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(L,F&E 93) Unplanned Parenthood

kalenath's Avatar

08.17.2012 , 10:25 AM | #1
How did he do it?” The usually dapper looking human male was ashen faced as he stared around the small room. More than one person in the room had marks of injuries. Injuries that the nanites in their bodies were working overtime to fix. “We scanned her for explosives. There was nothing out of the ordinary. Well, except for the implants, some of which had been deactivated, but nothing else.”

“We don’t know.” The female Cathar was still crying. “There was nothing on the scans. Nothing at all. Then, something happened. Two of the implants fused into something I am still unsure of what it was. Scans were fuzzy. The reaction though, was plain. Sodium and water react explosively. But then the self destructs in her implants also went off. I doubt that was unintentional.” The female human beside the Cathar hugged her gently.

“Katherine, it’s okay.” Olandas said with a shudder. “It will be okay.” Katherine leaned into the embrace and then shook herself. “But that blast should have only killed her. Maybe her and whoever was in the room, not the entire bay.”

“The explosion ruptured the high pressure oxygen tanks that served the ICU. For efficiency, we had them set to feed every room.” The Cathar gave a sob. “Every single bay, every single berth. Every single…” She was crying again. “The resulting blast and fire swept through my… my facility…” Katherine scrubbed her face, trying to keep herself together. “My fault. I never thought of explosions in the workspace. I should have…”

“How could you have possibly known. Katherine?” Firdlump said with a sigh and a pat on her shoulder. “She was so young and so hurt. None of us expected something like this. None of us. How bad?”

“The emergency bulkheads came down as they were designed to.” Olandas said with a shiver. “They were supposed to seal Medical off from any potential threat, but instead, they held the blast inside the bay.”

“Menglan will survive.” Katherine said quietly. “We got to her in time. The others?” Katherine swallowed heavily. “Of the others in there, Ecmin covered myself and Jina. Jolia and Kili will live. No one else.”

“Jolia’s mate is still in coldsleep, yes?” Firdlump asked after a moment.

“Yes.” Katherine said quietly. “We were focusing on the females. Because of the baby and Cili… I…” She started crying again. “Jolia and Kii survived because Miesh threw herself between them and the blasts, covering them with her body. They are both hurt, but both will live. Meish though…” Miesh had been a new addition to the nursing staff, a young and bubbly Mon Cal. “This is my fault.”

“No it is not, Katherine.” Firdlump disagreed. “It is not your fault.” Olandas hugged Katherine again. “Ecmin is alive, hold to that, Katherine.”

“For how long, master?” Katherine cried. “Sitolon can regenerate incredible damage, but she was burned and the shrapnel… Can we use the nanites to help her?”

“No.” Firdlump said quietly. “If she were their controller, then yes, they would heal her. But she is not.”

“We have to do something.” Katherine begged. “We HAVE to. She saved my life. I have to do something.”

“Katherine…” Firdlump said, giving her shoulder a squeeze. “We have a bigger problem.”

“Ecmin’s larvae.” Katherine agreed. “Without their mother, they will sicken and die. All of my equipment went up in smoke. Can you fabricate more?”

“I am.” Firdlump said quietly. “We also have teams coming from the fleet to assist. We will find a way to keep her children alive until she recovers. Katherine…” He started to speak and then stopped. Then he sighed again and spoke evenly. “All of the cloning records were in Menglan’s office.” Katherine froze in place, her face horrified. Olandas as well stiffened. Manglan’s office had burned to a crisp, nothing had been salvageable. The doctor herself had only survived because the collective had warned her. She had upturned her desk and hidden underneath it. She still had burns over more than seventy percent of her body and other injuries that her nanites were working overtime to fix.

“You mean…” Katherine felt a wave of pain ripple through the collective mind she shared. “No…” She breathed.

“We have a few of the imprints, ones that Menglan hadn’t yet filed.” Firdlump said with a sad expression. “But we have no DNA samples, no records from which we can clone.”

“You mean we can’t even clone any of the medical staff who died?” Katherine shook her head, shocked even beyond where she had been. “Miesh, Karla, Jak, Niko, Slier? None of them?” She shook her head, dazed.

“Miesh yes. Her inception into the collective was just this morning. She wanted to get right to work. The samples and imprint are still in the assimilation chamber.” Firdlump said after a moment. “The others, no.” The mass of nano machines was sad.

“How did this happen?” Katherine asked, her sadness fading to anger. “We had to have backups?” Right?”

“We did. Both of the DNA samples and imprints. All of that was in Medical.” Firdlump snarled but not at either female. “That was a mistake. One we will not repeat.” Katherine and Olandas both slumped and the massed mind that they were part of sent support and sympathy.

“What do we do?” Katherine asked, flexing her arm. It hurt, but nowhere near as bad as it had. Third degree burns were no joke at all, but nanites were marvelous healers. Even her fur was growing back, almost as she watched.

“Until Menglan recovers, you are in charge Katherine.” Firdlump patted her shoulder at her stricken look. “She won’t be long. But we need to find a way to take care of Ecmin’s children.”

“Right.” Katherine shook herself. “Ecmin will be unconscious for a while. She lost three legs and part of her abdomen to…the blast…” She stiffened in shock as she realized something about Ecmin’s injuries. “Master…”

“I know.” Firdlump said sadly. “She lost her reproductive organs. Maybe we can clone them. The facilities are still intact. If we CAN, can you implant them?”

“Yes.” Katherine said with conviction. “I need to check a few things, but I can do it.” She paused as Olandas shook her head and laid a hand on the Cathar’s shoulder.

“You have been on your feet since the blast, Katherine.” The tech said with a scowl. “You need sleep.”

“I need to get my…” She paused as something hissed. She stared at Olandas. “You rat.”

“Turnabout is fair play, healer.” Olandas said with a smile as she retracted the hand that held the hypospray. “How many times have you force ME to sleep when I didn’t want to?” She smiled as she caught Katherine’s sagging form. She swung the Cathar up into her arms as Katherine’s eyes slid shut. “Sleep sister. We are handling it.”

“Get her to her bed, Olandas.” Firdlump was smiling slightly. “Can you stay with her? I don’t doubt that she will have nightmares. The collective will help, but a friendly hand helps too at times.”

“Need you ask?” Olandas said with a smile as she started for the door, holding the Cathar easily. “Breaking the encryptions is brute force now, all automated as you know. I can’t hurry any of it along by watching. At least here I can help.” As she left the room she swallowed heavily.

The scene of devastation was mind boggling. The area that had been white and pristine was now blackened, twisted wreckage. Teams of medics in Republic colors picked through the mess, hoping against hope to find more survivors, but Olandas knew. Everyone in the collective knew, but they had to hope, to pray to find someone, anyone. She bowed her head and continued towards the door.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

08.17.2012 , 10:28 AM | #2
“Good morning.” The gentle voice woke Jolia up completely. She had been well on the way to it but she was fuzzy, so fuzzy. Everything was. She tried to open her eyes and they wouldn’t. She started to struggle, trying to see, to hear, to… “Easy…” The voice was soothing and gentle. Something round and hard found her lips. “Straw.”

Jolia sucked on whatever it was and the water tasted heavenly. She found herself sucking greedily, as greedily as her daught- She coughed as some water went down the wrong pipe, but her fear was more than her discomfort.

“Kili?” She asked. The last thing she remembered was a Mon Calamari in nurses attire running in, grabbing her daughter from her crib, Kili starting to cry, but the nurse had rolled Jolia on her side, shoving Kili underneath her, and then a heavy weight had landed on her and then she had heard a loud noise and then…nothing. “Kili!”

