Chapter 1: Stasis
Well, that could have gone better....
3610BBY - Korriban, Valley of the Dark Lords
“Kriff! I just had to go and touch it, didn't I?”
Struggling against the rapidly hardening stasis crystal, the female Sith growled in anger at her own stupidity. Ka'ani had been so enthralled by the statue of the pureblood before her she'd ignored the danger sense she had been gifted through the force as it tingled down her spine. It was too late by the time she heard the click of the catch triggering under her finger as she traced the ancient Sith language at the base of the statue.
Her mind raced as the sticky, crystallizing liquid pushed her to the center of the room. She'd come here because of a vision. She'd left in the middle of the night without informing anyone of her plans. No one knew she was on Korriban, no one would come looking for her here, eventually they would have to give up their search for the Empress of Zakuul and mourn her for dead.
Well, most of them would. She knew Theron would never stop searching. He hadn't given up on her during her time in carbonite, perhaps he would figure out where she was and rescue her from her own stupidity.
As the last of the stasis crystal hardened around her, Ka'ani called out her droid, T7-01, to send out a distress call. A distress call that was never made as the stasis crystal wrapped its tendrils around it too, encasing them both in their timeless prison.
10BBY - Korriban (Moraband)
"She's waking up, alert Major Cepheus."
Ka'ani groaned as a footsteps hurried towards her. "What's going on?" she croaked, opening her eyes to the harsh lights hung from the ceiling of the tomb. "Who are you?" Her eyes came into focus on a dust covered young man with blond hair and grey eyes in grey overalls leaning over her with a confused look on his face.
The young man turned at the approach of a considerably older man wearing an olive-grey, dust free tunic over a pair of black trousers. "She speaks Basic, but it's an odd dialect, sir."
Doing her best to not look as annoyed as she was beginning to feel, Ka'ani struggled to sit up, her head swimming and her muscles complaining from their extended immobility. "My name is Ka'ani Shan, Empress of the Eternal Alliance. Don't talk about me like I'm not here."
The older man, who she assumed was Major Cepheus, appeared somewhat taken aback by her statement. Clearing his throat, he nodded his head in greeting. "My apologies for my ensign, we are both just so surprised that you are alive. We thought we'd lost you while we were freeing you from the crystal." His eyes traveled along Ka'ani's body, taking in her dust stained robe and scuffed purple tinted armor. "Forgive my rudeness, but you don't look like an empress to me, could you perhaps be suffering from a sleeping sickness or the influence from the spirits within the tombs?"
A quiet laugh escaped Ka'ani's lips as she arched a fine eyebrow ridge. "You are with the Imperial Reclamation Service, correct? You are no doubt familiar with the Eternal Alliance, of Zakuul? The new leader from the Sith Empire sent you, right?"
Major Cepheus blinked in confusion. "I'm with the archaeology division of the Imperial Army. There is no such thing as the Imperial Reclamation Service in any of the Empire's forces." He tried to meet Ka'ani's eyes, but quickly looked away from the pained expression appearing in the woman's flame red eyes. "I'm sorry, but I've never heard of Zakuul, nor the Eternal Empire. Emperor Palpatine sent me to Moraband to investigate a tomb that had appeared in one of his adviser's visions. There is no Empress Acina, and the Sith Empire vanished millennia ago."
"Pardon me sir," offered the young ensign. "perhaps she has been trapped in stasis for longer than we'd assumed? I can't find any records of Zakuul in our databases, and the only entry matching her name is from a poorly translated historical text dating back over three thousand years. Something about the Hero of Tython and Battlemaster of the Republic." He gestured over to T7-01, who had begun to chirp and beep angrily several feet away. "The techs were unable to find that make and model in their files either."
Fear began to creep along Ka'ani's spine, her blood red flesh paling considerably. Had no one come looking for her? Were they all dead? "Ensign, could you do me a favor? Would you please look up how long it has been since the Treaty of Coruscant and the end of the Great Galactic War?"
Brow furrowing in confusion, the ensign looked to his commander for guidance. At Major Cepheus' nod, he punched the information into his datapad. "This will take a little while, it's hard to get a decent connection to the Holonet so far under ground." He gave Ka'ani a small smile which she politely returned. "Name's March Henutre, by the way." he stated, holding out a dusty hand.
Doing her best to control the fear growing inside her, Ka'ani shook March's hand before turning her attention to her droid, which had finally powered back up. "Yes, I understand that you don't like being tied down, T7. Just be patient." she stated as T7-01 chirped its annoyance at being connected to a small generator. "You'll be back to your old self in no time. As soon as your able to, see if you can establish a connection to Theron and let him know we're all right?"
"I don't think anyone will answer your message." muttered March. "According to this, the Treaty of Coruscant was signed 3,640 years ago." He looked up and met Ka'ani's horrified gaze. "I'm so sorry."
Chapter 2: Discovery
Ka'ani tries to come to terms with everyone she knows being dead.
Major Cepheus is not pleased with the news he receives from Coruscant.
Hey everyone, sorry for the huge time gap between chapters. I'd started writing up chapter 2 right after I ended chapter 1, but life got in the way....BIG TIME.
My daughter is mourning the death of her boyfriend, and it's been very stressful for all of us. She and her struggles have been coming first (obviously) and so there hasn't been much time for writing or anything else.
Things are finally calming down again, so thank you for your patience and understanding.
They were all dead.
Ka'ani was vaguely aware of the archaeology team working around her as she sat on one of the chairs in Major Cepheus' work station. T7 had finished charging and was over by the entrance of the tomb chattering jovially with another astromech as it attempted to get a signal. Even with the news of everyone being gone, she held out hope that if nothing else, the Eternal Alliance still existed and she could still return home.
Removing a small hololocket from under her armor, she opened the clasp and smiled faintly as an image of her, Theron, and their two daughters appeared in a pale blue glow. 'They're all dead, I'm all alone again.' The pain within her chest grew as the image before her blurred as her eyes filled with tears.
"Are you all right, Empress Ka'ani?"
A tiny smile tilted the corner of Ka'ani's mouth at the title. "Just Ka'ani is fine, and I will be all right, Ensign March, I just need some time to adjust and come to terms with everything." Closing the hololocket she looked up at the concerned young man before her and did her best to hide the pain inside her heart. "How is the excavation coming along? What are you here to find?"
"The Emperor had a vision of a powerful relic that could help the Empire grow in both power and stability." March pulled a datapad from the large hip bag on his waist and pulled up the schematics for the tomb. "We've searched the main rooms and the side passages, but so far we haven't found anything like he described in his vision." His soft grey eyes practically pleaded with Ka'ani as he handed her the data pad. "Perhaps there is some place we're overlooking? Someplace you might have found during your time exploring?"
"I wish my datapad didn't need so many upgrades to work with the changes in technology, otherwise I could just give you my maps." Her eyebrow ridges furrowed as she scanned the tomb's layout. Time had not been nice to the tomb, but there were several passages that appeared to end in a false dead end. "Perhaps we could find a way to overlay the maps I have with yours? I'm not sure how to go about it, perhaps holographic overlays would work best? T7 should have them in his memory banks, and from the looks of these," she gestured to a blocked passage, "there have been several cave ins over the centuries. This passage was open when I was exploring, and if we could get past the blockage, we should be able to get deeper into the tomb."
Ka'ani nodded and got to her feet. "I'm not about to sit here while you lot explore the tomb I was sent by the force to explore. Think of it as payment for my maps."
March watched as Ka'ani made her way to the T7 astromech they'd discovered in the stasis crystal along with her. She was nothing like the stories of the Jedi he'd learned in the academy, nor was she anything like the Sith he'd been studying before he'd been selected for the expedition to Moraband. The Jedi were stoic, unfeeling, and had no emotional attachments to anyone or anything. The Sith were brutal people who were controlled by their emotions and who were always looking for a way to gain more power for themselves. It was the main reason they had vanished from the records, they'd killed themselves off.
Ka'ani was something entirely different. She obviously had a family who she missed greatly. She carried a small locket with them inside, which no Jedi would ever do. He'd seen the smiles on everyone's faces in the image, which went against everything he knew about the Sith. He could see the friendship she had with the little T7 droid in the way she spoke and how she knelt down to talk with it like an equal.
On top of all of that, she'd claimed to be an empress, but she was too friendly and polite. She didn't have the detached air of authority that other members of royalty wore about themselves. She treated everyone like they were her equal, and even was respectful to the chain of command of an Empire she'd never dealt with before.
Just what was she?
"You were right, there was a cave in on this passage." Cepheus ran his fingers down one of the large cracks in the wall before him. "Without your map, we would have never known there should be a passage. This was an expertly done cave in, the rocks sit perfectly on one another."
Ka'ani grinned happily. "Glad to be of service."
"Well, let's get out of the way so that the demolition crews can come in to remove the cave in, shall we?"
"That won't be necessary, if you could step back a few meters I can take care of this." Ka'ani could sense the stress points in the rocks, the feel of the force as it pushed through the minute fissures, showing her where to focus her attention. After waiting a few seconds for Cepheus and the others to step back to a safe point she closed her eyes and held out her hands. The force responded to her call, the boulders shifting and sliding out of place as the stale air trapped behind the wall exhaled into the corridor. With the air she could feel the force flowing free once again and a thin smile lifted the corner of her lips.
The force wrapped around her and spun off towards the entrance to the tomb, almost as if it was overjoyed to be free once again.
"The corridor, the rocks are moving out of the way!" shouted a young tech, momentarily interrupting Ka'ani's concentration.
"Quiet!" hissed Cepheus, his eyes shifting nervously to the boulders as they shuddered in the air, momentarily dropping several inches before realigning with their old paths. He could see Ensign March holding up a holorecorder to ensure that everything being done was properly documented. "If you can, widen the visual range to include both ultra and infra ranges." he ordered quietly.
March nodded and quickly adjusted the visual range.
The boulders, now free of one another, floated calmly to one side of the freshly opened corridor and came to rest in the thin layer of dust of the tomb. Opening her eyes, Ka'ani let out the breath she hadn't even been aware she'd been holding and turned to the crew. "Shall we?"
TWO WEEKS LATER
It felt good to be among the stars once again.
Thought the room they'd given her had nothing more than a bed and a sink, Ka'ani couldn't resist the laugh that escaped her throat. It had been so long since she'd stayed in a room so small, and there was something enjoyable about the nostalgia she was experiencing.
"I'm just heading to find a place to get some food." she stated as T7 beeped at her questioningly. "Perhaps Ensign March has been able to take a look at my datapad as well."
The door chimed as if in response to her statement, prompting an aristocratic eyebrow ridge quirk. "It's open."
Major Cepheus gave Ka'ani a polite smile as the door slid open, his face ashen and his pepper grey hair disheveled under his officer's cap. "I told you I would inform you the moment I was able to contact the capitol. Unfortunately, the response I received is one of the biggest insults I've ever received. They are asking me to get rid of, no destroy, the greatest discovery of my career." His smile faded as two armed Stormtroopers stepped past him, "Even though you lived centuries before Order 66, the fact that you are a Jedi means you fall under it. These men are to take you to the brig, and you will be either taken to Coruscant for trial or killed here on the ship, depending on the final verdict of the Emperor."
Ka'ani held out a warning hand to T7 as it moved forward to protect her. "May I make one request then?"
"It is the least I can do for the help you provided to my crew down on Moraband."
"Please allow T7 to stay with Ensign March and assist him in his work."
