Before In Motion - (Xanatos and others) - ch 7 (9-19-10) - Could it really be an update?

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  1. Master_Noi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2004
    star 4
    Title: In Motion
    Author: Master_Noi

    Characters: Xanatos and a few more favorites (I can't ruin the surprises now).

    Disclaimer: I don't own anything or make any money.

    Summary: My own special take on A Christmas Carol involving some favorite SW characters. I started writing this on another site and am sharing it here now.

  2. Master_Noi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2004
    star 4
    Chapter 1

    The sun had long since set over Thani, the capitol of Telos. A winter storm had blanketed the ground in soft snow and no doubt captured the imagination of the local children as to what the next day would hold. It was the night before the Festival of Kish which would celebrate the winter solstice and some believed it was a magical night.

    Most households had already settled in. However, the lights in one room of the estate belonging to Xanatos Marojni were still lit. One of the room?s two occupants sat, deeply absorbed in a datapad. He paused to glance up at his companion. Though the other man appeared to also be reading, it was more than obvious that he was far from focused.

    ?You seem distracted,? Xanatos posed.

    Soren?s eyes widened slightly, making him look like a child who had just been caught doing something wrong.

    ?Forgive me, Sir,? he replied. ?I ? my mind ??

    ?There is no need for such apprehension,? Xanatos chided.

    ?Tessa ? she asked me to try to get home early this evening,? Soren explained. ?With the Kish Festival tomorrow ??

    ?Early was some hours ago,? Xanatos pointed out. ?You best get going.?

    ?Are you sure??

    ?I for one would not want to earn the ire of a woman ? at least not if I had to live under the same roof with her,? Xanatos murmured. It still baffled him why a man would choose to be tied down and essentially domesticated. ?I will see you when I return?

    ?Are you certain it is okay that I remain here? I should accompany you on this trip.?

    ?Like you said, it is the Kish Festival. Your place is with your family,? Xanatos replied, though his voice lacked conviction. ?This trip is more personal than business anyhow.?

    ?Thank you, Sir.?

    Soren left the room, and Xanatos sensed him hurry from the estate grounds. He checked the time, sighing heavily. It really was late and he could catch up on his reports during his trip the following day. He stood from his desk, shutting out the lights before leaving his office.

    There was no need to bundle up in a warm coat or to crunch through snow and ice and brave the chilling winter winds. His quarters were in the same residence. He quickly made the trip there and changed into silken sleep pants and a robe.

    A fire crackled in an old-fashioned fireplace. Modern heating units were arguably more efficient, but Xanatos found them sterile and lacking character. A fire added warmth in more ways that one. From a well-stocked liquor cabinet, he selected a bottle of his finest Corellian wine and settled into an armchair.

    Every night was the same. He tried to calm his racing mind and keep memories from the past that threatened to haunt him at bay. At times, he wondered if he should try to take up meditating again. He usually gave up on the idea and ended up drinking himself to sleep.

    It was in this time before bed that uncertainty gnawed at the usually confident man, tonight especially. All over Telos, families were anticipating a day of celebration yet he was alone. At times he was able to convince himself it was better this way ? that he preferred to be alone. Deep down he knew it was a lie.

    Xanatos took a sip of liquor, letting it burn down his throat.

    It was his own fault he was alone ? no it was another?s and that man, Qui-Gon Jinn, would soon pay for all he had done.

    A disturbance in the Force jolted Xanatos from his brooding, an impossible presence flaring to life. Xanatos looked up with narrowed eyes and listened as footsteps started up the stairs. He could hears chains, clanging and clattering as they were dragged along with each step, echoing in Xanatos? ears and causing the hair on the back of his neck to rise.

    Good sense dictated that he run, hide, draw a weapon, something. Yet, he sat there glued to his chair either out of curiosity or sheer stubbornness that a childish fear would not drive him from his own room. The presence was in the very room with him now and he found he could barely breathe. A soft blue glow lit the room behind him before a voice spoke.

