you.”

“No I can’t.” Ashla Ti said sadly. “I can’t see Jina like that and not try to help her, get her away from you scum. And I will not expose my apprentice to you either.”

“We are not evil, seer.” Brakon said gently. “We want to make a better galaxy.”

“Yes, you are evil.” Ashla Ti said as she rose. “But, may the Force help me, you seem to be the lesser of two evils now. I hope you can stop Will, I truly do. I doubt it, but I truly hope you can. Or you have not seen bad yet.” With that, she walked away quickly.

Brakon waited a few minutes before rising and moving to go back to the safehouse. He was not surprised to find Jarrel packing. The Jedi had been listening of course.

“You believe her.” The Dark Jedi said as he helped load a computer into a box for transfer.

“Yes.” Jarrrel said sadly. “We have lost all of our networks in the Special Forces. We think most of the agents are dead. If not, they are likely praying for it. But if that girl is one of Kalenath’s adopted kids…”

“Transport landing.” Gev’s voice came over the collective. “It is one of ours. Just like she said. Positive for one life sign, too small to be an adult.”

“Can you get the kids into the new transport?” Brakon asked. Gev was silent for a moment and Brakon sighed. “She wasn’t lying. She was scared. Very, very scared.”

“I will need help.” Gev said after a moment. “I can’t move them alone and there are no droids aboard.”

“If what she said is true…” Jarrle winced. “Anyone who remains behind is in danger.”

“If we pack the transport to the gunwales, then it becomes a big fat target. One nuke and bye-bye.” Gev said softly, worried. “He would do it too.”

“Do we have a choice?” Jarrel said quietly. “Those four girls need medical attention. And she was right. It is the bait we need.”

“Is it?” Brakon said dubiously. “I am not too proud to say I am scared. That man is terrifying.” The entire collective shuddered as one.
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kalenath
08.17.2012 , 06:00 AM | #8
<Two hours later>

“Are they out of their fracking minds?” The voice of one of her subordinates echoed in Captain Nara Deering’s ears as she led the search through the ship they had been tasked to sweep for evidence. “That guy is not someone to tick off.”

“Lock it up, sergeant.” Deering said quietly. Not that she didn’t agree totally with the sentiment. But she had a job to do. “Let’s just see if we can keep this from going totally nuclear.” She winced at her choice of words and her team likewise did as well. Luckily no one could see her expression through her helmet. Her whole team was in full armor, like all the others searching this city’s landing bays.

“Yes, Captain.” The sergeant complied, no doubt grumbling under his breath, but if she couldn’t hear him, or could pretend she didn’t hear, she wouldn’t have to maintain discipline. Discipline was what made soldiers what they were. Any yahoo could shoot and often did. But soldiers with discipline and organization could take on almost any number of undisciplined opponents and expect to win. Maybe not easily, but win. But that was assuming the opponent was sane.

Will Kalenath was pretty much a legend in Special Forces. Oh, no one really knew everything he had done. But the stories that were told over beers and sometimes during other activities, were enough to make anyone even remotely sane step carefully around him. Tales were told of Sith flat out running from him. Deering knew that stories often exaggerated. That a lot of what was said about the man was likely wild tales told to impress partners of the night. But, then again, she had met the man. There was something about him that just scared her to her bones. Which was odd. She had faced a lot of scary people in her life, Sith, pirates, traitors, spies, mercenaries. But there had been something about Will Kalenath that had chilled her. She hadn’t been afraid of him, not really. He hadn’t been angry, or even rude. But there had been the distinct feeling that she was an insect crawling up the leg of a Rancor, or maybe a Krayt Dragon. Interesting, but not worth his time. She knew that if she had been worth his time, her stay would have been much less pleasant, and it hadn’t been very pleasant at all. None of them had been able to forget that the man had nuked a civilian space station filled with noncombatants, basically because he could. Admittedly, it had been an Imperial space station with a military shipyard attached, but still…

“Cap’n?” Her XO called from one of the room and she hurried to where he was. He pointed at a bunk and her heart almost froze as she saw bloodstains on the sheet. “This is definitely the ship we were sent after, Cap’n.” The XO said softly. “But no sign of the hostages.”

“How long?” Captain Deering asked quietly. “That looks fairly fresh.” She had a lot of experience looking at blood. Too much. The XO ran a scanner over the bunk and nodded.

“Recent.” The XO confirmed. “Within two hours, for the last set. And…” He slumped a little. “Blood type matches to the 99th percentile. It was her, we missed her.” He snarled softly. “Blood and vomit. What did they do to her?”