Cepheus did his best to hide his surprise at her request. He'd expected her to ask for something else, perhaps beg for help escaping. "That can be done. Please hand over your lightsabers." he requested, holding out his hand. "I hope the Maker smiles upon you and we receive a favorable response from the Emperor."
"I hope so as well." stated Ka'ani, unclipping her lightsabers from her belt and handing them to the major before allowing one of the Stormtroopers to place binders on her wrists and lead her to the brig. "Tell me though, what are they asking you to destroy?"
Chapter 3: Escape
Ka'ani escapes during an emergency call to Ord Mantell, but at a heavy price.
3620BBY - Zakuul (10 Years After the Assault on Odessen)
Cuddling had become rather difficult ever since the twins had become more active, not that Ka'ani minded too much. Theron snored quietly beside her, his arm curled protectively around her shoulders as they lay in their bed under thin sheets in the summer heat. The twins shifted as Ka'ani nestled closer to her husband and nuzzled against his chest. After so many years at war, it felt good to finally be at peace.
A strong kick from one of the twins jolted Ka'ani from her thoughts. "Careful little one, you'll wake your father." she whispered, rubbing a crimson skinned hand over her stomach.
Theron chuckled and rolled on his side as he wrapped his other arm around his wife. "I might not be sensitive to the Force, but our daughters are quite adamant about something right now."
"The medical droids did say that these two will be arriving any day now." Ka'ani winced as the second twin joined in with its sibling in straining against her abdomen. "I think these two know it and want out." The medical team had been following her pregnancy closely, and while she tried to brush it off to Theron it was just because these would be the first children born to the new ruling family of the Eternal Alliance, she knew that deep down he knew there was another reason. "Remember when you asked why the medical team was checking on me every day?"
"You told me it was just their paranoia over a new set of royal children." Theron shifted, pulling himself into a sitting position, his arms still wrapped around Ka'ani. "But we both know you were hiding the truth." A smile spread across his face as Ka'ani blinked in surprise. "Former SIS, remember? I'm trained to notice stuff like that." he said with a quiet chuckle.
"Why didn't you say anything if you knew I was hiding it?"
"You had to have had your reasons. I figured you'd tell me eventually." His eyes were filled with concern as he held his wife against him. "Is there something wrong with our girls?"
Ka'ani shook her head. "They're perfectly healthy and growing like they should. The medical teams, and Dr. Oggurobb especially, have never seen a pregnancy like this before, so they're keeping close and frequent records on it."
"The Sith have bred with humans for centuries, our children are nothing new to medical knowledge."
"Sith and humans sure, but not a Sith clone and a human." She felt Theron's muscles tighten in shock at her confession. "Al and I are clones of our father who were modified to be female in the hopes we would be more pliable under Jedi teaching. The Jedi council stole some of our father's blood and tissue while they had him captured and decided to see if they could raise a Sith to be a Jedi." A sigh escaped her lips as she leaned back to look at her husband, her blood red eyes meeting his dark brown ones. "The Sith have a natural affinity to the dark side of the force, what used to be called the Boga or Bogan back when both sides were treated as two parts of a whole."
"I remember the teachings as well." stated Theron. "The Sith were considered seduced by the dark side, and beyond redemption. Attempts at reprogramming a Sith had been unsuccessful, and the only success stories were of humans coming back from the dark side, like Revan."
"So you see why the Jedi would want a chance to test this theory."
"But why would they pick your father?"
A small half smile tilted Ka'ani's lips. "My father was the Emperor's Wrath."
Theron tried to hide his laughter with a cough as he smiled at the woman before him. "Well that would explain your passionate actions."
"You've never complained about my passion in bed." smirked Ka'ani as she playfully hit Theron with a pillow.
"Getting back to the matter at hand though, why would being a clone be so important to your pregnancy?"
The smile slid from Ka'ani's face, her gaze lowering to fall on her swollen stomach. "We were supposed to be sterile. Our genetics were modified in such a way that we were supposed to just be slightly modified copies of our father, not fully separate beings. When they discovered the error, they tried to sterilize us to make sure we couldn't pass on our genes if their experiments failed. It was your mother who stepped in to stop this, but not before Al had been sterilized."
"My mother stopped it? So she knew about the experiments?"
"She did. She was not pleased with the events, but felt that the knowledge that the Jedi could gain outweighed her personal qualms with the experiments. She drew the line at the sterilization though, never understood why. We were given to-" A sharp pain shot though her body, nearly forcing her to double over as the first of the contractions hit. Labor was coming, but not in the right way. "Theron," she gasped, "something is wrong."
10BBY - ORD MANTELL
Klaxons blared as Ka'ani opened her eyes, her meditation interrupted by some unknown emergency. "T7, what's going on?" she asked, pressing the com on her bracer. A series of beeps and chirps erupted from the speaker, forcing her to put a hand over it to muffle the sound. "What do you mean pirates have overrun the ship and you're heading to the bridge? Where is Ensign March?" Her face darkened as T7 informed her of the news. "They killed him...and the rest of the team?" she could barely believe the words coming out of her mouth. "Change of plans then, get to the detention area and get me out. We'll take care of these pirates."
As she shut off the com she looked up to see the door to her cell slide open. Two scruffy and filthy looking humans pointed blaster rifles at her momentarily before lowering them in disbelief. "Can I help you?" she asked.
"Check it out, a female Devaronian! She'll fetch a huge price on the markets." The male on the left gave an appreciative whistle as he looked Ka'ani up and down. "I figure we could get at least a few thousand credits for her."
Ka'ani felt her eye twitch at the low price. She'd been put up for auction a few times before, and had even been deemed priceless during her sleep in carbonite on Zakuul, so only a few thousand credits was beyond insulting. "I'm right here, boys. If you keep talking like I'm not, I'll have to do something about it."
"What are you going to do? You have binders on and you're unarmed. Just be a good little girl and come here will you? We wouldn't want to have to hurt you."
"Oh, you won't hurt me." smiled Ka'ani, rising to her feet. Lifting her still bound hands, her smile turned to a snarl of anger, white-purple lightning flying from her fingertips and enveloping the two humans. "Worry about your own skin." she growled as the smell of charred flesh filled her nose.
Her face was expressionless as she stepped over the burnt and still twitching bodies, her mind racing as it fought to control the high she felt from giving in to her anger. It was a sensation stronger than the purest spice, a high she wanted to keep regardless of the damage it did to her, and she had to fight it. Loud chirps and beeps shocked her from her struggles, the lust to give in further subsiding momentarily as T7 raced towards her, her lightsabers held in its mechanical appendages. "Your timing is wonderful as always, my friend." T7 chirped happily and undid the lock on Ka'ani's binders, allowing her to take her lightsabers back. "How many pirates are left on board?"
"I don't care what you have to do, do not let those ruffians on the bridge!"
"Sir, we're receiving reports that the archaeology team have been slaughtered!"
"They're coming through the blast doors!"
Major Cepheus stood beside the ship's captain, his expression grim. The pirates were most likely the ones who had sent out the distress signal on Ord Mantell, and it was obvious from their patterns of attack that they had known beforehand that there would be priceless antiques on board this ship. "What news from the brig?" he asked.
"The two troopers assigned there are not answering."
His brow furrowing with worry, Cepheus looked to the captain. "What are we going to do?"
"We're going to protect this ship, that's what we're going to do." growled the captain.
"Blast doors are breached!"
A hail of blaster fire poured through the hole in the blast doors forcing everyone to dive for cover. Cepheus could hear the sound of his excavation droids struggling against the doors, forcing them fully open. His own cowardice had been the only thing to save him from his team's fate, something that would stick with him for the rest of his days.
The sound of screams brought him from his self pity. Cautiously lifting his head he gasped at the sight of two blue black blades spinning in the dark corridor outside the bridge. Blaster bolts were deflected back at their owners as the pirates turned their attention to the new attacker. He could hear the lead pirate shouting orders to his subordinates, but knew full well that those orders were being ignored. His smile faded as the last of the pirates in his field of vision fell to the ground, leaving just the Jedi he'd found on Moraband standing in the corridor.
"The pirates have all either been detained in the maintenance bay, or they're dead." reported Ka'ani as she extinguished her blades and returned them to her belt. "You will want to send medical crews to sweep the ship, there are several groups of wounded men and women."
"You there! Jedi!" The captain pointed a shaky finger at Ka'ani as he attempted to motion for the remaining troopers to converge on her location. "I hereby order you to surrender and return to the brig."
Ka'ani smiled and shook her head. "I'm afraid that's not going to happen." She raised a hand, halting the troopers in mid stride as they all reached for their throats. "Besides...I'm no Jedi." The troopers collapsed to the floor, unconscious but still alive as she turned and raced toward the escape pods T7 had pointed out on the ship's schematics.
"Yep, it's still Ord Mantell." groaned Ka'ani as she and T7 hid in the shadows. The times may have changed, but the smells had forgotten to keep up. She kept the hood of her coat up, following T7 to another side street on their way to the spaceport. The trip in the escape pod had been less than fun, but now they needed to find a ship to get them off planet and hopefully away from the core worlds.
"What's wrong, my friend?" asked Ka'ani as T7 came to an abrupt halt outside the spaceport and chirped in annoyance. "No, I don't know what we'll use to pay for passage, we'll think of something."
A quick couple of mind tricks got her past security and to the docking controls. T7 wasted no time plugging in to scan the ships currently docked as Ka'ani kept watch.
There wasn't much to see outside of the usual groups of off world travelers, mechanics, and merchants. There was a green Twi'lek in an orange pilot's outfit talking with a young brown haired man over by one of the bays that caught her attention, especially the young man. Even from here she could feel his connection to the force. As the two headed towards the exit she turned to look down at T7, keeping her face and armor obscured from sight. "Anything?" she asked, hoping they would pass her by without question.
T7 pulled up a ship manifest and beeped happily. "I agree, that is quite the ship, but they don't show that they're taking on passengers." Ka'ani leaned forward to examine the manifest of the VCX-100 light freighter a little closer. "Ample cargo room though, we should be able to hide out if necessary. If nothing else we can hide in the attached shuttle." Pulling her hood down further she made her way towards the docking bay where the freighter was stored, waiting long enough for T7 to override the lock on the bay doors before slipping inside.
She couldn't help but give an appreciative whistle at the sight of the ship in the bay. "You sure can pick them, can't you? Come on, before her owners get back." Hurrying forward she scanned the area and motioned for T7 to join her. The droid struggled a little to override the cargo bay doors, but chirped happily as the ramp began to lower. "Good job." smiled Ka'ani as she followed her friend up the ramp. She navigated her way up to the shuttle and activated the mechanism to pull T7 up before she climbed in herself. It was only once she was inside that she realized that she wasn't in a simple shuttle, but a small starfighter. "Talk about appearances being deceiving." she whispered.
Sitting down in the pilot's seat she lowered her hood and looked out the view port at the sky beyond the bay. If she was caught she could always mind trick the people into helping her, though she hoped that wouldn't be the case. Hopefully they would be sympathetic to her plight and help her in exchange for...she hadn't thought that far ahead yet. Taking her datapad from T7 and slipping it into the pouch on her hip, she felt exhaustion finally taking over and closed her eyes.
Chapter 4: Debt
Ka'ani pleads with Kanan and Hera to allow her to travel with them until she can get a message to Zakuul. But without credits or a way to pay for anything, what will she use as collateral?
I've decided to start writing up what the droids are saying, as opposed to people just repeating what they say in response. I'm going to use the style used in SWtOR for droids like T7-01 ( T7 = Part of Jedi Order // T7 = Wants lightsaber upgrade ) and their statements will be in bold without quotation marks.