“You daughter is alive, Ma’am.” A gentle touch had her freezing. “You are hurt worse than she is.”

“How bad?” Jolia asked softly, fear oozing from every pore. She wasn’t asking about herself and whoever this was knew it.

“She is scared more than hurt. We won’t let her hurt.” A gentle hand rubbed her forehead, soothing an itch she had barely registered in her panic. “Bruises and a burnt hand. You are far worse. Are you in pain?” Jolia shook her head, she didn’t feel much at all. Very good drugs.

“No. What happened?” Jolia asked, trying to make sense of what she remembered. “The nurse came in, she… She was terrified.”

“Miesh was, yes.” The voice agreed sadly. “There was an explosion and fire in Medical. It spread everywhere, so fast. It blew the oxygen tanks. It took only a few seconds for the fire protection systems to activate, but by then, the blasts had hit all of Medical. You are one of six survivors.”

“The bay was packed…” Jolia felt faint. “At least a dozen people.”

“I know. Seven staff, fifteen patients.” The voice held horror now. Then it steadied. “I am being discourteous. My name is Maria. We are very shorthanded at the moment, so I am to stay with you.”

“How bad am I?” Jolia asked softly. “I feel weird.” She paused. Her head felt oddly lopsided. “My… My lekku…”

“Jolia…” Something rubbed her hand gently. “We are regenerating your injuries. You will make a full recovery. But you need to rest and heal.”

“That is impossible.” Jolia protested. “Brain matter does not regenerate. I am… I am…” She slumped in the bed, her posture dejected. “I am a cripple.”

“No you are not.” The voice of the woman named Maria turned sharp. “You were and are hurt. You will recover. I swear it to you. Jolia, please, just relax, let us take care of you.”

“Who are you people?” Jolia asked, relaxing despite her concern and fear. “Where am I?”

“Well, you are currently in a highly secure military facility run by Republic Intelligence.” Maria’s voice turned a bit cautious as Jolia stiffened. “As to who we are… We are not your enemies.”

“You are Special Branch.” Jolia said as she tried to move, but found her arms and legs unresponsive. “Let me go!” She cried.

“No.” Maria said quietly. “Let me show you who we really are, Jolia.” Something touched her on the back of the head, something gentle that still had her flinching away. “We need you Jolia. Your daughter needs you. We had something terrible happen yesterday. We need everyone on the same page. Here…”

Jolia was trying to move her head, but something firm –a hand?- held it down. Other hands were rubbing her now, cool, gentle, calming. She was trying to fight as they went places they shouldn’t, where no one but her husband had touched her.

“No…” She begged and then something was in her mouth. Then something went somewhere else and she tried to squirm away, but whatever it was, it was relentless. She was begging and pleading. The voice from before spoke softly as a hand stroke her forehead.

“We would do this slowly and gently but that idiot Dun ruined any chance we might have to ease you into it.” Maria’s scorn for the man was palpable. “He had no right to snatch you. He had no right to force you into this.” Jolia was trying to buck off the hands that held her as something seeped into her ear. It was cold. It felt… She gasped and then relaxed against her will as whatever was seeped deeper into her skull.

Easy, Ma’am The voice was in her head and it wasn’t her's! You have been frightened and abused and we want to help. Please let us.

She shook her head, trying to deny the messages that were beaming into her skull, but then, something else touched her. Something that felt good, and familiar.

Jolia, it’s okay. It was her mate’s voice! But it wasn’t coming to her ears. It’s okay, just relax darling. They won’t hurt us. They really DO want to help you. Just relax, Jolia, that’s it…

She relaxed and then the things that were seeping into her flushed into her and her eyes filled with tears as she felt them. Felt them all. Felt their outrage at what had happened to her. She was crying as she felt their concern, indeed, their love for her and Kili. She was shuddering in grief and relief as the hands that had been holding her down released her.

“I am sorry Jolia.” Maria’s voice was abject. “We wanted your introduction to our family to be happy and easy. Instead you are scared, hurting…”

“No Maria…” Jolia said as the hands eased her back to her comfortable sitting position. “Thank you. Thank you so much. I just wish I wasn’t going to be a…” A hand across her lips silenced her and she jerked.

“We can heal you, Jolia.” A new voice spoke. It was male, and very much in control. “And we will. But it will take time. Until then, obey the healers.” An undercurrent of sorrow was easily audible in his voice. Somehow, Jolia knew who this was.

“I will, Master.” Jolia asked, her voice concerned. “Maria said Kili is…” She broke off as something odd came through the odd link that was still sharing pleasure with her. It was… “Miik…?” She asked, uncertain.

Kili is asleep. Her mate sent. They treated her burn. She is in no pain. It’s all right. Sleep Jolia.

Someone lay down beside her, someone she identified through the collective as Monyka. For a moment, she was unsure, but then a wave of reassurance came to her. Monyka was only there to help her sleep. Jolia felt all her walls come down, all her pain, grief and rage welling up as the collective that had taken her in eased her into it’s massed mind gently. It felt… marvelous. For the first time in her life, she knew she was loved by someone other than her mate and child.

“It’s all right, Jolia.” Monyka’s voice was gentle and arms that were just as gentle held her as she sobbed. “It’s all right. Sleep.” So she did.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

08.17.2012 , 10:31 AM | #3
Jolia was aware of Monyka’s presence when she woke. The Zeltron –how did she know that?- Oh… The collective bid her a gentle ‘good morning’. She replied the same way, eased unconsciously by it’s concern. Monyka’s arms were gentle as they eased her into a more comfortable position. She tried her eyes, but they were still covered.

“Were you here all night?” Jolia asked, unsure.

“Yes, sister.” The arms withdrew. “I was.” A wave of compassion came to her from her neighbor.

“I… I prefer males…” Jolia said then froze, wishing she could pull the words back and eat them. “I am sorry.” But the female beside her laughed softly.

“Jolia, it’s okay.” Those same arms gave her a gentle hug. “So do I. We are very shorthanded at the moment. Everyone was running around, trying to help. I am glad I was here. You needed a shoulder to cry on. My god, Jolia…” The Zeltron’s voice held awe. “How did you hold it in for so long?” Was the other female crying?

“I just-” Jolia winced, then relaxed as her pain vanished. “What the…?”

“We care for our kindred.” Monyka’s voice was soft and gentle now. “You are in pain, we want to help.”

“I didn’t choose this.” Jolia said, trying to work through her feelings. "I didn’t want this. I wanted… I don’t know what I wanted, but this wasn’t it.”

“I know.” Monyka’s voice turned hard for a moment and Jolia could FEEL her outrage. “He had no right to do what he did. We are not slavers. Well…” She sighed. “Not anymore. We used to use those tactics, but they hurt people so badly. We had to heal everyone before adding them to the collective. Everyone knew that we had to find a better way. We did. He used the old ways. If he had survived long enough to get back, I guarantee he would not have enjoyed it.” Monyka’s hands were soothing Jolia’s taut muscles again.

“I- Oh…” Jolias sighed in pleasure as Monyka’s hands soothed her soreness away. “I… I need to ask…”

“Kili is fine.” Monyka said gently. “Look through our eyes.” Jolia paused for a moment, unsure. “Like this.” A wave of something passed through Jolia and she could see… She gasped as the collective buoyed her up and in. She was sobbing as the worried minds all around her greeted her and let her see through their eyes.