“I don’t know. I am calling it in. Keep searching, maybe we will find something else.” Deering doubted it, but she had to try. She had to. “Bravo Six to base.”

“Base here, Bravo Six.” The voice of the com tech assigned to her unit came on quickly. She had to smile. She liked Private Summers. Despite his unnerving lack of depth perception on occasion, something that had earned him the team name of ‘Cyclops’, he was good at tech type things. “Go ahead Captain Deering.”

“We have found traces.” Deering said quietly. “XO reports that his scanners are 99% sure our target was here. She is gone. No sign of anyone now.”

“Wait one, Bravo Six.” The voice went away and when her com buzzed again his voice was worried. “What kind of signs, Captain? Our ‘liaison’ is worried.”

“Blood and vomit, Base.” Deering said calmly as she stared at the sheets with the nastiness on them. “She was here. Others were as well, but no traces on them. It was less than two hours. Have any ships lifted since then?”

“Negative, Bravo Six.” The reply came immediately. Summers was on the ball. She liked that. She disliked having to rely on others, ever since a really bad mess on a planet called Forge. She much preferred to act on her own, but sometimes there just was no other way. “No ships have lifted and while all of them are screeching like scalded mynocks, none have tried lifting without clearance.” Deering snorted a sour laugh.

“They know what we would do, base.” She sighed. “We are continuing our sweep, but this is definitely the ship we were after initially. We will keep looking. Any revised word on a possible ETA?” She broke off, not wanting to name the boogeyman. The odd thing was, she wasn’t really afraid for herself. Will had excellent target control even when stressed. He only used overkill when he had reason. Facing even a squad of Republic troops wouldn’t be reason, she hoped so anyway. He might hurt her; he likely would not kill her. She was afraid of what would happen to a man she admired if he kept doing some of the things her liaison had told her about. What was happening to a man she admired.

“Negative, Bravo Six. He is running silent.” Summers sounded nervous now and who could blame him? “Stay in contact, Captain.”

“Right.” Deering said softly. “XO? Anything else on scans?” The response came quickly.

“Lots of different DNA. They must have been in a hurry, their scrubbing was not as thorough as usual. The sniffer is having trouble differentiating them all. They must have had a full team in here. Whoa…” His voice turned speculative. “This is odd.”

“What is?” Deerign asked as she started for the cockpit and the team tech who was accessing the ship’s computers. Not that they were likely to find anything, but maybe they would. And anything was better than just standing around. “What do you have?”

Deering was not the sort to micromanage. She had seen all kinds in the Republic military and she had always found that most of the time, standing back and being icily polite had better results than getting in someone’s face and screaming. Oh, she wasn’t a robot, she had emotions just like anyone else, but they got in the way sometimes. There were times when she had to put her soul in storage and just do the job. The fighting on Forge had been one of those times. She shook herself, the past was the past. She had to focus on the now, to keep the future from being bloody and short.

“Cap’n…” The XO’s voice was odd, not scared, but odd. “You ain’t going to believe this…I just got a match for one of the DNA traces. Male human.”

“Oh?” Deering moved to where her XO was looking at a computer terminal. “Problem?”

“I don’t know, Cap’n.” The XO turned the screen of his DNA sniffer so she could see it and she scanned it, unsure. “Third line from the bottom, Ma’am.” Deering looked and froze in place, her breath leaving her body in a solid whoosh.

“Holy mother of Zenn’la,…” Deering rarely cursed, but this was the time for it if any was. “100%? No way, check it!” The XO did and shrugged. He redid his scan and it came up the same. The readout was simple to read, and the system was nearly foolproof since soldiers could -and would- break anything given just a little time.

The line read ‘Agent Third Class Jaken, listed rogue. Last assignment: Stormhawk’

The liaison had briefed them on what had happened the last time someone had hurt one of Will’s ‘kids’. The man who had brainwashed Brianna into killing two of Will’s adopted children, who had hurt Brianna so badly and turned her into one of the Dragons against her will. He was dead -tossed out an airlock without a space suit- but somehow, he was here.

“This…” Deering could have sworn the planet as whole lurched in fear under her boots. “…is not good.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
08.17.2012 , 06:04 AM | #9
Brianna Makarian Kalenath woke from dreams of pain and fear to peace and gentleness. She was lying on something very soft, covered by something very soft. But she hurt. Gentle hands were soothing her sore muscles as she groaned.

“Easy girl.” A melodious female voice that she did not know soothed her fear. “It’s okay. No one is going to hurt you. No one would dare.”

“What?” Brianna remembered hazy images of a Togruta, a worried looking one, tending her. “Where?”