Especially with Chopper AND T7 being in this chapter. I figure Chopper talks more like HK 47 though, with the "Declaration: You're on fire" style over how T7 would speak.
3620BBY - Odessen
The flickering holo image of Theron Shan lit the room with an eerie blue glow. "Theron, what's wrong?" asked Lana. Pain and fear were apparent in his face as he appeared to lean over a control panel. "Don't tell me everything's all right either. I can sense a disturbance in the force all the way out here on Odessen."
Theron's voice was strained as he stared down at the control panel. "Ka'ani has gone into labor, but something's wrong. I need you and Al here as soon as possible."
Any trace of sleep left Lana at the former SIS agent's words. "She is down in the command room working with the new recruits. I will get her and we will be there as soon as a shuttle is prepped."
"You sound like you're about to scream." stated Lana, throwing on her robes and fastening her belt.
A tight laugh broke from Theron's throat. "I can't lose her, Lana. I can't lose the girls. The medical team kicked me out of the room and told me to contact you and Al in case they can't get her stable." He swung his arm behind him in exasperation towards an unseen door. "They are trying to stabilize her and the twins but the twins are panicking apparently and only droids are able to get close to try to work on Ka'ani. I already sent a message along to Senya but she's too far away to get to us in time to help."
"Well keep trying to reach her, and try to reach Arcann, he's shown an aptitude for being able to shield himself from the Force. We will be there as fast as we can. Trust in the Force." Without waiting for Theron to respond she picked up the portable holo and ended the communication.
10BBY - En Route to Nar Shaddaa
The hooded figure before him gave a quiet moan as it curled tighter into the fetal position. From the pitch, Kanan guessed their uninvited guest was a woman, and from the sensations he was feeling now that he was in close proximity she was also exceptionally strong in the Force. "When do you think she snuck on board?" he asked as his partner in crime, Hera, ascended the ladder into the Phantom.
"Best guess is back on Ord Mantell, though how she got past Chopper and the security is beyond me." Her focus shifted from the body on the floor of her shuttle to the astromech guarding the intruder. "If it wasn't for this droid trying to send a message we wouldn't have noticed her until stuff started disappearing in the ship or until we needed the Phantom for something."
"Should we wake her?"
Jedi = Needs sleep // T7 = Available to answer questions
Kanan's eyes widened at the announcement that the body before him was a jedi. "Did he just say Jedi?"
T7 + Jedi = Good friends // Jedi = In need of help
Hera bit back a sigh as the look of shock on Kanan's face grew. "And just think, this Jedi needs help." She did her best to hide the annoyance in her voice, but from T7's reaction she could tell quite a bit slipped through. "We don't need any trouble with the government, especially pertaining to Jedis." she stated coldly. She'd already taken a big enough risk trusting Kanan, and while that had paid out quite well for the both of them, she couldn't say the same for the Jedi before her. "How do we even know she's a Jedi?"
"She's strong in the Force, and unless I'm mistaken, those are lightsabers on her belt." Very few Jedi used two sabers though, and all of the ones Kanan knew had been killed during Order 66. "T7, we should get your friend to a bunk at least. It's not good for her to be sleeping on the floor." He decided to switch tactics and throw on a little charm. "Besides, you look like you've got some really good stories to tell and we need to be back down in the ship in case something happens. I would love to hear your tales."
T7 = Guarding Jedi // T7 = Has more important job right now
"If I promise that no harm will come to her, will you let us take her onto the ship and to one of the bunks?"
T7's visual processor spun between the Twi'lek and human before it and down to Ka'ani.
Human = Promise to not hurt Jedi friend // T7 = Agree to let human take Jedi to the ship.
Time slowly slid back into place as Ka'ani's eyes tried to focus on her surroundings in the dim light of the small room. Taking an inventory of her surroundings she realized she was lying on a standard length bunk in a small room. There was a bunk above her, but other than a couple of shelves the room was bare. Her armor was folded on a small table beside her which left her in her undergarments and a loose tunic and pants.
A flash of panic shot through her as she realized her lightsabers were missing, as was her wrist com. Her fingers slipped under the tunic to find her hololocket was still around her neck, its cool metal casing giving her something to focus on as she whispered her code. "There is no light without the dark. Through passion, I gain focus." Her voice grew steadier with each word recited, her body coming back under her control. "Through knowledge, I gain power." She got to her feet and slowly slipped from the clothes she'd been lent. "Through serenity, I gain strength." She slipped into her armor and arranged her robe over it all, adjusting the shoulder pieces before sitting back down to put on her boots. "Through victory, I gain harmony." The calm spread through her as she rose again and made her way to the door. "There is only the force."
The door slid open to reveal a small hallway with another door on the other side that she guessed was another set of living quarters. Reaching out with the Force she could sense T7, another droid, and two other beings towards the front of the ship. "I'd only be down here if T7 trusted them." she assured herself. Following the hall towards the front of the ship she paused at the door and listened to the conversation on the other side, a small smirk tilting up the corners of her lips as T7 regaled the owners of the ship with stories of her exploits. She pressed the console to open the door and did her best to smile politely at the female twi'lek and human male who rose to their feet at her entrance.
Jedi = Awake and rested! // T7 = Telling Kanan and Hera about our adventures!
Ka'ani's smile shifted to one of embarrassment as she ran a hand through her hair. "I hope T7 hasn't been bothering you too much."
The green skinned twi'lek returned a polite smile, though her posture showed she was more than ready to toss the stowaways out the airlock the moment they became dangerous. "Your friend informed us that you're running from the Empire and Order 66. Might want to convince your friend to call you something other than Jedi if you want to keep a low profile."
"How is it that you survived Order 66?" asked the young man.
"I was alive long before it happened, and at its implementation I was sort of stuck in a Sith trap on Korriban." Ka'ani's eyebrow ridge raised slightly as the two in front of her looked at her in confusion. "I believe the planet is now called Moraband?" She could feel the force flowing from the man standing before her, but there was no lightsaber at his hip, nor was there a force pike in the room. "I am being rude though. My name is Ka'ani Shan."
T7 = Informed Kanan and Hera of your titles // T7 = Still waiting on lightsaber upgrade.
The twi'lek smiled at T7's comment before returning her attention to Ka'ani. "Well I'm Hera, and this here is Kanan. I would like to know however, why you are on my ship?"
"I was trying to get off Ord Mantell and back to my home, and I was guided to your ship."
"Guided by the force?" asked Kanan.
With a small nod, Ka'ani relaxed her posture ever so slightly. "I was found by an excavation team belonging to the Empire, but there were...complications and when they landed on Ord Mantell I escaped after helping them deal with some pirates."
Jedi = Cleared out all the pirates // Jedi = Saved the crew that threw her in the brig
"That too..." muttered Ka'ani.
Hera sighed and crossed her arms over her chest. "So where is your home?"
"Zakuul. It's in wild space, T7 has been trying to reach someone there to see if we even have a home to return to." Ka'ani's expression turned to one of worry as Hera and Kanan exchanged glances. "I don't have any credits on me right now, but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to pay you back for letting me fly with you, even if it's just to wherever you stop next."
Kanan gave Hera a small nod. "We'll be stopping on Nar Shaddaa for a while to resupply and repair our ship. There are several holoterminals in the promenade that you can use to try to send your message. For now, don't worry about the cost of the trip," he smiled and held out his hand to Ka'ani. "consider it a friendly agreement from one force user to another. Just try to get your droid to stop calling you Jedi for now."
Chapter 5: Contact
Ka'ani discovers that not much has changed on Nar Shaddaa (the smells, the crowds, the lights, the people trying to rob her blind....) and someone familiar makes his presence known.
Sith = Species
sith = belief system
Sorry this chapter is a little short, I promise the next one will see some more action and fun!
3620BBY - Zakuul
Theron had been pacing the halls outside the medical wing for what seemed like an eternity when Lana and Al-Djinni finally arrived. "You're here! They want you inside right away, Arcann is already in there working to calm the twins, but he's convinced Al will have better luck due to blood connections."
He watched helplessly as Lana and Al disappeared into the medical wing, leaving him alone in the empty hall. For all his experience with getting out of tight spots, for all the times he'd escaped certain death in nothing but his underwear, being forced to stand back and let someone else do the very thing he knew he should be doing was like a vibroknife to the gut. He'd taken out sith lords, and yet here he was forced to wait outside for fear that the twins might panic and kill all non-force sensitive beings in the area.
Arcann had assured him this was a potential problem for children who were strong in the force, but all that did was remind him of how psychotic Vaylin had become. That was not something he needed to be thinking about when it came to his children. The blood of Revan ran through his veins, and pairing that with the blood of the Emperor's Wrath was already concerning enough. Revan's own child had not been force sensitive, but that didn't mean that the next several generations weren't able to make up for that dip in power.
For the first time in a long time, he had to admit he was helpless.
10BBY - Nar Shaddaa
The trip to Nar Shaddaa was for the most part uneventful, if Ka'ani ignored Chopper's constant commentary about T7 being a goody two shoes and Ka'ani's clothing jeopardizing Kanan. Hera had been polite enough to allow her access to the holonet as an attempt to make a small dent in the nearly 4,000 years worth of history that had happened since she'd been frozen.
Much of it appeared to have been scrubbed of any mention of the jedi or sith, and it took quite a bit of digging and the use of some old tricks Theron had taught her to pull up the history she was most interested in. She poured over the Yavin Convention, the founding of the Galactic Republic, and found herself fascinated in how strange the sith had become post Darth Bane.
Kanan had been polite enough to tell her about the most recent dealings with the jedi and the sith, though she could tell there was much he was still uncomfortable talking about. The poor young man had been through a lot in his lifetime, and with how he reacted to her offer to help him finish his jedi training, she was quite sure that he wasn't in any way diminishing just how dangerous it was to be a jedi in these times.
As they found a docking bay at the Nar Shaddaa spaceport Kanan reminded her that she needed to keep her sabers hidden at all times, preferably not on her person, and that any evidence of force powers would endanger her. To pay for her lodging, she offered him her armor, suggesting that he could perhaps sell it to a collector to help pay for anything needed on the ship.
She didn't give him a chance to protest before disembarking and disappearing into the busy port, her sabers safely hidden inside T7 and her cloak pulled tightly over her face.
"Well hello there, what are you doing here?" muttered Aurrenian to himself as his gaze fell on Ka'ani as she wove her way to an open terminal at the crowded holo-cantina. He hadn't expected to find a Sith outside of the Eternal Alliance, especially since the last anyone had heard of a Sith outside of Wild Space was over a millennia ago. Heck, he'd traveled almost 33,000 parsecs to avoid them. Well...more to escape his parents and tutors, but since they were Sith and descendants of Sith, it was all the same to him.
Perhaps it was the need to test out his new implants, perhaps it was his lack of experience due to only being 15 when it came to observing his targets without being obvious, but whatever the reason, he found himself leaning on his elbows and staring at the terminal Ka'ani was doing her best to use with some semblance of privacy. The public terminal was easy enough to hack with his implant, and within seconds he found himself privy to information that could leave him set for life.
The first thing she'd done was attempt to access old holo messages, and wow were they old, addressed to a name he knew all too well. Ka'ani, the first empress of the Eternal Alliance and twin to the second empress, Al-Dijinni. He whistled appreciatively as he watched, his mind racing between the Sith before him being the famed Ka'ani or an imposter who was really well connected. After she'd downloaded all of the messages, she composed several messages to various political posts on Zakuul, as well as a general S.O.S. to anyone on Zakuul who could be found in the palace. There were also a few messages sent to Odessen, and then the screen changed again.