    ?Hello Xanatos.?

    ?This is ? this is not possible,
  3. Seremela Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 12, 2008
    star 3
    Oh, what a great idea! Xanatos visiting his past, present and future... (hopefully before Bandomeer [face_praying] )


    I hope more will soon follow, can't wait what you've in store for him to see. And who the presence in the room is, there when he fell asleep....



  4. ratna Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2007
    star 4
    OMG!!!! Another Xanatos fic from the Master!! I can't wait for more. PLEASE pm me when you update![face_dancing]
  5. Master_Noi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2004
    star 4
    Seremela - Xan is about to go on quite a journey. You will find out about the presence in his room very soon.

    ratna - I can't resist a Xanatos plot bunny when it bites.

    Chapter 2

    ?Xanatos.?

    The softly spoken name was but a whisper, floating lightly in the air, somewhere between dream and sleep. The voice was not familiar but instantly filled him with a sense of safety, warmth, and contentment. He knew the voice yet he didn?t.

    ?Wake up Xanatos.?

    The fallen Jedi blinked his eyes open to a room that should have been dark save the moonlight coming through the curtains yet he could see everything plainly. A bright glow coming from behind him engulfed the room. Stretching out with his senses, Xanatos noted that he was not alone. His heart began to beat heavily in his chest.

    ?Don?t be afraid,? he heard as a warm hand swept stray locks of raven hair out of his face.

    He quickly turned, all hope that his previous encounter with his father had been a nightmare or an alcohol-induced illusion dashed, and faced the form of a young woman seated on the edge of his sleep couch. Whereas his father had been gaunt and pale, sickly and tortured, this new apparition was beautiful to behold, surrounded by a warm, ethereal glow. Long, dark hair fell around her shoulders and roses touched her cheeks. She looked at him through sparkling sapphires and the mere sight of her gentle smile began to melt the stone he called a heart.

    ?I am not afraid,? Xanatos said in an awed whisper, finding he was quite the opposite. ?How could I be??

    ?I am glad, Little One,? she said, a perpetual smile touching her eyes as her voice grew stern and serious. ?Cherish this time because before this night is through you will see many things that will bring you to fear.?

    ?Why do you call me Little One?? Xanatos questioned.

    ?What else would I call you?? she asked softly.

    Xanatos drew in a harsh breath, recognition finally coming. How often had he seen the image before him throughout his home, in his father?s office, even in his room as a child?

    ?You are my mother??

    The apparition said nothing, still smiling as she pushed another errant lock from his face and then pressed her hand to his cheek. Warmth penetrated to his soul.

    Xanatos had indulged himself often enough in acts of physical intimacy over the years, yet it seemed ages since he had experienced true affection, the touch of someone who genuinely cared for him, not since ? he put the idea from his mind. The past was best left buried where it belonged ? in the past.

    ?I can feel your touch,? he said, lamenting the loss of intoxicating warmth as she drew her hand away. ?How is that??

    ?I am not a spirit as your father was. I am the guardian of your past taking this form.?

    ?The guardian of my past? What does that mean??

    ?Come ? take my hand,? she said gently. ?Our time is short and I have much to show you.?

    Xanatos reached for the hand, eager to feel his mother?s touch again. She led him through the house to what he recognized as his office. The door opened, giving him pause. This was not his office.

    Crion Marojni sat behind the desk, furiously mulling over a stack of datapads. A young boy stood by the window, a scowl wrenching his face as he looked across an endless landscape of white snow. Xanatos turned and looked at his mother before returning his attention to the scene before him.

    ?Father, the snow is new. Can I go outside??

    ?Not now, Xanatos,? Crion said, not looking up from his work. ?We are leaving soon and the last thing I need is for you to get wet and dirty.?

    ?Where are we going?? the boy asked. There was a hint of hope in his voice that would soon be dashed.

