Title: Framed Author(s): Darth Mu Timeframe: 31 ABY Characters: L/D, L/M, OCs, Kyle Katarn. Genre: Mystery, Action & Adventure. Keywords: Set Up, Murder, Wife, Girlfriends. Summary: A bloody murder have been committed right inside the Jedi Temple on Excarga. With the victims being those closest to the Grand Master of the Jedi Order Luke Skywalker, the High Jedi Council has asked Jedi Master Kyle Katarn to investigate. Notes: Temporarily on Hiatus, Check Back Feb 08/2013. Chapter I Kyle Katarn entered the Jedi Council Chamber with his padawan by his side. They bowed toward the seat of the Grand Master, now conspicuously empty. Next Katarn and the padawan bowed toward Corran Horn, the senior Master of the Coucil. "Master Katarn, and young Fenn, welcome back to Excarga. Was your mission to Hapes successful?" Katarn nodded. "It was, Master Horn. The Hapan agreed to stop providing raw materials to the Galactic Empire. In exchange, the Confederacy are to help them with their piracy problem in the Sivoria system." Corran Horn nodded, and turned to consult the Master on his right, "What do you think, Master Durron?" "Master Katarn's skills of diplomacy is unparalleled,"the kid said,"but I fear that the Confederacy's resources are stretched too thin against the Empire as it is. They simply cannot spare the manpower to tackle on a problem, quite frankly, is someone elses."If Katarn didn't know better, he could almost think that the kid was enjoying himself. It was no secret that the kid despised the Confederacy. After all, his older brother, Zeth, was killed by Confederate droids. "I beg your pardon, Master Durron,"It irked Katarn to call the kid Master, and unfortunately Katarn had to admit to himself, the kid did merit the title. "If Hapan keep giving subsidized raw resources to the Empire, the Confederates won't last another year. So if I might put it frankly, it is their problem." The kid looked thoughtful and after a pause said, "Forgive me Master Katarn. I have allowed attachment to cloud my judgement." There probably was hope for the kid after all. Corran said, "Kyle, good work on the Hapan situation. Normally protocol would have allowed you and your padawan a period of rest before assigning a new mission."Corran gestured to the empty chair to his left, "however, there was an incident." Katarn saw his apprentice, Merina Fenn, tensing besides him. He couldn't blame her, for he himself has only began to sense the full gravity of the situation a few minutes ago when he saw the empty chair in the middle. It was strange. Granted, Grand Master Skywalker seldom attended all Council meetings nowadays, but Katarn still expected to see him today for the debriefing of the Hapan situation. "What kind of incident?"Katarn asked. But before he finished speaking, he already knew the answer. "Where's the Grand Master?" "Missing." Cilghal, the Mon Calamari, said. For a moment there was silence. Katarn stretched out with the Force, but after half a minute, he could still not find Luke Skywalker. He felt his padawan also tensing besides him, and she was shuddering. "I can't find Obi-Wan!" Katarn reminded himself to teach Merina better control over her emotions. Tresina Lobi's voice sounded beside Katarn. "We went to Grand Master Skywalker's suite when he failed to attend the last five council meetings in a row." Lobi paused, almost muttering. Kyle thought he caught the gist of "fortunate she was on vacation." After a moment she continued," the suite was locked. We could make contact with neither him nor Obi-Wan on the holocomm. Saba lost her patience and rammed the door and when we walked in... He didn't even spare the baby." Lobi's voice trembled and lost coherence. Durron took over the narrative. "We found signs of a struggle. Every furniture in the bedroom were destroyed. every other room was pristine. The crime only took place in the bedroom. The crib had some shreds of bloody meat that might have been Dorme. Obi-Wan's body was supine on the Master bed. The worst of all is that we found a hologram claiming full responsibility." "Who did it?" Katarn asked, "and where's the Grand Master?" Corran Horn stood up and took out a hologram generator from his pockets. He put it down and the hologram activated. 