The world was on fire, or at least the world he used to know. The stormtroopers at his command had been quite liberal with the fire and mayhem they'd induced upon arrive to the distant and almost hidden planet. The forest surrounding the temple had gone up in flames first, and now the fire had spread, inward and outward. It was consuming everything it's path, slowly and surely. None of it mattered to the figure observing the carnage below. He wasn't here to watch this place burn, he'd already seen it many times in his dreams, this living nightmare was no different. The descent into the man-made hell was easy, even with the fires rampantly burning throughout the grounds. The temple was old, comprised of several tall sand buildings. On another day the scene might had been considered beautiful, but now, it was littered with the bodies of old, the fire slowly consuming them.
Screams ran through the temple, but the man in black knew only one thought as he strode the ruckus with purpose: she had to be here, he couldn't have hidden her anywhere else. His saber cut through another feeble metal door, the melted metal glowing the same fiery hue of his lightsaber. It matched the glowing embers in the windows as he passed them. He tore down every door, every barrier in his way until he reached the heart of the temple, a giant angular room that held no windows to the outside, so unlike the rest of temple, the destruction here was hidden from view, and he could almost forget the reason he was here.
He whirled around the room, looking desperately for any sign of her. The inner sanctum was large, and there were hidden crevices all around the walls. He searched them all, the rage and frustration growing as the realization grew that there was no one there. He stalked to the very center of the very temple and stopped at what he saw there. It was a polished wooden box, sturdy and square, with an iron lock. He knelt down and caressed the top of the box gently, the leather clad hand shaking over the surface. He didn't need to open the box. He already knew what was in it, and what it meant if it was here, and she was not.
The rage did not build slowly this time, it came like the flashes of fire, unseen outside. He rose and lit his lightsaber, aiming it at the nearest column, relishing in the destruction of each hit as the rage blinded him. This place, it was like a tomb, and those sabers were her headstone. He'd destroy it all if he had to. He melted column after column until the supporting walls trembled with the exertion of the extra weight of the heavy roof, and even then, he only stopped when his breath came in heavy pants.
"Kylo." He turned around to see Adrian, his right hand holding one of his old teachers bruised and cowering at his feet. Just the sight of the cowering figure made his rage burn brighter. Kylo raised his hand and the man was thrown forward and Kylo caught him by the throat, the Force pulsing around him as it responded to his anger.
"WHERE IS SHE?!" He snarled, squeezing the useless man's throat until he gagged and his face turned an ugly shade of purple. He didn't care how much pain this man suffered, as long as he got the answer he sought.
"Master- Skywalker- has taken her," The now purple-faced man choked out. "You- will never- see her again."
It was not the answer he wanted to hear.
An angry cry rose from his throat, and in a swift movement, he cut the man in half. He fell to the cold ground, dead, as useless now as he had been before. Luke Skywalker had taken her, he'd spirited her away because he'd known Kylo would come after her. Rage and hatred welled within him as he thought of his former master. How dare he take her away, after all he'd done to them. He'd caused them so much pain, and now she was gone, as unreachable as his former master. Kylo wouldn't let him get away with hiding her away from him. He would not let that stand. He would find Luke Skywalker, and when he did he would tear her location from his mind, even if he had to do it from Skywalker's cold, useless corpse.
He would find her, and then he would make them all pay.
I walked through the hall brusquely holding the tablet in my hand. I after insuring that I had the list for today's events ready, I turned the corner of the floating palace to his highness's hall. When I reached his door, the guards opened the door without a word. We'd been through this ritual too many times, and they knew the rules all too well. I was allowed within the prince's room at all times.
The inside of the room was dark, the curtains drawn against the light of twin dawns. With a flick of the controls I opened one set of curtains shedding just enough light in room to see the giant bed and two tangled figures on it.
"Good morning your Highness," I said conversationally, even adding a polite smile as I called his morning tea from the table and brought it to him. By the time I'd reached him, Schneizel el Britannia had managed to sit up, the silk cloth falling away from his bare chest, his body just barely covered, and leaving nothing to the imagination. I kept my smile on because this was nothing. I'd once walked in on the prince fucking his manservant, Kanon, rather viciously into the bed. Instead of walking out of the room, I'd simply walked to the ornate bathroom, filled a glass of water, waited until the prince had finished, handed him the water, and continued on with business. I had no reason to be embarrassed, he was the prince, allowed to do as he please. I was just lucky he hadn't forced me into his bed, but I suspected that was more because he appreciated my keen skills of mind than those of my body.
"Aurora," Schneizel said, a graceful smile lighting his face as he sipped his tea. "Are you sure you wouldn't like join us?" He asked playfully, for him at least.
"I would your Highness," I replied, "But I'm afraid there are matters to attend to that cannot wait. And it appears you are already quite busy already." I resisted the urge to smirk. "Morning Kanon." The second, rose head figure slipped from the covered and inclined his head to me as he walked nude to table full of teas and various breakfast foods. "Would you like your robe your Highness?"
"If you would be so kind," Schenziel replied and grabbed the gently laid dressing gown from the chair next to the bed and put the tablet down so I could hold the gown for Schneizel to slide into. He stayed there for a moment, and with an inner sigh, I quickly belted the robe, my hands brushing as little as possible around the prince's waist. Schneizel turned around and gave me a soft kiss on the forehead before moving to join a now partially dressed Kanon at the table, his cup of tea in hand. Though a part of me wanted to viciously scrub my forehead in disgust, I knew better. As nice as Schneizel pretended to be, he was a possessive son of rathter, and even if I wasn't in his bed, this was just his way of saying I was still his plaything, regardless. It was fine though, because I had learned to play this game well, so well.
I turned to the two barely dressed me and sat on the third chair provided for me and the two began to delicately scarfed down the meal before them. "Today looks as though it is going to be a long day, your Highness." I paused reading through the agenda your highness. "Today the delegations from the First Order arrives."
"Ah yes," Schneizel said softly, his light demeanor slowly fading. To be honest there was no one in palace who didn't know what day it was, or who the First Order was. Six months ago, when they'd destroyed the new Republic with a single sweeping motion, it had set everyone on edge. The only reason the Britannian System hadn't been affected was because the Royalty had refused a seat at the Senate, despite numerous attempts to dissuade them. Even though the First Order's starkiller had been destroyed by the resistance, the Order was still nothing to be trifled with. Even these proceedings had to be delicately handled or else we could be facing an invasion that the Britannian Military could not afford to fight against, not with the Black Knights still attacking at every given chance.
"The preparations for their quarters and dinner is already set in place. I have confirmation from the top nobility, as well as Princess Guinevere and Prince Odysseus."
"Have you had any confirmation for His Majesty?" Schneizel asked, filling his cup with tea again.
"No, your highness," I replied after looking at the guest list once more.
"Then make the arrangements as we had planned before," Schenziel replied dismissively. "What do we know about the delegation that is arriving?"
I tapped the tablet to the next screen, and grimaced internally. He wasn't going to like what I had to say next. "I'm afraid there isn't much I can tell you. We don't have many informants in the Order because of the uniqueness to which they train their soldiers. I do know there is a general who will be attending. He was recently in command of the starkiller before it was destroyed." I paused for a moment.
"Is there something else, Aurora?" Schneizel asked.
I glanced at the tablet before deciding it would be better in the long-run if he knew everything "There are, rumors, whispers that I couldn't confirm, that Kylo Ren may be in attendance."
"The Sith?" Schneizel asked, looking surprised. "Are you sure?"
"No," I said honestly, "But I felt there may have been enough rumors to not leave you prepared to the possibility, your Highness."
"As thorough as always," Schneizel mused, looking pensive. "Thank you, Aurora." He glanced at Kanon. "Come, we must get dressed." Schneizel stood and Kanon and I did as well, per protocol. "Help yourself Aurora, we'll only be a few minutes." Without another word he and Kanon retreated to the dressing room next to the ornate bathroom. With another sigh I flicked the curtains open to their full brightness and then settled into the chair. I knew that tone, and sure enough, not two minutes later did I hear the discrete, rhythmic thumping against the wall while I delicately munched on a pastry. Yes, I supposed there were worse positions I could be in at the moment.
This fanfiction was originally posted on fanfiction.net
Chapter 2: A Meeting with Unexpected Consquences
This is my first time posting here, so you'll have to forgive me if I miss anything important. I just wanted to say thank you if you are reading this story, it makes me feel all warm inside. Now I know warnings are proper, but at the same time this story is a journey that we'll be taking together (with our lovely characters, of course) and you know what they say about "the journey."
So my warnings are as follows. This is a journey, optional to all. You know the rating, and if at any point you wish to get off, that's totally your choice and I respect that.
Now if you really want to know specific warnings, be a person of a concerned nature, please PM for which my response will most-likely be "Do you REALLY want to know?" but I will endeavor to answer your questions as best I can without compromising the story.
Reviewers are appreciated, as I am very new to this, but not required.
Oh and I do not own Star Wars or Code Geass, but I thank their creators/owners for letting me play around in their universe(s) for a bit.
Four hours later I was standing next to a now fully dressed Kanon as Schneizel waited to greet the delegates from the First Order. I had my earpiece in my ear, listening passively to the Britannian air control monitor the shuttle's approach from the starcruiser orbiting above Pendragon. Though everyone knew that the Order's ship was here on a diplomatic mission, no one felt comfortable with the cruiser's superior weapons in striking distance of the capital planet. Kanon suddenly shifted slightly next to me, catching my attention and I grinned, despite the situation.
"Feeling a little sore, are we, Kanon?" I asked slyly.
"At least I wasn't the one feeding his Highness folktales," Kanon scoffed lightly. "Tell me, Lady Aurora, do you really believe the Sith to be anything more than legends propped up by the Empire to keep their power?"
"I happen to hold the belief that anything is true unless proven otherwise. That is probably why you are the one who graces his bed and I do everything else," I sniffed, feeling momentarily superior. Kanon was never one to think of the impossible. He was such a closed minded individual, I was sometimes surprised that Schneizel kept him around at all.
Kanon leaned in closer then, until I could feel him practically towering over me. "Careful, little Aurora, you know as well as I know you walk a delicate edge, and if you're not careful, you'll fall right where you're trying so to desperately avoid." An all too familiar shiver ran through me, and I resisted the urge to throw him into a wall. Suddenly I felt the odd, all too familiar oneness with space around me and I worked desperately to close my mind from it. The feeling scared me. I didn't understand it, and understanding was imperative in my occupation. Anything else was dangerous. The more dangerous notion, though, was the threat that Kanon had slipped into my ear. I couldn't fall into Schneizel el Britannia's bed. If that happened, I knew I would become useless there. I'd become nothing but a trophy, or worse, I would be discarded, unable to do anything. I couldn't let that happen, no matter what. I was far too valuable where I was.
"Now now," Schneizel said without turning back to us, "Don't squabble, my precious ones, you know better." He had hearing like a hawk, and Kanon wasn't exactly known for his subtlety..
"Yes, your Highness," I replied quickly, Kanon echoing his own apology after me. I knew this wasn't finished, though, because with Kanon it was never finished. Kanon wanted me, it was all too clear, as much as he wanted me on the same playing field as him. He wasn't satisfied with my status above him, not at all, and I knew he was working hard to put my position as precariously as possible, which meant I had to work hard just to keep myself right where I needed to be.
"Order1 is on final approach. Gate C please stand by."
"They're almost here, your Highness," I said, as the Gate C staff heard the same message began making the final preparations for the landing. The doors to the gate opened above, cool air rushing into the hangar bay, and the lighting surrounding the pad illuminated. Schneizel had chosen an internal gate because while these meetings were common knowledge, he still wanted a semblance of privacy especially since the following proceedings needed to be handled without any of the unwanted nobility getting their hands on the delegations and unnecessarily start a war with their arrogance.
"Aurora," Schneizel said suddenly, "You will tell me if you sense anything untoward about them." Ever since I could remember, I'd always been able to, sense, things about people that weren't always said aloud. This skill, no matter how much Kanon scoffed at it, was always correct, and Schneizel, a skeptic though he was, had always been keen enough to listen to my instincts. Though this sense was similar to the oneness feeling that I feared so much, it was something I had far more control over, and thus was far more useful to me.
"Of course, your Highness," I replied swiftly. "You'll be the first to know." Of course I always neglected to mention the second person who I would I would tell, but Schneizel never asked that question.
Silence fell between us as we all watched an imposing aircraft lowered itself into the hangar bay. When the hatch closed, the observation door opened automatically for us and Schneizel and several of the Prince's guards followed us until we stopped a few feet before the crafts lowering door. As the door began to open, with a hiss of metal and low smoke, suddenly my head began to fill with a strange buzzing sensation. It wasn't enough to fill my mind completely, but it set me on edge in a way I couldn't quite describe. The stormtroopers came first, in two neat lines, splitting as they reached the end of the ramp and lining up along it. Next came a man I assumed to be General Hux, the former commander of the starkiller base. He wore all black, a fitted tunic with a sharp-looking leather belt and a severe long black jacket. His face, though expertly blank, possessed a certain sneer of disdain I'd thought only Britannians had managed to perfect. Behind him was another stormtrooper, this one not wearing the standard white armor, but instead wearing a shimmering silver armor with a long black cape, fringed with red. If the flashy armor didn't give it away, the attention the other stormtroopers gave this one made it for sure. This stormtrooper was important, and it vexed me that I had no found any information on them. I hoped that Schneizel wouldn't be displeased on my lack of knowledge.
"General Hux," Schenziel said smoothly, stepping forward to commanding stance in front of us. "It is a pleasure to finally meet you."
"Yes," The General said shortly, the disdain from his face filtering into his voice. "The Order has been quite interested by your system for some time."
"Will there be anyone else in your party?" Schneizel asked, his eyes, though polite, were looking keenly into the ship. The pressure suddenly filled my head its limit, it was all I could do not to sink to my knees at the all-consuming feeling and collapse. My mind opened unwillingly to the openness, I felt an overwhelming presence coming from the ship before me. It was a presence unlike anything I'd felt before. As General Hux turned around, the presence suddenly moved closer. I felt rather than heard the thud of the black boots that appeared at the top of my vision, and a figure walked purposefully from the cruiser.
Kylo Ren was an imposing figure dressed in black from head to toe, the black and silver mask looking worn, but no less menacing. That seemed quite the purpose of the thing. A cape shrouded his entire figure in darkness. The pressure came in another dizzying wave before I finally managed to slam my mind's barriers shut, just as the masked figure turned and gazed right at me. Though I could not see his eyes, I knew he was looking right at me, Desperate for control, I shut down all fear, all emotion just to return my mind to some semblance of capacity.
"Kylo Ren, I presume," Schneizel said, not notice my struggle. Kylo Ren said nothing, just continued to stare at me for so long that I could feel the intensity of the gaze, and the twinge of something deep in my mind, something that once I recognized, shook me deep in the recesses of my mind. Schneizel noticed then, the connection of the stare, and spoke quickly. "May I introduce my attendants, the Earl Kanon Maldini and the Lady Aurora Canan. Lady Canan will be overseeing your short stay here. She is the most capable assistant I've ever come across." Schneizel glanced at me, and it took all my strength to keep calm and not collapse in front of this strange masked figure.
"A pleasure, General Hux, Master Ren," I said as quickly as I could. "Please let me show you to your chambers. Will soldiers be staying on the transport?"
"Yes," General Hux said shortly, turning back to the silver stormtrooper who turned back and marched onto the ship, the white Storm Troopers followed. "Lead the way."
"Of course." I gave a small bow to Schneizel before gesturing respectfully to General Hux and the strange man named Kylo Ren. "Please follow me."
The walk through the palace was silent, as neither man seemed inclined to speak, and for that I was grateful. Even though I'd managed to close myself from the openness, being this close to Kylo Ren seemed to set my teeth on edge, and I used the silence to take the opportunity to gather myself as best I could. I couldn't afford to make a mistake now, it would be too dangerous. When I finally reached the wing I'd prepared for the delegation, I turned to the first room. "General, I hope you find this room to your liking, Dinner will be a couple of hours, please do relax until then."
The general didn't say another word but simply walked through the door, leaving myself and Kylo Ren alone in the hall. I turned around quickly and walked to the next door, holding it open for the masked figure. Before I could speak, he held up a black-gloved hand and spoke. His voice was gravelly, spoken through the mask, but deep, with a hint of smoothness I suspected would be present if he wasn't wearing the mask.
"I will not be attending this dinner. I will take my food in my room, and no one is to disturb it unless I call for you specifically."
"Of course, I'll see to the changes immediately," I said quickly, already running through the list of people I needed to contact in order to alert them of the change. "Is there anything else?"
"Yes." He paused. "How long have you lived on the planet?" The blood froze in my veins. Why would he ask such a thing? Though I knew nothing about the Sith, that couldn't have possibly been a casual question.
"I've lived on Pendragon for the past ten years, Master Ren, but I was born on the Cora moon." My voice was steady, and I thanked the heavens for that small luck, because at the moment, I could practically taste the lie like sandpaper in my mouth. "Is there anything else?"
"No." Kylo Ren said shortly, and without another word he slipped into the room and closed the door shut with a resounding click. For a moment, my legs seemed stuck, as if my feet were refusing to move from the spot. Finally though, my body thawed, and it took all my effort and training not to run from the hall and as far away from Kylo Ren as I could, but I barely made it to the next hall before my legs could no longer hold me and sank to the floor, my tablet clattering next to me on the tile. My breath was coming hard, heavy pants, and I had to curl my hand into fists to stop them from shaking.
What was happening to me?
Chapter 3: An Offer Denied....
"I can't believe I have to change my menu for the uneducated clones," Cook Gabarini hissed, chopping up a round reddish vegetable rather viciously. I sat in the large, bustling kitchen as the only woman I liked on this palace prepared the all too important meal I was overseeing.
"You do know they haven't used clones since the end of the clone wars," I said dismissively, sipping on a hot cup of tea. Gabarini had taken one look at my ashen face and had immediately sat me down next to her space with a pot of her special tea. I never asked what was in it because I probably didn't want to know. It always calmed me down though, and I was grateful for it.
"Those brainwashed fools are as good as clones," Gabarini sniffed. "Not like our strapping young Britannian boys."
"Yes because Luciano Bradley is the pinnacle of Britannian society," I scoffed, letting some of my disdain slip through. Though Gabarini was born Britannian, she was very understanding of many of my, frustrations. It wasn't often that I found someone who was willing to let me be something other than Schneizel's loyal lap dog.
"You always find the exception, never the rule." Gabarini took the opportunity to stir several of the delicious smelling pots and pans.
I smirked, sensing a challenge in her words. "If there was any exception I could pick, it would be Suzaku Kururugi and you know it."
Gabarini sighed and put the knife down. "You never fight fair."
On that point, she was correct. Suzaku Kururugi was a slap in the face to most Britannians, being from a numbered planet, and still managing to attain the Knight of Seven, serving at the behest of the emperor. I'd only met him once, and to be honest I was, impressed at the level of dedication he had to preserving Britannia, especially considering what the Emperor had done to his homeworld.
"Maybe that's why his Highness likes me so much." I replied absently.
"Careful Aurora, or he might start to like you too much," Gabarini warned, dumping the contents of her chopping board into the still-brewing stew.
"You're not the first person to warn me of that today," I said with a sigh. "And I'm not one to ignore coincidences. I'll take the rest of the tea in my room. Would you mind sending it up to me?"
"Of course not." Gabarini waved hand at me. "You tell me if those First Orders do anything unseemly to my food."
"You know I will," I smiled at the thought, then the smile sobered. "and please remember not to screw up Kylo Ren's orders. I'd rather not get on the bad side of a Sith Lord." Actually I was more concerned about what Schneizel would do, but I couldn't exactly say that.
"Do you really believe in that mystical nonsense?"
I only smiled and walked out of the kitchen to my room. The walk back was silent, and I made it back to my room in record time. I checked my tablet wasn't transmitting in any way before walked into my room. By my count, I only had thirty minutes at most before I needed to be ready to greet the guests. I really didn't have time to do this, but something was compelling, so I needed to make this quick. I quickly shut off all the electronics in the room and went to my bed, grabbing the hatch for the tiny compartment under the frame. Once it slide out, I snatched up the familiar round disk. I turned around and carefully set it in the center of the room and stepped back, waiting for it turn on, tapping my foot impatiently.
Then, the disk whirled to life and a hologram of the Black Knights' symbol flared to life. "Identification please." A cool genderless, voice asked.
"Aurora Canan, undercover 66673," I said calmly, and the disc pinged once, indicating it'd heard my identification. For a moment the the symbol continued to hover in the air before the hologram changed and He stood before me, complete with the rounded mask and fitted outfit.
The most hunted man in entire Britannian System.
"Zero." I said with a smile.
"Aurora, I wasn't expecting you this soon," Zero said, removing his mask, sitting in a chair invisible to me.
"I know," I said quickly, "but the First Order arrived, and I felt the need to update you as quickly as possible."
"Tell me." I paused. To be honest I'd hoped I'd be able to tell him that his plan of bargaining with the First Order would be possible, but the more I thought of my encounter it wasn't going to work, of that, I knew for certain.
"I don't think you'll be able to go through with your plan." I said plainly.
Zero sighed and rubbed his forehead, clearly frustrated. "Are you sure? I've heard rumors that the Sith, Kylo Ren is there. Perhaps we can-"
"No!" I said forcefully, far more forcefully than I intended.
Zero looked at me, concern in those familiar violet eyes. "Is there something wrong, Aurora?" He knew me too well.
"It's just," I managed after a moment. "I felt something. Something- about him, something I've never felt before. I don't know what it means, but I know you can't win him over. Trust me on that."
"I do trust you Aurora, you know that," Zero assured me. "And if you say it won't work, then I trust you. Do you think you'll be able to pull of the contingencies?"
I was going to have to hack into the First Order ship before it left so the Black Knights could monitor their movements in this system more closely. "I believe so, but I have to be careful, I'm concerned with so many new faces, I may risk blowing my cover."
"Get what you can, but please be careful," Zero warned. "You are too important to this movement to lose."
I smiled sadly. Despite his assurances, I knew the truth. "You know we're all expendable in this venture. Everyone except you, Lelouch."
Then it was Zero's turn to smile sadly. "Oh how wrong you are Aurora. Be safe. I'll be expecting your report soon." The hologram flickered and faded, and the disk returned to its dormant state, leaving me alone in the dark room. I didn't bother to turn on the lights. I simply sank to my knees in the darkness, finding myself with the strength to do nothing else. Turmoil roiled through me for reasons I couldn't understand, for reasons I couldn't remember. Not for the first time in the past ten years, I cursed the blank in my mind, the memories I'd never be able to recall, the people whom I'd loved but would never remember. It was only then, in the darkness of this room that I truly acknowledged the feeling I had felt when I'd laid eyes on Kylo Ren.
I'd recognized him.
Somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind, something told me I knew him. In all my years, all my searching, I'd found nothing that caused such a reaction, until now. I should have been smart, I should have used that familiarity to get an audience between Kylo Ren and Zero. That was why I was so useful, because I could get to people Zero couldn't. But instead, this feeling was paralyzing me. I'd built so many walls around myself, built Aurora Canan from nothing, built myself from nothing, that now someone who could come from a past that I didn't even remember might threaten all this, all the good I'd managed to do. I'd always had to be prepared for it all to fall apart, but now that it was here, right in front of me, I didn't know if I truly was.
"You're late," Kanon sniffed as I entered Schneizel's room. "Where did you go?"
"I had to make some changes to the schedule," I said smoothly. "Kylo Ren will not be attending the dinner tonight."
"He said this to you?" Schneizel asked from the chair next to Kanon.
"He gave very specific instructions for his meal to be delivered and no one is to open the door unless he asks for it."
Schneizel thought pensively for a moment. "Then it will be your job to insure Kylo Ren has everything he needs."
"Yes after all he seemed quite taken by you," Kanon said slyly and I once again tampered down the all too familiar urge to slap Kanon across his petulant mouth, but then I thought better of it. After all, I knew where that mouth had been.
"He did seem to be interested in you," Schneizel said softly, and I caught a hint of possessiveness in his eyes. "Did you, sense, anything from him?"
"No," I said quickly, knowing, that in the sense, what he asked of me was true. I hadn't specifically felt anything about Kylo Ren, more that the Sith had managed to stir something in me, something I didn't think I'd ever feel. "No I didn't feel anything from him, your highness. I suppose whatever interested him wasn't something I could sense."
Schneizel continued to stare at me for a moment, and then leaned over to Kanon. "Would you oversee the final preparations and go fetch the general for dinner?" Kanon got up without another word walked toward the door. As he past me, I wordlessly handed Kanon the tablet, ignoring the smirk plastered on his face.
When the door was closed, Schneizel beckoned to me with a raised arm. "Come."
I walked hesitantly toward him, trying desperately not given in to my urge to run as far as I could in the opposite direction. I placed my hand in his outstretched palm and his fingers closed around my hand like a vice, pulling me in front of him. He appraised me silently with his sharp violet eyes. "You've been excellent these past few months." He finally murmured.
"Thank you, your Highness," I replied softly, so he wouldn't hear the tremor in my voice.
He raised my hand to his lips and brushed them softly my knuckles, and I shuddered internally at the brush of his tongue against my skin. "We're so close," he whispered against my skin, "We're so close to the throne. We wouldn't want anything to jeopardize all your hard work."
The words were soft and gentle, but the message was perfectly clear. If he failed in his efforts to secure the crown, the consequences I would face would be severe.
"I understand, your Highness." My voice was clear and and confident now, because I meant every word. "I won't fail."