She saw her mate sitting in a chair beside a hospital bed. Miik was asleep. He looked utterly exhausted. Kili lay in that bed, asleep. Jolia’s tenseness eased as she saw her daughter sleeping peacefully. Even all of the medical gear attached to the waif did not bother her. Until she saw the bandage. It covered Kili’s left arm from the hand almost to the shoulder. How bad was her daughter hurt?

“Oh my god!” Jolia tried to sit up and couldn’t. “Kili!” She cried, trying to get to her daughter. Monyka’s arms tightened around her and Jolia started to fight. “Let me go! My daughter needs me!”

“She needs you alive, Jolia.” Monyka’s voice was gentle, but adamant as well. “You are very badly hurt. We wanted to ease your transition into the collective, but we had no choice. With so many medical staff dead, we had no choice but to bring you in the way we did. Was Monyka crying again? “Katherine is the only medic we have at the moment and she was dead on her feet. You don’t hurt, we won’t let you hurt. Just like we won’t let her hurt. Please, Jolia.”

“Show me.” Jolia said softly. She could feel Monyka’s worry. “Please, Monyka. Show me.”

“Meish was smaller than you.” Monyka said softly. “She did what she could…”

“Stop stalling, Monyka.” Jolia said, steeling herself. “Please show me.” Then she gasped.

The image she saw was of a red skinned form, lying in the bed, absolutely covered by bandages. She reached up a slow hand and she saw the hand move in Monyka’s image. What little skin she could see around the bandages was blackened. Through sheer force of will, she managed to get her voice to work. She was amazed that it came out calm.

“Seventy percent?” She asked clinically. “I should be dead.”

“Closer to eighty.” Monyka said and the image vanished momentarily as the Zeltron female blinked. “We think Meish shifted off of you when… when…” Her voice broke.

“When she died.” Jolia’s voice was flat. “Who did this? Why did they do this?”

“A young girl, who was hurt by Special Branch before they –we- changed plans, she was rigged with a bomb.” Monyka said softly. “We were trying so hard not to hurt her, not to mess her up any more. She exploded before we could explain to her that things had changed.”

“Have they?” Jolia asked softly. She could feel the shock of the collective as it digested her words. “I am a slave now. All my life, I cursed my red skin. But now…” She slumped. “I just… I…”

“You are not a slave. I have been a slave, you are not one.” Monyka’s voice was fierce now. “You are a sister. Is it perfect? No. But we will take care of you. When you are healed, what do you want to do?”

“I…” Jolia tried to hold onto her anger, but the collective took her in again, soothing her pain and fear. “I don’t know.”

“For now, Jolia.” Monyka’s voice was soft and gentle again. “You need to heal. We need more medical staff. Until we get them…” She broke off as Jolia made a noise. “What, Jolia?”

“Was Karen in the medical bay?” Jolia asked softly. “She was with me. One of the ones Dun snatched. A doctor.”

“Dun snatched a doctor?” Monyka said incredulously. “If he were still alive I would kill him myself! No…” She mused as the collective all recoiled in shock, but then a feeling of gratitude swept across Jolia. “No she wasn't. We will wake her, ask her if she will help. Thank you sister.”

“Be…” Jolia felt herself falling as consciousness left her. “Gentle…”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

08.17.2012 , 10:36 AM | #4
“Get your filthy hands off me, you evil bastards!” The irate female voice preceded the female human into the office. “I can walk!” The female human had long brown hair and the most piercing green eyes that Katherine had seen for a while. She wore a patient gown that was just a little too big for her. The slippers she wore were likewise, just a little too big for her. She was struggling in the grip of two armored troopers who sat her down in the chair in front of Katherine. The Cathar sighed.

“Enough with the rough stuff, people.” Her tone was mild, but her eyes flashed. “Get out.”

“Doctor…” One of them started to speak, but she glared at him and he nodded slowly. “We will be outside.”

“Fine. Get out.” Katherine snarled. When they had left she sighed deeply. “Idiots.” The female human looked at her and the Cathar sighed again. “Doctor, I apologize for the treatment you have received. I am deeply embarrassed by my…” She broke off as the human snarled.

“Just do whatever it is you scum are going to do to me already.” The human said as she sat, obviously uncomfortable in the patient gown that was all she wore. “It’s not like I can stop you.”

“Doctor, we need your help.” Katherine said in a reasonable tone. “We need it badly.”

My help?” Karen Vorkilion asked sarcastically. “To do what? To brainwash people? To put children in war droids? To do whatever other awfulness you Special Branch scum can figure out next?”

“To save fifty young lives.” Katherine said in the silence that came when the other doctor’s rant had wound down. “That is why you became a doctor, correct? To save lives?”

“Coming from a Special Branch goon, that is rich.” Karen said with a sarcastic snort. “But then again, what good are dead slaves?”

“Doctor, I am not here to argue with you.” Katherine said with a sigh. “We have a multi-casualty event here, most of them fatalities, and concentrated on our medical staff. We have several critical patients, including a Twi’lek female who is less than a year old, so I could use less antagonism, please?” She begged.

“Well, considering how nicely you people asked for my help…” Karen snarled right back. “Oh, yeah, you didn't. You kidnapped me. How the frell am I supposed to react?”

“The same way I did at first.” Katherine said sadly. “Fear, anger, hostility when people try to be polite. At least we have been trying to make your stay at least somewhat comfortable.”

“My…stay…?” Karen asked incredulously. “Oh yes. My time off work? Drugged, crammed into a coldsleep capsule and carted off to the Force knows where to be a lab rat. What a marvelous idea for a vacation!”

“You are not a lab rat doctor.” Katherine said with a sigh. This was not going well. “Look, I know you are scared, if you will let me explain…”

“What is to explain?” The female human asked sourly. “You wanted me, you got me. Now you are going to use me, abuse me, or brainwash me into serving like you. Fine. Do it.”

“No.” Katherine said with a frown as she sat back and turned away from the doctor.

“Ah, the old ‘I am on your side’ spiel?” Karen snarled. “Old one, lady.”

“We don’t brainwash.” Katherine said with a frown. “We accept people into our midst, showing them a better way. It doesn’t hurt, nor does it hinder you in any way.”

“Riiight.” Karen said with exaggerated brightness. “So its all peace, love and understanding. Suuure it is.”

“You are not far wrong, Karen.” Katherine said with a sigh. “But I do not expect you to believe me. We do need your help. Your medical expertise, not your unwilling servitude. Please, help us.”

“Why?” Karen asked nastily. “You are just going to brainwash me. So do it.”

“We already have done everything we are planning to do to you, Karen.” Katherine said with a sad expression. “Please don’t make us do anything more. We need your help. We really, really do. Jolia and Kili need your help.” The female human’s eyes narrowed. “They were hurt in the explosion that claimed so many of our staff. Kili had a second degree burn, we have treated it. Now she just needs rest to heal. Jolia…” Katherine swallowed heavily. “One of our staff covered Jolia and Kili with her own body. But the nurse couldn’t cover all of Jolia, and when Meish died, she slipped off. The fire burned Jolia badly. She lost a lekku.” Karen winced and Katherine slumped. “We have advantages, many. But we are stretched so thin at the moment. She needs help doctor. Help you can give.”

“What can ‘I’ do?” Karen asked nastily. “I am a prisoner here.”

“You don’t have to be one.” Katherine said gently. “We need your help, doctor. Please help us.”

“I have seen what you Special Branch scum do.” The human woman said with a scowl. “Not a chance.” Katherine slumped and nodded.

“Fair enough.” The Cathar did not move as the chair the human was sitting in suddenly expanded to enclose her. ‘This won’t hurt. I promise you that.”