“Easy…” The voice crooned softly. “It’s okay, Brianna. It’s okay. You are in no danger. Whatever that Jedi gave you reacted badly with whatever else you were on. You had some convulsions. That is why you are sore. Just relax, let me soothe your muscles, okay?” Against her will, Brianna felt her muscles reacting to the skilled fingers that were soothing them. “That’s it, girl, just relax…” The voice was so soothing, the touch was as well. But Brinnna knew where she was now. She could feel them, all around her. The sense that she had gotten from her squadmates had been kind and gentle if hard as nails. They had also been more than bit fanatical and nuts. The feelings she got from this woman…were just wrong. There were other things impacting her body, things she did not recognize, but could fight and did. “Easy girl…”

“Stop touching me.” Brianna said flatly. “Now.” She tried her hands and feet, but of course they were bound. She cracked her eyes, but, no surprise, they were covered. “You people…” She sighed. “…are morons. Not even the Sith are this stupid.” Most Sith... had learned.

“Look, Brianna…” The gentle touches vanished and the female voice was sad and tired now. “I just want to help you. I know you are scared. You have no reason to be. No one is going to a kriffing thing to you. No one would munking dare.”

“Scared?” Brianna actually laughed at that. “Why the hell would I be scared of dead people? You obviously know who I am. Well, I know who you are too. And you know what is going to happen, very shortly. Maybe I will survive, maybe I won’t. But none of you will.” She would have shaken her head, but it didn’t move. “So, implanting or brainwashing first? Or torture just for the fun of it like before?” The female voice sighed.

“Brianna, we cannot change what happened. We are not going to hurt you.” A hand patted her bound one and she flinched but controlled it. “I know your name, mine is Monyka.”

“Stop. Touching. Me.” Brianna bit out, her voice cold and hard even to her ears. “Your pheromones won’t work on me, lady and your mental projections need work too.”

“Brianna, please…” The female was begging now. “We don’t want to sedate you. We don’t want to put you in coldsleep, you likely won’t survive the transition into hibernation as weak as you are. Just relax, let us help you…” The hand touched Brianna’s again but Brianna had taken enough.

While her companion had been talking, Brianna had been using one of the Dragon’s gifts to look at the binders that held her wrists and ankles. While she no longer had the mask that had separated her from the rest of humanity, she could still do a lot of the things that the Dragons had taught her in her short tenure with them. It had been…incredible. She had learned so much, about so many things. It hurt, even now, knowing that almost all of her wingmates -ten other pieces of her soul- were gone for good. She didn’t need to see the mechanical devices to scrutinize them. She didn’t need a pouch full of slicing gear or even to have her hands free to hack them. Somehow, she shared Will’s ability now. And more.

Brianna. No, I am almost to Alderaan. There are other searchers looking for you. Don’t do anything rash. Will’s mind voice was harsh with fear and anger. Brianna’s on the other hand, was calm.

You know I am bait, Will. For you.

Yes. Will Kalenath’s mental voice was cold and hard. They won’t get away with this, but if you do what you are planning, you will likely die. I don’t want you to. His voice moderated a little, just a little. Brianna, don’t… Brianna let out a sigh and said something she never had.

I love you Will. Then Brianna cut the connection. The gentle hand was back on her arm, caressing and she snarled as she focused herself and then cast her mind at the mechanical restraints that bound her, electronic ones.

“Monyka! Watch out!” A hated voice from Brianna’s past had her flinching momentarily and then she was in motion, the restraints around her clicking open and falling away as she threw herself at her tormentor. If this person was allied with the man who had that voice, she wanted the woman to hurt.

Brianna Makarian Kalenath was, at heart, a technician. She loved fiddling with things, making them work. But when she had joined the Dragons against her will, she had been exposed to a much larger world. She was weak and sick, but it made no difference. Strength counted a great deal in hand to hand fighting. Speed and leverage counted for more usually. It didn’t hurt that she had worked out with the Dragons a great deal, working out with a former pro wrestler and two rated masters of different form of unarmed combat. Oh and when Dragons sparred? They worked out full contact without padding. A quick grab and twist and the woman howled in pain as Brianna’s muscles protested, but moved in memorized patterns. Two lightning fast movements later a sick crack sounded, a female scream came and Brianna pulled the covering off her eyes with her free hand as she held the woman to the floor with the other. She looked around. She was in what looked like a private stateroom on a starship. That was both good and bad. Good in that she had a few moments, hopefully before more baddies came after her. Bad in that she was no pilot. If the ship was in flight, she was screwed. She looked dispassionately at her victim.