I walked quickly through the halls, my focus only on the banquet ahead. I hadn't even paused to banter with Kanon. I'd simply snatched my tablet back from the smirking fool and headed straight for the ballroom. I was halfway there, intending to go straight to the dinner and make sure no one needed anything, when my tablet lit up, indicating a message. I looked down on it and a chill ran down my spine.
Kylo Ren is requesting your presence.
Oh this didn't bode well. I changed my direction and rushed straight for the guest hall. When I reached Kylo Ren's door. I knocked hesitantly on the door. For a moment nothing happened, and then door creaked open. I pushed it open the rest of the way and stepped into the dimly lit room.
"Master Ren?" I asked hesitantly, and I was going to turn on the lights a little simply to see, when the pressure suddenly reappeared inside my head with force. It was heavier this time, and my head was so filled it I could barely stand it.
"Why did you lie?" Kylo Ren asked from somewhere in the depths of the room. His voice wasn't as gravely as before. It was smoother, softer. His mask, it mustn't be on, that's why the lights were turned off.
"I'm sorry," I said automatically, "I'm not sure what you mean." I craned to see inside the dark room. The pressure in my head was making it so hard to concentrate.
"When you told me you were born here, you lied." I froze, heart beating faster in my chest as fear spike inside of me. "Why?"
How could he-
"I don't know what you mean," I replied breathlessly, the fear seeming to steal my breath with every moment I spent close to this man.
The room was silent for a moment, and I thought he might be gone. Then it pressure suddenly abated and I felt a presence behind me, but I couldn't turn to face it. My body, it wouldn't move. I was frozen in place, completely at his mercy.
"You're playing a dangerous game," his voice whispered softly into my ear, and the words echoed around in my head, "one that you're going to lose. If you tell me the truth, I can protect you."
"I-" I stopped, pausing for a moment, my mind racing. Was he really offering me what I thought he was? No this couldn't be real. It had to be a trap. "I'm afraid- I don't know what you mean."
I couldn't tell for sure, but I swear he sighed, as if he was disappointed in my answer. "Very well."
The pressure keeping me still suddenly disappeared and I didn't waste a second, bolting for the door. For the first time in years, I ran as fast as my legs would take me, not bothering with decorum. I didn't collapse, I couldn't afford to. What Kylo Ren had just done, it wasn't a threat, it was a promise. He was going to out me, I was certain, as certain as I was that I recognized him. It was a good thing I had a contingency plan of my own and hopefully enough time to pull it off.
Chapter 4: A Desperate Play
I ran straight for my room. Luckily there was no one in my path, and I reached my door in a matter of minutes. I threw it open and tossed my tablet onto the bed, kneeling down, I unlatched the compartment and took out the disk I'd used less than an hour earlier and slipped it into a pocket, there was no time to contact Zero and warn him. It was too dangerous, if I used it now, they might be able to trace the subspace signal. It was better not to use it, simply continue as planned.
The second disk I took out of the compartment was larger, this one about the size of my fingertip, and it was cool from disuse. This disk was filled with data. It had every piece of information, dirt, scandal that I'd managed to dig up over the past ten years, even before I'd offered Zero my services. Some of it was so scandalous, that even the whispers of this information could ruin entire family lines. Most information on the disk I couldn't deliver to Zero because I would be easily identified as the culprit of the information breach.
Of course, none of that mattered now.
Now I had to get this information to Zero, before Kylo Ren made good on his promise.
Getting to servant's quarters at the bottom of the palace was simple. I'd memorized over a dozen routes, so that I was certain I could get there from. The servant I was looking for in particular I knew would be here. I always knew where she was. While some of the newer staff looked surprised to see someone of my rank here, most new better than to ask questions. When I reached her room, I didn't bother knocking. I simply opened the door and shut it as quickly as possible.
The maid looked surprised, immediately bowed. "My lady-" She began, but I quickly cut her off. We didn't have the time or luxury for protocol.
"I know you're a member of the Black Knights," I said quickly. I watched the blood drain from her face, and the resignation of death that quickly followed. The very look I knew I was going to achieve in a few minutes, but I couldn't worry about that now.
She started to back away, but I caught her hands fast. "Listen to me, listen to me," I hissed, pulling out the small holodisk and placing it in her hand. "I am too."
Her eyes widened as she looked at the disk in her hand, and then her entire body sagged in relief. I imagined she had one just like it hidden somewhere in her room. She opened her mouth to speak, but I pulled out the second disk and shoved it into her hand. "You need to leave now, and get this Zero. Nothing else matters, do you understand me?"
"Yes," she whispered breathlessly, her eyes wide.
"Good. Now Go."
She fled immediately, and a sigh of relief went through me, and for a moment, everything around me silent, before the weight of what I'd just done true hit me. I'd actually done it. I'd completely and utterly betrayed Schneizel for the whole world to see. Even though I'd always wanted to do it, I couldn't quite believe it.
I walked back through the servants quarters in a bit of a daze. I'd done everything I could, gotten Zero the information he needed to finish destroying this government, piece by corrupt piece. There was nothing to destroy in my room now, nothing that would give the Britannians anything to trace back to Zero. I would be caught, but with luck, it would get them nowhere closer to destroying the Black Knights.
The only thing that would end would be me.
I had no illusions about what would happen. They would execute me for treason, even though I wasn't really Britannian. It was a shame that I would be the only to appreciate that irony. I ended up on the top level of the palace, where the roof was mostly glass, allowing light to filter in from the sky and into the otherwise artificially lit palace.
It was the place I'd use to go in the beginning, when I'd felt the most lost. There was something about the sky that calmed me so. I'd used to stay up there for hours, and since no one could find me, it had always been my choice hiding spot. This had been the only place I'd felt safe to wish my forbidden wish: that whoever had dumped me on this planet would come back and take me away from all the lies, arrogance, and disgust. I'd hated this place with a passion I hadn't thought possible, and I figured anywhere had to be better than here. There were days even after I'd met Zero that I'd wished that. I suppose if I survived long enough, I think I might actually have to thank Kylo Ren. I'd finally gotten my wish. I wouldn't have live here any longer.
I chose to sit in an alcove, slipping off the long, pale robe so the cool metal wouldn't chill my legs. The suns were just beginning to set, and the red and orange splashed across the blue sky. It was beautiful, the perfect picture. It was only a matter of time now, all I had to do was wait. It didn't take long. My tablet lit up first, announcing that my clearance status in the Britannian System had been revoked. Clearly they weren't worried about alerting me. Then it went dark, and I knew they'd taken control of my tablet to find me. I knew it had to only been a matter of time.
It took them almost twenty minutes to find me, and by the sound of boots, I had the rather sinking feeling that they weren't going to take me alive. When I heard the soldiers enter the walkway, I didn't bother to turn around. If they were going to shoot me, I didn't want to see it happen. The last thing I wanted to see was the clear blue sky. It was the first thing I remembered, so it would be fitting, I guess, ironic. I was surprised when I was jerked from my arch by rough, gloved hands, and I felt was sharp jab in the back of my head and then darkness consumed me.
I was terrified, terrified and exhilarated. I shouldn't be doing this. I could be jeopardizing everything by doing this, the small life I had. I stood in the abandoned building where they'd taken me after poking and prodding me every which way for any hidden bugs or weapons. They were very thorough, to the point I almost hit one of them, even if they were girls. It wasn't because of a sense of decorum, one that my "family" had tried instill in me for years, to the point where I wanted throw-up every time they mentioned it. It was common decency. The wind was cold, and it whistled through the bones of the building, and I was glad they let me keep my coat, the black wool one of the few sensible, no ruffled things I owned.
"Lady Aurora Canan," A voice echoed around me in the abandoned space. I'd only heard him on the holo-recordings, but the voice was unmistakable. It was Zero; he was here. "I was very surprised to hear you wanted to speak to me."
"Zero," I said, whirling around, looking for a source for the voice.
It seemed to be coming from a higher floor in the ruined building, just out of the range of vision. "I'm curious as to what a young noble such as yourself would want from someone like me."
It looked like I was simply going to have to settle with his voice for the moment. "I want to help you," I finally said, figuring I'd better get it out of the way now. It would give me more time to convince him I was telling the truth.
There was silence for a moment, and I thought Zero might have left. "You'll have to forgive me if I don't believe that a noble with such promise would want to betray your homeworld?"
"Because, this isn't my home world." I didn't want to reveal this, it left me exposed, but I knew Zero would be too cautious, and the only way for this to work was for him to trust me, absolutely.
Another pause, and I could practically taste the disbelief and confusion. "Explain," he said shortly.
I took a deep breath, steadying my nerves. "Six years ago, I was dumped on this- planet with no memory or recollection of I was. I couldn't even remember my own name. Whoever left me here, convinced the Canan family to take me in and protect me as their niece. As far as I know, I'm related to no one on this planet."
"That still does not explain why you would want to help us." Zero said after a moment.
"Because I can't take it anymore!" This wasn't good I was losing my calm, but he just wasn't listening. "The lies, the corruption, the blatant lack of regard for anyone that isn't one of them. It's worse than sick, it's worse than the Empire! They have no regard life and I can't just stand by anymore and watch it happen! I won't." It felt so good to say it, after so long. The truth no longer rattled in my head, screaming to be let out and it felt so good.
"Why come to me?"
That was obvious, and Zero knew it, but he seemed to want me to say it, and I was all to happy to. "Because you are the only person loud enough and smart enough to play their game and beat them." I paused collecting my breath. "And you're going to need me."
A soft chuckle echoed around the building. "And why is that?"
"Because I can get to Schneizel el Britannia."
"How?" If there hadn't been a interest before, there certainly was now.
I smiled, but it felt cold. "You said it yourself, I'm a promising young noble, which means I'm going to be able to get to people you can't, and Schneizel already interested in me, and all I have to do is stay interesting to him and I know I can get you everything you need. I may be nothing but a fiction they've created, but I'm not letting them control me anymore. I'll do whatever it takes to burn Britannia to the ground."
Chapter 5: The Consequences of Betrayal
Consciousness came back to me slow, in bits and pieces of memory and pain. My head felt like it was going to split open. Once I'd registered the mildly surprising notion that I was, in fact, still alive, I started taking stalk of my body. I could feel my wrists were bound with some kind of metal restraints, and I was sitting in a hard, high backed chair. My eyelids felt like weights, but after some effort, I finally managed to open my eyes. I was in a transparent cell, the ones that were positioned in one of the sky engines with only two walkways to get to the prison. Those walkways led to only one door, which was guarded by the toughest Britannian Security. Without the proper clearances, this place was impenetrable.
They only used this cell to hold high profile, high risk prisoners, like when they captured Kallen Kozuki. Obviously they thought Zero was going to try and rescue me, like he did her. What they didn't know was that I'd made him promise not come and get me if was ever caught. It was a point we'd argued every chance he'd gotten, but eventually he agreed that if I was caught, it would be a waste of too many resources to try and retrieve me, and he knew I would never betray his location. I didn't know it. It was the only way to be sure I could never betray him, unintentionally or otherwise.
The only thing I'd ever asked after that was to use my death as far as it would get him. At least then my death would mean something. After a few more minutes, the pain in my head stopped the world from spinning and I finally managed to focus on the person sitting across from me.
"Hello Schneizel." I tried for pleasant, though I couldn't help the scratch in my voice.
Schneizel looked at me impassively. "Have you forgotten protocol so quickly Aurora?"
I laughed, even though the pain flared in my head, and my chest felt a little like someone was sitting on it. "I hardly think protocol matters now." I glanced around, and I realized no one, not even Kanon, was here. It was just him and I. Interesting. "How long have I been here?"
"A little over twelve hours," He replied, still looking at me impassively. His eyes weren't even cold. They were utterly devoid of emotion.
"Have they already sentenced me then?"
"You're scheduled to be executed tomorrow morning at dawn." I nodded. I was expecting it to be a fast trial. They didn't even wake me up for verdict.
We both lapsed into silence, and though a part of me wondered if it would be better for me he left without saying anything else, but if I was going to leave this world in a matter of hours, I had to ask.
"Did you ever suspect me?"
"No," Schneizel said after a moment, and it was only then I saw a flash in his eyes. "Why did you do it Aurora?"
"Did you really think I'd remain your precious pet forever?" I snarled at him. "That I'd let you turn me into some little fucktoy when I wasn't useful anymore?!"
"If you would have come to me before you sent that information-" Schneizel began and I started laughing because this was priceless. He thought all I was guilty of was sending a disk of scandalous information to the Black Knights. He really didn't know, didn't understand. Or perhaps he didn't want to see, that he'd been a fool all along.
"Did you think this was my first time betraying you your Highness? Who do you think leaked the plans to your new flagship, destroyed the marriage Chin Federation deal you worked on for years?" I smiled harshly as I watched appalled expression spread across his face. "I was never loyal to you or the Britannians. I chose you because for all your brilliance you were so predictable and easy to manipulate it was like I didn't even have to-"
Schneizel's eyes flared and before I could blink he was inches away from, his hand at my throat. He looked so furious that if I hadn't been ready to die I would have been terrified. As it was I was amused by the loss of the control he so prided himself on. His hand tightened around my throat and for a moment I lost my only source of air. The fingers squeezed tighter still, and despite myself, I felt a flash of fear go through me, and my hands started straining against the restraints, the metal biting into my flesh.
"Do you have any idea what you've cost me?" He snarled.
Understanding hit like lightspeed. "The throne," I managed to gasp out. "You're never- going to get it now-" He squeezed again, and for a moment I thought he might actually break something.
Then he released my neck and I took in a deep breath even though it turn, a lot, because this was just too precious. I really could die happy now. "Zero's- going to tear you apart. The only thing I regret is- I won't be there to see it."
Schenziel was silent again, and it didn't take a genius to know he was composing himself. Continuing with no control in front of me was counterproductive. "Kylo Ren was the one who turned you in." He finally said, and I simply shrugged. "You're not surprised."
"I had a feeling," It was more like a warning, but if Kylo Ren hadn't said anything, I certainly wasn't going to be the one to clue Schneizel in.
"Really?" Schneizel said, and he sounded far more like himself this time, and that concerned me slightly. "What kind of feeling?"
"Oh no, I don't have to help you anymore," I snapped. "My obligation to you had ended. I owe you nothing."
"What about helping your dear Chef Gabarini? You were with her less than an hour before that information disappeared."
I froze. "No, she had nothing to do with this." Schneizel knew that Gabarini had nothing to do with this. She was too loyal to Britannia to ever betray it to the Black Knights.
"Of course," Schneizel said smoothly. "and it can stay that way. Just, tell me what you know."
My hands clenched, and I knew I was cornered. If there was one code, one rule I'd always followed, it was that no one would pay for my mistakes. If there was anyone who would face the consequences, it would be me. "I don't know, anything, but he felt," I paused, fighting through my instincts practically screaming to stop talking, "familiar. Like I knew him, but I could remember how or from when. And he asked me about where I was born and he seemed to I was lying about what I told him."
"That is interesting," Schneizel replied, flashing a cold, calculating smile.
"Is there anything else, or are you going to let me enjoy my last few hours in peace?" I asked tiredly, choosing to ignore the smile. A few more hours, and it wouldn't affect me at all. I was considering simply passing out again. Schneizel moved toward me again, and I thought he he might try to choke me, but instead he caressed my cheek softly. When I tried to flinch away he grabbed my face and forced me to look at him.
"Such a waste," He murmured softly, and suddenly he swooped down and caught lips in a hard, bruising kiss. When he tried to slip his nasty, slimy tongue inside of my mouth, I managed to snap my teeth down on the offensive flesh and he jerked back a hand on his now bloody mouth as I spit out iron tinged taste from my own mouth.
He stared at me for a moment before he shook his head. "Such a waste," he murmured again and then turned around and walked out of the cell. The glass door slid shut behind him and I slumped back against my chair trying desperately to get the coppery taste out of my mouth.
I couldn't believe I'd just done that. At the very least Schneizel would never forget about the assistant who'd lost him everything. I would be the mistake that would haunt him forever, and now, short of a bloody coup, Schneizel would never get his hands on the throne, and my treason would be just what Zero needed to persuade the other moons to his cause.
It did make me sad, though, that I wouldn't be there to see it. I'd accepted a long time ago that this venture was going to end in my death. I suppose the thing that made the most sad, is that I would die a facade. A useful facade, but a facade nonetheless. From the moment I'd woken here ten years ago, my entire life had been a lie. The only choice I'd ever truly made for myself what to join Zero. Even then it had the only option left to me at the time. It had been the only choice that could allow what little morality I possessed not to die a slow, painful death.
I suppose the thing that made me feel the most regret was that I was going to die without ever knowing who I truly was. I was going to death with none to mourn me, none to remember me, the real me. If anyone had ever mourned me they had probably done it long time ago.
Perhaps I should have died those ten years ago. The time I'd had here had simply a reprieve. Maybe this execution was the universe's way writing the imbalance that I had created by being here. With that though heavy on my heart, I began to feel my eyes grow tired with fatigue. This time I was grateful for the bliss of the darkness, and as I slipped away, I could feel someone in the dark with me, watching over me.
And for the first time in a long time, longer than I could remember, I felt safe.
Chapter 6: A Trade for the Truth
I was roughly shaken from blissful unconsciousness. As someone roughly pulled off my restraints. My head snapped up and I came face to face with the end of a blaster, and the person holding the blaster was Kanon.
"Are you planning to speed up my execution Kanon?" I asked blearily. There had to be an ironic twist to Kanon killing me.
"I wouldn't have released you if that was true," Kanon hissed, his stare hard and cold. He looked weak and thin, and there were tremors in his hand from the weight of the gun. I raised an eyebrow at the thought he could actually outmatch me in a fight.
"That is true," I agreed. "You're a lazy little boy who prefers to get fucked to the top rather doing any work." I smiled harshly. "Oh wait, you do swallow too, don't you?"
I was expecting the gun to the face, so it didn't hurt as much as much as I was expecting. I was surprised by the blood in my mouth, but at least this time I was able to wipe the blood from my mouth, the red staining the pale blue fabric. Kanon stepped back, the gun still pointed at my heart. I was tempted to try and take the gun, just so I could shoot him in the dick, but I decided against it. I wasn't in the mood to be tortured repeatedly before I died and I was fairly certain that I'd pissed off Schneizel enough to last a lifetime.
"Get up," Kanon said harshly.
"Haven't you heard?" I asked sarcastically, "I'm waiting for my execution. It'd be rude to miss such an important date."
"Get up," Kanon repeated, taking another step back.
"No," I said, sitting up straight in my seat. "You don't get to tell me what to do anymore. So why don't you go comfort his Highness and leave me to die. You've finally gotten what you wanted all along, me out of the way. So stop acting like such a little bitch and go celebrate your victory."
"It seems you didn't take my warning at all." A cold mechanical drifted from the doorway behind me.
I jumped out of the chair in surprise, whirling around to see Kylo Ren, still dressed in the black and mask. "Why are you here?" I snapped, "Haven't you done enough damage?"
"You put yourself in this position, if I recall." Even though his mask and voice showed no emotion at all, I had the impression he was somehow laughing at me.
"What is he doing here?" I asked, turning back to Kanon.
"He's made an offer to Prince Schneizel in regards to aiding the prince to throne," Kanon sniffed. "Considering how damaging your little stunt was to his Highness's reputation."
I was about to insult Schneizel, simply on the principle I could now, but something in Kanon's tone caught my attention. "What do you mean, offer?" I asked slowly.
I saw Kanon smile for the first time, and my heart dropped, because I knew that smile. It only took a moment for me to put it all together.
"No," I hissed, "No way. You're not selling me off for advantage like a piece of meat!"
"I'm afraid you lost all say in the matter when you decided to betray his Highness," Kanon smiled widely.
"I'm not doing it Kanon!" I shouted, my mind scrambling. I should have known this would happen, that Schneizel wouldn't let me die in peace. "I won't let you do this!"
"You don't have a choice!" Kanon snarled, waving the blaster at me. My eyes trained on the weapon, and I dove for it. Kanon struggled for control of the blaster, but he was weak and I managed to rip it away from him. He staggered away, looking shocked as I pointed it at him.
"Killing me won't solve anything," Kanon tittered out, "The deal's already been made!"
I smiled coldly. "You don't have a deal without me." I pointed the blaster to my temple, the metal cold and unyielding against my skin.
Kanon's eyes widened. "No, you wouldn't-"
"Oh but she would," Kylo Ren finally spoke, and I whirled to face him. I'd forgotten he was here. He took a step closer, and I took a step back, my entire body shaking. But my hand was steady, and my finger was ready. I would kill myself before I became someone else's property.
"You would pull the trigger in a heartbeat, wouldn't you?" He was speaking to me now, and it was like everything else disappeared. It was only us two here now. Suddenly the pressure in my head was so strong, I could barely stand it. There was a weight on my hand, and as Kylo Ren raised his hand, the pull only intensified, and I it was all I could to just to keep my hand up. I couldn't even move my finger. My hand was shaking so hard.
"You're so strong," Kylo Ren said softly, almost appreciatively as the pressure increased and the weight was so heavy. Somehow he was taking control of my body, and there was nothing I could do. I just had to pull trigger before he could stop me. I fought to move my finger even as my hand started to drop. "Just not yet strong enough," Kylo Ren murmured, almost to himself. Then, in one quick motion my hand slammed down just as I managed to pull the trigger. The shot rang out uselessly as I collapsed onto my knees, breathing hard, the blaster sliding away from me.
Everything hurt now, my throat, my head. Even my chest hurt. I didn't both moving when Kylo Ren's boots finally stopped in front of me, just barely at the edge of my vision. I barely had the energy to look up at him.
"Who are you?" I whispered, looking up into that cold mask of black and silver.
He knelt down next to me. "Don't worry. I will help you remember." He raised his hand again and the darkness swallowed me whole.
I woke up in a healing bed, the white surface hard against my bare skin. I was naked, except for a few bandages around my breasts and legs. I tried to move, but found myself unable to move anything but my fingers. Wires were stuck to most of my body. I turned my head to see Kylo Ren standing next my pod. Confusion gave way to blind panic, and I struggled against the fog of the medication to sit up, but Kylo Ren gently pushed me back down into the pod.
"Don't struggle," he said softly, but I didn't listen to him. Whatever this was, I wanted to get out. I hated med bays, they made me feel sick and scared, and I was being sold off again, and that frightened me above all else.
"Stop," he said again, holding my shoulders down. The leather against my bare skin set a well of fear in my through, and I tried feebly to kick my legs up. He sighed, he let go, reaching up and slipping off the mask and setting it aside where I couldn't see. I stared at the face beneath the mask in confusion. He looked, young, or at least younger than I expected. His face was pale, and relatively unmarked, except for a long scar that ran the length of his face. His hair was black, and cut off just below his chin. His eyes though, were soft, gentle, and for some reason, that calmed me. He was trying to hurt me, I could sense it.
"Stop," he said again, and this time I listened, and he pushed me gently back down into the pod. "I know this frightens you, but it's the safest way to transport you." My fear spiked again. No I didn't want to go anywhere. I just wanted to die in peace. Why didn't anyone understand that?
Pain flashed across his eyes unexpectedly and his hands tightened on my shoulders.
"No, I won't let you go." He whispered. He leaned forward and pressed his lips against my forehead, and unexpectedly a sense of calm ran through. I felt safe, cared for. "You won't have to live like this anymore. I'll help you remember who you are. Just rest."
No, no, I didn't want to go back to sleep again. I didn't want to forget.
"No, you won't forget, I'll make sure of it this time," Kylo said softly, stroking my hair. Then he took a breathing mask hanging above me and placed it over my face. "Now breathe." He instructed. Despite the calm, I didn't want to go to sleep, and I tried to hold my breath, but everything hurt so much, I finally had to breath in, and immediately I began to drift back into the darkness. As I did, I felt the soft leather of his hand slip something hard and smooth into mine.
I floated in the pleasant, drug induced darkness for what seemed like an eternity. Despite the fog there was something keeping me aware. Like a thread, it slowly pulled me awake until I could feel the padding of the pod, and my fingers could vaguely grip the hard smooth thing that was pressing hard against my hip. I could feel the mask on my face, knew that the medicine would pull me under again if I didn't get it off me.
As I grasped the thing tighter against my hip, I felt a rush flow through my fingertips and through my body like a shock and I felt the cord rough against my cheek suddenly snap, and the mask shift off my face enough to breath in the stale air of the med pod. Despite the medicated air, with everything breath I took, I felt my mind getting clearer. After a few more breaths, I managed to move my hand enough to clumsily tear the mask off and open my eyes blearily I gingerly sat up, looking around. I was still in the med bay of the ship. I glanced out the window, but my thoughts weren't coherent enough to determine if I recognized the stars presented.
After a few tries I managed to get my legs over the edge of the pod and stumbled onto the ground. As I looked around wearily, a felt a pull, of something in the med pod, and I managed to get on my feet enough to lean against the pod. Inside the the pod was a polished wooden box, almost like a jewelry box, with a simple iron lock on the front.
Though it looked locked, the moment my fingers brushed against the wooden lid, the lock suddenly popped and the lid swung open. Inside, nestled in a velvet lined interior were two golden metal tubes, unlike anything I'd ever seen before. They looked, almost achingly familiar. Something inside of me wanted to touch them, to feel them in my hand. I shakingly reached out a hand and touched the cold metal. The world dissolved around me with a jerk, and I was falling, and falling, and falling….
Chapter 7: The Past and Present Collide
So just some quick notes about our lovely universe so far (because I mean, I'd love to just post my very detailed storyline, but that would kind of reveal a lot).
First, the size of the Britannian Empire/System compared to the Republic. Basically I took the idea of how many countries there are in the Code Geass universe and turned them in various planets and/or moons. So probably between 50-100 worlds, like a mini galaxy, large enough to to hold a mini Federation of worlds (Chin Federation), but small enough to remain mostly isolated and untouched by the Skywalker family drama, and also world conquered by Britannia is numbered. For example Japa is called Area 11, but Aurora never referred to it as such because of her character as undercover spy.