Hey!” Karen cried as the chair lowered so she was lying on her back. “I see you scum don’t… Let go!” She screamed as more restraints enclosed her in a metal cocoon.

“It won’t hurt.” Katherine said as she rose and walked to where Karen was struggling uselessly against the bonds that held her. She cupped the human’s head in gentle hands. “It’s okay, Karen, just relax. There won’t even be a sting. We need you.”

“Well, I need to tell you… To flarg off!” Karen snapped at the Cathar’s fingers but couldn’t quite reach them. “Go ahead you munking bastards! Hurt me, burn me! Brainwash me! I just hope someone blows this place into…cinders…” She gasped as the machinery in her chair started stimulating her body. And not unpleasantly either. “You…witch…” Karen gasped.

“We need your cooperation doctor.” Katherine said sadly as she held just the right places on the woman’s head. “Welcome home, sister.”

“No…’ Karen cored. But no matter how she struggled, how she fought, she could not get away from the waves of pleasure that were coursing through her body. “Won’t… be… your… slave…” She gasped and gave a cry as the machinery ramped up.

“No, you won’t be.” Katherine’s smile was sad as she felt the doctor’s mind start to waver. They had finally managed to get the nanite infusions right, so that it didn’t hurt people when they were injected. The doctor gasped and tried to squirm away, but the bonds held her tight. Karen gave a shriek and then she collapsed into the bonds that held her. “Karen?” Katherine asked anxiously, it was not an exact science, this indoctrination process.

“I was wrong…” Karen’s voice was muffled by grief. “I was so wrong. Let me help. Please?” Katherine stepped back and watched as the chair returned Karen to a sitting position, then released her. The human woman’s eyes were alight with wonder as the collective greeted her.

“It's okay... It's okay, Karen... Welcome sister.” Katherine pulled Karen from her chair and hugged her tight.

“I am sorry I was such a fool, sister.” Karen replied, her tone sad. Katherine sent compassion and understanding to the other healer. “I was scared.”

“So was I at first.” Katherine said quietly, as the human clung to her, needing physical contact for solace. “It is overwhelming. But we really need your help.” She said earnestly.

“Anything I can do, sister.” Karen said as she finally stepped back. “Anything.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

08.17.2012 , 10:41 AM | #5
“I don’t think it will work, Katherine.” Karen said after scrutinizing the work they had done. “I don’t know enough about Ecmin’s physiology. The collective has shown me a lot, but I don’t think an artificial incubator will work. There are just too many things missing.”

“I know.” Katherine sighed. “But we don’t have a choice. We have to save Ecmin’s eggs.”

The two female doctors had forged ahead, despite the rough start in getting Karen into the collective. Now they were working as well oiled team. Karen took to using the nanites to heal as if she had been doing it all her life. All of the minor injuries had been tended. The problem had never been lack of nanites. The problem had been lack of control for said nanites. Each being in the collective had nanites running through their bodies, even Kili had some. Poor waif hadn’t even flinched from the pain that Katherine had known she had inflicted on the child. But the nanites had started working almost as soon as they had been injected. But the problem had been that Katherine was straining herself. As the sole remaining conscious medical provider, she had been providing medical guidance for nanites in Kili, Jolia, herself, Menglan and others who had also been injured, both in the explosion and during the rescue and recovery operations. She simply couldn’t keep up. She tried, but she was missing things. So she was very glad to have Karen. Jolia was out of danger now and sleeping comfortably with a brand new lekku. Now they were both trying to find a way to save Ecmin’s children.

“I know.” Karen sighed. “The plan is grand and noble one. But artificial incubators won’t work. We don’t have enough tanks to put an egg in each and if we try to double up, bad things will happen.”

“The eggs will absorb each other.” Katherine agreed as she stared at the readout, not really seeing them. “That happened to her first eggs, the ones we managed to save.” Karen winced at the pain that flowed through the collective. Katherine slumped, that had been her fault. Everyone said it wasn’t but she still blamed herself for driving Ecmin mad enough to abort most of her own eggs. “We had no idea. We should have but we didn’t.”

“I am still a bit fuzzy on Sitolon reproduction.” Karen admitted. “Not a lot of information is available.”

“Most of the information we have is out of date or just plain wrong.” Katherine admitted. “We have lots of information on how the Dark Cousins reproduced, due to Lohas being among us for so long. But True Sitolon? Not so much.”

“Well, it can’t be but so far off.” Karen said quietly as she scanned the readouts. “They are the same species aren’t they?”

“Well, its not something we want to duplicate.” Katherine said softly. “The Dark Cousins were trying to reproduce using females of other species. Especially after their main queen was killed, they used techniques that were horrific…” She broke off. “Wait a moment…” She brought up a series of scans and blinked at them. Karen leaned over to look.

“They were going to use Jina as an artificial -well sort of artificial anyway- incubator?” Karen asked dubiously. “Would that have even worked?”

“Yes.” Katherine said with a shudder. “They used a DNA rescriptor on her, it would have changed her slowly, over time, except Will Kalenath stopped them from getting the full dose into her. Rather permanently from what I understand.” She couldn’t keep the hate out of her voice and the collective hurried to boost her, help her stay calm.

“He loved her. Can you blame him?” Karen asked softly, not offering support that she knew Katherine would resent. “Really blame him?” The Cathar stared at her and slumped.

“No, not really.” Katherine admitted. “We have changed, but he has no way of knowing, or believing, that. If we had managed to hold him, perhaps we could have explained to him what was going on and why. But even if we had, I don’t think he would have accepted it. Not after what happened to Jina.”

“Katherine…” Karen’s voice was reluctant and Katherine turned to look at her colleague. “Jina may be the key to helping Eqmin’s children. If a DNA rescriptor was used on her, would there be any residue we could study?”

“Maybe…” Katherine shook her head. “But she won’t let anyone get close. Now that Ecmin is…” She swallowed hard. “If Ecmin doesn’t wake up, Jina won’t ever leave her side. You know she hasn’t eaten since she woke up and Ecmin did not.”

“I know.” Karen said quietly. “She doesn’t trust you or Menglan. Maybe I can talk to her.” She stiffened as a wave of fear came through the collective mind mass. “Maybe I can. I was not one of the ones who hurt her. I was not here. Maybe I can talk to her.”

“If she does think you are a threat…” Katherine could not keep the fear out of her voice. “You will be dead before you hit the floor.”

“I have dealt with mentally challenged children.” Karen said sadly. “If it may help Ecmin…” She paused. “Jina would help, wouldn’t she?”

“She doesn’t trust us.” Katherine protested. “And… I can’t say I blame her after what happened.”

“Let me talk to her.” Karen said quietly. “Alone.”

“Not going to happen.,” Katherine said solidly. “You go in there alone and she will likely kill you.”

“No, she won’t. From what I have seen in the collective memories... ” Karen said sadly. “She just wants to be left alone. I do understand that. I... I do...” A wave of pain erupted from the human doctor and Katherine stared at her before embracing her.

“What happened?” Katherine asked softly as she held Karen’s now shuddering form and the collective moved to assist in mitigating the pain that Karen felt. It was old, mostly healed, but no less raw and hurting. “Karen?”

“I was young.” Karen said softly. “Just sixteen standard years old. I was stupid. I was in love. I thought he was in love with me. I was wrong. When I wound up pregnant, he left. I never saw him again. My family supported me, but… The child… He was…” Karen was crying softly now. “He was beautiful, but…”

“Oh no…” Katherine held the female human tighter. “No…”

“Meliokold’s syndrome.” Karen said, scrubbing her face. “I had no idea. Nothing I could have done, nothing anyone could have done.” The collective recoiled in horror and then rushed back to aid their sister cope. That was a genetic disorder, one that was invariably fatal and caused massive impairment to cognitive function. “He lived for eight years before his heart finally gave out. That was when I decided to become a doctor, try and find a cure. But there isn’t one. It took a decade for me to realize that.”