    ?I have business ...?

    ?How much work could you have, Father?? the boy protested quickly. ?The Kish Festival begins tomorrow.?

    ?Only on Telos ? my business is off world.?


    Xanatos watched as his younger version threw himself into one of the chairs. Arms crossed over his chest the boy proceeded to scowl at his father. Though the specifics of this memory were not apparent to h
  6. ratna Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2007
    star 4
    OMG, not just another holiday fic! Of course I anticipated the way this would develop. What I didn't anticipate were the tears. Ah, it's all in the telling, isn't it?
    Great work!
  7. FireKarp Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Dec 14, 2008
    =D= I am really enjoying this! Looking forward to the next visitation.
  8. Broken_Circle Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2007
    star 1
    Ooh! A Xanatos holiday story! Loved little Xani and Qui-Gon's justification of using the Force for a snowball fight. Looking forward to more!
  9. Seremela Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 12, 2008
    star 3
    Oh, what a contrast between Xani and his father and padawan Xanatos and his master. That snowball fight was filled with such happiness and love, from the both of them. It was so sad to read knowing what would come.

    Loved that his mother was the ghost of the past. And that she told him he trew true love away.

    Looking forward to his next journey :)






  10. Master_Noi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2004
    star 4
    ratna - I think the Force knew exactly who to send to make Xan face his past.

    FireKarp - Thanks for reading.

    Broken_Circle - I have to think there were lots of carefree moments between those two.

    Seremela - I think Xanatos needed to see the contrast between his two father figures.

    ***

    Chapter 3

    Xanatos awoke once again, fully expecting to have another apparition hovering over him. Instead, the house was empty and silent. His home felt like a tomb, the cold settling into his bones.

    Perhaps the Force had given up on him being teachable; especially given that final memory of the last time he had seen his old master. A part of him wondered where Qui-Gon was now ? probably off training a better and brighter pupil, his old apprentice long forgotten.

    Xanatos burrowed back down under his blankets, pulling them closer against a chill that permeated straight into his soul. He wondered if he would ever find warmth again.

    That was when he heard it.

    It started as a slight tapping in the distance. There was a stirring in the Force, tremors of a shielded presence. This ghost didn?t want to be sensed. The tapping echoed, reminded him of the ghostly echo of chains and his father?s sickly form. That was something he didn?t want to face again.

    A shadow loomed in his doorway, a large misshapen head. Feeling quite childish, Xanatos closed his eyes and pulled his covers over his head.

    ?Behaving like a youngling are you??

    The gravely voice caused Xanatos? eyes to snap open. He peeked out of the covers, looking down over the side of his sleep couch at the small gnome-like creature standing before him, gimer stick ? hence the infernal tapping -- clenched firmly in a fisted claw.

    ?Y? Yoda?? Xanatos ventured.

    ?Expecting someone else were you?? the creature asked, regarding him with obvious amusement.

    ?No ? I ?? Xanatos untangled himself from his covers and sat up. ?So ? so you finally passed into the Force?? Force knew the Jedi master had been old enough.

    ?Hmph?? Instinctively, Xanatos pulled his legs away from the vicinity of that damned gimer stick at the Jedi master?s disapproving grunt. ?Dead I am not. As guardian of the present, chosen this form I have.?

    Xanatos laughed. He wasn?t quite sure why. Perhaps it was the stress of the night getting to him. After all, this was the third ghost, or guardian, or whatever it was he had seen in one evening. He really needed a drink.

    ?Find this funny do you?? the Jedi master grumbled. ?Funny it is not.?

    ?No, it is more the irony of the situation. I just never imagined the guardian of the present being the one who had always admonished me to be mindful of my future.?

    ?Live in the moment -- Qui-Gon Jinn?s motto that was. Would you rather the Force sent him??

    ?No,? Xanatos said hurriedly, quickly sobering and looking around like his old mentor would jump from the walls at any moment. ?No, no, no - that is not necessary.?