Also, be on the lookout for more of Zero and the Black Knights. While I can't say how much of a part they will play specifically, I will say that Zero is far too much of an interesting character to simply leave alone.
Finally, a note of fair warning. This is rated M for a reason, and the following chapter will reveal some details that some may find, disturbing. Again I say this a journey, and anytime you feel the need to leave, that is fine by me. If you survive this chapter, I should be able to post a full list of warnings on the next chapter (although I don't plan to tag it all until the work is complete).
I was running through the temple laughing. My belt slapped against my waist as I rounded another corner. I was almost to the temple center when invisible hands wrapped around my waist and pulled me into one of the many of the dark niches hidden within the temple. I laughed as his real arms wrapped around me, nuzzling my neck.
"Caught you," he murmured against my skin, his warm breath sending shivers down my spine. I turned around in his arms and wrapped my arms his neck and leaned up and free him into a kiss. He deepened the kiss. Passion flared between us, and he backed me into cold stone wall, fitting one of his toned, well muscled leg between my thighs, pressing into me until my eyes rolled back with pleasure, as he deepened in the kiss, his all-too familiar tongue tracing my mouth like it was a gem. He pressed harder and I gasped, leaning my head back against the stone wall. He was far too good at this.
"Kylo," I breathed, using the name I always used when we were alone. It was my name for him, special. Despite how deliciously good I felt, worry flashed through my mind. This was dangerous. We could slip up once, forget to cloud our feelings, and Luke could sense it all and then I'd lose him.
"Lyssa," he murmured, "Stop worrying, he'll never find out."
"I know," I whispered softly, "I just don't want to lose you." I didn't think I could bear it.
"You won't," He said firmly, and I felt his echoing promise through my mind. I leaned up to kiss him again when I felt a rippled through the force around us.
It was Luke. He was close, too close.
"I thought you said Adrian was watching him," I panicked, pushing him off of me and straightening my clothes. If Adrian had been with him, Luke should have been on the other side of the temple.
"He was," Kylo said, and I felt anger flash through him.
"Calm," I whispered softly, stroking his cheek. We couldn't slip, not now. He pressed his lips into my palm and took two steadying breaths until the anger floated beneath the surface and I could no longer sense it inside him. It was just in time, because I could feel Luke's presence growing closer. We slipped out of the niche just before Luke rounded the corner, followed closely by Adrian, his pale hair braided back.
"Ben, Larissa, there you are," Luke said quickly. I glanced at Adrian and he looked at me apologetically.
"Forgive us, Uncle Luke, I was looking for Larissa," he said quickly, his tone polite, respectful.
"Honestly," Luke said with a sigh, rubbing the side of his beard. "You two always disappear at the same time. You're mother asked me to take care of you, but I swear you two are always making that more than difficult."
"Sorry Uncle Luke," I said quickly. "I got caught up in the meditation temple."
"Larissa," Luke said softly, "I know meditation is important to your training, but you cannot focus so much of your energy on simple meditation. You're training is more than that."
"I know," I said plaintively, "I'll work harder on balance Uncle Luke, I promise."
"I know you will," Luke said with a smile. "Come, it's time for lightsaber training." As he turned around, I felt Kylo's hand ghost across my waist, reassuring me.
Then the corridor faded from my vision and suddenly I was standing in a bedroom, my room. Kylo was there, and he was angry, furious, so furious the anger roiled in the Force around us.
"He's sending me away!" Kylo snarled, and a push of Force shattered a bowl on my desk.
"What?!" I gasped. "Why?!" I couldn't believe it. Luke would never send him away. He cared for us both too much.
"He knows," He ground out, and the blood in my veins froze. No, no, it couldn't be true. "He's promised not to tell our parents if I go."
"And if you don't?" I asked fearfully, though I knew the answer.
"He'll send us both away, and he'll tell them." The words were like a blade to the heart. We couldn't leave here, this was our home, but threatening to tell our parents, that was just cruel.
"But how is he going to explain this Mother and Father?" I continued, "He can't just send you away. They'll ask too many questions."
"Dad isn't going to care," Kylo said harshly. "He never cares." I ignored the rage and resentment I sensed in my brother. It was useless to defend our father now.
"What are we going to do?" I finally asked, sitting on my bed, feeling defeated.
"I'm going to leave," Kylo responded, and pain flashed through me faster than I could stop it. It hurt, more than I thought I could bare. He was leaving me. "No, Lyssa, please listen to me," he said, sitting next to me, cupping my face in his hands, bringing my gaze to his face, even though I didn't want to look at him, for fear I'd start crying. "I've met someone, and he says he can help me get stronger than Luke."
"Stronger than Luke?" I repeated, and something of a chill ran down my spine. That sounded, wrong somehow, in a way I couldn't quite describe.
"Yes," Kylo said firmly. "And once I'm stronger, I'll come back for you, and nothing will stand in our way." Despite the sense of wrongness I felt, I clung to that promise, hope filling me.
"You promise," I whispered, "You promise you'll come back?"
"Nothing could keep me away," Kylo whispered, leaning in to kiss me. After a moment he pulled back. "There's something I want to do," he murmured against my lips.
"Anything," I replied instantly. He smiled brightly and leaned in to whisper softly in my ear, his breath tickling my ear in his breathless excitement. For a moment, the words almost made no sense to me, but then joy ran through me and I tackled him in delight.
"Yes," I said softly, happily. "Yes, yes."
I kissed him with all my passion, all my love, so that when he left he would remember me. As I pulled away everything faded but his face, and then I blinked and it was gone and I was standing in a great forest with trees hundreds of feet tall.
Above in the trees looked like the ruins of an old village, but they looked smaller than I would have expected for humans. Luke had woken me in the middle of the night, his face grave, and we had traveled to this planet, using one of mother's older ships to get there. He'd woken me so early, and told me to get dressed fast, so I hadn't even had time to grab my two sabers. I was armed with one I'd found on the ship. Not that I needed a weapon with Luke around, but it always made me feel safer to have protection ready, just in case.
After arriving, Luke had immediately walked into the forest and disappeared, leaving me to wander around the area surrounding the ship. I used the time to widen my senses of the Force, immersing myself in the feeling of life around me. The Force had always opened willingly for me, and because of that, I'd quickly become more powerful than my brother. I chose not reveal it though, for many reason. The obvious one was because Kylo and I could find more time together if I always needed more training, but also because the power my brother and I possessed together was unheard of, and my brother had always been tempted by power, more than he cared to admit. So to protect him, I trained these powers alone, and taught him what I'd learned myself. Kylo always hated it, though, that most saw me as the less powerful twin.
I simply enjoyed my ability to immerse myself in the Force. It didn't matter to me how much people thought I had, only that I could control the power I did possess. As my perception widened further, I felt the instinctive pull toward my brother through the Force. I ignored it, though it pained me to do so. Though I may have been able to hide my powers of the Force from my uncle and parents, I knew reaching out to my brother would not go unnoticed. I just had to wait for him to return, and pray it was soon.
I sensed Luke far before he reached the visible edge of the clearing, and turned to greet him with. l stopped when I noticed his face looked graver than before. Something was wrong. Before I could open my mouth to ask what was wrong, the controls binged from the ship behind me. "Stay here, Larissa, I need to see who that is."
"Yes, Uncle Luke," I said softly, and he brushed past me quickly into the ship. I sighed and continued to wait outside in the cool morning air. After a few more minutes I heard Luke slowly walk out of the ship, looking haunted. "Uncle Luke?" I asked softly, "Uncle Luke what's wrong?"
"The temple has been taken," Luke said hollowly.
"What?" I said, panicking at the thought of all the younglings we'd left at the temple, defenseless. "By who?"
"The Sith, but that's not possible," I responded, confident in the safety of the knowledge, "No one knows the temple's location but the young and the teachers. The Sith couldn't have the location." Despite my confidence, I still reached out through the Force, searching for Adrian or the others to connect to, but I found myself blocked, and I didn't understand why.
"It was Kylo Ren," Luke said ominously, and immediately I shook my head. It wasn't true.
"No, no," I said quickly, "No, he wouldn't do that. My brother wouldn't give up the temple's location, he wouldn't."
Unwillingly, my mind went back to my brother's words. "I've met someone, and he says he can help me get stronger than Luke." Had he meant something by that? Something I hadn't realized?
"I never said it was Ben," Luke said warily.
He'd used the name only I called my brother, and I hadn't even realized it. But how could he know that name? "I know my brother. He wouldn't hurt them. It's our home. If we go back, I'm sure I can talk some sense into him, stop this." I made the move to get back onto the ship, but Luke suddenly barred my way.
"I can't let you go back Larissa," Luke said, his voice strangely blank.
"What do you mean you can't let me go back?" I asked, not understanding. If it was Kylo there, and I wasn't sure it was, I knew I was the only one he'd listen to.
"I know how powerful you are Larissa," Luke said softly. "Even though you try hide it, you're more powerful than everyone in that temple, including your brother."
My breath caught in surprise at his words. I'd been so careful."What does that matter now?" I asked. We needed to get back to the temple now.
"I can't let you go back to your brother, now that he's been corrupted by the Dark."
"It wouldn't have happened if you hadn't sent him away!" I snapped.
"I can't let you go back," Luke repeated as if he hadn't heard me. "If you join your brother, you'll be too powerful together. I'm sorry." Before I could move, the saber in my belt flew from my belt and into Luke's hand. It took only breath of a second to understanding his meaning. I started backing away. I knew how powerful Luke was, and for all my natural ability, I couldn't go against his skill.
"Please don't do this," I begged, "Uncle Luke, please."
"I promise I'll find you a good planet, with a good family," Luke said, slowly walking forward, raising his hand. I felt the Force whirl around us and fear flashed through me, fear like I had never known before. "But I can't let you remember how to use the Force."
"No, no please," I begged. I didn't want to give up my powers, my life. I didn't want to lose Kylo, my brother. I didn't want to be erased.
"I'm sorry Larissa, I truly am. Goodbye," he said, and the Force blasted through me, ripping through my memories, tearing each one from my mind, until there was nothing left, nothing at all…
For a moment I was disoriented in the whirl of the past before the present suddenly burst into my awareness. I sensed others around me, but it wasn't him. That was good. I probably couldn't handle him right now. My control was still coming back to me in bits and pieces. These two doctors on the other hand were weak in the mind. It only took a moment to make me invisible to them. They then stripped off their outer clothing, a pair of white pants, and white undershirt, and white boots that were thin, but useful to me. I then instructed them to lock themselves in a med pod, with sedatives set on high. They drifted off in a few moments.
I quickly pulled on the pants and shirt over the medical wrappings. There was a white jacket hanging in front of the med bay and I slipped that on too, buttoning it quickly. After a moment's indecision, I pulled my loose hair up into a makeshift bun. At least at first glance I would look like a med tech, though the illusion wouldn't hold for long. I had to get off this ship.
I grabbed my wooden box with my sabers, and set it on a desk with a computer. The system was open and unlocked, so I started going through the database, searching for the ship's location. I was relieved find we were still in the Britannian system. However, as I looked closer at the location in space, I grew fearful when I realized we were over the Japa moon. That was where Zero was supposed to be hiding. Was this Kylo honoring his end of the bargain with Schneizel? Was killing Zero part of that agreement? If it was, I had to stop it, I'd spent the last four years trying to save that sometimes idiotic exiled prince, and I wasn't about to let my brother destroy him simply on principle.
I kept investigating through the system. It only took a few more minutes to find the mission list. A group of stormtroopers had been sent to the Black Knights base with the intent to eradicate the Black Knights in their entirety. At least two battalions, lead by Captain Phasma. There was no way the Black Knights could stand a frontal assault of this magnitude. They were designed as an impressive guerilla army, but this little bit of frontal force would result in a slaughter.
I had to stop them, before it was too late. I grabbed a belt from the discarded pile of clothes and managed to make two makeshift holders for my sabers underneath the white jacket. After slipping my sabers into them, I straightened the ill-fitting clothing as best I could. It wasn't much of a disguise, but hopefully I could get to the hangar unnoticed. I needed to get off this ship, as quickly as possible, for more than just the Black Knights sake. My barriers to the Force were still thin, and I knew I couldn't keep my presence hidden from him for long. I had to get off this ship, and down to the planet. Once I got there I'd consider what to do next. If I tried now, my emotions would overwhelm me and Kylo would know I was awake and aware.
Better wait until I was farther away, until he couldn't get to me, not without a fight.
Navigating the ship was easier than I had originally anticipated. The First Order hadn't changed much of their from the Empire designs, and I'd studied those often when I was a child. I kept my head down and used the Force sparingly to make sure anyone who looked at me didn't look too closely. The ship itself was mostly empty of personal and I manage to make it to the hanger without anyone stopping me. The hanger, however, wasn't empty. However, they all seemed to be moving so intently, it was easy to slip inside their minds more firmly and make it look like I was just another stormtrooper.
The more I flexed my abilities, the easier it was getting to use. It was like it was an old muscle I hadn't used in a long time, but one that was coming back, quickly. I slipped into a TIE fighter just as another large squad of stormtroopers moved into the hangar bay. The seat was a different black leather than I remembered, but the controls were still fairly standard. As soon as the aircraft powered-up I took a deep breath to steady my nerves. It had been a long time since I'd flown a ship, much longer since I'd flown one of Empire design.
Unbidden, a memory piece of a memory floated to me, no more substantial than a voice.
"Remember Lyssa, light on thrust, heavy on the clutch. These Empire pieces of tin are shot when it comes to control."
"Heavy on the clutch," I repeated, and disengaged the lock, slowly pushing the small craft out out the bay and into the dark deep of space. I didn't loosen my trip on the controls until I'd flown out of the hanger unimpeded and on track for the moon.
The trip to the moon was short, and as I entered the moon's atmosphere, I started getting automatic pings from the stormtroopers' movements. They were closing in fast to the Black Knight's main base. They would be overrun in minutes. I pushed the craft as fast as it would go, sensing the turmoil from the Black Knight's base growing louder. It was a pulsing wave of panic, getting larger and heavier with each breath. The emotions were so loud, and my control still wasn't completely back, so I couldn't pinpoint Zero's exact location. Instead I aimed for the ship that had transported the stormtroopers to the ground. My guess was that the troopers had most-likely landed close to Zero's original location.
I landed next to the craft and jumped out of ship as fast as I could. Looking around, I sensed the most turmoil coming from the abandoned buildings barely a few yards ahead of me. I ran straight for the abandoned buildings. The ruined stone and metal walls were a silent as the grave, save for the blaster fire echoing all around.
As I made my way through the ruins, the rebels were losing bad by the look of the amount of bodies that were wearing the Black Knight's uniform versus the fallen white armor of the stormtroopers. I followed the loudest commotion until I finally found a large circular room where the heart of the fighting was. Zero was I the far end of the room, with his guard surrounding him, trying in vain to defend their leader from the onslaught of stormtroopers. At the helm of the attack was Captain Phasma, her silver armor gleaming as she shouted orders to the advancing stormtroopers.
I had to get in front of the stormtroopers, or else I would never be able to stop them in time. I looked around frantically and spotted an overlook that would get me around the battle to Zero's side. The metal, however, was sharp, and it would be hard to climb up to the overlook without hurting myself. I quickly stripped off the large jacket and ripped it in two, wrapping it around my hands. I vaulted up onto the metal ladder and started to climb. Though my muscles ached with effort, I was still strong, and I managed to scale up to the overlook in a few seconds. I hopped over the rail and started running as soon as my feet hit the floor of the overlook. I dashed along the overlook, and I hit the rail hard at the end, slipping over the edge, grateful for the ladder this time that I was able to slide down the ladder and drop to the ground. I was now on Zero's side of the cavernous room, and it was a good thing too, because he'd now lost most of his guards, and to my surprise, I saw several of his top command around him. The stormtroopers circled around the surrounding Black Knights Members, getting ready to fire.
I ran for the small divide between the forces and put myself directly in front of Zero.
"Stop!" I shouted, my voice carrying over the cacophony of blaster fire and screams.
"You," Phasma snarled as her masked gaze turned toward me, her voice cold and mechanical. "You're not supposed to be here!"
"You don't want to do this, Phasma, walk away!" I wouldn't use my abilities unless I had to. It was clear Phasma had no idea who I really was. Kylo had be kept my true identity a secret.
"Step out of the way, girl. Kylo Ren's protection won't help you here." Pain ripped through me at the mention of his, but I ignored it and stood where I was, hoping that Phasma would be smart enough to leave. Finally Phasma snarled. "Troopers, fire at the targets!" On command, the stormtroopers raised their guns and prepared to fire.
"Aurora, no!" I heard Zero shout, panic in his voice, but I blocked everything out, and prepared for them to fire. In one single volley, most of the battalion fired their blasters at me. With a cool clear mind, I simply raised my hand and the blaster fire stopped in midair, the red beams sparking in protest of the premature barrier. It was easy, there was no effort at all. They stopped at my command and the Force rippled around me like an old friend welcoming me back into the fold. It felt good to use my power again, like it had been meant to be used.
I looked at Phasma, and even though I could not see her face, her fear and shock were palpable around her. So was the shock behind me, but I couldn't focus on them now. These stormtroopers needed to leave, one way or another, and I was the only one strong enough to do it. "Jedi," Phasma whispered, more shocked than angry, but I could feel the anger coming. "That is not possible."
"You have no idea what's possible," I said calmly. With a little bit of effort and concentration, I changed the force of blaster and released my control, letting the blaster energy fire back at the stormtroopers, killing each one with accuracy. I regretted the loss of life, but I would kill as many stormtroopers as I had to. As the bodies fell, I felt Phasma resolve herself to fight me, though she seemed to be able to guess at the odds of her succeeding.
"I don't care who is protecting her, kill her now!" Snarled Phasma, and the remaining stormtroopers, after a moment's hesitation charged at me. I steeled myself and released one of my gold lightsabers from my belt, igniting one end just as the first of the stormtroopers reached me. I drove the purple beam into the first trooper and ignited the second end when I sensed another trooper behind me. Both troopers fell and I whirled into a familiar, comfortable stance. It was time to see if I remembered my saber training as much as everything else.
The next stormtroopers were smarter and came at me groups, but they seemed to have forgotten that I could use the Force as well, and I managed to throw several of them back into the oncoming troopers, decapitating one and spearing through anothering. I was set back, then, by blaster fire and was forced to defend myself against it with my lightsaber, using it like a shield. I wasn't as good at this as I remembered, and I had difficulty keeping up with the volley of blaster fire. I narrowly missed a blaster to my leg, but when I moved a stray blaster singed my hip and the pain brought me to my knees at the shock of pain. I was getting careless, lazy. I wasn't using my full power, I was still hesitating in the hopes there would be more loss life. But this was war, and I couldn't hold back anymore, too many lives depended on that. I slipped my second saber out and lit both sends.
Then, before any of the stormtroopers had a chance to move, I channeled the force to beneath my feet and then I ran, using the force to push me faster than I had ever run before. I broke the stormtrooper's ranks and push until I was in the middle of battalion. Everything I saw that was white met the violet of my lightsaber, and I was never more glad for the fact that I had two lightsabers then in that moment. Though the battle only took mere minutes, it felt like an eternity. Every slice of my saber fatiguing my protesting muscles, until I finally managed to take the head off of the last stormtrooper.
I turned to see Phasma trying to run back to the ship. I slipped a lightsaber away and raised my hand to halt her and she froze, even the red fringed cape. I was tired and my side burned worse than the lightsaber accident when I was eleven, so I was slow in walking toward her. When I reached Phasma's frozen form, I turned her around so she was on her knees in front of me. I waved her helmet off. Normally I wouldn't have bothered, but it was easier to push when I had direct eyes contact.
Her short blonde hair was pasted to her skin with sweat. She looked at me defiantly, and though I could sense fear within her, she was brave enough not to show it. I could tell her mind was strong, stronger than most. This was going to be difficult.
"You cannot push me, Jedi scum," She spat at me.
"I can do more than just push you, Phasma, I can make it stick," I said firmly.
Surprise crossed her face. "Not possible, not even-"
"Kylo Ren can do it?" I finished for her, not needing to push into her mind to tell what she was going to say next. I leaned close, so only she could hear. "Who do you think taught him his tricks?" Phasma paled as she understood. I straightened, and raised a hand to the level of her face. I focused on my intention and cleared all thoughts from my head except for one. Then I began to speak. "You will return to your ship and disengage all weapons. You will then fly back to your ship. You will not lead another attack against the Black Knights, and you will do everything in your power to prevent their destruction."
Phasma opened her mouth and duly repeated, "I will return to my ship and disengage all weapons. I will then fly back to my commanders. I will not lead another attack against the Black Knights, and I will do everything in my power to prevent their destruction."
"One more thing. You will tell Kylo Ren that if he wants me back, he's going to have to come and get me personally, or I will keep sending his soldiers back in pieces. Do you understand?"
"Yes." Another dull response.
"Good, now go." Without another order, Phasma slowly, robotically got up and walked out to her ship. No one moved as the First Order ship lifted off and flew away, but as it disappeared from sight, I felt the adrenaline leave me in a rush, leaving me dizzy. I felt my knees start to give out, but someone caught me before I could hit the ground. As they gently lowered me to the ground, I looked up to see bright red hair and worried blue eyes. "Kallen?" I asked vaguely, feeling lightheaded.
"Yeah," Kallen said, looking worried. "Just take it easy."
"I'm okay," I said dismissively, sitting up. "It's just a graze. I was careless."
"You were a badass," Kallen corrected, a grin lighting up her face. "I didn't know you could do that."
"I didn't remember I could," I said honestly.
"We thought you were dead," Someone said behind me. I turned to see Zero standing a few feet away amongst the dead stormtroopers. "We saw the execution but a few minutes before the stormtroopers started attacking." Though his voice was calm and mildly curious, I could feel relief echoing from him.
I took a deep breath, calming myself. "I was on the First Order's ship. There was a deal made that traded myself to the First Order for their help in putting Schneizel on the throne."
"Who made the deal?" A man behind Zero asked. I thought I recognized him from Schneizel's files, but I couldn't be sure.
"Kylo Ren," I said calmly, though the pain in my heart momentarily overwhelmed the pain in my side. I still didn't want to think about him yet, not when I wasn't finished yet.
"Why would he make a deal of that magnitude for you?" Zero asked and I could sense his curiosity, while I sensed only confusion in the others.
"Because," I breathed out slowly, "Kylo Ren is my brother. My twin to be more specific." Stunned silence followed my admission. I knew they weren't quite expecting that.
"You remember," Zero finally said, excitement clear in his voice.
"I remember everything," I assured him. "And it seems I'm going to be more use than you thought possible."
"How is that?" Zero asked curiously.
I smiled, though there was no real warmth in it, "Because I can get you help from the Resistance."
"We've never been able to acquire their help," The man behind Zero said dismissively. "General Organa refuses to help us." From the bits and pieces that I'd gleaned over the years, my mother hadn't had it easy, especially considering other rebel groups.
"She'll help you now, I can promise you that," I said wryly.
"Because you're a Jedi?" The man scoffed.
I sighed with pain and frustration. This wasn't going to be easy. "Because General Organa is my mother."
As promised, the warnings are as follows: Incest, known incest.
I guess I could also thrown in major family drama and general screwed up-ness, but when aren't the Skywalkers screwing up the galaxy?
Chapter 9: Reunion and Revelations
I sat on a metal bench in the Black Knights control ship, wincing as a medic poked and prodded at the blaster graze on my hip.
"You're quite lucky, the blaster really only grazed the skin," the medic said softly as she slipped of a pair of gloves and exchanging them for a new pair. "It shouldn't scar."
"Can you just patch it up for now?" I asked, wincing, trying to ignore the pain. I had more important things to worry about at the moment. I was barely in control of the swirling emotions inside of me, because most of my concentration was focused on blocking Kylo from my mind. He knew I was awake now that Phasma had most-likely returned to the Order, and I'd already had to fend off several attempts for him to speak with my through the Force. I wasn't in the mood to listen to his excuses for turning to the Dark Side, not with my control so precarious.
As I watched Zero and the man I now knew to be Li Xingke prepare to contact the resistance through the open doorway to the control room, I felt uncontrolled fear run through me. I was afraid to speak to my mother again. I didn't know if my mother had known of Luke's plan, or my father either. If they had, talking to them now would be as good as speaking to Luke himself for all the good it would do. Part of me didn't want to face them, especially now that I felt I had changed so much. I wasn't their little girl any longer, anymore than my brother was.
"I should be able to for the moment," the medic replied reluctantly, "but I'd like to do a full check-up on you later, if that's alright-"
"Larissa," I supplied again, for what seemed like the millionth time. It just set my teeth on edge every time someone called me Aurora. It wasn't my real name, it wasn't who I was.
"Larissa," the medic repeated with a quick smile, and she quickly pressed on a bandage on the blaster wound. Once she was finished securing the bandage, I slipped the thin shirt over my padded hip.
"Thanks," I replied, reciting another memorized mantra to calm myself.
"Larissa," someone said from the doorway, and I looked up to see it was Zero. "We've established communication with the resistance, but their refusing to allow us contact to General Organa."
"Who are you speaking with?" I asked wearily.
"Major Caluan Ematt," Zero replied. "We haven't told them about you yet."
"They wouldn't believe you anyways without proof," I said dismissively. "I'll be out in a second. Just keep him talking."
"Of course," Zero said, and he returned to the holo room. I took a few more steadying breaths and slowly shifted myself off of the bench with care. I didn't want to injure myself any more than I already was. The more normal I looked, the easier this would go. I slowly stepped through the doorway into the circular room with control panels circling the center of the room, which at the center was the blue tinged hologram of Major Caluan Ematt.
