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(L,F&E 95) Suspension

kalenath's Avatar

08.18.2012 , 03:02 AM | #1
((This is the next fanfiction in my series Love, The Force and Everything. It follows Mind Games. And in this one, we shall finally get some answers. Some.))

She beat the wall that held her again. It did no good. No matter how hard she slammed her palms into them, it never did any damage to the walls or herself. Stood to reason. They didn’t want to hurt her. They wanted to confine her. To hold her. Maybe to interrogate her, maybe just to keep her incommunicado. Either way, it was bad. Very bad. She could feel her black hair falling free, she hadn’t cut it recently. Her eyes were burning as she fought to free herself.

I won’t let them hold me! I can’t let them hold me! There is too much at stake!

The thoughts came with more desperation now. At first, she had held firm against the cloying madness that seeped into her very being from all around her. She fought. It was all she knew how to do. It was what she was, a fighter. She slammed the walls again and did not cry in dismay as nothing happened. She was reasonably sure this was all in her mind, but not completely. It was possible that it was real, that she was drugged or restrained somehow, even if she could not see anything on herself. She could sense nothing beyond the room, but that was not impossible to block. She had reason to know. The garments she wore were too flimsy to hang herself with, even if there had been anything to hang herself from. No escape that way. She fingered the sleeve of the white jumpsuit again. She wasn’t sure what kind of cloth it was, just that it was flimsy. It was comfortable, yes, but comfort always took a distinct back seat to survival. She hit the wall again, trying to find a weakness, a joint, anything.

“Oh child, don’t cry. It’s okay. You need to stop doing that.” The voice of her jailor came from nowhere as always. And as always she ignored it and slammed her hands harder into the barriers around her. The melodious female voice sounded upset now. “Come on, girl, you need to stop that. Just relax and everything will be better. Just relax, let the power drain from you…” The voice tried to soothe her, but she refused to submit. She was probably genetically incapable of that.

This time, she slammed both of her hands into the wall in front of her at the same time. Then she jumped up and cracked both of her feet into it, her kicks perfectly balanced and deadly. Again, nothing. She did it over and over, her gaze and her senses all pouring into the small area around her.

She had known the moment she had woken that she was in deep, deep osik. Her armor and weapons were gone and she was wearing the jumpsuit that was completely useless as a weapon or as anything more than flimsy covering. The small cell –that was what it had to be whether it was real or just in her mind- was three paces long and three paces wide. A small bunk and a small chemical toilet sat near one wall. An obvious door was on another wall. A small door, one with a viewport. She had tried it once and backed off hastily as she had sensed power flowing around the door. Either it was electrified or magnetically sealed, maybe both. The people who held her were taking no chances. The voice of her jailor sighed again.

“Look, I know you are scared.” The voice was concerned, but that was probably a trick. She had no way of knowing who had her. “I am sorry we had to knock you out like that, but we couldn’t take the chance of you fighting us. You are too powerful; you would have killed someone or forced us to kill you.”

Yeah right. The girl in white thought to herself sourly. Like any of you would worry about such things?

“We do.” The voice of her jailor said sadly and the girl froze. They were reading her thoughts! This was bad, even worse than she had thought. What had she given away? What had she done? She slowed her breathing as she had been taught from a very early age, focusing her mind into the sharpest of edges. The jailor made an irritated noise. “Look, we don’t want to hurt you. Stop trying to hurt yourself. We won’t… No!” The voice cried as the girl tried to focus on nothingness. A desperate move. Essentially, she could, with great focus and determination –which she had- will herself to die. One way to escape. Her mom had done it to escape capture but…

Power slammed into her, making her gasp. Air poured into her lungs as she tried to fight off the waves of energy that came from nowhere, shocking her and forcing her to breathe. She fought with everything she had, as always. But the power held her motionless and forced her lungs to work. She found herself lying on the floor where she had been standing and pounding, her breath coming in great gasps. When she could hear over the pounding in her ears, she could hear the voice of her jailor. She had managed to irritate the woman.

“That was dumb, girl.” The voice snarled at her. “We don’t want to hurt you. Your dad would flay us all, Nia.” Pain arced through Nia Korr’s entire being from those simple words. Her dad… How she missed him. How she had failed him… How… She snarled and stood up quickly, blanking her mind again. She strode to the wall again and started hitting it again. Now the voice changed timbre, consoling. “Nia, it’s okay. We know what is going to happen. We can’t let you change anything.” The black haired woman snarled again and hit with both hands and her head this time. “Nia! Stop that!”

She ignored the voice, slamming her hands and feet into whatever they could reach, interspersing the blows with elbow, knee and forehead strikes. Sooner or later she had to either break through or…

Wait a moment. How had she gotten onto the bunk? And who was this bending over her? She opened her eyes a slit and froze as a form she had never thought to see again sighed deeply.

“Hello Nia.” Her mother said as she sat on the bunk beside her daughter. “That was dumb, even for you. If you hit a wall with your head hard enough, even your skull can get cracked.” Her mother’s faint, ironic smile had something inside Nia thaw momentarily. But then Nia threw herself away from the still form and slammed back into the wall the bunk laid against. “Nia…” Jainine Korr’s voice was sad, but she did not pursue. “We cannot let you run around loose, girl. I am sorry.”

Nia forced herself past her pain and grief, forced herself to think of nothing again. Her cheek stung as her mother used her customary attention getter.

“Nia, stop that.” Jainine said sharply. “Do not try and suicide again. We have questions that need answers. Don’t make us hurt you, Nia. We know you are in this time twice. Darmuk has the younger you. He is… twisting the younger you.” The elder Korr’s voice was sad, but rock hard as well. “What have you done, Nia?” Nia did not respond, indeed, she did not move at all. “Oh Nia…” Jainine was crying now. “We don’t want to put you in hibernation, but you are not leaving us any choice. We know you interfered on Alderaan, what else have you done?”

Nia focused on what she could see without moving her head. The sleeve of her jumpsuit caught her eyes and suddenly she understood. The hem of her jumpsuit had no was perfectly straight. Nothing in nature, manufactured or otherwise, was perfectly straight when it was on a person’s arm who had been swinging with all her might. That said this was a mental projection. Not that having the ghost of her mother sitting there talking to her and solid enough to slap her was not a dead giveaway.

“Nia, talk to me.” Jainine said sadly. “Please.” Nia mumbled something and Jainine stiffened. “What?”

Get out of my mind!” Nia screamed as she threw herself off the bunk. Away from the seated figure and started hitting the wall again. “None of you know what you are doing! None of you!

“Nia… please…” Jainine said softly, tears streaming. “I should have slapped you. I know I hurt you when you were small. I never acted the mother. I was always an Elder first, a mother a distant second. Let me help.” Nia ignored her. “Nia, Please!”

The young woman ignored her mother, slamming hands, feet, knees and elbows into the wall she had chosen. Then… It cracked. She did not hesitate, she threw herself into the crack. Somehow, she shrank impossibly small, she did not dwell on it, she had to get free!

Nia no!” The terrified scream came from behind her, but she was gone.

She was on the plain, she saw with a quick glance and… She paled and fled as she saw the predators that swarmed at her. She felt weak. She tried to hide herself, but they had her scent. They were tireless, and she was nearly spent. She had to get off the plain! She had to get to the real world! She stopped running and focused herself.

“This is gonna hurt…” She said softly as the machine intelligences that prowled the plain in search of intruders closed in on her, all their mouths agape and all their tentacles poised to grasp and tear.

Nia!” A terrified female scream came from somewhere far away. Some of the predators turned away from Nia, but most kept closing.

“I really hope she knew what she was talking about…” Nia said forlornly as she focused what pitiful power she had left. A tentacle hit her and she screamed. Then, she was gone, instants before the monsters swept through where she had been, hissing in nearly silent anger at their prey’s escape. But one held back a bit, devouring…something…
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

08.18.2012 , 03:07 AM | #2
Pain. White hot pain flared through her entire body as Nia materialized. She held her left arm in a tight grip, despite the even worse pain that arced through her now as she collapsed. She was aware of nothing more than the pain. Until a soft, scared voice sounded nearby.

“Nia?” The incredulous voice brought a smile to Nia’s face. It had worked. She had come where she had hoped. “Nia? What happened?” Gentle hands took her shoulders and eased her into a more comfortable position. She looked up into a face that was so like hers, and yet, so different.

