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The Exile's Order: The Phantom Menace

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     A Sith. Her world contorted around the fact, wild and horrid. A Sith. The travel back to Coruscant was background noise to her thoughts, an unwelcome distraction to the dangerous dilemma they had stumbled into. A Sith. The Exile's Order had spent centuries rooting out the dark beings, had fought disastrous war after disastrous war with them, their own numbers left smaller and smaller with each conflict. And now those beings of destruction had returned, and they had been caught completely unawares. How? How? Amara chewed at her finger tips, ignoring the looks of concern the handmaiden shot her. They would have to hunt it down, kill it before it could spread its evil ways. But how? None of the Enclaves had reported Sith sightings, how would they track the being down? She shivered, unable to enjoy the smooth landing of their transport as she stood to exit. Her body ran on a rough autopilot, and she was only barely aware of the stiff bow she gave the Supreme Chancellor, of the hurried excuses she tossed at them as she started swiftly towards the small transport her Enclave had managed to scrounge up for her. The wind whipped at her hair, and she smoothed it back in annoyance as she crawled into the vehicle. Rough cut edges, dull colorings, and familiar old technology met her there. Amara took a deep breath, shuddering as she started the vehicle and exited the landing platform. She had to inform the Headmistress, had to tell her what had happened as soon as possible.

 

     The Teacher ignored the looks she got as she rushed into store, digging through her pockets as the establishment's owner laid eyes on her Order's mark, her face going tight.

     "We don't serve your kind he-" The owner started, but Amara slapped her last credits into the woman's hand, locking eyes with her.

     "Keep it, keep it all- just let me use your holo-communicator!" The woman's eyes flickered down to the credits in her hand, and she glanced back up at the desperate Teacher. She fisted the credits.

     "Make it quick," she muttered, "when you leave, go out the back." Amara gave a shuddering gasp of relief, pushing her way through the other patrons to make it to the few bare bone holo-communicators available in the back. A quick tug of the ragged privacy curtain, and she was once more alone in her situation. With trembling fingers she entered her Enclave's code, stepping back as she waited for the connection to be established. A moment passed, and then another one- And the familiar face of her Headmistress flickered into view, the Twi'lek relaxing as she caught sight of Amara's face.

     "Teacher Varr-" the other woman greeted her, turning to fully face the Teacher.

     "Headmistress." Amara cut the woman off, ignoring the confusion that flickered across the woman's face at her unexpected interruption, "Headmistress... The mission..." She took a shuddering breath. "While we were escorting the Queen of Naboo...Master Jinn, he was attacked by... by..." Amara paused, the words catching in her throat. She didn't want to say it. To say it aloud would make the situation real. She didn't want it to be real.

     "Teacher Varr," the Headmistress questioned, the tips of her lekku twitching in confusion and concern.

     "Sith. It... it was a Sith," she managed to choke out, and the other woman's eyes widened in shock.

    "A Sith," the Headmistress repeated slowly, "is there... is there any chance the Jedi was mistaken? Any chance-"

    "No," Amara cut her off, shaking her head. "Master Jinn did battle with the creature, and it matched him strike for strike. I saw its lightsaber before we escaped- it was red." The Headmistress sat in silence at her words, inner conflict twisting the dark tattoos she wore into an angry riot. She pressed a fist tightly against her mouth, face paling.

     "Sith," the Twi'lek woman repeated, her voice small. "Sith." The two sat in momentary silence, their eyes downturned. Amara's eyes flickered upwards as the Headmistress shook her head, her lekku swinging with the motion. "For now, focus on aiding the Queen," the Headmistress commanded. "Khoonda's Administrator is at the capital, as are the other leaders of our planets, they'll do everything they can to aid her. I'll alert the other Enclaves to the situation, perhaps those of the Third will uncover clues we missed." Amara nodded her understanding, her hand moving to cut communications, but the Headmistress spoke once more. "And Teacher Varr, stay on guard. The Sith has already made one attempt on the Queen- it will surely try to do so again. Please, be careful."

     "I will," Amara responded, giving the woman a tight lipped smile as she ended the transmission. She pushed aside the privacy curtain, trying to ignore the way the owner's eyes tracked her every movement, and- ran into a patron. She connected hard with the person's chest, stumbling back in surprise. Regaining her balance, she hunched her shoulders. "I'm sorry," Amara muttered, keeping her face down as she sidestepped the patron she had bumped into. She prayed to the Exile that her transport was still where she had parked it- And scaled fingers closed around hers, the creature's grip going almost painfully tight as she tried in vain to pull her hand from its grasp. "What are you doing," Amara demanded, eyes going up to land- on Jar Jar's smiling face. She blinked, staring at the Gungan in blank surprise. "Jar Jar? What- what are you doing here?"

     "You left so quickly, Amara! Padme and I were so concerned," he began walking in the direction she had been headed, and she stumbled as he pulled her after him, picking up her own pace to keep up. "So she said, 'Jar Jar, you must go find Amara'. And I said, 'ok'. So here I am!" The Gungan gave her bright, cheerful smile, leading her out the back door.

     "But, how did you find me?" Amara asked, just barely able to shut the door behind her as he continued onwards without pause.

     "Oh? It was easy!" He crowed, grinning down at her. She waited for his explanation, but none was forthcoming.

     "Jar Jar-" she started, determined to get an answer from the Gungan, but he happily pointed ahead of them as they wound their way through the crowded streets. Begrudgingly, she followed his gaze, and blinked at sight of the Naboo guards who greeted her. Jar Jar caught the baffled look she shot him, his grin widening.

     "See, I told you she was concerned!" Indeed, Amara admitted, glancing with caution at their new escorts. They did not meet her gaze, their eyes fixed on the crowds around them. "Come on," Jar Jar encouraged her, releasing her hand as he hopped nonchalantly into the vehicle she assumed he had come in. Amara was slow to follow him.