Standing within the range of the projection was Li Xingke, who was looking distinctly annoyed. "I told you Major, the information we possess will be very important to General Organa, all we need is a few minutes of her time."
"And you must understand that due to high presence of the First Order in you system we cannot risk General Organa's safety for questionable information." Major Caluan said gruffly. More must have happened than I knew if he was being so careful of my mother's position. Li wasn't going to get any farther. I quickly stepped forward and put a hand on Li's shoulder, stopping him mid-retort He turned around to glance at me, and after a moment, he stepped away from the projection. I took another deep breath and stepped into range of the projection.
"Hello Caluan," I said as pleasantly as I could. "I need to speak to my mother."
Even with the bluish hue of the projections, Caluan looked as though he'd seen a ghost. "Larissa?" He whispered, more a question.
"Please Caluan, this is is important, and I need her help," I pleaded softly.
"Of, of course," Pharas managed to stutter after a moment and he practically stumbled off of the hologram. I only had to wait for a minute or two before she practically ran into the hologram's range, breathing hard, staring at me in wonder. My mother looked older than I expected her to, as if the years had aged her as much as they had aged me. She was wearing a sensible pair of brown pants and a cream shirt, and her familiar grey vest with the resistance symbol on the chest pocket, her long grey-speckled hair piled on top of her head.
"Larissa," she breathed out, joy on her face that hit at my control in ways I wasn't expecting it.
"Hello mother," I said, my voice barely higher than a whisper, for fear she'd hear the shaking in my voice.
"I thought, I thought you were dead," Leia whispered, her voice no louder than mine. "I couldn't sense you." The realization of what she meant made my heart ache with a hope I hadn't wanted to feel before. If she had thought I was dead, then there was no possible way she could have known what Luke had done. I so wanted to believe she'd had nothing to do with taking my memories, my life away, but I couldn't ignore the simple truth she idolized my Uncle Luke as much as Kylo had secretly idolized my grandfather. I couldn't trust her with the truth, not yet.
"I lost my memories, and was dropped the Britannian System over ten years ago," I finally replied. "I've been living here ever since. I've only just recently regained my memories and I need your help, or more specifically I need to the help of the Resistance."
"I'm afraid I don't understand." Leia said softly.
"For the past four years, I've been working within the Britannian government as a spy for the rebel organization called the Black Knights. Unfortunately my cover's been blown, and I've escaped, well execution. The Black Knights have also suffered losses, and with the First Order in this system, we're backed into a corner. We have plenty of personal, but not enough ships and weaponry to fight." I paused. "I know you've had trouble trusting other resistance groups in the past, but these people have protected me on numerous occasions, I wouldn't be alive without them. I trust them. Will you help us, please?"
"Of course I'll help you, Larissa, whatever you need," She said immediately, and I was grateful for her immediate acceptance. "It's just, I'm so happy you're alive."
"It's good to see you too, mother," I replied haltingly after a moment. My control was stronger now with the relief of the knowledge that she would give Zero the help he needed. I felt I could speak with her more freely now, let the feeling of relief and hope of seeing my mother again wash through me, unrestrained. But my father, I surprised he wasn't there as well. I would have expected him to be shoving my mother out of the way to see me. He must be out on some kind of mission.
"Where's father?" I asked. "I know he probably isn't there at the moment, but I'd really like to see if I can find him, tell him I'm alive."
Leia's happy expression dropped suddenly, and she looked very grave, graver than the first time Kylo had asked about our grandfather. "You don't know," she whispered softly, as if she didn't want what she said to be true. Dread washed away the relief, and there was something in the corner of my mind, a poking and prodding at my consciousness like brand. It something I didn't want to think of. It left a foul taste in my too dry mouth.
"I don't know what?" I asked softly, fearful of the answer.
Leia paused for a moment, as if gathering herself. "Larissa, your father is dead."
I took a step back, and confusion through me as I automatically began to deny her words. No, no it couldn't be true, I would have felt that, no matter if I remembered the Force or not.
"When?" I asked shakily, refusing to believe it, not without proof.
"Six months ago, when Starkiller base was destroyed," Leia said hollowly. As the horror slowly built inside, I remembered all too clearly six months ago, when I had collapse with such pain and sadness running through me, I had been bedridden for days. The pain had been, unexplainable.
"He was on base when it exploded?" That didn't seem like my father. Kylo could say what he wanted about him, but Han Solo would have never put himself in a place where he couldn't make it out alive. He was a survivor above anything else.
"Yes, but that wasn't how he died." Leia paused again, and gathered herself. "He was murdered."
The dread coiled in my stomach until it threatened to make me sick. "By who?"
Leia looked as if she wanted to say anything but the truth. "He was, killed by your brother." The feeling was akin it being stabbed through the heart. It was too much to be grief, it was greater than a simple, callus emotion. I turned around without seeing and covered my hand over my face, for fear the pain would wrench itself out of me as a scream of agony. My knees felt weak and I knew if I fell here there would be no one to catch me.
My father was dead.
My brother had killed him.
My father was dead.
I was alone.
"Larissa, I'm sorry, I didn't want you find out this way, I know you and Ben-"
"It doesn't matter," I managed to whisper. I couldn't break now, because my control would break with me. I could harm so many people, and I couldn't let that happen. Desperately, I pushed down everything, the betrayal, the anger, the pain, all of it. I pushed it down until there was nothing left but cool, emotionless calm at the center of my mind. "It doesn't matter," I said more loudly, turning to face Leia. "Can you get the Black Knights what they require?"
"Yes," Leia said hesitantly, "But I'll need a few days to put the necessary things together to deliver them myself. I will also need to location of the base you which to meet."
"I'll have them send it to you over this channel," I said quickly. The calm wasn't going to last. I could feel the storm closing in. I had to get out of this room. "Excuse me, I have to go. I'll see you soon, mother."
"Of course, goodbye Larissa." Her face looked as if she understood what I was going through, and wished nothing more than to change it. Pain lanced through the calm and I whirled around, trying desperately to remember my teachings, anything to keep me sane. I looked up to see Zero and others looking at me with a varying forms of pity. Before I could open my mouth to speak, the storm overwhelmed me like a wave, and I barely felt myself hit the ground before the darkness rushed to greet me again.
Chapter 10: Becoming Whole Again, or Something More?
I was standing above a huge round abyss, a thin walkway between myself and the darkness below.
"Ben!" Someone shouted behind me, his voice echoing all around the abyss. I turned to see him. My father, the man I hated more than anyone else, save my former master. He stood at the edge of the abyss, stepping slowly onto the walkway, even as blasters trained to his position, ready to fire at my command.
"Han Solo," I said coldly. "I've been waiting for this day for a long time."
"Take off that mask," Han Solo said gruffly. "You don't need it."
"What you think you'll see if I do?" I asked dispassionately.
"The face of my son," He replied firmly. I considered his request for a moment, seeing nothing wrong in the last request of an old man who was about die. Without another word, I raised my hands pressed the buttons allowing myself to slip the mask off, holding the mask in one hand.
"Your son," I said with emphasis, "is gone. He was weak and foolish, like his father. So I destroyed him."
"That's what Snoke wants you to believe, but it's not true." Rage burned through me that he dared use my master name so casually, when the Supreme Leader had been a father to me more than Han Solo had ever been. "My son is alive."
"No," I replied coolly, "The Supreme Leader is wise." Wise enough to give me the power I needed to find my sister.
"Snoke is using you for your power," Han Solo insisted, stepping closer with each breath. "When he gets what he wants, he'll crush you." A final step more and he was in front a me less than an arm's reach away. "You know it's true." He said it gently, as if I would consider his words more if he said it softly. Even so, his emotions gave me pause. Though I could sense this had not been his idea, he still believed that it wasn't too late, that I had not already walked too far down this path, that I already hadn't made this choice a long time ago.
"It's too late," I replied truthfully.
"No it's not." A typical response from a parent who wished to believe only the best in their children. "Leave here with me, come home. We miss you." That gave me pause, because for the briefest moment I remembered when we had been young, she and I, and the few precious moments we'd had together as a family, the brief, happy moments that still called to me.
"I am being torn apart." I spoke it because it was true, the emotions making my voice rough. I'd chosen the Dark, and the reasons I possessed were clear and just, but those moments, those feelings, that life still held a sliver of doubt inside of me that I could not banish, no matter how I tried. "I want to be free of this pain. I know what I have to, but I don't know if I have the strength to do it." I looked up at him, his aged face, old clothes, and his hopeful expression. "Will you help me?"
"Yes, anything," My father promised.
I paused for a moment, and then I dropped it onto the metal walkway, the clang echoing around the empty space. Taking the lightsaber from my belt, the one I'd built with my own hands, I offered it to him. He grasped the lightsaber in a firm grip, as if reassuring himself that it was real.
For a moment, I could feel, I could taste the Light again, it felt- good.
But then something changed, at the feeling faded from me as I remembered why I'd gone to the Supreme Leader in the first place. It was because of them, my parents, we were forced to hide, that I was forced to leave my sister there, that I lost her. I couldn't change, I wouldn't change. I had a weakness that Han Solo had tried to exploit, a weakness that the Supreme Leader had sensed. It had to be destroyed, or else I would never find her, I would never be free. I looked at him again, and despite everything, he truly believe I would change, that I would forget all the pain he'd caused me.
For myself, and the sister I had lost, I would not fail.
My hand tightened on the lightsaber, and in one swift, decisive move, I drove the lit beam into my father's heart.
We sat up so fast my head was spinning, a scream choking off in our throat as we were torn from the memory. For a moment, I couldn't tell where I ended and my brother began. I could feel our adrenaline coursing through both of our bodies, the sweat coating our arms and face, our breathing even syncing together in sharp short pants. The pain suddenly flared in my side and grasped onto it like an anchor, throwing myself back into my own mind, my own body.
"Lyssa," His voice ghosted through my mind, the thread connecting hold onto my mind tight, threatening to pull me back under again. "Lyssa, you're hurting. I'm sorry."
"Stay out of my head!" I screamed, and slammed down on my barriers, cutting the warmth of his presence away from me. Even without the thread, I could still feel it, the ghost of the memory, the execution crawling under my skin like an sickening brand on my consciousness. Despite my horror, I could still feel his conviction, the pride as he watched the life slip from our father's eyes, and then his cold, lifeless body slip into the abyss below. The competing horror and jubilation made my head ache. I put my head between my knees and hoped I wouldn't vomit whatever little substance still remained in my stomach. All I could focus on was not allowing my barriers to slip again.
"So you're the little Jedi," A cool, feminine voice said, sounding detached, but oddly curious. I jerked, looking up, only to regret that course of action as my head spun.
I was surprised that there was someone in the room I hadn't sensed, even in sleep. I must have been too far into my brother's mind to sense my surroundings. I'd never gone so deep into his mind before. It was frightening, that my mind had reached out to him, even after I found out that he-
I recoiled away from the thought, flinching, and instead focused myself on the woman with bright orange eyes and even more brilliant green hair. She was wearing a rather unique looking black uniform with a high-necked black top and the Black Knight's symbol splashed across the chest. She was sitting on a large, plush-looking chair, knees up against her waist, revealing white boots.
"Who are you?" I asked, sitting up, realizing I was once again, wearing nothing but medical bandages. I was entrenched in a large bed, a grey sheet covering my lower limbs.
"Why do you just look into my mind and see for yourself?" She asked back, her eyes inquisitive, almost challenging.
"Because it is rude to invade someone's mind unless absolutely necessary," I replied, noticing that she possessed and odd tattoo on her forehead that almost looked like an abstract bird. The woman smiled, but the expression was flat, and held no warmth. Despite not reaching out for the Force to sense her, I sensed that she was older than she appeared.
Much, much older.
"Your connection to your brother must stronger than you realized," The woman said, slowly getting up out of her chair and sitting on the edge of the bed. "If he was able to breach your mind."
"I don't know what you mean." I said coldly. I didn't like what she was implying, or more importantly who she might tell.
"Ten years in Britannia truly have changed you little Jedi," the woman said with a smile. I bristled, not liking the choice of words. "Now calm down. The doctors can check you body, but your control of the Force must be also be checked."
"You're a Jedi?" I asked surprised. There were few in the world who could have enough skill to assess my power.
"No, but I have lived long enough to learn a few tricks here and there." That quieted my concern for the moment. "Now I know Zero wishes to see you, but you and I know how dangerous you will be if not properly centered." Despite not knowing this woman, she made a fair point, one I couldn't ignore, and if Zero had sent her, I wasn't exactly in a position to refuse his request, especially one that made sense.
"Very well," I finally conceded. The woman smiled coldly again and reached out and placed her pale fingers on my temples.
"What happened to me. Why did I collapse?" I asked, figuring that as long as she was getting something out of this, I could as well.
"It seems as though you were in the beginning stages of cryo-sleep when you escaped the First Order, and your body couldn't take the strain." The woman's fingers continued to slide over my temples, and I felt the ghost of a presence in the Force surrounding my mind, but it wasn't intrusive or abrasive. It was cold, and curious, just like this woman. After several more minutes of the careful prodding, the presence disappeared, and the woman removed her fingers from my temples. "You are quite, impressive. I do not think I'd ever seen someone as powerful as you, or as controlled as you."
"I've had a lot of practice," I murmured.
"I see," the woman replied neutrally. "Would you like my help in blocking your brother from your mind?"
"No," I said quickly. Though I had allowed her to check what she needed, I didn't relish the though of someone who felt like her taking up permanent residence within my mind. "It was a lapse, it won't happen again." The woman inclined her head. After a moment of hesitation, I ventured a question "Will you, not tell Zero about this?"
"I'm afraid I have to, for his protection, but considering the lengths our brother has gone to keep you alive, I doubt Zero will tell the others on his counsel." I breathed a sigh of relief. At the very least, Lelouch would keep my secret safe.
"Thank you," I said quietly. The woman didn't acknowledge the words, but instead stood and walked toward the door, and on the way out, she tapped a wall, to reveal a folded outfit nestled in a drawer.
"This is for you," The woman said. "Zero made it for you personally, in case he was ever able to get you out. The belts were an addition after he learned of your lightsabers."
The outfit was, not quite what I was expecting. It was high-necked and black, with a keyhole in my chest and back that dropped down to my thighs, almost like a small dress. The black pants were tight, and the boots were just below the knees. There was a pair of black gloves and I slipped them on. There was a big gold necklace that went around my neck, and it felt heavy against my chest. I slipped on the first belt around my waist, which had a hanging attachment for my first saber. The second belt was actually close to a garter, and slipped into my boot, unnoticed until I needed it.
The effect of the outfit itself was imposing. Except for the flashes of gold in belts and on the boots, it was all black. I imagined it would look even more imposing against my purple lightsabers, although I doubt Lelouch was thinking about that when he made this. As I looked in mirror for the first time since I had remember my past, it hit me that after all of this, I still didn't recognize the girl in the mirror.
I could see my mother in me. My hair was braided and bound at the back of my head, just like hers so often had been when I was a child.
I could see my father in me. I was a rebel just like him, bound not to truly fit in anywhere.
I could even see Aurora Canan, the demure, backstabbing noble whose only life mission was see Britannian fall.
But Larissa had gotten lost, disappeared ten years ago. Even though, in her time, she'd fallen asleep mere moments ago, I'd lived ten years without her values, her morals, or her powers. She was only a part of me, and the only person who'd known Larissa, who'd care for her more than myself was him, my brother.
The temptation to reach out to him, to feel his mind came so hard and fast that I almost didn't stop myself in time. I bit my lip, my hands shaking. I couldn't do that, as much as I wanted to, I couldn't. He'd killed Father and I as much as I wanted to forgive him, wish to forgive him, I couldn't anymore than I could forgive Luke for what he'd done.
The only difference between Luke and my brother, is I wished I could forgive him. He'd been a part of my life for so long, it was hard to imagine being Larissa without him. But I couldn't be Aurora Canan, not when she'd come to represent so much of the things I hated so much. I couldn't just be one or the other.
I suppose I would have to wear both personalities and find out what took to me more.
Chapter 11: Proposal
I walked down the bare grey halls slowly. My boots were padded, so they didn't click, which felt, odd to me. The Black Knight's base a maze, and I kept wandering around, running into very confused-looking members of the Black Knights. After a while, I finally gave up and tentatively reached out into the Force, searching until I found Lelouch's mind. I touched on it gently, and was surprised to sense enough Force within him that I could communicate with him through the force.
Tentatively, I reached out through the Force. "Lelouch?"
I could feel his surprise and confusion at first, before he managed to respond with effort. "Lar- issa?"
"I'm awake, I just wanted to know where you were."
"The- control room." My mind was suddenly flooded with images of halls leading to a large room filled with monitors and a large, round table, chairs surrounding it. "Join us." Now with the images he'd provided me, I finally managed to ascertain where I was and how to get there.
"I'll be there shortly." I closed off the connection to him.
It was interesting that Lelouch was Force sensitive, especially considering that green-haired woman, whom also held sway with the Force. It was an interesting coincidence. I never did catch her name. I'd be sure to ask next time. I followed Lelouch's directions to the large meeting room.
The grey doors slide open to reveal a bustling control room. At the round table, Zero sat at the helm, to the left was Li Xingke and to the left was a young girl with long black hair. She looked vaguely familiar. It took me a moment to place her. It was Kagura Sumeragi, the last of the Japa nobles. On either side of the table were various ranking members of the Black Knights, most of whom I recognized from Schenziel's various files. Kallen, Kaname Ohgi, Todoh Kyoshiro, Asahina Shogo, Senba Ryoga, Urabe Kotsetu, Diethard Reid, Rakshata Chawla, and Chiba Nagisa. All high ranking officials in the Black Knights and very high profile targets.
If only Schneizel could see me now, he'd be green with envy.
I stood in the doorway for a few minutes before people in the control room began to notice my presence. It was slow at first, like a trickle. People began to turn around slowly, looking at me in confusion for the briefest moment before a breath of recognition seemed to run around the room. For a moment there was an overwhelming sense of fear and admiration in one roiling wave until I shut it out, enjoying the calm of silence.
"Larissa," Zero called out from the from of the table, gesturing to an empty seat on the left of him, next to Kallen. "Please come sit." I walked slowly over to the chair and sat in the cool leather backed chair.
"Are you feeling okay?" Kallen asked.
"Better," I said graciously.
"I must offer my condolences on the death of your father," Li said, and pain spiked through me. I resisted the urge to glare at him. My patience with people was thinner than I remembered, but then again, I never had to deal with the backstabbing, selfish people I'd had to deal with as Aurora Canan. It took me a moment to retain the skills I'd learned as her, to the let the annoyance pass. "This must be a trying time for you."
"Yes," I said softly, "It is, but I'm afraid it's not as surprising as I wish it was."
"Why is that?" Zero asked, his voice curious.
"Yes, you seemed very distraught yesterday after learning of your father's demise," Li continued, his eyes narrowed.
"I'm afraid looking back," I said with difficulty, "This may have been inevitable."
"Why?" Li pressed. He was being unusually persistent. I sighed, I didn't want to reveal my family's secrets, but obviously this Li didn't trust me. If I was going to attempt anything, I knew that I would need it to continue.
"Because my brother never really cared for my father. I won't deny that he wasn't the best father," I said honestly, "but I never really expected much from him. My brother was different though, in that regard. He always had expectations of our father that were never going to happen."
"Who was your father?" The green-eyed woman asked, her eyes soft, and her voice high, like a child.
I was surprised, I thought they would have known that, if not anything else. "Han Solo." A murmur of surprise went around the table.
"The smuggler?" Li asked unimpressed.
"The War Hero?" Kallen echoed at the same time, though she sounded far more impressed than Li did.
"Would it surprise you that he was both?" I asked, a true smile lighting up my face for a moment.
"But there's more, isn't there?" Zero ventured.
"Yes," I said slowly, "I'm afraid this is not the first time one of my family has been tempted over to the Dark Side." And it wouldn't be the last if history had anything to say about it. "My grandfather. My brother idolized him since a very young age"
"Who was your grandfather?" Li questioned, his eyes sharp. I knew they wouldn't know this, that is wasn't a truth known to many.
"He was known to my brother and I as Anakin Skywalker," I said hesitantly. "But you would know him as, Darth Vader." If the room had been silent before, now the silence had turned into a heavy, oppressive disbelief.
"Darth Vader," Zero whispered haltingly, the mere implications of the name sending shivers through the force around him.
"I'm afraid I don't understand. I had no word that Darth Vader had children, much less Leia Organa." Li looked distinctly confused.
"Anakin Skywalker was a highly skilled young Jedi, but he became arrogant and fearful. He broke the old Jedi code and fell in love with a woman, the former Queen Amadala of Naboo. They were married, and from what I understand, Anakin feared she would be killed, and the Sith Lord Sidius used that fear to turn him into the man that would become Darth Vader. Anakin became paranoid, and eventually came to believe that his wife and his former mentor were plotting against him. His former mentor was forced to gravely injure him, but not before he caused his own wife to go into early labor.
"Believing Anakin was dead, she only managed to give birth to twins before she died, Leia Organa, and Luke Skywalker, my uncle." I paused, swallowing hard. Anger was sweeping through, rampant, hot, and fierce, and I had to work to keep the hatred from my voice. "Leia was given to the then Senator Organa, and Luke was given to Anakin's estranged brother. Neither of them knew of their origins, and Darth Vader did not become aware of their existence until close to the end of the war."
"My brother, he always idolized Darth Vader, was always too interested in the Dark Side, and the power it could bring. It didn't help much that both he and I were more powerful in the Force than most. My uncle believed hard training would help curb my brother's, curiosity. Obviously, it didn't work."
"And you, Larissa, have you ever been tempted?" Li pressed.
"No," I answered honestly. "The Dark Side has never beckoned to me as it has to my brother. He was always the more corruptible of the two of us." The end was barely a whisper; an unwelcome truth I had always known, and hoped to prevent. There was another lapse into silence, but this one seemed more of relief than of disbelief.
"I know this must be terribly difficult for you, but I must ask," Zero began, and I could feel his reluctance to continue the question. "Do you think that if it comes to it, you could face your brother in battle?" The question was spot on, and it made me pause. Swallowing hard I chose to answer him, without directly addressing the query.
"My brother will think twice before he comes to try and face me, I can assure you that."
"I find it hard to believe Kylo Ren would pause for anyone," Li sniffed.
"He would when he knows that I am far more powerful than he could ever be, even if he has grown on the Dark Side. I always the more powerful of the two of us. Now that I am aware of who I am, it's going to take more than just a simple battalion to bring me down. It's the reason I came back. I've given the First Order enough pause not to attack you right away, which gives you time to gather with the Resistance for a true attack on Britannia."
"I'm still not certain I see how the Resistance can benefit from this alliance," The man called Tohdoh finally interjected, his voice full of doubt.
I glanced around the room full of bustling Black Knights members. "Perhaps this conversation should be more private," I said lowly to Zero. After a moment he nodded, and sent a signal out to the Black Knights not sitting around the table. They left in a quick and orderly fashion, and the lights dimmed as the security measures were tightened. After another moment, Lelouch slipped his mask off and set it on the table in front of him.
"Very well, Larissa, what is that you propose?" Lelouch asked uncertainly. His voice always sounded different without his mask, much in the same way my brother had sounded without his worn metal mask.
I repeated one final calming mantra before I began. Wording this in a way they would understand was going to be difficult, and I still couldn't be sure both parties would agree.
"The only reason the Resistance, and the rebels before that had lasted so long was because they possessed a benefactors, of sorts. First Alderan and other Empire separatists for the Rebel Alliance and then the new Senate for the Resistance. It's what has kept it alive for so long. Unlike you, they didn't have the ability to find revenue and resources from, other sources."
"And with the new Republic destroyed, the Resistance no longer has their source and protector," Lelouch finished.
"I still don't understand how the Resistance can benefit in this," Tohdoh repeated.
"Because I believe with the right tools, we can create a new Republic here," I replied matter-of-factly.
Lelouch chuckled softly. "And how do you intend to do that, Larissa? I cannot doubt from your heritage that you are a great politician, rebellion leader, and a powerful Jedi, but not even you can simply create a Republic from nothing."
"But if you rule Britannia you could easily free the other numbered planets and create the Republic yourself." This time, there was no stunned silence, but instead an outcry that began softly and then ran around the table like wildfire, each one shouting out their opposition and in a rare few cases, agreement. The only two people who didn't say a word were Lelouch and interestingly enough Li. Lelouch, for his part, looked shocked that I would even suggest such a venture. Li however, looked at me, seemingly impressed with my audacity to even suggest such a plan.
"What you're suggesting is insanity," Tohdoh huffed out.
"Is it really?" I challenged. "You know as well as I that we both wish for the same thing, Britannia's destruction. To destroy the same system that I oppose with fiber of being. One that has also oppressed, demeaned and slaughter millions of your people. But do you really think you can simply assassinate Charles zi Britannia and a more corrupt ruler will not simply take his place? Or do you plan to enslave millions, just as Britannia did to you and continue this cycle? Shall I remind what happened the last time someone thought themselves better than the system that had created him?"
Silence followed my question, and they didn't want to answer it anymore than I did.
"Besides," I continued after a pregnant silence, "until we know for sure, we have to assume that Schneizel has made a deal with the First Order for control of this system. Even with the pause my presence here will give my brother, it will only be a matter of weeks before the Order will grow brave enough to set Schneizel on the throne and once that happens, everything you have fought and died for will mean nothing in the face of that victory. Only the Resistance with a powerful ally behind them has any hope of destroying the First Order. You're only hope is put someone else on the throne that can do what needs to be done."