'If you are viewing this hologram then my children are dead.'The Hologram flickered, 'I did it. I killed them. They were product of a lie. They deserve a better family then I could provide. That's why I sent them to a better place. End recording Artoo. Mara, it is done. Let's ge--.' The hologram flickered and died. "An obvious forgery!" Merina yelled. Everyone in the chamber looked at her. Her cheeks turned crimson. "I would know." She turned her flushed head toward her Master. "I just talked to Obi-Wan yesterday while you were in the refresher." The admission which would have warranted immediate inquiries was now temporarily ignored by Katarn, but not herself, as she turned from crimson to scarlet. Merina swallowed. I would know because I lo--, we have this bond you see, and..." She run out of the room. "I apologize for my padawan, Mas--" Before Katarn could finish his sentence, he was interrupted. A protocol droid stood behind him. "Greetings, Jedi Masters. I am Five Pee Oh, human cyborg rela--" "The results, droid!" Kyp Durron seemed to have lost his temper. "Very well, Masters. The specimen A provided by yourselves matches 56 percent to the specimen B. Furthermore, it can be determined that Specimen B contains 97 percent Tatooinian human genes, 3 percent Ryloth twilek gene. .1 percent Hapan--" Lobi said, "It looks like the force is with us still in spite of this tragedy. Dorme Skywalker could be still alive."But who was killed? Why did the Grand Master murder them? and where is he? More importantly, where's Dorme?" Corran Horn asked. "If this hologram is genuine, he is confused and dangerous. He could have turned to the Dark Side." Corran turned to Kyle. "Whether or not he did it, you must find him and Dorme, quickly." Tionne Solusar, the public relationship Master spoke up. "We are trying to keep this out of the media for the time being. Officially, the Grand Master followed his wife for the Shan reunion on Naboo with Obi-Wan and Dorme." Katarn nodded. It made sense. It was almost the truth. Luke's wife Deena were attening the reunion of the Shans, her extended family. Every seven years she attended the event, with the venue changing every time, this time it was on Naboo. Mrs. Skywalker had joked that Luke only booked those huge, expensive reunions for her because he wanted to get her out of the way to relive his glory days with his other girlfriends. It made Katarn sad. Did Luke kill his own child and grandchild? Could it be? Did he do it while his wife was off-planet to spare her? "She broke the connection after she heard the news. We haven't been able to raise her since." Kam, Tionne's husband, a fellow Jedi Master, said. "I hope she's all right." Katarn said. "When you leave on the mission, you should make it your first priority to go to Naboo, find Deena, and make sure she's okay," Corran Horn said. "Also, make sure she doesn't do anything foolish." Katarn sighed, "Have you contacted Leia?" Luke had to know that the Jedi would want to find him right away if indeed he was the murder, and so it was a long shot. If however, he was set up by a forger, then the real criminal is still at large. Either way, Luke Skywalker was missing, and his sister is one of the leads. Being the leade of the Confederacy of Independent Systems means that Leia Organa would always be on Cato Neimodia,with a fixed address and a fixed, albeit official holo terminal. "No," Corran said, "We are waiting for Master Zhet to determine the authenticity of this hologram first. It will take him more time than the droid took for the victim identification. Besides, officially, the Confederates do not trust the Jedi, and theres's no official Jedi prescence within the Confederacy. Using the official channels would mean that everyone from the lowly switch operator to the aide of the official Ever Victorious General would know about this tragedy. We are not yet ready for that kind of publicity. "How are the code breaking going?"Katarn asked,"Has Jysella and Zekk made any progress? "They promise me a breakthough next month." Corran said. "I'll believe it when I can read General Bokhan's battleplans while eating breakfast." Katarn nodded. "What about Lintai? Anyone contact her?" "What about her?" An angry voice asked, "If she wants to hug a bunch of bugs..." Katarn identified it as that of Master Zixor, the faleen Jedi who had once been the girl's best friend. Skin color from the green humanoid was rapidly changing hues, and Katarn felt the air tense before the pressure was suddenly released. "no longer a Skywalker." "The truth of the matter is, we have lost contact. According Taat, the UnuTai has 'transcended the sphere of glory and returned whence she came.'"Tresina Lobi shrugged. "But she certainly did not return