If he hadn't been obvious about staring at her before, he was practically screaming he was watching her as she checked on a special account at one of the local IGBC banks. Not only was the account still active, but it was loaded.
Aurrenian yelped with pain as electricity course up from his leg, short circuiting his implants and leaving him temporarily blind in his left eye. Covering his eye he glared down at the yellow and purple astromech beeping angrily at him. "What did you do that for?" he demanded.
Stranger = Doing something he shouldn't // T7 = Will stop stranger now
"Staring isn't a crime." he snarled.
Stranger = Better watch himself // T7 = Not playing around
"You're just as lippy as my mom's droid." he growled as a sneer spread across his face as his vision returned and his implants rebooted. His rose beige skin paled several shades as a crimson hand rested itself on the droid.
Ka'ani's blood red eyes fixed on Aurrenian's bright yellow eyes, her expression stern and unforgiving. "T7 is right though, it's not nice to spy on someone."
"Yeah, well it's not nice for my mom to send one of you to spy on me either! It's also not nice for you to pretend to be our former empress!"
"Excuse me?" asked Ka'ani, her eyebrow ridges rising in confusion.
"Don't play dumb."
Stranger = Needs to explain a lot // Stranger = Talking crazy
Ka'ani gestured for the young teen before her to move so she could sit down as well at his table. "I have never met you before, which leaves me at a great disadvantage. You however, seem to know who I am, which leaves me wondering what else you might know." Her expression softened slightly as she sensed his fear. "Perhaps if we introduced ourselves?" A thin smile spread across her lips as the teen relaxed slightly. "You said I was pretending to be your former empress, who was that?"
"Well unfortunately, I'm not pretending to be myself. I am Ka'ani Shan, though I'm a little displaced currently due to an accident. What's your name?" She was doing her best to be polite and to smile, but the young teen looked remarkably like Theron, if Theron had yellow eyes and a ruddy hue to his skin. The kid could barely be past his mid teens, and was at the stage all teenagers hate, where the body was growing faster than the mind could keep up. His reddish brown hair was pulled back in a short ponytail, with strands falling loose around his face, and his eyes revealed his Sith heritage. The cybernetics next to his left eye brought a small pang of sadness to her chest, which she made sure didn't spread to her face.
Aurrenian's eyes narrowed ever so slightly at the claims of the woman in front of him. Sure, he knew how to test whether or not she was telling the truth, but that involved going back to Zakuul, and he really didn't want to do that. "Aurrenian, my name is Aurrenian Shan, first son and utter disappointment to Leeadra Shan, Empress of the Eternal Alliance."
An eyebrow ridge went up. "Should I ask why you're a disappointment? Aside from some issues of tact and being a bit too obvious in your actions, I have yet to see anything that would label you as such."
"Look, I'm not here on a diplomatic mission or anything, I kinda came here to get away from the palace and everything."
Ka'ani gave a slight shrug and smiled. "Kind of figured that, but it still doesn't explain why you call yourself a disappointment."
Aurrenian sighed and looked down at the signet ring on his thumb. "I'm a disappointment because I was born. I'm the first son to be born to the Shan line in over 3,500 years. Per the laws, only a female can take the throne, and mom's first born was a son."
Chapter 6: Lost Time
Ka'ani and Aurrenian discover that there are some slight...issues with someone coming back from being missing for almost 4,000 years.
Ka'ani's new clothes (pants are supposed to be black...stupid log out screen) and new hair cut: http://imgur.com/a/7U2tD
I tried to slice off my finger with a cheese grater (wasn't paying attention) so typing has been a bit slow.
10BBY - Nar Shaddaa
The shock must have been apparent in Ka'ani's expression by Aurennian's embarrassed look. "I didn't defeat Valkorion and his children to see something like this be put into law. Is there any justification for this?"
"According to my tutors the law was made when the consort of one of the empresses tried to take the throne after her death. His first order was to disband the council that helped govern the Alliance, giving himself ultimate power and control. He broke the millennia of peace the Eternal Alliance had enjoyed by sending forces to invade a planet outside of the Chiss Ascendancy, which sparked conflict and brought war on the planets under the protection of the two federations that had been allies. Once he was overthrown and the empress' sister came of age, the council was put back in power and the law was made." Aurennian muttered a quiet thanks to T7 as the droid returned with two drinks. "Ever since then, even if the empress dies before her daughter comes of age, no man can take the throne. It either goes to a sister, or the council rules by proxy."
"Well that's a load of Krayt spit. If we enacted laws banning people over the actions of just one person no one would be able to do anything." Sipping her drink, Ka'ani surveyed the cafe's patrons. Her eyes fixed on a blue skinned man several tables away. She'd felt his gaze on them for some time, though his interest seemed to be more focused on the young man she was with. While his eyes were covered with a visor that also happened to obscure part of his scarred face, the dull red glow was unmistakable. "Tell me, are Sith and Chiss still known in the galaxy?"
Aurennian choked on his drink. "Why do you ask?" he gasped.
"Not outside of wild space, the Chiss even cut off ties with the Alliance approximately 50 years ago after rumors began to spread of dangers lurking on the fringes of the galaxy. The Sith haven't been seen for several centuries in the known galaxy, the last of them supposedly dying off or going into hiding during the time of the Old Republic. The only known colonies of Sith live within the Alliance out in wild space."
A thin smile spread across Ka'ani's lips. "Good to know. Would you care to accompany me to check on a few things? I still need to get some clothes that well...fit." she gestured to the clothes she'd borrowed from Kanan. "I also need to find a way to get to Coruscant."
Following Ka'ani as she rose to her feet, Aurennian tossed a few credits to pay for the drinks to one of the serving droids and hurried after the surprisingly fast Sith. "Why Coruscant? Don't you want to go home?"
"Oh I want to go home, but I have some unfinished business to take care of first. I can't very well get back to Korriban to finish my research if I'm going to be hunted and killed over Order 66, now can I?"
The first signs of a headache were forming behind Ka'ani's eyes as the banker droid repeated its pre-programmed denial. "I'm the owner of the account, you've even verified that. Why can't I access it?"
"I'm sorry, but the expected life span for the owner of the account expired 3290 years ago. While you clear all of the required verification to access the account, you cannot access the account."
"The urge to turn you into scrap is only growing each time you state that." snarled Ka'ani. "So if I can't access my own account, is there anyone who can?"
The droid was silent as it processed the question. "Yes. A descendant of yours would be able to access your account."
"Wonderful! I just so happen to have someone here who meets that requirement."
Aurennian blinked in surprise and cast a sidelong glance at Ka'ani. "Me?"
"So long as you were telling the truth, you should be able to access the account."
The droid pushed a small round device toward Aurennian. "If you would please place your hand on this and grasp it tightly, we can begin the verification process."
Taking the device in hand, Aurennian winced as tiny needles pricked his skin, collecting his blood for testing. "Why so many needles?" he asked as the droid retrieved the device.
"It's to try to prevent people from stealing genetic material from someone." stated Ka'ani. "If you collect from multiple sites, it's harder to trick the devices."
"I guess that makes sense." Aurennian thanked her as she handed him a cloth to clean his hand. "So what now?"
"We wait to see if your genetics are enough to allow access to the account."
The Chiss male passed within Ka'ani's range of notice once again as she listened to the banker droid explaining the rules of the account to Aurennian. Taking advantage of Aurennian's concentration, she slipped out into the bustling crowd outside and across the way. The Chiss had been watching them from the rooftop, and she was going to find out why. A few quick jumps allowed her to get to the roof without too much trouble. She smiled quietly as she noticed the wire traps near the door. This person didn't want to be disturbed. "I can't help but wonder what you want with that young man."
Crying out in surprise the Chiss whirled around. "Maker's breath!" he gasped in si bisti. "How did you get up here without setting off the alarms!"
"I'm talented." smirked Ka'ani, responding in si bisti. "Now what are you doing up here? And don't try to run, I'm not in the mood and you will only make me angry."
"My orders are to keep watch on the prince and keep him safe."
"Oh he's not going to like that." laughed Ka'ani. "He thinks he managed to sneak away." Her guard still raised and her hand slipping under her coat to grasp her light saber, she gave the Chiss a small smile. "You have a name? Or should I ask your charge?"
"My name is Tin'adeko'miheri, captain of Alliance Intelligence Services under the authority of Empress Leeadra Shan." growled the Chiss. "Though I guess Nadeko would be less of a mouthful."
"Nadeko it is then. So, why are you spying on the kid?"
"The empress knew of his plans to run away and charged AIS to keep watch. His force powers haven't been honed enough to notice us, so we figured we were safe."
"You weren't expecting anyone who could sense you?"
"Order 66 and the Rule of Two took care of our concerns, your presence will force us to reevaluate our strategies."
"Good to know." Ka'ani's gaze moved past Nadeko, her eyes narrowing. "We will be in touch." Without another word she leapt back down to the alley and hurried back to the bank, stepping through the door as the droid handed Aurennian a small security key. "Everything work out all right?"
Aurennian smiled and slipped the key into his gauntlet. "So long as I don't have to go through that again. I thought my tutors were bad enough, but that droid bored me to tears." His yellow eyes darted from the droid to Ka'ani. "I've never been in possession of this much money before. Are you sure it's safe for me to be in control of it?"
Ka'ani shrugged and returned Aurennian's smile. "So long as you don't plan on running off, I see no problems."
Ka'ani was grateful for Aurennian's company as she went to find herself some new clothes. She'd never had to so something like this before, considering the jedi had always provided her required clothes, and the Alliance had made sure she had what she needed. With Aurennian's help she purchased a long black and purple leather and zeyd cloth coat, black cortosis-weave pants and shirt, and a pair of dura-armor boots. They decided to cut her hair to a much shorter length to help hide her connection with the supposedly dead former empress, and when all was said and done, Ka'ani couldn't help but shake her head at how she looked. "I look like I should be smuggling spice from Rishi." she muttered, slipping on a pair of cortosis-weave lined bantha skin gloves. "How do you even know where to find stuff like this?"
"You can find anything on Nar Shaddaa if you know what to look for." grinned Aurennian.
"I'll take your word for it. Though there is something I need your help with before we charter that trip to Coruscant."
Kanan raised an eyebrow as he looked down at the durasteel crate that had been left outside the Ghost. Chopper's scans had come up with no threats, but he was still wary as he brought the crate on board.
"Who's that from?" asked Hera.
"Don't know. I saw some kid running off after banging on the hull, but when I shouted at him he only picked up speed. Chopper says it's clear, but who would be delivering a crate to us?"
"Well let's at least see what's inside. Chopper, can you get this open?"
Protestation: I don't like being used as a loader droid.
"I never said you were a loader droid. Just get this open."
Breaking the seals with a small torch, Chopper used its grips to push the lid from the crate.
Declaration: We're rich.
Hera stepped closer to the crate, her eyes widening at the sight of credits. "You're not kidding." she opened the letter folded on top of the credits. "I wanted to thank you for your hospitality." she read aloud. "You didn't have to help me, and I know the risks you took in doing so. Please take these credits and use them for how you see fit. I noticed your ship could use a few repairs, and I would suggest upgrading the armor and shields when you can. Kanan, keep the armor and use it how you see fit. Your fight is far from over. If you need help, you will know where to find me in the future. Signed, Ka'ani Shan, former Empress of Zakuul?"
"Wait, so she wasn't lying about who she was?"
Hera handed Kanan the letter and looked down at the credits. "I guess not."
Chapter 7: Old and New
Fluff chapter with backstory and plotting.
