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The One-Shot Saga

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Garazeb Orrelios had finally worked up the courage to mingle, as it were. He only problem was he now wished he hadn't in the first place. If he had to listen to the boring rhetoric of politicians any longer…

"So I wasn't aware that Lasan had a Senator, especially after what happened there and all." A boring monotone voice sounded out. The question had already been asked several times now by various people, and whilst at first Zeb had problems creating a convincing cover story, by the fifth time it had been asked he had one solidly created in his mind.

"It's a bit different for my people, especially compared to the imperial senate itself. I don't officially hold any power in the senate itself, but I act as an arbiter for my people. Different culture I suppose." Zeb repeated, keeping a smile on his face as he addressed the human that had spoken, an elderly man who could quite clearly only see out of one eye.

"How did you survive the destruction of your planet then? And where have you been?" The man continued, his one good eye narrowing in what Zeb assumed was suspicion.

Not dropping the smile from his face Zeb replied, keeping his tone light and convincing.

"Been all over really. Helped solved a few disputes among other cultures. People in my position don't usually limit themselves to Lasat. We accept and help all in need."

The elderly man, who Zeb assumed was a senator of some kind, or an aide to one seemed to accept his answer. In response, he lifted his glass out towards Zeb, offering it in a sign of toast.

"Well then Senator Orrelios, let us drink to a new and prosperous future for both of us."

"Sounds good." Zeb replied, lightly tapping his glass to the man's in a manner that seemed appropriate.

As both individuals drank lightly, something caught Zeb's eye.

On what appeared to be the dance floor was Kallus. And in his arms was a beautiful Zeltron woman.

Zeb could only sigh in despair at the sight of his friend so obviously distracted.

"Oh for the love of…"

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The music had since changed around them, and thus the energetic dance Kallus had been enjoying with Nota had shifted to a slower paced waltz, both dancers slowly moving in time.

"Is there anything else you can tell me? Any hints?" Kallus inquired quietly, trying to enjoy the quiet moment whilst doing his job. It was rare that he got to relax, even more so in the company of someone like Nota.

Perhaps Zeb was right. Maybe he did work too hard.

"Only that you shouldn't trust your eyes when it comes to dealing with a darkside cult. Not everything will be as it seems, at least I'd assume anyway." Nota replied, her voice soft yet full of concern for the man she had just met.

Nodding, Kallus continued the eloquent dance, lowering Nota slightly to allow her back to bend.

As much as he was enjoying it, it had to end. He had a job to do.

Once the music had stopped again, and evident break between songs emerging, Kallus seized his opportunity to break away from the dance.

"I better get going. Can't spend all my night with you now can I?" Kallus spoke honestly, regret in his voice at leaving her embrace.

But from her response it was clear that Nota understood.

"No problem. Good luck with your mission. Maybe I'll see you around?"

Her voice was full of hope, something that brought a rare smile to Kallus' face.

"Maybe you will."

Nota laughed lightly, lightly touching his hand with hers.

"Oh I know you will."

And with that she sauntered off, her dress billowing in her wake. Kallus couldn't help but watch her go, admiring her figure as she disappeared amongst the crowd.

And then a gruff, yet familiar voice hit his ears.

"Seriously pal? I leave you for five minutes and you've gone and got yourself a girlfriend!"

Kallus rolled his eyes at the evident teasing tone of Zeb's voice, before turning to greet the Lasat.

"She pulled me onto the dance floor! Besides, she was our contact that Thrawn told us about."

Zeb seemed to accept the excuse, even if the look of mischief didn't leave his eyes. Kallus knew it would come back to bite him eventually.

"So, what did you find out?"

Kallus glanced around the scenery. If Nota was right, then somewhere deep beneath the Imperial Palace there was a hidden room where whatever it was Mas Amedda and the Royal Guard were up to happened, assuming that there was a secret room there in the first place. Nota's intel could very well be false.