The female Zeltron was face down on the floor, her cries muffled. But she shrieked again as Brianna put more leverage on the broken wrist she held. A quick blow to the back of the Zeltron’s head laid her out, and Brianna moved to finish the job. Fair fighting was for rings or dojos. Anything less than full out in real life usually wound up with the person trying to be ‘fair’ either hurt or dead. And Dragons did not do anything halfway.

“Freeze!” A loud voice commanded as the door hissed open. Brianna dropped the unconscious Zeltron and spun to her feet as a pair of armored forms entered the room. Her eyes narrowed as she saw neither of them had blasters out. “We don’t want to hurt you, girl. Stand down!”

What she did took them completely by surprise. Why would an unarmed, half dead young human girl clad only in a hospital gown, confronted by two trained soldiers in armor attack? They went for weapons as she dove towards them, but it was too late.

“No!” The taller one cried as her grabbed at her and missed. She slid right between his legs, coming up behind him and striking for the neck armor. Any armor had weak spots. Armor was designed to minimize the vulnerable spots on a body, but if that body wanted to move, there were always going to be joints. Joints could be exploited. The man blocked the attack, trying to grab her wrists. But Brianna had been planning for that. She wasn’t strong enough to pound her way through armor plate and the neck was an obvious vulnerability on most humanoid sentients. It was instinctive to protect that, even if it left the rest of the body vulnerable. A few of the Dragons had been strong enough to power their way through such encounters, Brianna never had been. So she had studied other methods of fighting. She let the man grab her wrists and then with deft twists, grabbed his wrists. Two motions later, she had his elbows and shoulders locked out of his control –human joints were only designed to move one way after all- and gave a savage yank with all of her meager strength. A shrill cry came from the helmet as both of the man’s shoulders dislocated with a simultaneous ‘pop’. He wasn’t dead, but as he fell to the floor, he wasn’t a threat for the moment either. The other guy was still trying to get his blaster out, backpedaling as Brianna turned on him.

“We don’t want to…” Whatever else the man was going to say was silenced as Brianna flowed at him. The style of fighting she had learned was a combination of many styles. It incorporated Echani blade dancing, wrestling, an ancient art called Aikido, and various other sources. The Dragons had never named the style. The few who had seen it practiced –and survived- called it ‘Reach Out and Break Someone Fast’. The guard screamed as she almost swam inside his guard as his blaster came up and then she was behind him. Her hands came around his neck and she threw herself over his shoulder, despite her legs feeling like jelly. A crack sounded and he convulsed and went limp in her hands. She let go of the corpse and rolled back into the center of the room as the man went down, kicking the Zeltron out of the way in passing. The other guard was trying to scramble back as she rolled again, this time to her feet. Her face was a remote, dead thing as she stalked towards him. He was making a noise somewhere between a groan and a sob as she took his neck in hands that shook, but were still strong enough. A quick jerk and that foe fell still, neck at the exact same angle as the other. Brianna screamed, a battlecry yowl of rage and victory as she turned towards the door and scooped up the guard’s fallen blaster.

The fallen Zeltron made a noise somewhere between a tearful cry and a scream as Brianna kicked her in passing, but the woman wasn’t armed. Not a threat. That was the only thing that saved her life. She was not worth Brianna’s time. Brianna knew she had no chance, that Special Branch had a lot more guards, probably all with heavier weapons, and armored to boot. She wore the patient gown she had worn on the Sitolon homeship, more than bit worse for wear by now, and had a blaster pistol. She didn’t care. She just wanted to find the man whose voice had tried to warn the Zeltron. She wanted to make Jaken’s acquaintance again.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
08.17.2012 , 06:08 AM | #10
Brianna flattened herself against the wall as she hit the hatch control and then jumped through the opened door with her weapon ready to… She froze. Whatever Brianna had expected on exiting the stateroom she had been a prisoner in, this was not it. She paused as she looked around the small common room. It looked like a transport of some kind. Her mind moved in paths that had been hardwired into her brain. Exits, five. All looked exactly the same. She didn’t recognize the class of transport. But that was immaterial. The Twi’lek who was staring at her with the baby in her lap was terrified. An IV dripped fluid into one of her arms. That arm was strapped down, the Twi’lek obvious hadn’t done it. It looked like she could barely move. The red skinned female wore a dirty jumpsuit that was open in front, the baby had obviously been feeding when Brianna had made her entrance.

“Please…” The Twi’lek begged. “Do whatever you want to me. Please don’t hurt my baby.” Brianna ignored her and the female babbled something else, tried to rise and sank back, obviously there was something wrong with her. Brianna didn’t care.