“I am sorry.” Katherine said softly, tears falling down her facial fur. “You look younger than you are.”

“I know how to deal with children who have disabilities.” Karen said quietly. “I made that my specialty when I started practicing. I can get through to Jina. I know I can.”

“If she lashes out, she can turn you into paste on the wall.” Katherine was torn. The chance to get through to Jina, and the risk to someone who was becoming a friend. “Even unknowing, she can hurt you.”

“I know.” Karen said with a sigh. “But this is why I went into medicine. To help people. I can help her.”

“Are you sure doctor?” Both women froze at a new voice as the master of the collective entered the small office. Firdlump looked worried. Karen nodded.

“I can get through to her, Master.” Karen said with confidence. “But I have to do it alone. If anyone else goes in with me, she will retreat or lash out. And I think…” She smiled a bit sadly. “I think I know how to get her attention.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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08.17.2012 , 10:44 AM | #6
“Jina?” Karen asked, her voice pitched to reach the ears of the human female who lay with her arms over the still form of the Sitolon queen. “My name is Karen, I would like to talk to you.”

The form of the hurt Jedi, who was still wearing the burnt and blasted jumpsuit she had been wearing, when the explosion had hurt her step mom, gave her no attention at all. Karen sighed inaudibly. She hadn’t expected anything else, but this was not going to be fun.

“Jina, my name is Karen. Karen Vorkilion.” The doctor squatted on her heels where she stood, not moving. “I need to talk to you.” The woman paid no mind. “Jina, I may know a way for you to help your step mom.” Jina paid no attention and Karen sighed internally. This was not going to be anywhere close to easy. She rose slowly and took a step. Then she squatted again.

The whole idea was not to appear threatening. By all accounts, Jina was quite powerful, even without the cognitive abilities to use her power wisely or well. Jina could also sense disturbances in the Force, so Karen had asked the collective not to follow her too closely. Maybe if she could… She started humming under her breath. Her heart leapt as Jina’s eyes came up and looked at her. The woman froze and Karen couldn’t blame her. The entire collective had thought she had flipped when she had asked for the costume she was wearing. But the whole idea was to get as far from scrubs or other common doctor’s apparel as she could. So the Tauntaun costume she was wearing was very overstuffed, like a child’s stuffed toy. Karen started singing.

“Twinkle, twinkle little star…” Karen felt her eyes start to burn and kept her face serene by sheer force of will. Her son had loved that song. “How I wonder what you are…” Her heart leapt as the woman in front of her started singing along.

“Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky. Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are!” Jina was staring at her, obviously unsure as Karen finished the song and slowly sat down, consciously putting her head lower than Jina’s.

“Hello Jina.” Karen said quietly, trying to keep her voice calm. “My name is Karen.”

“Bad person!” Jina declared and put her head back down on Ecmin’s sole unwounded flank.

“Jina, I know you are scared.” Karen said calmly although her heart went out to the woman in front of her. “Ecmin needs help and I think you can help us to help her.”

“Bad person!” Jina repeated, her voice muffled by Ecmin’s chitin.

“I am trying not to be one, Jina.” Karen said sadly. “I have failed many times. So many times. Would you mind if I talked to you? I won’t move. I will just sit here.” Jina did not respond and Karen nodded slowly. “Jina, Ecmin will heal, given time. She is not dead, not gone. You know she is alive.” Jina stiffened but did not respond. “Of course you do.” Karen said softly. “The doctors here hurt you. They did not intend it, they were trying not to, but it happened.”

“Bad people!” Jina cried, squeezing the unresisting chitin underneath her.

“You are right, Jina.” Karen said slowly. Jina stared up at her and Karen sighed. “I am one of them now. I didn’t have a choice. They didn’t give me a choice. From what I understand, the man who started me on this road was disobeying orders when he did it, but… I am stuck.” Jina tilted her head quizzically and Karen shrugged. “I am part of the collective now. But, like before I am a doctor. A healer.” She paused as Jina stiffened and slowly, so slowly, Karen forced herself to relax. “Jina, Ecmin needs help. Not for herself, but for her children.”

“Go away!” Jina snarled as she returned her head to her step mother’s side.

“Jina, please, just listen.” Karen was begging now. “I won’t move. I won’t scare you. Just listen. I know you remember. You can’t make sense of all of it, but you do remember. Without their mother, Ecmin’s children are going to die.” Jina jerked in place and her head came up to stare at Karen. For her part, Karen stared at Jina. “No one told you, did they?” For her part, Jina stared at the costumed doctor.

“Step mom…” Jina was obviously fighting to get the words out. “…kids?” She started rocking, and tears were falling. “No love…” The words didn’t make sense, but suddenly they did. Karen stiffened and then rose slowly.

“Jina, listen to me.” She took a slow, hesitant step. “Just because Ecmin has other children does not mean she does not love you. Jina… Easy… It’s okay. It’s okay.” The tone was what was important. Maybe half or three quarters of her words were actually making it through to the hurt former Jedi, but her connection to the Force was allowing her to make sense of the conversation. Now allowing her to make sense? That the Force was little help with.

“Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong…” Jina was rocking against Ecmin’s unmoving bulk. “Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad…”

“Jina…” Karen said softly as she took another slow, careful step and sat down again. “It’s okay. It’s okay, Jina.” Karen repeated, her tone soothing, caring and compassionate. “She does love you, never doubt that. You can’t get the words to come out right, you can’t understand much of what is said, but never doubt that Ecmin loves you.” Karen flinched as Jina’s eyes came up again and something new was there, something odd, but calm.

“You…” Jina’s eyes held wonder now. “Hurt…?”

“Yes, Jina.” Karen said quietly. “I hurt.” Trying to explain to the brain damaged woman why she hurt would likely be a waste of time. “But right now, I want to help Ecmin and her children. And you.” She held out her arms, invitingly.

“Bad person…” But Jina’s voice was unsure.

“Maybe I am Jina.” Karen said, slumping. “I don’t know. But I want to help. Will you let me help? I don’t know if it will hurt. But I promise I will try and keep it from hurting.”

“Hurt…” Jina looked scared. “No hurt…”

“I don’t want to hurt anyone, Jina.” Karen said sadly. “I never did. If something is going to hurt, I will tell you. Your step mom needs rest to recover. So do you.” She looked at Jina and froze. “Jina! How badly are you hurt?” Jina stiffened as Karen rose halfway to standing. “Jina please!” Jina was shaking as Karen rose to her feet and stepped closer. “Jina… How badly are you hurt?” She could see blood, human blood on the woman and it was fresh.

“No…” Jina was almost begging as Karen stepped closer.

“Come here, girl.” Karen stopped just out of reach, holding her arms open. Jina stared at her for a moment, then at the still form of Ecmin, then back at Karen. Karen knelt down and held her arms out. “Come here…” She said softly. “Let me take care of you. It is what I do.”

“I…” Jina slumped in place, and then, like a canine that had been beaten for most of its life, sidled towards Karen. “No hurt?” Jina was scared almost beyond belief, her entire body was trembling.