"I've got a lead, but we need to speak to Ahsoka about something." Kallus replied, gesturing Zeb to follow him.

"Ahsoka? Why do we need to speak to her?" Zeb replied confused.

Kallus simply pointed to the temple around him in response, clearly demonstrating that it had something to do with the building itself. Zeb's face didn't change, but it was clear he was not going to push it yet. After all, this was not the place for such a discussion.

"What about you? Did you find out anything interesting? Did you find Thrawn?" Kallus inquired as the two stepped outside of the palace, beginning the long trek back down the stairs. As they left they both noticed that the squad of Stormtroopers who had been on the door had vanished into thin air, leaving a single official to mind the door in response.

"No I didn't see him anywhere. But something weird did happen." Zeb replied, shaking his head in confusion about something.

"Oh? What was that?" Kallus inquired. Could this be important?

"The Deathtrooper who was on the door came and spoke to me, offered me a drink even. Since when do troopers do that?"

Kallus had to admit that that was weird. Never in his career as an ISB agent had Stormtroopers, let alone Deathtroopers, tried to mingle with a crowd.

Something strange was going on.

And the presence of both an imperial deathtrooper and a squad of Stormtroopers obviously suggested that there was something to hide.

Maybe, just maybe, Nota's intel was right.

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It was late at night when Kallus and Zeb made it back to their U-wing, and after Zeb had made a big deal about getting changing back into his normal outfit, the two sat down in the cockpit of the ship.

Kallus ran his fingers along the dashboard, powering up the communications device on board before entering a code that very few knew.

Ever since the mission to eliminate the Emperor's battle station, Ahsoka had all but retreated into seclusion with very few people knowing where she actually lived, or even how to contact her. Kallus was one of the lucky few who did possess the comm link frequency for her, in case of emergencies or needing assistance with Fulcrum work. The Togruta may have officially separated all ties with the rebellion and its leadership, but she still offered support in times of need.

And now was one of those times.

Typing in the frequency code, Kallus pushed several more buttons on the dashboard and began to connect to call.

He only hoped that it wasn't the middle of the night wherever Ahsoka was.

Moments later, the call connected, and a small hologram of Ahsoka dressed in what appeared to be sleepwear appeared on the dashboard.

"Kallus? What's up?" The Togruta spoke, her voice light and happy as it usually was.

"Sorry for disturbing you Commander but I need to ask you something in regards to my mission?" Kallus spoke, keeping the discussion simply. It was obvious by the way Ahsoka yawned suddenly that she was getting ready for some sleep, and the last thing he wanted to do was keep her from going to bed.

"I'll help anyway I can Kallus. What's the problem?"

"Have you ever heard of an organisation called the Acolytes of the Beyond?" Kallus inquired, earning a confused look from both Zeb and Ahsoka.

"Can't say I have, but with a name like that they can't be up to anything good now can they?" Ahsoka replied, her hand coming to rest on her chin, a sign she was in deep thought.

Kallus agreed. The whole name screamed cryptic and dangerous, and sent shivers down his spine.

Whoever they were, they Acolytes were not nice people, of that Kallus was sure.

"From what Nota seemed to think they are apparently some sort of darkside cult that worships both the Emperor and Vader. If they are intending on carrying on their legacy…" Kallus detailed, recalling what Nota had told him.

"Then we could very well have another conflict on our hands. Not what we need right now." Ahsoka replied, sighing deeply in annoyance, clearly unhappy with the news.

"We've just barely managed to keep Rax under control at the moment. We really don't need any darksider upstarts running around the galaxy." Kallus replied, feeling as equally as stressed as Ahsoka as evidently feeling. No matter what they seemed to do, which villains they ridded the galaxy of, there always seemed to be another far worse threat waiting round the corner for them.

It was times like these that Kallus wished he was just a normal civilian going about his day without a care in the world. At least things would be simple.

"Who's this 'Nota' person then? A contact of some kind?" Ahsoka spoke, her voice returning to its normal tone clear of any exasperation. She was evidently tired, and Kallus didn't want to keep her awake for too much longer.