    ?Flow from the present the future does ? connected ? seamless ? what happens now affects what will come ? never said I that unimportant was the present.?

    ?So I suppose we are going somewhere, seeing as not much is happening here in the present?? Xanatos ventured.

    ?Not far our first stop is ? in Thani.?

    Xanatos stood and straightened his robe, smoothing his hair in some attempt to look dignified. They were going into the city after all. ?Please tell me we aren?t walking,? he said as he retrieved his lightsaber from his nightstand and dropped it into the pocket on his robe.

    Xanatos could have sworn he saw a smile curve the Jedi master?s lips as the room began to fade only to coalesce again on a side balcony somewhere on a cramped but cozy street.

    ?Where is this? I have never been here,? Xanatos began.

    ?Belongs to your employee, Soren, this home does,? Yoda replied as he wrapped a claw around Xanatos? fingers and dragged him right through the wall.

    They were upstairs in a quiet hallway. Xanatos, still not over the shock of passing through a wall, was just about to lecture Yoda on trespassing when he caught sight of an open door wh
  11. ratna Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2007
    star 4
    OMG this is so good!! I loved:

    Yoda as Guardian of the Present

    Soren's statement: The only thing of value to him that I possess is my loyalty. So simple but so deep... realistic and humble at the same time.

    The whole sequence from Bant and Obi in the creche, to Xan taking a step into the darkness.

    Really excellent, lovely story. And such a treat to see two Noi fics updated in as many days!! [face_dancing]
  12. nada_smith Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2006
    star 1
    Another well-written, wonderful story!

    Yoda was a complete surprise for the ghost of the present but I liked the interaction between the two very much. Xanatos needs someone to stand up to him and Yoda is unafraid to speak blunt truths or exercise that gimer stick if needed. [face_laugh]

    Also, I liked the backstory on Soren. He's shown up in one of your other stories and I like his character.

    I'm so glad that maybe events on Bandomeer will change because of Xanatos' experience. I love how you've developed this and look forward to the conclusion.
  13. Broken_Circle Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2007
    star 1
    Just finished reading the latest post. I loved the deliberate parallel between Luke's trial in the cave and I could almost see Xanatos (being Xanatos) insisting on making his own choices. I sincerely hope he gets some sense knocked into him before he does something he'll regret later.
  14. Master_Noi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2004
    star 4
    ratna - Yoda was the only one I could see being the guardian of the Present.

    nada_smith - Soren started off as just a name in a viggie I did a long time ago because I needed a name, but I like the idea of Xan having someone furiously loyal at his side. I wanted the present to hold some humor and Yoda was a great instrument for that.

    Broken_Circle - I wanted this experience to parallel the cave on Dagobah with Xanatos walking in armed. He is about to get quite an eye full.

    ** Still battling RL **

    Chapter 4

    Darkness.

    ?Only that which is possible ? that which is shrouded still ? that which is yet to come.?

    Yoda?s words reverberated in his mind. Nothing he would see here had happened yet and he wasn?t sure if that comforted him or not. Xanatos ignited his saber but the crimson glow did little to light his way.

    The fog was thick and chilled him. His legs felt sluggish as though he was being pulled down into the muck. Panic began to set in. He was wandering in the darkness with no idea where to go. The damned troll had sent him in here to die.

    Xanatos sunk down to his knees. It was so cold ? an empty darkness that ate at one?s very soul. Suddenly he sensed a brilliant star that shone brighter than any other in space. He rose to his feet and hurried that way. As he approached the fiery presence, he finally began to be able to see.

    A small, sandy-haired boy sat cross-legged on the ground. He looked up as Xanatos approached, offering a lopsided grin. ?Hi there, Mister.?

    ?Hello,? Xanatos offered hesitantly, thoroughly searching the area. Apparently, the boy was the fierce presence he had sensed. ?I assume you are here to guide me through the future.?