“S…Sara…” Nia managed to gasp out. “Trapped… Couldn’t get away… had to flee… Tried to hide… Couldn’t…Took me…”

“Who, Nia?” Sara Kalenath asked as she held her niece tight. “Who had you Nia? What happened?” She gasped as she saw the blood on Nia’s arm. “Hang on, let me see what I can do.”

“Danger…” Nia gasped as Sara’s gentle hands worked to ease her tight grip. “Coming…” The girl acted swiftly, to elevate the injured arm and apply pressure to the wound. Then she let go for an instant to scrutinize the damage.

“Nia, it’s okay.” Sara said quietly as she examined the deep cut on Nia’s arm. Nia stared at armor that had a huge gash torn out of it and shuddered. “Let me get my first aid kit…” Nia shrank as the door hissed open, but Sara was somehow between her and the door. Nia stared as a sword simply appeared in Sara’s hands. Then Nia slumped, it was over. She was caught. It was all for nothing.

“Sara… don’t…” The room was fading in Nia’s sight. She tried to keep herself upright but it was so hard. She was losing consciousness.

“She is under my protection.” Sara’s calm words brought Nia out of her daze momentarily.

“Thisss iz going to caussse problems, Zara.” A voice Nia did not know spoke. But she knew who this was. “The Ssstormhawk iz sssending a marine and medical team.” Nia did not raise her head and the voice sighed. “Zhe isss bleeding all over your floor, Zara.”

“Nia…” Sara’s voice was very gentle now. “I need to show her. Can you bare your uninjured arm?”

“Sara… don’t…” Nia begged but did not resist as unseen power slid her sleeve back and exposed something she had prayed not to show. “No…” She slumped, all of her control undone as she started to cry. “No…”

“Oh my god…” A gentle scaled hand brought Nia’s chin up and made her look into deep, soft reptilian eyes she had never seen. “Nia…” Mama Lizard, the caretaker and matriarch of Istara’s sect of Bladeborn pulled Nia close and hugged her gently. “It’sss okay, girl. It iz okay…” The Barabel said as she pulled Nia up into her arms. “We will make it okay.” She stroked the Bladeborn tattoo that Nia bore on her now exposed arm gently. “Come, let usss help you, zissster.”

“I can’t…” Nia was falling now, or floating. She was not sure which. “I… can’t… I…” She fell asleep trying to get her concerns voiced.


“She is coming around.” The voice that pulled her out of her comfortable sleep was one she knew. L'Trask was literally the second voice she had heard on this ship. She fought to keep from showing recognition. She had to stay silent. She had to. Too much was riding on this. She had been a fool to come here. Here of all places! She could hear the beeps and whirs of medical equipment all around her and knew where she was. She fought, but a tear fell from her eyes as she opened them to see the Medical bay of the Stormhawk. “There are too many people here.” A murmur started all around her.

“I am staying.” Sara’s quiet voice shushed everything for a moment. “Ona? How is she?” Nia flinched as she heard a soft, concerned voice answer Sara. Nia knew that voice. Knew it so well. Pain erupted deep inside her, pain she strove hard to keep under wraps. She hoped she managed it.

“I don’t know what caused the injury. It almost looks like she was bitten by something.” The healer’s gentle presence was nearby, but Nia could sense her wariness. “It is healed. She should have minimal impairment. I should stay.”

“Your kids need you to keep them out of trouble, Ona. You know what they are like with no supervision.” A sharp voice said, one Nia also knew. Chari, Twi’lek masterblade of the Bladeborn. A flat sense of negation came from Ona. “Very well, Ona. But at least keep your senses on your cubs. The last thing we need is another general alert caused by one of them.” The masterblade paused and then continued. “And… This is a Bladeborn matter. We shall handle it, Boss.”

“Is it?” The commander of the renegade battlecruiser Stormhawk said evenly. Nia felt her guts tie themselves in knots but she could not look. She would not look. “She simply appeared onboard, one moment she was not there, the next she was, and we have no idea how she did it. I think that is a matter of security.”

“Pleaze, Stormhawk Bosss…” The voice of Mama Lizard was sad now. “Pleaze leave it to usss. Zhe likely won’t talk while you are here and yesss, we do need anzwersss.” Nia smiled a little. Everyone had said that Mama was incredibly perceptive. "We will record, but... you should turn off the monitorsss az well..."

“I see.” The voice of Stormhawk Boss was sad now too. “We need to figure out how she…got…away…from…” he paused and then he hissed. “Oh dear…”

“You see the problem now, Boss.” Chari’s voice was calm, but held tension deep, deep down. “She is in two places at once.”

“I do.” Boss said slowly. “She told us about her dreams of being in other places, other times. They were not dreams, were they?” Boss corrected himself. “No… No, don’t tell me. The less I know, likely the better. I will be on the bridge.” An armored hand touched her shoulder gently and Boss’ voice was husky now. “No matter what is going on, it is good to see you again, Nia.” Then he was gone.

“That’s it, Nia.” Sara’s soft voice spoke from nearby. “No one here but Bladeborn.” Nia opened her eyes, tears streaming. “Monitors are... off. You know we won’t talk.”

“I am sorry, Sara. I am sorry…” She said as she tried to sit up, but her arms would not support her. “I… I didn’t have anywhere else to go.”

“I know.” Nia’s young aunt replied from her seat beside Nia’s berth. She reached up and patted Nia’s hand gently. “But now… The Nexu is out of the bag.”

“I don’t like lying to people.” Nia said slowly as she looked around. Aside from Sara, Ona stood nearby, her face a mask of worry. Chari stood by the door and Mama, predictably, was working at a small food prep unit.

“Now you don’t have to.” Sara said gently. “Now you can explain.”

“Yeah…” Nia said slowly as she looked at her arm. The bandages on it were thin and she could see signs of healing. “I messed up, Sara. I messed up bad. I am ready to face punishment, Masterblade.”

“For what, Nia?” Chari asked slowly.

“For being stupid, Masterblade Chari.” Nia replied sadly. “For being really, really stupid.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

08.18.2012 , 03:10 AM | #3
“What do you mean, Nia?” Chari asked as she sat, her red lekku wandering until they twirled around her neck. “You are not dumb, you never were.”

“I remember you.” Nia said slowly, her eyes narrowed. “I didn’t… um…” She paused and shook her head. “Dang it… I don’t know what I can say or how.”

“Let’s begin at the beginning.” Chari said slowly. “I am in charge of the order while Istara is away.” No one with a glimmer of the Force could have missed Nia’s reaction to the name of the grandmaster. A mix of shame, regret, fear and self-loathing echoed through the Force. “What Nia?” She asked when Nia slumped in the bed.

“I can’t say, Masterblade.” Nia said after a moment. “Anything I say may hurt things. I shouldn’t have come here, but I had nowhere else to go.”

“You have traveled in time again.” Mama Lizard sad as she brought Nia a cup that steamed. Nia took it gratefully, almost absentmindedly. “Your father spoke to usss of your ability and Trugoy…” Mama sighed and shrugged. “What he did to you, cutting you away from sssome of your powerz, wasss…” She paused as Nia shook her head. “What, Nia?”

“It was needed.” Nia said slowly, sipping the tea, wincing as she bent her bandaged arm. “He did what was right. I… My younger self that is, was not going to be able to control myself, herself… Whatever…” She snarled at her inability to get words out right and sipped again to calm herself. “I was always a headstrong brat.” Nia said sadly. “And this ‘gift’ is far too powerful, as I found to my cost.”

“What happened, Nia?” Chari asked again, and this time a edge of frost colored her words. Mama Lizard looked at her, but did not speak.

“I went too far.” Nia said slowly. “I didn’t know how, but I wound up somewhere I really shouldn’t have been able to go. I was a mess. I had no idea where I was, or even who I was. Luckily, I found someone who cared for me. She was kind to me…” Nia said, her face falling.

“Who?” Mama prompted her when Nia trailed off.

“I had no idea.” Nia sighed. “I have no idea how long I was…semi lucid.” She shrugged. “Or mad, I dunno. But she was patient and kind.”

“Who, Nia?” Mama prompted again when Chari glared at the young woman.

“She said her name was Edjulkintmnbasdruilernsbadfrenzaionse.” A number of eyes went wide at that and Nia slumped. “I know.”