“No hurt, Jina.” Karen promised and the other woman almost literally fell into her arms. Karen’s arms closed over the Jedi and her eyes were full as Jina sobbed into her fur covered shoulder. “No hurt.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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08.17.2012 , 10:47 AM | #7
“My god…” The soft voice had Karen flinching and spinning in place just as she finished setting the bandages on Jina’s injuries. Luckily they hadn’t been too bad. The gray haired woman who had entered looked ashen faced. “Jina…?” She asked, very concerned.

“Mama Maria.” Jina said from the bed that Karen had managed to get her into so the doctor could treat her. The woman patted Karen’s hand. “She okay.”

“If you are sure, Jina.” Karen said, not moving from her protective posture. Jina smiled at her and sat up. “Take it easy, please, Jina. Some of those cuts were deep.” Jina smiled widely and hugged Karen again. The doc had changed out of her costume, but had put on casual clothes instead of medical garb, figuring it would stress Jina less.

“Need potty.” Jina said softly, her face working.

“Go ahead, Jina.” Karen said, still bemused at the small childlike voice coming from the older woman who sat in front of her. “If you need me, I will be right here.” Jina smiled at her and slid form the bed before darting to the door marked ‘refresher’. Karen waited for the door to shut before she rounded on the old woman. “What the heck are you doing?” She demanded softly.

“I was worried about Jina.” The gray haired woman said softly. “I can’t believe no one realized she had been hurt. How bad was it?”

“Mostly minor cuts, some deep bruising, one of which may have chipped a bone.” Karen said, her gaze split between the old woman and the washroom door. “Three deep cuts that I treated and bandaged. The puncture on her arm was the worst. I think it was caused by one of Ecmin’s spines.”

“That will hurt Ecmin more than it did Jina.” The woman that Jina had called Maria said sadly. “My name as Jina said is Maria. We haven’t met yet doctor, except through the collective.”

“Why are you here?” Karen asked softly, trying to keep her voice down. “I asked to be left alone with her. Any other stimulus may break the trust I have built with her.”

“I am here because you do not have to do this alone.” Maria said gently. “This is going to be rough no matter what. She is a mess, but she does understand kindness. That was very well done, doctor. Even if you did have to dress up like a Tauntaun.”

“My son loved Tauntauns.” Karen clenched her jaw on the old pain. “They are not threatening.”

“No, just stinky.” Maria said with a grin. Then she paused as the door to the refresher opened again. “Ah, Jina, all squeaky clean?” She asked in a kindly voice.

“Mama Maria…” Jina’s voice was soft, worried. “Clean.” She paused at the door, her face and hands red from being under a sonic cleanser. She looked at Karen. “You…” She paused and blinked, her face working. “Ka-ren?” She asked, unsure.

“Yes, Jina.” The doctor said with a wide smile. “My name is Karen.”

“You hurt. You scared.” Jina said softly. Maria glanced at Karen and then at Jina, but did not speak. “Why you scared? Me?”

“I am scared for you, Jina.” Karen said quietly as she knelt and opened her arms. Jina looked at her for a moment and then swarmed into her arms. Karen gave her a hug before speaking again. “I want to help you, and I can’t.” She paused as Jina tapped her nose and stared at the former Jedi.

“It okay.” Jina said with an urchin-like grin. “It be okay.”

“Maybe.” Karen said with a smile as Jina embraced her again. “I want to help you, I want to help Ecmin and I want to save her eggs. Will you help me?”

“What me do?” Jina asked dubiously. “Me…” She slumped in place and her voice turned sad. “Me broke.” She stiffened as Karen hugged her and then relaxed into the embrace.

“No you are not!” Karen’s voice was fierce. “You are hurt. I want to help you. I don’t know if I can. But that will take a great deal of time. Time Ecmin’s eggs don’t have. I have a theory that I want to test, but I do not want to scare you. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Me tough.” Jina said quietly. “Help Step Mom.” Maria inhaled sharply but Karen did not take her eyes from Jina’s.

“Jina, I need to scan your stomach.” Karen said quietly. “I can use a small scanner. A little box. It will make noise, but it won’t hurt.” Jina paled a little at the word ‘scan’, but Karen’s gentle tone and embrace helped her stay calm.

“Help step mom?” JIna asked softly.

“I think so.” Karen said with a sigh. “I don’t know. But it will help her eggs regardless.” She stiffened as Jina let go of her and lay down on the floor.

“Help Step Mom.” Jina declared. Karen looked at her and Jina snarled. “Help Step Mom.”

“Jina.” Maria’s gentle voice eased the hurt woman. “Be calm. Ecmin is alive and will stay that way. Take my hand, girl.” She said as she sat beside Jina, holding out her hand. Jina took the offered hand and lay back, closing her eyes.

“What a brave girl.” Karen said with pride as she pulled the micro scanner form a pocket. She ran it over Jina’s abdomen slowly, watching the readouts with one eye and Jina with the other. Except for a twitch when the whirring started, Jina did not move. It was quick. “There…” Karen said as she put the scanner away. “All done.”

“No hurt.” Jina said in a tone of bemusement. “Done?” She asked, unsure.

“Done.” Karen said with a smile as she ruffled Jina’s hair. “Come on, let’s get you fed.” She was unprepared for Jina to jump up and into her arms. “Whoa, Jina… Easy…”

“You nice.” Jina was crying. “Me scared. Me … No understand…”

“I know, Jina.” Karen said as she held the now sobbing woman. “I know. I won’t hurt you. I won’t let anything else happen to you. I swear it.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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08.17.2012 , 10:50 AM | #8
“What do you mean she is going to die?” Karen knew her tone was not diplomatic but at the moment, she didn’t really care. She had finally managed to get Jina to sleep in a bed, the poor dear had wanted nothing more than to stay with Ecmin. Maria had pulled Karen into a small room nearby and sat her down. Not that Karen had been able to resist. Her fatigue had been growing by leaps and bounds. But then Maria had dropped her bombshell.

“Jina had a vision, one that led her to us actually.” Maria said quietly as she checked the monitor that was watching over where Jina was sleeping. “In it, she died. We should talk to Zana, but I can show you what Zana showed us.” Karen just looked at her and Maria sighed. “The collective wants Jina to get better. We want to help.”

“She senses the collective.” Karen said with a shudder. Even being part of the massed mind freaked her out a bit even with the help it gave. The was she had been introduce to it freaked her out worse. “it scares her, she does not understand it.”

“Oh she understands it.” Maria disagreed quietly. “You have to understand, she is –was- one of the Seven. She understands what has been done and why. That is part of why she is unhappy. She doesn’t remember why, but she did understand. The reason she calls everyone ‘bad people’ is because she fought Special Branch, a lot.” Karen looked at her impassive and Maria flushed a bit. “Yeah, I know. Neither of us had a choice. You were snatched and I was cloned. But… Can you help Ecmin’s eggs? Katherine is losing hope.”

“I think so.” Karen said softly. “It won’t be easy. But my studies of what Lohas did show me a possible way. Not a very nice way, but a possible way.”

“Lohas was one of the Sitolon Dark Cousins.” Maria protested as she poured two glasses of caf. “Ecmin is not like that.”

“Same species.” Karen said quietly as she took her cup gratefully and sipped it. “Different methods of achieving the same goal.” She sighed. “A lot of what I have done is guesswork, but it does seem logical. We are missing a link here. Something in between the queen laying the eggs and them becoming larvae. There has to be some middle step. Something…” She froze as she heard something. Maria and Karen were in step, caf lying forgotten as they ran into the other room as the crying intensified. Jina was thrashing on the bed. Karen started for it, only to pause as Maria grabbed her arm with both hands in a totally unbreakable hold.

“Let me go!” Karen hissed desperately. “She is in pain.”