I smiled softly, and turned to Lelouch.
"And who better than an exiled, previously thought, dead prince? Do you honestly know how many systems that story will bring in alone? You don't need me, you already have all the tools you need to do this yourself."
"It's just that none of us are crazy enough to suggest it," Kallen muttered next to me.
"You must know that what you ask is impossible," Li finally said locking eyes with me.
I smiled, but there was no warmth in it. "Until I saved you, you didn't believe in such things as the Force, the Jedi, or the Sith. Do you really believe it wise to continue to test the word impossible around me?"
Li stiffened. "Dare you use your powers on me, Jedi?"
I laughed, the sound light and airy with surprise. "I don't need to use my powers on you, your suspicions are quite plain enough. And as for your earlier question, no. With my help it is not only not impossible, it is your only course of action."
"Do you think you can convince the Resistance to back in such a maneuver?" Tohdoh asked.
"Yes, I can," I said confidently. It would be no easier than convincing them, but I could do it.
"Are you sure?" Lelouch's quiet voice asked from the front of the table. I turned to him calmly. I could sense his unease, his apprehension, and most poignantly his fear.
"I wouldn't have suggested it if I thought you wouldn't be capable," I said, my voice filled with a sudden authority. "You can do this Lelouch." It is his destiny. The certainty spread through me like a wave of calm. It wasn't just me speaking anymore. It was the Force, speaking through me. "And besides, no one will be expecting a supposedly extinct Jedi helping you, much less a girl who's supposed to be dead."
"If we really are agreeing to do this, shouldn't we also be asking for your uncle's assistance?" Senba Ryoga asked. "Is he not a powerful Jedi master as well?"
I scoffed internally, the now familiar anger and betrayal rushing through me at the sound of his name. A powerful master indeed. The first real Jedi in decades. One so powerful he stopped his own father from destroying the world, and one so heartless, he could wipe the memories of his own niece and leave her helpless on a god-forsaken planet-
"Larissa!" Lelouch shouted suddenly and it took me a moment to realize that the entire table was shaking violently beneath my fingertips. And it wasn't just the table, the entire room seemed to be vibrating in response to my rage. Desperately, I worked to control it and betrayal flowing through me like a river. I clenched my hands so tightly I thought my nails might cut through the gloves. I took a ragged steadying breath until the Force around me calmed and the table slowly returned to it's normal state.
"Larissa, what-" Lelouch began, but a single look into my eyes, and he stopped suddenly.
"Luke Skywalker is no family of mine," I managed as calm as I could. "He's the one who stripped my memories, my powers, and left me in that place. I'll help you as best I can, but I will never recognize that man as anything to me. And if he comes near me again, I cannot guarantee I won't do something, regrettable." I closed my eyes and too another settling breath, and turned to Lelouch. "I apologize, but it seems I do need to retire. These feelings- I'm not quite as calm as I need to be. Would you please excuse me?"
"Of course," Lelouch said after. I could feel the concern from him, but he was polite enough not to show it. "This day has obviously a trying for you. Please go rest. We'll inform you of our decision later." With the clear dismissal available, I slowly rose from my chair. Kallen looked at me, concerned, and I gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze before I walked slowly to the doors.
The walk back to the room was surreal. Despite my best efforts, the Force grated against my mind like a raw nerve. Everything about me was raw. I thought I could do this, I thought I could walk in that room and speak about my family as if it was nothing. But I was wrong, I was so very wrong. I barely made it back to the room before my knees finally gave out in front of the mirror. I sank down, my back against the mirror, the bare skin razing bumps across my skin as it touched the cool, reflective surface. I closed my eyes as tightly as could, wrapping my fingers tightly around my ears. I didn't want to be here, I didn't belong. Even though I hadn't looked at the others around the table, I could still feel their fear and wary gazes like an iron tang on my tongue, and it only fed into my own roiling emotions.
"Lyssa," Kylo voice whispered across my mind, and I shuddered. I didn't want him in my mind, but I didn't have the control to keep him out.
"Go away," I whimpered, curling tighter into a ball.
"I can't, I can feel your pain. I won't leave you like this."
"Who's fault is that?" I whispered back, "What have you done Kylo? How could you do this to me?!" The sudden burst of rage and betrayal gave me in the energy I needed to cut him off again, leaving my mind empty. The emptiness only hurt me more. I didn't even care that I'd given into my rage, and used it against my brother. All I could feel was that I was alone, all alone.
Unbidden, hot, angry tears rolled down my face. Here, on the cold floor, against the mirror, did I truly admit that I hate my uncle. I hated my uncle more than anyone. He'd done this to me. He'd taken away everything from me. If he'd just let me go, I could have stopped Kylo before he'd been corrupted, before he-
The mirror behind me shattered and glass rained down around me. I couldn't feel it if any of the glass cut me, nor did I care. What did it matter now? Despite any hope I may have for my mother, I knew if it came down to it, she would side with my uncle, and that once he knew I was awake again and he got near enough to sense my turmoil, he would do everything in his power to erase me again. I couldn't let that happen. I wouldn't be erased again. I would kill him if he came near me with that intention.
I would kill him.
I would kill him.
The conviction just made me sob harder.
Chapter 12: Pain
"Larissa? Larissa please wake up," someone whispered very close to me, so close I could feel their breath close to my ear. I looked up blearily to see Lelouch kneeling next to me. The expression in his eyes looked mildly terrified. He pushed back the hair stuck to my face, dried on from the tears. "Larissa what happened?"
I opened my mouth to reply, but only a small whimper came out of me. I was too tired to explain, and I didn't know how. Lelouch took one look at my helpless expression, and he gently put his arms around my shoulders, lifting me up to my feet. He guided me to the bathroom, but it was slow going because my legs didn't seem to want to move, and my body felt so heavy. When he finally set my down on small plush bench in the spacious but bare bathroom. Then he got up quickly and grabbed a towel and a washcloth from a cabinet, pausing only to lightly douse the cloth in water. He lay the towels next to me on the bench and places the wet cloth on my knee, just long enough to slip off his gloves and mine. He then wiped at my face gently, wiping away the remnants of my angry, mournful tears, until my face felt clean, and even a little raw, though not from his gentle touches. He then gently wiped away the water still on my face.
"Larissa," He said softly, "May I undo your hair?" After a moment, I nodded slowly, and he got up, and walked around the bench. Thin, delicate fingers quickly, and gently pulled through the braids from their secured position on my head and even more gently combed through my hair, leaving it hanging down my back. Throughout it all, I closed my eyes and focused on his fingers through my hair and my scalp. It was calming, a gently thrumming that kept pace with the numbness inside me. When he was finished I opened my eyes and watched as he quickly went back through the door and came back with a pair of folded grey clothing. He set them next me. "Please get dressed," he said softly. "I'll wait for you in the other room." He gave my hand a tentative squeeze, and then closed the door behind him.
Part of me wanted to just curl up on the bench and retreat as far into myself as I could go, so far I wouldn't have to remember my brother, my father, my mother, uncle-
Cracks suddenly appeared on wall, radiating around me and I jumped back. The one thing I'd always counted on was my control. Now that was gone too. He'd taken everything from me, they both had. I sank to my knees, the cold tile bruising my flesh, the pain nothing compared to the burning in my chest. It was like I was on fire, and it wouldn't stop. It would never stop.
Lelouch suddenly burst through through the door. He was just in a black undershirt now and the purple pants. Hi eyes widened as he took in the destruction of the wall. When he saw me on the floor, he paused for a moment before kneeling next to me and putting his arms around me. The hug was awkward, and I could feel his confusion, his sadness, his helplessness. He didn't know what to do, but he wasn't going to leave. No matter how broken I was now, he wasn't going to turn his back on me.
I wrapped my arms around him, holding onto the that feeling as desperately as I could, sobbing into his shoulder. "It's- never going to- stop is it?" I whimpered out in gasps and sobs.
"No," he whispered honestly. "It won't." He held onto me tighter. I sobbed harder, but with each sob, the pain lessened a little, until the whimpers turned back into heavy breaths, and I sagged against him, no energy left inside me. "Larissa?" He asked softly. "I know it hurts, but you can't stay on the floor, and your clothes are filled with glass. Do you want help?"
I shook my head into his shoulder. "I'll- be out minute." He pulled away and pushed my dark and damp hair out of my face.
"Don't think," he said softly. "Just change." I nodded softly, and pushed myself onto my feet. When Lelouch seemed sure that I wasn't going to collapse again, he stepped back through door, and it slide closed. I took a deep breath, and slowly slipped out of the tight black pants. My fingers were shaking as I slipped off my belt and the necklace and let them clatter to the floor. I slipped off the shirt and reached for the light grey pants and undershirt. When I was dressed, I slowly brushed my hair forward. After another shaky breath, I touched the panel and the door slide open.
Lelouch was sitting on a small armchair next to the bed, the same one the strange green haired woman had been sitting in just a few hours earlier. He looked up when I padded in and offered me a round glass of vibrant, glowing blue liquid. It looked like alcohol. When I had lived in the temple, such things had been forbidden to us younglings, and even though it had been abundant and offered often in Britannia, I had never chosen to partake of the drink. It would dull the senses too much for my tastes. Now, all I wanted was to dull this ache that seemed to be permeating my entire body. I took the proffered glass and knocked back the contents, the liquid burning my throat on the way down. The buzz began at the back of my head, and it quickly spread through the rest of my head, leaving me a little dizzy, but the ache had dulled until it wasn't so painful anymore. Lelouch took the empty glass from me, and I sat on the edge of the bed, looking up dully at Lelouch. For a moment he didn't say anything, just slowly rolled the half empty glass in his hands. Then he began to speak.
"When my sister died, I lost everything more than just her. The life I'd made for myself on Japa had been obliterated, and anyone who had known me as simply Lelouch was dead. The thing I'd been fighting for was, gone. I was lost, and I didn't know what to do, how to live anymore. Until that moment, I had thought the revenge I'd been looking for was truly justice. When I realized how wrong I'd been, I revealed myself to the Black Knights in hope they would kill me and end this."
My breath caught in surprise. This had been seven years ago, three years before I'd come to him with my offer, around the time when Schneizel had first attempted to use the F.L.E.J.A and Suzaku Kururugi had accidently destroyed the Tokyo Settlement and killed the current Viceroy, Nunnally vi Britannia. So many people had been slaughtered, their bodies never to be recovered from the rubble.
He smiled softly. "I was honestly surprised when they didn't shoot as I had thought they would. Instead they asked me if I believed at all in the lies I had told them, if I still did want to free Japa and Chin and other moons and planets in the system. If I would still turn against my family; end Britannia's reign of terror. When I thought about thought about all my friends, and most importantly my sister, and what I wanted, it was always to be able to live a life free of the fear of being discovered, a life of peace. A "gentler world" as my sister would have called it. I may not have been able to give her the world she deserved, but I could give the same to the people my family has enslaved." He looked up at my then, and the sadness and grief he never showed flooded through me. Images of him, young, barely even eighteen, filled with such rage, and his sister, frail, young, innocent. Crippled from a plot to assassinate their mother. The whole story played out before my eyes. The alcohol dimmed the feelings that rushed through Force toward me, but I still felt the ghost of the rage, the sadness, the grief, and the aching loneliness that he felt, poignant and hard, like the tip of a blade.
"You've given everything to Zero," I whispered softly, "To the very symbol that was ultimate cause of your sister's death. You think it's penance, for the things you've done, the terrible dark acts you've commited to save these people."
"My sister is dead because gave into my rage, my hatred of my family," Lelouch said haltingly, as if he hated to admit it himself, "and I didn't see that I was becoming exactly what I had grown to hate." He breathed hard.
"You've been through something terrible, something that even I could not fathom. You've lost so much, and even more has been taken from you. You need this time to grieve for what you've lost, and what's been taken. But please be careful that your grief does not take more from you."
"It already has," I said hollowly. If only he truly knew what I had already lost.
"I'm sorry," Lelouch said simply. "But you're not alone, I promise you. Whoever comes for, you have promise that will do everything in my power to keep you safe."
"Do you really think there is anyone in the world who can stop my brother if he comes for me?" I laughed hysterically. "It's only a matter of time before he comes back for me, and there is no one on this world that can stop him. Not even me."
"Is that because he's more powerful than you, or because when it comes down it, you won't be able to stop him?" The question was calm, as if this wasn't the first time Lelouch had thought of it. Could I tell him that when it came down to raw power, I'd always surpass him. Looking at my eyes, he seemed to know the answer before I could say it. Instead seeing disappointment in his eyes, I only saw sadness, and I could feel his regret that I had ever had to carry this burden.
He stood then, and gather me into his arms and another whimper came out of me as I hugged him closer, desperate for human contact, for compassion. As he wrapped his arms around me, I was suddenly struck by the feeling of love, coming from him. Not the same possessive nasty feeling I'd always sense from Schneizel, or the fiery, all-consuming flame that was Kylo Ren. It was gentle, tender, nurturing. It was protective, but kind, and loving in the most pure way possible. The realization came to me like a breath of air, a realization of such greatness that it filled me with equal amounts of peace and grief.
"You're the brother I should have had," I whispered into his shirt. There was only a slight hitch of his breath in answer.
Chapter 13: The Path not Taken
When I woke the next day, Lelouch was gone, but my outfit was laid out on the chair where Lelouch had been sitting when I'd finally drifted off a few hours later. Despite not saying a word, Lelouch seemed to know that I hadn't want to be alone. When I woke this time, there was no confusion about where I was, or why I was there. Everything was perfectly, crystal clear. At least my sleep was peaceful. My brother hadn't disturbed my dreams, and I hadn't reached out to him. I suppose even my mind had realized that I needed the relief of unconsciousness. I changed quickly into the clothing I'd worn the day before. When I'd finished, I glanced at the side table and noticed a note. Attached to the paper was a black keycard, with the silver Black Knights' insignia on the front. The note was written quickly in a scrawling black script.
For your health. It should be quiet enough for you to meditate.
I smiled softly. My own meditation place. How thoughtful. Below the note was a crudely drawn map, showing the route from my room to the area he he was referring to. I followed the map through the halls deep into the Black Knights base until I reached a large grey door with a card slot locked by a pulsing red light. I took the card and swiped it once, and the light flashed green, the door sliding open. For a moment there was nothing but darkness, then a series of recessed lighting spilled light down into the cavernous room. I stepped inside and let the door close behind me. The cavern was large, and while the first several feet of walls were metal, the top of the cavernous room was stone, reaching hundreds of feet up until even the lighting could not reach the top. The Black Knights base was in a mountain, or more likely a series of mountains. I'd always suspected this, Japa was known for its rocky terrain and voluminous oceans. There wasn't many places you could a base of this size, unless they had built a water base like some of the underwater cities on Japa.
At the other end of the cavern was a large shrine of red and black arches stacked one on top of the other in successively smaller sizes, and altar of stone sitting beneath it with a small wreaths of flowers surrounding a single gold bowl with an incense stick smoking lightly in the bowl. I slowly walked forward. The incense smelt vaguely of sandalwood and sage, two very common plants on the Japa moon. It was calming and though the cavern was dark, the incense left me feeling warm. A few feet away from the altar, was a red blanket, square like a towel, but soft to the touch. In an odd way, it did remind of the meditation temple, the place where I'd spent so much time both, real and imagined, learning as much as could about the intricacies of the Force. I slipped off boot boots out of respect, and left my sabers next to them as well.
I sat down on the blanket and crossed my legs on top of one another, placing my gloved hands on my knees, settling my body into the all-too familiar position. I closed my eyes and breathed in the cavernous air. It tasted wet, like saltwater had been here a long time ago, the walls had soaked it in like spong, and the smell lingered, even now. As the smell pulled me deeper and deeper I could swear that I heard the gentle crashing of waves…..
I was sitting on the sand, the warm spray of the ocean hitting my cheeks as the water crept closer and closer to my bare feet. Adrain and the the others younglings played around me. My clothes were brown, like the sand, and it seemed to me that I could have sunk into the sand, and the others playing wouldn't have noticed. It was almost like a there was a glass between them and I, like I was watching the memory from the sidelines. I remember this day. It was less than a week before Luke had somehow found out that that Kylo and I loved each other like we did.
Adrian, Kylo, and I were the oldest of the younglings, and after a long and hard day of training, we'd decided to sneak out of the temple and take the four mile trek to the ocean so the younglings could play and we could relax. I smiled softly at how much fun the children had had, how we had all come back soaked to the bone.
"I remember this," Kylo said, sitting next to me in the sand. "We got into so much trouble when we got back." Despite myself I chuckled at the thought and glanced over at him. He looked young again, the thin scar gone from his face, wearing the shades of light brown that he'd worn when we had lived at the temple. While he looked the same as those years ago, his eyes told a different tale. It was like he too was watching this memory from afar too, but aware that this was a time that had happened long ago.
"You and Adrian said it was your idea," I recalled softly, "even though I was the one who suggested it." I leaned back. "I would gotten less trouble, you know. You didn't have to protect me Kylo." He didn't respond and we lapsed into silence as we watched the children play.
"How many of them died when you raided the temple?" I finally asked.
"They were all gone by the time I got there. I assume the teachers took them," Kylo replied. "They were all too young to remember their teachings, so the Supreme Leader did not consider them a threat." He glanced over at me again. "And I'd imagine you weren't the only whose memories were taken that night."
"How long did it take you to figure that out?" I asked softly. I should have felt anger, but in this place where I had felt such calm and happiness, it was hard for rage and sadness to break though.
"The teachers told me," Kylo said simply.
"After you tortured them." I knew they wouldn't have betrayed our uncle without good cause, or persuasion.
"Everything I did, I did for you, for us. I won't apologize for it Lyssa."
"And yet, here we are," I replied softly. He seemed to want to say something else, but like me, was prevented from speaking for fear of ruining the small bit of peace we'd managed between us.
"Why did you call me here then?" Kylo asked.
For a moment I was about to reply that I didn't know why, that my mind had just reached out to him because he was the only familiar thing left in my world, but as I opened my mouth, I realized that wasn't truth. I'd let the Force lead me here for a reason, because something here was one of the many reasons I was no longer in control of myself or my abilities.
"I'm here to mourn," I finally whispered, unshed tears still thick my throat, "For what we lost, and for what was taken." I looked at him and he looked back at me. "For both us. You know we can't move forward until we've accepted what we cannot go back to." I looked back at the sea. "We lost this future a long time ago."
"What happens now?"
I smiled and stood, feeling lighter than I had in years. "I suppose that's up to you now, Kylo Ren. I believe it is your move after all." I didn't look at him as I walked up the beach, toward the stairs carved into the grey cliff, patches of green dotting up the side of the cliff. It didn't take more than a few steps for the cliff, the sand, and the smell of the sea to disappear around me. Something held me back, though, from truly leaving this place. For the briefest moment, all my walls faded away, and I felt a ghost of a kiss across my lips, a promise more than anything.
He wasn't going to stop.
He was going come for me, eventually. But then again, there was a part of me that wanted him too.
And I couldn't deny that either.
When I opened my eyes, I saw Kallen sitting in front of me, her head cocked to the side.
"Hey," she said softly, "I'm sorry, did I bother you? I tried to come in quietly when I saw you sitting there."
"I didn't even realize you were there," I said honestly. "I suppose I retreated so far into myself, I wasn't being aware of my surroundings."
"You can do that?"
"I can do a lot of things Kallen," I chuckled.
"Yeah," Kallen said a little sarcastically, "with the Force."
"Yes, with the Force," I said pleasantly. "You use it too, you just call it differently than I do."
"Really?" Kallen looked surprised.
"You know that feeling that you get in bad situations, or how sometimes know which way to move your knightmare and not get it without any instruments telling you what to do. That's the Force."
Kallen's eyebrows knitted together. "So everyone can use the Force?"
"To some degree," I qualified. "Yes. The Jedi were just people could use it the most. I suppose you could say they could even control it to a certain degree."
Kallen was silent for another moment, contemplating something. I chose to watch instead of entering her mind to find the answer. I held a certain level of respect for the girl, and I knew I wouldn't be respecting her if didn't respect the privacy of her mind as well. "Could you, teach me to use it?" I was surprised by her question. Kallen saw the look on my face and started to backtrack. "I mean obviously I can't do what you can but-"
"Yes," I finally managed. "I'll teach you whatever I can."
"Really? You will?" She sounded surprised.
"Of course. It's the least I can do after you kept me sane these past three years." I smiled at the memories of the all messages we'd managed to pass between us on a secret subspace connection that not even Lelouch knew about.
"Well I guess I'm going to have to get to know you again, now that you know who you are," Kallen said with a shrug, but she looked a little apprehensive, even sad.
"Do you really find me so different now?" I asked softly.
"No," Kallen finally said after a moment. "Just, more." She shrugged, as if that explained everything, and in a way it did to me.
I glanced around at my surroundings again. "So what is this place exactly?"
"It's a shrine to all those who've been lost this war," Kallen said somberly. "To honor their memory."
"Should I be in here then?" I asked uncertainly. I didn't want to alienate any of the Japa people, especially considering their customs.
"It was Tohdoh who suggested this place," Kallen said quickly. "He seemed to think you needed a calm place to think."
"It certainly is that," I replied softly. "Do you think they'd mind, if I lit a bit of incense for my father?"
Kallen's eyes were sad then, but they weren't full of pity like the others. "I think that'd be okay." I slowly got up from my position, stretching my muscles to shake off the stiff feeling in my muscles. I stepped forward to the simple shrine. Underneath the altar was a simple long box, with a lid that slide off. I knelt down and opened the the lid, revealing a series of long, thin brown incense sticks. I picked a single stick out of the box and gently put it back under the altar. I gently touched the incense to the single candle on top of the altar. The stick flared bright and blue for a moment before dying into a single red ember that smoked, and filled the room with the scent of sandalwood. I placed the stick next to the half-burned incense and turned around to see Kallen standing up, and brushing off her red flight suit.
"Are you ready?" She asked.
I smiled wryly, feeling a true twinge of joy for the first time in a long time. "Let's go plan a rebellion."
Chapter 14: Counterattack and Revelations
The next few days were spent in a flurry of sleep and planning. Despite all I the time I had watched my mother plan her campaigns, the reality of planning one myself took all of my considerable skills that I had learned and fine tuned under Schneizel's command. First came the resources, what the Resistance was willing to give us in terms of personnel and equipment. Apparently once word got around that I was with the Black Knights, all the generals seemed very agreeable to giving whatever I asked for. Next came what the Black Knights were willing to give the Resistance in return for their help. Everyone quickly agreed that while my plan of ensuring Lelouch's eventual rise to the throne was the best option, they also agreed that it was better that as few as possible knew of the plan, to protect it and Lelouch's identity. It was determined that the Black Knights would offer their technology, including knightmare frames, and also help them set of other avenues to acquire resources until it was determined time to reveal the secondary intention of creating another Republic.
Though I knew it was necessary, there were times when I wished I'd been able to ask my mother about the whole plan. Her experience with the Empire would have been invaluable in the initial moves that Zero began to make in preparation for the final strike. But I couldn't speak with my mother again, let alone a conversation alone. Nor did we speak to anyone else from the Resistance. It was safer to communicate through subspace channels so our locations couldn't be traced. We couldn't risk it, not with the First Order surrounding the Britannian system.
Although no one mention my upset several days before, each of them had made it a point to say that they wouldn't be asking for the help of my uncle, at least not officially, not yet. That made me grateful, especially when my mother sent me a personal note. I managed to get halfway through it before she mention that Luke had returned to the resistance and was training a new apprentice that I threw the letter back at Li, telling him he could do whatever he wanted with it. At night I slept just barely enough to keep me going, any longer in unconsciousness, and I feared I might slip back into Kylo's mind, and there was part of me that wondered if that might not be better. Despite the tense peace I'd managed to create with the members of the Black Knights, they didn't trust me. They were wary of me. I felt their fear every time I stepped into the room. I suppose if I was in a less precarious position I might even be amused by how much they actually feared me. At the moment it just made my head hurt.
It was the day that my mother was scheduled to arrive with her delegates from the resistance, and I was buzzing with unrestrained energy. I'd even spent several hours inside the cavern to no avail. Kallen and I were waiting in the conference room. She was lounging on one of the leather chairs, her red covered feet resting on the table, munching on red round fruit with tiny little tendrils. It was quite sweet, but my stomach was so sour, just the smell sent my stomach roiling.
"It's going to be fine Larissa," Kallen mumbled out between bites, "The resistance went dark an hour ago, which means they should be contacting us in the next fifteen minutes." She glanced around, her brow wrinkling in annoyance. "Where is Lelouch? He should have been back with that woman already."
"You really don't like CC do you?" I asked, smiling. I'd learned the name of the green-haired woman a few days after I'd been here. According to Lelouch, her name was CC, and she'd been with him since Lelouch had created Zero. I hadn't seen her since she'd checked through my mind, but from the bits and pieces I was able to glean from the others' minds that she was very old, and very odd. Not really anyone could say that they like the woman. She had a tendency to get on many people's nerves, but they seemed to respect her position with Lelouch enough to give her a wide berth.
"She's weird," Kallen muttered. I saw the blush run across her face.
"And it has nothing to do with the fact that you've got a crush Lelouch," I said, chuckling as Kallen froze in surprise and then tried to extricate herself from the precarious position she was in, only to topple to the ground.
"Ow," She said, rubbing her bottom as she got up from floor. I couldn't help it, I started laughing, the tension dissolving from my body as I bent over with laughter.
"It's not funny Larissa," Kallen grumbled.
"It is a little bit," I managed after a few deep breaths. As I straightened, intending to go to Kallen and help her set the chairs that she'd knocked about in her flailing. When I suddenly felt a disturbance in the Force around the base, I stopped suddenly, and dove into the Force, searching for the disturbance I had felt.