“You were tended by a Sitolon?” Ona had taken three steps away from the berth and her hand was on her sword. Chari hadn’t moved, but her own hand was on her sword hilt. Mama had her clawed hands on the handles of her axes. “Firdlump’s Sitolon queen? Or another?”

“I didn’t know!” Nia said slowly. “I was so out of it, I forgot I had …” She broke off and snarled. “No! I will not do it again! I will not break time again!” She struggled, trying to rise, but her injured arm would not hold her and she collapsed for a moment, but then stiffened as a small hand touched her arm. That touch froze her in place. Sara shook her head.

“Nia…” Sara said slowly. “What happens in here, stays in here. You know that. You can explain.”

“I…” Nia stared at the girl who was her niece and then nodded, calming herself. “I didn’t know who she was. I didn’t remember who ‘I’ was. Everything was fuzzy. She was kind and gentle, helping me, cleaning me when I made messes, calming me when I threw tantrums, as I did…” Nia slumped, but jerked when Ona laughed.

“Some things never change, Nia. We remember you as a kid on Kuria.” Despite herself, Nia gave a small smile at the healer’s wicked tone. “What happened?”

“I don’t know how long I was in that semi-conscious stage.” Nia mused. “But eventually I woke up and what I found… “ She turned pale. “I need your word, all of you.”

“Nia…” Sara began, but shut up when Nia turned an impassioned stare her way. “What?”

“I need your word, Sara.” Nia’s eyes were pleading as she looked around at the other females. “Please.”

“You cannot ask us to swear by what you have said, Nia. You know this.” Chari’s voice held regret. “We need more than that.”

“Yes.” Nia shook herself and then nodded. She took a deep breath and met Chari’s gaze calmly. “The Seven are a lie.”

“Sssome lie.” Moma Lizard said with dark humor. “The Zitolon have recordsss going back tenz of thousandsss of years dealing with the prophecy.” Nia nodded but waited until Mama was done before speaking.

“I know.” Nia took another slow breath, held it and then let it out. “That queen I mentioned, she told me to call her Ionse, had a queen daughter who left her hive unexpectedly. To follow a warrior’s path beside a human force user named Cara.” Mama stiffened, Chari did as well. Nia nodded soberly. “Yes. The queen who pulled me back from madness was Calypiosal’s mother. I…” She wet her lips and spoke as the tension in the room skyrocketed. “I was trying to comfort her, after the ungrateful witch ran off. I told her what was happening. What had happened to me. She was… horrified is such a small word for her feelings.” Nia slumped back into the bed and Sara rubbed her arm soothingly. “We tried to find a way, we really, really did. But Sitolon do not kill each other. And… Oh no… Sara!” Nia cried as she felt something grab her. “They are taking me! Help me!”

“You can’t have her!” Sara screamed as she grabbed Nia’s hands and held on tight. “She is mine!
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

kalenath's Avatar

08.18.2012 , 03:25 AM | #4
Frak it!” Nia screamed when she could see again. “What the hell are you people doing?” She was lying on a bed again, but it was a very different place from the sterile coolness of a medical ward. She was restrained at wrists and ankles and her outfit -if you could call it that- was skimpy at best.

“Nia… Nia…” A soft, silky voice had her freezing in place. “You know better than to argue. You slept the day through girl. Time to get to work.”

“I won’t help you!” Nia said, but did not struggle as a female human came into view. Kareena Menglan wore a wide, self-satisfied smile as she undid the restraints. Instinctively, Nia tried to strike the woman, but suddenly pain flared and she screamed and fell back.

“Now, now, Nia my girl…” Menglan’s hands went places they should not and Nia gasped as she writhed in mixed pain and pleasure. “You don’t want to get punished again, do you? What did you see? Who did you talk to?”

“Better to die than to help you with what you are doing.” Nia gasped, trying to bite, but a rock hard hand slapped her across the face.

“You are helping to build the future, Nia.” Menglan crooned as she sat beside Nia. “You are going to tell us where you went. You are going to-” Whatever she was going to say next was cut off as a pair of small hands snapped around her head and gave a practiced yank. As dull snap echoed through the room and Nia stared up through tear soaked eyes at… Sara? The small human woman dropped the still form, dusting her hands as if they were soiled.

“Where and when, Nia?” Sara asked, her eyes roving the small, almost bare room. The few furnishings in it were not for the faint of heart. Menglan had some very odd and sick tastes. Sara didn’t seem to mind, she had seen –and had done to her- far worse.

“I…” Nia shook herself, trying to calm her mind. “I don’t know. Not far ahead. People don’t age with the nanites in them. I have them in myself.”

“I know, Nia.” Sara said gently.

“Wait a sec…” Nia stiffened, looking at Sara. The younger woman wore Bladeborn initiates robes and carried a sword with casual ease. “How are you here, Sara? This isn’t possible…”

“Yes it is.” Sara said with a grin as she eased Nia up into a sitting position. “This isn’t real, Nia. This is a physical representation of your fears. They used it to keep you in line. Don’t they? You step out of line, you wind up here?” These were not really questions.

“How do you…?” Nia froze, her face turning ashen. “Sara! You cannot be here! If they find you here…” Sara shook her head slowly and hugged Nia tight.

“I know this place well, Nia.” Sara said slowly as she looked around. “They brought me here, many times, trying to make me ‘understand’ as they put it.” Now her smile turned feral. “What they do not understand is that I did, all too well.” Nia stared at the younger girl and then shook her head.

“You had me convinced.” Nia said slowly. “Nearly convinced. And then I realized… Sara can’t do what I do. This is something pulled from my memories, created to make me believe I am free.” She stepped away from Sara who stared at her. “Who are you? Really? Was I ever on the Stormhawk?”

“Nia…” Sara did not move, just held up her hands beseechingly. “Calm down. It isn’t what you think.”

“I am calm.” Surprisingly it was true. “But after what Menglan and her cronies did to Sara, there is no way she would kill the mad doc so swiftly, so cleanly.” Nia closed her eyes and focused herself. “What do you want? Information? My silence? What do you want?” She demanded, her posture and tone resigned.

“Nia, we have to get out of here.” Sara pleaded, but Nia ignored her.

“You pulled this horrible memory from my past.” Nia said sadly. “What else have you seen? Did you see it all? Did you understand it?”

“Nia…” Sara started to speak but another voice interrupted her.

“Enough. Sara, I have this.” A male voice familiar to Nia sounded as the room faded. Nia sighed, unsurprised as the walls turned back into the cell she had started in. Sara sighed, nodded and vanished. A male human form appeared nearby. Nia looked at him and then at herself. She was back in the white covering, but a bandage showed on her arm. The man shook his head. ‘You do know how to make a mess, don’t you?”

“Bob.” Nia said calmly. “You cannot hold me forever.”

“We don’t have to.” The mass of nano machines in human form said sadly. “We cannot let you mess things up now. Your power is unpredictable. If you were to travel into the hands of our enemies… Well…” He shrugged.

“Been there.” Nia said sadly. “You saw the memory, didn’t you?”

“While we worked to repair the damage you took from the predators, yes, I looked. Then you jumped to the Stormhawk. Luckily, Sara can explain to Chari and the others why you left and where you went.” Bob slumped a bit in place. “Nia, I am sorry for what you endured. What your younger self is enduring right now.”

“Why?” Nia asked softly. “You will get what you want. An ordered galaxy, a clean, safe galaxy. With nothing even resembling free will.”

“That is not what I want.” Bob disagreed. “I want to stop Firdlump. I was designed and programmed for that one goal. I have spent centuries working towards it. But…” He looked at her closely. “You know that. How long did you spend with the Sitolon?” Nia shrugged.

“A long time.” She admitted. “Temporal avatars do not age.” Bob nodded slowly.

“Why did you say the Seven were a lie, Nia?” Bob asked gently. “Because you and Ionse started the idea?”

“We failed.” Nia said, her gaze on the floor. “We neither saved nor doomed the galaxy. We failed. Everyone died and we failed.”

“No you haven’t.” Bob said gently. “Nia, please… Listen to me…” He pleaded as she shook her head violently. “The future you came from is a bad one, yes. For you.” He looked her straight in the eye ss and held her gaze until she winced and looked away. “She lied to you, Nia.” He said gently. “Think it through. Menglan had you. She took you from your home, from your friends and family. You were hurt, sick. After everything you went through, it is not surprising.” Nia blinked, her face unsure. “Nia… Think… What happened? After you joined the Bladeborn?”