“She is not awake yet.” Maria held Karen despite the woman’s struggles. “Let her wake up completely or she may lash out and hurt or kill you.” Karen stared form the implacable old woman to the trashing woman on the bed and her eyes filled. Maria’s face fell. “We don’t want to lose you Karen. Please, listen. She is still powerful.”

“Why didn’t someone put one of those Force dampening things on her?” Karen asked as she stood still. Obviously she was not going to be able to break Maria’s grip. “Jina…” She wept as the woman continued to thrash and now was crying out.

“Because it is cruel.”A new voice spoke up from nearby. Karen and Maria both turned to see a very young woman in brown armor standing in the shadows. “I want to help.”

“Zana…” Maria groaned. “If she sees you…”

“She doesn’t mind me.” Zaan said quietly. “Although most of the times we have talked, Ecmin was there. I felt her fear and pain. I want to help.” Karen’s eyes narrowed. Zana was a Bladeborn who had been captured with Jina, one who had sworn her service to Jina. Very young, but very good.

“Zana, can you protect me if she lashes out?” Karen asked slowly, not taking her eyes off of Jina’s thrashing form. “I know nothing of the Force.”

“I don’t think she will.” Zana said softly, her eyes never leaving Jina as well. Her face was hard but sadness edged into her tone. “She only lashes out at people who have hurt her, or people she doesn’t know or remember. You are memorable.”

“Thank you.” Karen said with a weak grin. “I think. Maria…. Let me try. She can and will hurt herself if she keeps thrashing.” Maria stared at her and slumped a bit, but released Karen’s arm.

Karen stepped forward slowly, one step at a time. She couldn’t feel the Force, but something deep inside her brain was crying for her to run, to hide. But she kept on, walking towards the bed, aware of a silent brown armored form standing beside her.

“Jina?” Karen asked as he reached the bed side. “Jina, it’s okay.” She hesitated then, cursing her own cowardice, reached out and touched Jina’s hand where it lay still for the moment. “Jina?”

Jian’s eyes snapped open and her hand twisted to grab Karen’s wrist and twist it painfully. Karen for her part, did not react, although the pain was intense.

“Jina, you are hurting me.” Karen said slowly and clearly. “Please don’t hurt me.”

Jina’s eyes slowly focused on Karen and she stiffened. “Ka-ren…?” She let go of Karen’s hand and slumped, pulling her legs up to grasp them tight. “No…”

“Jina.” Karen said softly, gently as she sat down on the bed beside the cringing woman. ‘It’s okay. It hurt, but pain fades. You did no permanent damage. It is not your fault, Jina. Not your fault.” She reached out and stroked the Jedi’s hair gently. It was getting long and shaggy. “You need a haircut.” Jina stared at her past the bangs that had fallen into her face. “It’s okay Jina. Bad dream?”

“Angry woman.” Jina said softly. “Dark Woman.” She shuddered and Karen did not think about it. She gathered Jina into her arms and held the woman as she shivered. “She… She….” Jina was sobbing into Karen’s shoulder now as Karen looked at Zana who had stayed back. The Bladeborn looked sad and resigned and Karen felt her guts clench. But she let nothing show as she comforted the brain damaged woman in her arms. But she did make herself a promise.

I will find a way to help you, Jina. I swear it to you.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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08.17.2012 , 10:53 AM | #9
“It’s the same vision,. Isn’t it Jina?” Zana asked quietly. Jina looked at her and nodded. Zana’s iron clad control melted for a moment and the youthful Bladeborn’s face was aghast. “Nothing we have done changes it. Dang it!” Jina smiled and patted the Bladeborn’s hand in sympathy. Maria stood nearby, offering sympathy, but not intruding.

“Not…” She scrunched her face up, trying to speak. “Fault. Plan.”

“Plan, Jina?” Karen asked, holding Jina gently as Jina smuggled closer. “Whose plan?”

“Dunno.” Jina said with a sigh. “No make sense.”

“No it doesn’t.” Karen agreed, giving Jina a squeeze. “Jina, I have a question for you. One that will likely scare you. I don’t want to ask you this, but I think I have to.”

“Trust you.” Jina said softly, her face serene. “What?”

“Ecmin’s eggs need something. Something we cannot identify.” Karen said softly, gently patting Jina’s head. “The Sitolon must have an intermediary between queen and larva stage. They must, but we have not been able to identify it. I need to ask you about Tralus.” At that soft word, Jina froze in place. Karen hugged her but Jina didn’t move. “Jina I am sorry. I need to know.”

“No…” Jina shook her head, but her eyes were not on Karen. They were on something that only she could see. “No!” She screamed. She turned to look at Karen and shook her head. “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.” She begged. “No…” She buried her face in Karen’s shoulder and cried as the stunned doctor stared on.

“Jina, its okay.” Karen said gently. “I am not going anywhere. What happened? What is wrong? Zana?” The doctor asked as Jina tried to burrow into her.

“Another vision, Jina?” Zana asked gently as she patted Jina’s hand again. “A bad one?”

“Bad.” Jina agreed. “Ka-ren… No… Don’t…” She broke off, looking confused. “You… I…” She shook her head. “No understand.” She sighed and slumped. “Don’t…” She begged.

“Don’t what, Jina?” Karen asked carefully, holding the sobbing woman gently. “What did you see, can you say?”

“Not… clear…” Jina said slowly, enunciating each word. “You… Screaming…” She sobbed. “No… No…”

“Easy, Jina.” Karen had dealt with so many hurt and disturbed children that it was second nature for her to comfort the woman. “If it was a vision, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen, right?” Zana looked at her oddly and Karen persisted. “I know little about the Force, but I did read something about telling the future once and it mentioned Force visions.” She shook her head. “It was a long time ago, but I think I remember. The future changes, right?” She tweaked Jina’s nose and the crying woman stared at her. “Then we just need to keep going and hope for the best.” She was not prepared for Zana to hiss and Jina to embrace her hard enough to hurt. “Ow!” She cried as Jina hugged her tight.

“We…” Zana spoke slowly. “That is -Jina and I- tried to stop one of her visions from coming true. That led us here. To where it will.” Her tone was resigned. Karen could feel the collective’s distress but they did not press on her, simply were there. Jina stiffened as well. “I will not let her face it alone. I will not.” No scream could have been for final than the Bladeborn’s solemn promise. Jina hugged Karen tighter. For her part, Maria just watched sadly.

“Jina, watch the ribs.” Karen asked as she gasped in pain. Jina immediately released her, face scared. Karen sighed and gave the other woman a squeeze. “It’s okay, Jina. I know you are scared. But we have to help Ecmin’s kids. If I can help them, I want to. Will you help me, Jina?”

“Help you?” Jina asked softly. “How?” Jina’s face fell. “Me broke.”

“You are hurt.” Karen said quietly, giving the woman another gentle squeeze. “But I like to think you are my friend.” Jina stared at her and then gave a small cry. She embraced Karen tight again.

“Me like you.” Jina said quietly. “Me no want see you hurt. Please...” She begged.

“Jina.” Karen hugged her back. “Healers do what it takes to heal other people. It is what we do. We live to help others.” She shook her head. “Will you help me do what I must?”

“What?” Zana asked softly, her voice and face worried. “What are you going to do?”

“What I must, Zana.” Karen said softly. “To save Ecmin’s children, I will do whatever I must.”

“Karen…” Maria spoke up for the first time. “Be very careful. Whatever you are planning.”

“Ecmin had fifty eggs.” Karen said softly. “All of them are alive currently, but even with the master’s tech, he cannot keep them alive for much longer. I know a way to keep them alive, ”

“Karen…” Maria’s face turned scared. “No… You can’t.”