    ?The future hasn?t really happened yet, so I can?t really guide you though it,? the boy said, scrunching his face up.

    ?Then how do we do this,? Xanatos asked. He was ready for this last journey to be over.

    ?Take my hand.?

    Xanatos half wondered why the Force had chosen a common street urchin to show him the future. Qui-Gon Jinn would have admonished him that appearances can be deceptive. There was one worry that seemed to nag at the back of his mind ? if this was the future, why was it so dark.

    Despite Xanatos? misgivings, he accepted the grubby hand offered to him.

    At once, the Force jolted through him furiously, unleashing a crashing cascade of images.

    He saw a horned demon as though a child?s nightmare had awakened and come to life. The being?s eyes glowed with crimson as it stared down two cloaked figures. One Xanatos recognized as Qui-Gon Jinn. The other was a padawan ? the boy ? Kenobi.

    The battle was epic, one that had waited for a thousand years ? good versus evil ? light versus dark. When the Sith pierced Qui-Gon?s body, Xanatos felt as though it had tore through him and when the apprentice triumphed, Xanatos felt tears pricking his eyes. Victory ? hope ? but it had come at such a cost.


    Why should Jinn?s death bother him so? Was it not what he wanted with every fiber of his being? Suddenly, he wasn?t so sure anymore. Xanatos bowed his shoulder against the chill that ate away at his soul. The darkness was growing.

    He next saw an angry young man filled with unspeakable power ? one who had become a slave of darkness. Eyes filled with hatred stared down a man who had once been a friend. Xanatos recognized the man ? Kenobi - though aged and looking very much as though the weight of the galaxy rested on his shoulders.

    Another battle required of him ? light and dark clashing again. Xanatos saw the arrogance and folly of youth fall to wisdom and light. Yet he was left with the hollow feeling that victory ? that hope ? had come at a great cost.


    Arrogance and folly ? was he any different than that angry young man, Xanatos wondered. He found it hard to breath ? so cold ? so dark.

    His eyes widened at the sight of a mechanical monster clad in black. There was something familiar about the rage and the arrogance.

    Xanatos found himself looking for Kenobi this time, somehow knowing
  15. ratna Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2007
    star 4
    well i must sound like a broken record:

    OMG THIS IS SO AWESOME!! Jumping up and down. Etc.

    Seriously. This tale of two tales is beautifully done!

    Xan with Anakin, had to be, of course, just as Dickens had a child as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. But the image is just so great: bad boy leading the bad boy. I've always felt a parallel between the two characters. Can't wait to see how the new world unfolds with Xan making different choices .... a shrouded path, anyone ...?

    Tee hee. Gotta love it.
  16. Broken_Circle Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2007
    star 1
    *rubs hands together* Good to see Xan finally getting his priorities straight - as in, setting things right first and blowing things up hopefully never. Now, where is he headed? Looking forward to more!
  17. Broken_Circle Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2007
    star 1
  18. Master_Noi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2004
    star 4
    I promise to have an update very soon. I have been preparing for my Praxis exam which I am taking tomorrow, so I should be able to breathe soon.
  19. Broken_Circle Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2007
    star 1
    Believe me, I understand time-crunch - I'm in college myself, and I'm lucky if I get anything written while classes are in session. Good luck on the Praxis!
  20. p_stotts Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2001
    star 4
    I know this is an oft-repeated phrase used in describing this fic but... this is friggin' AWESOME! I notice it's been awhile since you posted the last chapter. I hope it won't be too much longer until you post chapter 5. This is so original. I applaud your creativity! =D= Looking forward to more soon. :D
  21. Master_Noi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2004
    star 4
    I am so sorry that it has taken 5 months to get this next post up. I keep hoping to tame real life but now realize it is here to stay and I just have to write when I get a chance.

    ratna - I found something eerie with child Anakin being the future.

    broken_circle - we will discuss things blowing up later ... maybe. Xan doesn't really have a plan right now.

    p_stotts - Thanks! I am glad you are enjoying it and so sorry to take so long between posts.