“I never left the Bladeborn.” Nia said absently, rubbing her arm. “I just needed a bit of encouragement to think about it. To remember, and to do what had to be done. I... I studied... I met... I... Wait...” Her face turned a sick color. "I... What?"

“Nia…” Bob held out his hand slowly. “That witch took you again. She hurt you again. She made you forget many things, she tried to make you into her agent. To bring back her master. To assure her conquest. She sent you into the past, to try and undo what the Seven are supposed to do. They are not a lie, Nia. They were not a lie.”

“No…” Nia said, her tone turning fearful. “That can’t be…”

“Search your feelings, Nia.” Bob insisted gently. “See what happened. Remember what happened. Think it through.” Nia went white as she thought deeply.

“By the Force, what have I done?” Nia stared at the mass of machines and then crumbled onto the floor, her control undone, tears falling. “What have I done?”

“You saved Brianna. They brought her back after she died on the table.” Bob’s voice was still gentle as the fur of a day old nerf. “That had the potential of messing things up. Except…” He smiled. “Think, Nia. Remember. Think of your aunt Nara.” Nia was still sobbing but then her head shot up and her eyes went wide. Bob smiled even wider. “Who did she bring the last time you talked?”

“My…cousin.” Nia’s face was still taut, but she nodded slowly. “Bri Deering. Her daughter.” Nia sighed and nodded. “You scanned my mind.”

“I did.” Bob sighed. “I apologize for the discourtesy, but we needed to know what had happened. Nia, we can handle it. We did in your time. But right now… Someone wants to talk to you. Two people actually.”

“I…” Nia stiffened and then froze in place as two forms appeared nearby. Jainine Korr, her mother and…

“Hello Nia.” Will Kalenath said softly as he pulled her from the floor and into an embrace. “Ah Nia…” He held her as she burst into tears anew.

“What have I done, Dad?” Nia asked though her sobs. “What have I done? I tried to stop the prophecy…I doomed us all.” Jainine hung back for a moment, but at a glare from Will, she joined the embrace.

“You didn’t.” Will said gently. “You helped it along.”

“I…” Nia blinked, confused. “I what?” She looked from her father to Bob who nodded.

“I am the only one who looked into your memories, Nia.” Bob said softly. “I wish I could delete those memories from my hard coded memory. I can’t but I can put them into deep storage, inaccessible to most searches. Take what time you need.” Bob’s voice was sad as she started to vanish. “Time has no meaning here.”

“Ah my girl…” Wiill spoke softly. As he hugged Nia tight. “My brave, brave girl. So much pain, so much horror…”

“This is why I came…” Nia said slowly. “I had forgotten. Menglan twisted my memories, made me angry, made me forget so much. Ionse helped me remember a lot, but…” She slumped in her parent’s embrace. “I can’t stay here. I have to go back, face the punishment for using my power.”

“They won’t kill you, Nia.” Will said slowly a she held her at arm’s length for a moment before pulling her into the embrace again. “Bladeborn are strict, but they are not capricious. You were not in control. Menglan was.”

“I know, but…” She shook her head. “I wanted to come back I want to say…” She looked from her dad to her mom and swallowed heavily. “I had to say this. I lost you both. I never really got the chance to say this.” She shook herself and nodded. “I love you. Both of you. The soldier and the Bladeborn seer, I love you both. May the Force be with you, and may you both find peace. That was what held me here. What I had to do.” She smiled widely, hugged both of her parents again and vanished.

For a long moment, there was silence in the small room, and then Jainine spoke softly.

“Ah Nia, ah my little girl... I can’t bear it.” She snarled. “I cannot bear it. I know what she is going to endure and I can’t… I can’t…”

“Jainine…” Will’s voice was sad as he held the spirit form of his first love. Normal rules did not apply in this place. “It’s okay. She will be okay.”

“She was my apprentice, my chosen successor in the tribe on Kuria.” Jainine sobbed into her husband’s shoulder, corporeal though the odd power that had kept Nia imprisoned. “But she was always my daughter. I had to stay focused, I had to stay rational. Even when it hurt me to see her so reduced, I had to stay coherent. Oh Will… What have I done?”

“You saved her, Jainine.” Will said sadly. “If Bob had gotten her then…”

“I would have made a mess.” Bob’s voice preceded him appearing. “As it is, I have made more than my share. At least this has happy ending. Are you ready to become one with the Force, Jainine? I can free you from your bondage in that crystal that Sharra ‘borrowed’ from Sarai.”

“I think…No.” Jainine shook her head slowly. “I think I will stay. She may need me. The present time Nia anyway. But does this mean we win? The fact that she remembers winning?”

“Ah…” Bob made a face. “I am not sure. Time travel is such a mess. And then you get into alternate timelines, possible alternate future histories and it gets even nastier. It is possible that we win, Jainine. It is also possible that she came from another universe.”

“Oh don’t start!” Will made an identical face. “The last time you all tried to explain temporal physics to me, I had a headache for a day and a half. Just say you don’t know.”

“Fine, Will…” Bob snarled in jest. “I don’t know, Jainine. What I do know is that between the two of you, you and Will made a heck of a young woman.” Jainine blushed slightly and Will nodded. “Now… We need to get back to work. Jainine, will you stay with Sharra?”

“Try and drag me away.”

<The future?>

The pain was expected. She had transgressed, so she was being punished. Even with mitigating circumstances, her kidnapping being one of them, she had travelled in time without permission. Indeed, she had broken her sworn word. The only reason she was not executed was that she had not been in control of herself at the time. So she was being punished. The Rack was nowhere near the pain of other things she had felt in her life however. Six hours was extreme, but with Ona’s apprentice Mila in constant attendance, Nia had no fear that she would die. At times, she wanted to, but she drew strength from the fact that she had done what she had set out to do. She had bid farewell to her parents. The love of her parents would see her through this. Another wave of pain arced through Nia’s restrained body and she smiled into the bit that the grandmaster herself had put into Nia's mouth to keep her from biting herself.

It will turn out all right…
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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08.18.2012 , 03:27 AM | #5
<Present. In a more recognizable setting>

“What word, doctor?” Donal Firdlump, one time senator and now master of an ever growing collective of massed minds -some willing, some not- walked into the medical ward as if he owned it. Of course, he actually did. Everyone on the base knew that he was the master of the collective, but not many knew that he was not actually a human. The doctor who looked up from her instruments knew of course, she was one of his oldest servants. “How is our latest guest?”

“She has not woken.” Kareena Menglan replied, her gaze turning to a video screen where a blue skinned Twi’lek in a patient gown lay asleep. “Sarai was true to her word. Melita is not trapped and as open to our influence. There is something…odd about her however.” The doctor paused and shook her head. ‘Something off.”

“Is she a threat?” Fidlump asked quickly. It had not been that long ago that a new inductee into the collective had managed to suicide in spectacular fashion, blowing herself up and causing a great deal of damage and loss of life in the process.

“No.” The doctor replied quickly. “She has no implants, no hidden devices of any kind. We have put her through the ringer, nothing could have hidden from our scans and probes.” Firdlump looked at her and she flushed. “Yes, we missed the tampering that had been done to Cili Sandskimmer’s implants, but Melita has none of those kinds of implants. She has an implant to control her brain chemistry problem, but we drained that, removed it and examined it in detail. We found nothing out of the ordinary. One thing…” She paused and Firdlump nodded for her to continue. “Her brain chemistry is off. She will be very confused and likely a bit hyperactive without the drug from her implant. We need to be ready for that.”

“She will resist.” Firdlump sighed. “Can you bring her into the collective as she is?” Menglan thought about that and shook her head.

“I need her to wake up first. make sure she will and be sane.” Menglan shrugged. “If we bring a vegetable into the collective, it will upset everyone. I wouldn’t put it past our enemies to do just that. Until she wakes though, we are just marking time.” She laughed a little. “Well, doing what we do. We have three new pregnancies and Mrs. Liosim had a girl this morning.”

“And the other side?” FIrdlump asked slowly. “The breeding?”

“The Sitolon larvae are progressing as expected.” Menglan said soberly. “We simply don’t know enough about their reproduction to know if they are healthy and whole. They SEEM it. As to the control unit for the collective? No.” Menglan shook her head, dejected. “Nothing works. Every single clone is viable, but none of them have the… the spark as it were that made 8410-12 unique. All of them are healthy and whole, they are responding to the revised training as expected. But none show the signs that 8410-12 did. Is there any chance of getting her back?” The doctor asked, someone petulantly.