“Jina…” Karen gave Jina another squeeze. “Will you help me?”

“Ka-ren…” Jina’s face was ashen. “What you do?”

“Save lives.” Karen said gently. “Fifty young lives versus my life? No contest.” She smiled at Jina. “Will you help me?”

“Me help.” Jina agreed but then paused. “No needles!” She said with a grimace.

“No needles, Jina.” Karen said with a matching grimace. “But you might prefer them…” Jina stared at Karen and both Zana’s and Maria’s eyes went wide. Karen sighed. “Sitolon tech doesn’t use needles usually. But… Its kind of icky.”

“And how are you going to get Sitolon tech?” Maria asked dubiously. "Its not sold in stores."

“I am going to ask.” Karen said as if it were the most reasonable thing in the universe for her to say.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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08.17.2012 , 10:58 AM | #10
Are you out of your mind? The force of the mental shout actually rocked Karen back on her heels. The collective was not happy at all. No!

The negative slammed her back into her seat even before Maria and Zana both moved to hold her there. It had taken a great deal of time for Karen to soothe Jina back into sleep. But eventually kindness and gentleness had won out and the hurt woman had gone back to sleep. Then Maria and Zana had taken Karen by the arms and gently but firmly pulled her into another room where they had sat her down. Zana had gotten all three cups of tea. Maria and Zana had sipped theirs, Karen hadn’t touched her own. It probably contained a sedative as upset as both women were.

“I have given this a lot of thought.” Karen said softly. “Please…” She didn’t try to move as both other females stood by her chair. The collective was not happy. “This is the only way to save Ecmin’s children.”

“We don’t know that.” Maria said with a glower. “You finally got Jina to sleep. Now we are going to get you to.”

“Maria…” Karen as almost begging as the door opened and Katherine came in a hypo in hand and a rock hard expression on her face. “Katherine, I can do this. Please. I want to help Ecmin’s children.” She knew better than to move. Maria may have been old, but she was strong and Zana was as well.

“Karen.” Katherine stopped well out of reach. “You are acting irrational.”

No I am not!” Karen said with heat. “Katherine, Zana, Maria… Listen to me, please…Just hear me out. If you decide that I am acting irrational after I explain, then you can drug me. Please…?” She begged.

Zana and Maria looked at each other and then at Katherine who looked unsure. Everything stopped as the door hissed open again and the master of the collective strode in. HIS face was remote.

“Explain.” His said softly, but with firm command. “Maria, Zana, Katherine, step back.” He walked to stand at Karen’s side and she could not control a flinch as he laid a hand on her shoulder. “Karen, we are worried about you.” He said with a frown. Karen relaxed slightly.

“I know.” Karen said quietly. “I know it sounds crazy. I know it probably is crazy. But the only way to save Ecmin’s eggs is probably a Sitolon incubator.” Firdlump looked at her and she flushed. “Everything I have found said that Lohas managed without one, but she was…” She paused, looking for a diplomatic way to say it.

“Lohas was insane.” Firdlump said with a sigh as he retracted his hand. “You do know what the Dark Cousins were going to do to Jina, right?” He asked with a sigh as he squatted down on his heels beside her chair. His gaze held her and she couldn’t have moved if she had wanted to. “We will not do that to you. We cannot.”

“I am the best candidate.” Karen said softly. “Every factor that I know of is met with me.”

How do you know of…?” Firdlump started and then paused. He sighed in exasperation. “You learned quickly about accessing the collective’s memory didn’t you?” He asked whimsically, but then his expression hardened. “Karen, what we did to Ecmin was needed, but…” He sighed deeply. “We won’t do that to anyone again. Ever. Not the least because the Sitolon will kill or try to kill whoever we do it to. We will not change anyone else into a Sitolon.”

“Master…” Karen was pleading now, but he laid a hand on her shoulder again and she subsided. “We have to do something.”

“We will.” Firdlump said gently. “And you are going to be instrumental in what we are going to do. You idea is good, but it would open you -and the collective- up to attack from the Sitolon hivemind. I cannot allow that. What are you willing to do to aid the collective, doctor?” Katherine stiffened. Firdlump looked at her. The Cathar looked as if she wanted to speak, but then bowed and swiftly left the room.

“I…” Karen slumped in place. “My entry into the collective was rough. Others had it bad as well. But…” Her face lit up. “It is so marvelous, so clean and pure. Now that I am here, I want to help. I really, really do.” Firdlump looked at her and then nodded slowly.

“Very well, doctor.” Firdlump said gently. “Sleep. When you wake, you will be helping Ecmin’s children.” Karen’s face went slack and she would have fallen over except he scooped her up in gentle arms and held her close as her eyelids closed.

“Master?” Maria asked softly. “Can I help?”

“I am afraid not, Maria. Only those female who are of child bearing age can.” Firdlump smiled at Zana who nodded. “Come with me, Zana. Maria, stay with Jina. She is going to be upset when she wakes I think.”

“Why would she be?” Maria asked softly. “This will help Ecmin’s children, won’t it?”

“Yes.” Firdlump said as he carried Karen’s still form from the room, leading the others. “But there is really only one way to bear a child, even now. And it will involve a great deal of pain for the host mothers. Pain we will not be able to ease with drugs.” Maria stiffened in place. For her part, Zana just followed in silence.

“Master…” Maria started to speak. He looked at her and she sighed and nodded. “As you wish.”

“We are at war, Maria. You know about war.” Firdlump said with a sigh. “I don’t want to do this, but if we are to save Ecmin’s children we have no choice. Even Sitolon tech might not be enough. Ah, here we are.” He walked to an unmarked door and it opened in front of him. “Stay with Jina, Maria.” He commanded as her waved a hand for Zana to follow. Maria nodded and turned to go.

“Two more doctor.” Firdlump said as he entered the brightly lit bay.

“So I see.” Doctor Menglan smiled as she finished tweaking the controls of a medical berth. “Karen and Zana?” The female human form in the berth was covered up to her neck with a sheet, but her stomach was grossly distended.

“We shall see if Zana here is mature enough to bear.” Firdlump said as Zana froze beside him. “We know Karen is.”

“Master…I…” Zana said slowly, her face horrified. “I can’t feel the collective…”

“I know.” Firdlump said gently. “And you won’t remember any of this, even if it doesn’t work.” He laid Karen’s still form down on an empty berth. “Help me get Karen undressed and we can get started. How many eggs are left doctor?”

“Six.” Menglan said after checking a chart. “With these two we have enough hosts. We don’t actually have to start harvesting the collective.”

“Harvesting the…” Zana’s face was study. Then she stiffened as Firdlump touched her shoulder. She collapsed in a heap and Firdlump sighed as he picked her up.

“Watch what you say, doctor.” Firdlump snarled. “We have put too much effort into being nice to blow it now.”

“Yes, master.” Menglan said with a gulp. “My apologies.” She moved to where Karen lay and ran a scanner over her. “She will do nicely. I have just the egg for her. Katherine!”

“Here doctor.” The Cathar doctor came out of an alcove, carrying an odd looking device. She put it on the end of Karen’s bed. Then she waited while Menglan undressed the human. Katherine stepped back as tubes snaked from the device, seeking Karen. “My turn next?” She asked woodenly. All around the odd trio, moans and whimpers came from berths scattered about the bay. Fifty of them. In almost all of them, female forms writhed as their bellies distended.

“No, my dear Katherine.” Firdlump said gently. “We have another use for you.”
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