We'll get back to the good stuff soon!
10BBY - Nar Shaddaa
Ka'ani raised an eyebrow ridge at the GR-45 docked before her. "So this is the Stellar Flare, civilian transport and freighter?"
"That's what the tickets say." muttered Aurennian. "At least we're guaranteed a room with a private refresher and complimentary meals?"
"Honestly, I would have been fine with a cargo freighter. My luck with civilian transports has never been the best. Remind me to tell you about my trip aboard the Esseles later." She picked up the black duffel bag that was resting between them and smiled. "I call first on the refresher though. I still have sand in my hair from Korriban that I need to wash out."
"Hey, Ka'ani?" Aurennian rubbed his neck as Ka'ani stepped from the refresher and looked over at T7. "Do you think you could tell me about Theron?"
Setting down her towel, Ka'ani pulled a brush from her bag. "What do you want to know?"
"How did you two meet?"
Ka'ani laughed and ran the brush through her hair. "I'm sure you've already heard that story."
Aurennian blushed and looked at his feet. "So, could you perhaps tell me about him from your perspective then? Like how could the great Hero of Tython go for a spy who didn't even have a lick of force sensitivity? Shouldn't you have gone for someone like yourself?"
"Love doesn't have to make sense. Theron might not have been able to use the force, but he could do so much more. He was able to take the jedi teachings and use them to heighten his natural abilities. He was able to defeat not one, but two sith lords with his wits and natural abilities alone." She reached out and tapped the cybernetics on Aurennian's face. "He augmented himself to do more than any normal human, pushed himself beyond the limits anyone ever expected of him." A wistful smile spread across her face. "No matter what he faced, he never gave up. When he discovered he was being used to fight a war he was against he refused to just play along. He fought for those who would have been harmed by the war instead of taking the easy way out."
"Yeah, my teachers said that he turned against Colonel Darok. They also say that the two of you met because of the Revanite conspiracy. That you and him...kind of...had..."
"Sex?" Ka'ani laughed at the flush that spread across her descendants face. "The end of the world brings people together in ways nothing else ever could. It brought me, Al, Lana, and Theron together to fight against the living embodiment of anger and hatred. Even after the whole thing with Revan ended, Theron and I kept in touch." she paused, tears welling in the corners of her eyes, as she thought back on the letters and holos Theron had sent. "I wish I could have told him about my work with Darth Marr, perhaps then my disappearance wouldn't have hurt him so much."
"He didn't know about it? I always wondered why it took so long for everyone to find you."
Ka'ani wiped the tears from her eyes and smiled a small sad smile. "That's what happens when you promise to always wait for someone." She set the brush down and picked up her datapad. "Sadly, we hurt the ones we love the most when we forget that we need to communicate." Pressing a few keys on the datapad she set it flat between her and Aurennian.
A holo image of Theron appeared and ran a hand through his hair. "Hey, it's me again. The girls have been excelling in their training, and yesterday Vesae managed to beat Arcann in a sparring match. They miss you...I miss you as well. Just remember that wherever you are, I love you."
Aurennian blinked as the image flickered and vanished. "How long ago was that?"
"That was sent five years after I got frozen in the tomb. That was also his last message to me before this," she tapped the datapad again and a holo image of a gnarled and grizzly looking nikto appeared.
"The mighty Empress of Zakuul, hiding from her duties as ruler as well as her duties as a wife. Who would have thought that the very one who brought together the Eternal Alliance couldn't even show up to save her mate. The ransom has now tripled. If you can't solve the clues we've left you...well...let's hope your mate enjoys his prison."
Ka'ani shut off the recording as a list of clues appeared. "I need to track down those clues, even if it's to finally put his bones to rest. To do that though, I'm going to need to be able to move about freely and without worry of being hauled off as a force user."
"So what do you plan to do?"
"I need to speak with the Emperor and get permission to do what I need to do."
"But you don't have any standing anymore, and the Eternal Alliance has faded into a distant memory for these people. How do you plan on even getting in the door?"
"That's where you an T7 come in. You're going to get me that meeting with the Emperor."
Outside of discovering Nadeko in the cabin next to theirs and the subsequent interrogation/beating that ensued from Aurennian, the trip to Coruscant was relatively quiet. Ka'ani kept to herself in her cabin while Aurennian came and went, giving her time to study the clues and coordinates for the first puzzle she had to solve. While she'd always loved studying ancient history and artifacts, she'd never had much skill in interpreting art, something the Nikto seemed to have picked up on somehow and had decided to use against her.
A low growl eminated from her throat as she stared at the three paintings she'd projected in front of her. They seemed to be from the Pyrshak system, and she could swear she'd seen one of the pieces when she'd vistited Manaan. Other than that, she couldn't make heads or tails of what she was looking at. The clues suggested a location where kolto flowed like rivers and a single scream could drive those who heard it mad.
"Still at it?" asked Nadeko, looking up from tending to his bruised and battered body.
"I need access to better maps than what T7 has, and I need to figure out what the three paintings and these damned clues mean. Are they trying to send me on some sort of planetary scavenger hunt?"
"Looking at what's in front of me, I would say yes."
Ka'ani rolled her eyes and shut down the projector. "You're a real help."
"We'll be arriving soon, you might want to think about covering your face before we land." Nadeko smiled and returned to his work.
Ka'ani's brow furrowed in confusion as she looked out upon the landscape before her. She'd expected everything to be different after so much time had passed, yet the senate tower and many of the other buildings stood there as if she were still in the time of the old republic. The only major change was where the jedi temple had once stood. "We need to get in there."
Chapter 8: Compromise
Ka'ani discovers just how far she's willing to go to get what she needs.
10BBY - CORUSCANT
"I would have expected to at least see some sort of change in this planet since I've been gone." muttered Ka'ani.
Slipping a visor over his eyes, Nadeko smiled and gestured to the senate building and the Imperial Palace. "I'd say those two are the biggest differences for you?" his smile widened as Ka'ani let out an appreciative whistle. "The Imperial Palace used to be the location of the jedi temple, back before Order 66. Now it's the home of the Emperor, Naval Intelligence, and the location of the inquisitors headquarters."
Aurennian pulled a cloak from his bag and passed it to Ka'ani before slipping on a pair of dark spectacles over his eyes. "Think sith but without the full training of a sith master."
"So they're essentially constant apprentices?"
"Not quite, there are some who were jedi masters before falling. It's just that ever since the rule of two was instigated these inquisitors will never..."
Ka'ani held up a silencing hand. "I understand your meaning. They can be as powerful as a jedi master, just without the rank and title." She sighed as she adjusted the cloak to hide her features. "It is amusing though, to see something so similar to the citadel from Drommund Kaas here on Coruscant. So, we've got two options. We can do this plan from the senate tower, or just go straight for the Imperial Palace."
"What's the difference in locations?" asked Aurennian.
"One is less likely to get us blasted on site," smirked Ka'ani, "the other has a lower chance of getting us an audience with the Emperor."
"Can we go with the one less likely to get us killed?"
"Depends on how good you and Nadeko's hacking skills are. T7 will be able to get you the old access codes and secure a couple of ports, but it will be on you to get my message through."
Mas Amedda and the rest of the Imperial Ruling Council stopped dead in their discussion as the Emperor's visage appeared in the middle of their council table. "Emperor Palpatine, to what do we owe this unexpected appearance?"
"I'm curious," drawled Palpatine, as he tapped the tips of his fingers together slowly, "which of you gave the order to Major Cepheus the order to destroy his prized discovery?"
A fair skinned man in flamboyant robes was the first to speak up. "I don't understand, my lord, the only thing I told him to do was to execute the jedi that had been hiding out on Moraband. I never gave an order to destroy his prized discoveries."
"The jedi was his prized discovery," snapped Palpatine. "A pure blooded Sith, frozen in time for almost 4,000 years, is better than any holocron or artifact we could find."
"But I figured that-"
"Silence!" Palpatine slashed a hand through the air as his image flickered from the strength of his anger. "Send my guards to the Senate Plaza to fetch the jedi and her two companions, and pray I don't change my mind about letting you live."
"Yes my lord." stuttered Kren Blista-Vanee. "Right away."
Ka'ani gave an appreciative glance around the Emperor's audience chamber as five red robed guards escorted her, Aurennian, Nadeko, and T7 through the door. She'd packed her cloak back in the bag, yet standing in the old temple she felt naked without her robes. Before her on top of a ten meter tall podium in a simple chair, sat a man hidden behind plain black robes. She could feel power radiating from him that reminded her much of the old sith emperor, and she had to remind herself that Valkorion's spirit was scattered to the ether. "I thank you for taking the time to see us." she stated as she nodded her head in acknowledgement to him.
"Ka'ani Shan, former battlemaster of the Galactic Republic, the one to defeat the sith emperor, the Outlander, your list of titles goes on and on."
Ka'ani cocked her head to the side and smiled. "People seemed quite willing to give them out back then."
"What piques my curiosity is why you were found frozen in an old sith trap on Moraband."
"Yeah, that was a bit of an accident." she gave Palpatine a sheepish sort of grin and shrugged. "I got careless during my search and paid the price."
"It seems so. Here you are, thousands of years later standing in front of me." Palpatine rose from his seat and slowly made his way down the stairs. "I have learned much about you from your time with Major Cepheus, but I have to wonder why you didn't head back to wild space to your alliance. Why did you come here?"
"As much as I would enjoy going home I can feel the Force desires for me to stay." Holding her hands behind her back, Ka'ani kept her eyes on Palpatine as he approached. She could feel the dark side coursing through him and could see the effects of it on his body. While he wasn't young by any means, the amount of wrinkles and aging he showed made her wonder if he'd been victim of another force user. "The Force led me to that tomb on Korriban, and I believe that it is the Force that has guided me to this very chamber. But beyond that, I still have so much I need to do before I can return home. I have the feeling that I will need to travel all over the galaxy to find what I am searching for."
"It's amazing how much work the ancients put in to hiding their secrets, not to mention how pathetic bounty hunters can be when it comes to giving directions, isn't it?" Palpatine paused before the trio and gestured to the guard near them. "I am curious about your lightsabers, Jedi Ka'ani." he uttered quietly, taking a pair of lightsabers from the guard.
"I'm not a jedi, your grace." stated Ka'ani. "I learned long ago that the jedi was far too constricting and unbalanced."
If Palpatine was upset over her correction, he didn't show it. "Would you care to elaborate?"
"To focus on only one side of the Force leaves one unbalanced and unfulfilled, it was only through embracing both sides of the Force that I was able to achieve what I have. A great sith once told me, 'The will of the Force is a flowing current. You can follow or fight it, but it is always there.' It taught me that the belief in the force being good or evil was wrong. The Force is neither, it just is."
"Did this sith tell you anything else of value?"
"Yes, he reminded me that the force is not an ally, slave, or transaction. He and Jedi Master Satele Shan showed me that the Force is a paradox. It empowers, and imprisons. It destroys, and unites. It binds the galaxy together, yet tears people apart. It has a will, but it needs a commander." She nodded her head to Aurennian. "The people of the Eternal Alliance and the Knights of Zakuul live by that knowledge and it empowers them in their duties."
Palpatine's voice was barely a whisper as he ignited Ka'ani's lightsabers. "I remember reading something of that in the ancient archives, but to hear it from one who was there, amazing." His gaze turned to the blue light of the sabers, their black cores humming serenely in the afternoon light of the chamber. "I have never seen blades like these before. Tell me, how did you make them?"