“Not very likely, doctor.” Firdlump sighed. “The girl who calls herself Sara Kalenath now is… well, the Sith Emperor likely has more protection around him. But no one else in this galaxy. Could we GET to her, sure? Could we DO anything? No. Add to that the fact that her force sensitivity has surfaced and well…” He glared at the doctor. “You promised me that she would never show signs of that.” Menglan shrugged.

“Suppressing it without causing long term harm was the goal. Keeping her body in stasis for as long as we did was a risk anyway. It did cause all kinds of problems. ” She shook her head. “No matter what, she was the only unqualified success we had. We have tried every way to copy her that I can think of. Nothing works. Every child is viable, but none are control units. Might it have been the parents influence?” Firdlump thought about that for a moment and shook his head.

“No.” He said after a moment. “The girl showed signs of being able to control machinery as early as two. Samuel and Maria were monitored at all times. We have had other parents, collective parents, duplicate what both of them did. No results. It HAS to be something genetic. It has to be. If we can just duplicate her and her brother’s ability, we can dispense with the implants altogether.” His head jerked to the video screen and then he smiled. “Melita is awake.” Menglan looked at the screen and then at Firdlump who smirked. “She is good. Have your people run their tests. Carefully.”

Menglan nodded, her face sober. Melita Ranol had been an operative with the Special Branch of Republic Intelligence, an efficient and dutiful one. She had also been a spy and traitor, seeking information on the activities of the group for her own superiors in Republic Intelligence. When she had sent in her report however, Firdlump had intercepted it, killed off her handler and put her in a deathtrap. He had wanted it to look like an Imperial assassination. Unfortunately, an actual Imperial agent had found her and rescued her. Then she had turned to the Imperial side, working with them to destroy Special Branch. More recently, she had been caught in the middle of one of Firdlump’s more ambitious schemes, a plan to capture and subvert an entire Imperial battleship crew at the same time. Vandar had executed her, but somehow she had survived that. She was a dangerous pawn to have around, but… At the same time, she was invaluable. She had been, before working for Special Branch, Jina Darkstorm’s lover. With Jina so messed up, they needed every bit of control over her they could get. Hence the agent’s unwilling arrival, cocooned in carbonite. Even with the Twi’lek restrained to the medical bed as she was, both of them held their breath as Karen –the clone they had made of the changed doctor anyway- went in and talked to the agent. Melita did not respond to Karen’s gentle questions, and Menglan nodded.

“We can fix her up.” She said as Karen left the room. “She will resist of course. I do not recommend nanites for her though.”

“Why not, doctor?” Firdlump asked as Menglan worked her controls, lowering a bell shaped device over the agent’s restrained skull. “They make things easier.”

“According to Olandas, she managed to find a way -with that Cipher agent, Vorren- to subvert them. To get around them.” Menglan smiled evilly as she flicked a control and a strangled scream came from the vid screen. “With the right implants, she will not be able to resist. And the last thing we need is to have subverted nanites running around.” Firdlump just looked at her and Menglan sighed. “You have enough on your mind.”

“Agreed.” Firdlump said with a wave, dismissing the problem. “Let me know when she is ready to enter the collective. Who do you think should handle it?”

“You and I are out. Vandar would distress Melita, even if we do wipe her memory.” Menglan paused. “What consensus on that?”

“None.” Firdlump shook his head. “She is a danger. But she is also a priceless intelligence asset. Let me think on that. We could get Maria to do it.” Menglan stared at him aghast and Firdlump chuckled sourly. “A joke, Doctor. It was a joke… Later.”

“Maria…” Menglan shook her head and then, a cruel smile twisted her features. “What a wonderful idea…”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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08.18.2012 , 03:29 AM | #6
Maria walked into the room with some trepidation. She was confident in her ability, and her desire to aid the collective was as strong as ever. But she did not want to hurt Jina and this whole situation had the potential to cause irreparable harm to Jina. When Menglan had first asked for her help, Maria had balked, but Menglan had explained. Maria hated this part. This… hurtful part of the process. The end result was marvelous, to feel the love and affection of all of the people around her was uplifting at the worst of times. But until then, the new arrivals almost to a being, fought and fought hard. This female was no exception. They had wound up having to completely encase her in a specialized restraint. She was just too dangerous to leave loose in any way while the process worked. The only parts of Melita that were visible were her eyes and mouth, and of course, as soon as Maria entered her field of view…

“Kriff you! Back for more, scum ball?” Melita’s voice was tired and filled with pain. Maria sighed. The ones who resisted hardest were often the best ones to recruit, but it was so time consuming. “I can take whatever you can dish out.” The agent spat caustically.

“I know.” Maria said sadly as she sat by the bed. She rested her hand atop the agent’s restrained one, feeling the tension through the heavy material that covered the female Twi’lek from lekku to toe. “You should relax. It hurts less if you relax. We will welcome you. We don’t want to hurt you, child. Just relax.”

Never!” Melita screamed as she tried, again, to bite down on a tooth. A poison tooth or whatever, it was no longer there and all she did was manage to take a bit out of the inside of her cheek.

“We removed them all, Melita.” Maria said sternly. “Stop biting yourself or we will have to gag you. The process is underway. The implants are in place, they are adjusting to your system as we speak. You will feel hot and cold, tired and fully awake as your body acclimatizes to the new inputs.”

“I don’t know who you are…” Meltia growled. “But I am not here for you, your silly commune, or anything else. I am here for Jina and nothing else.”

“That is good.” Maria said with a smile that faded slightly. “Jina needs stability. She is still a mess. But so are you? How the heck did you manage to be an agent with such a disability?” Melita glared at her and Maria patted her hand again. “It’s okay, child. I am in awe. That is an incredible feat.” Melita snapped her mouth shut and Maria sighed. “Look, Melita, it is not bad, we are not bad, we just want to help you adjust to your new life.”

“My new life?” Melita asked, incredulous. “I stopped being a slave to Special Branch long ago. I gave my life to them, and they killed me. Twice actually. I will not be a slave again.” The restraints that held her actually shuddered as Melita fought to free herself.

“Melita, stop that.” Maria sighed. “You are not going to break those. All you will do is dislodge the catheters. All that would do is hurt you. We won’t let you die, child.”

“Why not?” Melita gasped as she fought. “Third time is the charm after all? Why not kill me again?”

“Because we need you.” Maria’s hand was stroking Melita’s lekku gently now. Melita shuddered and tried to buck the hand off, but she couldn’t move. “Jina needs you alive and sane.” Maria slumped a bit and sighed again. “The poor dear needs all the help we can give. Do you know what happened?”

“You hurt her!” Melita growled, her tone promising dire vengeance when she got free. “What else do I have to know?”

“Yes and no.” Maria ‘s voice was sad and resigned now. “We don’t know how it happened, but she suffered brain damage. We did not do it to her, we were trying very hard not to hurt her. Something attacked her through Ecmin, the Sitolon queen who has joined our collective.”

“Been brainwashed into serving your machine master, you mean.” Melita corrected cynically, and then she gasped. “No…” She struggled harder, still trying to get any part of herself free from the clinging material that covered her. “Get out of my head!” She screamed.

“Relax, Melita…” Maria crooned. “It’s okay, it’s okay, child. The preliminaries are done. They implants have cycled to your brainwaves. Now just relax…” She stroked Melita’s arm now, soothing. “Just relax…We will welcome you.” The collective crowded close around Maria, eager to welcome another sister. But then it pulled back slightly as Melita screamed again. Maria stiffened. “Melita… Please relax. You cannot fight it. It will hurt you badly if you keep fighting it. Can’t you feel it? We love you, Melita. We all love you. Please let us help you. Resistance is futile, Melita…” Maria tried again, stroking the bound female’s hand again. “Please, just let us in.”

“It’s a lie!” Melita screamed in pain as power flared through her lekku. “You… are… a…” Maria jerked her hand back as the power flowing through Melita intensified, slamming into the walls of her hate and training with overwhelming force. No matter her stubbornness, training or ability, nothing could hold that back forever. The collective was the accumulated mental power of thousands of beings, and it was all directed at Melita. The Twi’lek gave one final, agonized scream and then lay still.

“There we go…” Maria crooned. “There we go. Melita?” She asked as she saw tears falling from the Twi’lek’s eyes.