"….must find Zero before Larissa….almost there, spread out Knights…"
I knew that presence, that mind, and if he was here, something was very wrong.
"Kallen, get up," I said quickly. She noticed the change in my voice immediately and scrambled to attention.
"Larissa, what is it?" Kallen asked quickly.
"Assassins," I hissed. "They're going after Zero. We need to go, now!" Kallen didn't question me, instead she took my arm and went to the wall behind us, hitting a quick key into a keypad and the wall slid open, revealing a barely lit, cramped passageway.
"It's an escape hatch built into the mountain, we'll get around faster. Do you know where they are?"
I halted for a moment. "Give me a moment," I said quickly, and Kallen waited patiently as I close my eyes and widened my senses as far as they would go, all over the base, touching fast on every mind in the base until I finally managed to find Lelouch in one of the older hanger bays that wasn't used any longer due it's disrepair. They'd managed to land an unmarked ship in the hangar and were currently in the process of dragging a mostly unconscious Lelouch back to the hangar. There were at least eight of them, including Adrain, and for a moment, I tried to touch their minds, but found them completely blocked. I wouldn't be able to get into their mind without close contact.
I opened my eyes and narrowed my focus. "They're in the abandoned hangar."
Kallen paused for a moment, before nodding quickly, saying, "I can get us there. Let's go!"
Kallen took the lead, and I followed after her, keeping up with her fast jog. We turned through tunnel after tunnel until we reached another door. Kallen only had to press against the door before it slide open silently onto a large metal walkway about forty feet above the hangar floor. I tapped on Kallen's shoulder and she moved out of the way so I could creep forward silently. Kallen followed me and we just managed to get to the middle of the walkway when the doors burst open and two men dress completely in black dragging Lelouch behind, Zero's mask no longer on his face. He was moving around a bit, though, and I reached out to his mind.
"Lelouch, Lelouch I'm here. Don't react. I'm going to get you out of this."
"...hurry.." His halting mental voice. "...get...Li-Tohdoh…"
"I'll send Kallen. Hold on." I looked back at Kallen. "Go use the tunnels and get Li and Tohdoh, now." I whispered to her. "No one else."
"What about you?" she hissed.
"I'm going to take care of this," I hissed back. "Now go."
"Good luck," she said and turned around, running back to the secret passageway. I looked down at the hangar and knelt down and watch silently as the group of eight people all dressed in black walk beneath me on the hangar. Oddly enough as I looked closer at the figures, I noticed they were all wearing similar configurations of Kylo Ren's design, right down to the variations of the helmet. The only one who hadn't donned a helmet was Adrian, and it was easy to spot his light blond hair tucked beneath the black cloak. They also held various weapons that looked like staffs, but I was sure they most likely had more punch to pack that they appeared to. I would have to surprise them. I knew Adrian wasn't powerful enough to cross me, but if I had to protect Lelouch, Adrian might have the numbers to have a serious chance at keeping me at bay.
I looked down at the drop. It was forty feet, enough to break my ankles, but if I used the Force to slow myself down, like I had used it to push myself faster in the battle a few days before. I needed to time it right though, get Lelouch away from the group.
"Lelouch, I need you to start struggling when I tell you…" This time there were no words, but simply a feeling of desperate agreement and fear.
I waited until six of the men in black were close to the ship, while Adrian had moved back with the two other guards and Lelouch.
"What's wrong?" Adrian snapped. He sounded much older than I remembered, and his voice was sharper too.
"He's waking up," One of the shorter cloaked figures said.
"Then makes sure he doesn't. We're still too close."
"Lelouch, I need you to struggle now!"
Lelouch immediately began to struggle violently in his captors hands, and though he was not terribly strong, his fear and the men's surprise allowed for a momentary distraction, and that was enough. Without thinking too hard about what I was doing, I hoped over the edge of the walkway. For a moment, all I felt was rushing air and the too fast pumping of my heart. Then I reached out to the Force and the air suddenly became gelatinous and thick, and I rolled in front of a surprised Adrian. He didn't even have time to draw his weapon before I slammed him out of the way, using the Force to throw him back toward the ship. The other two guards made for me, but I wasn't in the mood for games. I raised my hand and froze everyone in the room except for Lelouch, who managed to extricated himself from the two frozen men.
"Are you alright?" I asked him.
"Fine," he managed after a of heavy breathing. Satisfied with the answer I turned back to Adrian, who was frozen in the position he had been in trying to get up, half his body raised on up, his legs still sprawled on the ground. His white blond hair was falling out his familiar braid and he was looking up at me warily. I raised my hand, and Adrian flew forward until he was on his knees in front of me. I allowed his head to move, and he glanced up at me.
"Larissa," Adrian managed after a moment. "It's been a while."
"What are you doing here, Adrian?" I asked as calmly as I could, despite the rush of fear I felt at how close he'd to Lelouch. "I thought I made to perfectly clear that anyone my brother sent after me or mine I'd send back in pieces. Do you really have that much of a death wish?"
"No," Adrian said quietly. He wasn't moving, he wasn't even bothering to struggle. He was hiding something. This was too dangerous a situation to be left to unknowns. As much as I hated to, I would have to go into Adrian's mind and find out what he was keeping from me. I opened my mind out, but as I turned my focus, I touched on the presence of one of the men who'd been holding Lelouch up, the one who hadn't spoken. It didn't take more than a brush for the familiarity to hit me so sharply that my sudden intake of breath stuttered and stopped.
No, he couldn't be here, he wouldn't dare be that bold.
But there was no mistaking who it was. He seemed to realize I'd found him at the same moment I realized he was there. For less than a fraction of second we both stood frozen in place. Time stood still between us, and neither of us had the strength to move.
Then, the second passed, time snapped forward, and I moved, sliding my lightsaber from my belt and lighting it as I swung around, meeting the red, cracking lightsaber of my brother. The saber was far more unstable in person, the beam seemingly seconds away from disappearing entirely as it pushed against my saber. It fit him perfectly. Without the block around him, it was easy now to see the familiar worn black mask. I was so close I could see the scratches and dents across the metal surface.
"Hello brother," I hissed, anger flooding through me at the sight of him. When it had been just us two sitting on the beach, and he had looked like he had before, it had been easy to forget the memory of him, of me, driving that red beam through our father. Now, however, in this room, him garbed in back, it took all my control not to give into my rage and fight him now, bring him to his knees. Make him hurt just like I was hurting, and if I'd been the only one here, I might have been tempted to do it. But Lelouch was more important than my hatred, at least that was what I was trying to tell myself as my entire being vibrated with rage.
"Your feelings are betraying you, sister," Kylo said, his voice icy and mechanical through the mask.
"So is yours," I snapped back, and before he could react, I used how close he was and caught the snag of the heavy black cloak and slammed my knee into his, and he stumbled enough for the his red saber to release its pressure on my saber for me to flip around and grab my second saber in the process, so when the red lightsaber came at me again, I had the advantage against him. "Don't test me Kylo." I warned, and for a moment, there was silence between us. Even though the mask prevented me from seeing his face, his emotions were betraying him too. I could feel his reluctance. He didn't want to fight me.
Finally he backed off, stepping back, but not disengaging his lightsaber, and neither did I, because I could sense Kallen only a few yards away, Li and Tohdoh in tow. Kallen was smart; she'd chosen to come from the front doors of the hangar, and made a rather grand entrance, the doors swinging open, slamming against the walls with a loud bang. Kallen had her gun, and so did Tohdoh, but they both froze, unsure of the situation in front of them.
"Kallen," I said, keeping my eyes on Kylo Ren's motionless figure. "Meet my brother."
Kallen, to get credit, didn't cower when Kylo turned his masked gaze on her. "Hi," she said shortly. "I'm taking my commander back." It was a statement, not a question.
"I see no reason why not," Kylo said after a moment. "As long as Larissa and I can come to an agreement."
"So you try and kidnap him? So I would have to negotiate?" I asked incredulously, my surprise overriding my anger momentarily.
"You told me to make a move, sister," Kylo said calmly, and his entire demeanour only infuriated me more.
"This ill-conceived attempt is not what I meant," I hissed. "I've spent too much time building this place up, and I'm not about to let you and your little acolytes mess it up now."
"Protecting your master, are you, Larissa?" The jab hurt, more than I cared to admit.
"He is not my master," I said firmly, my grasp tightening on my lightsabers. "And you're one to talk. Did your master approve this little trip, or did you have sneak out like an errant child?" I felt a similar rage floor through him, and I felt a little pleased that I could still hit him where it hurt, that I wasn't the only one losing control.
"The Supreme Leader is wise, and he is aware I've come to fetch you," Kylo said stiffly.
"Fetch me?" I hissed, "What, am I possession to be bought now?"
"You are so much more than that to me," Kylo said darkly, and despite the mask, the heat in his voice was unmistakable, and my heart stirred despite myself. No, no I wouldn't go there, not when he'd done so much, killed so many.
"Am I?" I asked, slightly hysterical, "Because being your family is a dangerous occupation these days." I didn't miss the small flinch go through Kylo's frame, and took the chance to dig the jibe deeper. "Are you going to kill me too when I'm no longer useful, no longer necessary? When your precious master says I'm a weakness to you?"
"I would never do that you," Kylo swore, taking a step forward.
"Why?!" I shouted, all my anger and grief pouring into the single word. "Why I am so different?!"
"Because you're my wife!" Kylo snarled back.
There was a series of sharp intakes of breath, and I suddenly remembered we weren't the only ones in the hangar.
Chapter 15: A Very Bad Day
Lelouch was in the middle of a very bad day.
He was in pain, especially from the sharp jab to the head he'd gotten when the black dressed men had taken him and shot CC in the head. The medicine he'd been forced to inhale after they'd ripped off his mask still made him woozy, even now, and the inside of his head felt like mush. When Larissa had found him, he was faint with relief.
He didn't relish the idea of being taken by the First Order, not only because of the outstanding deal Kylo Ren seemed to have with his demon of a brother, but because of horror stories that had drifted from spies about how enemies of the Order were treated. When Larissa had separated him from the leader, he had marveled at the power she wielded being able to hold all the men in place like dolls.
He was mildly surprised when she'd called the one unmasked man, Adrian. Lelouch was curious as to how she knew this man, but that was nothing compared to the shock when one of his former captors had risen with a purpose, and revealed a red lightsaber, and Larissa and him and locked blades. It took less than a moment for him to realize who this was, even before Larissa had greeted him as her brother. Lelouch had immediately backed up as quickly as he could, for fear of the battle that could take place.
However, Larissa only moved once, to distract her brother long enough to grab her second lightsaber from her boot and gain the advantage against her brother. When Kallen had finally arrived with Li and Tohdoh, they had both frozen at the two siblings locked in battles. Li, however, had gotten next to Lelouch and pulled him out the way, back toward the door.
It wasn't until Kylo Ren started talking, that Lelouch started to get worried.
Larissa wasn't calm, that much was clear. There was a fire in her eyes, that said she wanted to make her brother hurt, that she had a well of rage within her that wasn't under control. She seemed to know right where to hit her brother until he was as angry as her, and each were at each other's throats, but Lelouch got the odd sense that there was something about this fight, something each of them were avoiding, that Larissa refused to admit, and Kylo Ren seemed driven by beyond anything else. Then Kylo Ren completely lost his temper and shouted something that Lelouch didn't quite comprehend for a moment, because the words made no sense to him. Then understanding swept through him, clear and simple.
Larissa was his wife.
They were married.
Suddenly it all made sense, horrible, horrible sense. When she had first arrived, CC had said she'd was grieving a lost love, and when Lelouch had found her in her room, her eyes had looked dead, not as if it had been her brother who'd betrayed, but a man who'd meant everything to her. And the words she'd whispered into his ear, while he could still smell the salt of the tears that had stained her face.
"You're the brother I should have had."
It finally made sense now, and Lelouch was more afraid now than ever. She was tied to her brother, in a bond that could never be broken. If there was anything that could tip her, could make her fall, Lelouch was more certain than ever, was this. This was bad, this was a very bad situation, and the worst part was there was nothing Lelouch could do. All he could do was watch and hope that Larissa was strong enough to face her past.
"No," she said harshly, "You don't get to call me that after what you've done."
"Everything I did, I did for you!" The formerly calm mechanical voice of Kylo Ren shouted. Both of them seemed to have forgotten that there were others in the room.
"Killing our father wasn't for me!" Larissa shouted back, her voice shaking. "You didn't kill him for me! You did that, because you wanted to!" Her voice broke. "I felt that, Kylo."
"I will not apologize for completely our grandfather's work," Kylo Ren's voice went cold.
"Neither will I for protecting the only things in my life I have left," Larissa snapped back.
"I didn't take your memories."
"No, but you destroyed everything else!" Larissa shouted. "What did you think I was going to do?! Did you think I was just going to join you, without reservation, without thought?! That I was going to forgive you?! I thought you knew me better than that." She was breathing hard now, as if she couldn't get enough air into her lungs.
Kylo Ren was silent for several seconds, Lelouch was afraid he might have calmed down to the point where he could overpower Larissa. Though he was concerned for himself and his people, especially Kallen, who seemed shocked enough at the realization of Larissa true relationship with her brother, she still seemed ready to jump at Larissa defense, he was more terrified for Larissa. She was losing control. She wasn't ready for this.
"I know what I've done in your eyes is unforgivable," Kylo Ren said softly, and even with the cold mechanical speaker in his mask, the change in his inflection made Larissa visibly flinch, her hands tightening on her violet lightsabers. "But you cannot stay here Larissa. These people don't trust you, they fear you. They'll betray you the moment they get the chance."
"Hey!" Kallen shouted. "That's not tru-" She cut off suddenly, her eyes wide, and strangled cough wheezed from her throat as Kylo Ren shifted his masked gaze to her.
"Stop," Larissa said harshly, her eyes wide in surprise and terror for Kallen, but when that did nothing, she shouted again, louder this time so it echoed all around the cavern. "Ben, stop!" Kylo Ren whirled around Kallen dropped to her knees, gasping.
"Never call me that again!" Kylo snarled, and Lelouch heard true rage in his voice.
"Then don't you dare hurt my friends!" Larissa hissed. "Or did you forget that I've still got yours under my control?"
"You're not that cruel, Larissa," Kylo said dismissively, though he sensed a bit of hesitation in his voice.
"But I am that desperate, as you so kindly pointed out." Larissa's hand shook and so did the lightsabers. "I warned you before, don't test me." As if to prove her point, several of the masked men suddenly let out a small pained gasp, as if someone had squeezed too tightly.
"You're willing to go to such lengths to protect these people, but I wonder if they'd do the same for you?" Kylo Ren suddenly asked, and he glanced back at Lelouch, and he stiffened automatically.
Lelouch was confused. Ever since Larissa had begun her work with him, since she had risked her life to save him from death on any number of occasions, he'd always vowed to do the same for her. It was a rare reflection he saw in her, an opportunity to make things right from the atrocities he'd committed before, with the help of CC's mysterious powers. There had never been a moment when Lelouch had not offered Larissa the same loyalty she had offered him.
"What are you are you talking about?" Larissa asked sharply, obviously confused as well.
"Luke Skywalker, he's here." The words seemed to hit Larissa like a blow. She stumbled back, shaking her head, while Lelouch worked through the implication of his words, his head snapping to look at Li in disbelief.
"No," Larissa gasped.
"He's in the Resistance delegation. You've been so busy with me you haven't even noticed he's here." Larissa's eyes dropped to the ground for a moment, her eyes moving back and forth quickly. Then she looked up, and there was terror in her eyes. She looked directly at him and she looked beyond betrayed, while Lelouch could only give her a confused looked. He had specifically sent instructions that Luke Skywalker was not welcome to the Black Knights' base.
"You said-" Larissa gasped out.
"We didn't realize he was going to be here," Li said suddenly next to him. "He just arrived with the transport." His voice turned serious glancing at both Larissa and Lelouch. "We were coming to tell you."
Lelouch pursed his lips at the new information, that was troubling, but he couldn't focus on that. Larissa was breathing hard now, practically hyperventilating on fear. Kylo Ren took another step forward. "You can't stay Lyssa," he said softly, and the name he used only made Larissa shake harder. "If you stay, he'll just erase you again, and you'll never come back."
When Larissa had explained what her uncle had done to her, it had seemed terrible, but now, the way Kylo Ren said, erased, it made Lelouch realize just how terrified she truly was. No matter what the outcome of this conflict, Lelouch resolved to stop her uncle going near her again. Larissa had suffered too much, no matter what Luke Skywalker's reasons.
"No," Larissa said, her voice choked with fear, "No."
"Come with me," Kylo said pleadingly, "I won't take you to the Order, I promise. I'll find a place you can live in peace. Just please come with me Lyssa, I can't lose you again." He sounded truthful, even a little desperate. Lelouch knew he was speaking the truth, that Kylo Ren, despite being who he was, he would never harm Larissa. Though Lelouch had to wonder if just by being who he had become, he was hurting Larissa far more than the ever could intentionally. Kylo Ren suddenly turned his head slightly to Lelouch's direction and Lelouch suddenly had no doubt that he'd heard everything in Lelouch's mind. That was concerning, but not as concerning as Larissa.
"I- I-" Larissa looked unsure, like animal who wanted nothing more than to bolt. She looked at Lelouch then, right into his eyes. She seemed to be asking him what she should do. Lelouch had no idea. He opened his mouth to say something, to calm her down, anything to diffuse the situation.
But suddenly a commotion rocked through the room as several unfamiliar people burst from the open hallway into the hangar bay. The first was an older woman that Lelouch didn't immediately recognize until he suddenly realized that it was Leia, Larissa's mother.
"Larissa!" She shouted, then stopped suddenly as Kylo Ren came to face her. "Ben," she whispered, a hand going to her face. For a second all of them stood frozen, surprise etched across the two unmasked faces. Then two more figures rushed past her, and old, bearded man and younger woman, both carrying lightsabers, the man green and the girl blue. The man didn't pause as Leia called out to him. He raised his hand and both Larissa and Kylo Ren suddenly flew back and Larissa hit the side of the ship hard, her lightsabers flying out of her hands, lying useless over a foot away from her finger tips and she struggled to get up. Kylo Ren had managed to block some of the wave, but was still forced back several feet, and the unique lightsaber he possessed flew out of his hand. The cloaked men around him still hadn't moved, and the look on both of newcomers faces said that they had scores to settle with Larissa's twin.
Kylo Ren, though unarmed and with no one to fight with him, he still stood against the two Jedi tall and proud. Fear spiked in Lelouch's gut. This situation had gotten away from him, and now Larissa looked to be injured, and there was nothing Lelouch could do but watch from sidelines.
"Luke Skywalker," Kylo said dispassionately, then he turned to the girl, "And the scavenger." It was clear the two had met before, by the way the young girl gripped her lightsaber tighter.
"I'm sorry it's come to this, Ben," The old man said.
"Is that what you said to my sister when you destroyed her?" Kylo snarled, losing his temper once again. Lelouch pleaded silently for Kylo Ren to remain calm. It seemed the only option Lelouch could see that would get everyone out of this ill-fated convergence alive.
"Luke, what is he talking about?" Leia asked quickly, and Lelouch realized that Leia had no idea what had truly happened to Larissa.
"You shouldn't speak of things you don't understand," Luke said calmly, waving his sister away. "Now give up."
"Never," Kylo Ren swore, and it was obvious that he was never going to surrender. Luke began to stalk forward to the unarmed Kylo Ren, the girl right behind him. They both raised their lightsabers forward and then suddenly froze in place, though unlike the cloaked men, they seemed to be able to try and actively struggle against the bonds. Lelouch looked at Kylo, expecting this to be him, but his posture looked as surprised as everyone else. Lelouch and Kylo Ren both glanced back at the same time.
Larissa was in her feet, both gloved hands raised as she seemed to be struggling to hold them in place. Het hair was partially unbound, the blow had knocked the braid askew and tendrils of dark hair were spilling down her back. Blood ran from a gash on her forehead, but she looked determined, and Lelouch felt a rush of relief that she was alright.
"You need- to leave," she said, glancing at her brother.
Kylo Ren moved to her. "Lyssa, come with me."
"I don't agree with what you've done," Larissa said haltingly, "but I'm not going to let them kill you. Now go!"
"Lari-ssa, don't- don't do this," Luke stuttered out.
"Quiet!" Larissa snapped. "You don't get to speak after what you've done!" she glanced back at Kylo Ren, her eyes pleading. "Go! I can't- hold them much longer." Kylo Ren stepped closer, and Lelouch got the sense there was more he wanted to say but knew he couldn't say. He took a small step forward and leaned closer to her, even as Larissa shook her head, her body shaking more. Then she glanced back to the entrance as another person busted through, a dark skinned man, holding a blaster.
"You!" The man shouted at Kylo Ren and raised the blaster, firing it dead center at Kylo Ren. But the red energy never made contact with it's intended target.
Larissa had moved faster than Lelouch had thought possible, grabbing her brothers shoulders and spinning them around, so that she was directly in the blaster path. Lelouch stood frozen as she collapsed in her brother's arms, the smell of charred flesh filling the room as her back smoked sickeningly. Kylo Ren seemed frozen, unable to anything but hold her up as Larissa's legs gave out. Kallen, however, snapped out of it first. She kicked the blaster out of the newcomer's hand and delivered another swift kick to the man's face, sending him sprawling on the floor, restraining him down. Lelouch watched with muted horror as Larissa's whole body slumped as unconsciousness took her, leaving her helpless in her brother's arms.
Two things happened simultaneously. First the cloaked men began to move as Larissa's control on them ended, and then Luke Skywalker and the other female Jedi began to move too. Luke raised his hand, but this time it was Leia who push his arm down suddenly, stopping his power.
"No!" She shouted desperately, "You'll hit Larissa again!" Leia didn't seem to realize that Luke didn't care if he hit Larissa or not. The cloaked men immediately surrounded Kylo Ren as he picked up his unconscious sibling in his arms and turned around, hurrying toward the ship. "Ben, please don't!" Leia pleaded with her son, but he ignored her and climbed onto the ship, the cloaked men following after him. The door closed behind them and the ship took off a moment later.
As Lelouch processed the scene, his head still spinning, a voice broke him from his thoughts. "Sir," Li asked quietly next him, handing him his familiar round mask, "Should I send someone after them?"
"No," Lelouch said shortly, working to keep his mind closed and his emotions in check now that another Jedi was here. He slipped on his mask. "You should get Kallen off of him."
Kallen and the dark skinned were currently in a wrestling match, one of which Kallen was winning.
"Get off me!" The man snapped, struggling beneath Kallen's grip.
"Oh hell no!" Kallen snapped, "You shot Larissa!"
"I wasn't- aiming for her," the man ground out, "She was protecting that bastard!"
"I don't care what she was doing!" Kallen said, twisting his arm rather viciously, the man crying out in pain. This was getting out of hand, and as much as Lelouch found a little pleasure in an otherwise terrifying day in watching his Ace make the man who shot Larissa squeal, he'd obviously come with the resistance, and he couldn't let that stand.
"Kallen," Lelouch said tiredly. "Stop." Kallen looked up disbelievingly, as if she couldn't believe what she was hearing. She didn't, however, question his orders and got off the young man, who immediately took the chance to scramble away from Kallen. She narrowed her gaze at him in disgust. "I'm watching you." The look said, one that Lelouch had been privy to many times throughout their friendship, and he pitied the poor fool who'd gotten on her bad side.
But only a little.
Kallen crossed over to Tohdoh, and Lelouch took another breath, and stepped forward to Leia Organa, who was standing in the middle of the room, her hand at her throat, and her eyes looking vacant, a look that told just how much she'd truly lost.
"General Organa," Lelouch said softly. Leia looked at him, and even though the eyes were different from the violet ones he'd reassured so often, they still looked so similar, it made him pause for a moment. Then her eyes focused, sharp, and the looked like he would expect a woman of her age and experience to look.
"Zero," She said, a little stiffly. "What's going on here?"
"I'm afraid it's complicated, General, but I would like it explain in full, if you would please follow us." Lelouch gestured back to the hallway from which everyone had come.
"Of course," Leia said, nodding.
"Please, General, my name is Li Xingke, I'll lead you your delegation to the conference room." Li stepped forward immediately. Leia moved forward without more prompting, and Luke Skywalker and the young girl followed after, quickly followed by the dark skinned man who was rubbing his shoulder, sending back glares at Kallen. As the resistance members filed out, Kallen rushed over to Lelouch.
"Send me after her," Kallen said quickly, "In my knightmare. I can get her back!"
"And risk harming her in the process?" Li shot back just as quickly.
"He's right," Lelouch said quickly, "She's probably already out of the atmosphere." He lowered his voice. "And besides, I think that- at the moment- she may be safer there." Kallen looked like she wanted to argue, but knew better.
"What about-" Kallen began but Lelouch shook his head quickly.
"We'll speak about that later," Lelouch pressed, looking at his three confidants. They understood immediately, and Lelouch was grateful. Until he had all the facts of this situation he had to be careful, especially with someone like he suspected Luke Skywalker was.
Chapter 16: Aftermath
Lelouch sat in the leather back chair watching as the Resistance members, twelve of them in all, were led to the temporary quarters that the Black Knights had set aside for them. As he watched them go, Lelouch sighed with relief as the tension drained from the room. The conversation he had hoped to have with the Resistance delegation had not happened. It had been a very different conversation, a very different conversation indeed.
"What happened in there?" Leia asked him sharply the moment Lelouch had arrived in the briefing room. "I thought you said this place was safe. How did the Knights of Ren manage to infiltrate your operation?"