"My sister came upon two krayt dragon pearls while we were on a mission on Tatooine. I was able to refine them and use them in my sabers when the kyber crystals were shattered by Emperor Vitiate, and I keep them as a reminder of my time under his control."
"Very interesting." Palpatine estinguished the lightsabers and offered them to Ka'ani, who took them with a quiet thanks. "I have a proposition for you then. You have arrived it seems right when I needed a pureblooded Sith the most. I have an ancient holocron that Major Cepheus recovered from one of the tombs which appears to only be unlockable by one of your kind." His yellow eyes shown under his hood as he gestured towards the spaceport. "I would like for you to open and decipher this relic, and in exchange I will fund your expeditions and research...provided you share any of your discoveries with me."
Ka'ani turned to look at Aurrenian and Nadeko, both of whom shrugged slightly, themselves unsure what to do. "I will have safe passage around this galaxy, and my companions will be safe as well?"
"You will come to no harm so long as you follow the laws of the Empire."
"Will I have access to the archives and what remains of the library?"
"The old temple library is still intact, and you shall have access to that as well as the holocron archives should you need them. All you have to do is assist me."
Knowing the Emperor had her right where he wanted her, Ka'ani had no choice. "So, where is this holocron?"
Quotes from Star Wars: The Old Republic Knights of the Fallen Empire Chapter 12 appear in this chapter.
Krayt dragon pearl:
Chapter 9: Chance Meetings
Ka'ani has spent the last two years deciphering the ancient holocron, while her descendant and his guardian follow the clues left by Theron's kidnappers.
At a dead end, she reaches out to someone who has become known for using art to discover people's weaknesses.
3615BBY - ZAKUUL
"You've got that look in your eyes again, Ka'ani."
Looking away from the twins' practice, Ka'ani smiled and took the glass of water from Theron. "What look?"
"The, 'I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing for these girls' look." Theron wrapped an arm around his wife's shoulder and kissed her on the cheek. "The girls want to learn, and I can't think of a better group of teachers and mentors than the ones we have here on Zakuul and Odessen." His smile faded at Ka'ani's worried look. "I know you still struggle with the pull from your time under Vitiate's control, but you've kept yourself in control for over twenty years now."
"I can feel myself slipping. The pull is getting stronger and it's even slipping into my dreams now. I can feel something calling to me and I'm," Ka'ani turned and set her head on her husband's shoulder, inhaling the smell of his cologne, "I'm struggling to fight the pull. It feels like Valkorion is back, but I know he's not. I know his spirit was scattered through the galaxy, but it's like his fragments are trying to call out from things he once possessed or touched."
Theron's brow furrowed with worry, his arms wrapping around Ka'ani. "Talk to me, love. What's going on?"
"I'm seeing flashes, images of things he's touched over the years. I'm seeing holocrons, artifacts, all sorts of things. I just can't see where they're located...yet."
8BBY - CORUSCANT
Fragments of the ancient holocron swirled around Ka'ani's meditating form as ancient Sith filled her ears. The words were as clear to her as if they were spoken in Basic, spelling out the details for immortality rituals, complete mind control of entire populations, even the creation of the long forgotten Leviathans. The pen beside her drew the incantations, formulas, and diagrams that flashed before her eyes as the voices continued to whisper. With each line she could feel the drug-like effects of temptation and desire to give in and feel the power and passion she had felt during the time she'd been under the control of Emperor Vitiate.
She could only translate the holocron in small pieces, but it seemed with each piece she unraveled the harder it was for her to continue walking the razor's edge between light and dark. While she spoke a good game about how the dark and light sides of the force were just pieces of the whole, the dark side pulled at her in ways that left her desiring to delve deeper to the point of letting it swallow her whole. The siren song she'd heard while under Vitiate's control, the quiet whisperings of Valkorion as he resided inside her body, she could feel it every time she opened the holocron.
As the holocron closed once more she opened her eyes and wiped the sweat from her face. "This kriffing thing is endless."
Someone = At door // Someone = To see Jedi
Rising to her feet Ka'ani set the holocron back its box and made her way to the door of the apartment Palpatine had provided her and Aurennian. A thin smile spread across her lips as the door slid open to reveal two men in military uniforms, a human and a Chiss. "I'm glad you could make it, Commodore Thrawn." her gaze moved to the human beside Thrawn. "And you must be Lieutenant Commander Eli Vanto."
Thrawn gave Ka'ani a polite nod of acknowledgement. "You had a problem that needed my, expertise, Ambassador Shan?"
"Yes, please come in." Ka'ani stepped to the side and gestured to the holoprojector on her desk. "My...nephew and I have been tracking down-"
"I have heard about your quest from Colonel Yularen. He believes that your findings will be of great use to the ISB which is why I am willing to offer my assistance."
Ka'ani raised an eyebrow ridge at Thrawn's admission. It was true that she'd gone to the ISB a few times for much needed clearance codes to places like Ziost and Tython, but she had to admit she was grateful for Yularen's vote of confidence in her quest. "I must admit that I'm rather embarrassed for what I'm needing assistance with. My nephew and his guardian were able to follow the trail that was left for us, but now we're at a dead end. There are no more coordinates, just these."
With a wave of her hand the holoprojector hummed to life and pieces of art from Manaan, Rishi, Ziost, Tython, and a small out of the way planet called Lothal appeared. "Each location provided us with the coordinates to the next spot on their demented little scavenger hunt and three pieces of art." She could feel the heat rush to her face, and knew that if she wasn't naturally red skinned she would be blushing furiously right now. "While I'm good with languages and ancient relics, I'm horrible when it comes to art."
"Wait, so you asked for the Commodore to stop what he was doing to come look at art with you?" snipped Eli. "Do you have any idea how petty that sounds, Ambassador? You want him to-"
Thrawn held up a silencing hand. "Calm yourself. If Colonel Yularen feels this is worth my time then I shall at the very least give the good Ambassador a cursory glance."
7BBY - LOTHAL
The open fields and quiet buzzing of the insects in the cool evening air was a welcome difference from the past three years of the noise and bustle of Coruscant. Robes flapping in the breeze, Ka'ani sighed contentedly and stared up at the starry sky. "Thank you for inviting me out here, Governor Pryce."
"You know, I used to loathe how quiet it was on this planet. I wanted to get as far away from this place as I could." Pryce followed Ka'ani's gaze up to the stars. "For now though, I welcome the quiet of this backwater planet."
"I know exactly what you mean. I was raised in a Jedi temple, and craved to see the larger galaxy. I traveled all the way to wild space, yet I would trade it all for a nice evening of contemplation and meditation under an open sky." she laughed quietly and flopped down on the grass. "There were nights on Zakuul that Theron and I would sneak away from the Spire and fly to some unpopulated spot and spend the rest of that night lying under the stars, away from the constant noise from the city."
A quiet series of meows sounded a few feet away, snapping Ka'ani from her memories. Rolling on to her stomach she reached out with the force, finding three tiny cat-like creatures huddled in the abandoned remains of a swoop bike. "What sorts of species live on this planet?"
Pryce cocked her head to the side and crossed her arms. "Well there's nerfs, sabercats, I believe there's some colonies of neks on the far side of the planet," she slapped a bug on her arm, "bloodflies, and then of course there's the loth-bat, loth-rat, loth-wolf, and the loth-cat. Why?"
"Just curious." Ka'ani reached out again, calling to the small creatures. Her lips crept up in a bright smile as three tiny loth-cats timidly approached. "Are these sabercats or loth-cats?"
"Loth-cats, kittens from the looks of it and by their state I'd say their mother either abandoned them or she's dead."
"Well then," Ka'ani scooped up the kittens in her arms and stroked them until they purred. "I guess I'll just have to be their mother then."
With the kittens fed and sprawled out asleep on her bed, Ka'ani retrieved her datapad and sunk into one of the way too comfortable chaises in the small apartment Governor Pryce had provided for her. Sleep threatened to overtake her but she had a strange feeling that she needed to check her messages. At the top of the list she noticed an encrypted message from a ship known as the Chimera.
It took her almost an hour to decipher the message, even with Nadeko's help and his ciphers. Sipping her glass of caf she looked over at the sleeping kittens before playing the message. A holo image of Thrawn appeared, standing with his arms behind his back.
"Ambassador Shan," spoke the image in Sy Bisti, "I apologize for taking so long to respond, but the needs of the Empire take precedence. I am speaking in Sy Bisti to further protect and encrypt this message. As someone from wild space I am confident you at the very least understand the language. The pieces of art you received each depicted a piece of a clue that I believe will provide you with your final planet. It tells of an ancient prison on a planet covered almost completely in ice, where a tomb holds the oldest and most dangerous of criminals. Nah viz nah k'usharah to en'castehi bah to carcen'casi. To Swerr csarcah nao'csit bah to Cacasn En'castehi."
There was only one planet that fit the description Thrawn had given, and it was a planet Ka'ani practically spit the name as she shut off her datapad, "Belsavis."
At the end of the holo, Thrawn reminds Ka'ani that "Nah viz nah k'usharah to en'castehi bah to carcen'casi. To Swerr csarcah nao'csit bah to Cacasn En'castehi." or in Basic, "We have not forgotten the alliances of the past. The Chiss remain neutral with the Eternal Alliance."
Yes, we are approaching the time when Rebels began, and yes, there will be more cameos of your favorite (I hope) characters!
Chapter 10: Homecoming
Ka'ani has to make a choice, risk slipping forver to the dark side, or rescue those she's come to trust and care for.
7BBY - BELSAVIS
Ka'ani lifted a brow ridge as she observed Aurennian's meditation. "Remember, if you can physically lift it, you can lift it with the Force." Despite her concerns, she'd taken her descendant on as her apprentice and hadn't been disappointed. He had a knack for saber combat, but his inability to control the Force worried her. During bursts of intense emotion he could make the Force do his bidding and that concerned her. "You know you can do it, now focus!"
The vase before Aurennian wobbled, slowly lifting from its pedestal. "I can feel it!" he exclaimed. "I'm doing it!"
"This is the Imperial Star Destroyer Lawbringer, you are in restricted space. Submit your clearance codes or be destroyed."
His concentration breaking, Aurennian gasped as the vase tipped. "I lost it!"
A thin smile tipped Ka'ani's lips, the vase righting itself. "I've got it, go send the codes. I'd prefer to not be vaporized."
Aurennian dashed from the room to the cockpit, opening a channel to the Lawbringer. "This is Tyth's Gauntlet, clearance code 1-15-42-Besh-Trill-72-Shen-14 requesting permission to dock."
"Stand by while we verify your identity."
Ka'ani stepped into the cockpit, adjusting her coat as a holo image of Colonel Yularen appeared. "Colonel Yularen, it's a pleasure to see you again."
"Likewise, Ambassador Shan. I apologize for the formalities, but you know how it is. Hangar five is prepared for you to dock, Agent Kallus will meet you there and bring you to my office."
The holo vanished and the tractor beams locked on to help guide the ship into the hangar. "Meeting the head of ISB while in orbit over a prison planet is definitely not my idea of a fun time." muttered Nadeko.
"Then can you stay on the ship and make sure all of our supplies are ready? Once I have the updated coordinates we will be heading for the planet's surface, and I want to spend as little time as possible there before leaving this Maker forsaken place behind."
Nadeko nodded, assuming his spot at the controls. "I'll keep the engines warm."
The inside of the Lawbringer was as cold and oppressive as she'd expected from an Imperial ship. Armored troopers flanked her and the helmeted agent known as Kallus, keeping her separate from Aurennian and T7. "This seems excessive for a trip down to the planet to follow a possible lead."