“I…” Melita Ranol sobbed. “No… I can’t… I only love Jina… I have only ever loved Jina… I can’t…No…Just let me die. I am a good girl… Don’t… Don’t make me a bad one… Please…”

“What the…?” Maria stiffened in place. The rest of the collective was astonished and confused at this change. “Melita…” Maria kept her voice kind and gentle as she started unstrapping the Twi’lek now that the rough part was done. “What do you mean?”

“Jina is the only person I have ever loved. I was loyal to her. To her alone. I promised her that I would never stray and I have not. I have had relationships, to build my cover and to do my job, but never loved anyone but Jina.” Melita said in a monotone, not moving as the sweat and blood soaked covering was removed from her body. She had fought the restraints so hard that her skin was abraded. Maria rubbed the sore spots, stimulating circulation and healing the injuries with her own nanites, since the master had not given Melita any of her own, but the Twi’lek did not move. “Don’t…” She begged.

“Melita.” Maria’s voice was incredibly gentle as she pulled the sobbing Twi’lek up into an embrace. “It is okay, it will be okay. But someone wants to talk to you.” Melita was sobbing into Maria’s shoulder as the door opened and Olandas came running in. Melita stiffened, but Olandas did not say a word, simply joined the embrace, trying with all her might and mind to comfort the newest member of the collective. “We will not ask you for anything, Melita. All we want is to help Jina. She is a mess and we need all the help we can get. Will you help us, sister?” Melita looked up and Maria and nodded silently as the two other women hugged her again.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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08.18.2012 , 03:32 AM | #7
“This is…not what we expected.” Maria said softly to herself as she watched Melita work.

“Maria?” A melodious voice sounded from nearby and Maria turned to find the silver bulk of Ecmin looking at her. Ordinarily, seeing a huge insect eyeing a person might be disconcerting at the very least, but Maria was part of the collective with Ecmin and could sense the queen bug’s worry. “What is wrong with her?”

“I don’t know.” Maria admitted. “I expected her to be ecstatic on seeing Jina again but…” She waved to where the former Jedi and the former intelligence agent were working. Both were ignoring the other. They had been introduced, and both had nodded to the other, but nothing more. “How is Jina doing?”

“As always.” Ecmin snarled sadly. “Whatever hurt her did a lot of damage. If I ever meet that person I am going to hurt them.” Menace rang in the queen tone now, she loved Jina. “I had hoped that seeing an old friend would pull whatever is left of her out of the mechanical shell she is trapped in.”

“Ecmin…” Maria reached out slowly and rubbed one of Ecmin’s arms. “We may have to accept that this is the best Jina is going to get.” That hurt. It really, really hurt. Seeing someone so reduced was horrifying. Maria did not remember Jina Darkstorm herself, but she had read every record available and had scanned through the collective to see every scrap of information that the others had. Vandar’s memories in particular were heart wrenching.

“I know.” The sheer pain in Ecmin’s voice brought tears to Maria’s eyes. “I had hoped… But… I know…” She repeated sadly. “I will stay with her, ward her as best I can, keep her out of trouble as best I can.” She shook her huge head. “I want to help her, make it all better. And I can’t.”

“Yeah.” Maria sighed as she turned back to look at the Twi’lek agent. “What do you make of what Melita said?”

“Well…” Ecmin made a noise of embarrassment. “I don’t know a lot about human procreation, and inter species things are really not my thing either. But she did fall in love with Jina. And apparently, she did stay loyal to Jina throughout everything.” Maria looked at Ecmin and Ecmin shrugged all four shoulders. “She was no saint, and she slept with people, but the only one she loved was Jina. When she thought Jina was dead…” Ecmin slumped. “I could barely scan that section. The rage and pain were too much, even with the collective. She does love Jina still.” She looked back at the agent. ‘The question is ‘Why is she acting this way now’?”

“No implants…” Maria mused. “No tricks or traps in her mind. No hidden areas that we have detected. Nothing hidden. Nothing.” She paused. “Wait a second…” Her face turned from musing to fearful. “Wait second…” Ecmin looked at her. “Was there anything odd about her?”

“Well…” Ecmin thought for a moment and then nodded. “She had a small patch of material on her shoulder that did not match anything in our files.” Ecmin paused as Maria stiffened. “What?”

“Show me.” Maria said, her voice low and scared. Ecmin looked at her and opened her mind to her collective mate. Maria started and then she gasped. “Oh my god…”

“What is it, Maria?” Ecmin asked, reaching out for her friend and Maria staggered. “What is wrong?”

“It wasn’t an implant.” Maria shook herself and her face hardened. “But that substance is a tracker. It is used by the Imperial Military to track subjects from long range for orbital bombardment!” Ecmin went still and Maria nodded. “It is rare and costly, but almost undetectable. One of my progenitor’s missions as a combat engineer went sour when the Imperials managed to get a plant with one of those into a supply base. The Imperial Navy obliterated it from long range. Far enough out…” Now she blanched. “Far enough out to avoid the nanite swarms! We need to tell the master!”

“Come!” Ecmin commanded. Jina, Melita, Ren and the other larvae tenders looked up at her, but Ecmin waved them back to their work. Ecmin started for the door and paused as it opened. Firdlump came in, his face worried. “Master!”

“You cannot leave this room, Ecmin.” Firdlump said softly. “What is this that has you so concerned, Maria?” Maria took a deep breath and laid out her memories for him to see. Then she showed him the tiny patch that had been on Melita’s shoulder. Luckily, mind to mind communication was fast. “Oh… dear…” He said when she had finished.

“We almost certainly have an Imperial scoutship in system.” Maria said slowly. “That is standard procedure. But they will not bombard with a scoutship. They will bring a fleet.”

“We have a fleet.” Ecmin protested, but sighed as both Maria and Firdlump looked at her. “Yeah, yeah. I know. All three ships are still being worked up. It is going faster than we thought, but there is so much work to do. Even with nanites to help, the crews are being worked to the bone.”

“Well, we better work on contingency plans.” Maria said darkly. “They are coming and when they do, it is going to be bad.”

“You think she knew?” Firdlump said softly, flicking his eyes at Melita. “Did she betray us again?”

“I don’t think so.” Maria replied after a moment’s thought. “No… No, there were no thoughts of the kind you would expect if someone were going to their deaths. She expected to be tortured, hurt, maybe killed. But she was not suicidal when I scanned her mind.”

“Could she have hidden it?” Firdlump asked. “Maria?” He pressed when Maria did not respond.

“Maybe.” Maria said, manifestly against her will. “Master… If we send her for invasive scans…”

“We don’t have a choice, Maria.” Firdlump said sadly as Maria hissed in pain. “If she did betray us, we need to know. If she did not, maybe we can use that against her, turn her to our side.”

“Possible, I guess.” Maria shrugged. “I wouldn’t want to lay odds on it. I need to get back to the kids. Let me know? I like her.” Firdlump and Ecmin both nodded to her and Maria left, shaking her head. Firdlump did not say anything, just looked at Melita who straightened to her full height and walked to where he was standing. He took her by the arm and led her from the nesting chamber. Jina did not look up and again, Ecmin wished she could weep. Her mind was sad as she went back to her work of raising the next generation of Sitolon for the collective.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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08.18.2012 , 03:35 AM | #8
“She doesn’t know.” Menglan said quietly as she watched Karen and Meliee soothe the sobbing form of Melita as the Twi’lek was wheeled from the scanning room on the gurney she had laid on the whole time. “She had no idea where or when that piece of material was put on her. Could have been anytime in transit.”

“Hmmm.” Firdlump mused. “We have defenses set up. But I don’t know if they are enough to stand off a full Imperial fleet. We have to be sure, doctor. What did she know?”

“She corroborated the substance, even had a technical name for it.” Menglan waved at a table where a small specimen case was lying. ‘I removed it. Had to excise some skin, but that we can regrow quickly even without nanites in her.” She paused. “Master, we should give her nanites. It feels…wrong not to.”

“Morality, Kareena?” Firdlump asked softly. Menglan shook her head. “What then?”

“Efficiency.” Menglan said soberly.”We will need her up and mobile quickly. As it is, she will be emotionally drained for at least a day, likely sleeping most of it if we can manage that. The physical injuries caused by the scans will take time to heal as well.”

“And?” Firdlump did not turn from the scanners.

“She is cute.” Menglan said with a snarl. “Yes, I want her!”