"That is still being determined at this time," Li said quickly, coming to the defense of the Black Knights. "As you can see, it looks like it was timed with your arrival, to short our defenses. Ours must not have been the only breach."
"Why was that girl protecting him?" The dark skinned man asked, hissed more like, rubbing shoulder underneath his light brown jacket.
"Because they're siblings," Kallen snapped, "And that was the first time they'd seen each other in ten years!"
"That isn't the point," Leia said quickly, her eyes darting to Lelouch. It was clear she wanted Larissa out of the conversation as much as he did.
"You're quite correct," Lelouch said smoothly, sitting down in his seat. "I, for one, would like to know why Luke Skywalker is in attendance when we sent clear instructions that we wished he and his apprentice were not to attend the initial proceedings." He was very concerned at how such instructions could have been ignored, especially considering how every member of his cabinet had agreed that it would be safer for Luke Skywalker not to be here, and not just because of Larissa's revelation. They trusted Larissa with her powers because of her proven loyalty to the Black Knights, but were rightly wary of other Jedi who did not have such loyalties to their cause.
"I never received these instructions." Leia said firmly, coming quickly to the defense of her own organization as well.
"We have the transcripts here." Lelouch once again thanked Li's meticulous records as he slide a sheet of paper toward the older woman. Leia picked it up quickly and read through the transcripts. Then her shoulders slumped.
"These were not the transcripts I received. I will have to speak with my technicians." She set the paper down, not looking at her brother, instead directing her query to Lelouch. "But I must ask, why did specify my brother not be in attendance?"
Lelouch sighed internally. Despite wanting to remain neutral in this until he knew the facts for certain, he knew he would have to part with some information in order to keep Leia's trust. "Your daughter Larissa, asked that he not be here."
"And you took this advice without asking her the reason?" Luke suddenly asked, his eyes sharp.
"Larissa has always done whatever she could to protect the Black Knights," Lelouch said firmly, choosing to direct the statement to Leia. "Her decisions and her information have always been in the best interest of my people." Lelouch paused for emphasis. "So when she asked for this, I respected her, and her reasoning. I didn't need an explanation from her." The room fell silent for a moment, save the familiar beeping of controls.
"So she never gave a reason?" Leia finally asked quietly.
"We respected her privacy," Kallen insisted, her eyes cold.
"I see." After another moment of silence, Leia turned to her brother. "I'm sorry, Luke you need to leave."
"Leia," Luke protested, but she held up her hand, silencing her brother.
"I don't know what's happened between you and my daughter, but we'll talk about it later. For now you need to go." She turned back to Lelouch. "Zero, could you have someone show my brother and his apprentice to wherever it is we will be staying. I believe, for the moment, that will be sufficient enough to meet your instructions."
"Thank you," Lelouch inclined his head in thanks. He motioned to Tohdoh, who stepped forward. "General Tohdoh will show you to your quarters."
"General Leia," the female apprentice stepped forward. She looked confused, her eyes darting around the table.
"It's alright Rey," Leia said softly. "Go with them, I'll see you soon." The girl, Rey nodded, and after a second, both Luke Skywalker and the girl left the briefing room. Leia sat down slowly. "I'm very sorry Zero, for any part we may have caused in this attack on your people. Was anyone injured?"
"Nothing that they won't recover from," Lelouch said with an internal smirk. If only a bullet to the head would kill that woman, Lelouch might have a decent night's sleep.
"That's good," Leia sighed with relief. "If I may ask, what exactly happened today?"
"The cloaked men attacked me, shortly before you arrived here. They knocked me out, but I came to when Larissa found me."
"She sensed where he was," Kallen said quickly. "Told me to get help."
"Larissa managed to fight them off. The man we thought was in charge, she seemed to know. She called him Adrian." Leia seemed surprised at the mention of the man's name.
"I believe he was an apprentice in Luke's temple," Leia said slowly. "There were rumors that he'd, sided Larissa's brother, Ben, when the temple was destroyed." Ben must have Kylo Ren's name before he had switched sides. Lelouch pondered why Larissa had never called Kylo Ren that name, except once, to stop him from using his power. Leia paused again longer to gather herself. "Did Larissa know that, her brother was there?" Her voice was quiet now, drawn.
"No," Lelouch said honestly. "She wasn't aware until she had already engaged the hostiles. You saw the rest."
"So she's in the First Order's hands now," Leia breathed out, her hands shaking.
"I'm afraid so." Even Lelouch had pause to gather his composure at the thought. He couldn't determine what felt worse, thinking her dead, or knowing her beyond his protection. "The best we can hope for is that she'll be able to escape again."
Leia looked up, surprised. "Again?" She repeated softly.
"I forgot, you don't know." Lelouch said quickly. "You'll forgive me if I have to tell you some information first before I can explain everything."
"Of course," Leia conceded.
After taking a moment to gather his thoughts, Lelouch began. "Until several days ago, we, and everyone in this system, knew Larissa as Lady Aurora Canan, personal assistant to Prince Schneizel el Britannia. She came to me four years ago, and told me that her entire life had been fabricated, and that she remembered nothing past the six years prior that she had lived there. She told us that she didn't want continue to live in a country that harmed so many people and that she wished to help the Black Knights bring down the Britannian Empire. Since then, she has been undercover agent by her own choice, working within Schneizel's administration and passing us vital information that has allowed us to get ahead of the Britannian Army."
Lelouch took another breath. "Several weeks ago, she informed me that the Britannian government was going to initiate talks with the First Order, and the Schneizel had every intention of using that meeting to help secure his ascension to throne, something that both she and I knew could not happen. I asked her to see if she could set up a meeting with the Order, or at least find some intel that we could monitor them with."
At Leia's expression, Lelouch quickly added, "I know it sounds terrible, but this has not been an easy war of attrition for us. What we didn't know was that Kylo Ren would be among the delegates sent. I spoke with her shortly after she met with the delegation, and she told me that under no terms should I try and negotiate with the Order. Less than four hours later she was arrested for treason against the Britannian State, and then thirteen hours after that, we saw her executed for all the system to see."
"How did she survive that?" Leia asked softly, a hand on her chest.
"What we didn't know at the time was that Kylo Ren had made a deal with Schneizel in order to help him attain the throne and destroy the Black Knights in exchange for Larissa. Kylo Ren took her and she was replaced with a double we assume was killed as Aurora Canan. Only a few minutes after the execution took place, stormtroopers assaulted one of our temporary bases, and we were taking heavy losses. Larissa found us, saved us. Sometime during the transit, Larissa regained her memories, her lightsabers, and then escaped from the First Order's custody, tracking us to our location via a stolen First Order ship."
"I suppose I should be thanking you, then," Leia replied after a moment, "for taking care of my daughter when I couldn't."
"In fact, she been the one to save me, many times," Lelouch said graciously. It was the truth. Schneizel had always been his greatest opponent in this war, and there had been more than a few times when, if not Larissa's quick wit, he would have fallen a long time ago.
Leia was silent for another moment. "Did Larissa ever mention, how she lost memories in the first place?"
After a moment of hesitation, Lelouch answered, "No, I'm afraid she never gave us the specifics as to how she lost her memories, or exactly how regained." In part, what he had said was true, Larissa had never shared the specifics, not exactly.
"The lightsabers," Leia murmured softly, her mind far away for a moment before her eyes focused back on him. "Sometimes objects that carry significance to a person have connections the Force. If one is strong enough in the Force, sometimes they can access those connections."
"You know about the Force, General?" Li asked curiously.
Leia smiled sadly. "Enough. I'm not powerful enough to be true Jedi, but the Force the has always been strong in my family."
"Yes, Larissa did say something to that effect," Lelouch said quietly. He paused for a moment, trying to find something to say that might segway into another topic. Nothing seemed right though, and when Tohdoh suddenly slipped into the room, Lelouch was grateful. There was still much he needed to discuss with him, Li and Kallen.
Lelouch turned back Leia. "I know that this has been a trying day for all of us. Perhaps it would be better if we were all to retire, and begin the negotiations tomorrow. I promise I'll have my people looking for any information on Larissa, and if we find anything, you'll be the first to know."
"Thank you Zero." Leia got up, then paused, turning back to Lelouch. "What about our location? If it's been compromised, should we be expecting an evacuation procedure?"
Lelouch chuckled. "General, though it may look like this base is completely entrenched in the mountain, this room you're standing in, as well as all of your quarters are part of our large flagship, that has simply been covered by the mountain. I can assure you in a few hours, we'll be set up completely in secure location."
"That's excellent news," Leia said gratefully.
"My communications chair, Diethard Reid will show you to your quarters." Diethard got up immediately and gave Leia a pleasant smile.
The Resistance personal had filed out quickly after that, and Lelouch had also give the order that only Tohdoh, Kallen, and Li were to remain in the conference room. After everyone had left and the lights had been dimmed, Lelouch slipped of his mask and set it on the table with a dull thud.
"Lelouch that looks bad," Kallen said in reference to the large bruise on his head. "Do you want me to take a look at that?"
"Oh he'll be fine," A light voice said from the hidden passage behind him. Lelouch didn't bother turning around, he instead waited for the woman to come around and lift herself onto the table.
Lelouch stared at CC stonily for a minute before he asked. "Did you know, about Larissa and her brother?"
"I'm surprised it took you this long to figure it out," CC said lightly. "There are few things in this world that can turn a Jedi as absolutely as Kylo Ren."
"Power," Lelouch said automatically. Then he said softly, "love, and fear."
"Skywalker men have a history of falling for those things faster than the hyperdrive on the fastest ship in the galaxy," CC said dismissively. "It's not surprising that Snoke was able to turn Kylo Ren so easily. The real question will be how easy it will be for him to convince Larissa."
"Do think that's possible, that he could turn Larissa?" Li asked quietly, looking thoughtful, but appropriately grave.
CC paused for a moment, as if considering her answer. "I will tell you this. Larissa is the most powerful Jedi or Sith that I have ever come across, more powerful than Darth Vader or Emperor Palpatine combined, and it is not an accident that Supreme Leader Snoke, the head of the First Order, chose to turn her twin."
"You think that this had all been some kind of elaborate plot to turn Larissa to the Dark Side?" Kallen looked skeptical, and Lelouch was inclined to agree with her. It seem a little fantastical, though Lelouch knew that's not quite what she was saying.
"She's saying is that if Larissa did turn, she would be the crown jewel in his empire," Lelouch translated tiredly.
"But didn't Kylo Ren say he was going to take her away from the First Order?" Kallen looked confused.
"She was severely injured by that blaster," Tohdoh said gruffly. "Kylo Ren would have needed to take her to someplace where she could get the best medical care possible. The only place close enough would most likely be the First Order."
"Damn it," Kallen cursed, sitting back in the chair. All were silent for a moment, and Lelouch grappled with the implications of he had already known to be true. Larissa was in the hands of the Order far more securely this time, and there was nothing Lelouch could do at the moment, not until he learned more.
"There's one more thing we need to discuss," Lelouch said haltingly. "And that is whether or not we are going to reveal any of the information we've learned to today to anyone else."
"No," Kallen said immediately. "We've respected her privacy before this doesn't change that." She paused for a moment, swallowing hard, "Even now."
"I believe it's necessary to at least inform the rest of your cabinet," Tohdoh said.
"Actually," Li said, "I agree with Kallen. Larissa is powerful, and it would not be a good idea to become her adversary. Keeping this secret between us allows for a confidence I believe she will honor in the future."
"I'm also inclined to agree with Li. I'm sorry Tohdoh, but it stays between us for the moment." After a moment Tohdoh nodded in agreement.
"Hold a second, how are we supposed to keep this a secret with two Jedi on the premises?" Kallen asked suddenly. "I mean if they can get into our thoughts like Larissa could-"
"I can keep Luke Skywalker from your thoughts for as long as you need," CC said calmly, as if she was commenting on the state of Kallen's hair.
"Another one of your tricks?" Lelouch mused tiredly. At least there was some good news in all of this, if it could be called that. CC only smiled icily, hopping off the table. "CC?" Lelouch asked after a moment, something in the conversation eating at his morbid curiosity. "Is there any way that you can determine how likely it might be that Larissa could switch sides?"
CC considered Lelouch for a moment, as if she was honestly surprised he would even ask. "I suppose it will depend on how much of a Skywalker really she is."
Chapter 17: In the Hands of the Enemy
It was the dull ache that seemed to emanate from my whole body that woke me first.
I was wearing nothing but thermal bandages again, and my back was covered in padded bandages that still seemed to grate against the raw and damaged flesh. I could tell, though, I wasn't in a med pod. I was in a large bed, a soft one, with sheets made of a comfortable fabric. I opened my eyes slowly, my eye-lids feeling like they'd been stuck together. The bed was in a large, plain room. Aside from the bed and several compartments set into the wall, the only other furniture was a grey table and four dull leather chairs, one if which had been placed next the bed.
Kylo was sitting on the chair, leaning on his knees, his face in his hands. He posture, it looked so tired and defeated, I tried to lift my limp hand to reach him, only to have to thump uselessly against the covers. When he looked up at the sound of my movement, I was surprised to see that he wasn't wearing the mask I'd become so familiar with. Instead I saw his face for the first time in over ten years. Though it felt like a lifetime had passed, his eyes still held the same soft expression, and he reached out a gloved hand to grasp my limp one and hold it gently.
"You're alright," he whispered, soothingly, "you're safe."
I swallowed and my throat felt so sore, but after a few tries I managed to speak. "Where- am I?"
The look in Kylo's eyes changed, and glanced away from me. "The Order's main base," Kylo said reluctantly.
I felt the fear before I could even comprehend it. I immediately began to sit up, but the pain of stretching my injured back sent me back into the bed, gasping at the searing pain. Kylo was there suddenly, then, gently pressing at my shoulders to keep me from moving as I whimpered from the pain and the panic fluttering in my chest.
"I'm sorry," He whispered fervently, "I'm sorry, but you were dying, there was no place else I could take you."
"Does he know- does he know I'm here?" I gasped out, my eyes locking with his dark ones. He didn't say anything, and the panic burst in my chest to pure, raw fear, as I sat up again, fear erasing the pain.
No, I didn't want to be here, anywhere but here. How could Kylo put me near him, when he knew- he knew I didn't want to be like him. I had to get out of here, I had to leave, before Kylo's master could get to me. If he found me here before I could get away, I'd never be able to leave. All I had to do was get out of this room, steal a ship-
A sharp jab in my shoulder froze my thoughts in place as I registered the new point of pain. Kylo, he'd given me an injection while I had been distracted. As he lay the syringe away from me, and the fog began to slowly creep in, it didn't take long for me to realize what'd he'd given me. I looked at him, hurt in my eyes as I began to sway. Kylo caught me as I began to tilt forward and set me gently back against the bed.
"I'm sorry," he whispered again as the fog began to pull me under. "I can't let you leave. I lose you again. Forgive me, Lyssa." With my last bit of strength, I reached out to grasp his black robes, my fingers clenching in the fabric a moment before the fog suddenly pulled my mind into it's grasp and I felt nothing at all.
Waking up again was much easier the next time. The injection and other medications had worn off, and my mind was clear. Instead of moving, this time I felt well enough to reach out to the Force, but as I stretched out my mind, I found myself unable to sense anything outside of my room and a small bathroom adjacent to the room, accessible by a small door to the left of me. Someone was actively putting a boundary around this. After a bit of testing, I knew, even in this weakened state, I could break through it with a little effort, but I didn't bother. It wouldn't help me any, and most-likely alert anyone nearby that I was awake. I knew this time was different, everyone in this base most-likely knew who I was, and I doubted I could get anywhere near a ship, much less away from this room. It wasn't worth the effort to try and escape now, especially considering that Kylo would stop me this time. He'd bring me back kicking and screaming.
Instead I chose to focus my energy on slowly getting out of bed. Though the pain from the blaster wound had faded to a dull ache, I felt fatigue just from sitting. I had little energy. I needed food. No sooner than I had thought that than did I notice a tray sitting on the table. On the tray was a small meal containing a small portions of meat and green vegetables. I noticed the meat was already cut and so were the vegetables, so all I had was a spoon. Obviously they weren't taking any chances.
After a minute, I managed to limp over to a chair. The meat was tough and rather tasteless, but the moment it touched my tongue, I found myself so ravenous that I scarfed the rest down quickly, feeling a little better when my stomach had something it in and was no longer a roiling mess. Once my stomach was settled, I began to take stock of just how injured I was.
Apart from the wound to the back and the healing graze I'd received a week earlier, I was relatively unharmed, but the more I sat on the leather chair, wearing nothing but the thermal bandages, the more grimy I felt. I knew that had probably washed me down to bandage and fix my wound, but I still felt like there was a layer of something nasty on my skin, and my hair was matted and greasy from sweat. I wanted nothing more than to get out of these bandages and wash away this feeling of hopelessness.
With slow careful steps I made my way over to the bathroom. The door slide open to reveal the same dull colored walls filled with a compact bathroom, with a small shower cube, sink, and toilet. I went to the sink first, glancing at the mirror above the sink to check the cut I'd received on my head. That was already healed, which meant I must have been out longer than I had first anticipated for it to have completely healed.
Slowly, I began to unwrap the bandages until all that was left on my body was the padding on my back. It was awkward and painful, but I finally managed to get the padding off, turning around to survey the damage. Underneath the skin was rough and scarred, but not as scarred as it should have been. They must have used a skin graft on me to speed up recovery. When it was fully healed it would be no more than a small round scar. It was going to hurt for longer than if they let it heal naturally, but there was really nothing I could do about that.
I turned around and the clear door to the shower cube slide open and I stepped inside, pressing the button that allowed for a shower of water to come from the ceiling. I stood in the water for a long time, letting the warmth seep into my bones, massage away the aching and fatigue until I almost felt boneless. The water was medicated, and the tangles in my hair slowly unraveled, until it was long and flowing down my back. It wasn't until my fingers began to wrinkle that I finally shut off the shower. I pressed the second button, and warm air blew through the walls, drying my body and hair in a matter of minutes. As the last of my hair dried, I felt another presence in the room. It was my brother.
"Don't come in here. I'll be out in a moment." I told him quietly.
He didn't respond, but the door didn't open, for that I was grateful. I stepped out of the shower and grabbed a black robe that was hanging on a hook next the shower. I wrapped the robe around me, pull my dried hair forward, brushing it out gently with my fingers. I took several deep breaths to calm the brewing storm inside of my chest.
I didn't want to see him.
I didn't want to look at his face, the face of the man I loved, the man who had also betrayed me, dragged me into the belly of Darkness, where there was no escape.I just wanted to go back to sleep, forget everything for a little while longer.
But the longer I stood in the small bathroom, the more apparent it became that my brother wasn't going anywhere. It appeared he was willing to be as stubborn as I was. I wrapped my robe around me tighter, all too conscious of the fact I was wearing nothing underneath it. When I opened the door, he was sitting on a leather chair, his mask sitting on the table next to him. He glanced up at me, and it was only then I really noticed at the thin scar running across his face, from the middle of his forehead down to the side of his pale chin. It definitely was lightsaber scar. I wondered who could have given him that. It must have been quite a story, but I wasn't in the mood ask about it. We were still for a long time, myself trying to look anywhere but at him, and his eyes boring into me softly, waiting patiently for me to move.
"What do you want?" I finally asked, keeping my voice as neutral as possible.
"To make sure you're feeling better," Kylo replied, his voice equally neutral. "I'm glad you've eaten. There are clothes for you in the compartment." I didn't say anything in reply, instead choosing to walk over to the indicated compartment. The panel slide out, revealing an internal closet filled with-
"Dresses?" I asked incredulously. "Is that all?"
"We didn't have time to give you a flush wardrobe, Larissa," Kylo said tiredly.
"But- dresses?" I repeated. I knew this was a point I probably shouldn't be stressing, in light of my current circumstances, but honestly.
Did they really think that a dress was going to prevent me from trying anything?
"Honestly?" Kylo asked, reading my feelings through our connection, one I was still too tired to properly close. My teeth set on edge, because I wanted to snap back at him, but if I was going to be stuck here for an extended period of time, I'd have stay civil. Instead I turned back to the open closet and opened the drawers nestled beneath the closet until I found some soft underwear and a bustier. I moved behind the open closet and threw the robe on bed, quickly slipping on the underwear but when I went to put the bustier against the new skin and scar, I flinched, and a small whimper left me before I could stop it. The pain was hot and sharp.
"Larissa," Kylo asked, getting up from the chair, "Are you alright?" His voice was filled with concern.
"Fine," I said haltingly, and after a few deep breaths, I managed to get the bustier on and grabbing a long, flowing dress, slipping it over my head. The dress dropped all the way down to my feet, and hung loosely around my body with a clasp at my neck, leaving my arms bare. When I closed the closet he was there, standing a bit aways, waiting for me. He looked very much like he wanted to reach out and touch me, but had thought better of it.
"What?" I finally asked when the silence became too much for me to bear.
"You look beautiful," Kylo murmured, and I tried not to listen to the catch in his voice, turning it hoarse in just the right way that I flushed, the memories of his soft hands on my skin coming before I could stop him. He was being infuriatingly gentle and kind. I didn't want him to be like this. I wanted him to be cold, uncaring. I needed him to be the Kylo Ren that had become infamous across the galaxy. This would be so much easier if we could just hate each other.
"Would it really?" Kylo asked, responding again to my inner thoughts before I could block him out again.
"Stop," I snapped harshly. I snatched the robe off of the bed and shoved passed him. I couldn't be around him, not when he had the advantage of being calm. I was going to lock myself in the bathroom and wait until he left, but I barely made it halfway across the room before a leather glove clamped around my arm, jerking me back away from the bathroom.
"Let go of me!" I shouted as he wheeled me around to face him.
"No, Lyssa," Kylo said firmly. He wasn't angry, he wasn't even annoyed. He was perfectly calm, completely in control and I hated it. I wanted him angry, out of control. I wanted him on the same level as me.
"Traitor," I hissed, wrenching against his grip. Kylo grabbed my other and shook me gently, keeping me firmly planted a mere few inches away from him.
"Stop it," Kylo said more firmly. He wasn't budging, he wasn't even remotely annoyed. It was infuriating.
"Ben!" I hissed, out of options, hoping the name he hated so much would cause something.
"Stop it," Kylo repeated and those his eyes blazed, he didn't let me go, he only pulled me closer, until I was flush against him, with nowhere to go. "I'm not going to let you go, no matter what you say. Not again."
"I hate you," I said viciously, jerking my hands, trying to get away from his grip. "You killed him- let me go!" I got one hand free, jerking it away from him, but he jerked me back and I my back was against his warm chest. He wrapped his arms me and I couldn't move at all. He was holding me just like he used to, when he would sneak into my room at night and hold me tightly, promising to never let me go. His warmth, oh god I missed his warmth, and his smell was so familiar. It smelt like home, like I was safe. But he'd killed our father, he betrayed everyone we had cared for, and he'd done it all for me, without regret or hesitation. I started to sob, shaking so harder that I couldn't stand. I didn't want to feel this torn, this hatred and need.
It was consuming me.
"I know," He whispered, his breath warm against my my neck, "I know it hurts. I'm sorry you have to go through this. I wish I could take this pain away." The shaking didn't stop and the sobs came harder and harder until there was nothing left, until I'd cried all I could, for the family I'd lost, for the life I'd lost.
For everything that was gone and never coming back.
Chapter 18: A Proposal
We ended up on the bed. He held me cradled in his arms, my head buried in his chest, breathing as deeply as I could, trying to stop the the shaking in my body while Kylo gently stroked my hair.
"What's- going to happen now?" I finally asked when I was calm enough to speak.
"The Supreme Leader wishes to speak with you," Kylo finally said, kissing the top of my head softly as if to gentle his words. "As soon as you are able."
"I see," I whispered softly. That wasn't good, not all. I had doubt he what the meeting was going to be about, and that this invitation was anything but.
"It alright," He assured me, sensing my discomfort with the idea. "The Supreme Leader is wise. He'll be understanding of your concerns, I'm sure." I wasn't even going to argue with him on that point. It wasn't worth the effort. But I couldn't ignore the fact that I would have to face the Supreme Leader eventually. It would be better if I entered this meeting on my own terms. I was already disadvantaged enough.
"I want to talk to him now," I said quietly, sitting up on the bed, away from Kylo's reaching arms. I thought better when he wasn't so close to me.
"Lyssa you don't have to," Kylo said softly, leaning over to stroke my cheek softly. "Not yet."
"A few hours isn't going to make a difference," I replied with a sigh. "It's better if we just get this over with now."
"If you're sure, I'll go arrange it now." Kylo leaned in, and I accepted his gentle kiss, reveling in the thrill of tasting him again. He got up from the bed and walked to the table to retrieve his mask.
"Wait," I said quickly, getting up from the side of the bed. I stood up quickly and took the mask from his hands. It was heavier than I expected, and the flat part covering the face was open, leaving just enough room for his head slip into it. I held the mask in my hands for a moment more, before I slowly set the mask over my brother's face, clicking the buttons on either side of the mask and it slid into place. My hands seemed reluctant to leave it his face. I wanted to reassure myself that my brother was still beneath the mask, that it was still him. Kylo reached up and cupped my hands in his.
"I'll be back soon," He whispered softly. His voice was colder, now, the mechanics of the mask filtering my brother's voice through the metal. Without another word he turned around, opened the door, and disappeared through it. I let out a shaky breath, and sat heavily on a chair. This was not good, not good at all. Kylo wasn't going to let me leave, and Snoke knew I was here. Worse, he wanted to see me. My brother's mind was set, I could feel that. He wouldn't leave and anymore than he would let me leave. This loyalty he had to the Supreme Leader was true and unbreakable. My concern was if this Supreme Leader felt the same loyalty to my brother. What was even more concerning was what he would want from me. Or whether I'd be able to agree to it. What was I going to have give in order to stay by my brother's side?