Opening his mouth to confirm Nota's role, Kallus was surprised when Zeb spoke first, the teasing tone from earlier returning.

"Kallus' new girlfriend. She was our contact according to Thrawn."

Kallus brought his hand up to rest on his face at Zeb's teasing. Nota was not his 'girlfriend'. Hell she wasn't even a friend. Merely an acquaintance.

"Hang on a minute, what does Thrawn have to do with any of this?" Ahsoka interrupted, confusion returning to her voice as her eyes widened in alarm.

"He's looking into this as well apparently. No idea how he knew but he did." Zeb continued, shuffling in his seat, evidence that he was growing restless.

Kallus was too, but he still needed to ask one more question.

And clearly Ahsoka could sense it.

"Fair enough. Now, I gather there was something else you wanted to ask me?"

Kallus nodded before inquiring.

"Nota seemed to think that these Acolytes are running their operation in some sort of secret chamber beneath the Imperial Palace. Since it used to be a Jedi temple I figured you might know."

Ahsoka's face shifted suddenly to one of complete and utter terror, as if remembering something from the past she desperately wanted to forget.

"Oh kriff Kallus! There is a secret chamber beneath the Jedi temple! It's a Sith shrine! It would make perfect sense for a darkside worshipping cult to operate in such a location, especially ones loyal to Sidious! What was your mission again?" Ahsoka spoke, deep concern radiating through her voice.

"Children have gone missing. Reports suggest that they have been kidnapped. I'm guessing the cult did this, but why I cannot say." Kallus replied, hand going through his hair in frustration.

Beside him, Zeb suddenly sat upright, as if something triggered in his mind.

"Ahsoka, you don't think they are planning on doing the same thing the Inquisitors had planned to those kids do you?" Zeb spoke, leaning forward in his chair, worry in his tone.

"It's possible Zeb. If they have kidnapped younglings then they may very well be attempting to create a new army of darkside soldiers. It wouldn't be the first time the Sith and their allies have tried such a thing. Kallus, you have to stop them!" Ahsoka replied, fire in her eyes at the thought of children coming to harm.

"I agree. How do we access the shrine?" Kallus replied, determination setting in. He wouldn't let innocent children be corrupted by such vile monsters.

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Ahsoka had pulled out all the stops to get Kallus and Zeb the intel they needed. And as morning broke across Coruscant, the duo sat in the back of the U-wing analysing a holographic map of the Imperial Palace, one that Ahsoka had apparently managed to get her hands on during her time as Fulcrum.

The layout was enormous, much larger than Kallus had anticipated. The hallways were a maze, twisting corridors in which one could easily get lost in.

It didn't help that those corridors would more than likely be patrolled by Stormtroopers.

But that hadn't stopped Kallus before, and it wouldn't now.

Looking over the map, Kallus' used his hand to highlight and zoom in on a specific section, one that Ahsoka had told them was key.

The old holocron vault.

According to Ahsoka, there was a secret tunnel buried somewhere in the room, one that would lead down into the Sith shrine that Ahsoka had spoken of. Kallus was convinced that was where he would find his target. It made sense after all.

The only question was how the kriff were they supposed to break into the holocron vault itself. All reports suggested that it could only be accessed by force sensitives.

Unless of course it was no longer locked. Who knew what the Emperor had done to it since he had taken control of the temple.

"If we infiltrate at this window we will be able to access the archives quickly. From there it is just a case of slipping past any guards and getting into the vault." Kallus spoke as he ran his finger along the route he had suggested, pointing at the window in mind.

"Easier said than done. No doubt security will be more than just troopers. What if there is a silent alarm or something?" Zeb questioned, voicing his concern.

Kallus had thought about this, and knew that there would almost certainly be a alarm system of some kind.