to the Jedi." "Another thing, why is the name Mara so familiar? "Katarn said, "I could swear by the force that I heard the name before." Katarn saw Corran exchange glances with Cilghal and nodding before answering the question. "Mara's a popular name of course, but I think the Mara we could be talking about is someone named Mara Jade. She and Luke were...close, before Luke finally married Deena. I think that if it weren't for that old, silly promise Luke made so long ago, he would have continued waiting. And Obi-Wan might have redder hair, had..." Corran grew silent. A moment later, he continued. "If the hologram shows the truth, then Mara Jade has returned, and Luke is with her. The implications are too terrible to consider. Zixor stood and touched Katarn's shoulder. "While I will never forgive Lintai for her betrayal, Dorme is her daughter, and so is of Skywalker blood. If she is alive, you must find her." The faleen paused, "you must find her." Katarn said, "Time is the of the essence. With your permission, Masters, I will begin my search." He turned to go. Corran said, "Kyle, this mission is both important and dangerous. I have consulted with the Council while you were on your way here. We believe that it is imperative that you not take your Padawan on it. She would be in great danger. In fact, She may very well be detrimental to the mission." "If I may, Master Katarn," Kyp Durron held up his hands, "Your padawan seemed too attached to the subject. Much confusion I sense in her. We must be mindful of our Padawans, Although I believe that she needs your continued guidance, Master Horn is right. You must leave on this mission without her. I sense trouble in her future, but she may be safer on Excarga than where you must be." Katarn felt unbidden irritation rising from his stomach. It was no secret that Merina and the kid's padawan, one Sarish Beligel had an almost unhealthy level of rivalry between them. Katarn couldn't tell whether there were any ulterior motive to Durron's words, but the thought that a Jedi Master taking sides on any disupute his Padawan might have among the Jedi is almost unfathomable. So Katarn decided to take the kid's words as genuine concern for Merina's wellfare. He said as much, "thank you Master Durron, I will consider your words." Merina did seem to spend a large amount of non-training time in the Skywalker suite with Obi-Wan. And her remark about Obi-Wan, and her behaviour. Katarn bowed to every Masters around the room and walked out of the chamber. Corran Horn caught up with Katarn and walked with him side by side. "The Council has decided that two Jedi are to go on this mission. I would join you myself, but I have my own hands full with some smugglers in the Berkiov system. So are all the other Masters with their own critical missions. To help you, we are granting you authority to select a full knight from those remaining at the temple." Katarn said, "You know, you are the best candidate for this mission, with your CorSec background and all." "I got the background, sure. But as the Jedi Order attache to the Rebel Alliance, and unofficial vice grand Jedi Master of the Jedi Order, I can't leave. If I were to leave Excarga now, you'll have Jedi Grand Master kills family and elope with dark side siren faster than you can say kriff." Corran paused. "May the Force be with you." "Thank you, Corran. May it be with us all." Hello? Merina? Are you in there?" Merina had given up contacting Obi-Wan half an hour ago through conventional means. Her portable holoterminal in shambles near the west wall of her dorm room. Now she was doing the best she could letting the Force flow through her in order to find Obi-Wan. Did she really tell the whole Jedi Council that she loved him? It had been a dream. First the boy with hair the color of uncloven wheat had dared to reach for her hands, then she had voluntarily kissed him even though she was supposed to babysit his niece and he was supposed to be off planet on a punishment detail arranged by Master Skywalker when he caught him during the first attempt. Only last night they had arranged to spend more time together during the three weeks his mom would be off planet. And now he was dead. No! Someone in his clothes was dead. He told her that he made a special Force bond just for her. They had tested it that one time, didn't they? It worked too, didn't it? Except she had the same luck with the Force as she had with her holocomm. She was sure that she should have felt him