“How many?” Brianna barely recognized her own voice. “How many guards?” She pressed when the Twi’lek stared at her, confused.

“You can’t fight it.” The Twi’lek said with a grimace. “It get in your head and you can’t fight it. Don’t hurt Kili, please.”

“Where is Jaken?” Brianna’s voice went even colder. Her eyes flicked form exit to exit. Where were the guards? They had to know she was loose by now. Confused by all the negative emotions, the baby started crying. The Twi’lek gave a small cry and hugged the little female close. Brianna relented a little. “Tell me what I want to know and I am gone.”

“I…” The Twi’lek said slowly. “I don’t know any Jaken. I was a prisoner and then I woke up a guest and then I was a prisoner again, and now… No one has been back. I don’t know where my mate is, I don’t…” Her eyes went wide and Brianna sighed as armored forms appeared in one of the exits.

“Surrender, girl.” One of them said, almost kindly. “You are not going to win.”

“Do I look like I care?” Brianna snorted derisively. “Ok, he is not that way.” Her entire body went still as the hated voice sounded again.

“Brianna…” The slight form of the tech who had hurt her so badly appeared from another doorway. “I am sorry. I am a clone, not the one who hurt you. But if you have to kill me, do so. I don’t…”

Whatever else he was going to say was cut off as Brianna’s pistol fired from the hip. She wasn’t in Will’s class with a blaster, she had qualified expert on the range in training, but she was a tech. She didn’t go into combat on a daily basis like her adopted dad did. At this range though, she couldn’t possibly miss. The Twi’lek screamed and tried to cover the baby in her lap as Brianna turned toward the troops, the cooling mass of the tech who had hurt her thumping to the floor, a large smoking hole almost perfectly centered in what was commonly called by some ‘the sniper triangle’, a triangular area between the middle of the ribs and the base of the neck. He was dead before he hit the deck. She hadn’t even turned!

Brianna’s eyes were cold as she scrutinized the troops. They looked nervous, and who could blame them? But then a brown robed form stepped forward and they parted to let him through. He shook his head.

“Brianna Makarian Kalenath, stand down.” He said calmly. “We don’t want to hurt you. There has been enough death already.”

“Do I look like I care what you want?” Brianna asked just as calmly. “You are dead, Jedi. If Jedi you are still.” Her eyes narrowed as she looked at his face and then she sighed. “Well, well, well… Dead men do tell tales. Jarrel Strum.” The Jedi flinched and she smiled. No one remotely sane would have called it friendly. “I guess you want to wind up where the man you were cloned from did.” Considering that the original Jarrel Strum had been captured by the Stormhawk, tortured to death and then tossed into space and turned into a macabre figurehead for the ship…

“You are not getting out of here, Brianna.” He said with a pained expression. “We don’t want to hurt you. We did not expect to have you dropped in our lap. We know your dad is on the way, and when he gets here there will be hell to pay. We don’t want to hurt you. We are not trying to hurt you, recruit you or anything. We have been trying to heal you, we have not succeeded.” Brianna shrugged. He tried again. “Come on girl, do you want to die?”

“Everything dies, Jarrel Strum.” Brianna’s soft voice silenced everything in the room. “The only question is how many of you are going to go with…” She broke off as a blaster sounded. A large black mark appeared on her gown. The mark was centered on her chest. She staggered for a moment and stared at Jarrel and then at another large armored form that appeared from a side corridor. A bounty hunter by his armor and steadily held carbine. She didn’t fall.

No!” Jarrel shouted and started forward, only to pause as Brianna screamed.

It was sound of rage, pain, grief… All of these and more. It was raw primal emotion and the Jedi was actually forced back a step as the sheer power in Brianna’s shout coursed through the chamber, silencing everything. Her hand came up and one of the troops with him shoved Jarrel to the side –out of the line of fire- as Brianna started shooting. She might have been sick, weak, tired, hurt, maybe dying -all that. But Brianna was a Dragon. Her shots were deadly precise, and fast as lightning. She dove for cover as the troops started firing back.

Get down!” One of the troops screamed as he threw himself over the Twi’lek and her baby. He jerked as shots hit him but despite that he covered her body with his own, holding her in place, and protecting her even as life fled his form.

“No!” Jarrel cried as Brianna danced through the fire that was seeking her now. “No, Brianna! No!

She was good, no question, but there were a dozen guards in the room now and the man in bounty hunter garb was firing as well. She killed another guard and then another. Then pain flared across her arm as a bolt connected. She dove and spun, trying to avoid the fire that was still seeking her. Then something went ‘crack’. Pain flared in her head and she knew no more.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here