"I'm not sure. We may have to risk tripping it unfortunately." Kallus replied, sceptical about his own plan. It was dangerous, that was certain. But if it was the only way, they Kallus wasn't pulling out anytime soon.

Clearly Zeb agreed, despite his trepidation.

"Well we've had worse odds Kallus. I'm sure everything will go to plan."

Zeb's voice was full of sarcasm, one that intended on lightning the mood slightly.

Internally Kallus was grateful.

Opening his mouth to further discuss the plan, Kallus was forced to halt as a feminine voice interrupted him.

"Seriously? I thought the great Agent Kallus would have a more fool proof plan?"

Both Zeb and Kallus span in surprise at the sudden appearance of Nota, who was peaking her head into the U-wing.

"What the… how did you find us?" Zeb stuttered, completely confused about what was going on.

Kallus too was concerned. How had she tracked him back to his U-wing, and why was she here now.

"Followed you back silly. Wasn't hard. Besides, a U-wing sitting in the middle of a Coruscant spaceport isn't at all suspicious is it now?" Nota replied, stepping into the U-wing and looking down at the holographic map of the temple.

"Why are you here?" Kallus inquired standing from his seat to move in front of Nota, blocking her vision of the map. The dark red Zeltron locked eyes with Kallus, a smirk coming to her face in response.

"I've got something more for you. Fancy lunch?"

It was an odd offer, and one that would usually arose suspicion. But Nota had proven to be a reliable source of intel, so he accepted.

"Yeah no thanks, I'll leave you too to fawn over each other. No sneaking away anywhere yeah?" Zeb refused however, heading back into the cockpit of the U-wing in the process.

Shaking his head in exasperation, Kallus gestured for Nota to exit the U-wing, before following suit.

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The place Nota had led him too was a small discreet café, one owned by a an Ithorian of all species. Ordering himself a simple drink, Kallus at down at the table designated for the two of them, Nota opposite him.

She looked vastly different from the night before. No longer was she dressed in a long wispy dress, but rather simple casual clothing, one that didn't draw any real attention to her.

Kallus supposed that in her line of work, it made perfect sense. She was alluring in a way, captivating.

And that allowed her to gain the information she needed.

"So, I take it you had fun last night then huh?" She opened the conversation with a tease, her voice light and somewhere between flirtatious and meaningful.

"I did, but you said you had something for me?" Kallus replied, taking a small sip of his hot drink in the process. Now was not the time for such light-hearted discussion.

Kallus didn't miss the small roll of Nota's eyes as she processed Kallus response, before she too sipped her drink.

"Straight to business, I can respect that. I'll tell you what I've got for you, but firstly I want to know something?"

Kallus raised his eyebrows in suspicion. What was she up to?

But Nota simply smiled back, her face non-threatening and completely peaceful.

"Ask away." Kallus found himself replying with any further hesitance. There was no harm in a simple question after all.

"Why did you defect? You had everything. A promising career, the loyalty of your troops. But instead you swapped sides, selling out the empire to join the rebellion. So, just out of interest, why?"

That was a deep question, one that Kallus had thought about long and hard for many moons. At first he had been unsure of his reasoning. His actions had been the right thing to do, he didn't refute that.

But over time things changed. The empire had soured, and the leadership had only become more corrupt.

And, if he was truthful with himself, Kallus found that all of the hope and all of the prosperity of the empire had vanished overnight, and that he was betraying his on principles. He wanted to protect people, and he could no longer do that as an ISB agent.

So he had adopted the title of Fulcrum, serving the people of the galaxy in a new way.

And what had surprised him the most was how readily he had been accepted by the others, even if they were suspicious at first.

For that, he owed them everything.

So in the end, there was only one possible answer to such a question, no matter how personal it was. He was not ashamed of who he was, of what he had done.

Not anymore.

"Because it was the right thing to do." Kallus replied, shrugging his shoulders in response. Hopefully that would be enough.

Across from him Nota seemingly huffed, not quite in understanding, but in what Kallus would call acceptance.