“Doctor…” Firdlump sighed. “You have eight ‘special test subjects’ already. Eight beings who have not been added to the collective per your wishes. I know you have hurt them, Kareena.” Firdlump’s voice was disapproving now. “I allow you eccentricities. Do not presume to damage what we are building here, doctor. Melita stays with Jina.” This last was in the tone of command and Menglan nodded.

“Yes, master.” Menglan sighed as she looked over her reports. “So, what do we do?”

“We have plans in the case of a full scale attack.” Firdlump shook his head. “But it is unlikely the Empire will commit to a full scale attack without more information. So what we are going to do is land that…” He waved towards the specimen case. “…on the planet.”

“Master…” Menglan paused, unsure. “If the Empire attacks the planet…”

“Anything they do, short of a full Base Delta Zero,…” He used the Imperial designation for sterilizing a planet, making it uninhabitable. “…can be repaired. And if they do attack the planet, the nanites will protect it.” Mengaln pursed her lips, thinking hard.

“Can they affect things as far away as bombardment range?” Menglan asked after a moment. “If not, the Imperials can just sit back and obliterate the whole place.”

“I don’t know.” Firdlump said with a shudder. “Lohas is unconscious by all accounts, so they are acting on their original programming. That we can likely predict. Maybe. So we send the sample to the planet, and deal with that scoutship. Somehow.”

“You think there is one.” It wasn’t a question. “Who do we send?”

“If they hold true to Imperial patterns…” Firdlump started to speak and then paused. “They will, they have to. The Empire does not tolerate any kind of free thinking, even efficient free thinking. There will be a small ship in system, hidden somewhere distant form here. They will send the targeting information to the fleet when it arrives. If we can catch that scoutship, disable or destroy it before the fleet arrives, we have a chance to end this peacefully. If not, we have a battle. One we may very well lose, even with our advantages.”

“And the crew of the scoutship?” Menglan asked quickly. “Can I have them?”

Do not push me, doctor!” Firdlump snapped at her and she shrank back as his glower tracked over her. “First we have to find them, and then we have to catch them. Then and only then can we worry about other things. They are probably hiding in the moons of the sixth planet. That is far enough out to be inconspicuous, and close enough to be able to scan with passive sensors. Active sensors would be a dead giveaway.”

“Active scans can be cloaked as other things.” Menglan said diffidently as Firlump looked at her. “We cannot assume our opponents are morons.”

“No.” Firdlump said slowly. “We can’t. The Imperials have always acted rigidly, the very structure of their Empire demands no less. And that may be how we can catch them…” He broke off, and an evil smile crossed his face. “Indeed. I think we can.”

“Master?” Menglan asked, somewhat worried. When he started smiling like that, things got unpleasant, for lots of people.

“I need to talk to Gev.” Firdlump said as he started for the door. “He is asleep. Can we wake him safely?”

“Well…” Menglan shrugged. “He strained his body badly. He needs rest to recuperate. Well that and Olandas’ tender care.” She said with a fond smile for young love. “But yes, we can. But he is not going to be able to run around, and fly about for a while.” She cautioned. “If we do stress him, all kinds of problems will result.”

“Warning taken, doctor.” Firdlump said soberly. “All I want to do is talk to him. Him and Olandas both, actually. I need to query about Imperial procedures. We have several of their manuals, but we need to be sure before I put this plan into action.” Menglan looked at him and he waved finger at her. “No, doctor. No peeking. I will tell you when I am ready to move on it. And who knows? We may get the crews of more than just a scoutship to add to the collective. We need more Imperial information sources anyway.” He was whistling a jaunty air as he left the room. Menglan stared after him and shook her head.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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08.18.2012 , 03:41 AM | #9
<Sith Battleship Deceiver, Hyperspace, eight hours later>

“Captain…” The Sixth of the Seven’s voice was respectful, but worried as she and Captain Solo of the Imperial Navy stood and watched the plot slowly count down. “Orders are orders, but this is insane.”

The Captain sighed and looked from the plot to her. He looked around the bridge and no one was overtly listening. Of course, if they had any sense at all, all of them were attentive to anything that might happen. It didn’t pay to be any other way. Imperial Navy discipline was strict and unforgiving for any number of reasons, not the least because any Sith might wander by and visit casual cruelty for the sport of it. Not that all Sith were like that. Most actually did not practice such things, they usually had far bigger things on their minds than random terror. But it did happen.

“I know.” Captain Solo agreed softly. “But like you say, orders are orders. The Admiral has the authority to do as she wishes, we are in the vanguard.”

“Attacking Firdlump’s fleet…” Michelle replied equally softly. “That I can understand. But trying to Base Delta Zero the planet is a bad idea. Was she not listening when I gave my report?” She asked, careful to keep her face calm and her tone reasonable. "When you did?"

“Apparently not.” The captain shook his head. “I gave my own report as well, and we both played host to those Inquisitors.” He could not repress a slight shudder. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, calmly. “We need to remain clear headed. The crew is counting on both of us. No matter if I want to curl up the corner and sob while the horror that I saw in the hangar bay plays out a thousandfold, we have our orders.” Michelle nodded soberly.

She had actually been in the hangar bay when nanites had reduced a number of Special Branch war droids -and their unwilling Imperial pilots- into gray goo. It had been beyond horrifying for her, and that was coming from someone who had been a slave for nine hundred years in the central control computer of an Islanian starship. Not that she was ever going to tell anyone in the Imperial Navy that.

“I know, Captain.” Michelle agreed. “I don’t always agree with what the Empire does.” Very rarely, she thought carefully to herself. “But no one can doubt your crew ability or sense of duty.” The captain looked at her as she pitched her voice to carry. A small, almost smile flitted across his face as she continued. ‘We have our orders. Even if they do not make any sense to us , they are orders. And the one thing that separates soldiers from barbarian scum is discipline.” A number of backs stiffened in range of her voice and she carefully did not smile at the captain. “We have enough firepower to take out the three Rep ships we are facing if we take them by surprise. I don’t know if we can destroy Firdlump or not, but we are certainly going to show him and his scum that they do not mess with the Imperial Navy!” Her voice carried across the bridge now and a cheer followed the end of her words. The captain did smile at her before turning to his XO. The man was new, had been transferred aboard after the previous XO had died during Vandar’s attempt to snatch the ship and her crew.

“Commander Calrissian, status?”

“Captain.” The XO saluted ad spoke evenly. “We are on course, and on timeline. We should be arriving in the system in twenty minutes.” He turned back to the readouts and spoke again. “All ship systems are at 100%. I don’t see why they want to hold us back, captain.” The XO was in a word, annoyed. Admiral Korvin had been icily polite to the crew of the Deceiver when she had come aboard. But there had been something…off about her manner.

“She doesn’t trust us.” Michelle replied before the captain did. “More importantly, she doesn’t trust me.”

“Begging your pardon, Ma’am…” The XO said hastily. “That doesn’t make any sense. You fought for this ship. You let yourself get captured and brainwashed for this ship.” He paused. “Well, not for us, to try and trap that scum Vandar. But the result was the same.”

“I refuse to speak of my past.” Michelle said quietly in the deafening silence that swept the bridge. “I cannot speak of my past. I have to stop Firdlump, and nothing else really matters. If I have to sacrifice everyone on this ship, including myself, to do that commander, you know what I would do.” He met her gaze calmly and nodded.

“Yes, Ma’am.” The commander agreed. “And we can respect that. But if you do it…” He nodded to her again. “We know we will not die in vain.”

“I can’t promise that, Commander.” Michelle said hastily. “I am no Force user, to see the future. I am a soldier, like you all.”

“Begging your pardon, Ma’am.” The captain smiled at her. “We are not soldiers. We have nothing to do with soldiers. Smelly ground pounding apes have no place on a starship of the Imperial Navy. We are sailors and proud of it!” A laugh swept the bridge and Michelle had to smile as well.

“I stand corrected, Captain.” Michelle said primly and then she gasped as the ship jerked and shuddered. “Captain!” She called as she jumped to her battle station. The com board was a good place for her.

“Interdiction field!” The XO called before the captain could ask. “It’s not Imperial!”

“New contacts!” Sang the lieutenant at the sensor station. “Designate Tangos One through Three. Republic battleships, Enterprise class.”

“Oh… Flarg…” Michelle said under her breath as the ship slowed to sublight velocity and a scene appeared at close range. A battle.