Kallus removed his helmet, revealing slicked back strawberry blond hair and thick but well trimmed mutton chops. "Not at all, Ambassador Shan. Belsavis was once a prison planet, correct?" Though his smile appeared friendly, it did not reach his deep brown eyes as he looked down at her. "We must take every precaution possible to ensure your safety and the safety of the men who will be traveling with you. We do not know who or what might be down there after all these years."
Ka'ani's eyebrow ridge rose as she looked up at the man who was almost a full head taller than her. His eyes held the same determination and loyalty she had seen in Theron's when she'd first met him, and her heart sank at the thought that it was only a matter of time before that look changed to one of pain and betrayal. "You have read my file, correct?"
"Yes, and it is quite the extensive file. While you may be able to handle your own, as could your droid, can you say the same for your apprentice or any of the men we will be sending, Hero of Tython?"
"I know of one way to protect the men you plan on sending." Ka'ani sneered, "Don't send them. The fewer people sent down the better. The Republic learned that the hard way when they sent in a strike force to stop Executor Krannus, leaving me to rescue them and stop his cult."
"And how will you protect your apprentice?"
Ka'ni held up a silencing hand as Aurennian made to object. "Apprentice doesn't mean inept, Agent Kallus." She paused as Kallus inserted his code cylinder into the reader before them, the doors sliding open. "But we will need to pick up this conversation later." A smile spread across her lips as she strode into Yularen's office, her gaze fixed on the white haired man standing behind the desk. "Shall I have T7 plug in and upload the schematics?"
Yularen nodded and stepped to the side, letting plug into the port in his desk.
T7 = Updated all the maps / T7 = Will show old and new side by side
"What did your droid say?"
"T7 is offering to show the updated and old maps side by side to help us find the best path to the Tomb. The Tomb wasn't covered in ice when I was there," she gestured to one of the jungle filled craters, "but current scans show that the crater has iced over, meaning the closest drop point would be at this newly opened rift. Unless you guys have some sort of laser that can melt the ice cap over the crater?"
"We might be able to get some supplies together to melt a two meter hole, provided the ice is less than four meters in thickness." suggested Yularen.
"The ice surrounding the Eternity Vault was thick enough to withstand the volcanic vents and open lava pits below it, so we would need to send a probe to scan the ice."
"I'm on it." Pulling a communicator from his belt, Kallus stepped out of the office, the doors closing behind him.
Ka'ani's raised an appreciative eyebrow ridge. "He seems...enthusiastic?"
A smile crept across Yularen's lips. "He's one of my best students, and one of the few I can trust to get the job done every time." He gestured to a location near the old crater. "I'm curious about this location here. Do you think your ship could land at this location without fracturing the ice?"
The Tomb - Belsavis
It had taken less than two hours to melt through the ice, another hour descend to floor of the cavern, and yet another three hours to set up a base camp outside the Caves of the Primeval Wardens. Standing over the ops table, Ka'ani fought against the desire to run. She was standing on the planet where the jedi council had finally confessed what she was, she had come face to face with her father and been forced to come to terms with just what she was.
A clone, a weapon of the jedi, a tool.
Tears welled in her eyes, blurring her vision. "There is no light without the dark." she whispered. She needed to stay strong now that she was so close. "Through passion, I gain focus."
"We are ready to begin our trek into the caves, Ambassador. Your droid has finished its scans of the area and has found the most likely resting place of your target. I have already sent my men out to gather information and collect data on the fate of the rest of the tombs and vaults, all that is left is for us to venture into the caves."
Ka'ani smiled up at Kallus, masking her fear as best she could. "Thank you, Kallus, but you don't need to call me Ambassador. Ka'ani is fine."
Kallus' lip quirked in a half smile. "I prefer to stand on protocol for now, perhaps another time."
"Then after this is all over, we will have to sit down for a drink." Taking one of the prepared gear packs she instructed T7 to continue monitoring the area for any changes in tectonic activity or creatures. "Apprentice, with me."
Following behind the Sith and her apprentice, Kallus took the liberty of giving his bo-rifle a final check. While he trusted the two before him to be well trained in melee combat, he still preferred to take his enemies out before they were within striking distance.
They had been following the path towards the Vault of the Tyrant for some time before the first set of traps appeared. Ancient wards lit up, preventing them from moving and filling Ka'ani's head with the voices of those long dead.
The weapon has returned to us....
She has grown old and soft, dull with age....
Tell us, clone, how does it feel to know that you will once again be the cause of so many to die?
"Shut up!" growled Ka'ani, her vision darkening as rage filled her body. "It's not my fault they died!" She knew how to undo the wards, but she hesitated. It had become even easier to give in to the draw of the dark side since she had begun translating the holocron and she knew to undo the wards she would need to use Sith alchemy. Aurennian and Kallus on the other hand were innocent people caught in the trap. "No one else is going to die if I can help it!"
Ki kanasazi tuti ki tutsatsa
Ki kanasazi tuti ki misinina,
J'us waria ridasizi mus is ri sûshitsinaha diâ satai dias ki kanasaza w'tia j'us iw tu'iyia natura!
Screams filled the air as each ward exploded, the spirit powering it busting into flame and vanishing into the ether. Dropping to her hands and knees, Ka'ani sucked in a stale and dusty breath of air, her head swimming with the residual power form the spell.
Aurennian and Kallus rushed to her side, helping her back to her feet. "What was that?" asked Kallus, involuntarily taking a step back as Ka'ani's eyes met his. The whites of her eyes had shifted to a deep red, obscuring the crimson of her irises. "What did you do?"
"I used Sith alchemy to counter Sith alchemy." she responded flatly. "Come on, there's going to be a lot more like that before we're done."
She had forgotten how good it felt to give in. The feeling of power, the electricity coursing through her body with each breath. Nothing had managed to stand in her way as she pushed ever deeper into the cave, spirits fled at her approach, ancient droids fell to her blade and lightning, and the rock crumbled at her shout. Standing at the entrance to the Vault of the Tyrant, she drew in a deep breath, releasing it in a heady sigh. "Welcome to the vault. What we seek is inside."
What she would find through, be it a pile of dust and bones or nothing at all, fueled the fear and pain pumping through her veins. She had given control to her emotions, and there was no turning back now. Plunging her lightsaber into the blast door, she growled loudly as she cut through the metal. A simple gesture flung the still molten hot plug away from her, and she stepped through.
Ancient machines hummed quietly as they fueled the myriad of stasis pods inside. She could hear Aurennian and Kallus behind her, and one of them produced a glowrod which filled the room with yellow light. Her heart pounded against her chest with each step she took, the sound of blood pumping in her ears deafening her as she wiped the dust from the glass of each pod. "Check all of the pods, and make sure to also check the ground. We don't know if they put him in stasis or just left him to die."
Her focus turned to the ground, the glow of the lightsaber flickering off the bones of long dead creatures. Reaching down, she gasped as a bone turned to dust at the lightest touch, her vision swimming once again with rage at the thought of the one she loved being left to die in a sealed tomb. She could feel the desire of hunting down the descendants of the ones who had captured him, and an evil grin appeared at the thought of slowly torturing each one for the crimes of their ancestors.
Yes, give in to your rage....
You are after all, just a weapon to be used in the coming war...
Just lie down, you will be called upon shortly....
Rest...let your rage fill the room....
"Ambassador?" Kallus knelt down where Ka'ani had fallen, gently lifting her to a sitting position. "We need to get you out of here, you're burning up."
"Sith are naturally warmer than humans." she protested. "We can't stop until we find what we're looking for."
"Master! Agent Kallus! Come quickly!"
Helping Ka'ani to her feet, Kallus kept a steady arm around her to prevent her from stumbling. He found his way through the dust and debris to the back of the vault where a single stasis pod hummed quietly. Floating inside was a man with dark brown hair that had a faint dusting of grey and cybernetic implants around his left eye. "A human? In here?"
Ka'ani's eyes grew wide, the blood pounding in her ears practically deafening her. "Theron!"
Ki kanasazi tuti ki tutsatsa
my passion is my strength
Ki kanasazi tuti ki misinina,
my rage is my weapon
J'us waria ridasizi mus is ri sûshitsinaha diâ satai dias ki kanasaza w'tia j'us iw tu'iyia natura!
you will release us from our prison and perish as my wrath strips you of your life
Chapter 11: Old Scars
I am so sorry it's taken so long to get this out! I didn't think life and school would kick my ass so hard! Also doesn't help that I'm dealing with a ganglion cyst sitting right between my ring and middle finger tendons on my hand. ^^;;
SPOILERS: If you have NOT played the Crisis on Umbara flashpoint, I would suggest doing that before reading this.
I've included the outfits she's worn in the past few chapters as well as Aurennian's updated look now that he's no longer a teen.
He hovered there, his closed eyes pointed to the ceiling, his greying hair falling about his shoulders, and his cybernetic implants glowing in the faint flickering light. Ka'ani let out a small laugh at his jacket, because of course he'd be wearing that old thing, he was pushing his 60s and still refused to retire that jacket, the one he'd worn when she'd first met him. He'd told her it was lucky, and in the sappiest way possible, told her how he knew it was lucky because he'd met and fallen for her while wearing it.
Clearing his throat, Kallus placed a hand on Ka'ani's shoulder. "Ambassador, we still need to shut off the security system before we can get the medical team in here to make sure Theron is well enough to wake up."
Refusing to take her eyes from her husband, she nodded, taking a step forward. "Right, right, security systems."
"I doubt they're attached to the person in the chamber, Ambassador."
Ka'ani's gaze shifted to the panels along the wall, her eyes narrowing at how much had been looted over the years by treasure hunters and private collectors. The red haze began covering her vision once more as she strode forward, her anger rising at the thought of being unable to rescue her husband due to the idiocy of those who were long dead. "Apprentice, I need you to get T7 down here to tap in and find us a working security station."
"Already on top if it." Aurennian slipped a spike from his coat and inserted it into the droid port, his cybernetics lighting up as the connection was established. "I always wanted to test this out." he grinned, producing a datapad and scanning the layout of the section of the prison they'd made their way to. "Looks like the closest functioning one is back the way we came about 20 meters, shall I go take care of it?" At Ka'ani's gesture he removed the spike and jogged from the room, his golden eyes filled with excitement.
"If you can get a connection with your team, please have them prepare to come down here, Agent. Aurennian should be finished by the time they reach the entrance, and I'm sure they'll need some time to gather the necessary equipment."
Quirking a brow, Kallus removed the communications device from his belt. "And what will you do during that time, Ambassador? It appears there's nothing left to destroy in our general vicinity without tripping some alarms."
Ka'ani smirked at the hint of snark in Kallus' tone. She knew he looked down at her the same way most Imperials did to non-humans, but unlike the others, he at least seemed able to keep a sense of humor at the forefront of his opinions. He reminded her a lot of the officer she'd worked with during the Iokath debacle, Malavai had had the same level of snark in his tone, though she had to admit, Kallus was much better at hiding his disdain for alien races. "I'm more than open for suggestions, Agent."
You are Sith, you should be commanding him
Why are you acting in supplication?
A true Sith...
No....she is but a clone, it is fitting she fails at being what she should
Shaking her head violently, Ka'ani covered her ears, "Shut up! All of you, shut up!"
She thinks she can silence us....
Poor thing, she thinks covering her ears will keep us away.
With a scream of raw, uncontrolled energy, Ka'ani threw her arms out, the wave of force energy propelling bones, dust, and equipment alike into the walls around her. She vaguely heard Kallus' shout of surprise as he was thrown backwards. "I might not be a forcewalker like Darth Occlus, but even a pathetic clone like myself knows full well you spirits can be destroyed by straight force power alone! Leave now or be torn to shreds!"