die through the Force. But she felt nothing, not anything remotely out of ordinary. Not even when she stared into the lifeless eyes of the body on the slab. If it could be called a body. "Merina! I know you are in there! Open up! It's Master Katarn. I can feel you through the Force!" Numbly Merina got up from the bed and wiped her eyes with the back of her left hand. When she clicked the button to open the door, but at the same moment she tried to close it shut again. Instead of her Master, the Beligel boy was grinning at her. Unbidden anger rose through her and with a snarl she extended her left hand out in an effort to push him away from the door frame with the Force. The Beligel boy stumbled across the corridor and hit the wall with a satisfying grunt, and only slowly stood up. "Ow! What did you do that for?." "Leave me alone! What are you even doing here?" "Blaze the Ishi Tib told me he saw you running all the way from the Council tower." Beligel explained, "So I thought that I should check up on you." The door finally responded to Merina's commands, and slid shut. Beligel continued to knock on the door, a steady, annoying beat. "It's kind of awkward standing outside your door. Open up!" Merina ignored Beligel's efforts, she turned away from the door and walked toward her bed. Eventually the knocking stopped. Merina blinked. She rubbed her eyes again, this time with the other hand. Obi-Wan was smiling at her, sitting on her own bed. Not even in her wildest dreams have he even entered her room before. "Oh, Obi-Wan! I knew you were alive!" Merina hugged him, not caring that his embrace felt different. "I heard such terrible things." She buried her face in his shoulder. Has he been working out? Without disentangling himself from her, he said, "Join us. Come with me." Merina blinked, and detached herself from Obi-Wan. "Where were you? What's going on? I saw your bodyin the morgue..." "Everything is fine. Come with me. I'll explain everything." Obi-Wan's voice was soothing. Merina said, "Okay. Wheat head, but you better have a good explanation for scaring me like you did. And you have to tell me where we are going first." She bent down to kiss him, his lips tasted exactly as she rembered it. "I will. I promise I'll explain everything. Just come with me. Merina was getting annoyed. "No, you are explaining now. And what's this with ending every sentence with come with you? I already agreed didn't I? And I still don't know where we are going." "We are going to my planet, of course. Now come!" "Oh now mighty son of great Grand Master of the Jedi Order has his own planet now, does he?" Merina smiled, but fighting irritation, "Why don't you come with me, and we'll talk to Master Horn, so he can recall my Master from this mission out looking for your father. Merina paused, "You do know where your father is, right? Cause he obviously didn't ... kill you." Obi-Wan was nowhere to be seen. The knocking on the door returned. "What are you are doing, stop that!" The voice of Beligel coming through the door. "You are scaring the younglings next door, and I'm getting--" "Weird vibes off of you. What's goin" Beligel stopped midsentence as Merina opened the door. "Holy Kriffing Hutt! E Chu Ta!" Beligel entered the room at a run, all the while fumbling at his belt, trying to activate his lightsaber, a maneuver that was unmatched in speed while in the sparring arena suddenly clumsy and slow. With trembling hands, Beligel activated the the lightsaber so familiar to Merina, its blue beam shaking and cooking the air around them. "Put away your weapon." Obi-Wan had come back. Beligel's lightsaber became more steady in his hands as he took a deep breath. "Merina, run. You can make it. I'll hold it off. RUN!" "Stop! It's only Obi-Wan! He's not dead! It's Obi-Wan! What are you doing?" Activating her own lightsaber, Merina's green blade struck the blue as Beligel tried a decapitating maneuver against Obi-Wan. Beligel's face burned into Merina's, panicky and sweat drenched. "Don't you see what it is? It's not Obi-Wan. It's not -- Ah!" Beligel's sentence was cut off suddenly, his body thumping against the carpet. Merina didn't even see Obi-Wan move, much less how Beligel was hurt. nor was it obvious where he was hurt. There wasn't even any blood, just Beligel's weak jerks that was disappearing. Eventually there was only an unintelligible hoarse whisper or two that might have been "run." Merina stared at her erstwhile rival slack jawed. She felt numb. It wasn't