He was glad she approved.

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Zeb sat in his co-pilot chair of the U-wing… bored.

He had looked over the map several more times, trying to find a crack in the defences to make their plan easier.

When he had begun to develop a headache from staring at the hologram for so long he had turned it off and shifted his attention to preparation for the mission. He had unfolded and examined his bow staff, checking that all its functions were working at peak efficiency, before folding it back up again.

So far he had done this six times.

Zeb had stopped himself going for seven, instead opting to take his seat in the cockpit, finding something else to do in the process.

As he ran his hands over the consoles, checking over the power regulators and hyperdrive readings a sound distracted him. A high pitched beep sounded out, and for a brief moment Zeb was confused as to what it was.

Seconds later his wristcom lit up, a flashing red light indicating that someone had left him a message.

Zeb sighed in despair. Very few people ever left him written messages. Usually it was Chopper sending him some stupid message about being smelly or something equally stupid. One time the chaos inducing astromech had even send him several dozen files of explicit images in hologram form.

Suffice to say Hera had not been pleased when Zeb had opened the message mid meeting. Chopper had found it hilarious.

Tentatively reaching his free hand to his comm link Zeb pushed a series of buttons on it, before bringing the message up.

The first thing Zeb noticed was that it had come from an unknown address, but one that was no Chopper. Instead, it appeared that someone had gained access to his personal frequency, and used it to send a transmission.

Glancing down the message in concern, Zeb began to read.

'Captain Orrelios,

"A name is many things. A title. An identity. An individual. A meaning.

But it can also be a deception.

One can have the nicest name, the strongest identity, a powerful title.

But more often than not, a name is merely a cover.

The darkest secrets are hidden behind such meaningful names.

The darkest secrets are often hidden in plain sight behind such names.

Never trust a name, for it is almost always a front.

Instead, only trust the truth hidden behind such fronts.

And if such fronts cannot be seen behind,

Do not trust them ever, for they are hiding something dark."

'Ancient Chiss Proverb'

-T

"What on Malachor does that mean?!" Zeb yelled aloud, powering off his personal comm and sinking into his chair in frustration. It was bad enough when Chopper did things like this, but now it seemed like Thrawn was joining in too!

The message made no sense to Zeb whatsoever. He was no expert in deducing riddles, only that there was something that Zeb shouldn't be trusting.

Or maybe it was just a message for the sake of it, but then why would Thrawn do such a thing? Thrawn didn't act without reason.

Bringing his hand up to his head, Zeb felt his headache begin to return.

Instead, Zeb simply sat there for a minute, enjoying the silence. Despite being a warrior, one who had fought time and time again, Zeb enjoyed these brief moments of respite more than he cared to admit. It was times like these that he envied Kanan and Ezra's ability to meditate within the force, to find a peaceful place to escape to if only briefly.

BEEP.

"Oh come on! What now?!" Zeb yelled aloud, flailing his arms around dramatically in anger for his disrupted peace as he glanced down at his comm link again, expecting to see a pulsating light indicating another message had been left for him.

But when he did he found that no such light was flashing. Whatever had beeped had not been his comm link.

BEEP. BEEP.

Glancing around the cockpit in confusion, Zeb began to examine the various consoles, looking for the source of the noise.

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

The sound was beginning to pick up momentum now, and Zeb began to grow even more concerned. What was going on?

When he had determined that the sound was not coming from the cockpit, Zeb stood from his seat and entered the back of the ship.

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

"What the kriff is that?" Zeb muttered to himself in confusion, glancing around.

And then something caught his eye. On the roof of the interior of the ship was a small half spherical shape, one that had a pulsating red light on. Said pulsating light was flashing at an increasingly rapid speed.

Confusion on his face, Zeb cautiously approached leaning in to take a closer look.

Upon closer inspection, Zeb recognized what it was, and felt his blood run cold.

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!

"Oh Karabast!" Zeb yelled as he turned and sprinted out of the U-wing.