You will remain young....
While he will grow old....
What will you do when he is gone?
Sinking to her knees, her vision blurred by the red haze of the dark side, her body quaking with the barely contained power within her. "LEAVE ME!" she screamed, releasing another blast of force energy, feeling the spirits being torn apart. When the last spirit faded from her awareness she finally realized she'd been holding her breath. With a gasp she sucked in a breath of stale and dusty air. "Kriff..." she panted. The air was thick with the dust of the long dead, making her already hazy vision even blurrier. "Agent?"
"What in the Maker's name was that?" coughed Kallus, covering his mouth with a breathing mask and staggering to his feet. Unable to see through the dust he reached out, feeling his way towards the sounds of her coughing. "Who were you screaming at?"
Gasping between coughs Ka'ani struggled to breathe. "Spirits." she wheezed.
Kallus stopped himself from rolling his eyes at the statement, clapping a breathing mask over Ka'ani's nose and mouth. "Next time Ambassador, come prepared." he chided.
"His vital signs are stable, no signs of trauma or foreign substance that would be life threatening. We are ready to begin the process."
Ka'ani opened her eyes, lifting her head and turning her gaze to the technicians surrounding the stasis chamber. At the suggestion of Aurennian she'd found a quiet alcove to meditate, the already thin line she walked between light and dark that much thinner and more treacherous after her decimation of the spirits that had been following her. Her vision mostly back to normal, she rose to her feet and made her way over to the technicians as they hooked their own devices to the hacked remains of the original panel.
"They sabotaged the controls, so we had to improvise." admitted Aurennian. He gestured to the wires running from the panel to T7 and then to a portable control station. "We're just waiting on the order to start."
"Then let's begin, the sooner we get this taken care of and the research crews gather what they were hunting for the sooner we can get off this Maker forsaken planet."
Aurennian nodded and gave the gesture to the team, turning with Ka'ani to focus on Theron. "So...is it true that he almost destroyed the Eternal Alliance and threw the galaxy into chaos over the whole Iokath debacle?"
"That's...a very oversimplified view of it, but yes, he did cause a lot of chaos while uncovering a plot by the Heralds of Zildrog. I wish he'd felt safe enough to confide in me over it, it hit me harder than I thought it would even after I discovered he hadn't actually betrayed me and had made sure that I would be safe and survive all of the traps he set." A small smile spread across her lips as she laughed. "Though at the time I wanted to reduce Umbara to ash after he turned out to be the one behind all of the strife I'd been through on Iokath. He'd spent the time I was in carbonite searching for me, and yet he'd been willing to kill me to prove his trustworthiness to the Heralds and the Ascendency...or at least that's what I'd thought."
"Vitals are rising, he's waking up."
Rushing forward, Ka'ani caught Theron as he collapsed, the chamber shutting off and releasing him. "Theron?"
"You wouldn't believe how stiff my neck feels." complained Theron, grinning up at her, his deep brown eyes fixed on hers.
Ka'ani laughed and wrapped her arms around him, tears cutting trails in her dust covered face. "Well you have been stuck in the same position for almost four millennia." she muttered as she gave him a small kiss.
"You're kidding right? And why are you covered in tomb dust?"
"It's a long story, let's get back to the ship and I'll do my best to get you up to speed."
Theron chuckled and rose with Ka'ani, accepting her offer of support as they made their way towards the medical crew and sitting on the gurney prepared. "So long as they've got a place where I can shower and get rid of this tomb breath, I'll go anywhere with you." He quirked a brow as one of the technicians began to run diagnostics. "Who's the kid over by T7?"
"As I said, long story. Let's get you back to the ship, checked out and cleaned up, and we'll have time to catch up. Besides," she looked down at her dust caked clothes. "I really need a shower."
The traitor storyline has really messed up my writing and I've been finding myself wanting to hold off until the next patch (5.9) comes out and the storyline finishes. I've sat down to write several times since Crisis on Umbara, but between school zapping my energy, my surgery in December, and my general exhaustion it's been really hard to find the time and energy to write.
I know this chapter is rather short, and I apologize for it. Next chapter is most likely going to include a bit of *ahem* smut, so be warned. ;)
Chapter 12: Reprieve
Light happy chapter.
Spoilers if you haven't completed the traitor story arc in SWTOR.
EDIT: I didn't like the original ending, it felt too Mary Sue-ish.
This will be continued in Traitor to the Empire, so keep your eyes peeled!
7BBY - LAWBRINGER
While Ka'ani waited for the medical team on the ship to give Theron the all clear, she kept herself busy helping the science team and the ISB with the collected data. With T7 hooked into the computers, she focused on the efforts to repair the artifacts that had been collected. Some had broken on their trip back to the ship while others had been collected in a broken state, reminding everyone just how fragile they were. Using the force she held the pieces in place as the team worked, lifting each new piece into place as the team affixed the adhesive. She still smelled of crypt dust and even after removing her outer robes, she could still feel the grit and grime on her as she worked and had to stifle a laugh at the last time she was like this.
"Something amusing to you, Ambassador?" asked Kallus, looking up from the terminal.
"It's nothing, just an old memory." A small sigh escaped her lips as the last piece of the vase she'd been helping with set, allowing the team to take it and store it someplace as she got to her feet and stretched. "Has there been any news from the medical team?"
"Due to the nature in which we found your husband, as well as the potential for unknown or extinct diseases to be transported on board, the team is being as thorough as possible." Kallus raised a single gloved finger to stop Ka'ani's interjection. "We are working in a quarantine area, and before we will be allowed to leave we will need to be checked and cleared by the teams as well. Our clothing will also be collected, sterilized if possible, and if not destroyed to ensure nothing can spread beyond this room." He lifted a brow as Ka'ani picked up her robes. "Are you finished with your work, Ambassador?"
With a quick check from the science team, Ka'ani nodded. "There's nothing else for me to do here, T7 is assisting you and the rest of the team so I might as well get back to my other duties until my crew is cleared to return to Lothal."
"The guards by the door will take you to a decontamination area, make sure to leave everything behind, including your sabers."
Ka'ani stood at the edge of the docking bay watching the maintenance crews scrubbing down her ship. She had to hand it to the Empire, at least they were thorough. Their choices in fabric on the other hand left a lot to be desired. Looking down at the dark grey uniform she resisted rolling her eyes at the way it seemed to match the walls and floors around her and made her skin look even redder than it truly was. With a small sigh she turned from her spot and retraced her steps to the room she'd been given. Just like the ship and the clothes she was wearing, everything was grey and sterile in the room, leaving Ka'ani feeling stifled and claustrophobic as she stepped inside. There were no viewing windows and the floor was the same grate as the halls, reminding her of her time spent under the control of the Sith Emperor. "Could they at least learn how to make complete floors?" she mused as she removed the tunic and reclined on the pull out bed against the wall.
She'd barely closed her eyes when the sound of a code cylinder being inserted into the lock outside the door brought her back to full consciousness, her arm lifting and covering her bare chest as she sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. As the door slid open she rushed forward, wrapping her arms around Theron and knocking him against the wall. Fumbling hands pressed the controls to shut and lock the door as her lips sought out his, his fingers tangling in her hair and slipping it free of the hair tie.
"Someone's eager...." A quiet chuckle reverberated in Theron's throat as he brushed his lips along Ka'ani's jaw and down to the ridges on her chest.
Biting back a moan as Theron traced the tip of his tongue along the line of ridges running down her chest Ka'ani attempted to untangle herself long enough to pull him to the bed. "I never thought I'd see you again, that all I'd find on that planet would be a pile of dust, eager doesn't begin to say what I'm feeling." Pushing him down onto the bed she straddled his lap and helped him unbutton and remove the Imperial tunic he'd been given to wear, pausing for a moment as her fingers traced over the lightsaber scar on his abdomen. "I almost lost you once, the thought of losing you forever was too much to bear." She cupped his face in her hands, lifting his gaze up to meet hers as he tossed the top to the floor. "After facing Zildrog, after seeing how easily I could have lost you..."
Theron shook his head, planting a gentle kiss against the palm of her hand as he drew her other to his chest. "This isn't the time for such worries. We're safe, we've got some time to ourselves, and you're wearing too much for what I have planned."
5BBY - LOTHAL
The rumble of a low flying star destroyer rattled the dishes set out for breakfast and was met with a raised brow from Theron as Ka'ani lifted the dishes from the table with a gesture. "I know I'm not the only one noticing the rise in military personnel here on Lothal, how long do you think it will take before the residents begin pushing back?"
"There's been rumors of a small group of insurgents, and there's near daily interruptions of the Imperial News Network from that exiled senator, but nothing seems to be bringing about any noticeable change among the general population."
"I thought you said the Empire was different than the one in our time."
Ka'ani shook her head, a thin smile on her lips as she set everything right again. "It is only in that this Empire is what could have happened to the Galactic Republic if the corruption had been allowed to fully fester and come into power. The war with Zakuul and the founding of the Alliance helped stave off that fate for a while, but what we see today is what could have been had there not been a large enough rebellion against that corruption. While the Emperor is indeed a sith, he's nothing like the Sith or even the ones in power from our time." Her expression darkened as she gazed out the window of the small piece of farmland she'd been allowed to move to so as to provide some privacy for her studies and so she could keep her ship nearby. One by one the farmers around her had been bought out or had left their lands, leaving only her and a small handful of residents tending the lands outside Capitol City. "Minister Tua contacted me again today, offering us a place to stay within the city. She's claiming that the danger's posed by the insurgents are growing and she is fearful that should we be attacked they wouldn't be able to respond to our distress calls quick enough to be of any use."
"You don't believe that, do you?"
"Not any more than you do. What has the chatter given you as to what's going on?"
With a shrug, Theron took a sip of his caf before retrieving the datapad he kept at his hip. "Nothing much, the Empire's keeping quiet on the land purchases. Though this is new," he scrolled through the data on his screen, pausing on an Imperial rank. "It says here that ISB-021 is being transferred to Lothal in response to the 'patterns of attacks' here on the planet."
"Agent Kallus is coming here? I guess I was wrong in my assessment about the people of this planet if ISB is getting involved." Leaning back in her chair, Ka'ani sipped her caf, her attention returning to the star destroyer now hovering over Capitol City. She knew that the only reason she was allowed to remain where she was within the Empire was due to her work translating artifacts for the Emperor, that should his favor shift even the slightest she ran the risk of winding up like the other force users. Those who weren't killed immediately were forced to give themselves over for training and corruption to the dark side, a path she'd walked before and barely escaped. Even now the draw of the dark side pulled at her, her natural connection to it requiring ever more willpower to resist the longer she remained within the Empire. "Perhaps it's time we took Minister Tua up on her offer."
"You can't be serious."
Ka'ani set her cup down and shook her head. "They will continue to pressure us to move, or they will remind us that we're only here on their permission and require us to move. I don't own this place, so it's only a matter of time before they throw that card on the table."
"There's more than that, isn't there?"
"I can't keep justifying my inaction. I can't keep hiding behind my excuse that if I behave and play along with the Emperor that I will stay safe." She reached across the table to take her husband's hand. "Neither of us were cut out for a life of peace and quiet, no matter how much we yearn for it." A small squeeze was all she needed for confirmation, to know he'd have her back. "Our Republic might be long gone, but the Alliance still survives and its ideals still live within us. So long as there's a spark of hope out there that things will get better, we need to work to fan it into the fires of rebellion."