possible. Obi-Wan stared at her. "We must leave immediately." "You are not Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan would never hurt a fellow Jedi like that." Obi-Wan opened his mouth, or the thing pretending to be Obi-Wan, Beligel was right, how could Merina not have seen? "Of course I am! He was trying to kill me anyway. Mer, It's me. Let's get out of here before anyone else wonders what happened." "I'm not going anywhere with you." Merina's body shook as she put her lightsaber into the guard position. "Mer, please" Obi-Wan's face pleaded. Merina noticed silver orbs within his pupil, had they been there before? Merina used to lose herself inside those pupils, and now she can't help but wonder if she'll ever fall into them ever again. "No, leave please. I have got to report this. Leave now before I call dormitory security." Lowering her lightsaber and deactivating it, Merina breathed, "I'll give you five minutes. Good bye Obi-Wan." When Merina turned around after having counted to twenty, she was surprised that Obi-Wan was still frozen in spot, his face taut in concentration, as if having an internal debate. Then he attacked. Merina felt herself flying. There might have been electricity, or maybe it was just the wind, but first her body went straight up to the ceiling, then straight down toward the floor. Her head spinning all the while. When her flight ended, she figured her head had ended up inside Melanie's tank. Her face felt wet in any case. She lost her vision. Water flooded her wind pipe, making her involuntarily splutter, then she found herself unable to do even that, and perhaps it was a blessing not to breathe. *** Merina felt herself floating. She stood up and found herself on a ship such was hired out for tourists, rocking along the waves in an ocean. She could not identify the planet. Merina remembered distinctly that she was fighting for her life only minutes ago, although for the life of her she couldn't remember whom she was fighting. Unlike her former situation, she felt peace, safe. She took a more careful sweep of her surroundings and felt rather than saw her Master before her. There was a hooded figure standing before her. Its eyes quickly sought hers out. It was indeed Jedi Master Kyle Katarn. Just as she was sure it was her Master standing before her, Merina was sure her Master was in pain, and he seems to be muttering, yet the volume was increasing. "Why? Merina? Why did you do it?" Suddenly she found herself holding a force pike, the end of which was sticking into the stomach of Master Katarn, straight through the solar plexus. An eternity lasted until all she saw in front of her was a tattered brown robe hanging from a force pike. "No!It's not me, I can't have!" Merina screamed and saw and heard nothing more. Jan was just telling Katarn that the navicomputer finished crunching the coordinates when the holocomm lights blinked. "You are lucky this transmission caught me when it did. I was about to jump into hyperspace for the last leg to Naboo." In the hologram, Katarn could see the faces of the Jedi High Council, sans the Grand Master. Katarn was just about to comment that they all look more solemn in the hologram than they did in real life when Corran Horn spoke up. "Kyle, I'm afraid there have been an incident. Katarn grimaced. So that's what the disturbance in the Force was. "What happened?" "Your Padawan is hurt. Rather badly, I'm sorry." Cilghal broke the news. Near as we can tell, there was an argument between her and Master Durron's Padawan, Sarish Beligel. "We found her in her dormitory unit when both she and Sarish failed to show up for morning lightsaber class with Master Sabatyne." Kyp explained, "Things look bad." "Details are sketchy as of right now of course, but with what we have it's possible that Padawan Fenn initiated agression against Padawan Beligel." Corran said. "A Witness confirmed that she in fact did attack Sarish first. Without provocation." Katarn thought it was smugness on Kyp Durron's face, althought it may just be the unstable hologram. "What witness?" Kyle demanded." "Padawan Blaze reported that he saw Beligel knocking on Padawan Fenn's door at 1730 local time. Fenn opened the door and without speaking, shoved Beligel across the corridor with Force Push. You can see the incident report filed by her, as well as Cilghal's medical report on young Fenn, attached to this transmission." Katarn opened up the said report and after a brief reading, said, "Padawan Blaze