I sat on the bed for an hour at least, focusing myself to keep calm. I couldn't truly meditate in the Force because of the block around my room, but that didn't stop me from working to calm myself. This wasn't going to be easy, going face to face against this man. Whoever he really was, this man was more dangerous, because he held my brother, a leverage I had nothing against.
Besides even if I could convince Kylo to run, where would we go? Now that Kylo had killed our father, we could never go back to the Resistance, and I had no trouble believing that if we just ran now, not only would the First Order hunt us, Luke Skywalker and his apprentice would be coming for us too. Also, now that I'd successfully brokered a treaty between the Resistance and the Black Knights, I could expect no help from Lelouch. Not that I would expect any help after what had been revealed.
We would be hunted, from every side, every angle. We were always going to hunted, just for what we were to each other. My brother and I would need someone to protect us, to shield us from what we couldn't fight, and the more and more I ran scenarios through my head, the more I knew that the place we could have a chance of surviving, was here, in the First Order. I was trapped, just as much as I had been trapped on that planet, serving that pig of a man. Only now I had a weakness, and the Supreme Leader would be stupid if he didn't exploit that to the fullest. Anger and frustration flashed through me again, and I worked to control the flash of emotions. I wouldn't go into this unbalanced.
Kylo came back less than an hour later while I was still sitting cross-legged on the bed. I looked up at him expectantly when he didn't immediately remove his mask.
"The Supreme Leader will see you now," Kylo said calmly, even though I sensed of bit of hesitation, and apprehension in his voice. It did nothing to calm my nerves.
"Alright." I got up from the bed. "Do I need shoes?"
"No," Kylo said with a small laugh. "We're not going far." He extended a gloved hand and I took it, grateful for the comfort.
Once outside of the small room, we walked along a grey hall, with no windows, and very few doors. The floor was cool beneath my feet, but we walked quickly through the hall until we arrived at a door that was large and smooth. Kylo stopped and let go of my hand.
"The holoroom is just through there," Kylo said softly. "I'll be waiting for you."
"You're not coming in with me?"
Kylo shook his head gently. "The Supreme Leader wishes to speak with you alone."
"I see," I whispered softly, and a tremor of nervousness ran through me. I would be facing him alone. I turned around and placed my head on the panel and the door slide open, revealing a dark, barely lit room. The only real lighting was recessed in the walls, and in the floor, the lights in a straight line to the center of a square, throne like base. The room looked like I was deep in a mountain somewhere. Very similar to the temple room I had meditated in, but darker. I could feel the Darkness in this room, that no Light had been brought here in a very long time.
"Your control over the Force is strong, stronger than I had originally anticipated," A voice wheezed, the tone cold, menacing, but curious, with a hint of admiration I hadn't expected hear in his voice, fake or otherwise.
It was only then I noticed some kind creature, dressed in a big black robe that covered it's frail form, that was sitting in some kind of blocky throne. It took a second look for me to realize that it was a creature, but a man, old and scarred badly, a gash running the length of the top of his head. The closer I looked at the throne, the more I realized that it fit the dimensions of the square holopad almost exactly. Instead, the creature-like man was off to the side, sitting in his projected chair. Next to him was a similar looking chair, and a table.
"I thought you were supposed to be more imposing, Supreme Leader," I said cautiously. "And here I'd heard all these stories." Cautiously, I took several steps forward toward the platform.
"There is- need for such things for others," The Supreme Leader said dismissively. "But you-" He continued, lifting one, frail finger to point at me, "Are not like the others." He gestured to the chair next to him. "Come." I slowly walked up to the platform, lifting my dress so that I could more easily step up. The chair I sat in was a similar build to the ones in the room I had woken up in. As I sat in the chair, the Supreme Leader considered me for a moment.
"You look very much like your grandmother," The Supreme Leader said absently. "Except for the eyes. It is rare for one to born with those eyes. Did you know that children on Naboo who were born with eyes like yours were revered as souls who'd come back from beyond in order to write the wrongs of the past?"
"I had, not heard that before," I said softly, shifting uncomfortably in the chair.
"To be deprived of such knowledge," Snoke continued "Is a crime. You have not had the opportunity to grow as you should have. To become what you should have become."
"Please," I finally said, "You and I are both smart enough to know that flattery isn't going to work. So if please, could get to the point, I would appreciate it."
"Very well," the Supreme Leader conceded after a moment.. "You are very powerful in the Force, and you have nowhere to go. I know what Luke Skywalker did to you. Unlike your brother, I felt as every memory was ripped from your mind, and Luke Skywalker's attempt to destroy what power you had. That was a waste of potential." The Supreme Leader paused. "Luke Skywalker will never stop. He believes what he doing is the only way. You have nowhere left you can run, Larissa."
"And you have quite thoroughly insured that my brother will never run anywhere else," I whispered a little more harshly than I meant to. "So you know, that I am not going anywhere."
"No," The Supreme Leader said shortly. "I want you to follow your brother's example."
"You want me to join the First Order," I said disbelievingly. "Willingly." Why would he ever think that I would do that, that I would ever serve someone like him?
"You have keen mind for battle, more than most of my generals, and you cannot deny the anger you feel at the ones who've betrayed you. I can give the power you need to make them bleed as you have, and the respect you should have had, instead of the fear you were given." He didn't just want me to join the First Order, he wanted to help me lead it. He wanted to give me power. Despite, my initial rejection of the idea, I couldn't deny the truth in his words. I wanted Luke Skywalker to feel the pain I felt; I wanted Schneizel el Britannia to hurt. There was an anger in me that had grown in me as Aurora Canan, and rage I couldn't destroy no matter how hard I tried. What he was offering me tempted me, more than I wanted to admit to myself. The idea that I could take my vengeance on those who had wronged me was almost intoxicating, but it sounded almost too good to be true.
"You wouldn't simply give me this power without wanting something in return," I said quickly. There was always a catch, a price to be paid.
"There is, something that I do require of you," The Supreme Leader conceded. "A test of faith, if you will, that you are committed enough to our cause." Millions of scenarios ran through my head. He could ask for anything, and I was fairly certain I'd have no choice in the matter. My hands were tied, in far more ways than I could count. "There's no need to have such fear. I believe this is something you want, more than you would care to admit to yourself."
That didn't exactly give me comfort, but I had the sense that it wasn't meant to. At least not the comfort I wanted. "What exactly is this, assignment, you have in mind?"
The Supreme Leader leaned forward. "I want you to kill Luke Skywalker."
I inhaled sharply.
Oh, oh no.
Chapter 19: A Crossroads
Kylo Ren had not always been a patient man.
When he was younger, especially, and had still answered to the name Ben Solo, Larissa had always been his source of calm, the gentle presence and reminder that lashing out in anger would hurt more than just him. She helped him channel his anger to his power, and made him more powerful. It had always seemed odd to him, that the girl who had never raised a hand to another in anger in her life had always seemed to know what exactly do to calm the rage inside of , when Kylo had left the temple, and traveled to Supreme Leader Snoke in order to train enough to take out the Jedi temple and destroy Luke Skywalker, Kylo had lost his presence of calm.
In some ways, that was better.
It was easier on the Dark Side to let his anger run through him, feed him. Without having to worry about such things like control, he quickly grew stronger than he ever realized he could be. The rush he felt as his powers grew had been incredible, addictive. He felt invincible, utterly confident in the all-consuming power only he could control. He used that sense invincibility to hunt down the rest of his teachers, follow every lead to find Luke Skywalker, and learn the location of his sister, his wife.
All that invincibility, Kylo Ren had lost it the moment he'd met Rey. The first time his subordinates had come to him with mentions of a girl helping the BB unit containing the map to Skywalker get to the resistance, Kylo, for a mere moment had believed it could be his sister, though the pain of having to fight his sister did make him pause. But when he'd finally caught up to the girl, he had been worse than disappointed. Even more so when he'd realized how powerful the girl was in the Force. Not as powerful as Larissa had been, but certainly powerful enough to give him pause. When he'd finally fought her in that icy forest, and nearly lost it all, Kylo had realized as much as the anger made him stronger, Larissa had been right, It'd given him weaknesses too. To his great regret, he had realized that he could no longer ignore those weaknesses. So when he'd returned to the Supreme Leader, he'd focused his training on control, on truly becoming as strong as Darth Vader became his goal, for Larissa, so that her teachings to him would not have gone in vain.
Even though he'd never given up hope on finding Larissa, Kylo also not been expecting to stumble onto her in some little kingdom of system, ruled by a set of corrupt royalty that even put the Republic to shame. She'd looked so different, dressed in the finest silk and the latest fashions. Larissa had never cared for fine clothing and jewelry. And yet, her expression had so heartbreakingly the same as she had greeted him, her bright violet eyes burning with an unmatched intelligence. It had taken only a mere brush across her mind to realize the truth.
She had no idea who she truly was.
He thought she was a shell, nothing more, but the longer Kylo had been in her presence, the more he'd realized that even though her powers and memories had somehow been wiped away, his sister, the woman he had loved more than his own life, his own soul, was still beneath the surface, waiting to be awoken again. He'd immediately began making plans to retrieve her from that dreadful place. The fact that Aurora Canan had been a spy for some little terrorist organization had made it easy to bargain for her from the vain prince, though Kylo had been disgusted at the thought of the prince treating her like a possession. When he'd finally had her in his grasp, he'd breathed a sigh of relief for the first time in years.
Only to have that dashed when he'd learned that she had escaped, with her lightsabers, on a First Order ship no less, and stopped the eradication of the Black Knights single-handedly. He'd been beyond impressed at the level of her power, her control. Even her innate ability to pull him into her mind, almost unconsciously, had marveled him. Of course going in front of his master, the Supreme Leader, and telling him that his much more powerful twin had escaped from his custody had not been pleasant, especially with General Hux standing rather gleefully next to him. Both had been surprised when the Supreme Leader had been angry and cold, but still rather thoughtful, telling Kylo that he had whatever resources he needed in order to retrieve his sister from the Black Knights.
The Supreme Leader Snoke had always been interested in his Larissa, ever since Kylo had confessed the true nature of his love for his sister, and the marriage they'd committed to in the wee hours of the night before Kylo had been forced away by their uncle. The Supreme Leader seemed to have an understanding of Larissa's position, a patience Kylo Ren hadn't seen given to others. It honestly relieved him. He'd known that despite everything that his uncle had done to keep them apart, Larissa had alway called to the Light as equally as he had called to the Darkness. He knew it would be difficult for her to turn away from the Light.
But he would be here, with her. He would help to become as strong in the Dark as she had been in the light. He wouldn't force her though, he'd give her as much time as she needed. Which is why he wasn't terribly concerned that The Supreme Leader wanted to speak with Larissa, but when Larissa had insisted speaking to him, especially after her behavior before, Kylo was worried. And the longer he stood outside of the holoroom, the more agitated he became. Though Larissa had before always been a calming presence to him, now the thought of her set him on edge, in both good and bad ways. He just hoped this initial meeting went well, and that the Supreme Leader's interest and concern for her remained, enough so that she would be protected from General Hux.
His back was turned to the door when it opened, and when he turned around, the look on her face made him pause. She looked so pale, and unusually still. Her eyes were wide and her mouth was parted, as if she was whispering something she didn't quite believe or understand. There was something in her hands that she was clutching rather desperately, but it was too hidden within the folds of her dress from Kylo to see clearly what it was.
"Lyssa?" He asked softly, stepping toward her.
"I'd- liked to go back to my room please," She said softly, her voice barely a whisper. Kylo nodded and took her hand gently, guiding her quickly through the hall back into the room next to his. When they were both inside, she walked slowly to the bed and sat down, still looking faint, clutching the thing tight on her lap. Kylo quickly slipped off his helmet and set it on the bed next to her. He gently knelt down in front of her, looking up into her face. Now that he looked closer, he realized the thing was a box, a polished wooden box. It only took him a fraction of a second to recognize the dark wood and heavy lock. It was the same box he'd used to keep her lightsabers in, keeping them next his bed, a constant reminder of what he'd been fighting for, who he'd been fighting for. He was confused. Why would the Supreme Leader give Larissa the box, especially when they all knew her weapons had been lost when their uncle had attacked them?
"Lyssa?" He asked softly. "Lyssa what is it?"
"The Supreme Leader gave me something," Larissa replied haltingly after a moment. "And he said that if I accepted it, my choice- it would be clear."
Kylo didn't need an explanation, the implications of what she was saying were clear. For a moment he said nothing, just kept his hands on her knees, waiting for the her to say something more. When she didn't say anymore more, Kylo lifted his hands, gently pried her fingers from the box, and lifted the lid.
Chapter 20: Just the Beginning
Lelouch sat in his customary seat, exhaustion pulling at his eyelids. He had slept little in the two weeks since Larissa's capture. Most nights he had been looking for a any subspace message from Larissa. For the first few days Lelouch had been hopeful, knowing that any attempt from Larissa to contact him would just have to wait for the right moment. But as more and more days had passed, it'd become painfully aware that Larissa's message wasn't coming any time soon.
Whatever time he hadn't spent looking for the ever-elusive message, he'd spent avoiding Luke Skywalker. Despite CC's ability to shield them Luke Skywalker's Force abilities, it didn't stop Skywalker following him, Kallen, Li and Tohdoh everywhere. Except for the few places Lelouch had determined were forbidden to him and his apprentice, Luke Skywalker seemed to always be trailing one of them. It made things difficult, especially considering the amount of secrets such a person like Lelouch had. The only good thing had come this situation was that Leia seemed to be as suspicious of Skywalker as he seemed to be of Lelouch. What Lelouch had shared of what he'd known of Larissa journey to his system to Leia had created a rift between the two siblings, and Luke Skywalker had not seemed inclined to share any information at all.
The only person Lelouch still had yet to have a grasp of was Skywalker's apprentice, Rey. She was an enigma, a wild card. While at first Lelouch had assumed that in the dispute between Luke and Leia, Rey would automatically side with her master. But Rey seemed to also have a very close relationship with Leia, and in this, she stayed firmly in the middle, though through the stories that Kallen and the others had managed to gather, he had learned that Rey had been close to Han Solo, and had also been there when Kylo Ren had ended his life. According to Kallen's reports, the young man who'd also accidentally shot Larissa had also been there. Kallen had kept the icy shoulder to the man they'd learned was called Finn, a deserter stormtrooper, even after a young pilot by the name of Poe Dameron had been thrown into the mix.
"I don't care if you were aiming at Kylo Ren, you hit my friend," Kallen snapped from across the table. "Who the hell taught you to aim anyways?!"
"The First Order," the dark man, Finn, said reluctantly.
"You were a stormtrooper," Kallen said in disbelief. "No wonder you're a shoddy shot."
Finn's eyes blazed. "Now listen here-" he began.
"Enough," Leia said firmly. She turned to Lelouch, who had, up until that moment, been watching the argument with amusement. "Zero, there's someone I'd like you to meet." At her gesture another man stepped stepped forward. His was skin tanned, closer to the Japa natives in his organization, and he had messy dark hair, and was wearing the flashy orange suit common for Resistance pilots. "This is Poe Dameron, one of the leaders of our fleet. He's just arrived, and I thought it would be prudent to introduce him to your leaders, since we are to be sharing sources."
This was going to be an interesting conversation. "Then I suppose I should formally introduce the head of my guard and my flight division, Kallen Kozuki." Lelouch indicated Kallen with a wave of his hand.
"Hi," Kallen said shortly.
"You're a pilot?" Finn asked disbelievingly.
"Like you could fly anything, trooper," Kallen snapped.
"Uh, it's totally true," The man, Poe Dameron said quickly. "Finn can't fly, but he's got killer aim, or a least on a spaceship he does." Poe reached forward and extended his hand to Kallen. "I hear you've got some stellar flight systems here."
Kallen smiled, though somewhat reluctantly, too and replied, "You haven't seen anything until you've flown a knightmare frame."
"Yes, we've heard about these, knightmares," Leia replied. "I would really like to see the specs for the these machines, if it isn't too much to ask."
"I'll contact the head of my weapons division and set up a meeting," Lelouch promised quickly, and moved the meeting other conversation topics before Kallen could start another argument with Finn.
Rey had not been present for the conversation, but even if she had, Lelouch doubted if she would have intervened. Rey seemed to have the unique ability to blend into her surroundings. She wasn't imposing, or noticeable truly in anyway. Like many that had come to Lelouch, she had learned how to hide in plain sight. It was during those nights, when he thought of Rey, that he wondered how she and Larissa might have gotten along, if things had been different. Rey and Larissa were alike, in many ways, and they were very powerful in the Force, or so CC had told him after encountering the girl.
To be honest Lelouch wasn't entirely sure what to make of the whole situation, including the ragtag team of interesting misfits that was the Resistance. More than anything Lelouch wished that Larissa was here, that she was with him in this venture. That she could comment with amusement on the dispute between Finn and Kallen, debate with her mother about what strategy would be best when taking on the Britannian forces. Larissa had always been a breath of fresh air, someone who was able to think and react on his level, someone who had come to be his confidant, the family he'd never been able to have. Larissa had always seen him for exactly the man he was. The fact now that she was lost to him weighed heavily on Lelouch's mind, so much so distraction was too easy for him these days.
"Zero," Li said softly, waking Lelouch from his thoughts suddenly, and Lelouch glanced up at the waiting crowd. The hologram appeared to be a modified knightmare frame, which he remembered Rakshata and the other scientists in the Resistance trying to come up with a knightmare that could fly in the vacuum of space and possess a hyperdrive. If they were successful, the Resistance and the Black Knights might finally have the technology capable to take down the Britannian government and fight successfully against First Order.
"Whatever you need Rakshata to get this completed," Lelouch said. "Get it done."
"Of course Zero," The tanned woman said quickly and brushed the other scientists to the side, her white jacket billowing behind her.
"If these things do end working, it's gonna change everything," Poe said. "Thank you, Zero, for helping us like you have."
"It's been my pleasure to honor this cooperation, I just hope it comes to a fruition that benefits all of us." With that, the conference ended. The Resistance members congregated over by the screens Zero had given them in the control room, except for Leia, who still sat at her place next Zero. She had a tablet in her hand, but the words on the screen weren't moving. She seemed to be as distracted as he was. As if sensing his stare, Leia looked up. Despite having no true ability in the Force himself, Lelouch still could tell what, or more importantly who she worried about.
Lelouch leaned in and touched her shoulder gently. "We'll find her, I promise."
Leia gave him a grateful smile. "She's a resilient girl. I know she'll be alright."
"You would feel it if she were harmed," Lelouch ventured softly.
"I didn't feel it when she lost her memories," Leia whispered, "and I couldn't feel her all those years here." Lelouch felt a moment of regret for not telling Leia the truth behind Larissa's memory loss. Leia was her mother, and she deserved to know what had happened to her child. But he was still far too wary of Luke, and Lelouch had not gotten this far in life by not being cautious. He could, however, keep giving Leia pieces, and hope that eventually she'd figure it out herself.
"You can't blame yourself," Lelouch said softly. "It's obvious whatever happened was beyond your control, and beyond Larissa's. Let's just hope that the future is something in our control."
Leia smiled. "You are very good with your words, Zero. I understand now why you've managed to amass so many people behind you."
"It's a gift," Lelouch said quietly. Leia smiled again, and opened her mouth to reply when a young Resistance technician stepped forward, her slight frame looking even smaller against the backdrop of the bustling control room.
"What is it Lieutenant Connix?" Leia asked, shifting forward. The young Lieutenant looked uncertainly between Leia and Lelouch. "It's alright Lieutenant. Tell us what you came up here for."
Lieutenant Connix took another breath, and shakily looked down at her. "I've just received a communication, General Organa, from one of our contacts in the Vairath system. I know it isn't protocol, but I felt you needed to see this- right away." The girl looked terrified, as if she wanted to be anywhere else but the place she was currently standing, and the way that she was looking between her general and Lelouch, gave Lelouch an odd feeling, one he didn't like.
"What did the report say?" Leia asked quickly, her voice sharp, but calm.
The Lieutenant looked down again at her tablet. "The report says that Kylo Ren attacked their main military base with the Knights of Ren. Almost everyone, including the ruling cabinet was slaughtered, and there are other reports indicating the system has already fallen to the First Order." Leia was silent, and her expression was grave at the news of her son's crimes.
"Anything else?" Leia finally asked after a moment, clear she wanted to be done with the conversation.
"In the reports," Lieutenant Connix said haltingly. "There were several mentions of a ninth member, a girl, with previously unseen powers in the Force. She was carrying two red double-bladed lightsabers." Lelouch's head snapped up. That sounded like Larissa, too much like Larissa to be a coincidence. Lelouch couldn't fathom why Larissa would be on the planet of a First Order incursion, unless she'd used it to try and get away. But there was something about the tone of the Lieutenant's voice, and the way she'd delivered her message that made Lelouch pause, and with good reason as the young woman finished her report with a shaken, breathless voice. "The reports say that the young woman- led the assault." Lelouch eye's widened at the implications of her statement. He had no doubt in his mind that the woman they were referring to was indeed Larissa, but Lelouch was having trouble fathoming her motives for leading a First Order assault. What was she playing at?
When Lelouch glanced at at Leia. Leia's face was ghostly pale and her eyes were wide. Lelouch could see she was fighting the realization that she was far too smart not have realized the implications. "Are you sure?" Leia asked, and even Lelouch could feeling her practically vibrating with fear.
The young Lieutenant, opened her mouth to speak again, when Li suddenly stepped forward holding out another tablet. "We have video, Zero, from one of our sources there." Lelouch took the tablet quickly and tapped the screen. The security feed was a hologram, and it materialized above the screen, playing out before Lelouch and Leia. The first on the screen was what looked like a soldier in Variath system uniform firing outside of the recording devices range. The soldier was clearly terrified. He didn't make it all the way across the shown hall before he froze suddenly, his blaster flying from his hand. A figure, dressed completely in black, a raised, leather covered hand holding the soldier in place. The figure's dark hood was raised, so at first Lelouch wasn't sure who it was, but as the figure walked around the captive soldier, Lelouch caught right of the face, and the breath left his lungs in a rush.
It was Larissa. Her face was clear an unmarked, and her violet eyes were cold and determined. She quickly circled her captive. They appeared to to have a conversation, but the recording had no audio, and Lelouch couldn't tell exactly what was said, but from the terrified expression of soldier gave Lelouch little doubt about the manner of conversation. The soldier though, terrified, seemed rather uncooperative. Larissa's hand raised again, and the soldier went rigid. A strange, blankness came over the soldier's face and he walked over to one of the visible walls and placed his hand in a panel Lelouch hadn't seen before, but recognized as biolock, unbreakable except to the designated key DNA. A large bay door opened next to the man, and before Lelouch could blink a red lightsaber separated the soldier's head from his body. The headless corpse fell at Larissa's feet.
Leia made a strangled sound, and Lelouch was unable to look anywhere but the screen as several more figures appeared into the feed, the very same masked group who'd attempted to kidnapped Lelouch, and leading was Kylo Ren. The masked man gazed at his sister as Larissa's hand gestured towards the headless corpse, and something flew from the soldier's coat and into Larissa's hand. She offered it to her brother and he took it, striding through the now open hall, the masked men following behind Kylo Ren. Larissa made to follow, but paused, and looked up straight into the holo-recording, and then the hologram froze and disappeared.
Lelouch sat back, breathing hard. Leia was close to sobbing next to him. '
"Get all but leadership out of here, now," He said harshly to Li. The order was given immediately, and everyone but the leadership quickly left the room. Leia's hand was on her chest and and her breath was coming in sharp short pants. Kallen immediately stepped forward toward Leia.
"General, you have to calm down," Kallen said quickly. "Breathe please." She took deep breaths with Leia until the older woman had calmed down a little. Kallen looked at Lelouch then. "What the hell is going on?"
Lelouch handed the tablet to Li. "Show it to them." He didn't want to make Leia watch it again, but he doubted he could open his mouth and adequately explain what he'd just seen. As the small group watched the holo-recording. There were gasps of confusion when Larissa revealed face, and then cries of surprise when she took off the soldier's head. If there was any doubt who'd she'd been doing it for, it was made certain when Kylo Ren appeared next to her. This time the footage stopped with Larissa in the center looking up at the hidden holo-recorders.
"Oh no," Kallen whispered, looking like she was going to be sick.
"What does this mean?" Tohdoh asked harshly.
"It means that Larissa has turned to the Dark side," Leia said hollowing, and as she looked at the projected image of her daughter. Her eyes were full of pain and sorrow, and she looked away from the image, as if she couldn't bear to look at it any longer. Lelouch however, couldn't look away from the figure of the woman he'd once called his greatest ally. Something about the frozen hologram gave Lelouch pause.
As Lelouch studied the hologram of Larissa, the message suddenly became crystal clear. Larissa had known the holo-recorders were there. She could have taken them out before she'd even gotten into the compound. She'd let this scene be captured, she allowed it to be known exactly where she was, and what she was doing. The last look was a message, one that Lelouch could decipher all too quickly and clearly:
This is my game now, and we're going to play by my rules.
Lelouch looked around at the stunned faces of his command and of the resistance and realized all too quickly how crippling a blow this was going to be to all of them. Larissa had given them power, had brought together the Resistance and the Black Knights, had given them something to fight for, something to gain. But now, Lelouch mused with a distant sort horror, she might be the very thing that would tear them apart. Lelouch had always pitied the fools who'd gotten in Larissa's way. He'd just never entertained the idea that he'd be on the opposite side of Larissa, that he would be her enemy, and not her ally. And Lelouch had a feeling, a certainty that chilled him to the core.
This wasn't the end.
Larissa was just getting started.