    Chapter 5

    Madness ? that was the only explanation for what he was doing.

    Fortunately, in his time as a padawan, Xanatos had become an expert at sneaking in and out of the Jedi Temple. He kept his cloak pulled tightly around him and his head bowed. Equally, he wrapped the Force around himself to conceal his presence. It would not do to have anyone know he was here.

    Few paid him much attention as he wound his way through the Temple corridors. It was not unusual for a knight to keep to himself and even heavily shield, especially after a trying mission. Neither did he encounter any resistance in the creche levels. Many knights and masters chose to conceal their presences when visiting the younglings so as to avoid rumors about who might be choosing a padawan.

    As he slipped down hallways and spied into the classrooms filled with younglings, Xanatos began to wonder if Obi-Wan Kenobi?s quarters would actually be where he had seen them in his visions. Sure enough, he found the placard right where he had seen it would be. Unfortunately, no one was there. He paused for a moment before opening the door and stepping inside.

    The room was no different than the quarters he remembered before Qui-Gon had taken him as a padawan. A small sleep couch, desk and chair furnished the small space. The only personal effects were a few starship models that hung from the ceiling.

    ?You?re too late.?

    Xanatos turned at the sound of the small yet determined voice. A young Mon Calamari girl ? the one from his vision ? stood in the doorway.

    ?Obi is already gone.?

    She was trembling ever so slightly, tears pooling in large silver eyes. Her grief was evident as was her sweet, gentle spirit, something he had not sensed in his vision. Proof that he had found his heart again, it was breaking.

    ?Where has he gone to, Young One??

    ?They sent him to Agri-Corps ? on Bandomeer.?

    Xanatos let out a sigh. It came back to Bandomeer once again. He had thought perhaps he should just go there straight from Telos, but the Force had directed him to Coruscant instead.

    ?Tell me, has Initiate Kenobi turned 13 years old yet??

    ?No, not yet,? the child whispered.

    ?Then I am not too late.?

    ?Are ? are you going to take him as your padawan??

    ?That?s complicated,? Xanatos replied. He wasn?t ready to admit that he wasn?t a Jedi Knight. ?But I promise I will do all in my power to see that he is trained.?

    She smiled at him.

    ?What?s your name?? he asked.

    ?Bant ? Bant Eerin.?

    Xanatos placed a hand on her shoulder and offered a smile of his own. ?You are a good friend to him. Now why don?t you run along. You will see him again.?

    She nodded before scampering out the door. Xanatos took another deep breath. Now he was committed. He had just made a lofty promise and one thing he kept was his word. The fallen Jedi dropped down to his knees to think about his next course of action and seek guidance from the Force. That?s when he heard the tapping begin.

    Xanatos checked his shields and found them intact. Damn ? how had the troll found him?

    The fallen Jedi waited until he sensed the master?s immense presence fill the small room.

    ?How did you find me??

    ?Hide from me you may, but hide from the Force you cannot, Xanatos,? the ancient master offered. The gentle tone of voice troubled Xanatos. It was not the sort of greeting he expected. ?Told me it did that here you would come. Now only why remains.?

    ?I am here because the Council has apparently gone mad by sending a promising young initiate off to Bandomeer of all places," Xanatos snapped. "One would wonder if you are trying to kill him off.?

    "Wha
  22. Valairy Scot Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 16, 2005
    star 5
    Gah <slaps head> How'd I ever -ever - miss this one!?!?!

    Love the idea of Kenobi as the source of light in the darkness (well, duh, of course ;) ).