is known as Beligel's best friend. His account is unreliable at best, and besides, what padawan Blaze says is that he saw Padawan Beligel fell across the room and I quote 'as if someone Force Pushed him'. He didn't see her doing it!" Corran Horn said, "unfortunately, as we have no security footage in the room itself because of the privacy issues, she is the only one, however, seen entering the room beside him. Katarn gestured while sighing, "The physical damages speak for themselves! Cornea damage to both eyes, electrical burns, No bruising on her neck, yet her trachea was crushed! Crushed!" And the mental damage? No recorded trauma from a normal attack ever last this long." Only the Dark Side is known to cause that much damage. Kid, your padawan is practicing the Dark Side!" Kyp Durron ignored Katarn's finger pointing at him. "Others have heard sounds of loud arguing and lightsabers clashing. The nursery directly above Padawan Fenn's room reported their younglings became upset and some even cried during the time of the incident." We'll do everything we can for her and discover exactly what happened," Cilghal said. "Once she is fully conscious and lucid we can discover the truth, and the proper person will be punished." Cilghal paused a moment before adding, "I am confident that I can save her right eye, but the chances of hre left eye recovering are slim." "Nevertheless, if Master Durron's apprentice used the Dark Side, its foul residues would have remained around the scene of the crime, and on the victim."Corran Horn explained, "Yet every single Jedi we have on hand could not feel any trace of it. Kyle, I'm sorry, but your padawan must accept her role in the incident. It seems right now that young Beligel only hurt her in self defense. No, let me finish. You should be relieved to hear that Cilghal think Padawan Fenn should be out of the hospital soon, and the damage to her, physically as well as psychologically, even if she is found to have started the incident, would be punishment enough. "What about the Beligel boy? Is there Dark Side residues on him? What punishment has the wise Jedi Council dealt him?" Kyle asked, belatedly realizing that he should have asked the question earlier. "We can't find him." Kyp said. The surprising news hit Katarn like a hammer, it was all he could do not to lose his composure. "What do you mean you can't find him?" "The security footage shows him staggering out of your padawan's room, and we confirmed that he left the dormitory complex." Corran said, "but security lost track of him after that. We have reported sightings of someone of his description hiring a ship at the spaceport." "Then why hasn't you follow up on the lead?" Katarn demanded. "Because we also have a woman and child swearing that they saw him in the third under block marketplace at the exact same time." "And you should know something else," it was Zixor, the Faleen Jedi Master, who spoke up, "it's possible that Padawan Beligel was a spice addict. There are serious allegations that he was dealing them to his fellow padawans and an occasional full knight." Cilghal said, "The last batch of periodic blood work came back earlier this morning. While a full analysis is still ongoing, it seems that Padawan Beligel does have elevated level of glitterstim. "So it may have been glitterstim that gave him an unusual advantage over Merina?" Cilghal shook her head, "The level he had in his system wasn't that much. It, along with others, may prove that he is a dealer of glitterstim. However, it's not high enough for him to hurt your padawan, at least not like this." "Then he used some Dark Side power, I know it in my bones." Kyle sighed, and fought the urge to close the connection. "Why can't anyone admit that it's a possibility?" "The entire world of Excarga was surveyed by the entire Council, including yourself, Kyle." Corran said, "You know that there are not a single shred of Dark Side on planet. And young Beligel has never set foot off-planet ever since he was brought to the Jedi. We must exhaust all other possbilities before jumping to conclusions. Right now, we must hope young Merina become lucid soon. We'll let you know as soon as she is." "Well, at least that's something," Katarn said "Katarn out". "That went well," Katarn sighed and looked over to his copilot. "Let's get out of here." Jan pulled the hyperspace switch toward herself, and Kyle Katarn looked over out the port side window, and lost himself in the comfort of the whitel swirls.