Two Imperial battleships were locked in mortal combat with three of their Republic counterparts. And she could already see that both had taken damage while none of the Rep ships seemed to have been touched. That did not bode well.

“Combat alert!” The captain called and his crew responded with drilled professionalism. “Let see what we can do to even the odds.” Michelle stood, to go to the hangar bay and her fighter, but the captain snarled at her. “No, with what we know about the nanites, fighters would be suicide. I need you here, Ma’am.”

Michelle settled back into her seat at the com board, hoping that she would not be needed, but having a sinking feeling that yes, she would be. She focused herself as she had not in a long, long time and waited ready to do whatever it took. For the ship, for the Seven and for herself, she would be ready.

“Com!” The captain called to the com officer seated nearby. “Any word from the Fire Eyes? Main guns, fire as you bear, target Tango One!” The Fire Eyes was the scoutship that the navy had snuck into system a week ago to spy out the location of Firdlump’s base. If they couldn’t find that, they had another target… But Michelle quailed at the thought of how the directionless nanites would respond to a blatant attack. A salvo of long range fire tore from the ship’s main batteries to savage the closest Republic battleship.

“Negative, sir.” The com officer said after a moment. “No sign of the ship at all.” He paused, checking his board. “Captain…”

“I see it.” Captain Solo said grimly as Michelle stared at the board. The only way for the three Republic battleships to have achieved such perfect interceptions away from a planet for them to know where the fleet was planning to jump into. And since Imperial hyperspace doctrine changed plans fairly regularly… “It is a trap. They must have caught the Fire Eyes.”

“Probably intact.” Michelle agreed softly. “They likely never had a chance.” Scout ships only had ten crew after all. Then she winced as escape pods started flying off one of the Imperial battlewagons. A few moments later, the Kingmaker exploded. “Oh dear…” A hush filled the bridge, but then Captain Solo snarled.

“Stop gaping! We have a battle to win! Torpedo tubes one through twelve target Tango One! Tubes thirteen through twenty four target Tango Two. Mains continue firing at Tango One, but lay some secondary fire on Tango Three! Maneuvering, get us some room to turn and engage.” Acknowledgements came from all over the bridge as the Deceiver went to war.
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kalenath's Avatar

08.18.2012 , 03:45 AM | #10
Michelle watched in silence as the ship’s crew fought. This was not really her place. She had always fought against the Sith Empire. She had never even thought about going into battle aboard one of their battleships. Then again, is she had her wish, she wouldn’t be aboard one these great big targets anyway. She much preferred to be in a fighter. There was something to be said for being able to take damage. There was far more –in her own opinion at least- to being able to avoid it. She stifled a groan as the massive torpedo salvo was caught by Republic point defenses and not one of the twenty four torpedoes hit. But then she paused.

“Captain…” Her voice was low, pitched for only his ears. He looked at her and she nodded towards the main screen. “No Rep fighters?”

“Hmmm.” The captain stared at the plot for a moment and then shook his head. “No. And no sign of them getting ready to…” He paused. “If the nanites are active, launching fighters is a death sentence for the pilots.”

“I can’t tell from this range whether they are active or not, Captain Solo.” Michelle said with a sigh. “But I am willing to get closer to find out.” The captain looked at her and Michelle sighed. “Without fighters, this fight is only going to end one way. Three to two with the Kingmaker gone, captain.”

“I can do basic arithmetic, Ma’am.” Captain Solo snapped at her, but his face was troubled. “Ma’am… My primary orders are to keep you safe.”

“And getting blown out of the sky is safe?” Michelle asked softly as they both jerked on their feet. Enemy fire was seeking the Deceiver now, but inaccurate. All it did was shake them a bit, it did no significant damage. Or… “Aw crud.” Michelle breathed. “They are trying to disable us!”

“Yeah.” Captain Solo agreed softly. “Ma’am…” His shoulders fell slightly. Imperial Navy officers had the reputation of being straitlaced, prim and proper as well as unforgiving and merciless. And admittedly, many of them were. But some, like the good captain, led by example rather than by brute force and the threat of violence. He said, and Michelle agreed, that it made his men fight better. Michelle’s own experience as a slave had taught her a lot. “What do you think?” The captain asked. “I won’t be their pawn again.” His voice was hard now as he glanced towards the self destruct panel on his console.

“I think it is time for us to show our fangs.” Michelle said with a wide smile and the captain nodded to her.

She was out the hatch and heading for the hangar bay before another word could be said. Everyone made way for her, she had a short way with people getting between her and flying. In less than a minute, she was entering the hangar bay at a run, grabbing her helmet from its rack and checking it as she dashed to her fighter. As it sealed around the silver flightsuit she was never without, she heard the squadron leads start querying her.

“Time to kick the tires and light the fires, people!” She caroled.

A muted cheer sounded across the com bands as she jumped to the side of her ship. It was prepped and ready for her. The Imperial Navy bureaucracy might call the ships the Mark VII, but she and all of the other pilots who flew them called them StarRages. It was light enough to be extremely maneuverable, fast enough to outrun almost anything it couldn’t fight and heavily armed for its size.

“Chief? The port stabilizer?” Michelle asked as she slid into the seat with the ease of long practice. The star fighter was a complex piece of machinery. It seemed that every time something was fixed, something else broke. But the fighter deck crews on the Deceiver were top notch. They took pride in the fact that they could get every single pilot into space. Not every ship could boast that.

“Still finicky, Ma’am.” The chief said with a growl as he leaned in to help her strap in while she started the checklist. “I swear they must have one of those small furry critters in there hitting things with a hammer. But all tests show green.”

“Well, we know what that is worth.” Michelle replied with a matching scowl. “Full squadron punch chief.” At that the chief actually blanched, but said nothing. He was a consummate professional. “Clear the bay as quick as you can. This is an alpha strike, we need everyone up as fast as possible.”

“Right, ma’am.” The chief slapped the top of her helmet. Part to make sure it was seated properly, part for good luck. “Give ‘em hell, Ma’am.”

“I fully intend to, Chief.” Michelle said, a feral grin pulling at her features now. “I fully intend to. Now scat!” The chief jumped clear as she keyed the igniters on her engines, the dual ion drives building from a grumble to their customary whine. She checked her immediate area reflexively and them she merged with her ship.

It is only times like this… She mused in the timeless second that seemed to drag for eternity as her mind meshed fully with the fast little ship. …that I feel truly alive again.

Some people said she was crazy. The Imperial pilots who flew under her command knew she was crazy. But she had a secret. She couldn’t ever say what she had once been. The Imperials would not look kindly on someone who had slaughtered hundreds of their ships over the centuries. Unit Sixty Seven of the Islanian defense fleet subdesignation Michelle Sixty Seven Ji Five Alpha Ki did not exist anymore. Now she was Michelle, Sixth of the Seven. Also known as Tau Lead. And she had a battle to win. She keyed her controls, bringing her fighter to launch readiness, and then she hit her com.

“Tau Lead, ready to launch.” A line of icons on the side of her HUD blinked a steady green. Her flight. Eleven of the best pilots in space in her personal opinion, even if they were Imperials. “Tau Seven, status?”

“Tau Lead, Tau Seven.” Came the calm reply. Michelle bit her lip, but nodded. Tau Seven was Lieutenant Wils. Brand spanking new, right out of the academy. She wasn’t sure if he was an intelligence plant or not. Imperial Intelligence did things like that for less reason than having an insanely good pilot in silver armor simply appear out of nowhere to save a battleship from hostile takeover. “All systems nominal.”

“All Tau…” Michelle said softly. “This is going to be a firestorm and no question. The Reps do not seem to have fighters ready, but the moment we start raising the kind of havoc we do, bet they will try and counter us somehow.”

“Tau Lead from Tau Six. What about the nanites?” Fighter pilots were not stupid. The job was bloody dangerous, but they all tried to mitigate the risks as best they could. Flying into a cloud of machines that could eat anything they touched was… disturbing to say the least.

“I can sense them, Six.” Michelle said with far more conviction than she felt. “If I do, we scatter and run like hell.” An icon changed on her HUD and she smiled. “Time to earn our pay people. Remember keep tight. Wingmen, stay with your leaders. Leaders, watch for your wingmen. I want to buy all of you beers when we get back.”

“You are on, Lead!” Seven called and then the massive jolt of a catapult launch slammed Michelle into her seat and she was free again. Free to be what she was, a weapon.
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Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here