    Simply magnificent!
  23. ratna Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2007
    star 4
    ok. now let's hope that Qui-Gon is not too much of a blockhead .... [face_worried]
  24. nada_smith Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2006
    star 1
    Aw...Xanatos worrying about little Obi-wan is too cute! (Don't tell him I said that.) ;)

    I still love this story!
  25. Master_Noi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2004
    star 4
    Valairy_Scot - Yes, Obi-Wan is the light in the darkness.

    ratna - The Force still might have to knock it into his skull.

    nada_smith - See, he has a soft side.

    Chapter 6

    ?I will forward the appropriate documents as soon as I get them done.?

    Xanatos smiled at the small image standing before him. The hologram didn?t do her appearance justice, he decided. Fortunately, Xanatos had long ago learned the error of mixing work and pleasure. Otherwise, his working relationship with his lead attorney could have easily become very complicated.

    ?Thank you for rushing this, Dryn,? he said.

    ?This isn?t a favor,? the beautiful blonde replied tersely. ?I expect to be compensated for the overtime.?

    ?And have I ever failed to generously compensate you for your time?? Xanatos chided, allowing a bit of edge to his voice. He didn?t mind Dryn being feisty as long as she knew her place. She had become a very wealthy woman looking after Offworld interests.

    ?Of course not,? she replied.

    ?I will be waiting, then.?

    The image blinked out of existence, and Xanatos reached up and ran a hand through his already dishelved hair. Before him were displays of all important information concerning Offworld?s operations on Bandomeer ? personnel records, supply and shipping invoices, profits, and perhaps most disturbing, the slave holding inventory. Propping his elbows on the desk, Xanatos rested his chin on folded hands. It had taken him most of the day to determine that it was doable ? Offworld?s operations on Bandomeer could be legitimized and remain highly profitable. It was just going to take a lot of work and direct supervision on his part.

    The communications consol chimed. Xanatos frowned when he saw the frequency.

    ?Soren, need I remind you that you are supposed to be on vacation.?

    ?My family is asleep, so I am not neglecting them,? Soren replied before letting out a sigh. ?I just received a very short and curt transmission from Dryn stating stating that you have absolutely lost your mind. Should I be worried??

    ?Apparently my developing a conscience is disturbing to her,? Xanatos mumbled, still pouring over the data in front of him. He let out a brief chuckle before finally glancing at the image of his employee. ?I am going to be here for a while. When you get back to Thani, I need you to start looking for someone to head up operations here ? someone I can trust ? but that?s not important now,? he said, stopping himself. ?How is Iesa??

    ?Beautiful,? Soren stated simply. ?The time away is good for Tohras ? and for Tessa. I haven?t seen her this happy in some time.?

    ?That?s good. If I were you, I would keep that woman happy.?

    Xanatos looked up as the comlink sitting on the desktop chimed. It was time for his dinner guests to arrive.

    ?I need to go.?

    ?Okay, I will get on top of things when I get back to the office.?

    ?There is no rush,? Xanatos said. ?Take your time.?

    ?Thank you, Sir.?

    A smile tugged at Xanatos? lips. Though he had never considered the possibility before, he would be pleased when he could call Soren a friend. He stood and took a moment to compose himself before leaving his office and heading to the main lobby.

    ?Master Jinn,? he said when he caught sight of his former master. ?I am so glad you could make it.?

    His eyes searched out the boy that hung behind Qui-Gon, obviously wary. No doubt, he had been warned against trusting a Darksider. Suspicion was most certainly evident on Qui-Gon?s face, which reminded Xanatos. He unclipped his saber from his belt, and extended it, blade pointed toward himself, to Qui-Gon. ?As promised.?

    Qui-Gon studied his former student, furrowing his brows as he accepted the weapon and clipped it to his own belt.

    ?I have nothing else hidden on me if you would like to check,? Xanatos offered with a smile as he stretched his arms out to his sides.

    ?That won?t be necessary,? Qui-Gon replied.

    ?And you must be initiate Kenobi. I am pleased to finally meet you,? Xanatos said exuberantly.

    At last, he had finally met the one who had been s
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